Gong Xi Fa Cai! Celebrating the Year of the Sheep at HKK, PART I

Raise the red lantern, for it’s nearly time to welcome in the Chinese New Year. February 19 will see the dawn of the Year of the Sheep, an animal known in China for being calm and kind, qualities attributed to people born under this sign. At London restaurant HKK, part of the Hakkasan stable, Head Chef Tong…

Chez Bruce

On a recent Sunday, as the sun cast a gentle glow over the lazy autumn day, a group of us walked to Chez Bruce, the Michelin-starred restaurant on Bellevue Road by London’s lush Wandsworth Common. Now that we’re domiciled in the Sarf London ‘hood, it was time to check out this south-western stalwart of the cuisine scene, established in 1995 by the restaurant’s namesake, Bruce Poole,…

Art and Hospitality at Le Meridien, Piccadilly

On a UK Monopoly Board, Piccadilly is the sixth most expensive property at a whopping £280.00 and bears the colour yellow. To build a Monopoly hotel on the site will set you back £1,200.00. In reality, Piccadilly is a busy, multi-lane thoroughfare in London’s West End, running from Hyde Park Corner past Green Park to Piccadilly Circus….

High Tea with G&T at Le Meridien Piccadilly

High Tea is a quintessentially English tradition, introduced by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, to maintain one’s aristocratic blood sugar levels between an early luncheon and dinner served late into the evening. The tradition caught on rapidly, developed with the Earl of Sandwich’s then-revolutionary idea to place fillings between slices of bread, and is now…

A London Art-U-Cation with Le Meridien at Frieze

A luxury hotel, lashings of fine dining and a whirlwind of contemporary art? Chez Epicurienne, that’s what I call a killer combination that I’d be happy to dive into on any day of the week. Courtesy of the Le Méridien hotel group, I was recently invited to partake of just such a tantalising synthesis of…

Hotel Pullman, Marseille Palm Beach

Marseille: an ancient city renowned for many things, among which number its huge commercial port, a small crime problem, the legendary Château d’If and fine bouillabaisse. The city lent its name to the French national anthem, la Marseillaise, pastis was born here and Marcel Pagnol took childhood walks in the lush Parc Borély. I suggest that we add to this hall of fame the Hotel Pullman Marseille Palm…

A Gallery of Sand in Giverny

Even as a child, I didn’t have much patience for sand castles. ‘What’s the point?’ I wondered, ‘in spending painstaking hours building crenellations, filling moats and adorning walls with shells, when all the effort would only be destroyed by (a) someone’s careless foot, (b) a galumphing dog off its lead or (c) the incoming tide?’…

Monet’s Giverny –

Think of some of the world’s record-breaking works of art at point of sale, and paintings from Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series will no doubt feature on the list. Ever since I first saw a Monet in the flesh in the eighties, during a touring exhibition that actually made it the extra xxxx miles to far-flung…

Parc Caillebotte

When I was a child, we always had prints of famous paintings on various of the walls at home. It’s little wonder I grew up with a taste for things French (including a certain man), because most of these prints were of works by French painters – from Chardin to Lautrec. One of my favourites…

Tinnura, Sardinia – Where the walls don’t only have ears…

Sardinia is an island of secrets and quiet beauty, the most precious delights of which are likely to be tucked away from tour bus routes. Driving into the island’s hinterland on a warm May day, Monsieur and I rounded a bend on a country highway to discover one such unexpected treasure: the painted village of Tinnura. Tinnura’s church lies…

Hot and Cold in Enna

When you think of Sicily, what comes to mind? For me, it’s a curious mixture of things: the dreaded ‘clan’, Mount Etna, cannoli and some seriously glowing mosaics, sweet Marsala wine drunk IN Marsala, ancient Greek temples and being so sick that I couldn’t speak. The first time I visited the island at the bottom…

Venice: From Rialto to Prosecco and Pasta with Planeta

Monsieur and I were certainly getting our feet wet in more ways than one, as I guided him around Venice. Having visited the Guggenheim Collection, where I’d once spent my days as an intern, we then headed for the Rialto area – famed for its market and covered bridge. In fine weather, this would have…