The luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge has always been a special place to dine. The hotel’s latest coup is the highly respected chef, Heston Blumenthal, whose Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire earned him three coveted Michelin stars.
Keen to try something new, he has been experimenting with recipes as far back as the 14th century, long before such words as “haute cuisine”, “cordon bleu” and “gourmet dining” had even been coined. The results of his creative genius will be the highlights of the menu at the soon-to-be-opened dining experience at the Mandarin Oriental, “Dinner by Heston Blumenthal”.
This opportunity for diners to try something different from Blumenthal’s kitchen will be available from the end of January. However, this will not just be an experience for the palate, but also for the eyes, as diners will be able to see the smooth workings of the kitchen through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall.
Platters of delectable goodies such as hay-smoked mackerel accompanied by lemon salad and gentlemen’s relish will be delivered on a pulley system which also has its origins in royal kitchens of the 16th century.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
To the book the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London or any other luxury hotel in London, choose Luxique as your first online destination.
Wax figures of Lady Gaga have been unveiled at Madame Tussauds in London – and at seven others worldwide.
As befitting the pop diva’s style, the wax figures feature her in eight different outrageous outfits. The London one has her in a Philip Treacy-designed telephone hat with ‘a Giorgio Armani Privé midnight blue outfit with pagoda-style shoulders and vertiginous heels’ (my fashion adviser tells me).
The other figures are in New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood, Amsterdam, Berlin, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
In Amsterdam, the wax Gaga sports a conical towering pink and white hairdo, teamed with a white boxy jacket, a nude bodysuit and huge platforms. In Shanghai, she is wearing thigh-high patent boots and a Bowie-esque black lightning stripe over one eye.
The Gaga-fest was kept strictly secret and kept under wraps until the moment all could be revealed. The General Manager of Madame Tussauds in London, Edward Fuller, said: “The demand to include Lady Gaga has been overwhelming and we are more than happy to oblige.”
by Andy Moreton
If you’re going Gaga, Luxique offers a selection of luxury hotels in each of the eight cities.
The city of Venice – currently being showcased in the Depp and Jolie movie, The Tourist – awoke to warning sirens last week as tides in the famous lagoon reached their highest level this year after a period of heavy rain.
More than fifty per cent of the city was said to be under water. Temporary footbridges in St. Mark’s Square, typically put down for pedestrians when the area floods, were removed by local authorities as the risk rose that they would be swept away by the fast rising waters.
Experts call it acqua alta – which means high water. They think it’s caused by an unusually high tide happening at the same time as heavy rainfall.
by Andy Moreton
It remains one of the most remarkable cities in the world and Luxique has a varied selection of the finest luxury hotels in Venice.
I mentioned in passing last month Sean Davoren, the Head Butler at the newly re-opened Savoy luxury hotel in London.
Mr Davoren is likely to become a national TV figure from next Monday when a documentary on the Savoy is aired by ITV.
He will be seen leading a rigorous recruitment drive to select and train a team for the hotel’s reinstated butler service – the first time the hotel has offered this facility for 50 years. “You will be the wind beneath the guests’ wings,” he tells the hopefuls.
Mr Davoren, who’s been a butler for 30 years and has served every European royal family, has been speaking – ever so discreetly – about his work. “You should be able to ask me for anything, however personal that might be, and I should give you that confidence back that I wouldn’t bat an eyelid.”
One guest asked him to go on a £19,000 shopping spree in and around London while others have had more simple requests – such as wanting to have a glass of goat’s milk. “The milk cost £3.50, but I had to send a chauffeur, who cost £650, to Wales to collect it,” he said.
Asked about the most peculiar item he had been asked for, Mr Davoren replied: “To track down a particular type of milk that is very good for the older man who has a younger wife, apparently. It comes from Africa from an animal with stripes. That was quite challenging.”
by Andy Moreton, with acknowledgements to the Radio Times
London is now brimming with top class luxury hotels to rival the Savoy. Take a look at Luxique’s comprehensive list.
Tourism bosses in Australia are hoping the ‘Oprah Effect’ will help to revitalise the industry.
Oprah Winfrey is there with her entourage to record some shows in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House. As well as presenting Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure, the queen of US TV will also be flown around the country to do a series of travelogues.
Tourism Australia’s Managing Director, Andrew McEvoy, told the federal senate recently that Oprah’s core audience demographic of middle-income women aged 25-54 was right at the heart of the people that Australia wanted to influence. “They are the decision makers in travel and tourism,” he said.
Justin Wastnage, a writer on Travel Weekly, says visitor interest in Australia is high in the United States, frequently topping wish-list destinations, yet successive advertising campaigns have failed to shift Americans from thinkers to doers.
The advertising guru Todd Sampson reckons Winfrey to be the most effective brand endorser in the world, but Mr McEvoy sounded a warning that she was not the ‘silver bullet’ for Australian tourism. “The quality and appeal of the Australian product and people’s ability to fly here easily and affordably will determine success in the next decade,” he said.
by Andy Moreton
Australia is one of the ‘must-see’ places in the world, and Luxique has a selection of luxury hotels in Sydney and all the other major cities.
The film actor Richard Gere has taken on a new role – as ambassador for Relais & Châteaux, the worldwide group of small luxury hotels and restaurants.
He and his actress wife, Carey Lowell, are owners of the Bedford Post, an eight-room country inn about an hour’s drive north of New York City, which has just been named a new member of the R&C group.
The couple lovingly restored the old former coaching inn that had fallen into disrepair, developing it as a ‘community gathering place, yoga studio and luxury lodging’.
R&C International President, Jaume Tàpies, was impressed with their achievement: “Richard Gere is the quintessential innkeeper whose personal journey to revive and maintain a historic property is an exceptional example of the passion that binds Relais & Châteaux together.”
Reviews of the Bedford Post have apparently been mixed, and Gere is frank about the couple not being trained hoteliers. “We’re learning,” he said.
The Bedford Post is one of 36 new R&C members.
by Andy Moreton
There are now more than 500 Relais & Châteaux hotels and restaurants in 60 countries – find some of them among Luxique’s comprehensive list of luxury hotels around the world.
Imagine glancing across the aisle of your economy (coach) class seat and seeing Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie eagerly tucking in to their in-flight platter.
That might not seem so far-fetched now that the biggest actors’ unions in the US and Hollywood’s major film studios have struck an agreement which will see actors forced to share in America’s economic pain.
The rules, which are expected to come into force next July, state that on flights longer than 1,000 miles, actors will have to fly business class where it’s available, and can upgrade to first class only ‘if deemed necessary’. But for shorter work-related trips, they must travel economy.
Actually, I was kidding about the Pitts – you’re only likely to spot B- and C-List celebrities. The industry’s biggest names would almost certainly have written first class travel into their tailor-made, watertight contracts.
by Andy Moreton
I wrote in January about the ESPN sports reporter, Erin Andrews, who was videotaped nude in various luxury hotel rooms by a stalker.
Ms Andrews has now filed a lawsuit against two luxury hotel chains, Marriott International and Radisson Hotels International, for negligence, emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
The lawsuit comes four months after Michael David Barrett, a 49-year-old former insurance salesman from Illinois, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail after pleading guilty to a number of stalking charges. He admitted renting luxury hotel rooms next to Ms Andrews in three cities, altering door peepholes and shooting videos on his mobile phone, which he then posted online.
Ms Andrews is asking for more than $1.2 million (£784,000) from the hotels and also from Barrett for ‘severe and permanent emotional distress,’ according to the complaint which was filed in the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago.
The lawsuit alleges that hotel management confirmed to Barrett where Ms Andrews was staying, disclosed her room number without permission and then allowed the stalker to stay in adjacent rooms.
In a statement, Ms Andrews said: “I’ve filed this lawsuit to hold accountable those who put my personal safety at risk and who allowed my privacy to be invaded while I was a guest at their hotel, as well as for actually stalking me and making my most personal moments public.”
by Andy Moreton
A luxury hotel in northern Cyprus is threatening to sue the singer Jennifer Lopez for pulling out of a concert there.
On her 41st birthday, J-Lo had been due at a gig to mark the opening of the $220 million (£143 million) Cratos Premium Hotel and Casino in Kyrenia on July 24th, but cancelled her appearance citing the ‘political realities’ of the region.
Protesters had called for her to withdraw because the north of the island has been occupied by Turkey since a 1974 invasion which displaced about 200,000 Greek-Cypriots. Turkey has unilaterally claimed sovereignty for the region.
Media reports say she would have been paid $3 million (£1.95 million) for her appearance, but a statement on her website said: “Jennifer Lopez would never knowingly support any state, country, institution or regime that was associated with any form of human rights abuse.”
However, the owners of the luxury hotel and resort say she’s bound by a contract, and if she doesn’t show up, they will start proceedings to recoup $35-40 million (£23-26 million) in damages.
by Andy Moreton
Holiday companies do organise trips to Northern Cyprus, but the region can be accessed only through Turkey. However, Luxique offers the best rates at three fine luxury hotels in the south of the island.
The piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago about luxury hotels becoming design icons has been borne out by work going on at the prestigious Claridge’s Hotel in London.
Claridge’s, known for its Art Deco opulence, hired the fashion legend Diane von Furstenberg (think wrap dress) to revamp 20 suites. It was something of a labour of love because she’s been going there as a guest for 30 years and declares it her favourite hotel in the world.
Time magazine asked her what made a luxury hotel room appealing: “It’s always about comfort. When you come to a hotel room, you want it to be grand, functional and beautiful. But you don’t want things that are not useful. Sometimes you go to hotels and there are all these frames and pictures of people you don’t know and you end up hiding everything in the drawer and then housekeeping come and put it out again.”
Did she think luxury remained relevant in these hard times? “For me the real sense of luxury is space. Luxury is silence. Luxury is nature. What I hate is when people think of luxury just as expensive and useless. Yes, a luxury hotel is expensive. But, God, sometimes it feels so good.”
Of course, we at Luxique are inclined to agree and we can help you book a room or a von Furstenberg-designed suite at Claridge’s.
by Andy Moreton, with acknowledgements to Time magazine