Browsing Tag

five star hotel London

Bars, Hotels, London

Blooming Brilliance at The Rib Room, London

The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant at Jumeirah Carlton Tower brings a floral touch to Knightbridge with its Blooming Brilliance summer pop-up bar.

A central London institution, The Rib Room is luxurious yet homely – it’s the kind of place that you could easily become a regular.

I discovered the bar at The Rib Room last year and loved its elegant, clubby atmosphere, exquisite cocktails and delicious bar plates – the famed crab and lobster burger with thermidor sauce is seriously indulgent.

To celebrate the arrival of summer, one of the cosy private rooms has been transformed into an exotic floral retreat with a statement wall bursting with botanical herbs, vibrant flowers and citrus shrubs.  The floral theme continues on the fabulous outdoor terrace where you can enjoy al fresco drinks and a spot of people-watching.

Saverio Vicari, Head Mixologist at The Rib Room, has created 17 botanical-inspired cocktails and seasonal light cuisine specially for Blooming Brilliance.  The tempting cocktail menu features English classics with a floral twist, made using summery, refreshing spirits such as Bombay Sapphire Gin and Grey Goose Vodka.

I visited with a small group of writers and we tasted a variety of excellent cocktails from the menu such as the Jack and Shrub made with Gentleman Jack Bourbon, Amaro Lucano and strawberry shrub served in a copper mug and the zingy Tea Break with Bombay dry gin, green Chartreuse, green tea syrup and cucumber shrub.

Undoubtedly the all-round favourite of our group was the Basil Sour – Beluga vodka, lemon juice, ginger syrup and a teaspoon of basil olive oil.  It was aromatic and invigorating with a typical agrodolce flavour.

We chatted away late into the evening and enjoyed the sultry sounds of the live jazz band while grazing on moreish canapes including sticky sesame chicken, lobster tartlets, asparagus and prosciutto in breadcrumbs and tempura tiger prawns.  Weekday nights in the Royal Borough don’t come much better than this!

Blooming Brilliance will host a series of showcase evenings including Cocktail Creations on the 25thJune, and a summer botanical food demonstration on the 2nd July for £30.00 per person.  Open every day from 4pm, now until 2nd August.

Chérie City was a guest of The Rib Room

All photos by The Rib Room

Events, Hotels, London, Restaurants

Mark Hix Carving Master Class at Brown’s Hotel, London

One of my all-time favourite meals is a good roast, so I was thrilled to be invited to an exclusive Carving Master Class with Mark Hix at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair.

HIX restaurants are known for their top notch British meat and seafood, so where better to learn how to wield a carving knife than at HIX Mayfair?

The master class was hosted in the elegant Clarendon Room with wall murals painted with verses from Rudyard Kipling’s The Way Through the Woods and views over Dover Street.

I’d imagined the event would simply be a demonstration and Q&A but it was in fact a private dinner for a small group hosted entirely by Mark Hix for over two hours.  It was a rare treat to spend an evening with a renowned chef in this intimate setting and be able to chat freely.

We started the evening with a welcome drink before sitting down to get carving.  Mark spoke about the quintessentially British art of carving and introduced the cuts of meat that we’d be sampling during the dinner.

He then invited us to each come up and try carving a whole fillet of smoked salmon into thin slices for our sharing starters.  It made for a good ice-breaker and luckily there wasn’t too much pressure to be an instant carving pro.

The Albemarle smoked salmon ‘Hix cure’ was a million miles away from your regular supermarket smoked salmon with deep, oaky flavours and a melt-in-the-mouth texture –  I couldn’t get enough of it.

It was accompanied by some very moreish Whipped broad beans with Herefordshire goat’s curd and grilled flatbreads and a fresh, tangy Isle of Wight tomato and lovage salad with Sarson’s malt vinegar.

Our first main course meat was Roast Swainson House Farm barn-reared Indian Rock chicken served with Charlotte potato and green onion salad.

This is the signature Hix chicken – full of theatre and spectacle impaled on a spike with outstretched claws.  It is of course more natural than the usual trussed up chickens, but I can’t help thinking it has a rather comical Tim Burton-esque appearance.

I was the first in our group to carve the bird and I hesitantly got hold of the claw and sliced downwards to remove the leg, revealing the breast meat.  Once it was carved down to the bones, we all chose our cuts and helped ourselves to the side dishes served family-style.

This was one delicious chicken with flavoursome meat, golden, crispy skin and a tasty stuffing made with fresh sage, fried onions and chicken livers.  The potato salad was a nice summer alternative to the usual trimmings, but we still kept with tradition and enjoyed it with gravy.

I asked Mark the best way to make gravy and he told us that it’s difficult to get really good gravy if you prepare it at the same time as the meat from the roasting juices.  He advised simmering chicken wings and necks with some roasted vegetables in a pressure cooker and making large quantities in advance, storing in the freezer until the next roast.

The meat was paired with Mark Hix’s own wine (in collaboration with fellow restaurateur Mitch Tonks) - 2013 Tonnix White, Quinta de la Rosa, Douro Portugal.  Being part of the YBA scene, he asked his mate Tracey Emin to etch a drawing for the label – it’s definitely the coolest bottle of wine I’ve ever seen.

I could have easily wolfed down more of the chicken, but it’s worth pacing yourself as there are still two other meats to indulge is and the portion sizes just seem to increase.

Next up was the Herb-baked leg of Launceston lamb with Minted cucumber, samphire and shallot salad.  The magnificent joint of lamb was cooked in hay to lock in moisture and keep the meat soft.  The lamb was incredibly succulent and juicy with a layer of browned, melted fat.  I’m not a fan of cucumber, but the salad looked colourful and fresh.

To round off the meat feast, we enjoyed Roast Boccadon Farm rib of veal with Broad bean and Wye Valley asparagus salad.  This was my favourite, as the veal was so lean and tender with a very clean taste.  By this point I think we let Chef handle the carving and were treated to chunky, substantial halved ribs each.

The veal was paired with another excellent HIX wine – 2013 Tonnix Red, Quinta de la Rosa, Douro Portugal (there’s also a rosé wine in the collection).

Of course there’s always room for dessert and this one was a very boozy Oakchurch Farm strawberry and Tonnix white port trifle.  It was light and fruity with vanilla-scented cream, velvety custard, sponge soaked in copious amounts of white port and jelly studded with fresh strawberries.

Usually a big roast might end with an afternoon snooze, of which lucky Brown’s Hotel guests will have the privilege, but we finished with a round of espresso (Jasmine tea for me) and exquisite Cider brandy truffles.

Before leaving, we had the chance to select a Mark Hix cookbook, which he kindly signed and personalised.  I chose the HIX Oyster and Chop House book and look forward to trying some of the recipes.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were kindly given a goody bag packed with Cornish sea salt, hillfarm rapeseed oil, some insanely decadent Hix Fix morello cherries in Somerset cider brandy, a copy of the first HIX Magazine and a Brown’s Hotel apron.

The Mark Hix Carving Master Class was such a fun, friendly private dining experience and I highly recommend it for carnivorous foodies looking for something a bit special.

Two-hours classes are hosted by Mark Hix every month (priced at £185 per person) and include a feast of sharing starters, all of the featured cuts of meats with wines to match, dessert and a goody bag including a signed cookbook and Brown’s apron.

Forthcoming dates: Wednesday 24th June, 29th July, 30th September, 28th October & 18th November 2015.  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Browns Hotel

Photos by Chérie City and Browns Hotel


Accessories, Designers, Fashion, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, London Fashion Week, Restaurants, Shopping

Chloé Debuts at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

It’s rare that I write about hotel packages, but Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London’s partnership with French fashion maison Chloé is just too fabulous not to share.

I can’t resist a luxury fashion and hotel collaboration when it’s done well and the Chloé Debuts package is a cut above the rest.  In celebration of London Fashion Week, hotel guests can own the Drew handbag ahead of the shows and enjoy a limited edition Chloé afternoon tea at The Rosebery with Chloé champagne cocktails.

The package also includes one night’s accommodation for two in an elegant Knightsbridge Turret Suite, à la carte breakfast for two, personalised service at Chloé on Sloane Street to receive the Chloé Drew bag, plus a bottle of Chloé Love Story perfume.

As someone who owns almost every Chloé fragrance, I’m interested to see if the special champagne cocktails will be inspired by notes in the fragances (a current cocktail trend in London) or the colours and shapes of the new collections.  Either way, they’re sure to be refined and feminine, befitting their exquisite surroundings in The Rosebery.

In addition to the hotel package, there will be a mannequin showcasing the fashion collection in the Lobby, plus two vetrines displaying the Drew bag in a number of colours and patterns.

Drew is a delicate, modern saddlebag with round, sculpted lines, sumptuous leather, a knotted fob chain and horseshoe pivots – available in three sizes.  Who could resist?

Do you love hotel and fashion brand partnerships?  Which is your favourite fashion-inspired afternoon tea at a luxury hotel?

The Chloé Debuts accommodation package starts from £1,568 and is valid from 12th February to 9th March.  For more information and booking, visit: 

Bars, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Restaurants

Dinner & Champagne at Bistro 51, St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

St. James’ is a part of historic London that feels so elegant, refined and quintessentially English.  With the city developing so rapidly, a stroll through this neighbourhood reminds me of London’s dapper, old world charm.

Nestled on Buckingham Gate is the luxurious St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel.  Its exquisite Victorian architecture makes it one of London’s most attractive hotels and the lobby is just as welcoming with marble floors, warm wood panelling and plush seating.

We visited last week for dinner, courtesy of the lovely folk at Zomato, and on arrival we headed to The Hamptons Bar at the back of the lobby for a decadent Laurent-Perrier Champagne Flight with specially-paired canapés.  We had a cosy table overlooking the splendid courtyard and a live pianist provided a soothing soundtrack.

The Laurent-Perrier Champagne Flight certainly looked the part with three mini Champagne flutes ready to be filled on a special presentation tray.  The first fizz we tried was Laurent-Perrier Brut served with scallop and avocado tartare with lemon oil.  This light, easy to drink Champagne has prominent citrus notes and it went perfectly with the fresh scallop, creamy avocado and meyer lemon.

We then moved on to the Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, paired with smoked salmon and prawn marie rose rolls.  Not only did they match in colour, but the sweet, tangy prawns and intense smoked salmon complemented the Champagne’s red and black fruit notes.  This Champagne’s attractive pink colour is achieved by using the saignée method of leaving the red grape skins on the wine for up to three days.

Our third tasting was Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2004, served with asparagus ratatouille crostini.  This was our favourite of the three, as it is was the most rounded with biscuity, vanilla notes.  The Chardonny 50% and Pinot Noir 50% Champagne went perfectly with the vegetable crostini, which was nicely marinated and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

The Laurent-Perrier Champagne Flight is fantastic value at just £20 per person and feels like more of a ceremony than simply ordering a glass of Champagne.  It also makes a perfect after-work treat when you’re ready to be perked up with a few bites and bubbles.

Before getting too tipsy, we moved across the lobby to Bistro 51, the hotel’s modern European and Pan Asian restaurant.  The bright, contemporary restaurant has a calm atmosphere and there are a few different seating sections so it feels private and intimate.

We chose from the Chef’s Menu, which offers four options for each course.  After ordering, we were brought a selection of freshly-baked pumpkin seed rolls and carrot bread, accompanied by the most delicious creamy mushroom dip.  We tried not to overdo it with the bread, but it was just so tasty and moreish.

To start, I ordered Pan seared scallops, cauliflower puree and pancetta.  The dish looked appealing and was beautifully-presented.  The scallops were ever so fresh and lightly browned, though unfortunately too salty, as though they’d been seasoned twice.  They went well with the velvety smooth and subtle cauliflower puree and the flavoursome pancetta cooked two ways in a paper-thin strip and crunchy pieces.

I also liked the Brussels sprouts leaves, black olive crumble and dashes of olive oil that punctuated the dish.

Steven tried the Salmon and cucumber tartar with yuzu dressing.  The chunky, fresh salmon was marinated with strong flavours of cucumber, onion and dill, drizzled in a creamy, citrusy yuzu dressing and topped with high quality caviar.  The portion size was substantial and it was a light and enjoyable start to the meal.

I followed with the Cajun spiced chicken breast, new potatoes tossed with spinach, however as I wasn’t really in the mood for heat, I requested it without the Cajun spice (the friendly staff were happy to oblige).  The succulent, juicy chicken breast certainly didn’t miss the spice, as it was infused with the aromas of fresh thyme and herbs and had a light, golden skin.

I loved the slightly sweet new potatoes muddled with a light Parmesan cream sauce and wilted spinach and the most perfect long-stem asparagus.  The dish was finished with a rich, meaty jus and more of that yummy black olive crumble.

Steven tried the Masala fried fish, aloo and chickpea chaat.  The flaky, tender fish was lightly fried with an aromatic, crisp coating and was accompanied by piquant spiced potatoes, tasty spiced chickpeas and julienne vegetables.  It was a punchy dish with real depth of flavour and a combination of invigorating spices.

I finished with the Tonka bean crème brûlée with hazelnut biscotti.  The cool, creamy crème brûlée had just a hint of fragrant tonka bean and the caramelised crust was good but could’ve done with a little more time under the blowtorch to make it crunchier.

I loved the authentic, crunchy hazelnut biscotti and the unexpected joy of proper rum and raisin ice cream, finished with freeze-dried raspberry pieces.

Steven’s Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream was a British classic at its very best.  The moist and airy sponge was sweetened with chopped dates and was drenched in a very indulgent, thick toffee sauce.  It was finished with a scoop of luxurious vanilla ice cream, biscuit crumble and a sugar spear.

We finished the meal with pots of Earl Grey tea and went back to the lobby to enjoy the piano music before leaving.

The warm atmosphere and kind hospitality at St. James’s Court really made our evening and our dining experience in the Hamptons Bar and Bistro 51 was very memorable.  The Laurent-Perrier Champagne Flight added that extra touch of decadence and I can’t recommend it enough.

For more information and booking, visit:  See the menu on Zomato.

Chérie City was invited by Zomato and St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

Photos by Chérie City and St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London

A Weekend Stay at Threadneedles Hotel – The City, London

While the City of London seems to be increasingly all about vertiginous glass towers, Threadneedles Hotel is a luxury five star hotel that charms with its contemporary take on a historic building.

An Autograph Collection hotel, Threadneedles is a 74 bedroom boutique hotel set in a converted Victorian bank hall.  Many original features are still present, including the walnut walls, cool marble floors and the lobby’s spectacular stained glass cupola, which dates back to 1856.

The City location of Threadneedles, in the heart of the bustling Square Mile, is ideal for business during the week, however on weekends it’s peaceful and less crowded than central London.  For a cultural weekend stay, it’s conveniently close to St Paul’s, Tate Modern, Spitalfields, Borough Market and not far from shopping in Covent Garden.

On arrival, we were greeted by the warm, friendly staff and invited to sit at the desk to check in. We were also offered a complimentary welcome drink of Prosecco, orange juice or chilled water, which we could take to our room.

Our Studio was spacious with a separate comfy seating area and a plush king-size bed.  It is designed in a palette of chartreuse, light grey and cream, with dark wood highlights and bold blue artwork.  Room features include a large Samsung LCD HDTV, a large work desk with electrical hub, three fitted wardrobes, iPod docking station, Nespresso machine, a kettle with a selection of black and herbal teas, plus hot chocolate and speculoos biscuits.

The sumptuous king-size bed was incredibly comfortable, covered with the most exquisite monogrammed linen and plump goose down pillows.  I loved the black and white photograph mural featuring London’s picturesque embankment.

Thoughtful extras really give Threadneedles the five star edge – branded umbrellas, a luxurious Italian bathrobe and embroidered slippers, complimentary shoe shine, free wifi, a choice of newspaper delivered in the morning and two complimentary large glass bottles of mineral water at turndown.  We also enjoyed a plate of the most delicious hand-made chocolates filled with fresh strawberry mousse as a welcome gift.

The windows overlook the top of the lobby dome, so natural light is limited and the room can feel a little dark in the evening.  However, the clever lighting gives it a romantic, relaxed feel.

The large limestone bathroom boasts both a separate bath and a rainfall shower.  There is a full set of bathroom amenities by The White Company, large fluffy towels and a trolley filled with glossy magazines, which can also be used to store bath and beauty products.

Bonds Restaurant & Bar is unfortunately closed on the weekend, however breakfast can still be taken there in the morning.  For a pre-dinner aperitif or a night cap, the stylish lobby offers an honesty bar stocked with premium spirits and soft drinks.

As I’ve already visited and loved Bonds and its outstanding Modern British food, we couldn’t resist a lazy Sunday morning with breakfast served in the room.

Breakfast at Threadneedles is a big affair with very generous portion sizes and top quality ingredients.  I went for the full works with the English breakfast (£22.50).  My breakfast included the most delicious freshly-squeezed orange juice, a pot of English breakfast tea and a cooked breakfast of two perfectly poached eggs, an abundance of smoked streaky bacon, a well-seasoned ‘rare breed pork’ Lincolnshire sausage, black pudding, flavoursome bubble and squeak, a large grilled flat mushroom and grilled tomato.

The breakfasts come with a choice of a basket of morning pastries or toast with butter and preserves.  They are certainly not small, offering three full size pastries and six slices of toast, so it’s best to order one of each and share.

Steven ordered The City breakfast (£22.50), which includes the most delicious freshly-made warm waffles, bacon, berries, creme fraiche and maple syrup and all of the same extras.

Best of all, check-out time on Sundays is at 1pm, so you can enjoy a proper lazy Sunday while reading The Independent in the heavenly bed.

Threadneedles Hotel is an ideal place to stay for a weekend break in London, with museums and shopping just a short walk away.  The historic building is full of character with a relaxed lobby scene, while rooms feel comfortable and private.  It really is a tranquil haven in the middle of London’s buzzing City.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Threadneedles Hotel

Photos by Chérie City and Threadneedles Hotel

Afternoon tea, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Restaurants, Spa

A Relaxing Day At Sofitel St James London

One of my favourite things about living in London is how close it is to Paris and all of the delightful French things that make their way across the channel.  Sofitel St James is a little corner of Paris in historic Mayfair – a perfect marriage of French elegance and English refinement.

Housed in the former Cox’s and King’s bank close to Piccadilly and the private members clubs of Pall Mall, the five-star Sofitel St James complements the building’s original features with chic yet homely interiors by Pierre-Yves Rochon and Russell Sage.

I was invited with London Unattached and Lela London to experience a day of relaxation and indulgence, like true Paris-London ‘ladies who lunch’.

We began the morning in So SPA, a stylish urban retreat with an impressive reception area and treatment rooms set across three floors, filled with natural daylight.  So SPA uses Carita, Cinq Mondes and Mamma Mio skincare products and treatments are designed to appeal to the five senses.

On arrival, we sat at the large communal table and were welcomed with a neat little tray of lavender tea, a fruit jelly and a warm flannel to freshen up.

I was given the usual health consultation form to fill in, but So SPA also requested my preferences for music, scent, temperature of the room, if I liked a heated bed and so on.  This was a thoughtful touch and I loved that the treatment room was tailored exactly to my wishes.

We began the de-stressing process getting rid of toxins and relaxing the muscles in the hammam and jacuzzi.  There are no clocks in the spa, so we relied on the therapists to call us for our treatments and this was done seamlessly.

With the Spa Butler’s help, I chose the signature So Rejuvenating Facial Treatment (60 minutes, £90).  The therapist began the sensory journey by spritzing a delicate rose fragrance in the air and applying a layer of warm honey on my lips.  My bespoke facial using Cinq Mondes products included a double foam cleanse and tone, exfoliation, a hydrating mask and a kaolin mask applied to the t-zone, lymphatic drainage massage and a relaxing hand and arm massage.

She very gently pinched and tweaked the skin around the eye area, cheekbones and jaw to expel impurities and reduce puffiness.  A nice surprise was hot stones smoothed along my arms and placed under each palm.

After the treatment, I felt blissfully calm and was offered some great skincare advice before being guided into the well-equipped Relaxation Room.  I ordered a Mediterranean Rose tea, which came with another lovely fruit jelly, and was left to continue my spa journey on the comfortable bed with magazines and an iPod system with soothing music to choose from.  I could have happily lingered in the Relaxation Room, but lunch beckoned.

Before sitting down to a delicious three-course lunch at The Balcon, we met with Executive Chef Vincent Menager (formerly of Brasserie Roux, Sofitel New York and Alain Ducasse) at the Charcuterie Bar to sample the finest cured and air-dried meats from France and Wales with a glass of Charles Heidsieck Champagne.

True to the Anglo-French philosophy of the hotel, the marble charcuterie bar focuses on meats, cheeses and terrines from Mas le Rouget in Cantal and Trealy Farm in Monmouthshire in Wales.  Guests can stop by for a light indulgence or share a tasting platter before moving on to The Balcon.

Designed by Russell Sage, The Balcon combines the elegance of the Parisian grand brasserie and London’s modern-classic approach.  The high ceilings, large windows and light colours make it an attractive spot for all-day dining.

The test of an authentic French restaurant is how good is the soupe à l’oignon gratinée, so I just had to start with the Normandy onion soup with Roskoff onion and Aspall English cyder.

This Normandy-meets-Suffolf onion soup was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Served in a traditional French bowl, the soup was rich, dark and packed full of soft caramelised onions and topped with a baguette crouton, melted Gruyère and fresh herbs.  It’s a comforting dish for when it’s cold outside, or particularly for home-sick Parisians in London.

For the main course, I was tempted by the Rump of Devon lamb, French green beans, pequillo peppers and sweetcorn.  The lamb was tender, juicy and pinkish in the middle, cooked perfectly medium as requested.  I enjoyed the accompaniment of glazed green beans, soft slivers of pequillo pepper, buttery sweetcorn freshly cut from the cob and rich jus.  While the dish was colourful, it was presented in a simple, unpretentious way, which seems to be the concept at The Balcon.

The Blackberry financier with green apple sorbet came highly recommended, so I was keen to try the restaurant’s most popular dessert.  The freshly-baked financier was crisp and golden on the outside with a light, gooey almond cake centre.  It went well with the sweet blackberry coulis and I adored the luscious, home-made apple sorbet.

To finish the meal, I ordered an English Breakfast tea, which came in a Japanese-style cast iron teapot with Gavottes (French caramelised wafer biscuits) on the side.

I loved the bright, elegant design and refined atmosphere at The Balcon and wish I’d discovered it sooner.  It’s now on my list of stylish, central London eateries.

To walk off the lunch, we took a tour of the hotel and viewed the temporary collection of sculptures by Daphne du Barry and the hotel’s current Limelight exhibition, featuring photographic portraits of Barack Obama, Mick Jagger, Valentino Garavani, Francoise Hardy and Dita Von Teese.

We also had the chance to take a peek inside the Presidential Suite, with a stunning bed that looked so inviting for a post-lunch snooze.  I particularly liked the romantic, dusky St James Bar, inspired by the interiors of Coco Chanel’s 1920s Paris apartment.

We ended the day of pampering in the stylish surrounds of The Rose Lounge for afternoon tea.  The intimate lounge is a treat for all the senses with an enveloping rose scent as you enter, heavenly music by a harpist each afternoon and beautifully-designed interiors.

Lunch was a long, leisurely affair, so rather than attempt the full afternoon tea, we enjoyed a pot of Postcard Earl Grey tea and warm, freshly-baked plain, raisin and apricot scones served with clotted cream, lemon curd and the most heavenly strawberry, rose and geranium jam.

I’ve experienced afternoon tea at The Rose Lounge before and the combination of delectable pastries in a relaxed, luxurious setting make it perfect for a post-shopping treat.

Sofitel St James is a beautiful, calming place to spend time in London, whether it’s unwinding with a treatment in So SPA, a leisurely meal in The Balcon or catching up with a friend over afternoon tea in the exquisite Rose Lounge.  When you’re feeling nostalgic for Paris, it’s the place to come for a bit of la vie en rose.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Sofitel St James

Photos by Chérie City and Sofitel St James

The Balcon London on Urbanspoon