After 10 days in Shrewsbury dealing with family issues, and raising mum's spirits, I decided I needed to do something to treat myself.
I picked a stay at the new Raffles, London at The OWO. I had high expectations but Manager Patrick, & his team, far exceeded these.
The Granville Suite
I was given The Granville Suite. Named after spy Christine Granville and I hope my photos do some justice to its scale & grandeur but I was surprised by how comfortable it was. Those sofas were a dream.
The attention to detail, & craftsmanship, in that suite was unparalleled and Ms Granville was a legend.
Butlers & La Grande Dame Veuve Clicquot
Butlers Romas & Jean-Luca were superb and I could not believe I was given La Grande Dame Veuve Clicquot champagne, which reflects the true class of this new hotel.
The Spy Bar
I not only got to see the Spy Bar, with its Aston Martin DB5, but 'worked' behind the bar with Kiki and there is now a 'Frew 007' cocktail.
Manager Patrick was so kind to join me there and the bar opened on a Sunday evening just for me, it is usually closed on Sundays & Mondays.
My beef tartare with shaved truffles in Paper Moon, with a perfect very dry Grey Goose martini, were flawless but it was meeting Manager Giuseppe again that made a very special evening even better.
Meeting Director of Wine Vincenzo Arnese Again
I first met Vincenzo at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park and he worked for Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. We had so much to discuss over coffee in the suite.
My foot treatment in the 4 floor Guerlain spa with Casey, drinking vintage Veuve Clicquot. was an ideal was to end a stay that could not have been bettered.
A ''7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) stay. Unheard of for a hotel only a few weeks old but the friendly warmth from EVERY member of staff I met, including the cleaning staff, just blew me away. GM Philippe was taking a well earned break in Oman but he can be so proud of his staff. Hope you enjoy the photos in the 'Read More' section.
The Opening of Peninsula, London & Raffles, London at The OWO - a Monumental September 2023 for London & www.sifrew.com
What a month. From a moving Shropshire funeral, funerals of younger people are always particularly difficult; to one of the most elegant weddings I have ever attended, you could feel the love at both events; to Chefs Alain Ducasse & Wolfgang Puck preparing a 'Four Hands Dinner' for me at 45 Park Lane.
45 Park Lane also produced a cocktail for me from The Beverly Hills Hotel, that was not on their Sunday lunch menu. As that meal, the black truffles on Chef Elliot Grover's sublime roast beef tasted better than ever. I also got to eat in Chef Yannick Alleno's Pavyllon at Four Seasons at Park Lane, before it opened to the public and was back on Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square's roof sipping a cocktail. Must also mention Chef Tom Booton's revolutionary breakfasts at The Grill by Tom Booton at The Dorchester again.
Finally I have to talk about mum & the excellent food scene in Shrewsbury. As part of the two weeks I spent in Shropshire during the month, I tried to spoil mum with meals out. My hake at La Piazzetta in The Square was sensational, our steak frites at Cote were delicious and the spicy cooked breakfast at C Sons, Shrewsbury is still morishly good. A family friend also took mum and me around his stunningly beautiful garden. Mum was almost back to her old self, talking about garden design, that afternoon.
Hope you enjoy the photos below and they demonstrate what a memorable month June 2023 was in my life.
This week I will meet Chef Alain Ducasse and Chef Wolfgang Puck, Chef Elliott Grover & he will prepare my dinner together at 45 Park Lane.
Dorchester Collection, & Chef Tom Booton, played a significant role in my May 2023. Watching the Coronation flypast from The Dorchester roof, drinking Veuve Clicquot champagne in the rain, and a Coronation Day lunch in The Grill by Tom Booton at The Dorchester, with two appetisers and three desserts!
Four Seasons also played an important role with me spending Coronation Day morning at Four Seasons at Park Lane talking to a charming Saudi mother & daughter and Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square updating Issy's Beefeater outfit regarding our new King.
It was also a month where I was given Concorde glasses by another Barbican resident and sat next to a Concorde menu from 1977 at the second Veuve Clicquot Sunny Side Up Cafe. This led to a kind email from my friend Edouard de Nazelle in Reims.
I managed to visit Shrewsbury twice during the month. Dad losing his fight with Parkinson's, and mum's falls & diagnosis with dementia/ Alzheimer's, mean it was September 2022 when I last travelled abroad. Do not know what I would do without my friends. I look at a note from Tim in Houston each day and it helps gives me strength. Should also mention Jennifer at Naked Jam. Such a kind & talented lady and a good friend to mum & me. The good thing is mum seems far happier and less anxious. This means planning for my trip to Four Seasons Hotel Nashville can start.
Hope the photos below convince you it was a very special Coronation Day; Chef Tom Booton's breakfast is the best in London; mum is safe & being very well-looked-after; & the remarkable job Bruce did with my Barbican window boxes.
I sent Easter lamb to Shrewsbury. This holiday was one of mum's favourites but I ended up spending 10 hours in A&E with mum on Good Friday, after she had another fall, getting out from a car this time.
A difficult time for our family has been exacerbated by Shropshire Council's Social Services. I am still unclear if they are incompetent or lack integrity, or a mixture of both.
There are now Royal Shrewsbury Hospital discharge documents for mum that misrepresented my views. This erroneous information must have come from ICS Social Services but they are now trying to distance themselves from the mess they have helped to create.
I have made numerous formal complaints to Social Services and PALS at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and a Freedom of Information Request to Shropshire Council.
Organising mum's care arrangements (including physiotherapists, that RSH should have arranged); visiting Shrewsbury, while constantly correcting Social Services and undertaking my Board role at Jordan International Bank Plc, has taken me near breaking point.
Hope the photos below evidence that I am still doing my best to maintaining a life for myself, while ensuring mum is well looked after.
What a birthday! Meeting Chef Wolfgang Puck again & him introducing me to his son; meeting my neighbour from Tucker's Town, Bermuda; balloons & champagne at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park; having Claridge's 'new' pool to myself; and a welcome at Four Seasons at Park Lane like no other.
I was given too many fantastic one-off gifts. A Mandarin Oriental leather notebook with my initials embossed on it; a Four Seasons at Park Lane leather wash bag; a cocktail shaker engraved with 45 Park Lane; and a teddy bear chocolate birthday cake & flowers from Four Seasons at Park Lane.
It was kind of 45 Park Lane to cover my Spago, Beverly Hills dinner bill & love the Gym Face products that were a gift from Claridge's.
Thanks to everyone who made my birthday so special (eg the magnum of Veuve Clicquot champagne) and hope you enjoy the photos below.
Mum's 80th birthday meant two trips to Shrewsbury in the month of February 2023.
The love mum's friends showed to her made me feel better over all we are dealing with at present. She was inundated with gorgeous flowers, countless cards and generous gifts. Welsh relatives ringing on the morning of mum's birthday , a cake from Shrewsbury Market Hall & an afternoon tea hosted by great friends of mum & dad made it a remarkable day for mum.
I did my best to spoil mum with a birthday cake; birthday dinner at Riverbank Bar & Kitchen (problems with their on-line reservation system) and Sunday lunch at The Armoury. The latter must be one of the best Sunday lunches in Shrewsbury.
This short month was, therefore, packed for me. Oliver from Shrewsbury School Foundation took me to lunch at St James's Hotel & Club; Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square served me caviar at breakfast; had a manicure with my haircut at Truefitt & Hill; ate Chef Elliot Grover's Wolfgang Puck Oscar menu at 45 Park Lane; enjoyed fish & chips at Four Seasons at Park Lane; and my work as a bank board member at Jordan International Bank Plc continued.
Hope the photos below do justice to mum's 80th birthday. My birthday again on 29 March. Chef Elliott Grover's Wolfgang Puck Spago Beverly Hills experience at 45 Park Lane is booked on 30 March and I will be staying at The Manor House Hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh in The Cotswolds at the start of April for another special lady's 80th birthday.
I returned to London, after New Year, to find my Dorchester hotel hamper. It was a month dominated by the reopening of the ground floor of this iconic hotel.
The Pierre Yves-Rochon refurbishment of the Dorchester lobby & Promenade has to be seen to be believed. From Lalique glass columns under the Promenade's Artists' Bar; to Liberace's piano being played; to stunning original art from various exhibitions I have attended at 45 Park Lane. I found seeing it all the first time almost overwhelming.
It was a month where I met Chef Elliott Grover at 45 Park Lane & Dorchester Collection artist Jill Berelowitz. I also attended a Shrewsbury School (Old Salopian) Epiphany Service at St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London; met with the City of London Police again, as part of my Barbican role; had lunch with colleagues I worked with at the Bank of England in the 1980s; ate Louis Vuitton Yayoi Kusama from Harrods and savoured a delicious bacon chop at the Mount St Restaurant surrounded by Matisse, Lucian Freud, Picasso, Warhol etc, before a tour of their exceptional private dining rooms.
Chef Tom Booton at The Dorchester Grill's stuffed chicken; Chef Elliott Grover's Sunday lunch at 45 Park Lane; the Wolfgang Puck crispy fried beef & prawn wontons with honey spiced mayonnaise at 45 Park Lane; & the cream tea from Rick Stein at Home must all be tried.
Hope the photos below do justice to an unforgettable start to 2023. I am off to Shrewsbury again tomorrow, to help mum again.
"Grief is the price we pay for love.". We lost dad last night & this statement could not be more true about him. A larger than life character with a laugh to match.
Many people knew him as a superlative Veterinary Surgeon but to us he was a loving father & husband.
Feel so lucky to have had dad in my life.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their beautiful memories of him in Shrewsbury, Bermuda, Qatar etc today.
I am off to Shrewsbury tomorrow morning to ensure mum is OK.
A Mandarin Oriental, Manhattan Mercedes, with Eddie the legendary driver, drove me to The Aman, Manhattan.
The Weekend Financial Times described this new hotel as the "most expensive in New York" (more than double the price of the existing best Manhattan hotels) and it currently has a policy that only Aman members and guests of the hotel can enter the hotel.
Simon (Director of Marketing for the hotel) made an exception for me and I was mesmerised by all the elegance of it all.
This 83 suite hotel is just off 5th Avenue by Bvlgari. Simon and enjoyed a glass of champagne on the outside terrace with its water features & fire pits. It was a joy to chat with this hotel professional and he then took me on a tour of the Japanese restaurant, spa, pool etc
I was astonished by the quiet calm of the place and quality of the Japanese wood in the restaurant etc. At times you feel you are in an Asian resort, rather than in bustling Manhattan. Roland Fasel (who I know from his time as General Manager of The Dorchester) is COO of Aman Group. He was staying in the hotel & can be justifiably be proud of what they have achieved in Manhattan. A '7 teddy' hotel for certain. I have a candle from the spa to remember all this.
Panama City & Bocas del Toro. Watching Dolphins; Secluded Beaches; Lobster Lunches & Views To Die For - Panama - August 2022
Steamy tropical Panama. Visited here to stay with one of my special friends from Uruguay. His 25th Floor place in Panama City was a stunning apartment to stay in.
We were joined by another friend from Uruguay and we visited Bocas del Toro to swim in the Caribbean Sea and watch dolphins.
In Panama City I shopped in Ferragamo & Louis Vuitton and it was sublime to spend quality time with my friends.
I visited the JW Marriott, Panama & Waldorf Astoria, Panama City while in Panama City. The infinity pools at the former have to been seen.
Hope you enjoy the photos below.
The TWA Hotel, A Stunning Building Beautifully Brought Back to Life - JFK, New York, USA - August 2022
I decided to make the best over being stuck at JFK Airport on a sunny picturesque day and went for breakfast at the TWA Hotel.
The Trans World Flight Centre at JFK Terminal 5 has to be seen. Designed by second-generation modernists Eero Saarinen & Associates, who also designed the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square. It leaves you speechless.
The tunnel you enter by reminded me of the Concorde tunnel at JFK. TWA has a special place in my heart, as my father took us on TWA to California to visit Disneyland, when I was still at Prestfelde Prep School.
The design is breathtaking and it has all been beautifully brought back to life with iconic music playing; a collection of crew uniforms, they were wearing Ralph Lauren when we flew with them; and red carpets everywhere that accentuate the fluid lines of the building.
I tried the Jean-Georges Vongerichten breakfast buffet in the Paris Cafe. The food was exceptional and made even better by talking to Marco, my waiter from Ecuador, who now Follows me on Instagram.
I bought a TWA carry-on tote bag before leaving but, unfortunately, the zip on this broke in Panama City the next day and the hotel has not replied to my numerous complaints, a sign of service issues?
They were playing 'Moon River' (the 'Breakfast at Tiffany's theme music) as I was leaving, which I took to be highly auspicious
Hope the photos below explain why this was a '6 teddy' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) experience, the problems with my TWA tote, & the lack of any form of reply to my related complaints, mean I am unable give it '7 teddies'. I am left with lingering service issue concerns. Tip:- you must visit their Paris Cafe.
My big trip to Panama, Bogota & New York started at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, drinking champagne from The Aubrey, London at breakfast. However, the taxi ride after, learning the driver had worked at The Bank of England in the 1990s, when I was also working there, made my day.
At Heathrow British Airways Club Class meant I breezed through with no problems.
Miss physical newspapers & magazines in the Galleries Club Lounges; the chairs & sofas in the lounges are starting to look a bit tired; and there should be charging points in all areas but it was fine. In fact the cold tuna pasta was excellent.
On the Boeing 777 the new Club Class suites look stylish and every detail has been improved (eg large better The White Company pillows) but I missed warm towels & at times the bulky new suites felt a little claustrophobic. However, with exceptional entertainment, and mouthwatering food, Club Class has returned to being a '6 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) product.
I am writing this post from my room at the Hilton New York JFK Airport, after a nightmare at JFK Terminal 4 this morning that meant I could not fly to Panama today. I want to thank Shanna here who could tell I had had too stressful a morning and gave me my room straight away. Cannot thank her enough. Now feel ready to meet my friends in Panama City tomorrow.
I am proud to be able to announce that in July 2022 I joined the Board of Jordan International Bank Plc. As an Independent Non-Executive Director, I Chair this UK bank's Audit Committee & also sit on their Risk Committee.
I view this as a great honour and a chance to fully utilise the experience I gained at the Bank of England; in Bermuda; Qatar; Cyprus; Cayman Islands and at Citi.
Next week I head to Panama; Colombia & New York. In Bogota I will stay at Four Seasons and in New York at Four Seasons, Downtown and Mandarin Oriental, Manhattan.
I met Anthony Bourdain at the Ritz-Carlton in Cayman Islands; Marco Pierre White at the Threadneedles Hotel in the City of London; Gordon Ramsay at the Four Seasons in Doha; Tim Raue in Berlin; Antonio Guida from Mandarin Oriental, Milan at the Mandarin Oriental in Taipei; Eric Ripert at the Ritz-Carlton in Cayman Islands again; and was introduced to Wolfgang Puck at 45 Park Lane last week. I wonder which chef I will meet next?!
This evening I travel to Shrewsbury, Shropshire again. Family matters call.
Si Frew has lived in the UK, Bermuda, Qatar, Cyprus & the Cayman Islands. During this time he met Whoopi Goldberg (in Claridge's), Mike Tyson (in the Concorde Lounge at JFK) , Gordon Ramsay (in the Doha Four Seasons), Chris Eubanks (in The Dorchester), Cherie Blair (in Bermuda & again in the Doha Four Seasons) etc. There are funny stories attached to all these interactions, feel free to ask Si about them when you meet him.