Luxury Hotels

Los Angeles has stunning luxury hotels

A lobby vitrine

What is now Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills has, like a Hollywood star, been through various guises – since it opened in 1998 it has been Raffles, a Preferred member, an independent, and more. At one point it had a JAAN restaurant that offered one special booking per evening, $2,500 for two and stay as long as you like. Now, thanks to incredible and stylish spend by its owners, the Low family, originally from Malaysia, it is much more fun, a luxury hotel that is full of tender loving care, with lots of touch points. See the restaurant’s outside sign, on Burton Way, above, says the gal – and see, also, the lobby vitrine which promotes a Naples-based celebrity tailor, ISAIA.  The company has a Burton Way store, ISAIA Beverly Hills, and its clients include Matt Damon. Cleverly, it here shows a vintage Necchi sewing machine with, above it, 16 large spools of brightly coloured thread.

View from suite 504

The 161 bedrooms and suites, which start at a staggering 680 sq ft, are now, thanks to SFA designers, champagne and lavender-blue hued. Suite 504 was so large I felt I could dance around, but that would have been more fun with Fred Astaire (or even Michael Flatley) on hand. I had two small terraces, with French windows that open for lovely fresh air. A big leather box fascinated me, but later, at night, I found it put out, open, to display specialist cleaning and other tools for one’s bespoke shoes. Cleverly, this is as a result of a partnership with Pasquale Fabrizio, the company founded by former Italian soldier Pasquale Fabrizio, 1926-2008, who became bespoke shoemaker to Cary Grant, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and whose company today is the saviour of existing shoes (what Bastien Gonzalez is to feet, Pasquale Fabrizio is to what they wear).  Sadly, there was barely time to look inside the box before hurrying down to dinner.

Shoe-kit box

Avec Nous is indeed, as its name implies, a French bistro – chef Olivier Quignon used to cook with Daniel Boulud. I loved his crostini-and-chips suggestions, say foie gras mousse with apricot, but went more traditional, namely a French-US version of a caprese, with wild arugula, and fingers of Angus culotte, with peppercorn butter (there was no room for the finishing candy cart tasting). Another memory is of our wine, Francis Ford Coppola’s Virginia Dare American Pinot Noir 2015, from Geyserville, Russian River. This was actually the first Californian winery, opened in 1835, and the wine was named for Virginia Dare, who, when she was born August 18th, 1587, was the first English baby born in the British Colonies. Her parents, Ananias Dare and Eleanor White, called her after the new settlement, Virginia.

GM Alex Novo

Today’s bottle is moulded in the style of old, with a crinkled pattern – and the wine was really nice too, as you would expect from anything associated with Francis FC. Then, as we finished our meal, we, GM Alex Novo and I, rushed outside to the crinkled sculpture behind the hotel’s front desk. There was just time for a quick photo before he dashed to the airport, for an overnight redeye to New York. Yet again I thought that if anyone says running a luxury hotel is a sinecure, they are badly wrong.  As for me, I went upstairs, for a good night’s sleep and, in the morning, a wake-up workout and a look at the ninth floor rooftop’s outside pool. Breakfast is a delight: there seem to be three connecting areas of Avec Nous so everyone chooses the nook that best suits them. The simple A4 menu sheet has a woman’s silhouette drawn on the reverse (it is by Jean André): specialities include a lobster omelette, or smoked trout and eggs, but I went simple, with a Go Big beet smoothie from Clover Juice, and excellent Caffè Umbria from a big thermal pot.  Now, if you want to see the suite I had sadly to leave behind, here, SEE THE VIDEO BELOW


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Luxury Hotels

Sybaritic Single has something to say – on macarons

The recipe

Sybaritic Single is hard to impress. He appreciates the luxuries of hotels but after staying at so many of them, his eye will notice a flaw sooner than perfection.

Recently in Dubai, he drove up to Sofitel Downtown and as the valet opened the door of his sports car, he was instantly greeted by name. A butler was also there to assist with the jacket and escort to the foyer, where another member of the team was already expecting him with a three-strong entourage.

“Too immaculate for a casual arrival”, thought the Sybaritic Single as he refreshed himself with rose water and a cold towel, presented with utmost elegance.

The main surprise, however, came moments later. The Sybaritic Single was seated in the lobby lounge with bubbles and his favourite tea already waiting when suddenly a plate of his own macarons was served, thousands of miles away from where they are normally produced. The secret recipe of those gold-covered macarons includes a particular marc de champagne, dried raspberries, an amber perfume – and the recipe is kept in the 17th arrondissement in Paris, at Maison Pierre Hermé.

Incredibly, the Sofitel team decided to go above and beyond in their quest to exceed expectations. In advance of the arrival, chef Cédric d’Ambrosio contacted the team in Paris for the secret recipe of the unique macaron named after the Sybaritic Single. Apparently, it took him and his team in Dubai several days to recreate this one-of-a-kind recipe and the jewel-like appearance of the macaron, however they got it right and in the most effortless manner, or so it seemed.

Could this be the most memorable and personal luxury hotel welcome? Coupled with the spectacle of the evening candle ritual which is performed at sunset at every Sofitel around the world, it was certainly one of the most dramatic.
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Luxury Hotels

Rem Koolhaas – and Seattle’s iconic Olympic luxury hotel

The Fairmont Olympic

The gal has always been drawn to Rem Koolhaas’ architectural designs and what he has done for Seattle’s Central Library is mind-boggling. As if a free-standing glass origami, it soars 11 floors, or 185 feet high, and inside you move from one level to another by bright dayglo yellow-green escalators, some with inset moving conceptual art to one side (see above). After the library opened, May 2004, it had over two million visitors in the first year. As though illustrating ancient and modern, this 21st-century wonder is five minutes’ walk from Seattle’s luxury hotel icon, the Fairmont Olympic. This opened, says the gal, in 1924, when it had 750 rooms: by the time it was branded as Four Seasons, in 1982, the count was down to 450 rooms – it became Fairmont on August 1st 2003.

The lobby..

The two-floor lobby is an exquisite testimony to the original architect, George Post, who was told to do something in Italian Renaissance style (try and change it today and the local business types who call this their professional meeting place would be livid). Upper floors and bedrooms, however, have just been renovated, with absolutely gorgeous results. Thanks to designers from DiNapoli Capital, who have a small ownership share, gone are the florals and stripes of yesterday and in are currently-trendy soft greys and lavenders, as if to soothe after what has perhaps been a fraught meeting. It is a very well thought-out hotel, with an indoor pool, overlooked by a good Technogym with good fruit, and the charming young attendant may well even open it just ahead of the stated 5 a.m. start.

.. the Georgian Room..

The lowest-level spa, by the way, cleverly lists on its outside door which products it uses, an array that includes Biologique Récherché as well as the Hungarian Omorovicza (do they offer an Omorovicza cocktail, as is now found in one enterprising hotel in Budapest?). I had actually arrived at the lowest-level entrance, on University Street, to be met by two managers who claimed they honestly had only been there two minutes. Whatever, that was really impressive. Yes, says the hotel’s German-born GM Markus Treppenhauer, we may not be the youngest place in town but we do service. That is obviously one reason why so many locals flock for breakfast, daily, in the Georgian Room.

..and breakfast buffet

This is an exquisite space, two floors high, with two massive classic chandeliers and moulded panel walls that in all use 11 different shades of pale yellow. The breakfast buffet is a particular pride of the GM – we had a good discussion on how important it is to give customers choice at breakfast and buffets, at least offering cold components, do provide that. Lunch, apparently, is à la carte: the restaurant closes in the evenings, when those who want to stay in can choose oysters-and-more in the appropriately-named Shuckers. As I left this very comfortable and friendly luxury hotel one of my arrival managers appeared, as if by magic. Had I had a good time? On my way out, back to the Link rail to the airport, a veteran doorman said ‘so soon? You have only just arrived’. NOW SEE, BELOW,  THE ROOM I WAS LEAVING BEHIND

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