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Yesterday was India's Independence Day so it was a fitting day to welcome back the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, which reopened its Palace Wing yesterday. This part of the beloved hotel had been closed since the terrorist attacks of November 2008, which killed 166 people and also hit Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, a railway station and a cafe.
The Tower Wing of the hotel has been open for more than a year but now, with $37 million worth of renovations, the Palace Wing is now back in business as well. Part of the restoration project included work on the Taj's extensive art collection, which has been painstakingly restored for the reopening—with over 300 important pieces now hanging in the banquet hall, the lounge, and a bar off the main lobby.
Would Obama stay here? Umm...
We’re always up for hotel refurbs here at HotelChatter, so it’s nice to see 51 Buckingham Gate are keeping their rooms ticking over – they just renovated five suites at a cost of a cool $1.8million. Apparently:
The inspiration behind the renovation was to extend a feeling of tranquility, evoked by 51's unique setting, positioned around a secluded courtyard garden - a rarity in central London.
Two E: where you'll be drinking your iced tea
When we first got word of the Pierre’s new $24 prix-fixe lunch, we thought maybe they’d missed a zero off the price. But on inspection, it’s all good. Even better, according to the hotel, it’s officially Iced Tea Month – and a better excuse to go to the Pierre and drink iced tea we have yet to hear.
The $24 menu is served at bar-lounge Two E on weekdays from 10.30am-3pm. For your moneys, you open with an iced tea (posh iced tea, though - mango passion black, organic peppermint or mountain berry), progress to a main (grilled cheddar panini with a gazpacho shot or lobster or nicoise salad), and finish off with a dessert of either fruit tart or sorbet.
No, it's hardly Le Caprice, but it's summer and it's $24. Plus, you get to spread the iced tea gospel afterwards. Sorted!
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Not to be trumped in the posh stakes by the Dorchester’s Harvey Nicks shopping package, the posh 51 Buckingham Gate (owned by Taj, next door to Buckingham Palace) has come up with its own posh partnership.
The Harrods at 51 Buckingham Gate package gives you bed and breakfast accommodation, free evening cocktails, a chauffeured ride in a Jaguar to and from Harrods, £100 off your purchases, access to the Harrods personal shopping service and “membership to Harrods Rewards’ prestigious black tier level” (whatever that is – we’re too poor to do anything in Harrods except look at the tacky Diana memorial).
What’s interesting about this, though, is the price – it starts at £330 ($488) per night, and when they ran a very similar promotion at the end of last year, prices started at an absurd £550.
We told you last month that the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Laguna Beach was hosting "Pure Seduction" parties every Thursday as a way to liven up its staid hotel offerings. The weekly dance parties are held in the lobby and when were there, we observed hotel guests, locals and cougars alike shimmying on the dance floor until the wee hours.
Now on the East Coast, cougars, recent college grads, partying parents and even the old folk, can hit up the newly redone Pierre Hotel for their twice-monthly dance parties, Rumor, which take place in the hotel lobby's bar, Two E. The NYT reports that all ages were recently be-bopping to Rihanna, Jay-Z and Lady Gaga in a hotel that was once a formal gathering place for high society.
Running every other Thursday from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., Rumor has gained a following, attracting a lively crowd of young professionals, hotel guests and longtime Upper East Side residents who miss the Pierre’s old piano bar, now subsumed by the restaurant Le Caprice.
Best of all, the party is open to everyone. There's no dress code and no velvet rope to cross. We'll have to check this out when the hotel has its next dance party on April 22. Anyone game to meet us there?
[Photo: New York Times]
Yes, these people will happily pocket your cash
Are you part of the mega-rich? Do you lie awake at night, worrying about what to do with all those $100 bills which are currently acting as stuffing for your mattress? Yes? Then fret no more, because we have found the package for you.
The understated-but-seriously-swish 51 Buckingham Gate, neighbour to the queen, Taj property and purveyor of pawsh BBQs, has teamed up with Harrods for their imaginatively named Harrods at 51 package.
As you might surmise, it’s pretty bling. The package consists of three nights B&B accommodation, a chauffeured Jaguar to Harrods, £100 gift card, 10% off stuff from the Food Hall, membership to the “Harrods Rewards” loyalty program and an invite to their personal shopping service. Oh, and they’ll throw in a cocktail-n-canapés reception in the evening for when you come back exhausted from flexing your little manicured fingers all day long.
The Martha Stewarts in our readership might find it sacrilege to think of eating out on Thanksgiving. But for the 98 percent of the rest of you (ourselves included), it can be quite tempting to hear about Turkey Day festivities at hotels (no slaving over the oven all day, no manic cleaning session minutes before guests arrive).
Last week we rounded up a few Thanksgiving dinners at major hotels around the country, but, of course, there are additions to make. Like the Taj Boston, which is offering a $75 three-course prix fixe chef’s menu at The Café. Bonus: The hotel is thanking its guests for their holiday patronage with a $75 per person guestroom rate (with purchase of dinner for two).
The official opening of Le Caprice in the Pierre Hotel was on Monday, but well before then a string of celebrities had already graced the deco-styled restaurant. As an outpost of the London Le Caprice, in the same stable as fellow London hotspots The Ivy and Annabel’s, the celeb contingent makes sense. Stars love nothing more than being first to try something, even if it does involve putting deliciously rich food in their mouths.
Anna Wintour threw a Vogue book party there, while J.Lo, Marc Anthony and Naomi Campbell dined with shoe god Christian Louboutin at the opening celebration. So far only renderings have been available of the black-and-white dining room, lined with David Bailey photographs—however we do note a heavy use of mirrored panels, which the A-list is sure to adore.
With the days starting to get cooler, the Taj Boston is ready to start its Fireside Season on October 15. We've always been tickled by hotel rooms with fireplaces, even if we never actually need to light the fire. But the Taj has gone above and beyond by employing Fireside Butlers. Yes, butlers whose sole job is to make sure your fire is burning bright.
And not only that, but they've got some fireside specials going, starting next week and going right through to April 1 next year.
The Fireside Tailgate deal is for sports lovers – rather than brave the cold to watch a game in the flesh, the Taj Boston suggests you "tailgate" it next to the fireplace in your hotel room, where you can watch it on the 42-inch flatscreen and enjoy an in-room "picnic" with choices like chicken pot pie, clam chowder or a Kobe beef burger, along with drinks of your choice.
The good news: The Pierre is open again. The bad news: rates are pretty high. The slightly better-than-bad-news: they're not quite as high as we'd originally thought and the lowest rate we could find, $506, comes with a free shoe shine. Yay, we guess?
Taj's (well, now Taj's) iconic midtown property underwent a $100 million renovation and reopened on June 1st; and the new design, according to designers James Park Associates:
Each [room] is infused with subtle references to the heritage of The Pierre's Indian custodian, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. Soft colour palettes, inspired by the jewels of the Maharajas, are complemented by soft furnishings of rich silks and brocades, whilst traditional patterns are abstracted into decorative motifs, reinforcing the theme in a delicate, understated manner. The high ceilings of these residential-style interiors, and an abundance of natural light, emphasise The Pierre's renowned comfort and opulence.
The photo above is one of the first we've seen of the new rooms, which are going for $506 as a "summer special" rate. They go up (er, significantly) from there a City View Suite with one king bed, for instance, will run you $1,628.
Summer finally arrived in London this weekend (and we mean actual heat; 27 degrees, or 80F) which means barbecues are in order (as well as stripping off and hitting the parks).
Those who are too gourmet/lazy to do a bit of grilling themselves, though and to be fair, it's hard for the gardenless in the city should mosey down to 51 Buckingham Gate (Taj’s London pad which, as the name suggests, is just around the corner from Buckingham Palace).
They’ve installed a huge BBQ in their courtyard 'round the side, which will, weather permitting, be dishing out BBQ grub every night until September 16th. And it's no scraggy bun-fest either; these meals are being planned by the hotel's Michelin-starred chef Sriram Ayur.
Until last week, if you said “Langkawi" to us, we’d have replied ”Datai”. Admittedly, this is mainly because we once had the pleasure of interviewing his hotness Ewan McGregor, and he said that the Datai was his favourite hotel in the world, and we’ve been indulging in poolside cocktail fantasies ever since. But also, the Datai is pretty synonymous with Langkawi luxury.
Langkawi luxury, Datai-style, comes at a price, though – rooms start at $400 and up. We were looking for luxury on a budget, so when we found rates at $121 at the Taj Rebak Island Resort (formerly known as the Rebak Marina Resort), we decided that Ewan wasn’t really worth an extra $300 a night.
We were a bit hesitant on arrival, because the website wasn’t that inspiring, and TripAdvisor had some very mixed reviews. Speaking to locals, apparently it used to be a little grim before Taj took it over two years ago – but none of them had been out since the revamp.
So we were preparing for the worst. As we were being driven from the airport down a grotty, un-paved path to the hotel jetty (it’s the only resort on Langkawi to be on its own private island, so you have to get a boat to and from the main island of Langkawi), we were having doubts.
But then we reached a pretty little gazebo with snazzy armchairs on the water’s edge, and after a short wait (we timed our flight well) we got onto the boat. It’s about 10-15 minutes to the island, and on our way we spied a pod of dolphins. Things were looking up.