Destinations | Perfect Weekend

William Asprey’s London

As chairman of William & Son, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, William Asprey is part of the seventh generation of the Asprey family to specialise in luxury goods.

October 03 2010
Hilary Whitney

“The first thing I do on Saturday morning is take our dog, Rufus, for a walk – although I’m afraid he’s very spoilt and he won’t go outside if it’s raining. He’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback and weighs 50 kilos, so if he doesn’t want to go, that’s it – he’s not going to budge. However, if the weather is to his liking, we’ll probably go to Battersea Park, which isn’t far from our home in Chelsea. Rufus likes to stalk the squirrels but he doesn’t put much effort in until they dash up the trees by which time it’s too late, but he’s so graceful, it’s a joy to watch him running flat out.

After some toast or cereal at home, I’ll head off to an art gallery. I used to have fairly conventional ideas about art, but my brother Charles is a contemporary art dealer and has bullied me into being a bit more adventurous. He’s helping me put together my own modern art collection so we might go somewhere like the Vilma Gold gallery in Bethnal Green. It’s not a world I would ever have imagined I’d be immersed in, and while I don’t necessarily understand it, I enjoy being educated by Charles and am beginning to develop a sort of gut feeling for work that I like. I now have paintings by, among others, Keith Coventry, Caragh Thuring and Marc Camille Chaimowicz. I also like the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy (pictured), which is always a real eye-opener.

At some point we’ll grab a light lunch, possibly a salad at Manicomio in Duke of York Barracks or The Mount Street Deli, and in the afternoon I’ll take the dog out again, because he needs two walks a day and it’s good exercise for me.

In the evening, my wife, Lucy, and I will go for dinner to The Ledbury, which has just received its second Michelin star and is, I reckon, probably the best restaurant in London. Brett Graham, the chef, takes the finest ingredients and combines them in the most spectacular way. He makes a wonderful crispy suckling pig and a delicious steamed pigeon with the wings cooked in ash, which is brought smoking to your table. Not only is the food extraordinary but the wine is good as well. You could go crazy but there are also some nice, drinkable wines that are very reasonable. I was brought up with French wines and I tend to stick to what I know. I enjoy a good bordeaux, such as Léoville-Barton, Pontet Canet or Gruaud-Larose.

If we don’t go to The Ledbury, we might go to the theatre. I like comedies and musicals with a feel-good factor, such as Billy Elliot, We Will Rock You or Mama Mia!, which was just fantastic.

On Sunday we may drive out to see friends in the country, or we’ll just relax at home with the papers. If we’re in London, Lucy and I like to go somewhere fun for lunch, like Scott’s, where they really look after us and I’ll probably have the seafood platter.

After lunch we might pass by Christie’s South Kensington. I’m always on the lookout for old Asprey pieces: decanters, paper knives, magnifying glasses – all sorts of things, although I try to stick to collecting pieces made between the 1920s and 1960s. I recently bought a beautiful pair of old Asprey sconces.

If it’s the shooting season, I like to be home early on Sunday evening to get ready to go the next day – probably at Well Barn Estate in Oxfordshire. It’s a great day out and very sociable. I prefer to go during the week because our three children are at boarding school, so I like to be in London in case they come home.

Sunday evenings tend to be quiet. I collect classic watches – I have about 60 – so after a light supper I might settle down to read one of my watch magazines, such as QP, L’Heure or 00/24 WatchWorld. Then it’s time to turn in, ready for an early start.”

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