September 2023 was a month where I stayed in London for the entire month.
The month started with caviar on my Eggs Florentine at Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square & some beautiful Four Seasons gifts. Love Four Seasons but am currently taking a break from Four Seasons at Park Lane, over a failure to invite me to the launch party for Pavyllon, London.
It was a fun month with a sensational breakfast at the beautiful new restaurant at Claridge's (Issy was given a Claridge's staff pin); a pedicure at Harrods again; seeing the view from the 58th floor of 22 Bishopsgate; & another quality breakfast at Pan Pacific, London.
It was also a month where I could support some of my talented friends. I attended the UK launch party for Forward Global at The National Liberal Club & promoted Naked Jam on Social Media.
However, it was the openings of Peninsula, London and Raffles, London at The OWO ('Old War Office') that were the main focuses of the month. Peninsula, London has cost GBP1BN (not including the purchase of the Belgravia site) and Raffles, London at The OWO has cost the Hinduja family GBP1.4BN and taken 8 years. Both hotels are mesmerisingly beautiful.
The elegant Peninsula silverware on the table brought me nears tears. I was given a further Peninsula bellboy teddy bear and have decided to call him Michael (after Sir Michael Kadoorie).
At Raffles, London at The OWO I was honoured to be the first person at breakfast at Chef Mauro Colagreco's Saison on the day the hotel opened. GM Philippe Leboeuf took time out from the opening ceremonies to meet me again, we last met when he was GM of the Mandarin Oriental in Paris. I was given a Raffles lion and will name him after the hotel's impeccable GM. Just as at breakfast at The Peninsula, London, staff were charming & nothing was too much trouble.
Two billion pound new 5 star hotels opening in London made it a '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) month. The Peninsula, London were kind enough to cover my breakfast bill & The Raffles, London at The OWO could not have honoured me more.
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.
Cannot thank my mother, Kathy, Alejandro, Four Seasons, John & Bilal, Jolee etc enough for all they did to help to make it such a memorable birthday again.
Hope the photos below help to demonstrate that it was another '7 teddy' birthday
Our First Christmas Without Dad at Home - November & December 2021 and January 2022 - Shrewsbury & London
November & December 2021 were a whirlwind. The fact I signed the contract for my new banking job at The Rosewood Hotel, London, and started my new role in Canary Wharf in December, means 2022 should start well for me.
November 2021 included a meeting at The Guildhall to represent Barbican residents; a visit to The English National Opera to see HMS Pinafore; a Chinese breakfast at Four Seasons Hotel Ten Trinity Square before The Lord Mayor's Show etc
December included seeing The Dior Christmas Tree at Claridge's; being given the 2021 Harrods Christmas teddy bear by the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park; trying the new scones at Four Seasons on Park Lane before their public launch; Christmas shopping for Maria at Hamleys etc
Christmas itself was our first without dad at home. However, mum & I were able to visit him on Christmas Eve & again before I returned to work in London. His granddaughter Maria flew in from Moscow again and we had a very special family Christmas with her.
Hope the photos below convince you it has been a '7 teddy' few months, despite COVID-19. I am double vaccinated and have had my booster shot & flu jab.
Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog. I really value all your support.
The Bank of England; The Buckingham Palace Gardens; A Test Match etc - London/ Shrewsbury - May to August 2021
Dad's rapid decline from Parkinson's disease is something my whole family is struggling to cope with. It has forced me to give up my new role at the Bank of England after only 4 month, to enable me to deal with this myself and support my family more. The Bank have been so kind and said I should be able to rejoin them for a third time, once my family life stabilises again.
I first started working for the Bank of England when the Rt Hon Robin Leigh-Pemberton was Governor; worked with the present Governor, Andrew Bailey, when we were both in Chief Cashier's Office; and Andy Haldane, former Chief Economist, was my manager in Monetary Analysis, during the period of 'the Ken & Eddie Show', before The Bank was given independence over the setting of interest rates.
All this history with The Bank, combined with my experience working in Bermuda, Qatar, Cyprus & Cayman Islands should have made me ideal to help The Bank with its work and it was painful to have to resign. However, it did free me up to take mum to see the gardens at Buckingham Palace. The Farmers' Club made the sublime rare roast beef sandwiches, and Rosewood, London the Yayoi Kusama cakes, for this picnic.
I have also been to a Beverly Hills Hotel pop-up on the roof of The Dorchester, where I was presented with more Philip Hammond flowers. Dorchester Collection know when I need cheering up. In a similar vein, I was given 'free' Ruinart champagne at Four Seasons at Park Lane and friends from my Bermuda days sent me Concorde tags from our New York trip on that supersonic jet. I also got to try the new NoMad hotel in Covent Garden. I need to make it clear that I cannot recommend Oystermen in Covent Garden enough, after an unforgettable dinner there with mum.
Last week I was taken to a Test Match at Trent Bridge by friends from my Shrewsbury School days. I am so lucky with the friends I have.
I am going through an extreme difficult period in my life at present but hope the photos below illustrated there are still some very happy moments within it and my friends are being too kind.
September 2020 was a monumental month in my life with my new Banking Consultancy company 'Si Frew Consultancy Services Limited' being incorporated & the Lebanese banking case I have been working on reported in the Financial Times.
At the same time it has been a whirlwind on the travel blog side, with more iconic London hotels reopening, while the Mayfair hotels continue to surprise & impress me.
Four Seasons at Park Lane allowed me to try vodka infused with caviar, not yet on their menu; Michael (Managing Director of Rosewood, London) sent us champagne to celebrate the reopening of his elegant hotel; had a drink with Robert (General Manager of The Dorchester) to honour the busy reopening of his historic hotel; I discovered Porsche must be the 'official' car of my Barbican building; I savoured another sensational Tom Booton Sunday lunch at The Grill at The Dorchester; and also got to enjoy a drink with Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park's fabled General Manager Amanda, in their reopened Mandarin Bar.
It was also a month where I had the best dover sole of my life at Parsons in Seven Dials; had a memorable Wolfgang Puck brunch at 45 Park Lane, having the pleasure to be joined by their General Manager John & viewed 'FAME at 45 Park Lane' with photos of Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, Faye Dunaway etc I will never forget; 45 Park Lane staff sent me more of their Noble Isle shower products that I adore; & I continued to be impressed by breakfast & service at Millie's Lounge at The Ned. I also visited the enchanting garden at The Goring for martinis with a friend from my Prestfelde prep school days. There I met their charming new General Manager Michael and had forgotten how beautiful their new bar is. I was also blown away by the steaks at Hawksmoor, Seven Dials in September.
I ended the month eating Eggs Escoffier (with lobster meat, caviar & gold) & drinking champagne at breakfast at Gordon Ramsay's reopened Savoy Grill at The Savoy, London and being entranced by the 'full French' breakfast & staff at Anthony Demetre's Wild Honey at Sofitel London St James. On top of all this, I managed more trips to Shropshire to support my indomitable parents.
In September my personal training also moved to Energie Fitness, so I can remain with legendary Bart but I still try to swim at Virgin Active each day too. I must also mention my new The White Company electric diffuser I was thoughtfully given by one of my best friends that is now an important part of my night time ritual, along with my Frette sheets, Dorchester hotel bed & Aromatherapy Associates shower oils.
Finally I should mention that an incident that I experienced at one of my favourite Mayfair hotels last month, & some that have happened to my caring mother (even at church), have me thinking about Four Seasons' Mr Sharp's mission statement based on The Golden Rule "To treat others as we'd wish to be treated ourselves." again. I fully appreciate that issues related to COVID-19 have left us all very frazzled but I think it is even more important to take the time to talk to people and be compassionate, understanding & flexible.
Hope the photos below help to make people feel better at what continues to be such a difficult time for so many people.
During August my Middle Eastern banking work was overshadowed by the tragic explosion in Beirut.
The UK Government's 'Eat Out to Help Out' initiative meant I had the best (steak) burger for years at Paternoster Chop House, with a breathtaking view of St Paul's Cathedral; drunk Thums Up Cola at Dishoom for the first time since my India trips, while working for the Bank of England; ate truffles at breakfast outside at The Connaught & saw their new 'coffee foam art'; ate Dim Sum from heaven with caviar, edible gold & black truffle at Hakkasan, Mayfair; ate Mark Hix's exquisite food again at 1 Lombard Street, with their sublime service; & ate the best cooked rump steak of my life, with anchovy hollandaise & triple cooked chips, all for GBP10 at Hawksmoor.
At the same time I was honoured to be invited to revisit the Four Seasons' Private Members' Club in London. This gave me the first chance to view Four Seasons' 'Lead with Care' global COVID-19 safety program formulated with Johns Hopkins Medicine International's assistance.
I also managed to visit my indomitable parents in Shrewsbury again & see my exceptional Qatar friends at the Everyman Cinema at King's Cross before they, finally, headed back to Doha.
Hope the photos below, which include ones of my niece (now an elegant young lady), my dashing godson & legendary parents, put smiles on your faces & illustrate what a busy month it was. It was also the month where my face was the first thing you saw on the Virgin Active website!
My Barbican window boxes are now looking, & smelling, fabulously thanks to the geniuses at Nurture Landscapes. The smell comes from rosemary & French lavender and the bees already love the latter. My original window boxes were based on work done at Four Seasons at Park Lane but this year's are inspired by Rules, the oldest restaurant in London.
The day before the work on my window boxes I visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Before this I walked through Mayfair to see Annabel's & smell the flowers at The Connaught and had lunch with astonishing friends from Shropshire at Four Seasons at Park Lane.
Hope the photos below help to evidence the '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) life I am living here in London.
Nobu; Four Seasons; a 'Free' Magnum of Veuve Clicquot & Friends from my Qatar Days: An Easter in London Like No Other - London, UK - April 2019
Thanks, in the main, to Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane for an unbelievable Easter 2019 in London.
From the Four Seasons doormen wishing me happy birthday, to the 'free' magnum of Veuve Clicquot, to the Easter Bunny knowning my name and the Easter Egg desserts being to die for, an Easter Sunday that could not have been better. However, I must also mention a drink with John at 45 Park Lane/the 45 Park Lane candle he gave me with a sumptuously luxuriant smell and my chats with Andre & Alex at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square on Easter Monday.
Hope the photos below help you to understand why it was such a special weekend.
A '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) 50th birthday continued a little longer with a sublime Easter weekend.
A 50th Birthday YEAR Celebration Starts with a Sublime Stay at The Dorchester in a Mayfair Suite - London - January 2019
My 29 March 2019 50th birthday, & the related Brexit date, are fast approaching. I had to make my first hotel stay of 2019 The Dorchester and my stay there could not have been better.
I was given an elegant Mayfair suite, with a spare shower room; balloons in the shape of 50; my first birthday cake & champagne.
I visited Four Seasons at Park Lane and 45 Park Lane during me stay. At the former I finished writing the invited to my 50th birthday parties and then staff brought me dinner (tempura shrimp from heaven) without me even asking, just as at the Four Seasons George V in Paris, they can 'read my mind' and at the latter their genial GM John came for a cheerful chat.
I should also mention a fantastic chat with Janice at The Dorchester, I had perfect chats with so many of their unbelievable staff. I should finally mention the guitar player in The Bar at The Dorchester. Love the live music on Wednesdays in that bar.
A '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) start to my 50th birthday YEAR. My Tip:- make the most of Mayfair, London, the luxury hotels there, & their staff, blow my mind.
Despite a pre-Christmas trip to see my remarkable friend in Punta del Este, Uruguay; the new Sao Paulo Four Seasons; the Belmond hotel at Iguazu Falls ('Cataratas'); Paraquay; and the Buenos Aires Four Seasons again, I had to see the Christmas decorations by the hotels & businesses in Mayfair, London.
Four Seasons at Park Lane helped with this by looking after my luggage for a few hours and I was impressed by the monumental, & stylish, nutcracker toy soldiers in their lobby, my photo does not do justice to the crystal covered one. Christopher Kane's work at Scott's restaurant on Mount Street, the Diane von Furstenberg Christmas tree at Claridge's and The Connaught's Christmas tree by conceptual artist Sir Michael Craig-Martin at night all deserve special mentions. Along with Head of Guest Relations Emily at The Dorchester for her entertaining chat with me.
Hope you enjoy the photos below. A true '7 teddies' effort by the hotels and businesses in Mayfair, London.
Before I left for the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok & the Far East I decided to spend one more night at The Dorchester. I had intend this to be a 'low-key event'. However, nothing The Dorchester does is unexceptional and on this trip they gave me an updated version of the Park Suite I spent my 40th birthday in. I almost cried when I saw its beauty & recalled that 'historic' dinner in The Dorchester's Penthouse & Pavilion.
This, along with a private viewing of 'Mono Scripto', the Bob Dylan exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery on Bond Street and dinner with some exceptional friends at Dishoom made it a '7 teddies' 24 hours I will never forget.
Flying American Airlines First Class, & staying at The Dorchester, meant I had to return from Cayman Islands to find a Rolls-Royce.
The Dorchester helped me celebrate by giving me one of their gorgeous Dorchester suites again, hotel legend Amanda Hyndman met with me, I (finally) met Four Seasons' Lynn Brutman, Dorchester butlers repacked my luggage beautifully and some of my best friends from my 10 years in Qatar joined me for drinks.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - no return to the UK could have been better. I must thank Robert, Janice & Emily at The Dorchester, John at 45 Park Lane, Lynn & Irene at Four Seasons at Park Lane & Amanda Hyndman at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park for all they did to make my welcome back to the UK so special.
'Last' Night in London in an Exquisite Westminster Suite at Four Seasons at Park Lane - London, UK - April 2018
I was nervous about staying at Four Seasons at Park Lane so soon after legendary GM John had left. However, Manager Mali ensured it was another memorable stay in opulent surroundings with exemplary Four Seasons staff.
It was just a pity I did not get to meet new GM Lynn, as she was not yet in place. However, I did leave a #travelblog www.sifrew.com. baseball cap for her.
Four Seasons at Park Lane remains one of the best Four Seasons in the group and a hotel Mr Sharp can still be justly proud of.
Divine Christmas Stay in a Deluxe One Bedroom Suite at Four Seasons at Park Lane, London, UK - December 2017
I have an incredible history with Four Seasons at Park Lane. I first stayed there as part of a Paris, New York and London Four Seasons 'themed' trip from Qatar. It had not been refurbished at that stage and I wrote to Mr Sharp (Founder & Chairman) saying it should not be part of Four Seasons. He wrote back 'agreeing' and it shut down shortly after!
I then stayed there again after the refurbishment, when they left Sichuan pepper and Parmesan popcorn in my suite, relating to an 'incident' three years before.
The service & attention to detail in this uber luxurious Four Seasons is legendary and I knew I must stay there on this Christmas trip to wish Four Seasons star GM John congratulations on his 35 years with Four Seasons.
I was so glad I did. My suite, with a working fireplace, took my breath away and everything about the stay was beyond perfection. An incredible way to end Christmas before flying back to Cayman Islands for a night before Four Seasons New York Downtown again for New Year.
I decided to make my first weekend in London, after moving to Hilton, Cyprus, perfect and achieved this goal thanks to 45 Park Lane, The Dorchester, The Ivy Chelsea Gardens, Four Seasons Park Lane and Threadneedles Hotel and, most important, seeing my godson again.
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.