Valentine’s weekend this year was particularly special as I was taken to the world renowned Claridge’s Hotel for dinner by my wonderful partner. I had never been to Claridge’s but it was somewhere I had always wanted to go. Perhaps it was the giant hint in my previous post of 10 Fabulous Date Ideas for You and Your Loved One that did the trick or maybe he is just a mind reader but when I wrote about a date at Claridge’s and posted it, I had no idea I would actually be going there myself the following evening! As it turned out, he had already booked the table two weeks earlier so am sure he felt quite pleased with himself when he saw I had suggested it in a post as a great date idea!
We arrived in London a few hours before and relaxed in a bar in the West End before heading for dinner. It was quite amusing as we headed for the doors of Claridge’s to see the entrance surrounded by a crowd of paparazzi and fans as it just so happened to also be the night before The Bafta’s and clearly there were a few A-lister movie stars staying at the hotel that night. Once inside and dazzled by all the excitement, I took in the surroundings of the stupendous foyer with its black and white checked flooring, grand sweeping staircase and beautiful chandelier. It felt more like walking onto a period drama movie set rather than a hotel and I was utterly swept away by the opulence and grandeur of it all.
Having arrived slightly early for dinner we headed to Claridge’s bar but not before appreciating the beautiful display of roses that were displayed in abundance in long vases and hanging elegantly in test tubes from a delicate metal arch in celebration of Valentine’s Day. As we headed into the bar, it was soon clear who all the paparazzi were hoping to catch a glimpse of, as we literally walked straight into Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender and fellow actor Vincent Cassel who were, it seemed, using the side door of the bar as an escape route from the paps as they headed (I assume) to the Bafta’s pre-party at Kensington Palace. Oh the glamour!
The bar had a fabulous ambience helped by the low lighting and candlelight, as elegantly dressed guests sat in couples or groups in dark leather armchairs or perched on bar stools whilst atmospheric music played in the background. We were very well taken care of and shown to a table along with our perfectly poured bellini cocktails. Two rather delicious bellinis later we made our way to the beautiful foyer restaurant where the wonderful restaurant manager Orlando was waiting to greet us.
It has to be said that it is not just the food you pay for when you dine at Claridge’s. As well as the stunning surroundings, the standard of service you receive is also second to none. Orlando personally looked after us that evening and was not only incredibly professional but also warm and friendly and took a few minutes out to talk to us about his life and experience of working at Claridge’s. When we chose to skip the starter and go straight for the main course of chateaubriand, he arranged a complimentary selection of delicious canapés while we waited for the main to be prepared, whilst enjoying the fabulous jazz trio that played as we ate.
Too full for pudding after two bellinis, canapés, chateaubriand and champagne we were instead presented with a gorgeous selection of sweets and chocolates, served elegantly on a silver chocolate stand. I managed only one of the chocolates for fear of complete discomfort due to our over indulgence and so as not to waste, we were kindly presented with the most beautiful looking doggy bag I think I have ever seen! Presented to us in a white Claridge’s box with a black ribbon handle and extra chocolates should we of course need them! I felt incredibly spoiled and it was possibly the best dining experience I have ever had the pleasure of having.
We finished our evening back in Claridge’s bar with the remainder of the champagne before taking a few images on the fabulous staircase in the foyer and then headed back home late into the night…
I chose to forget the cold and rain for my fabulous evening at Claridge’s and wore a white, kenna chain neckline jumpsuit by Reiss that I bought last summer, along with matching white suit jacket, burnt orange peep toe suede heels by Aldo, an orange Ted Baker clutch and my beloved Zara cape over the top to keep me warm while we were outside.
The following morning, devoid of sleep after such a late night and somewhat worse for wear, we headed back up to London to the National Portrait Gallery to view the Vogue 100 exhibition on its opening weekend which runs until 22nd May 2016. Being a lover of photography and fashion, this was possibly one of the most exciting exhibitions I could have attended, despite my mini hangover, which soon dissipated as I took in wall after sophisticated wall of stunning imagery. This included an uber cool, floor to ceiling portrait of the late Alexander McQueen smoking a cigarette, whilst rather poetically leaning on a skull also smoking a cigarette.
The purpose of the exhibition was to showcase the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916, charting its 100 year history with a dramatic array of 280 beautifully photographed portraits from the Condé Nast archive. Each room featured a different decade and celebrated a different era of fashion and beauty. Some of my favourite images were taken by the celebrated portrait and fashion photographer, Norman Parkinson, whose incredible work transcends time and is notably ahead of its time yet timelessly elegant. His portraits of the late Audrey Hepburn were simply breathtaking.
The exhibition marked the perfect end to one amazing weekend…fine dining, a sprinkle of Hollywood, champagne, chocolates, fashion and photography…what more could a girl ask for?!