Luxury Hotels


Hotel food comes in all sorts and sizes. In Cannes, The Carlton, A Regent Hotel, newly-appointed MD Pierre-Louis Renou found he was overseeing a Cannes Film Festival lunch this last Wednesday, 22nd May – image above, courtesy IHG. Jane Mackie, SVP Luxury and Lifestyle IHG, co-hosted, with the senior relevant execs from Vanity Fair. Guests sat at a single 10-metre table at the hotel’s Beach Club, and signature dish was Homer Lobster Brioche – imagine this, with Whispering Angel, wow. This shows brilliantly how a top global hotel can serve food outside a restaurant.

And then there is food served by a hotel in a hotel-run inside restaurant. Now some may have picked up that Girlahead generally does not like tasting menus. The courses are so small that all you get is one taste and you’ll never know if the next tastes are as good because there’s no chance to put anything else in your mouth.  And they take so long, course after course after course – which from a sustainability viewpoint is not good when it comes to dish-washing.

Mind you if you can pick and choose from a tasting menu that is a different matter. That’s what happened at Fairmont Windsor Park, under half an hour’s drive west of Heathrow.  The 251-room rural resort, in 40 acres of a 150-acre part owned by impressive entrepreneur Surinder Arora, has a Michelin-starred flagship dining venue, 1215, named for the year of Magna Carta, signed at nearby Runnymede. After a glass of Laurent-Perrier in the hotel’s Schroders Bar, called after the building’s previous owners, the savvy progress to 1215 for Luke Fouracre’s food. And the nice thing is that you do not have to plough through an entire seven-course tasting menu. Go à la carte, and local, say starting with a side of broccoli and going on to a main entrée of  Windsor Park venison with baby parsnip, celeriac-topped venison-mash tartlet, and venison gravy. The whole, in this hotel-run restaurant, was further enhanced by absolutely superb home-made breads with butter coloured with, a jus of whey and herbs.

And then hotel food can be served onsite but prepared and served by an outside operator. Mandarin Oriental’s street-side restaurant RK  is a partnership with celeb chef Gordon Ramsay and it works brilliantly. Publicity is attracted by the hotel, its reputation, the Ramsay name and his reputation – and his Hell’s Kitchen series, on FOX and Hulu. The salmon with fennel dish below was shot at the Boston restaurant on the day of the 2024 Marathon when hundreds of thousands of spectators, as well as runners, were streaming past outside, along Boylston, and the noise though the open windows synced with the calm inside. A perfect moment for a glass of another Rosé, Ramsay’s own, naturally.

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Luxury Hotels




butler Bek from Tashkent

colour-coordinated farewell at JOALI MALDIVES


The Maldives know how to farewell with memories that encourage a return visit – at One&Only Reethi Rah you are given a plaster sea-turtle to paint when you get home.

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Luxury Hotels


Hotel De L’Europe Amsterdam is more than a lifestyle collection of art gallery, great food and drink and retail. It is also a heritage hotel, first comiled from various adjourning structures back in 1896. The latest upgrade, just coming to completion, is the opening of 14 designer suites, of which the Van Gogh tribute will undoubtedly be the most famous.

Suite #248  is authorised by the painter’s family, the foundation in his name, and the Van Gogh Museum. Surprisingly it is not painted sunflower yellow but pale grey, but the big working desk is that sock-it-to-‘em yellow. On the wall above hangs your choice of the most recognisable Van Goghs, perhaps a sunflower special. A standing caddy holds a collection of his sketch books, and empty ones for you to fill. A special memory, too, will undoubtedly be the personalised welcome note from Willem Van Gogh, the family’s representative.

Girlahead’s favourites of these specialty suites is probably headed by #148, an all-white interior by couturier Ronald van der Kemp who works as RVDK (he’s known for recycling fabrics and designing with already-loved bits and pieces). The suite has a blissful all-white bed held in a white frame, with string-like white curtains around. A rare burst of colour is a collage on the underside of the bed’s over-hang – see below. By contrast, suite #252 is not for the faint-hearted. It is a riot of colour, from blueberry mousse as you enter through to orange and reds – this one is designed by the Curacao-based Janssen sisters, Tisja and Ziarah Janssen, with support from their artist parents.

Girlahead stayed this time in end-suite #102, which had a rather sobering living room – the designers are a Dutch married couple in their 40s, Dax Roll and Joyce Urbanus, working as Nicemakers. High points were the lighter-brighter bedroom, and the over-Amstel view from three balconies. It was also a delight to have newly-introduced Lifestyle Liaisons, butlers and more, very willing and capable of doing almost anything.

And a final highlight in this memorable return to Heineken’s Hotel De L’Europe was undoubtedly the property’s golf buggy, which in this bike-chaos of a city is the best ‘house car’ imaginable. See above.

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