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luxury hotel London

Afternoon tea, London

Festive Afternoon Tea at The Langham London

Afternoon tea is always a treat, but it feels even more magical during the festive season, amid twinkling lights and dazzling Christmas trees.  It’s also a time when you can really savour it over a few leisurely hours with friends or family.

I’ve always wanted to visit the elegant and timeless Palm Court at The Langham London and a new Festive Afternoon Tea was the perfect occasion.  This exquisite restaurant has been serving afternoon tea since 1865 and is said to be the birthplace of the quintessentially British tradition.

Walking through the whimsical iron gate covered with glass gems, Palm Court instantly feels like a dream world with dusky rose jewelled walls, plush furnishings and an elaborate hand-blown sculpture surrounded with copious bottles of Perrier-Jouët Champagne.

We were seated at the circular leather banquette, which afforded us a prime position to watch the live pianist, who performed jazz favourites and show tunes throughout the afternoon.

After selecting our preferred teas and champagne, we were presented with little cups of orange pekoe tea infused with fresh ginger – a lovely, warming welcome drink.

We tried a few different teas and a real highlight was the 1865 Langham Anniversary blend – a delicately spiced infusion of black, green and white tea with no less than 150 ingredients, created specially to celebrate the hotel’s landmark anniversary this year.  Another hit was the rich and fragrant Langham blend, which was the perfect match for afternoon tea.

First to arrive, on the most beautiful Wedgwood china, were the festive sandwiches along with an elegant canapé of Smoked salmon with horseradish cream and Lilliput capers.  Smoked turkey with marjoram stuffing and watercress on cranberry bread was a delightful taste of Christmas and I loved the creamy, nutty and indulgent Farmhouse Stilton with red onion and port relish on walnut bread.

Cucumber with cream cheese and chives was a classic for tea traditionalists and Duck egg brioche with black truffle mayonnaise and artichoke had an intense hit of truffle.

Warm scones are of course an afternoon tea essential and they don’t come much better than Palm Court’s fluffy, buttery classic and raisin scones served with sumptuous strawberry jam and cool clotted cream.  They were perfectly complemented by a chilled, crisp glass of Perrier-Jouët Champagne.

We were generously offered additional plates of sandwiches and scones, but tried to resist and pace ourselves for the sweets yet to come (ok, I’ll admit that I couldn’t say no to one more of those wonderful scones).

The Langham’s pastry chefs are renowned for their creative patisserie and this year’s festive collection is not only visually pleasing but also very well balanced.  All of the sweets were delightfully bite-size and had a good range of chocolate, fruit and caramel flavours.

St Nicholas was a dainty Santa hat with fruity Passion fruit rolled in a light red sponge with a fun coconut marshmallow trim.  Another light pastry was the green-hued Eternally Pistachio – a mini wreath-inspired ‘Paris Brest’ with velvety pistachio cream, cranberry jelly and crunchy choux.

It’s Christmas was the most festive in flavour – a silky Jivara and mandarin sphere with cinnamon cream (chocolate orange heaven).  As you’d expect from the name, Gold, frankincense and myrrh was the most decadent with exemplary caramelised puff pastry, smooth salted caramel and vanilla and a Langham-branded shard of milk chocolate.

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but we were both wowed by the Light of the world – a traditional white and dark chocolate candle filled with smooth chestnut cream, blackcurrant and spice.

The Festive Afternoon Tea at Palm Court was imaginative, beautifully-presented and ever so delicious.  Service was as refined as you’d expect yet friendly and listening to the sounds of an accomplished pianist while grazing on delectable bites in a stunning setting made for a truly memorable experience.  For a special Christmas treat, afternoon tea at The Langham London is unbeatable.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of The Langham London

All photos by Chérie City 

Hotels, London

Afternoon at The Berkeley with Farfetch

Sometimes an afternoon of luxurious pampering is just what you need – and where better to blissfully unwind than The Berkeley?

I was kindly invited by the girls at Farfetch for a spa date followed by the hotel’s famous fashion-inspired afternoon tea in the new look Collins Room.  As a small group of six, it was a great opportunity to meet new bloggers and really enjoy this lovely treat.

Bamford Haybarn Spa The Berkeley

We met at The Berkeley’s Bamford Haybarn Spa and quickly robed up for a 25-minute neck and shoulder massage.  I love Bamford botanical products and was pleased to have a choice of massage oils for different health benefits – I went for balancing, invigorating geranium oil.  My friendly therapist made me feel very comfortable and gave me the most blissful, effective massage.  I left the plush treatment room feeling re-energised and supple – not wanting it to end, but knowing more was yet to come.

Bamford Haybarn Spa The Berkeley

Now, I’ve wanted to visit The Berkeley’s rooftop pool for ages, so I was delighted that my therapist told me that my fresh ginger tea would be waiting for me poolside.  We spent some time chilling in our fluffy robes by the heavenly pool, chatting all things Farfetch, fashion and blogging.  On warmer days, the roof fully retracts and there’s also a pretty, tranquil garden to enjoy the sun.

The Berkeley rooftop pool

Then, it was down to the Collins Room – The Berkeley’s bright and dreamy new dining room – for a leisurely Prêt-à-Portea.  I first tried this heavenly fashion-inspired afternoon tea when Steven took me there for Valentine’s Day many years ago, so I knew it was going to be quite an event.

The Collins Room at The Berkeley

We started by selecting our teas and marvelling at the stunning table setting complete with bespoke china by Wedgwood, pink peonies and pretty lilac menus.

The Berkeley afternoon tea

We were soon served a plate of tasty finger sandwiches and savouries such as red pepper and goat’s cheese chilled soup, carrot and cream cheese muffin and ceviche.  Prêt-à-Portea curiously doesn’t include the typical afternoon tea staple of warm scones, but with so many different bites to taste, I didn’t really miss them too much.

The Berkeley afternoon tea

Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley

The desserts really wowed us with their elegance, creativity and riotous colours.  The beautifully-crafted selection of cakes, iced biscuits and elaborate mousses reference key pieces in the Spring-Summer 2016 collections by designers such as Balmain, Prada, Emilia Wickstead, Nicholas Kirkwood and Heidi Klein.

The Berkeley Prêt-à-Portea SS16

I loved the DVF bourbon vanilla cream and creme brulee tart and the super-light Stella McCartney tower of joconde sponge with pistachio and lime supreme, but my absolute favourite was the Christopher Kane neon chevron cake with yuzu and pineapple compote, beriolette and raspberry bavarois, topped with a yellow chocolate ring and apricot pâté de fruit.  All of us were also charmed by the dainty red velvet Prada handbag that managed to be so tiny yet so rich.

The Berkeley London Prêt-à-Portea

It was rather fun to look up the pieces on Farfetch following our afternoon tea, as many of the designers feature on the website.

The Collins Room at The Berkeley

My afternoon of fashion and pampering at The Berkeley with Farfetch was such a delight.  I was thrilled to finally discover the Bamford Haybarn Spa and Prêt-à-Portea was just as magical as I’d remembered – it’s definitely one for the top of your London ‘to do’ list.

Photos by Chérie City and The Berkeley

Bars, Hotels, London

Cocktails at GONG, Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, London

On one of the hottest days of the year last week, I escaped the intense heat high above the city in the stylish surroundings of GONG at Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, London.

The impressive five star hotel – set across the 34th to the 52nd floors of Renzo Piano’s iconic building – opened last year and is already famed for its incredible views.

I’ve had the pleasure of staying in Shangri-La hotels in Asia and Europe, so on arrival at the London hotel, the speedy elevator ride and signature spiced tea scent felt familiar and took me back to my travels in China.

I arrived at GONG, Western Europe’s highest bar, on the 52nd floor of the hotel just in time for cocktail hour and perched on a comfy seat at the bar.

The contemporary Asian interiors are ever so sleek, with plenty of grey marble and dark magenta highlights framing the spectacular 360 degree views of the city.  I’m not sure if it was the relief of the glorious air-conditioning or the altitude, but I could definitely feel that we were at a high level.

Our host for the next few hours was Head Mixologist Christian Maspes (formerly of the American Bar at The Savoy), who took us on a tasting journey of GONG’s signature cocktails.  He was named the winner of last year’s Shangri-La Bartender of the Year and constantly experiments with premium Asian and British spirits to create innovative new drinks.

Christian began by telling us that the GONG cocktail menu is divided into four categories to represent the essence of Shangri-La, its home in vibrant London, unique sensory experiences and a celebration of rare spirits.

To start, we visited the mythical land of Shangri-La with Mantras – Haig Club scotch whisky, coconut cream, cardamon, turmeric, limoncello and home-made saffron syrup.  This was one of my favourite cocktails, particularly for this hot day, as it was so smooth, refreshing and subtly aromatic (almost like an Indian lassi drink).

To accompany our drinks, we were treated to a delicious taster plate of the new bar food menu, including Iberico ham with tomato chutney, Wasabi and ginger cured salmon with yuzu cream on toast, Rosemary foccaccia with roasted vegetables and Chicken breast with mango and avocado on sourdough.

From the Nest of London section, we tried a rather regal Elizabeth’s Diadem – Jensen’s Bermondsey Dry gin, carrot juice, rosemary and Olorosso sherry.  This was a zingy, fragrant cocktail that was a bit like a healthy cold-pressed juice but with the welcome addition of gin and sherry – a great combination in my opinion.

Jensen’s Bermondsey Dry gin is made just 10 minutes walk away from the hotel at Bermondsey Distillery, created by Christian Jensen in order to bring back the neighbourhood’s golden age of gin-making.

From the Awaken Your Senses section, we tried the Turkish Chinata – Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, Mozart chocolate, Barolo Chinato, salt, berry fondue.  This was a curious sensory experience as the sweet, characterful cocktail, served in a Turkish coffee pot, was garnished with both chocolate shards and pungent truffle oil.

Christian explained that the truffle oil usually divides guests and I found that it confused my palate a little, as my palate didn’t know whether to expect a sweet or savoury flavour.  It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s certainly an interesting option to try if you like to give your taste-buds a challenge.

We finished with two cocktails from the Forgotten Elixirs section – the first was the El Jimador – Mezcal, kaffir lime leaves infused in maraschino, lime and Chartreuse Verte.  The blend of Mezcal and Chartreuse Verte made it lethally strong, but it was easy to drink and had a citrus tang from the lime.

Our final cocktail was an Anaesthetic Crusta – Remy Martin VSOP, Mandarine Napoleon, home-made orange cordial, lemon and maraschino.  It had a delicious sherbet orange flavour and was very mellow with a bit of crunch from the poppy seeds – it would be one of my top choices to order again.

GONG is much more than a luxury viewpoint near the top of The Shard, it’s a real destination bar with imaginative, expertly-crafted cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere.  I can’t wait to go back for a chic cocktail by the infinity Skypool adjoining the bar and imagine I’m on a summer staycation.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was invited by Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, London

Photos by Chérie City (interiors by Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, London)


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

Breakfast, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London

Weekend Staycation at Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel

Belgraves, a Thompson Hotel is a stunning design hotel in the heart of London’s chic Belgravia.

It’s the only hotel outside of the US and Canada by hip lifestyle brand Thompson Hotels.  While many Thompson hotels are all about downtown cool, Belgraves adds a youthful vibe to a sophisticated, well-heeled neighbourhood.

Its surroundings are postcard pretty (think pastel-coloured townhouses and private gardens) and the hotel is just a short walk from Chelsea, Knightbridge and the designer stores of Sloane Street.  It’s also in immediate company of high end boutiques such as Anya Hindmarch Bespoke, Emilia Wickstead, Christian Louboutin, Pretty Ballerinas, Pierre Hermé Paris and Rococo Chocolates.

We visited Belgraves for a weekend staycation on a hot summer’s day (stepping into the air-conditioned lobby was a welcome relief).  Designed by acclaimed British interior designer Tara Bernerd, the towering hotel is contemporary with rich tones and just a dash of English eccentricity.

Our King Premium Room on a high floor had a cool loft feel and was long and spacious.  It’s designed in shades of grey and cream with purple-burgundy highlights and features a light oak hardwood floor covered with a luxurious patterned rug.

There are typical Thompson signatures such as a stylish metal beaded curtain, cream leather ergonomic chair by the desk and 400-count Sferra bed linen with purple vertical stripes.  There is also a stunning bespoke Ralph Lauren mirror above the bed, a large LCD flat-screen TV, minibar and iHome dock and alarm clock.

My favourite part of the room was the bay window with a plush purple-burgundy banquette offering fabulous views over the park and elegant Belgravia.  It’s like a peaceful hideaway which you can separate off with sheer curtains.  It also features a coffee table and has an electrical plug, so you can work on your laptop or just enjoy some quiet reading time.

Tea and coffee making facilities are on a list of ‘available on request’ complimentary amenities and I highly recommend calling down to receive them.  While sachets of Nescafe aren’t particularly exciting, we were delighted by the selection of black and herbal JING Teas.

The king-size bed with a leather headboard was ever so comfortable and was covered in sumptuous Sferra linen and plump pillows.

We were welcomed with a handwritten note and a lovely sweet treat of a handmade marshmallow and chocolate-dipped meringue.  Stationary addicts won’t be able to resist the gorgeous bespoke correspondence paper and envelopes provided – a small detail that really sets Belgraves apart.

The full marble bathroom is stylish and luxurious, with a powerful walk-in rain shower, plenty of high quality towels, oversized Frette terrycloth robes, black Thompson-branded slippers and a full set of bathroom amenities by REN.  It has a slightly open-plan feel with sliding wooden doors and only the metal beaded curtain covering the glass-walled shower.

In the morning, breakfast is served in Pont St, the hotel’s attractive restaurant overseen by executive chef Sophie Michell.  It’s a comfortable spot with a pretty tiled floor, cosy leather banquettes by the windows and counters laden with cakes and macarons.

Health-conscious guests will be tempted by the Belgrave’s superfood, dairy free almond quinoa porridge, Avocado smashed on rye bread toast or a ‘create your own’ fruit and vegetable juice.

For something more indulgent Pont St hits it out of the park with Crab cakes Benedict with jalapeno Hollandaise, Bubble and squeak patties with poached eggs, black pudding, streaky bacon, watercress and home-made chutney and Cinnamon French toast with caramelised apples.

We went for the Continental Buffet, which was done exceedingly well with a generous amount of gourmet treats.  Highlights were the delicious spelt banana bread, flaky pain au chocolat and farm-style blueberry yoghurt.  I never usually eat cold cuts for breakfast, but the house roasted honey glazed ham infused with juniper flavours was out of this world.

Pont St’s lunch and dinner menus also sound tempting and in the warmer months, there’s a small outdoor terrace.  Guests can also get outdoors with an Urban Picnic freshly prepared by Sophie Michell and made up of grazing dishes such as saffron and buttermilk chicken skewers and strawberry and pink peppercorn tarts, rounded off with spritz cocktails.

Like other Thompson hotels, there’s a cool lounge scene and the open-plan mezzanine is sectioned into different socialising areas.  The snug is an intimate space with an open fireplace, a plush cashmere sofa and Persian carpets, while the Bar has a speakeasy vibe and features an absinthe fountain.

Adjoining the Bar is the Terrace where you can indulge in vintage Cuban cigars, creative cocktails and tempting bar bites such as Lobster Rolls, Sliders and Ice Cream Sandwiches.  It has a retractable roof, heaters and wifi connection for the the ultimate comfort, even when the sun’s not shining.

The hotel doesn’t have a spa (only a small fitness room), but guests can take advantage of a special day rate at nearby Grace Belgravia, a chic private club for health and wellbeing.

Belgraves is the kind of hotel that I would happily return to and recommend again and again – not just for the sleek design but for its homely atmosphere.  The staff are so friendly and attentive, particularly the charming breakfast staff which can be rare in the hotel world.  With such a fabulous location and excellent facilities, Belgraves should be the place you call home for your next stay in London.

Room rates at Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel start from £299 plus VAT per night for a King Superior Room.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel

All photos by Chérie City

Bars, Breakfast, Hotels, Hotels - Design, London, Restaurants

A Stylish Stay at The London EDITION Hotel

The London EDITION is one of the city’s hottest hotel openings last year and has received much acclaim since its arrival.

Behind the game-changing Fitzrovia design hotel is hospitality guru Ian Schrager – a pioneer of the boutique hotel experience who brought us Sanderson and St Martin’s Lane.  The inaugural EDITION Hotel opened a few years ago in Istanbul’s Levant district and a number of the brand’s hotels are set to open globally over the next few years, under the expert management of Marriott.

The London EDITION took over the tired old Berners Hotel and occupies a row of five Georgian townhouses.  It boasts a central location, just off Oxford Street, within walking distance of Soho and Covent Garden.

I visited The London EDITION for a weekend staycation and was wowed by the hotel’s cool design, social scene and attention to small detail.

The lobby is a constant hub of activity and is beautifully-designed with a restored stucco ceiling, original fireplace and futuristic stainless-steel orbs by Ingo Maurer.  It’s an inviting space with plush green velvet seating, a billiards table and complimentary work station in the lobby with Apple iMacs.

Check-in was friendly and dedicated and a member of staff accompanied us to fully introduce us to our room.  A Schrager signature is eye-catching artwork in the public areas and we couldn’t help admiring the stunning Louis XV Gobelin Tapestry behind the reception desk, contrasted by a glowing installation by Korean artist Chul Hyun Ahn at the back of the hotel.

Our Loft room was long and spacious with a gorgeous king-size bed and an open-plan seating area.  The unique style is contemporary with retro design touch and a dash of chalet-chic.  The room is designed with walnut wood panelling, pale wood flooring and a natural colour palette of caramel and cream.

The living area features a plush sofa, comfy armchair and a low coffee table with a chic orchid and design books.  I loved the addition of a cream cashmere blanket for curling up on the sofa and the pretty hydrangeas – a detail that can sometimes be overlooked by design hotels.  The view from the window was simply office buildings, so we kept the sheer curtains closed to keep the atmosphere of the room.

The hotel’s art focus extends to the rooms with a contemporary interpretation of one of Vermeer’s iconic paintings by Dutch photographer Hendrik Kerstens.  The portrait is both eerie and beautiful and the girl’s captivating gaze seemed to follow me around the room.

The king-size bed was extremely comfortable and covered in sumptuous linen, plenty of large pillows and a gorgeous faux-fur throw nonchalantly draped over one side of the bed.  In front of the bed is a 46 inch flat screen HDTV with movies on demand and a stack of premium magazines including Vogue, GQ and The Gourmand.

Other room features include a super-wide desk and retro chair, iPod docking station and an extra-large built-in wardrobe filled with a handy umbrella, clothes brush and ironing board.  Not only is there a minibar filled with premium drinks and gourmet snacks, but there’s a marble bar counter with a selection of spirits, a mini cocktail shaker and fancy glassware.

To top it all off, we were welcomed with a retro sweet shop bag filled with large strawberry marshmallows – the Chef’s sweet of the day.  At evening turndown, complimentary mineral water was placed beside the bed.

The sleek, minimal bathroom was covered in tiny white mosaics, with a powerful walk-in rainforest shower, wooden towel rail and wide Corian Grohe white sink – the cool kind that you might find in a nightclub.

It had clever storage with a pull-out drawer below the sink featuring a proper hairdryer, face tissues, vanity essentials and the all-important bathroom products.  We also had the luxury of plush embroidered bathrobes and slippers for lounging in.

I’m never usually excited by hotel own-brand toiletries, but The London EDITION’s range is very special and almost reason enough to stay overnight.

The products have been created exclusively for the hotel by cult perfumer Le Labo and have a luxurious, intoxicating black tea fragrance.  They smell amazing on both men and women and perfectly capture the stylish, sexy ambiance of the hotel.

That evening, we decided to eat healthy and went for some vegan food at Planet Organic, however if you’re after something a bit more sparkly for a Saturday night, try and score a table at the hotel’s renowned Berners Tavern by Executive Chef Jason Atherton or Roka and Dabbous just a short walk away.

Of course, we couldn’t resist checking out the hotel’s lively atmosphere with a round of cocktails in the buzzing Lobby Bar.  The bar attracts a well-heeled crowd elegantly lounging at the bar and low tables with glam waitresses serving cocktails in designer LBDs.

Davide Segat’s cocktail menu is innovative and well-edited, with a focus on aromatic drinks using house-made bitters and potent spirits.  I tried a refreshing Summer Cup and Steven went for a Golden Age, made with Johnnie Walker Black Label, aged cherry brand, yellow Chartreuse and Fernet Branca.

Another drinking destination in the hotel is the reservations only Punch Room. Nestled at the back of the hotel is an oak-panelled den that feels like a cross between a private members club and the library of a country manor house.

It serves Punch Bowls for 2-8 people and has a cosy feel with low-key vintage soul, jazz and blues playing.  It’s ideal for a quiet, intimate drink but we preferred the atmosphere and open-plan design of the lively lobby bar.

At night, the charming door security multiply and manage the queue behind the velvet rope for the members-only BASEMENT nightclub inside the hotel (Ian Schrager was behind Studio 54, after all).  The vibe seems distinctly non-glitzy with a cool ‘street style’ crowd and YOYO’s Seb Chew at the helm (ie. properly good music).

In the morning, breakfast is served in the gorgeous surroundings of the acclaimed Berners Tavern.  The breakfast menu is full of tempting dishes, from healthy chilled citrus salad and cold-pressed kale juice to indulgent Hazelnut waffles with berries and cream and the ultimate Full English.

My Eggs Benedict were sustantial and delicious, with perfectly-poached eggs, thick griddled ham and creamy Hollandaise atop a fluffy English muffin.

However, Steven’s enormous Buttermilk pancakes with summer berries, maple syrup and vanilla cream was the winning breakfast dish.  No less than five freshly-flipped pancakes were doused in high quality maple syrup and topped with fresh whole berries, with the most indulgent vanilla cream served on the side.

Our Earl Grey tea was presented nicely in a silver pot with fine china tea cups – clearly everything is done with flair at Berners Tavern.

The London EDITION is the hotel to stay at if you appreciate cutting-edge design and a lobby that’s constantly bringing its A game.  While the hotel has plenty of dining and bar amenities, I was a little surprised that a property of its size didn’t have a spa for some pampering and relaxation.

With Ian Schrager’s vision and Marriott’s signature warm hospitality, The London EDITION is without a doubt one of the city’s finest design hotels.

Room rates at The London EDITION Hotel start from £285 per room per night.  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of The London EDITION Hotel

Photos by Chérie City (Berners Tavern by The London EDITION Hotel)

Bars, Hotels, London, Restaurants

The Cavendish Hotel – Jermyn Street, London

The Cavendish boasts one of the most interesting locations in London, on historic Jermyn Street, between Piccadilly and Mayfair.  The hotel is tucked neatly behind Fortnum & Mason and is within walking distance of the Royal Academy and heritage shopping destinations such as Floris, Paxton & Whitfield and my favourite Hatchard’s Bookshop.

The contemporary four star hotel is surprisingly large with 230 guest rooms over a number of floors.  The reception is stylish and spacious, with high ceilings and plenty of staff on hand to help you with your bags and check-in.  Our first impression was that service is polite and subtle – you can arrive and get your bearings without being pounced on.

Our Superior room on a high floor was bright and just the right size with a good view over the city.  It was designed in a colour palette of espresso, chartreuse and white and included a comfortable seating area and a large desk for working.

The room featured a Samsung LCD flat screen TV with movies on demand, a Bose iPod-iPhone docking station, wifi (for a fee), powerful air-conditioning, a handy iron and ironing board, mini bar with premium goodies, a large complimentary bottle of mineral water and tea and coffee making facilities.  I was particularly impressed to see a large teapot, which hotels rarely offer,  a selection of high quality teas and Walkers shortbread cookies.

The heavenly queen-size bed was covered in crisp white linen and lots of plump cushions and the quietness of the room make for an excellent night’s sleep.  The room would work well for guests visiting London for a number of days, as it was functional, well-designed and very comfortable.

The bathroom was petite and designed in soft, neutral tones, featuring a bath and power shower, Prija bathroom products and large towels and face cloths.

Before dinner, we went down to the Lobby Bar for a cocktail and ordered a Jack Daniels-based Lynchburg Lemonade – Jack Daniels, Cointreau, lemon juice, Agnostura Bitters, sugar syrup, soda water –  and a fruity Strawbacello – strawberries, Bacardi Oakheart, Limoncello, Frangelico, Butterscotch schnapps, lime juice.  The cocktails were expertly mixed and the bar had a calm, relaxed atmosphere – perfect after a long day of exploring the city or business meetings.  I tried not to devour too many wasabi pea snacks before dinner.

The hotel’s expansive yet cosy restaurant Petrichor serves a seasonal modern British menu by head chef Nitin Padwal.  Located on the first floor, the restaurant overlooks the boutiques of Jermyn Street, directly opposite Fortnum & Mason – great for a bit of people spotting.  Designed in shades of red and gold, Petrichor has soft, dimmed lighting, making it feel romantic and intimate.  It also offers free wifi, should you need to stay connected.

We were seated close to the window by the friendly, welcoming staff and were brought a bottle of still Blenheim Palace water and four freshly-baked breads – sundried tomato, black olive, Parmesan and onion – served with butter.  Such attention to detail at the beginning of the meal was impressive.

I started with the Irish Salted Beef – slow cooked feather blade, wholegrain mustard dressing, black truffle bread (£8).  I didn’t expect the salt been to be served mixed up in wholegrain mustard and mayonnaise, however it was tasty and the portion size was large.  The mixture was very rich and sticky and could have covered the beef more lightly, but it went exceptionally well with the scrumptious slices of crispbread with truffle tapenade.

Steven ordered the South Coast Mackerel – honey glazed mackerel fillet, smoked baby beetroot, poached Granny Smith apple and sorrel salad (£8.50).  The sweetness of the mackerel went well with the tart apples and the beetroots added subtle smokiness.

I adored my main course of Devon Rose Veal Fillet – slow-cooked veal fillet, Pink Fir potatoes, braised with onions and bacon in a red wine sauce (£18.50).  The meat was cooked slightly pink inside and was tender, juicy and plentiful.  The crispy pink fir potatoes were wrapped in bacon and served on a bed of sweet roasted onions with spinach, lardons and the most delicious red wine sauce.  It was a perfectly autumnal dish that I would happily order again.

Steven went for the English Suckling Pig – roasted rack and slow cooked belly, roasted potatoes, Chantanay carrots and apple sauce (£16.50).  The suckling pig was deliciously succulent and slow-roasted.  It went well with the apple sauce and carrots, however the roasted potatoes were a little dry.

For dessert, I was tempted by the Praline Profiteroles – profiteroles stuffed with hazelnut cream, chocolate sauce, toasted hazelnuts and cocoa nibs (£7.50).  The profiteroles were small and delicate with a cool, creamy praline chocolate filling and choux pastry that wasn’t too soft or too dry.  They are perfect if you want a light and refined end to your meal.

Steven went for the impressive Coffee Baked Alaska – layered vanilla sponge and coffee ice cream, Kahlua jelly and meringue peaks (£7).  The Baked Alaska included a deliciously burnt top layer of light meringue and was imaginatively served in a teacup with mini biscotti on the side.  Those with a sweet tooth will find this dessert particularly satisfying.

After our dinner, we were advised to avoid peak times for breakfast, as the hotel was running at very high occupancy.  In the morning, many of the guest seemed to be late risers like us and the breakfast room was already full with guests waiting to be seated.  This is the first time I’ve queued to get in for breakfast, but the staff expertly controlled the flow of guests and it took less than ten minutes to be seated.

Petrichor offers an excellent self-service buffet (£22.50) with lots of choice, whether you want a healthy low-calorie breakfast, a few quick pastries or an indulgent Full English breakfast.  We enjoyed the high quality selection of bacon, sausages and buttery scrambled eggs, however guests can also order cooked dishes such as Eggs Benedict, Kippers or Scottish Smoked Salmon with Scrambled Eggs at no extra charge.

The mini pastries were flaky and  delicious and we loved the home-baked strawberry muffins.

The Cavendish is a comfortable, reliable hotel in an ideal location with friendly, caring staff.  To reflect the room prices and calibre of the hotel, I feel that The Cavendish should offer complimentary wifi and turndown should be as standard rather than available on request, especially as we weren’t asked at check-in if we would like this service.

Petrichor offers interesting, well-executed food and the breakfast is top notch.  To experience London’s charming, historic side just a few steps away, there can be no better choice than The Cavendish.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of The Cavendish

Photos by Chérie City and The Cavendish

Petrichor Restaurant at the Cavendish on Urbanspoon

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury

London Syon Park Waldorf Astoria

The original Waldorf=Astoria New York brings up images of old world glamour and history, but the new London Syon Park Waldorf Astoria is a much slicker, quirky yet seductive affair.

The five star London Syon Park – a Waldorf Astoria hotel – is nestled among 200 acres of idyllic greenery in the Duke of Northumberland’s Syon House Estate, just a short distance from Richmond and Kew Gardens.

London Syon Park has dual appeal – a country bolthole for Londoners escaping the noise of the city and a more inspiring option to the ‘airport hotels’ for those passing through Heathrow.

The exterior of the hotel may not be quite as grand as you might expect, but step inside and you’re immediately transported to a whimsical wonderland of oversized velvet arm armchairs, a cloud-like origami sculpture and a glass butterfly house filled with the world’s most exotic butterflies, in the middle of the lobby.

This is inspired by the butterfly house that was once at Syon Park and the butterfly motif runs throughout the hotel, so look out for clues!  There is even an ice cream parlour, Brownies, to make the experience even more fantastical.

London Syon Park has 137 rooms on just two floors with some accessed through an enclosed outdoor walkway featuring twitterings of woodland animal and bird noises.

The bedrooms can only be described as ‘gothic luxe’ – elegant, dramatic monochrome with sumptuous textures.  The dark, mystical design of the bedrooms is a real contrast to the playful lightness of the hotel and its country surroundings.

Our Arboretum Room was spacious and featured a giant LCD HD TV, plenty wardrobe space, a work desk, seating area and glass bottles of complimentary mineral water.

The bed was exceptionally comfy and the sheet were silky-soft and light, so we had an excellent night’s sleep.  Sometimes hotels can over-do it with the padding and pillows, leading to much over-heating and an interrupted sleep, but here they have it just right.

Considering that the hotel is so close to Heathrow, with planes flying over at regular intervals, we never heard any air-traffic noise – a testament to the sound-proofed windows.

Most of the bedrooms have balconies, all with different views, and ours had a view over the leafy grounds and the Syon Arboretum. It was delightful to sit and enjoy the sun and views for a while before exploring the rest of the hotel.

The bathroom is petite but perfectly formed with a deep soak tub complete with TV, a powerful walk-in rain shower and the most plush bathroom products I’ve encountered at a hotel yet – Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Soul.

Kallima Spa, named after a rare butterfly, is the jewel of London Syon Park and it was hard for me to tear myself away.  The pool is a tranquil paradise with irridescent mini mosaics, water overflow and the perfect temperature.  We loved the jacuzzi and also tried out the ultra-hot Steam Room and Sauna, complete with TV!

It’s easy to spend a whole afternoon by the pool, sauntering from one well-being facility to the next and relaxing with a chilled glass of water on the pool loungers, before perhaps indulging in an Anne Sémonin spa treatment, which I did the next day.

If you’re a more outdoors type, you can take a long ramble through the acres of greenery that makes up Syon Park, take a bike ride along the Thames or investigate the ‘secret garden’, which can be unlocked with your room key.  Or, if you can’t quite leave the city behind, a shopping trip to Westfield at Shepherds Bush is just a short bus or cab ride away.

In the evening, we dined London Syon Park’s restaurant, The Capability, headed up by executive chef Lee Streeton, formerly of HIX and Browns hotel.  The Capability is named after Capability Brown, the prolific 18th century landscape architect, who designed the extensive grounds at Syon Park, and is affectionately known as ‘England’s greatest gardener’.

The evening finished with a decadent cocktail in a super-tall crystal glass at the stylish lounge-bar, Peacock Alley.

In the morning, we went down for breakfast at The Capability and ordered Eggs Benedict for the hot menu and had a few bits and pieces from the continental buffet.  Our waiter proceeded to tell us the history of Eggs Benedict and its connection to the original Waldorf=Astoria, then suggested we have the Eggs Royale instead!  It was friendly, but a bit too much for the morning, especially before I’d had my morning coffee.

The Eggs Benedict was excellent and I loved the choice of muffins and pastries in either full or mini size from the continental buffet.

London Syon Park is the perfect place for a relaxing retreat, although surprisingly there are so many things to see and do that you’ll be spoilt for choice.

My only gripe is the WIFI charges.  WIFI is free in communal areas, but to use it in your room costs £15 for 24 hours, which is a bit steep, as guests are only likely to use it for a fraction of this time.  Tea and coffee facilities in the room would be nice too.

Kallima Spa is an absolutely heavenly experience and dinner at The Capability is a must for foodies who delight in seasonal dishes made with the freshest ingredients from the hotel’s allotments and herb gardens.

For more info and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of London Syon Park.

Afternoon tea, Hotels - Luxury, London

Winter Tea at The Goring

This week I was invited to join The Goring’s centenary celebrations and sample their brand new Winter Tea.

Tucked away in prestigious Belgravia, The Goring is London’s oldest privately owned hotel, now run by Jeremy Goring, the fourth Goring at the helm of The Queen Mother’s favourite hotel.

Perfecting the quintessential English afternoon tea for 100 years, The Goring has been the proud bearer of the Tea Guild’s Award of Excellence for two years running.  So of course, expectations were high!

The new Winter Tea is served in the Lounge and Terrace, a club-style lounge with warming log fire adjoining a classic yellow-hued salon overlooking the hotel’s private gardens.

We started by choosing a tea from The Goring’s extensive tea menu including a fragrant Earl Grey and delicate floral tea such as Jasmine or Rosebud tea.

I absolutely adored The Goring’s sunshine yellow and gold china and noticed that you can actually buy the dinner service in the reception.

Then came a large glass of The Goring’s special centenary Ayala champagne – a crisp, soft and rounded champagne that complemented the tea.

The tiered plates of treats began with a generous selection of finger sandwiches – egg mayonnaise with watercress, smoked salmon, coronation chicken, guinea fowl and wild mushroom.

The sandwiches are classic but with an interesting seasonal game addition of guinea fowl and wild mushroom.

These were followed by delicious, freshly baked fruit scones and plain scones served with clotted cream, strawberry and raspberry jam.

The real excitement came with the top tier of decadent pastries.  My favourite was the bubblegum meringue – a delicate pastel pink meringue that cracked to reveal oozing vanilla pastry cream and really did taste just like bubblegum.

The peanut and chocolate caramel slice was creamy and delicious and the plum and almond tart showed off the talents of the pastry chefs.

Other scrumptious cakes included a home-made Jaffa Cake, hazelnut and jam sandwich and a festive mulled wine and pear jelly with cinnamon cream.

The Goring’s charm lies in maintaining its proud heritage matched with a warm family atmosphere, unpretentious but attentive service and a passion for high quality, seasonal food.

The Winter Tea at The Goring is the perfect balance between lavish teas at the palace hotels and the more contemporary fashion or themed teas – classic with an interesting twist.

The Goring’s Winter Tea is served from 3-5pm daily and is priced at £34 per person (£45 with a glass of Ayala).

The Winter Tea is available from November 2010 – February 2011 at The Goring, Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW.  To book a table, contact (020) 7396 9000.

* Chérie City was a guest of The Goring.