Posts Tagged ‘hotel’
Afternoon teas are so very British. But the London touch is to constantly reinvent them, make them magical. Here is a most fantastic one, a Thai twist, fusion of two culture. Pure elegance and refined taste, with an extraordinary attention to details, down to the traditional chiselled flowers.
This takes place at Nipa Thai, a gem hidden on the first floor of Lancaster London hotel. Gorgeous chairs, discreet but perfect service, golden sculptures on the wall, curved arum flowers on the tables…
…and a fantastic view on Hyde Park. This is only the first floor and yet, being above the double decker changes everything, almost as if there were no window, as if you were on a terrace and could touch the branches. How did we not know about this? Is this one of London’s most guarded secrets?
First are brought warm towels, lemongrass fragranced. The perfect transition, allowing you to leave the routine outside and relax. Why not ask for a fresh mint tea which will underline the exotic tastes perfectly?
And that is when you go wow. Just wow. There is no other word for it. You were expecting a treat, this is a feast in 4 plates.
First, the sandwiches, remodernised. A vegetarian version, cream infused with green papaya, avocado and just a hint of chilli… Moist bang bang chicken, slightly peppery on caraway seed bread… Rare spiced beed with pickled cucumber on white bread… Thai shrimp salad, so very tasty on tomato bread. What a range of colours, so beautiful you almost want to play dominos with them. the kind of sandwich you take a bite a of, mmmmh, then gesture to your friends they have to try this at this very instant.
For more exotic flavours, switch to the next plate - crunchy spring roll, sweetcorn and vegetable fritters with lemony pan sauce, ravioli hiding a bite of chicken and nuts, sweet, crunchy: I could eat a mountain of those!
Desserts are as extraordinary and could sincerely be in a French pâtisserie, there is a real savoir-faire behind these. It is just difficult to decide where to start! With the banana doughnut and its heart of caramelised coconut rice? Ot the cloud like chocolate mousse cake, made with coconut milk and jasmine, and just a touch of liquid chocolate on top that melts in the mouth? The lychee log is lovely too, wrapped in thin sliced of fresh pineapple. There also is quite a surprising Thai Bakewell tart, cruncy thin pastry, water chestnut layer, silky coconut cream and cherries. Yet my favourite definitely is the sweet sushi: mango, coconut rice pudding, more mango and seaweeds. So different, so fine, so refreshing too.
Of course, there are scones, some plain, others mango flavoured. Just add your clotted cream then choose between a strawberry & basil jam or an orange and jasmine one. It is not just an afternoon tea, it’s an edible poem!
A last note, a Thai shot with lychee jelly, cubes of fresh mango and pineapple, sprinkled with cocont. Melt in the mouth, simply divine.
The most surprising is the price. All this, with such a quality, for £22/person? Really? In London? What are you waiting for? Bring the love of your life, your mum, your best friends!
Thai afternoon tea, from June 01, 2013
Served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 14.00 to 16.00
Lancaster London hotel, 1st floor
London W2 2TY
There are Sundays I just want not to do anything. I do not mean crashing on a sofa – rather just be taken somewhere, be taken care of and be completely wowed. A chic late breakfast, with glistening glasses, flowers on the table, a family brunch I wouldn’t have had to prepare, a cocoon feeling. Effortless refinement. Well, effortless on my side. Well, Cucina Asellina, part of the gorgeous Me Hotel, a few streets away from Covent Garden is my slice of heaven. A luxurious background, yet very warm and welcoming, thought almost as an architecture with its geometrical lines, its play on straight angles and curves. We loved the leather banquettes, the wine wall where each bottle looks like a jewel or a piece of art, the mosaic mirrors reflecting a hundred details of the room. Bonus - a simple thing, space between the tables. Space away from your neighbours, so soothing. Wander round, have a look at the open space kitchen with its pizza oven in a corner.oi The menu is mouthwatering so do start by ordering an assortment of bread. Crunchy, tender, moist, just the touch of salt to make you want to have another bite - don’t count on having some left for the rest of your meal, it will disappear in minutes.
Our love at first bite were the stuffed Cerignola olices (red giant olives, buttery notes) with roasted veal, mortadella, thyme, parmigiano in a crunchy polenta crust. Each forkful is slightly different, such a sharp, fine taste. You could easily bring me a small mountain of these to dine on – that alone would make me happy anytime. There is no kids’ menu here and yet you will be grateful for it. Why? Because the staff will simply adapt to your request. Nothing is impossible, nothing is difficult, there always is a smile on - stress free. For once, you do not feel you almost have to apologise for asking and that, my friends is extremely precious! The children had a real feast with the melt-in-the-mouth scrambles eggs on rich salmon and real toasted bread (sorry, the detail matters tremendously to French people!). We quite like, on the menu, the idea of family pasta dishes to share – for 2 or 4. The descriptions are quite inviting too: square spaghettis/pomodoro/olive oil/basil… saffron Strozzapeti/prawns/spinach/squash… Lasagn/spinach/pecorino…
We focused on the meat dishes. My husband is classical but aims for excellence. He was delighted with his grilled beef rib, juicy, sprinkled with fresh herbs, served with triple cooked chips and a perfect gorgonzola sauce. I was similarly seduced by the roasted lamb, pink and oh-so-tender with braised chicory sublimed by the fragrant juices, superb roasted fennel, almost creamy, infused with rosemary. Match this to a glass of Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino, a tuscany wine balancing notes of cherry and blackberry, a long finish, final hint of tobacco and grilled hazelnut.
Dessert wise 9always my favourite part of the meal. I tend to choose that first!) , the tiramisu is almost cloud like, focusing on the quality of the mascarpone, highlighted by the chocolate, not drowned in alcohol as they too often are. The chocolate cake is soaked with a lip-licking good caramel syrup. Do not, as I did, tempt your children into trying it. You will never get your plate back… Now, to really wake your tastebud, have the passionfruit cheesecake with its tropical fruit salad, and passionfruit sorbet. Zesty, tonic, a concentrate of sun and vitamin C!
Verdict: such a relaxing moment, refined tastes, a friendly welcome and such attention brought to the kids who were so proud to be as considered as the adults they were extra quiet. A wonderful address for an elegant meal and to let go of the routine.
Un hôtel de charme, would the French say. A charming yet luxurious little address, in the heart of Séville, yet set in the narrowest street like a hidden gem, a place to be cherished, whispered as a secret. Behind the heavy wooden door, a 17th century private palace, with the traditional patio, so much natural light, stone arches, polishes stones. It is easy to fall in love with it, really. It usually happens within 5 minutes.
Corral de Rey is divided in two, separated by the street. On one side, the superior rooms, on the other the suites, the penthouse with terrace and jaccuzzi on the rooftop. It feels… soft like a carress with the natural, soothing colours, the wooden furniture, the white boutis on the beds, the oh-so-comfy pillows you’d really like to take back home. Even the bathrooms are romantic. You just want to sit, dream, have a cup of tea.
It has a heart, a soul, an atmosphere. Home away from home. We particularly love the warm welcome, the fantastic tips on the city, the help booking and confirming taxis and the smiles, always a smile on.
A problem, though: it is quite hard going back to reality!
Corral del rey
Calle Corral del Rey, 12
At the Royal Horseguard Hotel, details are everything. Afternoon teas are so fashionable they are not a rainy day treat anymore. Birthdays, anniversary, elegant hen parties even weddings, followed or not by a dinner. It makes you dream and smile, transports you to a different, sugary world for a little while. To celebrate spring, until April 07, they will be serving a very special one, inspired by the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Gorgeous china, flowers in cups, there definitely be some magic!
On the savoury side, salmon is first class, Forman & Son, one of the best in the UK. Melt-in-the-mouth, very rich texture, fragrant, not much salt or smoke to let the flavours seduce you entirely, just a dash of lemon juice or caperberries are enough to sublime it. The vegetable bites, roasted aubergine slices wrapped on dried tomatoes and parmesan shavings are worth falling for too. On the presentation evening, I anchored myself to the workshop preparing them. I was amazed by how much attention was brought to the cakes, so much work considering they were making hundreds of them! Look at those: crunchy hats filled with Earl Grey cream and decorated with a white chocolate cup… Mini Battenberg reminding of a chessboard… Decadent chocolate torte delicately infused with thyme, topped with an edible clock, a nice play on words… Irresistible coconut rabbits… Flower biscuit sandwiches on fresh raspberries and a spoonful of jam… Even a “Eat me” passionfruit fizz cake and a “Drink me” potion inspired by bubble drinks, fruit nectar with tapioca pearls. Finally an afternoon tea to fascinate adults and kids alike!
Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea, Until April 07, 2013, £35/adults, £12 per child.
Royal Horseguards Hotel
2 Whitehall Ct
London SW1A 2EJ
Hotel Original – the name certainly has been well chosen. It opens on another world, a fascinating universe where Stella Caldente has used her magic to make this Parisian building a surreal experience. The dream starts at the reception, welcoming you with a sky of tiny lights changing constantly, a glistening rainbow… A few more steps will lead you to the spiraling stairs, crowned with hypnotising blue neons and guarded by an extraordinary jellyfish suspended in the air, a signature piece you will meet throughout the hotel. I wonder how many hundreds of pictures guest have taken of this – it takes quite some time to be convinced to leave the hall! Each room has its theme. One finds inspiration in Alice in Wonderland, another in the forest… Each time you stay in the hotel can be like opening an adventure book. Ours played on a silver palette, shiny, mat, glossy, each mirroring light differently. Each single details had been thought of, from the carpet to the shower tiles, the chair to the bed throw. It takes you by surprise, really, how appeasing this atmosphere is. The jellyfish lamps are there too and I bet you will not resist playing with the optic fibers, decorated with tiny crystal beads. And how luxurious it feels to have a private balcony ovet the Parisian roof, let alone a view on Bastille! Le Marais is a short walk away, offering a myriad of wonderful walks, cafés, restaurants, trendy shops.
Breakfast is served on the ground floor in a room that seems to filter dylight amazingly – even a grayish sky will not affect, it has a certain purity that I cannot define but makes you smile straight away. Indulge in crunchy baguette, melt-in-the-mouth butter pastries, gorgeous orange juice, the so tasty jams by Alain Millat. Yogurt, hot chocolate, fresh fruit are also offered but you will soon realise the croissants, pains au chocolat and pains au raisin topped with fragrant coffee was already quite a French feast.
Such a sweet address to amaze a lover or simply to turn a simple week-end in an unforgettable memory.
8, boulevard Beaumarchais
Once again, the Fashion crowd is rushing to the Somerset House. No catwalk this time but the most stylish exhibition: Valentino : Master of couture presenting no less than 130 iconic dresses by this mythic designer. As part of their Martini Movies, One Aldwych presented in parallel a gorgeous documentary, Valentino: the last Emperor, in their private projection room. They even had created a sparkling cocktail dedicated to haute-couture, the Valentino Red : the crispier champagne you can imagine with a spoonful of molecular caviar. Each of the tiny balls was made one by one with Campari, Aperol and strawberry juice. They danced cheerfully up and down, following the bubbles, like tiny jewels. Irresistible - you just have to eat them slowly, very playful indeed.
Time to settle in the ever-so comfortable, large leather seats of the cinema – there even is a sliding table to each. Ah, the pure luxury of alternating savory or sweet popcorn with a sip of champagne!
As for Valentino: the last Emperor : sumptuous, intimate, touching, funny. A rare glimpse into an amazing life, an extraordinary talent but also a heart-warming complicity, conversations juggling effortless between English, French, Italian. You will laugh with all your heart and sometimes be close to crying too. It just has to be seen, even if you are clueless about fashion. A legend. Rent it, buy it, give it as a Christmas gift to everyone you know.
To perfect the experience, One Aldwych proposes a Very Valentino afternoon tea, which includes a ticket to the exhibition. And mouthwatering treats such as mandarin trifle, almond truffles with winter spices, cranberry scones with home-made plum jam and Devonshire clotted cream, warm crumpets with lemon curd, seasonal sandwiches, tea from the Tea Palace and of course the Valentino Red cocktail. If you have a chance to spend the week-end in London, do upgrade to the Very Valentino experience: a night in their magical rooms, breakfast and two tickets to the exhibition. Elegantissima!
If you have already fallen in love with the magical universe of the Kensington Hotel, you simply need a cocoon evening in their bar, The Aubrey. Murano lights for the most honeyish atmosphere, curved leather sofas - conversations are so much softer, soothed by the clicking of ice in glasses. But the secret is not to rely on the beautiful selection on the menu. Go straight to the counter and talk to Alessandro Pizzoli: this mixologist simply has the golden touch.
We wanted to feel the sparkle of summer again – he swirled Ruinard champagne, vodka, a dash of lime, fresh mint and fragrant raspberry nuggets. Intrigued, I decide to give challenging key words: what could he do around smokiness, ginger and lavender? Not a second of hesitation - you could see hundreds of ideas going through his mind. A few seconds later, he had poured vodka, lemon juice and ginger in a bottle and was infusing it with a smoke gun, a technique that always fascinates me. Very complex on the tongue, both floral and exotic, the drink was exceptionally light and dancing, so very difficult to describe. More a feeling than just flavours…
Now, I am a Vesper girl. If you have read/seen Casino Royale, you probably know that James Bond invented this before dedicating himself to martinis, shaken not stirred, please. It calls for a balance between vermouth, gin and Lillet with just a zest of lemon. Not so easy - you need a purity, a silkiness. You need, well, perfection, really. Any good barman will know the story but Alessandro had so many more anecdotes around it let alone improved it - and you are talking to a purist here - by using Noilly Pratt and Boston Bitters. Modern, energetic: this is a wow Vesper indeed.
The ultimate test? Make me change my mind about Aperol. Beautiful neon colour but its bitterness never convinced me much. And so he smiled a delighted, Cheshire cat smile. And brought me a negroni mixed with the spirit and the most wonderful orange juice ever. Tangy, vibrant, like a fabulous Americano, just enough to get you addicted to it.
In a dream hotel like The Kensington, breakfast just had to be a feast. Just imagine a beautiful table simply covered with fragrant, mouth watering pastries, a gorgeous selection of breads, charcuterie and cheese, an amazing palette of delicately cut fruit. On another counter, you will find the cutest bowls of bircher muesli, smoothies, a collection of dried fruits (including delicious banana chips and cherries!) and nuts to personalise your creamy yogurt or cereals. You will not know where to start. Staying several days? Flavours change daily to keep surprising you - with even a special out of 4 fruit juice: lychee, watermelon, mango… Hot dishes can be ordered à la carte. Why? Simply because they believe in the very best. Muffins are to be just toasted, salmon still moist and tender, the sauce just perfect, the eggs full of flavour and each ingredient still hot. And that makes all the difference. Let alone these are the best Eggs Benedict I have tried so far. I need to go back and try the pancakes! The staff is very caring too, remembering your name, offering warm milk for your coffee or morning papers, all this with a brilliant smile. You see, luxury is in attention to all those details…
Even if your budget does not allow you to stay at the sumptuous Corinthia, take the time to simply cross it, get hypnotised by its splendid lights, the dazzling design, the attention to every single detail, have a fragrant tea, let your mouth water looking at the elegant cakes, look up to the sky under the most splendid glass roof, look for the lone red lamp hidden between hundreds of white ones, step on the other side of the street with the impression of having walked through a dream.
London SW1A 2BD
Love stylish, design hotels? Extra-ordinary, trendy, fabulously colourful universes? Are you a modern traveller, for whom each place, each instant, each detail counts yet likes to travel light? Well Citizen M will be just your cup of tea. Their first London address has opened on Southbank, right behind the Tate Modern. The Thames and contemporary art within reach – a dream location indeed. The ground floor is an amazing jungle of lounges, sofas and chairs, the shelves loaded with books. Because, after a whole day walking around the city, sometimes this is all you need: a place to relax and smile but with a wow-feeling. Checkin in only takes a few seconds: thanks to the flat screens, you can do everything yourself if you wish. depending on the room availability you can even choose your floor.
Indulge in one of the cocktails from the bar ou a creamy cappucino (the mini-café remains open 24/7 and has a great selection of scruptious food), settle down, plan your day: wifi is free throughout the hotel. A number of Macs are available to use. Or just take your laptop to the outside terrace to enjoy the sunshine. Wander to the first floor too: the meeting rooms, each organised by a specific colour are worth admiring and there is an extra balcony to enjoy.
Et les chambres? Prenez de la hauteur… What about the room? Get a little higher…
The rooms go straight to the essential: design, fun, praticity and comfort. A working space with a clever selection of plugs, a huge bed (King size. 2 meters x 2 meters. Fabulous, you can sleep diagonally and still your partner has space), a rain-effect shower. All brand new. True happiness is, I have to confide, in the tablet mood pad. With this, you are the true master of this space: tv (with a selection of free and recent movies), web, radio, wake up call, temperature, window blinds, even the colour projected around. Use your fingertips, select a hue from the rainbow and play. Irresistible. I guarantee you will go to sleep with this on.
Verdict? One of those hotels that leaves you with as many fun memories as the destination. And, surprise, does not break the bank either. Given the central location, the exceptional decoration, the comfort, the services… it could easily have been twice the price by London standards. In a nutshell, style in the most cheerful way, without risking your bank calling you. Two other addresses are to open in 2013, one at St Paul, the other at Tower of London. Citizen M power, my friends.
Citizen M Southbank
20 Lavington Street