Luxury Hotels

Iceland – Copenhagen and London – St Petersburg

Deplar Farm on the Troll Peninsula, Northern Iceland, offers photographic retreats (via Eleven Experience). Dream of an ultimate experience capturing the elusive Aurora Borealis, thanks to Eleven’s Creative Director, Alex Fenlon?. Expect daily adventures via helicopter, snowmobile and super Jeep to photograph surreal beauty, followed by, at the lodge, wellness treatments and locally-sourced dinners prepared by Iceland’s Gardar Kari Gardarsson, current holder of the Iceland’s Chef of the Year title.  He specialises in such local products as Arctic char, north Atlantic salmon, lamb, and skyr, all served on simple, modern plates that allow the produce to shine.

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Girlahead loved all those products when she was last in Iceland, an island nation that embodies space, nature – and authentic, healthy living.  As is well known, she loves simple food. Now, Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas already has a Gordon Ramsay Burger eating place – can one call a burger joint a restaurant?  The question is why is the hotel industry in general so slow to realise consumer attraction for gourmet burgers?  René Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen reopened specialising in  $18.40 burgers and queues were apparently outside the door. Now, in London, Gordon Ramsay Burger opens in the world’s most famous corner-store, Harrods, complementing gourmet burgers with hand-cut crispy fries, ‘secret sauces’ and milkshakes. Ramsay says he plans up to 50 outlets across UK by 2025 (the behind-the-scenes television series on The Savoy that he produced, by the way, worked up to three MILLION viewers a week).

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And now, work off all those calories with a bit of dancing.  Head to St Petersburg for a couple of twirls with principal of the Mariinsky, Vladimir Shklyarov, a 35-year old local boy who is also guest principal with both Bayerische Staatsballett in Munich and The Royal Ballet in London (his wife, Maria Shirinkina, is also a Mariinsky soloist – wonder if their child is similarly agile?). Anyway, to have a class with Shklyarov, book the experience via Kempinski Hotel Moika 22, 15 minutes by car from the Mariinsky. The hotel is on the Moika River, across from the Hermitage – Executive Suite #503, a duplex with eight stairs between floors, has especially good views.

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Learn about experiences and their values, too, from Oliver Bonke, who, having done the rounds of a few other thoughtful companies is now sharing his expertise as CEO (of the whole world other than China) of Shangri-La. Tune in now to the MARY GOSTELOW GIRLAHEAD PODCAST https://anchor.fm/gostelow