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Claridge's Juleps (£18 each)
There’s been a lot to depress us about the London hotel scene recently. Homophobes and boycotts. $127 drinks. Finding out that some of our favorite hotels have minimum spend policies. So when a luxury hotel in London steps up to the plate in terms of superb customer service, and reinforces our every hope about them, instead of dashing said hope into little pieces and then grinding it into the floor with a steel-capped heel, we should all rejoice. Put your hands together then, ladies and gents, for Claridge's.
Last Thursday, I went for drinks at Claridge’s with a friend. Drinks at Claridge’s has always seemed a little intimidating and out of budget for both of us, despite my having stayed there once, and both of us having watched the BBC documentary about Claridge’s more times than is good for us. It’s not your average after-work bar; it’s Claridge’s. Not only that, but there are two bars at Claridge’s: the normal one, and the tiny, sexy, marble-clad, gold-leafed, Lalique-glassed Fumoir that seats only 36, bans photos, and has a no reservations policy. That was the one we wanted.
I arrived first, and approached the Fumoir gingerly. Of course we have room, madam, said a man in a plum-colored velvet dinner jacket. Which table would you prefer? I picked the best table. He allowed me to do so. Score one to Claridge’s.
We told you late last year Simon Rogan would be taking over from Gordon Ramsay as the hotel’s restaurant chef, and now there is not only a name and an opening date, but also the ability to book a table. From today, as of 9am this morning UK time, both online and telephone reservations are open.
The restaurant will be called ‘Fera’ (Latin for wild), reflecting “both the primal influence of nature and the highly seasonal ingredients used in Rogan’s cooking”, and officially opens on Tuesday, May 6 (a big day of openings for London). The website shows lots of images of Rogan’s farm in Cumbria, as well as the above shot of his team at work planning the layout of the tables that will seat 90 guests in total. A private dining room will accommodate a maximum of 12 guests.
If you want to book, head to http://www.claridges.co.uk/fera/ or call +44 (0) 207 107 8888.
After a run of over a decade, Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at Claridge's Hotel in London closed its doors in June this year. Ramsay has kept busy with his many other ventures (including much-hyped Union Street Cafe in Southwark, in the end without pal David Beckham), but we now know what's to come for Claridge's too: chef Simon Rogan, of two-Michelin star restaurant L'Enclume in Cumbria, will take the helm.
The new restaurant will open in Spring 2014, and as befits a hotel like Claridge's, even the construction is done in style. Passing by the hotel recently, the restaurant section on Davies Street has been covered with a 'fake' facade, which pretty successfully obscures what goes on inside.
For the past twelve years, the restaurant at London's five-star Claridge's Hotel was known as "Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's." However, after announcing earlier this month that the restaurant is closing down this June, it is fair to say that, by this summer, "Gordon Ramsay" will most definitely not be "at," "near," or "in the vicinity of" Claridge's at all.
That's right: after over a decade, the Financial Express reports the hotel is parting ways with the blond-haired, blue-eyed kitchen nightmare once and for all, declaring it's time "for a new dining direction."
Fair enough. Hotels certainly have to keep things fresh, and one of the most visible ways to quickly size up a hotel is through its restaurant.
The hotel acknowledged Ramsay's contributions to its "gastronomic history," though didn't comment on whether poor reviews had anything to do with the decision.
Meanwhile, ol' Gordy ought to be keeping plenty busy, as it was revealed last month that his popular FOX show Hotel Hell is being renewed for a second season. So while he might be losing restaurants of his own, at least he'll be able to relieve the stress by yelling demoralizing things to poor, defenseless hoteliers. Ah, the circle of life.
For now though, if "Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's" has been on your bucket list for a while, you've got a little over two months left to hop over to London and give that famous beef Wellington a whirl. Save us some leftovers, will you?
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After John Galliano effectively ousted himself from the House of Dior earlier this year, owing to an anti-semitic tirade caught on camera, the luxury label has lagged in finding a permanent replacement. WIth so much tumult at the company, it's no surprise that London hotel Claridge's has chosen a different designer to take on their annual holiday tree decor. (Dior was responsible for the tree from 2009-2010.)
Precocious and perennial hotel guest Eloise never went to London but if she did, we know exactly where she would stay--Claridge's. Not only is the tea service exciting and the suites oh so fashionable but the hotel now offers its littlest guests The Claridge's Kids Kit, a signature tote bag full of fun toys and games to play with during their stay. No Nanny required!
Inside the kit is a card game called "I Insist!"; a fact-teller that when folded and peeled back reveals facts about the hotel ("The number of cups of tea served in the afternoon total up to around a staggering 164,250 per year!"); a "Dress Me Up" paper doll and a couple of Magic Flyer butterflies that fly when their wings have been wound up.
The tote also gives kids (and aspiring hotelier adults too?) a chance to "Make Your Own Hotel" with a version of Claridge's that needs some life breathed into it--in the form of stickers of course.
Valentine's Day for hotels usually means breaking out the cases of champagne and loading up on chocolate-covered strawberries to place throughout their guestrooms. But we're not into that. We've already told you our favorite hotels for Valentine's Day but this week, we'd like to spotlight some of the most opulent V-Day packages out there. If you're going to impress your schmoopie, why not go all out?
Old-school romantics looking for a more refined Valentine's Day should try out Claridge's in London. You won't find whipped cream bikinis or Kama Sutra kits here.
For its Vintage Love Affair package, the Mayfair hotel offers V-Day staples, like Champagne and some nibbles. Though they get Claridge's upgrade with Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 1988 and rose marshmallows, made specifically to complement the rosé, from delectable Paris pastry shop Ladurée.
Are you one of the lucky people who bagged tickets to Paul McCartney at the O2 on December 22? We
want to wrestle them from your hands are really pleased for you. So pleased that we’ll even help you out with where to stay.
But first, a little tutorial on how to get to and from O2.
If you’ve been to the O2, you’ll know it’s in the back end of beyond - otherwise known as North Greenwich. As such, there aren’t really any hotels on site (and if there were, you probably wouldn’t want to stay there – you want happy memories of Macca, after all). Do not fear though, because the place is linked up extremely well with the rest of London.
What’s crucial is that you don’t go by car. Yes, Macca probably will, but he’ll likely have a police escort or something. You, as a mortal, will find it trickier. We tried to drive to the O2 from central London once and it took two hours and a relationship-testing argument. We could have walked in that time.
Public transport links are excellent, though. The easiest, and most fun way, is to get a boat down the Thames with Thames Clippers. They run a special O2 Express service from Waterloo Pier, in front of the London Eye, to the QEII Pier at the O2, which they lay on for special events – like Macca. A return journey is bookable a month before the event, costs £12, and although it’s pricey, it’s very classy – everyone gets a seat, thanks to safety regs, and you can get champagne with your ticket for £7.50 more.
You’d think that with all them classy hotels around in London catering for all them A list celebs, there’d be one that came up to Victoria Beckham’s high standards, right? And among those classy hotels, Claridge’s would be up there with the best, no?
Um, no. According to the Sun and the London Lite, Posh and Becks fled the hotel on Sunday night, when they found it being seriously pillaged by the cast of EastEnders (which, for those of you not au fait with your Brit soaps, is like any of your American dramas, except the characters work in cafes and on market stalls shifting designer knockoffs rather than living off Daddy’s squillions).