Luxury Hotels


Raffles OWO would not work without ‘the team’, led by MD Philippe Leboeuf – that’s him, above, swimming at 6.30 a.m. as he practises for a 10km dip-in-the-water he’s doing shortly off the coast of Oman. Girlahead was in the subterranean gym – quite one of the best imaginable, with latest Technogym complemented by Outrace.

It’s not an exaggeration to say everyone you come into contact with here seems customer-centric. Ask directions to Saison and you are escorted there, not as an imbecile but as a guest in a private stately home. Saison is one of a myriad of eatertainment venues that includes nine eating places, and a Spy Bar and two other imbibing haunts – Director of Wine is Fred Astaire clone Vincenzo Arnese.

There’s a most attractive restaurant, Café Lapérouse, in a new glass cupola in the main courtyard – origami-like DaeWha Kang exterior, inside by Dior Maison’s Cordelia de Castellane. Milanese food at Paper Moon (design AB Concepts) is especially popular. Pillar Kitchen is wellness food.

And then the name of Mauro Colagreco pops up. He has three restaurants here, including the aforementioned Saison. This is an all-day-long destination anchor, a high-ceilinged conservatory that seemingly covers over a small courtyard in the original 1906 building. It’s about the size, total, of the singles part of a tennis court. Instead of a net there’s a longwise-set tall mustard-velvet bench, two-sided. Overall colours are soft gold with hints of green, stone. One end wall has an ecclesiastical-look arch framing an arboreal scene.

At dinner no-one turns even one immaculately-groomed hair when an English border terrier called Archie, the canine ambassador of the hotel, led in his owners on a lead (he, not they). The menu here is a Grand Tour along the Côte d’Azur and Liguria, with a bit of culinary liberty. Male servers were there just as wanted, without too much chatter.

When she dines here again, Girlahead is likely to start with Burrata made in London from buffalo milk from an Italian-owned farm in south-east England, served with citrus coriander seeds, basil, and pistachio; Croque Monsieur made from Burford Cheese (a Jersey cow cheese from Somerset) with black truffle, and the irresistible praline-lump Chocolate mousse with hazelnut icecream and praline. Last visit, a glass of Lady A Rosé sufficed. Next time, perhaps, wine might give way to a tasting of Louis XIII, with Raffles’ Cellarmaster Baptiste Louiseau.

Next visit, there will definitely be a repeat breakfast experience. A table in front of Saison’s mural holds the buffet table. See below. Almond, cow’s and oat milks, tempting pastries, and as a bright-eyed female server brings an omelette the colour of ripe sunflowers to t able, a sliced avocado on the side, a young floriste discreetly replaces yesterday’s wild flower table posy with a sprig of greenery, placed next to the Peugeot mills. On departure, one guest vows, next visit, to forgo that heavenly omelette in favour of another French marque, Louis Roederer, and Girardeau oysters. Yes, on the buffet, here at Raffles OWO.