Most tourists visit London for the historic attractions and architecture, but where you stay and how you eat can make or break any visit to London. Consider staying in a top London luxury hotel which also has an award winning restaurant to cut down on expensive taxis trips. Other advantages of dining where you stay include being able to charge the whole stay to your bill, which can be beneficial when claiming company travel expenses, and after indulging in award winning food and a good bottle of wine it is much more pleasant to stroll back to your room trying to get a ride back to the hotel.
Some top London luxury hotel with fine dining choices for the Summer 2012 include:
Connaught Hotel, Mayfair
The on-site and understated Espelette Restaurant is actually one of London’s Michelin star establishments, located in one of Mayfair’s best luxury hotels. French chef, Hélène Darroze, provides a true gastronomic experience from afternoon tea to signature dinner entrees.
You will know you are dining at the Foliage Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, as beneath each glass plate is a freshly pressed leaf picked fresh from the grounds of Hyde Park opposite. With al-fresco or indoor dining, this Michelin star restaurant will make any stay at the Mandarin Oriental absolutely perfect.
Superbly located just off Knightsbridge, the Berkeley is one of London’s top luxury hotels and a beautiful place to return to each evening. Choose to dine casually at Gordon Ramsey’s Boxwood Café or more upscale with Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. Both chefs have a Michelin star and offer exquisite cuisine.
Dining at the Metropolitan gives guests the opportunity to sample the delectable Japanese-style menu developed by chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, better known simply as Nobu. Coupled with the five star service of this London luxury hotel, it makes a great base for sightseeing.
No list would be complete without including Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. Two Michelin star dining created by one of the world’s greatest chefs is a great reason to stay at the Dorchester, one of the top London five-star hotels.
Condé Nast Traveler has just released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice survey for the Best Hotel in the World. It revealed that the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai luxury hotel is the 2011 winner of this prestigious title.
In second place was Peninsula House in the Dominican Republic, just ahead of the Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Luxury hotels in South Africa, which have done very well in tourism awards so far this year, was represented by the Safari Lodge at Phinda Private Game Reserve which was given fourth place.
The awards are chosen by a large cross-section of business and leisure travelers as over 28,000 readers submitted their top choice. The same process was used for readers to vote for the best city in each country. Here the United States winner was Charleston, South Carolina. Quebec City was voted top city in Canada and San Miguel de Allende won for Mexico.
Further awards were given for each continent, giving travelers more ideas for some great city trips. Sydney, Australia was voted the top city to visit in the Oceania section, Buenos Aires won for Central and South America, Kyoto won in Asia and the lovely city of Florence, Italy won the award for best city in Europe.
Despite an onslaught of hype and billions of dollars invested, Dubai did not get a mention until #49 when the Park Hyatt Dubai was named, well behind more modest offerings in England, New Zealand and Greece.
The recent World Travel Awards, known as the Oscars of the travel industry, recently announced the winners of their comprehensive awards program. Luxury hotels in South Africa were the talk of the event with the Legend Golf and Safari Resort at Limpopo winning an impressive double. They scooped not only the award for Africa’s Leading Sports Resort, but also made it a double celebration by being recognized as South Africa’s Leading Golf Resort for the second successive year.
Located two hours’ drive north of Johannesburg in the Limpopo Province and within striking distance of the Kruger National Park, their unique “world-in-one” Signature Golf Course is a must-play for serious golfers. Each of the 18 holes has been designed by a world golfing legend. However, the most talked-about hole is the Par 3, the Extreme 19th. Set high up on the impressive Hanglip Mountain, the hole is accessible only by helicopter and played to a green the shape of Africa some 1,300 feet below. It boasts a unique golfing experience complete with adrenaline rush!
Despite its remote location, Peet Cilliers, CEO of Legend Lodges, Hotels & Resorts, said, “The resort is proving to be a great success and increasingly popular with tour operators, conference and event organizers and travellers from around the world. And we continue to strive to deliver a truly 21st century experience in the heart of the African bush”.
How much value do you put on hotel rewards programs? While some travelers are almost obsessive-compulsive in their dedication to collecting air miles and hotel reward points, others simply collect them all and any benefit derived is simply considered a lucky bonus. NextAdvisor decided to calculate the cash value of various luxury hotel rewards programs and their findings threw up some interesting results.
The means for determining the cash value of points was ascertained by comparing the cost of a night’s stay in the peak season in a major US city with the number of points required for such a freebie, thereby getting an actual dollar value per point. NextAdvisor also ran the same scenario for air miles by calculating the value of a free flight using frequent flyer points. They ran the trial on most major US-based programs to compare the best value loyalty schemes.
The simple evaluation showed that Starwood Preferred Guest Program offered the best value in cash terms. This scheme rewards guests staying in Starwood-operated luxury hotels such as Le Meridien, W hotels, St Regis and Sheraton hotels with points which are worth $0.021 each. When double or treble points are offered on promotions, assuming one point per dollar spent, this can add up to 6% discount on the booking. In comparison, other programs such as Marriott Rewards offered points worth $0.008 and Hilton HHonors points were worth just $0.005.
The same value system was also applied to airline points and Southwest Rapid Rewards scheme came top with points worth $0.017 compared to United Mileage plus points which are worth $0.011 when redeemed against a flight, and Delta was slightly lower at $0.01.
Most interesting to American Airlines AAdvantage miles collectors is the fact that the points are worth more if spent on a hotel than if they are used for free flights. Similarly those high value Starwood Preferred Guest points are only worth $0.012 when used against a flight.
Few people would want the job of Offer Nissenbaum, General Manager of the Peninsula Beverley Hills luxury hotel in California. Even he admitted, “We do have demanding guests, and we’re fine with that. It’s OK because they have high expectations.”
However the job does have its upside – he has just been shortlisted as one of the five finalists for the Hotelier of the Year Award. The award ceremony is organized by Virtuoso, the luxury travel agent network, who whittle down the nominees from 900 luxury hotels around the world. The award goes to the person best showing “an unrelenting passion for the industry, an astute appreciation for detail and a keen sense of how to lead and manage a dynamic team of professionals.”
The other finalists are from all four corner of the world. Michel Jauslin is Director General of the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome; Torsten van Dullemmen works for the Oberoi Udaivilas in Rajasthan; Nigel Pace is General Manager of the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town in South Africa and Claudio Ceccherelli represents the Park Hyatt Milan in Italy.
The final award-naming ceremony will take place at the Virtuoso Annual Travel Mart Conference held at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas where top travel agents, luxury hotel representatives and hoteliers will mingle and network.
This is positively my last word on ‘The Best Job In The World’ – the campaign to find a caretaker for an Australian paradise island (see previous).
The victor was Ben Southall from the UK, but also a big winner was Tourism Queensland, which gained the equivalent of £49 million ($80 million) worth of advertising space.
Because of that, the ad. agency behind the campaign, Brisbane-based, Nitro, has become the third winner. It has taken the top two awards at the industry’s equivalent of the Oscars – the Cannes Lions. It won the PR Grand Prix – the first time public relations has been included in the 56-year history of the festival – and the direct marketing Grand Prix.
Nitro’s campaign, which has since been dubbed ‘the world’s greatest PR stunt’, attracted tens of thousands of candidates who uploaded video applications saying why they should get the dream job.
“It was not a pre-requisite, but the idea had so much scalability to be a global idea that all the judges had seen and heard of it no matter where they came from,” said MaryLee Sachs, one of the judges of the PR Lions.
Ben Southall’s stint as island caretaker began on July 1st.
by Andy Moreton
A leading US magazine has named Tokyo as the world’s hottest city for food lovers – for a second consecutive year.
Food and Wine singled out the Japanese capital for its cutting edge restaurants and superb ingredients. “Tokyo is the best food city hands down,” said the magazine’s travel editor, Jen Murphy. “That’s where chefs are going for innovations. They are so far ahead of us.”
The magazine said Japanese chefs were dictating the world’s dining trends with their fierce devotion to seasonality and respect for aesthetics.
Barcelona came in second, followed by Copenhagen, London and New York. Of Copenhagen, Food and Wine said: “The world’s foodies are fascinated by the city and its avant-garde chefs, who experiment with unconventional ingredients.”
One surprise was that Paris slipped out of the top list. “Right now, there’s no new excitement to the food scene there,” claimed Ms Murphy.
Also out is Food and Wine’s 2009 list of the top restaurants at hotels worldwide. It includes Celadon at the Sukhothai in Bangkok; Moo at Omm in Barcelona; NoMI at the Park Hyatt in Chicago; Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong; Le Meurice at Le Meurice in Paris and Mathias Dahlgren at the Grand in Stockholm. All these luxury hotels are bookable at the best rates through Luxique.
by Andy Moreton
When you go on your holidays, it’s nice to know what the weather’s going to be like. Do I need a raincoat/sunscreen/ski boots?
Prior knowledge is even more essential here in the UK, where you could get all four seasons in one day.
We rely on the Meteorological Office to give us a clear and unambiguous forecast of the day ahead. Occasionally they get it wrong. And the reason they occasionally get it wrong was explained on their website:
Seasonal forecasts indicate how slowly-varying large-scale climate influences make particular seasonal conditions more likely than others. Random, unpredictable factors (’chaos’) also partly determine year-to-year variations, and these will sometimes override large-scale influences. Such uncertainty makes a probabilistic format, as used here, advisable for seasonal forecasts.
This classic piece of gobbledegook won a ‘Golden Bull’ in the annual awards of the Plain English Campaign. The Campaign said the 45-word (if we’re being generous) message could have been said in three: “We’re not sure.”
by Andy Moreton
Zagat, which has become an influential and much-thumbed guide to the world’s restaurants, has sprung a surprise in naming its current London favourite.
Ahead of such prestigious places as The Ivy, Gordon Ramsay and Le Gavroche comes the chain of fast-food noodle bars called Wagamama.
Tim Zagat, the founder of the guide, said he was not surprised at how well Wagamama had done, considering diners were increasingly looking for value for money. “I think it is a really wonderful place. It’s good food at a good price.”
Opened in 1992, there are now more than sixty UK outlets of the bustling restaurant, where the most expensive course is just £10.50 ($20). Most of the Japanese-inspired noodles are cooked in minutes, and served by waiters in T-shirts.
Zagat’s volunteer testers – 5,300 dedicated gourmets – ranked London’s restaurants by various categories. While Wagamama was most popular, Gordon Ramsay came top for food and The Ritz for décor. And the guide firmly believes that London dining is better than Paris because it embraces so much international cuisine.
Zagat’s research also suggests that the high price of a meal in London (the average is almost double that in New York or LA) has not had a severe effect on the numbers eating out. Only 18 per cent of those surveyed said they were going out less than they were two years ago.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique can serve up a fabulous selection of luxury hotels in London and a London guide to help you get the most from your visit.
Our friends at the excellent Conde Nast Traveller magazine have just announced the results of their readers’ survey on the world’s best holidays and hotels.
Voted the most popular leisure hotel in Europe was La Residencia in Majorca, which was lovingly and luxuriously fashioned from two 17th Century farmhouses. It was where Lord (Andrew) Lloyd Webber put up the guests for his glittering 60th birthday party earlier this year.
For the Middle East and Africa, the Chedi Muscat in Oman came out on top. Clearly its guests share the hotel’s claim that it’s ‘an oasis of mysticism and luxury.’
In the UK, The Grove in Hertfordshire on the outskirts of London was the most popular choice. It scored highly not only for its leisure facilities (it boasts one of the finest new golf courses in Europe) but also for its value for money.
In the Overseas Business Hotel category, five of the top 20 were in Dubai. But out in front was the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower in Mumbai, described in Luxique’s guide as simply ‘The Grand Dame of India.’
And the island that consistently tops luxury holiday polls for its beaches and facilities is the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Luxique offers a choice of ten fabulous luxury hotels in Maldives.
by Andy Moreton