Saturday, 18 July 2015

Patisserie Party at Le Meridien, Piccadilly

Call me old fashioned, but I feel like Sundays are a sacred day; the day of rest and indulgence. They aren’t days for errands or stress but breakfast in bed, spa days and the ultimate Sunday treat – afternoon tea. Last Sunday I popped over to the beautiful Le Meridien Piccadilly to try their new decadent French-inspired afternoon tea extravagance - Patisserie Party.

 Each Sunday, the Patisserie Party takes place in the magnificent Oak Room, a beautiful space which retains a regal air thanks to its original oak paneling and high ceilings adorned with sparkling chandeliers. The centerpiece of the room is a pretty table laden with the most delicious cakes you’ve ever laid eyes on – more on those a little later.

 The party kicks off in style with a glass of Prosecco to ease you into the most indulgent Sunday ever. I opted for a light and fragrant jasmine tea to accompany my feast, which began with classic afternoon tea sandwiches such as cucumber and cream cheese and smoked salmon with citrus crème fraiche, created by Chef de Cuisine Michael Dutnall. The sandwiches were accompanied by scones which were surprisingly light, often afternoon tea scones feel so dense I can only manage one. I indulged in a couple of scones overloaded with clotted cream and jam while watching a group of women delving into the super fun dress up box of treats, wigs, masquerade masks and elbow length gloves are on hand to enhance the regal French vibe.

 Now, the piece de resistance of Le Meridien Piccadilly’s Patisserie Party is the dessert table. Mr Dutnall has really outdone himself with the most delectable treats to finish off an outstanding afternoon tea party. From the classic Red Velvet cake and chocolate fudge cake to the rainbow cake, cake pops and macaroons, I was in heaven. I actually circled the table a couple of times before digging in, partially in awe and partially to figure out where to start! Like the scrumptious scones, the cakes were surprisingly light and thus very moreish – so it’s a good thing that you’re free to help yourself to as much cake as you can manage.

 In keeping with the regal theme, every member of staff at the Patisserie Party was so sweet and attentive from the moment we walked in. Nothing was too much trouble, from fetching an extra chair for our bags to refilling our tea as soon as the last drop was poured and bringing out extra sandwiches, I felt so pampered and indulged. As well as knowing all of the specially created dishes for that week, the staff were also really knowledgeable when it came to the tea menu too which always impresses me.
Between the decadent surroundings and irresistible cakes and treats, I think I’ve found my favourite way to while away a couple of hours on a Sunday. PatisserieParties take place on Sundays between 3pm-6pm now until 30th August at le Meridian Piccadilly. Tickets are £39 per person, which includes a glass of Prosecco on arrival plus unlimited tea, sandwiches and cakes.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

London Life: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh-Time

Living in London, I know that I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to arts and culture. Dozens of incredible museums on my doorstep, beautiful architecture, hundreds of galleries and world-class theatre and ballet productions among many other fun ways to spend a few hours. I try to make the most of it and going to the theatre is one of my favourite treats. I have to say, I’ve never been disappointed by a theatre production I’ve seen in the West End. My favourites are The Lion King and Wicked – I’ve seen both twice – but I really enjoyed Singing In The Rain and The Twits recently too.

 Last Tuesday, I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time and was utterly blown away. Admittedly I haven’t read the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, but I think a great adaptation should stand up on its own whether you’ve read the book or not. Intense, touching and humorous, the show really struck a chord – so much so that I’ve just ordered the novel.

For those who haven’t read the book, the story’s centers around a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. The play opens dramatically with the protagonist, Christopher Boone, wailing and moaning dramatically while standing over the body of his neighbour’s dog, which has been brutally killed. The unfolding story follows Christopher as he attempts to solve the mystery of who killed Mrs Shears’ dog Wellington. This follows the same premise as the book, although the play is narrated by Christopher’s endearing teacher at his special needs school. Christopher overcomes various obstacles; from never venturing further than the end of the street to hating physical contact and having difficulty communicating with strangers.

While the story sensitively and sympathetically sheds light on the reality of living with Asperger’s Syndrome, actor Luke Treadaway’s portrayal of Christopher really brings the character to life. Luke’s performance is astounding; from his mannerisms and body language to his facial expressions and tone of voice, I really believed he was Christopher Boone. His portrayal is humorous and heartbreaking at the same time; subtle touches like his twitchy nervousness, astute observations, brilliant maths mind quiet curiosity and painful awkwardness really add depth to his character.

Most of the shows I have seen are naturally theatrical and the characters are clearly playing a role, whereas every character in The Curious Incident feels so real. Each character really holds their own and is their character, whether they are playing the part of a character or a ‘prop’. One of the stand out scenes for me was when Christopher found himself travelling to London to find his mum on the train and underground. The tight cast somehow conveyed a bustling train station and overcrowded underground perfectly while Luke drew the audience in and the audience felt Christopher’s discomfort and panic.
The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-time was absolutely brilliant, I’ve been talking about it non-stop since I saw the show and can’t wait to devour the book once it arrives. All of the actors play their parts brilliantly, particularly Christopher’s weary dad and his warm-hearted teacher though Luke Treadaway is the undeniable star of the show. It’s unsurprising that the show has won an impressive 13 Olivier awards to date. The show is on at the Gielgud Theatre at the West End until 14th February 2016, you can read more about the show and book tickets here.


Friday, 10 July 2015

Hotel Review: Roomers, Frankfurt

Known as Germany’s financial capital and home to the European Central Bank, Frankfurt isn’t the obvious destination choice for those visiting Germany. But as I learnt during last year’s trip to the Malmo in Sweden, sometimes visiting a city which is a little off the beaten track is so rewarding. Frankfurt has a lot more to offer besides banking. The beautiful river Main snakes its way through the city, with beautiful tree-lined walkways on either side of the river. The city itself has a striking mix of architecture with the quaint timber-framed buildings contrasting with the imposing skyscrapers which dominate the skyline and have led to the nickname Mainhatten.

Due to the financial focus of the city, the majority of hotels have a very business-like feel so when I discovered Roomers; I knew I had to stay there. There’s nothing clinical about the sensual dark tones and luxe leather accents and the location is superb, just a stone’s throw from the Hauptbahnhof train station and all of the major sites and attractions.

After a super late flight, I checked into Roomers just after midnight, a little weary from travel and expecting check in to be a little difficult based on past experiences of checking into hotels at unsociable hours. I was pleasantly surprised by the super-efficient and friendly check in, within three minutes of stepping foot in reception I had a glass of bubbles in one hand and my room key in the other. I couldn’t help but notice that the hotel was playing Mystikal, so of course I commented on how great the music was. The staff all suggested I check out the bar, which is one of the best in Frankfurt and the DJ only plays hiphop. Sold.

As tired as I was, I found the energy to freshen up and head to the bar. In keeping with the rest of the hotel, the bar was super dark with an intimate feel, cosy cubbies on one side with the oval bar dominating the room. Part upscale New York bar, part speakeasy, the vibe is so cool and totally unexpected in Frankfurt. I managed to find a seat by the bar and this is how I met Thomas, one of the best barmen I have ever met (and I know a lot). After ordering a couple of cocktails from the menu, Thomas took charge and created some amazing cocktails and shots including an Oriental take on a classic Bloody Mary. I had so much fun chatting to Thomas and tasting some incredible cocktails, I actually spent both nights hanging out in the bar until closing.

Needless to say, after those cocktails and 5am bedtimes, I was pretty keen to check out the exclusive spa on the top floor of the hotel. Designed by 3Deluxe-Biorhythm architects, the spa is a mixture of Balinese zen balanced with contemporary design. I took advantage of the relatively empty spa and spent a long time hanging out in the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms as well as the incredible relaxation tubs filled with glass beads. When all of that relaxation became too much, I wandered out to the serene roof terrace to take in the breathtaking view of Frankfurt’s skyscrapers.

When I walked into my room, I couldn’t help but smile. It was beautiful. All dark wood floors, padded leather headboards and sweeping organza curtains; undeniably sexy. The queen-sized bed, complete with a golden leather headboard and faux fur throw, was so inviting and super comfy. So much so that I refused to leave my room until Saturday afternoon, opting to listen to A$AP Rocky’s new album through the Marshall sound system and laze around in bed rather than take in the sights of the city. Despite the dark colour palette, the room felt spacious rather than closed in, this is partially due to the exposed bathroom design – the sink, vanity area and shower are part of the room rather than being enclosed, much like the design of The Standard in New York.
 Between the room I couldn’t tear myself away from, the serene spa and the amazing Thomas, I enjoyed a wonderful stay at RoomersFrankfurt. From the moment I walked in, the bar was set very high and the design touches and wonderful staff consistently exceeded expectations. Everything was so well considered and the staff felt like friends by the time I left, this is undoubtedly the place to stay in Frankfurt – in fact, I’m sure I’ll be back within a year to visit Roomers again!


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Travel: Frankfurt Visual Diary

Sunset over Frankfurt, beautiful

Love locks on one of the bridges across the Main river

The contrast between old and new


Walon & Rosetti - incredible food!

The European Central Bank


The chap on the right looks like he's taking a selfie

Heading across the Main

Prosecco and a semifreddo at Trattoria i Sicilliani

Goodbye Frankfurt!


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Savage Beauty to Open All Hours!

It’s no secret that I love a fashion exhibition; alongside books they really enrich my appreciation and understanding of a particular designer or era. The V&A can always be relied upon for a well curated exhibition though the Jean-Paul Gaultier retrospective at the Barbican was incredible and the retrospective on Madeleine Vionnet at Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris was brilliant.
This year has been all about Savage Beauty’s homecoming to the V&A. Originally shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2011, the exhibition celebrating the life, work and legacy of Alexander McQueen has been the most hotly anticipated fashion exhibition launch ever. Tickets went on sale a year prior to the opening and I was lucky enough to score a pair of tickets for the opening weekend in March.

As much as I love fashion exhibits and heard rave reviews about Savage Beauty, nothing prepared me. Within minutes of entering the first room, I was overcome by emotion. Meticulously curated, each detail of the exhibition was painstakingly thought through, from the huge black and white print of McQueen’s face as you walked in to each room’s theming and presentation to the haunting music played throughout. I felt like the exhibition touched on every sense and I was filled with a heavy feeling of loss as well as being drawn into McQueen’s dark work and appreciating the genius of his vision.
I felt so grateful that I was able to attend and reflect upon one of the greatest designers of our generation; my only regret is that I only bought tickets for one day! Thankfully, as the exhibition draws to a close, the V&A have announced that they will be opening the exhibition around the clock for the final two weekends – Friday 24th – Sunday 26th July and Friday 31st July – Sunday 2nd August. If you do one thing in the next month, get tickets and prepare yourself for one of the best exhibitions you will ever experience. Tickets are available now from the V&A website.

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