If you’re tired of London you’re tired of life

25th Oct 2014
so it’s off to London for the Independent Hotel Show and a few other things….
Dear Diary
In Bournemouth: lunch with relatives at the Inn at Cranbourne. Run by an enthusiastic Australian lady ex high flying executive. Food and atmosphere very good.
To London. Staying at the Ampersand South Kensington. It all works but something’s missing. It’s an SLH and a Mr & Mrs Smith recommended hotel. In the end I just wish Kit Kemp (Firmdale Hotels) had designed it. That’s what’s wrong. Dinner at the Colony. This is the new one by Corbin & King, in the Beaumont Hotel, Mayfair, their first hotel. These are the guys who re-invigorated the Caprice and the Ivy many years ago. Now they run the Wolseley, Delauney, Fischers and others. They love retro style. So do I. Their attention to detail is legendary. The Beaumont is supposed to be a grand hotel from the 40’s. I want to stay there. Ideally in the Anthony Gormley box.
Spend morning getting broken iPhone repaired. Drop in to Charlotte Street Hotel, Firmdale, for coffee, where Kelvin McKenzie ex editor of the Sun is holding court with a Hungarian waitress. “You should get your pals over ‘ere as soon as you can ‘cos after the election in May they won’t be allowed. Provided they are all as gorgeous as you”. Charming.
To the Covent Garden Hotel, Firmdale again, for a glass of wine; the phone wasn’t ready when they said it would be. There’s something nice about being phone free though.
Quick bite at Princis, Wardour Street. Great Milanese food. You queue, it’s fast, but delicious and top quality.
Culture time: Rembrandt at the National preceded by the National Portrait Gallery.
Drinks at Ham Yard (Firmdale again, there’s a pattern emerging here) off Picadilly Circus. Amazing value dinner, must go back. But only one lager and that’s Japanese. Bizarre.
Then more culture of a different sort: Nick Cave‘s egotistical film 20,000 days on Earth. Phew.
Poor burger at previously exellent Byron. Note for self. Never eat anywhere near big tourist spots.
Independent Hotel Show at Olympia. Ironically, the first hotel exhibition I went to was in 1969 and at Hotelympia. This was the biggest hotel and catering exhibition in the UK. Then they moved it to Excel. It’s now in decline. The Independent Hotel Show is only three years old.  What’s at Excel? I loathe it.
The IHS is  bigger this year. Emphasis on design, bathrooms etc. Thankfully not much stainless steel (kitchen suppliers). Chat with Fiona Duncan, Daily Telegraph hotel reviewer, who was holding a  drinks/canapes do at the nearby Hand & Flower.  Missed the awards ceremony in the evening as we were due at Jason Atherton’s Little Social. Someone’s got to do it. We’ve tried the Social Eating House which he opened in 2011 and his Berner’s Restaurant at the Edition, and love his food. he was for the uninitiated, at Maze with Gordon Ramsey before he went out on his own. Food’s great, but what I really love about hotels and restaurants is watching the service. How the room is run. It’s theatre to me, and hopefully good entertaining theatre usually with a nice ending. Of course the food’s important, and it’s about who you’re with.
Breakfast with AA Gill. Well, not literally. We had breakfast and he chatted with Peter York, who wrote the Sloane Ranger handbook many years ago. It was amusing. Controversial. Lot of f words, some sad pleadings by fellow hoteliers imploring him to vist and presumably do a great write up. Why would you? He writes acerbically and can be damning. He is an entertainer. And he’s not a fan of anything outside London. Best quote was his reason for staying in hotels is because of two things: b*** j*** and Lobster Thermidor; he said “you can’t get them at home”.