BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: New VOWWS’ Track ‘Heartbreaker’

VOWWS_PRESS_PIC_A
Share Button

These are dark times, as America slips this week into a quasi-fascist situation. Surely some would react by retreating into cultural comforts that offer escape and solace – but for a music that vividly reflects the anxiety and foreboding of the onset of 2017 America, may we recommend LA’s VOWWS?

The saturnine duo, who go only by Rizz and Matt, actually hail from Sydney. But their modern-gothic songs are rife with the tension of international and personal unrest. One such track, “Losing Myself in You,” featured synth god Gary Numan, who has become a fan.

Their newest, “Heartbreaker,” which BlackBook premieres here, is jittery and metallic, a meditation on an existential crisis, heightened by sinister guitar riffs and eerie synths. “I run in circles, I walk in daydreams / And disappointment is all I get for free,” goes the lyrical lament.

“It’s about cults of personality,” Rizz explains, “and the manipulation and control that goes along with them. Devoting yourself completely to someone else’s vision of the world can give a feeling of safety and protection; but it’s false, poisonous and ruins you from the inside. The world is now dominated by extremes that are pulling us further apart, unmooring us from anything real – we’ve created our own disease and are killing off the cure. We wanted to capture that in a song. ”

Bonus? The spooky cover art is by Jesse Draxler, who has worked with Alexander McQueen.

A must see live act, VOWWS’ 2017 tour launches February 1 at D.C.’s 9:30 Club, moving on to Music Hall of Williamsburg the next night. It then takes them to nine more cities, including Toronto, Chicago, Vancouver and San Francisco, before concluding at LA’s El Rey Theater on the 15th.

 

Scottish Newspaper Describes Trump Inauguration as ‘Sci-fi’

Trump Scorecard image
Share Button

Besides whisky and indecipherable dialects, one thing for which the Scots can always be counted on is a singular brand of biting, gallows humor. And so it was that Glasgow’s Scottish Sunday Herald took the opportunity in their TV listings yesterday to “preview” the broadcast of this Friday’s Inauguration of Donald Trump as “The Twilight Zone returns.”

“It sounds far-fetched,” goes the absolutely brilliant parody, noting how pundits will “speculate gravely on what lies ahead.” As with most great satire, of course, the pith lies in its conveyance of truth – in this case a most unsettling one.

Still, at times like this, it helps to have a laugh…while we can.

 

Image result for scottish sunday herald trump inauguration

New York Staycation: The Waldorf Astoria

waldorf-astoria-new-york-park-ave-entrance
Share Button

Like most Americans, you’ve likely spent the holidays in a perpetual state of travel and stress – so what could be more weclome than a January spent staying close to home? And what better gift to give yourself than a pampered, decadent staycation at the New York hotel of all New York hotels…the Waldorf Astoria? Most importantly, this is absolutely the time to do it, as the grandest grande dame will be closing for a long period of renovations come March.

waldorf-towers-grand-suite-3

Like so many of our favorite grand hotels, The Waldorf has the ability to romance and entertain you for days without you ever leaving the premises…from its endlessly fascinating historic surroundings to its gorgeously plush rooms and suites to its utterly indulgent dining options to, of course, the fabulous people watching. After all, not only does the glittering parade of celebs continue to this day – Katy Perry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt – but this is also the official hotel of The President of the United States.

With that said, here’s our eight-point guide to the absolutely perfect Waldorf Astoria staycation weekend. Book now, of course.

 

Sake Tasting at La Chine

After checking in Friday afternoon, and spending some time lazing about your lavish Tower room, head down to the hotel’s stylish Chinese restaurant La Chine. Bar Manager Chris Johnson is – would we kid you? – a certified Sake Ninja; and he’ll run you through some unexpected and fantastically refined choices from the well-curated menu. Ask him to whip you up a speciality sake cocktail or two.

la-chine-1038-s

 

Dinner at Bull & Bear

Tired of overly-concepted restaurants? Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse is as classic as they come and fussiness-free: killer martinis, iced shellfish, wedge salads, and, of course, some of the best cuts in all of Gotham. The filet mignon is dry aged for 28-35 days – what more need be said?

Tour the Waldorf

We love a hotel that is an attraction unto itself. And over the last decade or so, the Waldorf has mined its history to turn its hallways into a veritable museum. Artifacts, clippings and fascinating photographs tell the very grand story of the hotel through its dazzling guest list, including royals, presidents, Kennedys, Sinatras, McCartneys…you could easily spend a wonderful Saturday morning taking it all in. Don’t forget to pop by the stunningly preserved Park Avenue Lobby – and feel free to be awed.

park-avenue-lobby-1

Tea at Le Chine

The English version can be a bit Brideshead Revisited, now can’t it? But Afternoon Tea at La Chine is impossibly chic, looking to Asia for inspiration, making it a very au courant experience. Which means Lapsang teas, raw seafood and a tower of canapés that trades the boring cress sandwiches for the likes of BBQ pork puff pastry and lobster & truffle dumpling. An experience.

Spa Treatments with a View

Located in The Towers, the Guerlain Spa’s 19th floor views make it a breathtakingly ethereal experience. Choose from such rapturously-named treatments as the Orchid Imperiale Prestige facial, the Refloxology Revival massage and the Urban Island Escape body therapy. There’s also a dedicated menu of treatments for gents.

10553616_803163069733104_424340041641071411_n

Chamber Magic

The astonishing Steve Cohen has been doing a show at the hotel for fifteen years… The Daily News even called him the “The city’s master magician.” We won’t give anything away, but we will promise he’ll dazzle you with his wit, and his illusions will leave you shaking your head in bewilderment for days after.

Champagne Bar at Sir Harry’s

A partnership with Laurent-Perrier means the bubbles are always flowing. Rev up the romance over a bottle of L-P Cuvee Rose, or order up a couple of rounds of signature champers cocktails like the Cleopatra, with Calvados, Benedictine, Grand Marnier and Campari, or La Vie en Rose, with Aperol and club soda. Clink!

Sunday Brunch at Peacock Alley

There are almost no words that can do it justice – you have to see if for yourself. Beef Wellington, an apoplexy-inducing cheese selection, several different varieties of caviar, specialty pastas…and anything else you could possibly imagine ever wanting for a decadent, glamorous Sunday brunch – served in the buzzy but elegan-tay Peacock Alley restaurant overlooking the historic lobby. Just be prepared to hit the gym before you check out.

waldorf-astoria-new-york-peacock-alley-main-room

Interview: The Towers at Waldorf Astoria Chief Concierge Michael Romei

waldorf-towers-lobby
Share Button

Wes Anderson’s oddball 2014 film Grand Budapest Hotel dominated the Oscars by, most unusually, revolving the story around a hotel concierge – played so engagingly by Ralph Fiennes. And while it’s true that it is a job that rarely gets its proper due, virtually every one of us has at some time had a concierge rescue us from a quandary, predicament, perhaps even embarrassment.

BlackBook has always been an advocate of the men and women manning those desks of dreams. And so we jumped at the chance recently to sit for a chat with Chief Concierge Michael Romei of The Towers at The Waldorf Astoria New York (bonus: it was conducted amidst the regal splendor of the hotel’s Penthouse Suite).

What about the Waldorf Astoria itself makes your job particularly fascinating?

I think the Waldorf is some kind of symbol around the world. If you travel the world and speak to hoteliers, there is always a story or some kind of connection to the Waldorf.

That’s interesting. We sometimes joke that everywhere you go, you seem to run into someone who once worked for BlackBook.

Well, I travel often, as I have this seminar I do called Creating Service Magic – which has become extremely popular around the world. I was at the Fujiya Hotel, which is the oldest hotel in Japan, very traditional and beautiful, way up in a small village near Hakohne [a suburb of Tokyo]. I was the only Western guest when I was there, and there it was: a plaque up on the wall, which showed that the General Manager did his internship at the Waldorf.

So the Waldorf is a connector, in a sense, and you’re the ambassador?

Yes. And the concierge position is unique, in that it’s one of the few people inside the hotel that is actually very connected outside the hotel. I will even recommend to Waldorf guests other places in which I’ve stayed around the world.

It’s a lot of responsibility.

Certainly, and because of that sharing of expertise and knowledge, people tend to bond with us in a unique way. I actually had a guest that said to me, “I want to walk your path to and from work. And where should I stop in along the way?” And so I get to share something very personal with them.

Do you feel that now there is so much information out there that it is arguably even harder for people to find what they need without expert help?

People read all these comments on Tripadvisor, and there’s no way to be sure what is credible and what isn’t. Who knows why those people wrote what they did? So guests still very much rely on us. They will maybe book ahead of time, but they’ll still come to me and say, “Michael, what do you think about these restaurants?” And often times I will give them a different suggestion. Also, as dedicated concierges, we’re able to give them firsthand details, because we’ve been to these places.

Something like, Oh, tables on this side of the room, have a better view?

Right. And also if we send them, they will likely get a little extra special attention, versus someone just booking on their own.

 

waldorf-astoria-new-york-silver-corridor

Has this new era of public complaining on Yelp, Tripadvisor, etc., noticeably affected how you do your job? A lot of people grumble online that the concierge didn’t just snap to attention for them.

Of course social media is very powerful. But you have to be careful how you manage the responses. When guests call us, they tend to forget that we’re in a busy hotel lobby, and that I’m getting 250 emails a day. What’s important is a quick response – even if it isn’t the answer. And when someone makes a seemingly simple request, they might not be aware that it may have taken years for me to cultivate that relationship to, say, get them that special table. That’s the beauty and the magic of it all – that they actually don’t have to know what it takes behind the scenes.

Right, you’re not going to say to a guest, “I hope you realize what it took for me to get this reservation!”

Exactly.

Do you find there are different expectations from Asian and Middle Eastern travelers than from Western guests?

Culturally, there are differences. There are guests from around the world, for instance, who like to dine very, very late…and others very early. Also, for Asian travelers the bath is much more important than the shower – so we make sure that the corresponding amenities are in place for them. And for certain cultures we make sure to have non-alcoholic selections in the minibar.

Because some cultures drink less than we do in the West.

Exactly. Asian travelers are also used to exemplary service, it’s very personalized and professional and quick – it’s exceptional. Asia also has a cultural breeding, service is innate. In India, when you enter people’s homes, they often have a little sign that says, The Guest is God.

Our service tends to be less formal.

But in New York, it’s sharp, full of energy, and very, very timely.

Hotels love to say things like, “Our staff anticipates your needs.” Which is a nice slogan, but it’s not really something you can reasonably do.

Well, you just never know what people are going to ask, you never know what might happen while a guest is staying with you. Someone might even take ill, and ultimately, it’s the concierge that has to deal with it.

And finally, your current top New York restaurant suggestions?

Le Coucou in Soho, and Le Coq Rico in the Flatiron.

waldorf-astoria-new-york-rotunda

A Moxy Hotel Guide to Berlin Mitte

berlin-east-side-gallery
Share Button
East Side Gallery

Our last expedition to Berlin saw us pushing on through ‘til dawn amidst the louche goings on of the city’s quasi-legal club culture – hitting the warehouse dancefloors along the fringes of Friedrichshain. But on a recent visit to check out the new Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof hotel, our mission was of a bit less insalubrious nature.

We’d gone for the Moxy’s opening party, which turned out, it being Berlin, involved a rather impressive array of cross-dressing / androgyny / deconstructed fashion…and quite a lot of decadent behavior (including guests lining up at a schnitzel food truck outside to soak up the considerable booze intake.)

The hotel is the most recent addition to a Moxy collection that includes New Orleans, Nashville, Frankfurt, London and Milan, amongst others. It’s got plenty of groovy, “cool kids” atmosphere, and 24-hour-party-people prices (meaning, perfect for those who don’t need to spend all that much time sleeping). For about $120 a night, you can score a room with a smart sense of style, impressive comfort, and immersive views of a graffiti covered East Berlin just outside. As the name promises, it’s also very conveniently positioned right opposite the city’s easternmost train station, making late nightlife jaunts to Kreuzberg and Neukölln cheap and easy.

Downstairs, the Moxy has almost accidentally nailed a particular rising zeitgeist. Instagram, for better or worse, has obviously made breakfast a “thing.” And in the hotel’s stylish, open plan public area, it’s rather a scene in the morning, with a cool crowd shaking off hangovers via strong coffee and a refreshingly healthy breakfast.

Considering the Moxy’s extremely attractive rates, rooms are actually very well done, chic but cozy, and with reasonably sized bathrooms.

As the hotel sits on the perimeter of the perpetually hip Mitte district, we made a purpose of just hanging about the area, and getting reacquainted with what was East Berlin’s first post-Cold-War hip neighborhood. Here’s what we got up to.

 

East Side Gallery

The section the Berlin Wall that is preserved as an open-air gallery is ideal for conjuring a bit of DDR nostalgia (Ostalgie, they call it). It’s especially relevant in these times of rising populism – a poignant reminder of maintaining vigilance in regards to our most treasured freedoms.

me Collectors Room

A unique concept: Thomas Olbricht’s personal collection has been on permanent display since 2010. He also invites other collectors to share their works. Downstairs is mostly modern and contemporary; but it’s the gloriously creepy Wunderkammer upstairs that most greatly intrigues. An archive of morbidity and curiosity, there are scientific instruments, death’s heads, gruesome miniatures and all manner of macabre ephemera from the Renaissance up to current Brit agitators Jake & Dinos Chapman. (N.B. the area around Auguststraße is recommended for an afternoon of gallery hopping.)

1185944_593374850701947_1921642599_n

Friedrichstadt Passagen

Shopping complex flaunts luxury fashion brands, but is worth seeing for the surreal and spectacular architecture. It’s Berlin’s equivalent of Paris’ Galeries Lafayette.

Hamburger Bahnhof

This is the way Berlin does a contemporary art museum: fitted into a spectacular neoclassical railway station. Currently showing is Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Hieroglyphics, with 17 paintings by the exalted German Expressionist.

14721664_10157565696100212_6596029223738576877_n

Keyser Soze

A cool little Mitte café that, yes, nicks its name from The Usual Suspects. Draws a curious but buzzy collision of crowds – hip kids, cool moms, visiting New York media types. A schnitzel and a glass of white Grauburgunder makes for a perfect Berlin lunch. The attached bar is a good place to kick off an evening.

Moxy Day Bar

Plot your night with cocktails in the Moxy lobby. The front desk doubles as the bar – another very zeitgeisty touch; and you can start your evening with drinks and a couple of rounds of foosball in a low-key-but-sexy, open-plan space.

16057_290_08-1

Crackers

For a glam night out, book ahead at the oddly named Crackers. The beautiful people and model types come to be seen in all their beautifulness; and while its pretty much “style first” here, the food is actually quite good. As well, and so fitting for Berlin, you’re allowed to smoke at the bar. Remember 2003?

Pantry

People are generally having too much fun in Berlin to bother much about over-concepted food. But there are a few musts for epicurean types in the Mitte, namely Cookies Cream and Katz Orange. We hit up the new-ish Pantry, which is sort of awesomely bourgeois-hip in its vibe, with plush seating, a well-curated conceptual art collection and a clientele of well-heeled culturati types. The French-Asian cuisine is exquisite, without being precious. After dinner, traverse nearby Torstraße for various forms of trendy nightlife.

1604456_540115179434670_748729883_n

 

 

Adria Petty’s Short Fashion Film ‘SOLO’ is a Sly Commentary on Intimacy

adria-petty-solo
Share Button

Her third in a series of rather surrealist short fashion films, Adria Petty‘s alluring but thought-provoking  SOLO, as the director herself puts it, shrewdly and artfully comments on “the lack of intimacy in dating today.” Written by Anne Marie Mackay, it stars Angela Lindvall and Evangelo Bousis as a striking couple, gorgeously bedecked in Ferragamo and Cavalli (with styling by Erica Pelosini) – but unable to share any real emotional connection. Artist Tasya van Ree also makes an appearance.

 

adria-petty-solo-2

 

It’s actually an homage to the classic thriller The Thomas Crown Affair, the card game harking back to a famous scene in that film – only with strip poker replacing chess. Over a haunting soundtrack by Dhani Harrison, the female character (she calls herself SOLO) coldly recites, “solo, as in no partners, no friends, no entanglements – just the need to be the very best. I always win.”

In the context of our technologically alienating, hyper-image-managed modern world, they’re chilling words, surely.

Idris Elba Wants to be Your Valentine

landscape-1484146071-idris-elba-valentines-day
Share Button

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, one thing you surely don’t want is another forgettable night out with another painfully uninteresting “setup” by your friends. But what if you could have a date with one of the world’s most dashing leading men? And it could be for a good cause?

And so it is that we see the impossibly suave British actor Idris Elba sipping champagne and seducing with his eyes (and everything else) in this video for an amazing new Omaze campaign. It will raise money for CNN International correspondent Isha Sesay’s W.E. Can Lead – which funds the education and empowerment of young girls in Africa; and one very lucky entrant will win the chance to spend an unforgettable February 14th staring longingly across the table at the handsome Mr. Elba.

“I’ll let you pound my yams,” he slyly and intriguingly promises, “and for dessert, you can have…whatever you want.”

The special bonus? Elba is apparently the odds-on favorite to become the next 007…so the winner just might have the lifelong thrill of being able to say they went on a date with James Bond.

Founded by Ryan Cummins and Matthew Pohlson, Omaze itself facilitates campaigns offering once in a lifetime experiences that raise money to support corresponding charities. This is surely one of their best yet.

 

BlackBook Exclusive: 2003 Interview With David Bowie (On The Anniversary of His Death)

bowie-press-image-2015-1
Share Button
Image by Jimmy King

Today, January 10, 2017, marks one year since David Bowie left this Planet Earth, surely for some glittering, magical alternate dimension – where he undoubtedly remains the most inimitable of creatures.

Everything that possibly could have been said about him was likely said in the midst of the magnificent outpouring of heartbreak and love that followed his passing last year. So to best remember him, we will let the Starman himself do the talking – revisiting this startling 2003 interview. (Which, in 2015, was published in the book Bowie on Bowie: Interviews and Encounters).

 

Early on, you readily explored pretenses, where others would think that was not the proper way to conduct one’s self as an artist. You were not afraid of going as far into yourself as possible to discover those choices.

I thought it was very courageous, yeah. At the time, I didn’t really realize how deep in it I was. In immediate retrospect, I would think, fuck, I’m really pushing myself out on the boat. But I was just going my own way. The only people I knew were strange, anyway, Iggy and all.

Could you have said what you wanted to say without those characters to channel it through?

I really stopped writing them for myself. I went through such a traumatic period in the late 70’s that it really changed my path. I just haven’t written in that sort of narrative way [of late]. I suppose there was something of that sort in the Outside album. That was Brian [Eno] and I going off on some kind of strange tangent; we wanted to kind of lay down a manifesto of what the early 90’s was about. I think it was right on the money.

One of my favorite albums.

Thank you very much. I must say that my core of fans, those that really know my albums, really liked it. It had a whole host of characters, and had I the motivation and the attention span, it would have been nice to have carried it out more fully – to have somehow done it as a theatrical trilogy. I just don’t have the patience. I think Brian would have the patience.

It’s his job to have patience with genius.

Well, he’s one himself.

David Bowie bbook 5

I wanted to get into something significant. Culture as we knew it to be able to affect the world in other than a very straightforward emotional way is, essentially, finished…

Well, yeah, that’s the postmodernist thinking. The end of culture has arrived. I think really the intention of what they were saying is more that we’d be repeating in different ways everything that’s gone before. I’m not so sure that the culture itself is finished, but it won’t produce anything new.

You must, however, have a sense of the recontextualization of what you do. Because there was the idea in ’77 that music could change the world; and no one gets that privilege any more as a rock band…to change the world. Does it feel daunting now?

Hmm. I just think that maybe there were several of us dealing in this newly found pluralistic vocabulary, this whole George Steiner-ism of life, you know? (note: Steiner is the author of a 1971 book titled In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards The Redefinition Of Culture) But I think that the world caught up really quickly, and everybody is so totally aware of the kind of vocabulary that we were throwing around at that time, that one feels kind of superfluous now. I still enjoy what I do. But I don’t think what I do is terribly necessary…at all. And I’m really not doing much that’s terribly different from what I was doing back then. But it’s for…

For the love of it.

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

So, you’re comfortable with the way…well, when you look at even contemporary conceptual art, is it hard to not feel this sense of futility?

Yes! Of course! But I’d rather turn that futility into…well, I think it becomes a futility if you give credit to the idea that we are evolving, or supposed to be evolving. It looks like futility if you think that there is some system that we should be standing by. A religious system, or one of civilization’s philosophies. But I think if you can accept – and it’s a big leap – that we live in absolute chaos, it doesn’t look like futility anymore. It only looks like futility if you believe in this bang up structure we’ve created called ‘God,’ and all. It’s like, don’t tell me that the whole system is crumbling; there’s nothing there to crumble. All these structures were self-created, just to survive, that’s all. We only have a moral code because, overall, it helps us survive. It wasn’t handed down to us from anywhere.

david bowie bbook 8

I wonder sometimes if we’re just supposed to destroy the world; that we don’t possess the ability not to.

I don’t think we are. I don’t think we’re going to destroy it at all. I’m not that pessimistic. I just believe we’re going through a transition where we will become a humankind that accepts chaos as our basic premise – that it’s how we exist.

But I’m not sure the earth can hold up to it. It may not actually survive our progress.

Well, I’m not going to tell my daughter that. I’m going to tell her that she’s going to have a great life, and it’s a terrific world, and that she should embrace all experiences. You see, I have to do that. It’s really important for me to work hard on developing a positive attitude. Because it’s not for me anymore, and I’m very keenly aware of that. I just can’t get that selfish. And it’s very, very easy for me to vacillate over into the more depressing, nihilistic, dark side of life. And I just don’t need to do that right now. It comes through in my writing because it’s the only space I allow myself to function in that particular way.

It’s where you’re working it out.

Yeah. And it’s like that old adage that Brian uses: ‘In art, you can crash your plane and just walk away from it.’ Which you can’t do in real life, of course. You present a darker picture for yourself to look at, and then reject it, all in the process of writing.

It’s like you’re having a dialogue with yourself.

And I think that’s what’s left for me with music. Now I really find that I address things with myself. That’s what I do. If I hadn’t been able to write songs and sing them, it wouldn’t have mattered what I did. I really feel that. I had to do this.

That’s very existentialist. Which is something that i’ve always gotten from your work. People will tend to focus on the nihilism in your work…

But it is more existential than nihilist. I’ve always felt comfortable with writers like Camus. But people would read that as being so negative. And it wasn’t! It just made absolute sense, what he had to say.

So, how do you still manage all of this? How do you just keep on going?

I’m not sure how many I’ve got left, you know? But making music is really still at the top of my pile. I really enjoy it so much; I love writing it, and I love creating it. And I think we all have a longing for something that can engage our systems, and that we can nurture ourselves with; a romance of life. It becomes harder and harder to plug into that particular feeling, I think. But what else would I do other than what I do?
Images by Jimmy King

A Covent Garden Hotel Guide To London’s ‘Hidden’ Seven Dials Neighborhood

Covent Garden, Central London
Share Button

When one considers the expression ‘hiding in plain sight,” it’s hard to imagine it could be applied to a neighborhood in Central London. Yet we managed to browse the vinyl for years at the former Rough Trade Shop in Neal’s Yard without a clue that its surrounding neighborhood was actually called Seven Dials.

The micro-hood is also home to our fave London sleep (and easily one of the city’s coolest), the Covent Garden Hotel – which just turned 20 this year. And over those two decades, its seductively trad/mod styled rooms have held the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Kirsten Dunst, Bono, Stella McCartney, Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Orlando Bloom…the list could genuinely go on (and on). It even had a starring role in Woody Allen’s Match Point.

From its plush Drawing Room and Library to its elegantly cool Brasserie Max (our go-to spot in the capital), every inch of the hotel is a perfectly realized tableau of Englishness, but as captured by a true modern iconoclast (Firmdale Hotels proprietor-designer Kit Kemp, of course). And its Monmouth Street location almost makes it feel as if you might have nipped off to the Cotswolds – but that Soho’s shopping and nightlife are just ten minutes away.

London is one of our favorite holiday season weekend getaways. So we asked the hotel’s charming General Manager Helle Jensen to take us through a perfect couple of days worth of activity in Seven Dials. (N.B. they’re offering a special package which includes tickets to see The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House.)

Get Your Morning Jolt at Monmouth Coffee

Just over the road from the hotel, a fantastic café that roasts and sells coffee from single farms, estates and cooperatives. They travel extensively throughout the year bringing the most interesting varietals back to Covent Garden.

Make a Day of the Brunch Film Club at Brasserie Max

Every Saturday we host the Brunch Film Club in the luxury cinema in the hotel. Two courses and a prosecco or bloody mary at our Brasserie Max, plus the film, is just £40. 

Have a Colourful Lunch at Neal’s Yard

Neal’s Yard is a wildly colourful courtyard hidden down a small alleyway opposite the hotel – and named for the 17th century developer, Thomas Neale. After hitting shops like Neal’s Yard Remedies and Neal’s Yard Dairy, have lunch at Wild Food Café (raw/veggie), Homeslice (gourmet pizza), Barbary (North African) or the impossibly hip outpost of Paris’ Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (below). 

compagnie-london

Shop For…

Stylish Eyewear at Walter & Herbert 

Walter Conway and Herbert Thorn started the business in 1946 and it’s still going strong today. Worth a visit to browse through their stunning 20-piece optical range and other products such as notepads, lambs’ wool scarves and key rings, all made in England. A gift for her? A pair of incredibly chic Lavender Crystal Blyton sunglasses.

Fashion & Accessories at Orla Kiely

Irish contemporary designer Orla Keily is known for her unique retro prints and designs, and her store in Seven Dials is one of only two in London. From a small collection of accessories – commissioned by Harrods following her graduation from the Royal College of Art – the range has grown to include a complete ready-to-wear collection, travel, homeware and stationery.

orla-kiely-seven-dials

Get Well Groomed at Murdock 

Ahead of any night, we recommend gentlemen visit Murdock London. They have a great range of English made colognes and daily essentials, as well as barbershop experiences to stay sharp. For the perfect holiday gift for him, choose from exclusive grooming kits like The Stay Sharp Straight Razor Box and The Handsome Beard Box. 

See To Your Wellbeing at Another Space

Keeping fit during any trip is important, so I’d recommend visiting this brand’s new fitness boutique. Focusing on cycle, HIIT and yoga, the best part is that they don’t require any membership or joining fees – which is perfect for our visitors.

Take in Award Winning Theatre at Donmar Warehouse

During its 24-year history, the Donmar has won over 100 awards for its artistic excellence, gaining it an international reputation. It’s a 251-seat, not-for-profit theatre on Earlham Street and is renowned as one of the UK’s finest – we’re looking forward to seeing Gemma Arterton in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan this December. Nip back to the bar at Brasserie Max after, for a Med G&T or Silly Mid Wicket cocktail, and scintillating post-theatre chat.

donmar-warehouse