The bar at 45 Park Lane, London, really buzzes, especially early evening. I was with my buddy Julia, who had one of the specialty cocktails, ‘The Duke of Earl’, made from Earl Grey tea-infused Tanqueray gin, lemon and cane sugar syrup.
I stuck with Laurent-Perrier – champagne is good for a travellin’ gal. Julia introduced me to Robbie Bargh, ‘Mr Bar creator’ of Gorgeous Group (he did the nearby Zeta Bar, and The Savoy – he did not actually do this one but came to have a look and he had to stand, no more seats left in the bar, shows what a success it is).
We went back down 21 black marble steps to the main lobby and past displays of Anya Hindmarch bags and, equally covetable, Montblanc pens. Everyone milling around, hotel teammembers and guests, all seemed under 45, private equity meets entertainment (guests, that is). Apparently Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were here the first week – okay, so he is 47, so what, this is really an ageless hang-out.
A generation ago, this place was London’s Playboy Club, a warren of human bunnies. Now its Thierry Despont look Art Deco-inspired, pale and dark coffee, deep tomato and hints of pistachio ice cream (leather-covered closet doors in bedroom). There is some rather agressive modern art hanging from walls.
45’s only restaurant, leading off the lobby, is CUT, by Wolfgang Puck. High overhead, three 1.2-metre long wire sunburst chandeliers were reflected in the all-wall mirror at the far end of the room to look double that number. One inside wall has 16 square Damien Hirst prints.
The show plates are about 30cm across, silver-topped Bernardaud. The main entertainment came from the hilarious – and highly-talented – sommelier, a would-be sociologist from Italy, Vanessa Cinti. Wow what a diva!
Loved my beef marrow ‘flan’ and my US ribeye, a 35-day aged cut from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City KS, grilled over hardwood and charcoal and finished under a 650-degree broiler. I toasted Dr Wolfgang Puck (we got our Honorary Doctorates together, the same year at Johnson & Wales – others being doctored included Kwek Leng Beng, Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Bill Marriott’s brains, Bill Tiefel). Last time I saw Dr Puck, actually, was November 9th, 2010, at dinner at Windsor Castle, the night before William and Kate announced their engagement.
45 Park Lane guests can also eat at, and sign at, any of the restaurants in The Dorchester, only three minutes’ walk away (you can also use its gym, which is sensible as the 45 facility consists only of one lie-back bike and a Technogym runner).
Bedrooms here have yoga mats, soft purple ones. I started this morning with a good run round Hyde Park, just across Park Lane. Me – and riders from Knightsbridge Barracks exercising their mounts… trees rising up, as it were, from the morning mist.
Back in room 4546 (all 45’s 50 rooms start with 45), I showered with the lovely bespoke toiletries, made by Aromatherapy Associates, and watched the news in the television inset into the bathroom mirror. I blew out the candle that had burned since being put, by the bathtub, with a late-night pot of tea, with a sprig of lavender and four chocolates. I admired the matching purple pens and leather compendia, and headed back down to CUT.
The slices of toast were slimline (fortunate, after all that meat last night), but the soft butter was just more-ish, and the jams, I suspect made by Tea For Two, an English couple based in France, were big-size.
For those who are really hungry, CUT’s version of an English-fry-up, the Park Lane breakfast, includes black pudding, stuffed tomato, a pork sausage seasoned with black pepper and salt, and a slow-poached egg with fried brioche. Start the day with that-all and you should definitely climb the 80 carpeted fire-exit stairs back up to the fourth floor. I closed the Rimowa wheelie, and left London’s youngest luxury hotel with a younger spring in my step.