June, 2011


21
Jun 11

The Dorchester: Home to More Stars than the Milky Way!


If The Dorchester was a drink it would definitely be champagne – it’s effervescent, exclusive and ever so much fun! Since its opening in 1931, The Dorchester has been one of the most desirable places in the world to stay achieving legendary status for its exemplary facilities, immaculate service and outstanding dining.  During its eighty-year history, royalty, world leaders, celebrities, musicians and cultural luminaries have graced The Dorchester with their presence so imagine my delight when a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to take a peek behind its renowned revolving door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAR DESTINATION

The Dorchester has been an essential stop for the high-profiled and well-heeled for nearly a century. From its opening in the 1930s which attracted eminent artists like Cecil Beaton, Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward, to the war years when General Eisenhower set up headquarters alongside Winston Churchill, to sensational 1960s Jet Set that included Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, to the superstars of the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties, every celebrity worth their salt has been spotted at The Dorchester. Recent Dorchester darlings include Ben Stiller, Al Pacino, Oprah Winfrey, Sir Elton John, and Lady Gaga to name just a few.

 

STAR SANCTUARY

As the doorman, in his heavy gold-braided green coat, escorted me into the lavish lobby of The Dorchester I felt like I had made it! The entrance is suitably dramatic for the establishment’s celebrated patrons; reminiscent of a spectacular stage set, the marble-clad lobby resembles a proscenium arch with two splendid reception desks at its wings. Its players are provided in the form of an unending stream of models and yummy Mayfair mummies, international industrialist and suited-and-booted businessmen. The Dorchester runs as smoothly as the well-oiled Bentleys that sit outside: this is the kind of place where if Britney wants a hundred Marilyn Monroe DVDs and a selection of “chick lit”, they will be carefully arranged in her bookcase, or if J-Lo turns up with sixty-six suitcases and insists on Jo Malone candles, suitable stowage will be found and the room will undoubtedly reek of Lime Basil & Mandarin. The Dorchester is, of course, much too discreet to divulge these star secrets but a quick search on the internet provides ample confidential celebrity demands that have been met with ease by the world’s most agreeable hotel.

 

STAR TREATMENT

Celebrity, and non-celebrity, guests residing at The Dorchester can expect round-the-clock pleasure and delight. I was treated to some Star Treatment in the hotel’s beautiful Belgravia Suite. Favoured by many celebrated guests, these suites overlook Park Lane and Hyde Park and are opulently decorated in traditional yet timeless English fashion. Rich wood panelling complements the plush furnishings, elegant fireplace and oriental rugs in the sitting room, and a four-poster bed and Italian marble bathroom, boasting London’s deepest tub and a range of bespoke Floris amenities, combine to provide a truly A-list experience. Cosseted amidst such luxury it was difficult to leave my sumptuous surroundings and obvious why Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor fell madly in love in the hotel’s Harlequin Suite. But duty called, so after a quick plunge in the bathtub it was time for tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The restaurants and bars are in a class of their own, and dining at The Dorchester is on every icons itinerary. Whether it be taking afternoon tea in The Promenade, hanging with the celebs at Tang, or enjoying some fancy French cuisine at the booked-months-in-advance Alain Ducasse, there’s an abundance of taste bud titillation on offer. We opted for a champagne-fuelled feast at The Grill and, even though my Seventies-inspired jumpsuit clashed badly with the tartan-filled interiors, being a Glasgow girl originally I loved the quirky design, which looked like it had been realised by the love child of Vivienne Westwood and Braveheart! Service was, as expected, impeccable and refreshingly fun, and the adventurous menu proved to be an absolute joy.

 

The Spa at The Dorchester is definitely one of the most glamorous on the planet and has devotees that include Sophie Dahl, Elle Macpherson and Vanessa Hudgens. I was utterly seduced by The Spa’s unashamedly opulent, navy and ivory, Art Deco inspired decor and loved the gorgeous Spatisserie where it is the custom for guests to enjoy champagne, cakes and cocktails pre and post-treatment. The sublime spa space features a show-stopping chandelier of 72,000 South Pacific white pearls, decadent blue velvet day beds and lashings of lilies – I wouldn’t have been surprised if Greta Garbo had swanned out of one of the nine treatment rooms. The Spa has teamed up with some of the world’s leading beauty practitioners, from the supreme facialist Vaishaly to celeb-favourite and anti-aging specialist Carol Joy London, to Aromatherapy Associates and Kerstin Florian, to offer the ultimate beauty experience. A suite for manicures and pedicures is also available, as is hairdresser to the stars, Royston Blythe.

 

 

 

STAR STYLE

I had some serious handbag envy going on during my visit! A glambag is de rigueur at The Dorchester so grab a Great British design like this cute clutch from Nadia Minkoff to garner some green-eyed glances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dorchester: Park Lane, London W1 (020 7629 8888; www.thedorchester.com). Doubles from £265


6
Jun 11

Hats, Horses and Prince Harry! Celebrate Royal Ascot at Coworth Park

It’s all about the Royals at the moment! First the magnificent Royal Wedding, closely followed by Hollywood royalty strutting their stuff in Cannes, and now it’s time for the fashion extravaganza that is Royal Ascot! There’s no doubt that Royal Ascot is one of the most famous and prestigious events in the sporting calendar where first class horseracing is combined with spectacle, style and tradition. This year, Royal Ascot celebrates its 300th anniversary and it’s a sure bet that fashionistas will be pulling out all the stops to commemorate this momentous occasion – and the odds are pretty good for spotting a royal visitor or two this year too. So, there could be no better time to turn your day at the races into a luxury holiday with a stay at the nearby Coworth Park Hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAR DESTINATION

The Coworth Park has been a glittering success since its opening in 2010 and is now looking forward to hosting its first Ascot season. Situated in the heart of Royal Berkshire’s polo playing country, yet only forty-five minutes from London, and twenty minutes from Heathrow, the hotel makes for the perfect celebrity retreat. The Coworth Park is part of the Dorchester Collection and perfectly complements its big city sister – it’s kooky, capricious and contemporary while at the same time it manages to lovingly uphold the tradition for fine dining, inspired interiors and impeccable service that the Dorchester is so famous for. Its wonderful eco-spa has also been attracting a load of A-listers with its innovative indulgent treatments … but more on that later.

 

STAR SANCTUARY

This cool country manor comes complete with its own equestrian centre, and is the only UK hotel to have its own polo field, and an equestrian centre with stabling. Prince Harry is a regular visitor who was most recently seen charming Charlize Theron at the Audi Challenge charity Polo Cup, and when his royal hotness needs to cool down there’s a good chance he’ll be sipping his Pimms at the Coworth.

And Harry is not the only red-hot royal to be spotted here; during their courtship, the Cambridges were also seen strolling hand in hand through the ambling countryside. Blue-bloods abound but they are not the only ones who love this place; as I checked in, Paloma Faith tweeted that she had just checked out of “the best hotel in the world”. Cheryl Cole was here last year to film parts of the X-Factor and the local press recently reported that Jonny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, and family were staying at the five-star manor while Depp was shooting his new film, Dark Shadows, on our shores.

 

STAR TREATMENT

I loved so many things about this hotel that it’s hard to pick favourites, but I’ll have a go. First the Spaaaaaah! This thoroughly modern spa is bathed in light and has lashings of high-end glamour. Sculpted into the lush green landscape with a “living roof” herb garden, this holistic haven has fabulous eco-credentials as well fabulous treatments. The Dr Alkaitis Organic Skinfood Facial left my skin with the glow of new bride and my husband was more than a little bit impressed with the super-stylish indoor pool, which was lined with amethyst sculptures, lit with luminous LEDs, and had underwater music – he was so surprised when he popped up from his first dip that I thought he must have discovered a new life form down there! The Spa also has its own eatery, The Spatisserie, where you can lounge around in enormous duvet-like robes drinking champagne (or tea if you prefer) and tickling your tastebuds with zingy snacks, amid the postcard-pretty English countryside. Bliss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-spa we spent a couple of hours in our Junior Suite to revel in its understated luxury before dinner. Celebrities tend to stay in the jewel in the Coworth’s crown, the Dower House, a Grade 2 listed building that has been lovingly restored to include three bedrooms, a private kitchen, dining and living area. It also has its own gardens, a babbling brook and a family of swans. All the rooms, however, have every amenity you would expect from a classy hotel. Chicly decorated in far-from-boring neutral tones, every accommodation comes with a wonderful woodland-inspired four-poster bed, pop-up Bang and Olufsen TV, sumptuous furnishings and under-floor heating to keep you cosy after a dip in the freestanding copper tub.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An evening at the John Campbell restaurant completed the A-list experience. The delightful dining room honours the hotel’s natural surroundings with elegant leather seating, beautiful floral displays and a simply stunning copper halo of oak leaves and acorns to dine beneath. The vivacious eight-course degustation menu was described as a “journey through the senses” and with everything from pea and ham ice-cream to rabbit ragout and a divine chocolate, lychee and rose dessert on the menu, it certainly lived up to its spirited description. Throw in some fabulous cocktails and outstanding service and it’s fair to say that John Campbell has ruined me for all other restaurants!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAR STYLE

The Coworth Park has its very own fashion ambassador, the celebrated milliner Stephen Jones. OBE Jones has created enchanting headwear for the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce, and Dita Von Teese. This collection of four couture hats, however, has been inspired by the celebrity bolthole, and will be available for suite guests to borrow to attend the legendary Ladies’ Day.

 

 

 

 

Coworth Park: 01344 876600; www.coworthpark.com. Doubles from £282.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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