The best Valentine’s food of 2023 will be served at THE PENINSULA ISTANBUL, which coincidence or not opens Tuesday 14th February. Once again, however, Girlahead had a preview. Sister hotel THE PENINSULA HONG KONG is temporarily adding Turkish delicacies to its usual breakfast offering – see above. A tray with Turkish-fabric base holds yoghurt with pomegranate seeds, and dried figs, and nuts, and stewed fruits. Out of the image are feta cubes, plus superb puff-shaped filos with cubes of feta inside. Add orange juice, and a pot of Turkish tea with enough sugar lumps for several lifetimes. Oh yes there will also be plenty of salads, and slices of papaya.
The Peninsula Istanbul, under GM Jonathan Crook, who moved here from THE PENINSULA NEW YORK, is a 177-room conversion of the 1940s Salpazari port terminal. It is owned partly by The Peninsula owner HSH Holding and partly by Turkish might, Doğuș Holding (working here with BLG). The local architects have had a considerable challenge as the hotel is spread over four historic buildings – today’s lobby, for instance was where cruise passengers checked in. Unlike most hotels in The Peninsula group, Cantonese food does not appear to be at the top of the culinary agenda: The Peninsula Istanbul opens with Mediterranean-international in the lobby lounge and in May it adds a rooftop Turkish-Asian.
Because of the complexity of the layout, the variety of bedrooms, by the way, is huge. Sizes range from 40sq m up to the 506sq m Peninsula Suite, which comes with a 120sq m private rooftop: Girlahead actually particularly likes the sound of the more-cosy Art Suite, a mere 175sq m.
Some things are just too OTT, over the top. Versailles’ LES AIRELLES GRAND CONTROLE is charging €350 for its Valentine’s night dinner. Here you have a choice. Pay €160 for tastings of still wines that do include a 2018 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – or pay a staggering €400 per person to start with a NV Deutz Rosé followed by two wines, a 2018 Meursault and a 2005 Saint-Julien (2nd Grand Cru Classé de 1855 Léoville Poyferré), after which you finish with what a circular-wheel printed menu calls ‘Cocktail Madame • Monsieur’.
By contrast, Sir Rocco Forte’s THE BALMORAL EDINBURGH – presumably hastily recovered from Burns Night festivities – tarts up its usual and highly popular afternoon tea service. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Palm Court is adding yet variety of leaves to their 88-strong tea selection menu. The milk-infused rose and black tea with rose-infused sugar and rose petals is, apparently, a perfect accompaniment to bespoke Valentine’s Day pastries.
Looking forward, Yannick Alléno is one global celeb chef whom all his business associates admire, unreservedly (ask those at ONE&ONLY THE PALM DUBAI). He already runs 14 restaurants across France, Monaco, Morocco, Dubai and Seoul which share 15 Michelin stars between them, and now he adds Pavyllon London at FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LONDON PARK LANE.