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.
The large lobby is decorated in 'chic minimalism' at its best, boutique hotel genius Ian Schrager's involvement is still evident. I was impressed to be brought a bottle of water during my short wait, good service has not been sacrificed for style/design. Grant Campbell came to meet me personally and is a warm and personable young South African who was a pleasure to chat with.
The Purple Bar
The theatrical Purple Bar is a 'reservation only' small dark space and decorated in rich purple hues with etched mirrors, silk drapes and velvet. A sophisticated 'jewel box' of a bar. We were served by two 'hostesses', one from the bar and other one of the founders of Smith & Sinclair. Both were incredibly knowledgeable and keen to make it a memorable experience.
Alcoholic Cocktail Pastilles
We were first offered giant 'cocktail pastilles' on a silver tray. I picked the Long Island High Tea. You eat them in one go and I swallowed mine too fast to fully appreciate the black tea infused vodka & rum pastille coated with rasberry infused sugar.
Smith & Sinclair Cocktails
I ordered the 'Thyme for Tea' cocktail which was served in a glass teapot that 'dry ice steamed' impressively, despite it being a cold drink. The taste was whisky infused with Jasmin & bitter citrus. A touch of Prosecco made it fizzy and it was served in a Saki-style glass bowl. It was refreshing but fizzy whisky is something that will take me some time to get used to.
The next new experience was inhaling vaporised scent of a pine forest using a straw. It all reminded me of my dinner in Alinea in Chicago and was fun.
One More Smith & Sinclair Cocktail
After this I also tried 'Summer Leftovers'. This was more my kind of cocktail. A sweet, floral & foamy nod to an Aperol Spritz, topped with edible gold. It was also served with edible perfume to sweeten it. I found it funny that I had had edible gold on my cocktail at dinner in Coya the night before too.
During all this I had a fascinating chat with Grant about all his hotel experience, UAE visa issues, the Barbican area etc.
The 'Flavour Room'
Then we took a look at the 'Flavour Room' and I tried a second pastille. This time a gin & tonic with violet infused gin and lemon sherbet infused sugar. These were complex flavours and I may have to buy some of their sweets to fully appreciate them all.
Long Bar & the Perrier-Jouët Enchanted Hanging Garden in the Courtyard Garden
We then walked through the Long Bar with its iconic Philippe Starck chairs to the Perrier-Jouët designed Enchanted Hanging Garden. I could not believe this tranquil space was so close the madness of Oxford Street.
Four Seasons Park Lane & The Dorchester
After all these complex tastes I just wanted some very dry Grey Goose martinis. Four Seasons Park Lane & The Dorchester delivered these perfectly. The staff at both of these 'homes from home' treat me so well. I was brought my usual lobster rolls at the Four Seasons and Dorchester staff entertained me at the bar.
As I was leaving The Dorchester I marvelled at their Christmas gingerbread hotel again. It has a perfect miniature version of the Penthouse where my 40th birthday party was held.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 (7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - a '7 teddy' evening. Grant Campbell is another hotel legend & was so sweet for covering my bill; Smith & Sinclair are a class act who make things fun & interesting; and the Sanderson staff provide perfect service. Four Seasons Park Lane & Dorchester staff deserve a special mention too. My tips:- book the Purple Bar well in advance; take a taxi from the hotel, Oxford Street late in the evening is not a pleasant place to be; and you must try to see The Dorchester's exquisite Christmas gingerbread hotel.