What a far cry from the traditions of The Savoy, a Fairmont Hotel. Where on earth has the gal ended up now, in her eternal quest to discover, and visit, all the best luxury hotels in the world? Well, she has taken a detour in that journey, a curlicue which started with 24 hours in one narrow, if flat, bed that no hotel worth its salt would dare to offer. She flew from London Heathrow to Singapore, got off to get online, so to speak. She was detained by a thunderstorm that temporarily closed Changi, flew on to Sydney, was detained because the ground marshal parked the 747-300 in the wrong spot, and held up further when the ePassport reader did not seem to like her smile. Angels in the high street soon cheered her up.
I never found out what the angels were doing. It was Thursday, late-night shopping in the area around the Pitt Street pedestrian zone. These angels were clearly not taking part in a beauty contest, but they seemed to enjoy parading between Victoria Arcade and Zara, by far the biggest store in town at the moment, it appears. Down on the boardwalk in front of the lovely Park Hyatt Sydney, of which more anon, filming is going on, with the Opera House in the background. It is nearly two years since I was in Sydney and there seems to be more creative activity than ever.
At this time of year, not surprisingly, some even choose to dress up as Father Christmas. Thank goodness there is none of the fake snow that has more or less covered Cannes, or at least part of its Croisette. I do not think fake snow would be allowed in through Australia’s ultra-strict immigration and customs regulations. I once arrived for the Melbourne Cup with a genuine couture David Shilling hat that was a mass of feathers and fake flowers. Imagine trying to get that in through customs: it was finally allowed, but only after an orgy of spraying with pesticides.
It turned out to be the hit of that year’s show, and appeared on Channel Ten news, and in various printed publications, in the days when there were those things (now, even the Sydney Morning Herald has gone tabloid, what a tragedy). What happened to the Shilling hat? On the way back to London it had to be checked rather than taken as handbaggage and its marked-fragile card box arrived about two inches high, the hat flattened to a sheet of paper, never to be worn again. That was the last time I wore a Shilling hat, of course. Back to Sydney, and here is another creator, also in Pitt Street.
We were on our way to dine at Glass, the restaurant at the Sydney Hilton that was conceptualized by my friend Jean-Luc Fourrier. It seats 240 and I wondered, being a hotel restaurant and upstairs rather than having any street-view entrance, whether it would be empty. It was FULL, which shows what a success it is. A tall space, it has ceiling-high glass cabinets for storing wines – yes, even up to a 1998 magnum of Henschke Hill of Grace, Eden Valley SA, at AS$2,200. One whole wall is glass, looking out to a living wall in the hotel’s courtyard between Pitt and George streets. The other long wall gives a view into the hotel’s Spartan-space lobby. One end wall looks into the open kitchen. Glass has been designed, like the whole of Park Hyatt Shanghai and Rosewood London, by Tony Chi.
It was a truly sensational evening. I loved the food, overseen by Luke Mangan, who has just produced Salt Grill: Fine Dining for the Whole Family, which sounds like a perfect Christmas gift for a foodie cook. Here, I also loved the service – the servers are dressed, sorry styled, by Messini. I had an outstanding starter of fresh hot breads with Luke Mangan’s olive oil, an undressed salad, grilled salmon with asparagus, and a glass of Hugh Hamilton’s Merlot, McLaren Vale 2011. If only all luxury hotels produced eating venues like this, with gold Moëts by the door, they would ALL fill their restaurants.