Girlahead loves pubs. A few years ago she arranged to meet a Mature Lady – hat, long gloves, floating chiffon tea-gown – in a bar in Auckland (it was the INTERCONTINENTAL but that brand has long since moved on). Mature Lady’s visage went bright red at the thought of going through saloon doors into a drinking place. Wonder if she ever recovered?
Today a favourite pub, in the American sense, is Off The Record, down steps from the main level of The Saul Corporation’s HAY-ADAMS, one of Leading’s top Washington DC treasures. This where politicians and journo hacks gather, barely 300 metres from The White House. Off the record, of course. There’s a similar hang-out at CONRAD ST JAMES in London, a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament.
And then there are pop-up pubs. Lars Wagner started the winter-time craze when he was GM of MANDARIN ORIENTAL GENEVA, putting an alpine chalet that served drinks up on the hotel’s rooftop. Next came PARK HYATT VENDOME, where then-GM Claudio Ceccherelli, as imaginative as always, installed a temporary chalet, ground floor in the inner courtyard that is a feature of so many French palace-type buildings.
London is into pop-up pubs, naturally. THE BERKELEY, one of Maybourne Group’s trio of London properties, opened The Bishop on 11th November – the name’s inspired by the mitre hat that originally graced hotel’s logo. There are draft beers, from a Sussex brewery (see the image above) that go magnificent with hand cut crisps. As well as beer taps, décor includes old church pews and bar stools. The menu ranges from crispy pork scratchings to sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice-cream. And don’t forget fish and chips, everyone’s favourite pub food.
That’s what Girlahead always orders at London’s The Wigmore, converted, with Martin Brudnizki flare, from a bank set, marsupial-style, into the lovely LANGHAM HOTEL. This ‘modern tavern’, as it is described, is so successful there must be many who do not realise that The Wigmore is actually part of a hotel.
English countryside hotels also realise the importance of a pub offering. Red Carnation’s SUMMER LODGE, EVERSHOT, for instance, is deep in the Dorset countryside. The building was extended by literary giant Thomas Hardy in his previous role, as architect. Under five minutes’ walk away is THE ACORN, a pub with rooms, technically an ‘inn’. Conveniently it’s also part of the Red Carnation empire, so stay in luxury at the Lodge and go ‘out’ to a pub. The walk’s so quick it is not long enough to get you really wet if it is raining, as it is wont to do in England. Another oh-so-English beauty, HECKFIELD PLACE, is bringing locale and sustainability into its drinks.Heckfield Place is listed in Indegare Travel’s best farm-to-table restaurants word but it’s great on drinks, too. Its best-selling café corleone, for instance, is based around a house-made liqueur distilled from coffee grounds. This idea carries through the seasons. In summer, mixologists looked to the end bits of strawberries from the pastry team to make a zero-waste strawberry liqueur and even used real roses in a special rose infusion once they had passed their peak.’ That’s sustainable drinking.
Let’s hear Red Carnation’s Jonathan Raggett, speaking at Summer Lodge: