I am so lucky to still have both of my parents. They decided to visit me in London. It was the first time they had stayed at my Barbican place since my days working for the Bank of England and I decided to show them 'Si Frew's London'.
This included lunch at The Ned hotel; Veuve Clicquot champagne on the balcony at my place; cocktails at the pop-up at Four Seasons @ Ten Trinity Square with breathtaking views of London; dinner outside by the river at Le Pont de la Tour; mum & dad also staying at The Farmers Club; dad & me having Scottish breakfasts at The Farmers Club; seeing 'An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection'; shopping in Heal's with mum; and checking out the window boxes at Rules in Covent Garden with mum & dad.
It was a '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) experience, with '7 teddy' parents. Hope the photos below do justice to all this.
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 a 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.
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.
The Prêt-à-Portea (Fashion Themed) Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge - London, UK - August 2016
I stayed in The Berkeley hotel some years ago, when it was part of The Savoy Group and badly in need of refurbishment, and have since eaten in their Pierre Koffman & Marcus Wareing restaurants.
Having been taken to its Blue Bar recently, by friends from my Qatar days, and seen the hotel's radical stylish makeover, I decided the mother of my godson and I must try their famous Prêt-à-Portea (fashion themed) afternoon tea.
I first visited The Connaught for drinks before a 1980s backpacking trip to India, with friends from Shrewsbury School. We picked this venue because a friend's brother worked there, despite our lack of funds, and I will always remember the way we were treated like kings, despite our shabby appearance. This beautiful hotel will always have a very special place in my heart.
I have since stayed in a Carlos Suite at The Connaught and Nathalie Seiler-Hayez (the former General Manager) sent me champagne, after a problem with my brother's family in their Coburg Bar. I have quite a history with this legendary London hotel.
45 Park Lane is The Dorchester hotel's 45 room/suite, more expensive, chic contemporary sister hotel housed in a exceptional Art Deco building with a striking façade, with eco-friendly cooling fins, minutes walk from its stately 'older sister'. All rooms & suites in 45 Park Lane have large windows with views of Hyde Park.
45 Park Lane is famous for being the site of Hugh Hefner's first Playboy Club in Europe, which had the world's most profitable casino in the 1980s.
With all my stays at The Dorchester, and knowing John (the General Manager of 45 Park Lane) from his time at The Dorchester, I had to stay at this hotel and John made this possible.
When I said I was travelling through London after my GCC Tour, John (GM of Four Seasons Park Lane) generously offered use of their 'Early Morning Arrivals Suites', so I could have a shower.
In the end I had a shower; got a delicious light breakfast; rested for a few hours while admiring the views of London from the spa at the top of the Park Lane Four Seasons; got my iPhone6 recharged; and gained a new member of the 'gang'.
I cannot thank John, & his brilliant staff, enough for all they did for me that morning.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 (7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - John Stauss is definitely another 7 'teddy' Four Seasons GM and his opulent London hotel, with its friendly & helpful staff, fully deserve this top rating too.
When I worked in Bermuda the 'great & the good' used to stay in the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park. Thanks to Peter in their Digital Marketing Department my dream to stay there came true.
This Edwardian-style hotel opened in 1902 as the Hyde Park hotel. It was originally built as Gentleman's Club but there was a fire there.
It was acquired by Mandarin Oriental in 1996 and reopened in May 2000 after a major (GBP57MN) renovation and redesign of the restaurants & bars. The hotel hosted Margaret Thatcher's 80th birthday party and, in 2011, it also hosted the UK Royal Family's pre-Royal Wedding party for the Crowned Heads of State attending Prince William's wedding the next day. I have eaten in 'Dinner by Heston' (Blumenthal) in the hotel, Foliage (when it was in the same space) and Bar Boulud in the basement.
As part of my stay at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, I invited one of my best friends, the mother of my godson, to afternoon tea there.
I have had coffee in The Rosebery Lounge at the hotel before and always wanted to try afternoon tea in this indulgent room.
I used to stay at The Savoy in London regularly when I worked in Bermuda and before its purchase by Prince Al-Waleed and GBP220MN December 2007 to October 2010 refurbishment.
My parents and I came for a drink, just after it reopened in 2010, and were unimpressed by the haphazard service. Almost all of the staff had been made redundant while the hotel was closed and the new staff recruited were clearly still finding their feet.
On this stay it was a different hotel with cheerful staff who clearly knew exactly what they were doing and a breathtaking One Bedroom River View Suite that blew my mind.
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.