Canada Turns 150 – Fairmont Hotels + Air Canada Throw a Fabulous Winter Party

Canada Tremblant Apres in the Air
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Image by Stephanie Starjovski

With its hotsy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and its enviable, progressive society, Canada doesn’t look a day over 21. But in truth, she turns a gorgeous 150 this year – and we were recently invited up to celebrate that special birthday with her.

Our hosts? Toronto based Fairmont Hotels & Resorts have actually teamed up with Air Canada Jetz to offer up one of the most fabulous promotions we’ve ever had the pleasure to make acquaintance with: Après in the Air allows you and fifty-odd of your most fun-loving friends / hangers-on to charter a swish private jet – whose interior is sexily done up like a very stylish ski chalet party, complete with plush pillows and blankets, a cheese trolley and copious champagne.

The trip then takes you to the capital, Ottawa, and the dazzling Quebec resorts of Montebello and Tremblant.

Of course, you don’t need four-dozen friends to enjoy an ethereal winter getaway up North – though we highly recommend accumulating them beforehand. Either way, here’s how to do it all in very Canadian style.

Ottawa, Fairmont Chateau Laurier

The country’s capital, it has a homey, rustic feel (think Portland), but with awesomely grandiose architecture perched dramatically above its eponymous river. Check in to the spectacular Fairmont Chateau Laurier, which is, stylistically, an 18th Century French castle right in the middle of downtown.
Hipster sorts will love the city’s Canada Agriculture And Food Museum, or the Canadian Museum of Nature; But the National Gallery, which houses contemporary, Asian, sculpture and photography collections, is perhaps very much on topic with its exhibition, The Advent of Abstraction: Russia, 1914-1923.
Make time to walk the Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River (it takes you all the way to Quebec) for jaw-droppingly awesome views of the city skyline.
If you want to hit Ottawa’s food scene, Riviera, Back Lane Cafe, Navarra by Rene Rodriguez, Play Food & Wine, Pressed, Fraser Cafe and The Urban Pear are amongst the best.
But back at the Chateau Laurier, a must do is the Great Canadian Winter Tea in the hotel’s Zoe’s Lounge – with duck confit sandwiches, maple eclairs and Saskatoon berry tarts. Later, order up a few rounds of their exclusive 150 Canadantini – made with Iceberg Canadian Vodka and Cave Spring Canadian IceWine.

Quebec, Fairmont Le Château Montebello

Simply put, one of the most romantic destinations anywhere. The Chateau itself, built by a Swiss millionaire in the 1920s, is the largest log structure in the world, actually – as if someone had constructed a charming wood cabin and it was subsequently puffed up into a luxurious resort. We took a rather thrilling ride through the woods and over the grounds by means of a husky-propelled sled. But sporting types can also take to one of a pair of curling courts on site (it’s really just as exciting as it looks in The Olympics), enjoy a bit of cross-country skiing, or do some high-speed snowmobiling on an ethereally frozen Ottawa River.
But perhaps the best winter sport of all is cocktails or brandies at the Chateau’s Bar le Foyer, which surrounds a striking six-sided fireplace. Afterwards, dine on locally-sourced dishes (tartare of Quebec smoked duck, Boileau red deer, vegan squash & chickpea cake) at the hotel’s rustic-luxe Aux Chantignoles restaurant.

 

Quebec, Fairmont Tremblant

This is the grooviest ski resort in Quebec Province, hands down. Hit the slopes above a buzzing brightly-painted village of shops, restaurants and cafes, which is part Canadian charm, part Swiss chic.
In between swishes, take a dip in the Chateau’s heated outdoor pool (or if you’ve had a particularly vigorous day of skiing, try the outdoor therapeutic whirlpool bath). Set aside an afternoon for the Spa de Tremblant – indulge in a warm & cold basalt stone massage, a Valmont signature facial treatment or an elixir ice cider body wrap (Seriously, how could you not want an ice cider wrap?). Rooms have a plush, living room vibe – ask for one with views up the slopes.
Even if you don’t ski, take the gondola up to the top of Mont Tremblant, and just stand around in awe for awhile.
End it all with Après–ski at its finest: champagne cocktails on the Chateau’s terrace around a crackling a fire, with a striking nighttime view of the village below.
Happy Birthday, Canada!

Eight Reasons to Love the New 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

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With luxury skyscrapers going up all over Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick, we’re long past the notion that there is still some set of mythical “Brooklyn values” in place. (You’d probably have to move to Omaha for that.) But while some of the borough’s trendy hotels (i.e. The William Vale) feel more SoBe than BKNY, the gorgeous new 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (we popped in for the opening bash last week) feels distinctly….right for the “new” Brooklyn.

In all honesty, the hotel could likely simply advertise, “Well, we’ve got these views of Manhattan…” and the job would be done. But it’s actually shot through with what seems a genuinely sincere attempt at conscientious hospitality, down to the recycling baskets in the rooms. And yet, there is most definitely a subtle glamour at work as well.

Here’s what we (and you will as well) love most about it.

Views! Views!…Views!

Surely Manhattan looks best at its southernmost. And waking up to the sun rising over the East River, and glancing over the hotel’s namesake bridge to the epic towers of the Financial District – that is hands down our new favorite amenity right now. Oh, how jealous your Instagram followers will be.

The Design

We were instantly taken with what could only be described as a beautifully realized Asian-industrial aesthetic. Distressed concrete gives it a “not-too-overdesigned” feel. And everywhere you look, something seems to bring you closer to a sense of serenity – while the high ceilings, tall columns and massive windows inspire a bit of awe. Call it…”epic zen.”

Rooms With Sliding Windows (and Views!)

American hoteliers have a terrible habit of installing windows in the rooms that open only about two inches…or not at all. Those at 1HBB actually slide all the way open – glory! And glass enclosed showers mean that you can scrub-a-dub-dub whilst thrilling to those aforementioned spectacular views. We love the concrete floors, too.

The Tesla

The hotel has its own black, gull-wing Tesla, which can zip guests around to nearby locations. Very. Cool.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

How many hotels in New York City have their own park? And indeed, 1HBB sits proudly amidst the lovely waterfront green space pithily named Brooklyn Bridge Park. Spend a peaceful sunset moment after a long day of dealing with the world and its wife.

Poolside Cocktails

You could have easily guessed this one. In May a new venue will be unveiled at 1HBB, for cocktails and bites by the pool. Expect it to be a scene – but one with (see above) really, really great views.

The Food

There’s a welcoming, sunlit cafe already on site, stocking local Brooklyn goodies – and a terribly stylish Lobby Lounge. But sometime in spring, the hotel will open a still hush-hush restaurant drawing on its eco-luxe ideology. Watch this space for word on who will be helming the kitchen.

It’s Pet Friendly!

Bring Fido. He’ll love the park as well, obviously.

 

The Hot Hotels for Paris Fashion Week

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Most calamitously, the upper echelons of the fashion flock had been forced to endure the several-times-delayed reopenings of both Le Ritz and de Crillon, Paris’ exalted “Palace” hotels. But the former is at last welcoming guests again, much to the relief of its fiercely loyal clientele. Even still, the capital is hardly ever wanting for fabulous places to bed down after the rigorous whirl of fashion shows and parties.

And so, as another Paris Fashion Week prepares to dazzle its way through the City of Light, we look at the best new and renewed hotels in the capital, and who will be staying there.

 

Le Ritz, 1st Arrondissement

Who’s Staying: The elite of the elite of fashion.

There’s a scene in How to Steal a Million, where Peter O’Toole asks Audrey Hepburn for a ride back to the Ritz, and she replies, “You’re a very chic burglar, aren’t you?” What more need be said? It’s the most glamorous hotel in the world, now newly glamorized – and where you need to be to bump expensively clad shoulders with the likes of Karl, Anna and Kate.

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Hotel Grand Amour, 10th Arrondissement

Who’s Staying: The “It” people

With Monsieur Andre’s hipster playground Hotel Amour feting its 10th anniversary last year, he’s given it a sister to celebrate. Hotel Grand Amour, opened amidst the nightlife buzzings of the 10e, has 44 capriciously designed rooms – some by Purple’s Olivier Zahm, some by Glenn O’Brien – and a charmingly cozy bar and restaurant. Staff uniforms are by Maison Kitsuné – so, yes, do mind your style at all times.

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Renaissance Paris Republique, 10th Arrondissement

Who’s Staying: The Epicures

That its opening party in June was DJ’d by The Misshapes says it all. This strikingly designed hotel has sleek rooms with multiple “picture” windows framing the Parisian cityscape, and something of a retro living room feel in the public spaces (which include a stunning terrace). But it’s also right nearby to the indie fashion shopping of Le Marais, the ethnic restaurant scene along Canal Saint Martin, and not far from all that hip rue Oberkampf bar hopping.

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Hotel Les Bains, 3rd Arrondissement

Who’s Staying: The A-list celebs, rock stars, and the designers who dress them.

First opened in 1885, Les Bains was later a decadent spa/nightspot that attracted the likes of Bowie, Depeche Mode, Sean Penn, Johnny Depp, Jean Paul Gaultier and Jean Michel Basquiat. Now it’s a pinnacle of bohemian luxe (and the newest Parisian member of Design Hotels), fittingly located in the boho-chic Marais. When booking, request a room with a balcony. Though with a private lounge, dramatically designed bar and a basement nightclub, expect sleeping to be the last thing on anyone’s mind.

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Le Grand Pigalle, 9th Arrondissement

Who’s Staying: The cool kids and the up-and-comers

In the now so terribly hip (and former red light district) Pigalle neighborhood that gives it its name, this is an “It” hotel – from the Mssrs. behind Experimental Cocktail Club – designed by “It” girl Dorothée Meilichzon. Naturally, then, stylish, faux vintage rooms have minibars with ready-mixed cocktails. But the Italo-inspired wine bar is where you’ll find all the best fashion schmoozing.

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La Reserve, 8th Arrondissement

Who’s Staying: The couture clients

Sister to the hotels of the same name (and same exorbitant rates) in Geneva and St. Tropez, the Paris edition is fitted into the plush former mansion of the Duc de Morny in the poshie 8e. But far from stuffy, interiors by superstar designer Jacques Garcia include flamboyant flourishes of his signature Empire style – as in, lots of burgundy and turquoise velvet set against dramatic drapery and baroque fireplaces. Regal, but chic.

La Reserve Paris image 6

 

Generator Hostel, 10th Arrondissement

Who’s Staying: Stylistas on a budget

Paris’ latest entry in the “hip hostel” stakes, this Generator follows properties in London, Barcelona, Berlin, etc. Its dorm style rooms and shared hallway showers (it does have private chambers, should you so desire) make it perfect for fashion bloggers and non-super models. Style is somewhere between shambolic, neo-hippie and industrial-chic.

Generator Paris - Cafe Fabien - Nikolas Koenig

 

 

 

Culture Weekend Getaway: Logan Philadelphia Hotel

Assembly - Cathedral View
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Admittedly, when we stayed at the Four Seasons hotel in Philadelphia a few years back, we loved the space and the location – but found the vibe to be a little, well…stiff. So we returned intrigued after the property had been rebranded as The Logan Philadelphia, Curio Collection by Hilton.

The slightly complicated moniker has to do with it being a part of the newish Hilton boutique brand, meant to allow each hotel to express its particular individuality. Indeed, nothing about it suggests following any sort of corporate-issued blueprint. Immediately upon entering, one is greeted by the chic, fireplace-adorned Commons Lounge & Library, with its cooly mismatched furnishings and wall of windows overlooking the comely courtyard – making it feel like a sort of home-away-from-home for those with impeccable stylistic proclivities.

 

 

Notably, the hotel’s commissioned art collection makes clever reference to the city itself. A spectacular chandelier/installation, for instance, holds images of famous Philadelphians, and dangles dramatically above the lobby entrance. And a set of intriguing wire sculptures guards the elevator bank, a striking tribute to Philly’s storied Schuykill Regatta rowing team.

The rooms are still plush, but now sleeker and brighter – request one with a view of Logan Circle and its monumental historic architecture. But our favorite feature? The swish Library & Billiards Room just off the lobby lounge, where we sank a few (yes, you can take that as a double entendre) before our evening activities. It must be said, that far too few hotels have one.

Philly itself has always been one of our fave weekend getaways for food, culture and especially live music. It’s also a particularly poignant time, for obvious reasons, to revisit the Birthplace of American Democracy. Here’s how to do it best, with The Logan as your HQ.

The Barnes Foundation

Now moved to its architecturally spectacular new home quite nearby to the hotel, it’s a life-altering collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early modern works – as well as African sculpture and Native American textiles. It also has a film screening series, and “mixer” nights for budding art aficionados.

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Recently ranked as the third most important museum in America, its staggering collection of more than 240,000 works has just been augmented by the addition of the New South Asian Galleries. A current exhibition not to be missed is Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage.

The Independent Gallery Scene

Philly creative types have the advantage of operating a bit outside the pressures of major market trends – so one can expect art of a less self-conscious, more provocative sort. The best galleries in which to immerse oneself in the scene are Pentimenti, Wexler and Paradigm Gallery + Studio, pictured below.

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Love Park 

Nearby to the Logan, the park renowned for its beloved Robert Indiana “LOVE” sculpture is getting a $16 makeover. It will become a great springtime hang, with more green space, fountains and, as it goes these days, zeitgeisty food trucks.

Sunday Brunch at Urban Farmer

The Logan’s trendily monikered restaurant actually manages to avoid all the farmy, Portlandia cliches. Dinner means some of the best steaks in the city (i.e. Kansas Creekstone Prime); but brunch is the real scene, with veggie frittatas, blue crab omelets, popcorn grits and a groovy, energetic crowd.

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La Colombe Coffee Roasters

Yes, they’re now in New York, Boston, D.C., Chicago…but this is where it all started. And don’t let some persnickety hipster barista tell you otherwise – La Colombe still serves the best coffee, period. Hit the Rittenhouse Square location, which retains a cool Boho vibe; and while you’re there, go all connoisseur and take home something from their rare Workshop collection…like the Lycello Blue Geisha or the Kenya – Karogoto.

The S. 18th Street Restaurant Scene

Just a short walk from the hotel, you can satisfy virtually every culinary craving imaginable within a four block stretch. There’s Stephen Starr’s The Dandelion for modern pub food in a cool, Anglophilic setting; Bar Bombon for buffalo cauliflower tacos and a serious mezcal list; a.kitchen + bar (pictured below) for bourgeois-chic style, killer martinis and mod bistro eats; Tria for Euro-y cheese-charcuterie-wine pairings; and Starr’s perpetually hip Parc, for a Europhile crowd sating on brasserie classics like steak tartare and trout amandine.

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Assembly Rooftop at The Logan 

If you can hold out until spring, the Logan’s rooftop bar is the chicest in the city, offering a striking overview of Philly’s most storied architecture and a notable selection of champers by the glass.

The Music Scene

Want to see a band, minus all the bored/boring, arms-folded hipsterati cluttering up venues in WBurg and Silver Lake? Make the rounds of Philly’s legendary venues like Electric Factory, The Trocadero and The TLA…or the newer Union Transfer – which in the coming weeks will feature the likes of Austra, Parquet Courts and The Suicide Girls Blackheart Burlesque. Other shows coming up in the city include Kings of Leon, Devandra Banhart and Talib Kweli.

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A Renaissance Republique Paris Guide

Paris Place de le Republique
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Oh so much of the buzz concerning Paris’ hotel scene in 2016 revolved around the those opulent legends awarded the classification “Palace”: the reopening of Le Ritz, and delayed reopening of de Crillon and Le Bristol chef Eric Frechon being named the culinary overlord of the city.

But we found ourselves taken with one of a decidedly more groovy appeal, the new Renaissance Paris Republique.

It debuted last summer with a glamorous, Misshapes-DJ’d opening bash. But we popped in for a stay recently with the intent of kicking about the Marais, one of our most beloved Paris hoods – which is also the stomping grounds of the indie fashion set. The hotel turns out to actually have one of the most trend-perfect locations in the city: alongside the grandiose Place de la Republique; a few blocks from the hip restaurant scene on the Canal Saint Martin; an easy zip to the cool-kid nightlife happenings along the rue Oberkampf; and just a picturesque stroll to the center of the aforementioned Marais.

 

 

The hotel also has some of the most stylish features in the capital. Rooms in the Bobo category each have a little balcony overlooking the rooftops of the 10e; but we loved the Urban Rooms, with their wide, porthole windows and sexy glass bathrooms. Downstairs the cool Martin Bar off the lobby is a throwback 60s/70s mod, serving not only swish cocktails but also a signature, eponymous beer. It spills onto a gorgeous terrace.

And then there’s that rarest of things: a truly worthy but not exorbitantly priced hotel restaurant, in this case the hotel’s Origin eatery. Benedicte Van der Motte (another rarity, a top female French chef) heads an excellent kitchen that turns out such delectable surprises as lamb sweetbreads and egg yolk confit.

Best of all, the Renaissance Republique is romantic enough for a Valentine’s Day getaway, and chic enough for a home base during the upcoming Paris Fashion Week (February 28 to March 7). Here’s how to make it a perfect Parisian stay.

 

Shopping in Le Marais

Plan to spend an afternoon strolling the boutique strewn streets of the Marais, especially the Rue des Francs Bourgeois and Rue Vieille du Temps. Some highlights: Piscine, Maje, Sandro (pictured below), Iro, L’Eclaireur. Take a break at on-so-Parisian Cafe Au Petit Fer a Cheval.

Sandro Paris

Dining Along Canal Saint Martin

Once a rather scruffy stretch, the canal is now home to the coolest mix of ethnic food in the capital. A few faves? Le Cambodge, for Cambodian dishes that are custom made to your taste; Street Bangkok (pictured below) for Thai street food and a stylish crowd; Typick Café for Aussie inspired eats in cool, colorful surrounds.

Nightlife in the Rue Oberkampf

One of Paris’ first hipster enclaves, it’s still counted amongst the city’s great bar crawls. For a bit of plundering-chic, hit up the buzzy Bar Les Pirates; the nearby Le P’tit Garage has the vibe of a classic American rock & roll joint; and Ave Maria mixes retro-chic with a knowing reggae/soul soundtrack.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Recipes From SUSHISAMBA’s Limited Edition Ramen Menu

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Above image: Tori No Su

Ramen has had quite a run on the charts, hasn’t it? Food fads have come and gone, but the dorm-room-staple’s culinary canonization and subsequent extended exaltation has been rather astonishing.

Recognizing this, the perpetually groovy SUSHISAMBA (West Village, NYC location) launched on Wednesday, February 15, a new (ready for it?) Brazilian & Peruvian-spiked ramen menu, “SAMBA RAMEN BY KOJI.” It’s as impressive as it sounds, with such delectable delights as Yasai Yasai vegetable kale ramen, and Shōtoribu bone marrow, short rib, peruvian corn, baby bok choy, mushroom, egg.

“Ramen is a typical Japanese soul food that lends itself to many different styles,” says Chef Koji, a Takamatsu, Japan native and ramen aficionado, who counts Brazilian capoeira as one of his skill sets. “I’m excited to add an element of surprise to this Japanese staple and present it in a new and unique way, [with] contrasting textures, bold flavors and beautiful presentations executed with passion, precision and technique.”

Here he gives BlackBook the sublime recipes for two of his specialties, so you can, indeed, try this at home. But we highly recommend doing “SAMBA RAMEN BY KOJI” in situ, amidst SUSHISAMBA’s cool, sexy interiors and fabulous people watching.

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Tori No Su (bird’s nest) – Dessert Ramen 

Serves Four
¼ pack ramen noodles
¼ cup cinnamon sugar
Follow cooking instruction on package for ramen. Then fry in canola or vegetable oil until golden brown. When removed from frying, let drain on paper towels, adding cinnamon and sugar mix. Let cool down.
Mango-Passion Fruit Gel
25ml mango purée
10g sugar
1/8 tsp agar agar
8g water
10ml passion fruit purée
Take sugar, agar agar and water and bring to a boil. Add in both the mango and passion fruit purée and bring to another boil. After it comes to a boil, cool down and blend. If needed, add in a little water to help loosen the consistency.
Ramen Ice Cream
150ml milk
60ml cream
25g sugar
10g dextrose
5g trimoline
15g milk powder
1 tbsp stabilizer
20g crispy ramen
Follow directions for cooking cinnamon-sugar ramen above.
Combine milk powder and cold milk. Add all other ingredients, except cream and ramen and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, let cool, add in cream and then ramen and let sit overnight in a refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator, blend together, strain out ramen and follow manufacturer’s instruction on ice cream machine.
11ml cream
1 tbsp trimoline
6g gianduja chocolate (hazelnut flavor)
15g jivara chocolate
30ml cold cream
Plating ingredients:
Drizzle mango-passion fruit gel and chocolate hazelnut cream around the center of the plate, sprinkling toasted hazelnuts (if you like). Place crispy ramen on top of gel and chocolate hazelnut cream, placing ramen ice cream on top of crispy ramen.

 

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Bēkon, Uni and Chīzu

Serves Four
2g thin slice of bacon
400g curly ramen noodles
20g sea urchin (uni), Maine
30g sea urchin (uni), Santa Barbara
½ white onion, diced
20ml white wine
600ml heavy cream
4g aji amarillo
14.5g Manchego cheese
2g chives diced
2g dry miso
2 pieces roasted seaweed
2 clove garlic finely diced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Heat small pot on medium heat for about 2 min. Add Maine sea urchin, aji amarillo, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Bring the contents of the pot to a simmer turn off heat and let cool.
In a separate pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil and let sit on high heat.
Take the cooled ingredients and add to a blender. Blend on high for approximately 20 seconds or until ingredients are smooth with no clumps.
Heat small sauce pan on medium heat for about two min. Add splash of canola oil. Add in garlic sauté until lightly brown. Add in white onion and bacon sauté until bacon is fully cooked. Add black pepper.
Keep pan over medium heat, add white wine and uni, aji amarillo, and cream mixture, gently combining all ingredients. Add 14g Manchego cheese and continue to stir.
Add ramen noodles to boiling water. Cook for 1-2 min or until noodles are soft.
Remove ramen noodles from boiling water and add to sauce pan with all other ingredients.
Turn heat down on sauce pan to low and stir.
Add all ingredients to a ramen bowl. Sprinkle with the rest of the manchego cheese, chives, and dry miso

London Fashion Week Stay: The Covent Garden Hotel

Covent Garden, Central London
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During London Fashion Week (February 17-21) there are any number of hotels that are teeming with the model-designer-blogger triumvirate. But we’ll always pass on poshie Mayfair and Trendy Shoreditch for a stay in Seven Dials.

Why exactly? The micro-hood is home to our fave London sleep (and perpetually one of the city’s most chicest), the Covent Garden Hotel – which turned 20 in 2016. And over those two decades, its seductively trad/mod styled rooms and gorgeous public spaces have held the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Poppy Delevigne, 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 fashionable Cotswolds – but that Soho’s shopping and nightlife are just ten minutes away.

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 – the perfect antidote to all the hype and schmoozing at the shows.

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). 

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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.

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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 – George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, starring Gemma Atherton, closes this weekend. Nip back to the bar at Brasserie Max after, for a Med G&T or Silly Mid Wicket cocktail, and scintillating post-theatre chat.

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Iggy, Warhol, Debbie Harry: Punk Tome ‘Please Kill Me’ Turns 20

Debbie Harry Please Kill Me
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When Please Kill Me, the Uncensored Oral History of Punk, was released in 1996, it garnered immediate praise for its decadent first person accounts of the birth of the bad-behavior-masquerading-as-art known now as New York punk. Comprised solely of interviews with and stories from the originators of the scene, it helped define the oral history literary genre, while providing a car-crash narrative from the likes of Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, assorted Ramones, Debbie Harry, Malcolm McLaren, and sundry other of those responsible for it all.

Recently given a twentieth anniversary makeover by writers/editors Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, the new edition adds photos and an afterward, and gives us another chance to live vicariously through a look at a time in New York when life, drugs and friendships were cheap and fast, and the best art happened late at night in some very dark places.

Here are some of the best moments…

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Andy Warhol

“We all knew something revolutionary was happening. We just felt it. Things couldn’t look this strange and new without some barrier being broken.”

Lou Reed

“Andy would show his movies on us. We wore black so you could see the movie. But we were all wearing black anyway.”

Iggy Pop

“When we came to New York to play Ungano’s I went up to see Bill Harvey, the general manager of Electra, and said, ‘I can’t possibly do four gigs in a row without drugs – hard drugs. Now it’s gonna cost this much money and I’ll pay you back…’ It was like a business proposition right? And he’s looking at me like ‘I do not believe this.'”

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Debbie Harry

“[Punk Magazine co-founders] John Holmstrom and his living cartoon creature Legs McNeil were two maniacs running around town putting up signs that said “PUNK IS COMING!” We thought, Here comes another shitty group with an even shittier name.”

Lou Reed

“Rock & roll is so great people should start dying for it. People are dying for everything else, so why not the music?”

William Burroughs

“I always thought a punk was someone who took it up the ass.”

Patti Smith

“I tried to make it with a chick once and thought it was a drag. She was too soft. I like hardness. I like to feel a male chest. I like bone. I like muscle. I don’t like all that soft breast.”

Malcolm McLaren

“When Nancy Spungen came into my shop it was as if Dr. Strangelove had sent us this dreaded disease, specifically to England, and specifically to my store. I tried every single way possible either to get her run over, poisoned, kidnapped, or shipped back to New York.”

Lou Reed

“I never had kids screaming at me particularly; they’d scream at David Bowie not me. Me? They would throw syringes and joints on the stage.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Wild Boar Ragu Recipe from Chef Rachael Polhill of Dante

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NYC’s Caffe Dante opened all the way back in 1915 – and was, for decades, a go-to hang for the city’s louche, bohemian literary and artistic types. Indeed, over the years its seats held everyone from Patti Smith to Al Pacino to Lana Del Rey.

But perhaps recognizing that more people photograph food now than actually read books, Dante got a makeover in 2015 – dropping the “Caffe,” but preserving the boho charm. And with Aussie chef Rachael Polhill helming the kitchen, delectable sourdough flatbreads, housemade pastas and piatto di formaggi have replaced the dog-eared copies of The Dharma Bums on the tabletops.

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One of our faves is the papardelle with wild boar ragu – which is apparently also a conscientious dinner choice.

“This bowl of pasta in particular is so special because I was challenged to use wild boar,” the chef tells us, “which is an unconventional ingredient. Interestingly enough, boar is beneficial to cook and eat because they are serious contributors to agricultural degradation. Environmentally conscious and delicious, it’s a winter staple on the Dante menu.”

Here she let’s us in on the particular magic that goes into her recipe.

Rachael Polhill’s Wild Boar Ragu

2# wild boar stew meat
2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground coriander
Salt
Season the meat liberally with the spices and salt. Brown the meat in a saute pan until browned and transfer into a casserole or braising dish.
100g yellow onion
100g carrots
100g celery
3 cloves of garlic
250ml red wine
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 Bay leaf
1 qt Chicken stock
Add chicken stock
Peel and roughly chop all the vegetables. Blend in the food processor until it becomes a paste. Cook the paste in a saute pan on medium heat with a little oil, stirring, until it starts to caramelise 8-10 mins. Add red wine and reduce by half, pour over the meat, along with the chicken stock, bay leaf and tomatoes.
Braise for 2.5 – 3hrs at 300 degrees F.
Serve with pappadelle, ideally home made, but if not allow 80-100g per person.
Finish with lost of chopped italian parsley and parmesan cheese.