There’s a special kind of magic when a group of people gather around a table – all the way from a humble cup of tea, through to intricate tasting menus that titillate the palates. Soutine is elegantly in the middle, a Parisien corner of Salon de thé, a St John’s Wood restaurant in a glorious period building. Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the newly opened Soutine but as ever, all dreamy pastel metaphors are very much my own.
We gathered, a group of four expats – talking of life, love and kettles (long hilarious story) over a table filled with delectable dishes.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet. The days are lengthening, the Royal London parks are heavy with blossom and there is that indescribable feeling of summer in the air. To celebrate this – and as an ode to the Chelsea Flower Show – Aqua Shard have launched their Floral Five menu. Disclaimer: We were guests of Aqua Shard – but I visit often on my own dime. (I think this is really important for authenticity!)
They’ve collaborated with the botanical maestros at Camellia’s Teahouse who have created five unique tea blends featuring British flowers, which have in turn been incorporated to accompanying cocktails and desserts.
The beautiful Vintry and Mercer hotel has a beautiful sense of place that is obvious from the moment you step over the threshold. With foundations laid on (the fantastically named) Garlick Hill, this newly opened Small Luxury Hotel is full of moments where the local London history permeates. Disclaimer: We were guests of Vintry and Mercer, but all wistful story scraps, allusions to local history and words are very much mine and mine alone.
Located in the historic Vintry Ward, the hotel is inspired by the rich cultural influences of the historic area – where the Vintry Guild traded wines and the Mercer Guild traded in fine fabrics. I adored the references scattered through the hotel to these historic trades, from an evolving menu of wines to bespoke fabrics and old trading maps throughout the 92 individually decorated rooms, hallways and dining spaces. Often hotels struggle with the dance between being a beige box that you sleep in and tourist overload, but here it’s perfectly balanced.
It’s always intriguing to revisit places that you haven’t been for a while – memories are rather ephemeral (*cough* when not blogged *cough*) and in the case of the Royal Lancaster Hotel, a multi-million pound refurbishment has transformed the hotel to my remembrances. This time we gathered in the Island Grill Restaurant on a grey old London day for a taste of their fresh lunchtime menu, overlooking Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park. Disclaimer: We were invited to lunch, but as ever, all thoughts, images and fork twirlings are very much my own.
It’s funny, once I met up in Lancaster Gate (it couldn’t be more handy to the Underground Station) with my ladies who lunch, the thoughts of drizzly, cold skies fair left my head. We settled in at our table (after a quick tour through the hotel and peek into the Park Suite – keep reading for that) and perused the extensive menu.
The honey-stone walls of Oxford city centre conjure all kinds of wishes and whimsy – and each time that I’ve stayed overnight in Oxford, it’s like slipping into an architectural Narnia. Disclaimer: On this visit I was an invited guest of Mercure Hotels and Experience Oxfordshire, but all thoughts and laboured literary metaphors are very much my own.
Oxford is one of those cities that seems unaffected by the passing of time.