There is something to be said about being the first to know—and a new website focused on London allows for just that. “There is a lot of social currency in checking out new openings before the masses,” says editor Kirsty Hathaway, who started the site Just Opened London with cofounder Lauren Scott. “[We allow] readers to be a step ahead with minimal effort.”
The premise is simple. Instead of creating a compendium of all the restaurants, shops and bars in one of the world’s most traveled towns, the duo zeros in on the best new offerings. A click on the site’s calendar reveals an up-to-the-minute guide on where to be and what to see—a useful service for scene-loving locals and visitors alike. “Given the fast-paced nature of the world, travel guides tend to be outdated before they’re printed,” says Hathaway. “We’re all about the now.”
The pair plans to expand the model to New York, Los Angeles and Shanghai. For now, they let us in on the most anticipated spring restaurant openings in their inaugural city. JustOpenedLondon.com.
Bird of Smithfield (Opening May 1) Alan Bird, the former executive chef at The Ivy, ventures out solo with this eponymous restaurant and bar. He serves up his famed shepherd’s pie in a five-floor Georgian townhouse alongside an intimate live-music venue called The Birdcage. 26 Smithfield St.; birdofsmithfield.com.
Casa Negra (Opening in May) Following the overwhelming success of its sister eatery La Bodega Negra, which serves Mexican street food, Casa Negra will take over the old Great Eastern Dining Room in Shoreditch to dole out its own Mexican cuisine. 54-56 Great Eastern St.; casanegrarestaurant.tumblr.com.
The Clove Club (Opened March 4) This is already becoming London’s must-book eatery (pictured above). Daniel Willis, Johnny Smith and Isaac McHale, founders of the restaurant Upstairs at the Ten Bells, settle into Shoreditch Town Hall with a nightly tasting menu. 380 Old St.; 44-20/7729-6496; thecloveclub.com.
Restaurant Story (Opened April 19) Tom Sellers has worked alongside the likes of Tom Aikens and Thomas Keller—and now he’s opening his own place. His Bermondsey restaurant has two kitchens (one within the dining room) and cooks up a six- or ten-course menu for dinner and a three-courser for lunch. It is British food with simple ingredients. Perfection. 201 Tooley St.; restaurantstory.co.uk.
Social Eating House (Opened April 18) Jason Atherton's third venture offers a delicious contemporary bistro menu paying homage to the best of British cooking with international influences. Atherton wants the Social Eating House to be, well, social. 58 Poland St.; 44-20/7993-3251; socialeatinghouse.com.
Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his fiancé, Justin Mikita, are taking a stylish stand for marriage equality this holiday season with a new collection of limited-edition bow ties ($25 each). Inspired by Ferguson’s penchant for red-carpet pizazz, the couple started Tie the Knot, a foundation to help fund states that are fighting for same-sex marriage. For the recently engaged couple, the endeavor is personal in more ways than one, with many of the bow-tie designs slyly referencing their home. “That one is inspired by the afghan on our couch!” says Ferguson of one model. “No one is going to know that except for me—and, well, anyone who comes to our house and happens to be wearing that tie.”
Another piece in the collection resembles an upholstered chair in the couple’s living room, while others riff on a book of Scottish tartans Ferguson found in his late grandmother’s house. Although the actor laments that Modern Family creators shy away from casual bow ties on the show, which seems to be the only reason his character, Mitchell, doesn't wear them, he hopes Tie the Knot ties will be worn on the Emmy-award winning sitcom soon—complete with their signature, and significant, owl motif, which appears on several of the designs.
“We think owls are incredibly cute,” says Ferguson. “Owls represent wisdom, but they also represent patience and longevity. People who are in the fight for marriage equality have to take on those attributes.” thetiebar.com; tietheknot.org.
Pinot Noir grapes are notoriously finicky. Grown on the edge of a climatic region, they are challenged each year—too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry. In response, some winemakers are as thin-skinned as their grapes, carefully guarding their battle plan in hopes of sinking the competition. It’s different in Oregon, says International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) executive director Amy Wesselman. “Everybody up here gets on the phone and shares ideas.”
The camaraderie among Oregon winemakers creates superb Pinot Noir. (The famously awesome 2008 vintage buoyed the region as the recession hit.) It also makes for one heck of a party. The International Pinot Noir Celebration hosts its 26th annual festival July 27 to July 29 at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, just an hour’s drive from Portland. The festivities begin Thursday with pre-festival dinners at local vineyards, such as scenic Anne Amie’s Counter Culture shindig, which pairs “street food” from Portland restaurants with international wines. Over the course of the long weekend, 800 guests will taste Pinot Noir from 70 wineries throughout the world.
Keynote speaker Kyle MacLachlan kicks off the celebration formally on Friday morning. In 2005, the actor (Desperate Housewives, Twin Peaks) began a partnership with Washington’s Dunham Cellars to create his own wine, Pursued by Bear. His recent satirical stint as the mayor on Portlandia has Oregonians ready to be ribbed.
During daytime sessions, guests split into groups for a grand seminar on campus or a vineyard tour. (The groups swap itineraries on Saturday.) This year, the IPNC introduces the new University of Pinot program, nine seminar-style classes taught concurrently. Alfresco luncheons and suppers punctuate the formal sessions, including an impressive Saturday night salmon bake, where hundreds of alder-staked wild salmon are roasted over an open fire pit. A sparkling wine toast on Sunday morning ends the formal program, and the strong of heart finish the weekend with a Walkabout, an à la carte afternoon tasting of all the wines featured.
“My favorite kind of guest is the guest who shows up and knows very little about wine,” says Wesselman, nodding to the festival’s welcoming vibe. “By the end of the weekend, not only did they have a fantastic time, but they know more about Pinot Noir than 99 percent of the people they will ever run into in the world. Everything is on a level playing field. If you’re at IPNC, you’re with us all weekend long. It’s like a big summer camp.” 800-775-4762; ipnc.org.
Los Angeles–based fashion designer Trina Turk isn’t one for dallying. On a recent trip to St. Regis Princeville in Kaua’i, Hawaii, she and her husband, photographer Jonathan Skow, rented a Mini Cooper and took the island by storm, hiking the Na Pali Coast, paddleboarding in Hanalei Bay and popping into local dive bar Tahiti Nui for pupus and cocktails. Yet while the designer is perfectly capable of plotting an adventurous getaway, she can also create the perfect place to do nothing at all—evident in the new Trina Turk Cabana at the hotel.
The brilliant colors of Kaua’i—aqua (the ocean), greens (the verdant rainforest), citrus hues (the sunshine)—inspired Turk’s palette for the cabana, which is positioned between the hotel’s infinity pool and the beachfront. The spot beckons VIPs. (Jennifer Lopez lounged there when the project was in its early design phases; skateboard impresario Tony Hawk reserved it recently.) Two chaise loungers bedecked with cushions and throw pillows (gleaned from Turk’s indoor/outdoor furnishing line for Schumacher) festoon the tent with plucky prints. A ceiling fan hovers overhead, and the side tables hold iPads filled with Turk’s favorite novels by Dawn Powell and W. Somerset Maugham. Guests will find chilled champagne in the cabana’s mini-fridge, and the signature Trina Blue cocktail (fresh blueberries, Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka, Veev Acai Berry Liqueur, a lemon twist) is also on the menu.
St. Regis Hotels and Resorts has partnered with fashion designers in recent years to create unique interiors, such as the Dior Suite at St. Regis New York, but the cabana marks its first turn at taking the trend alfresco—and we can’t wait to see what comes next. “I’d love to see you in a loud print,” Turk once told a St. Regis staffer, spying her muted uniform. Maybe next year… $500 per day; 5520 Ka Haku Rd.; 808-826-9644; stregisprinceville.com.
Courtesy “The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows - The First 100 Years” by Robert S. Anderson, Official Historian for The Beverly Hills Hotel, publication date May 2012.
This week marks the centennial of The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows. To celebrate the occasion, Robert S. Anderson, the hotel’s official historian, is releasing a 396-page biography of the hotel titled The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows: The First 100 Years ($100). Anderson is the great-grandson of the hotel’s original owner, Margaret Anderson, and his unique perspective results in a stunning compendium of images and anecdotes.
The history of The Beverly Hills Hotel is the history of Beverly Hills itself. The resort opened in 1912; the city was founded in 1914. “Beverly Hills was built around the hotel,” says Anderson. “Only about 75 people lived on property and they needed 550 inhabitants to become a city, so [railroad magnate] Henry Huntington had his railroad crew camp out.” In 1926, Will Rogers was named the city’s honorary mayor, and the comedian cheekily accepted his new position on the front lawn of the hotel. “During his inauguration, Rogers said that Beverly Hills would do well because there are two swimming pools to every Bible,” says Anderson. “That comment got him thousands of letters addressed to ‘Will Rogers, Beverly Hills.’ That embarrassed the government into giving us our own post office.”
Anderson’s book captures other moments, too. Marlene Dietrich smokes a cigarette in the Polo Lounge. Marilyn Monroe reclines in a swimsuit on the lawn. Faye Dunaway poses poolside with her Oscar for Network (1976). If Old Hollywood had a clubhouse, the “Pink Palace” would be it—and that was true even before it was painted pink. (Designer Paul Williams, creator of the hotel’s iconic logo, introduced the color in 1948.) The transformation of Beverly Hills from barren desert to lush Xanadu is a running theme in the book, and Anderson’s favorite image out of the 540 he curated captures that metamorphosis. “It’s a photograph looking west,” he says. “Where the swimming pool is today, there’s a tennis court. The landscape is bare and the grounds are filled with scrub brush. You can see the ocean.” BeverlyHillsCollection.com.
Perched on the roof and featuring a grand, wraparound balcony, the 1,830-square-foot one-bedroom penthouse at 45 Park Lane (which opened last fall) offers panoramic views of Hyde Park as well as postcard monuments such as the London Eye. As London’s grand season kicks off—the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is just around the corner—Departures asked architect-designer Thierry Despont to weigh in on his inspiration for the exquisite penthouse.
How does the design of 45 Park Lane interact with its venerable sister property, The Dorchester? From the start, we were keen on designing a building that would be iconic yet contemporary, that would blend into its surroundings and, at the same time, announce its presence as the new landmark on Park Lane. The horizontal metal fins we designed for the façade accentuate the dynamic shape of the building and respond to the gentle, inward curve of The Dorchester. Another important design element, inspired by flowing curtains, is the exterior art panels, which is a monumental sculpture that has been approved by the Westminster Council as an art piece. The council was so intent on highlighting them, they encouraged more exterior lighting.
There’s also remarkable art within the penthouse. Most of the art throughout was specifically commissioned for 45 Park Lane. The penthouse suite displays work by Sir Peter Blake depicting a modern interpretation of Rotten Row—the historic see-and-be-seen avenue in Hyde Park. The collection highlights British artists, celebrities and London views.
What influenced the palette of the penthouse suite? The textiles? The views of Hyde Park, the sun filtering in during the morning and the blue skies. There’s a contemporary timelessness. [I chose] natural materials such as marble, cerused mahogany, suede, leather and silk velvet, trying to keep things clean yet sumptuous rather than overwhelming with patterns.
Which signature Thierry Despont design elements will our travelers recognize? Luxurious fabrics, ultra-comfortable custom-made furniture, well-appointed dressing areas and breathtaking bathrooms.
How would you describe your overarching vision for the penthouse? It’s a gorgeous hotel space that doesn’t feel like a hotel.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso—a Rosewood Resort in Cabo San Lucas—unveiled its newly expanded spa this month, taking its already decadent environment of luxury oceanfront casitas to new heights. New facilities at the spa—which has doubled in size—include a spacious lobby area and solarium, a full-service salon using Oribe and Davines hair products and eight treatment cabanas with private terraces, including two specially suited for couples.
The spa has also expanded its treatment offerings. The new Flor de Luna treatment uses a custom-blended dragon-fruit scrub, while the Holistic Twilight Ceremony employs an authentic shaman to administer ritual blessings and balance energy. But the resort’s traditional Four Elements services, inspired by earth, air, fire and water, are also a treat. Many of the spa’s therapists have been with the property for years and are skilled at the arts of healing touch and relaxation. After treatments, as guests relax in sun-dappled-solarium lounge chairs, sipping cucumber water and nibbling skewers of artfully sliced fruit, it’s clear the only pressing issue on their minds is planning their next trip here. rosewoodhotels.com/en/lasventanas
Mark Badgley and James Mischka are known for designing evening wear, yet in creating an imperial suite for the Breakers Palm Beach, the duo found their creative process applied seamlessly to interior design. “The curtains could be taffeta ball gowns,” they mused. “A lamp is the ultimate accessory.”
Their 1,700-square-foot, one-bedroom suite is the historic property’s first designer collaboration, and the crown jewel of a recently completed $80 million room renovation. As frequent guests of the hotel, the designers said they aimed to highlight the property’s traditional grandeur while creating a modern space. “We started with the idea of a modern ship,” they said. “The bones were there. It just needed to be updated and decorated.” To do so, they chose an oyster, linen and terra-cotta palette, kept the marble floors clean and added variant textures such as burlap, silk and gold. The couture beveled–edge mirrors in the bedroom and bar and the Todd Hase custom-designed furniture throughout the suite add eye-catching elements. A particular highlight: the grosgrain-ribbon-trimmed linen sofa. We’ll take two.
The designers, who had a hand in every last detail, are justifiably proud of the treasures they hunted in antique stores and estate sales along the Dixie Highway. Surely, the native shopkeepers got a kick out of a personal visit from Badgley Mischka. “Considering the economy and the Breakers’ history, it was important for us to stay local,” they said. That decision brought with it a fair share of adventures. “The shell-encrusted console in the entryway weighs 1,500 pounds. It took five guys to get it up the stairs!” Like the designers’ imprint, it’s here to stay. From $2,300 per night; thebreakers.com.
Yuletide arrives in London with the unveiling of Claridge’s Christmas tree. In 2009, the Art Deco hotel introduced a new tradition by tapping talented guests to trim it. That year John Galliano produced what he described as a “frozen tropical Christmas,” replete with icy blue snow leopards and crystal orchids. In 2010, Galliano took the holidays “under the sea,” with a coral creation flanked by giant sea horses.
This December, Lanvin Creative Director Alber Elbaz gives the traditional tannenbaum a Continental twist. The Christmas evening tableau depicts the Lanvin family, created in handmade silk poupee figures, lounging on French antique furniture after a few too many tipples. The cheeky cast of characters includes a doorman, a maid, Mr. and Mrs. Lanvin and—ooh la la—Mr. Lanvin’s mistress. What could be more French! The guests are perched poised to open dozens of Lanvin gift boxes, tucked under a tree bedecked with glass orbs and exotic birds designed in Lanvin’s Paris atelier. Floating above all, a Christmas topper displays a magic wand, glitter wings and decidedly familiar spectacles. In this fantastical creation, Alber Elbaz is an angel indeed. On display until January 2, 2012; claridges.co.uk.
What’s old is new again! The Hotel Georgia was the toast of Vancouver, BC, when it opened in 1927, and it held that premier position for decades—attracting the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Elvis Presley and British royals. But after nearly a century of stays and celebrations, the hotel’s worn decor began to belie its storied past. That is, until Rosewood Hotels and Resorts stepped in to give the property a multimillion-dollar renovation and reopened it in July as the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.
Today the property is a study in modern elegance. The grand lobby features several striking Czech crystal chandeliers, among 110 on-site. More than 200 pieces of Canadian art are on view throughout the property, as well as three fine displays of British art—two pieces in the lobby by Patrick Hughes and, notably, a limited-edition Damien Hirst print of Big Love with Diamond Dust. The Canadian pride extends to the spa, where treatments such as the Vancouver Signature Sensation employ products sourced from native ingredients like glacial clay. The guest rooms solve every historic property’s small-space riddle through inspired furniture arrangements, hidden outlets and a dual purpose television/computer flatscreen.
Most remarkable of all is David Hawks¬worth’s eponymous restaurant. The native Vancouverite has designed a menu that’s a la minute and elegant, but not at all fussy. The surprising seasonal options include a Bartlett pear salad with extraordinary imported burrata and an outrageous chestnut and black truffle agnolotti. For his dream venture, Hawksworth recruited a crack team of collaborators. Sommelier Terry Threlfall of London’s Chez Bruce guides guests through an extensive and—encased in glass as it is—attractive cellar. If you’re in the mood to drink Canadian, Threlfall may suggest Riesling from Sterling Vineyards and Poplar Grove to bookend Le Vieux Pin’s Roussanne/Viognier blend or a Foxtrot Vineyards’ Pinot Noir. If you’ve never heard of these winemakers, never fear: The sommelier offers a quick primer in Canadian wine.
In a town that often catches flak for its lackluster nightlife (two words: “hockey bars”), bar manager Brad Stanton’s tasty cocktail menu is a welcome revelation. For the hotel’s signature cocktail, Stanton paged through Ted Saucier’s seminal 1951 book, Bottoms Up, and found a recipe for the Hotel Georgia Cocktail. Apparently Saucier had traveled to Vancouver! The barman adjusted the recipe’s proportions and kept the egg white topper to create a smooth, timeless cocktail served in a coupe Champagne glass. Sipping it, then or now, there’s only one place you could be.
The Hotel Georgia Cocktail 1¾ oz. Plymouth gin ¾ oz. lemon juice ½ oz. orgeat 6 drops orange blossom water 1 egg white Nutmeg Beginning with the egg, combine all ingredients (except nutmeg) and shake. Add ice, shake again. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Dust with nutmeg.
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