January, 2011

Jan 11

Celebrity Romance in Rome, Prague, and Paris


It’s my anniversary this month! On the 23rd of January I will have been married for two years and I’m pleased to say that we still don’t go to bed angry – we prefer to stay up and fight! Oh, just joking, I’m still mad about the boy and am prone to getting a bit misty-eyed when I think about my beautiful wedding day and honeymoon.

After giving an emphatic “YES!” to my sweetheart’s impromptu proposal – in Venice under a star-filled sky – my bambino and I organised our wedding at lightning speed and married just four months later in beautiful Lake Garda. Anxiety-ridden brides-to-be are always amazed when I tell them that I just turned up with my dress and shoes but that’s pretty much the truth. My husband-to-be was living in Italy at the time so it was down to him to organise the Big Day. I didn’t see where I was getting married until I arrived outside the beautiful Baroque town hall of Arco del Garda with my bouquet in one hand and my Dad holding the other, and I didn’t know where the reception was being held until my new husband and I were winding our way up the side of the Rochetta mountain to the Il Ristorante Belvedere al Bastione, an extraordinary eatery located in a sixteenth-century fortification overlooking the lakeside town of Riva del

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I always dreamed my wedding pictures would grace the (web) pages of HELLO!


The whole day bloomed with romance. The food, the wine, the scenery, the culture, the look in his eyes – everything was perfetto. Anyway, the point of my romantic remembrances is not only so that I can swim happily in the still clear waters of my memory but also to tell you about three exquisite European hotels that celebrity couples love to nest away in – and one of which I was lucky enough to spend my honeymoon in.


Where: Rome Cavalieri

This hotel is top of my romantic hot spots, partly because it is the gloriously beautiful hotel that I honeymooned in but also because it has been attracting celebrity clientele for decades. Located in the hills overlooking Rome, the Cavalieri was built in the 1960s to attract the elegant cocktail set of La Dolce Vita and still tingles with that magical A-list allure. Every inch of the Cavalieri positively exudes beauty, romance and lashings of luxury from its impressive art collection, to its decadent Grand Spa, three Michelin star restaurant, La Pergola, and its luxurious rooms and suites.

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The Cavalieri’s rooftop restaurant, La Pergola

As neither my husband or I have a film deal, trust fund, or are major shareholders in Apple we couldn’t quite afford the $20,000 a night Penthouse suite but our Imperial room still exceeded all of our expectations and was the perfect little pleasure palace for our honeymoon. Awaiting us in our mahogany-filled, richly-draped room was an enormous bed fitted out with sheets any pharaoh would be happy with, a travertine marble bathroom stocked with Hermès toiletries, and a view over the city that was so spectacular that, when we stepped onto the balcony for the first time, I actually cried a little bit!



Who: Amongst an illustrious guest list that includes heads of state, diplomats, and foreign royalty, George Clooney, and girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis, are rumoured to be regular guests. John Travolta and Kelly Preston are also thought to be big fans of the Cavalieri’s charms. Queen of the love song, Celine Dion, and unashamed king of
the ballad, Gary Barlow have also checked in to the Cavalieri for some Roman-style romancing. And Julia Roberts checked in for a whole month while filming Eat, Pray, Love.

Why: The saying goes that “You’ve never lived until you’ve loved in Rome” and the Eternal City certainly doesn’t disappoint. Whether you are lounging amongst the lovers on the Spanish Steps, ambling around ancient ruins, shopping along the Via del Corso, having a tipple in Trastevere, or watching the sun come up over the Trevi Fountain the sound of lovers footsteps from centuries past resonate everywhere. Kissing and cuddling seem almost to be obligatory in this city and even celebrities get caught up in the city’s unrelenting passion – Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel were caught smooching in the street, as were Julia Roberts and husband, Danny Moder.



Where: Buddha-Bar Hotel Prague


The last few years have seen an ever-increasing list of celebrity visitors flocking to the cultural capital of the Czech Republic, with many of them making their way to one of the very desirable rooms at the Buddha-Bar Hotel. The hotel is located along a charming wee street near the Charles Bridge and Old Town and is considered to be one of the best boutique hotels in Europe. Like the sultry restaurant chain of the same name, Buddha-Bar Hotel is a grand homage to oriental splendour. All of the rooms are decked out in the style of a luxurious opium den, some come with private terraces or Japanese gardens, all come with baths big enough for two and the three show-stopping suites are a heaven-sent for hedonists. This hotel is for all about pleasure seeking and is packed with hot young things and beautiful people. And if they’re not checking in, then they can be found enjoying the “Eatmosphere” at the sophisticated Siddharta Cafe.





The blissful bathroom at the Buddha-Bar Hotel Prague





Who: They were never going to give me their guest list – they’re far too cool for that – but my sources tell me that, since its opening in 2009, Matt Damon and his wife, Luciana, have been regular guests at the Buddha-Bar. Other star couples that have been spotted in the area include Kanye West and girlfriend, Amber Rose, Brangelina, Gwen Stefani and husband, Gavin Rossdale, and Kylie Minogue and Spanish sweetheart, Andres Velencoso.

Why: If you’re looking for old-fashioned fairy tale romance then you really can’t do much better than picture-perfect Prague. Take a wander through the city’s cobblestone streets and admire its wedding cake architecture, magical gardens and magnificent Charles Bridge. The Rooneys chose this destination for last year’s make-it or break-it holiday. Bill and Hillary Clinton apparently adore the city and have been spotted more than once having a romantic meal at the gorgeous Kampa Park restaurant, that overlooks the river.


Where: Paris Park Hyatt Vendôme

No romantic getaway list would be complete without including the world’s capital of romance, Paris. When celebrity couples are in the mood for love they head to the City of Lights and celebrity couples in need of a measure of red-hot Parisian passion can more often than not be found at the lush Park Hyatt Vendôme. Located just a (precious) stone’s throw from the Place Vendôme, the Place de L’Opera and the city’s exquisite jewellery stores, this beautiful Haussman period building is all about luxury, seduction, and style. The Imperial Suite at the PH is one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, with multiple rooms for eating, sleeping and entertaining including an in-room spa, and is mainly reserved for celebrities and visiting dignitaries. Mere mortals however can stay in one of the Rue de la Paix facing lux rooms to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the heart of Paris.

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Gorgeous guest rooms at the Park Hyatt Vendôme




Who: It might not have worked out for Eva Longoria and soon-to-be ex-husband Tony Parker, who were regular guests at the PH, and lodged their wedding guests here, but plenty other celebrities like the lovely Lily Allen and Sam Cooper, Rihanna and latest beau, Matt Kemp, and power couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones swear by the Park Hyatt’s amorous atmosphere. And Sting and wife, Trudi, who are, of course, well known for their sizzling sex life apparently check in for weeks at a time!





Why: For nearly a millennium Paris has been famed as a city of lovers and it’s easy to see why. Whether it’s walking hand in hand along the Seine like Demi and Ashton, sauntering around the fabulous shops (Dior in Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr’s case), or just soaking up the sights; lovers of all ages, and celebrity statuses can immerse themselves in the same romantic Parisian atmosphere that has inspired centuries of literature, painting and poetry.



Jan 11

Treasure Beach Barbados – Part Two

Ah, the crazy weather has finally died down and allowed us all to escape its wintry vortex. Since I last blogged Christmas, Crimbo, Winter Light Festival, or whatever you wish to call it has now passed, as have the New Year celebrations (more on that later). And as I have consumed my own body weight in champagne and cake during the festive season, I have had to turn my mind to sunnier thoughts to get through the grimmest (and flabbiest) weeks of the year. So it’s back to Barbados and bikinis …



Star Destination

Barbados, home of rum and Rihanna, has long been one of the top celebrity destinations in the Caribbean. The West Coast in particular with its white beaches, warm waters and cocktailed-coloured sunsets is the place to spot some celebrity eye-candy. Simon Cowell, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and the Rooneys, to name a few, have all splashed out on sqillion dollar villas in the area. You’ll also find as many Sirs and Dames in Barbados as you would on Her Majesty’s New Year Honours list; Sir Cliff Richard, Dame Judi Dench, Joan Collins, Lulu and Sir David Frost are just a few of the island’s illustrious guests.





While I was there, a team of ex-sports stars, including  my parent’s old football buddy Gordon Strachan, were gracing the Bajan greens at a charity golf competition. The Linekers were in town to celebrate Gary’s 50th Birthday and during a paddle in Payne’s Bay I could have sworn I spotted the actor Ralph Fiennes having a little shore-side snorkel – in the name of reportage, I waded in as discreetly as I could but as the mystery swimmer moved through the water faster than an Egyptian shark, I’ll never know if it really was the man himself …


Star Sanctuary

There are some very well known luxury hotels in Barbados by my favourite is the discreet and elegant Treasure Beach hotel that I featured in my last blog. The hotel’s General Manager was charming but remained tight lipped about his celebrity guest list but the hotel’s customers, on the other hand, were more than happy to tell me about their famous fellow-guests. Over an al fresco breakfast, I was fed on bacon, eggs, and stories of barbequing with Ainsley Harriet, dining alongside Dame Judi and lunching with Living Doll legend, Sir Cliff Richard. One thing though that all the guests insisted on was that every guest is treated the same, every guest is special and – just like you and me – wants to feel comfortable and be taken care off. There are no stuffy staff here. They are both professional and super-helpful. As one guest told me “It’s heaven, nothing is ever a problem”.





Star Treatment

As I said, star treatment at the Treasure Beach’s is all about making celebrity guests feel normal. The huge suites are private enough for the stars to feel like they are staying in a private luxury home and come with lots of (high-end) homely touches. If guests do want to stray away from their plush surroundings and private plunge pools then they can enjoy blending into the hotel’s chic and relaxing atmosphere.









hotel sits right on the snow white beach and its outdoor areas and gardens are infused with the kind of colonial charm that fills so much of the island. And right on its doorstep is the celebrity world’s aqua-playground – luxur yachts drift by like floating mansions while PYTs race around on brightly-coloured jetskis – and if you go for a dip at the right time you can also swim with the island’s Green Turtles. This little hotel is truly exceptional. Small but beautifully formed, with genuinely friendly service, it’s obvious why its guests, celebrity or otherwise, return year after year.


Star Style

It’s all about the beach in Barbados so some seriously stylish swimwear is in order. One girl who knows how to work her beachwear is local lovely Rihanna, who was spotted over Christmas in this panther print “We Are Handsome” one piece.

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Available from Net-A-Porter and Harvey Nicols £190






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