Can you make a drink into a lifestyle brand? Thanks to Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s has done so (question, when will we see a Starbuck’s hotel? With the founder’s $3 billion in personal wealth it would make a nice brand extension). In Edinburgh, Girlahead was blown away by Johnnie Walker Princes Street – see above, one of the treasures in the eight-floor’s ground level boutique. You can spend hours here, admiring the scarlet, buttercup or gentian fashion for sale – raincoats make a lot of sense, in Scotland. The entire ambience and display is designed by BRC from Lox Angeles, who also do Walt Disney World and the like. Here in Edinburgh you can spend oodles on a single bottle, admittedly. As owner Diageo concedes, the £180 million investments in four such lifestyle emporia in Scotland is part of its goal to evolve the masculine, over-40 age of the perceived whisky drinker to include women, and Gen Y is part of the target market.
Girlahead could not find any evidence of a Johnnie Walker but Johnnie Walker’s Blue Label has its own bar lounge, in the golf club house at GLENEAGLES. The lounge, apparently, is currently being feminized slightly. Apparently, while not considering whole hotels per se, Johnnie Walker’s guardian, ie. Diageo, is happy to talk short-term pop-up bars After that, could whole hotels follow?
The closest hotel to Johnnie Walker Princes Street is WALDORF ASTORY CALEDONIAN, EDINBURGH, just across the road. This is a soft red Permian sandstone hotel, designed in 1903 as a resting place for rail travellers. Today, look out and up at Edinburgh Castle – or across to J. Walker. Girlahead stayed in suite #160 named for Arthur Conan Doyle born in this fair city in 1859. His suite has a grand piano. Like all 268 rooms, stay here for really warm and highly professional service, including by those with Good Scottish Names, say MD Dale MacPhee (in fact she is from Cape Breton Island) and Dean McVey, who, although his title is something different, is one of the best concierges in the business (is ‘fixer’ his middle name?). Jeff Banks now has his name on long-standing Pompadour restaurant, but when it’s closed dining in Peacock Alley, the lobby lounge, is extremely enjoyable, comfort and health food, and looking up through the eight-floor open atrium.
Think ‘The Cally’ too for wellness – 111skin and all that – and for a PhD in whisky. Johnnie Walker Princes Street is less than 30 metres away…
Unusual dining ideas, worldwide, include eating on QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 MGALLERY – yes, Accor has taken the nostalgic ocean liner, now moored permanently in Dubai, into its ever-growing portfolio. Overseen by Saeed Al-Bannai, CEO of PCFC Investments, the 63-year old ship, originally designed by Cartier’s James Gardner, now has 447 rooms, and nine places to
Also in Dubai, ATLANTIS, THE PALM, brings in Italian super-chef Paco Morales of two Michelin-starred Noor. On two nights only, 26 and 27 May, Ossiano at Atlantis, The Palm, will offer a 10-course menu titled ‘Origin’. This will tell the story of Ossiano’s own Gregoire Berger as he supposedly travels around the world. The menu will servce dishes from Berger including jellyfish and seaweed snow, and from Morales – say hummus made with kefir snow and squid. Morales’ two Michelin-starred Noor, part restaurant, part cultural project, is located just outside his hometown Córdoba, Spain. He is famous for exploration of Al-Andalus cuisine of medieval Muslim Spain, which has had a significant impact on modern Andalusian gastronomy.
Six Senses is, says Girlahead, one of the two brands most famous for really healthy food. Listen to its visionary CEO, here: