Hope the photos below help to demonstrate that it was another '7 teddy' 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.
29 March 2021 will be my second birthday 'celebrated' under COVID-19.
I have already had some amazing birthday presents. The main one was having received my first Coronavirus vaccine shot. This, combined with news that Nuffield Health plan to reopen The Barbican gym, gives me hope that we are, finally, returning to 'normal'.
I am thinking about Paris & their latest lockdown at present. Stay safe & strong everyone.
Today I learnt my brother had sorted out his flight home. This, combined with the fact my sweet young niece will be in Shropshire for Christmas, means my COVID-19 Shrewsbury Christmas is shaping up well.
Last week John (GM of 45 Park Lane) showed me their stunning new swimming pool. I was one of the first non-staff members to see it, and have agreed not to post my photos, but can assure people it is one of the most beautiful indoor pools have ever seen.
This made me think about the fact I was shown the Private Members Club at Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square, before its members, and stayed at Four Seasons Resort: Dubai at Jumeirah Beach & Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay before they were open to the public. My meeting with Four Seasons Founder & Chairman Mr Sharp, as his private home in Toronto, really did change my life.
On the #travelblog front, it was also interesting that Grant Campbell has been appointed as the first GM of Nobu Hotel London Portman Square & Anne Golden at the first GM of Pan Pacific London. Despite the damage the COVID-19 restrictions have wreaked on the hospitality industry, it does not seem to have reduced my extensive network of General Manager contacts.
England's lockdown2 was made better for me by more Daniel Humm breakfast granola from Claridge's. I am still using the Davies & Brook jar it came in this time and was honoured to be one of the only people to see the Claridge's lobby during lockdown2. I also managed another Shrewsbury trip, ladened down with Fortnum & Mason gifts again.
People who see me over Christmas & New Year should feel free to ask me about the November 2020 photos below. Hope everyone has a special Christmas & better 2021!
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!
Sorry for my silence but I have been very busy with Banking Consultant related issues.
I have constructive feedback for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class re: the large inflexible dining table that is part of their new A350 configuration and the surrender of Four Seasons control to Wolfgang Puck over the CUT bar at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown.
At the same time I must highlight the Grant Achatz truffle cocktail sent to my Central Park view 49th floor suite at Mandarin Oriental New York; the truffle cheeses, with grated fresh black & white truffles and Bresaola air-dried, salted beef from Uruguay to welcome me at my Hudson suite at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown Town and chilled bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne at both hotels.
Also need to thank Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park for the roast duck congee breakfast, being added to their menu the following week, to celebrate Chinese New Year in London.
Will upload photos re: all this when I have more time but feel free to ask me about all this, when you see me.
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.
I have settled back into my London life. Personal training with Bart at Virgin Active, Barbican and enjoying my swims there.
I am living in my redecorated Barbican place again, with its Dorchester Hotel bed, personalised Frette sheets from Harrods, new Ligne Roset table from Heal's etc. Just the 'Four Seasons at Park Lane' window boxes to recreate again.
Since I moved back to London Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has officially reopened. I visited on the day this occurred. On that, notable, occasion I met Rodolphe & Marco in the Mandarin Bar and was served a divine truffle gin martini that was not yet on the menu. Legendary GM Amanda also came for an inspiring chat.
On my second visit I brought one of my unbelievable friends from Shropshire and got to try more cocktails and snacks being developed for the menu and was presented with a Mandarin Oriental teddy bear, MO tie pin and MO key ring, to add to my MO clufflinks from Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur.
On my latest visit I decided to try their Hyde Park breakfast with Moet champagne, a choice of truffles or caviar and a spectacular view of Hyde Park. Breakfast ended up being better than I could possibly have imagined. Even the bellhops on the lobby stairs greeted me by name, the gorgeous dining room is so bright and impressive, the other guests as refined as I found before the deeply unfortunate fire and Amanda and her staff (eg Silvia the House Manager) seem reinvigorated/improved, what a contrast with when The Savoy in London reopened.
Hope the photos below help you to understand why it was such a special day.
A '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) hotel, with '7 teddy' staff and a '7 teddy' champagne/truffle breakfast.
In fact it was a thin jazz singer at Four Seasons Hotel Ten Trinity Square who sang happy birthday to me!
From the overwhelming party my parents hosted, with Tanners champagne & divine canapés; to the private dining room at The Golden Cross in Shrewsbury; to Four Seasons Hotel Ten Trinity Square giving me three bedroom Residence Number One with a terrace with breathtaking views of Tower Bridge & the Tower of London; to walking back from a birthday dinner at Le Pont de La Tour over Tower Bridge with unimaginable friends from Berlin; to Four Seasons Hotel Ten Trinity Square sending a member of staff to my Barbican flat to help with my embarrassment of sensational birthday presents, it was a 50th birthday like no other.
I now have an exquisite bracelet from KaDeWe in Berlin, 19th Century prints of the City of London to remind me of my years working for the Bank of England, magnums of Veuve Clicquot champagne, a Smythson of Bond Street travel case, more Tiffany & Co gifts to add to the mountain I received at my 40th birthday party in The Penthouse at The Dorchester, a gift from my indomitable godmother and the Wade NatWest piggy banks I had wanted since I was a child, my mum finally made another dream come true.
I want to thank everyone who made this birthday so special from the bottom of my heart. I have lots more photos & stories to share with people when they meet me and should add that I loved the balloons Four Seasons put in my suite.
At an 80th birthday party yesterday a lady chastised me for bringing balloon, saying they were just for children. I could not disagree more over this sad opinion!
A '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) 50th birthday is finally over & it could not have been better.
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.
This 'Celebrity Fan' stayed at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London before its recent refurbishment and was eager to see what the over GBP85MN spent had achieved.
Marie (the hotel's PR Director) and Ines were kind enough to give me a tour and even arranged a complimentary lunch in Bar Boulud. I have eaten there before & also in Daniel Boulud's New York places.
The refurbishment is stunning, with all the attention to detail and additional light but it was my fellow dinners in Bar Boulud that evidenced the class/caliber of this London institution of a 5 star hotel. The 'great & the good' of Bermuda always stayed there during the 6 years when I lived, and worked, in Bermuda.
Stay in a Sumptuous Dorchester Suite at The Dorchester & Meet Their New GM - London, UK - April 2018
Problems with emails from my iPhone X to Dorchester Collection email addresses in London & Paris meant I had not stayed with them since my big Far East trip.
I was so glad I did stay at The Dorchester on my last London stay. Emily (Director of Guest Relations) welcomed me back with such warmth; my Dorchester suite brought me near tears with its luxurious, but comfortable, beauty; and I was able to discuss my connections with the Qatari Royal Family with their ex-Four Seasons GM Robert.
The warmth of my welcome back; prints by HRH Prince Charles, the Japanese remote controlled toilet in the suite etc; and meeting new GM Robert, and talking to his brilliant PA Janice again, made this a 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) stay at this iconic London hotel.
After seeing three 5 star London hotels already that afternoon, I almost cancelled Rosewood, London. However, my friend was making a special effort to see me, despite a flight to Sao Paulo the next day, and I love charismatic ex-Four Seasons Michael Bonsor and Rosewood, London.
I was so glad I tried Scarfes Bar. Gerald Scarfe CBE's iconic illustrations/ cartoons/ caricatures were a major part of my childhood (eg Pink Floyd's 'The Wall', 'Yes, Minister' etc) and this cosy but lively 'real bar' is a place people must try. The only venue where you can "get Scarfed".
Champagne to start, Marie (their Director of Communications) coming to say hello at 8:30pm, my fascinating guest, the tartan trousers of the waiters and Mr Scarfe CBE donating his earning from the venture to Parkinson's UK definitely make this a 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) experience.
The Ned Hotel; Hotel Threadneedles; & Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square: 5 Star Hotels in The City of London Get Visits from #travelblog www.sifrew.com - London, UK - April 2018
On my first afternoon back in London, after Shropshire, I undertook a whirlwind tour of The Ned with their energetic Manager David.
He showed me the private members' areas (the rooftop pool is small) and an elegant Terrace Suite. I was given a new teddy bear, who must be called 'little Ned'.
This is clearly a 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻( 5 out of 5 ‘teddies’) hotel that I would encourage readers to visit.
Next I went to meet Cedric (GM of Hotel Threadneedles). It was a pleasure to have a drink with this charming Belgium hotelier, swap hotel stories and talk about why readers of #travelblog www.sifrew.com should never use Santa Fe Relo. They issued me with false invoices for more than a year, appointed debt collectors to recover funds I never owed and are now hiding behind bad legal advice to avoid paying compensation for the stress cause to me and my family.
Finally I went to Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square where I met their new GM Vincent and talked about my stay at Four Seasons Amman in Jordan, where he was last GM.
This was all before an evening in Scarfes Bar, at the invitation of Rosewood, London, with my friend who formerly work for Tony Blair in 10 Dowing Street.
Another unbelievable day in my life.
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 visited Four Seasons, Ten Trinity Square in London on the first day it opened, and have been shown their private members' club and residencies, and they had been storing Veuve Clicquot I did not want to take to Cayman Islands for 8 months. This was, therefore, the natural choice for my first hotel of Christmas 2017.
I wanted it to be a special start to Christmas and Four Seasons, Ten Trinity Square exceeded my expectations by far. It truly is a 'seven teddy' hotel now.
I did not enjoy my stay at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas but love going to breakfast in the Holborn Dining Room at Caroline Hunt's Rosewood, London, which is walking distance from my Barbican home. I am also a fan of their ex-Four Seasons Hotel Manager Michael Bonsor and so decided we must try their 'Art' afternoon tea.
I was so glad we did. This is a delicious & fun afternoon tea with informed & attentive staff, who do not rush you, in beautiful surroundings.
I am thrilled that Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square has opened in the City of London.
It is based in the impressive 1922 former Port of London Authority building designed by Sir Edwin Cooper and has been redeveloped by Chinese Reignwood Group. This is the building the inaugural meeting of the United Nations was held in in 1946 and it also appeared in the James Bond movie Skyfall.
Its location by the Tower of London means that, just as when I lived in Qatar for almost 10 years, I can walk from my Barbican home to a Four Seasons.
I always find it fascinating to think I first walked into the Sanderson hotel's 1958 building on Berners Street in the 1990s, when it was the showroom for Arthur Sanderson & Sons and we picked William Morris wallpaper.
It is now part of Morgans Hotel Group and has been, since 2001, a chic & fun Philippe Starck designed 'boutique' hotel with a young trendsetting clientele. This is where we had our 'Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea' and I have also drunk in their 'Purple Bar' before.
This time we were honoured to be invited to try their Smith & Sinclair Christmas pop up bar with the hotel's General Manager Grant Campbell.
Sorry for the silence on this blog but I had a diabetic scare while working in Cyprus and have been resting, & undertaking medical tests, in London for the last week. However, today learning that a very special person in my life had died meant I decided to go to The Goring for lunch to remember this incredible lady in a sublime way.
I have stayed at this hotel and Jeremy Goring got Lucinda Buxton at Mango PR to help me with my blog when I was in Bangkok last year. This is another London hotel I feel a special affinity to and I have had perfect meals there on my birthdays for the last two years.
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.