Liege’s Historic Five Star Hotel

Belgium’s Crowne Plaza, Liège

Le Selys Restaurant

Le Selys Restaurant

The 126-bedroom dog-friendly Crowne Plaza Liege is the city’s only five star hotel. The hotel incorporates two former town houses from the 16th century the Selys Longchamps, and the Comtes de Mean on the Mont Saint-Martin. The Sélys Longchamps is a listed Wallonia heritage site built in Gothic style and renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries. The house was designed around two courtyards with, on its ground floor, their gastronomic restaurant Le Sélys. This is made up of two dining rooms one of which is particularly beautiful the Lovinfosse named after a Liège artist, and listed as an outstanding Walloon heritage with ancient wooden flooring, Chinese frescos and paintings from the 18th century in shades of green, blue-green and gold. The restaurant has a south-facing terrace with views of the city.

Chef Samuel Blanc has a Michelin star. Diners have the choice of a three, four or five course menu with the option for their sommelier Catherine Warbinet to choose suitable accompanying wines. Catherine persuaded us, it wasn’t hard, that this was a good way to taste wines that we would perhaps not have otherwise picked – three courses €55.00 per person plus €22.00 for accompanying wines.IMG_0930

We were given a palatial suite in the Sélys Longchamps stylishly decorated with high, exposed timbered ceilings. Our bathroom was incorporated in the bedroom but fortunately included a walk-in shower, and separate toilet! The hotel has a wellness centre with a 50m swimming pool, and treatment rooms. Parking is a short distance from the hotel but there is valet service so we were able to drive up to the door, unload, and have the IMG_0922car whisked away, and parked for us.

A bonus, Poppy my white fluffy dog, was allowed everywhere in the hotel except Le Sélys Restaurant. She was even allowed to join us for breakfast usually served in their brasserie. As there are jazz lunches on Sundays, it was moved to their magnificent ballroom, allowing us the opportunity of seeing the room. Part of the Comtes de Méan townhouse, the room is decorated in the style of Napoleon lll with a nine-metre high glass roof, crystal chandeliers, and frescoes.

Liège is small enough and the hotel centrally placed for us not to need the car while in the city. On the one occasion we did, we used a taxi. Prices are set so you know exactly how much it is going to be. A bonus too is that there is no need to tip anywhere except when you have exceptional service and wish to, although rounding up is standard practise. T. 0032 4222 9494

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Audrey Hepburn photographs at the National Portrait Gallery

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon opens tomorrow at the London’s National Portrait Gallery just off Trafalgar Square.

IMG_1140If there is anyone that I would have wanted to be in looks and style, she would have been it. Not for her character, which I know little about, but for her style, elegance, and the way she looked. The film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ in which she starred must be my all time great. I was also delighted to find that her dog Assam was a Yorkshire Terrier. Her son Lucca Dotti described her as “A girl who never expected anything, and was always amazed by life.”

Photographs in the exhibition include some from the private collection of her two sons that have never been on public display. A film star, humanitarian, and fashion muse the photographs embrace her life from her early days as an unknown to those taken by well-known photographers such as Norman Parkinson and Cecil Beaton.

Hepburn rose to fame at a time when the roles of women in society were continually being redefined, and used fashion to define her individuality. She and Givenchy enjoyed a life-long friendship and collaboration, and her name remains synonymous with Givenchy’s style.

One of the first international stars, Hepburn’s Broadway debut in Gigi 1951, and her BAFTA and Oscar winning role in Roman Holiday established her as a leading actress. She appeared in numerous films including Gigi, the Nun Story and my favourite, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
In 1988 she was Appointed Ambassador to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and until her IMG_1138death in 1993 dedicated herself to the work as their International Goodwill Ambassador. Although she died in 1993, the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund continues her humanitarian legacy.

The exhibition runs until 18 October, 2015 with an associated programme of events and talks.

National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE. T. 020 7766 7344 Open 10.00 – 18.00 Thursday and Friday to 21.00.
Entry £10.00/concessions £8.50 includes a voluntary donation

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I Won a Competition – Dinner at a Michelin star restaurant


Someone has to win!

Do you ever bother to enter competitions? Usually people don’t. Well I won dinner for two at Michelin star restaurant Murano By Angela Hartnett’s in London’s Mayfair.

IMG_1027The three course Italian menu plus canapés had wines to accompany each course. We started with a glass of prosecco and canapés. Prosciutto of course on an Italian menu, and arancini, fried rice balls mixed with truffles, mozzarella and ementhal cheese. Our first course was a creamy summer risotto using Italian carnaroli rice mixed with asparagus and peas, and topped with crunchy pine nuts. Our mains, we all had the same, were Hogget short loin cooked with crispy sweetbreads, almonds and goats cheese. None of us at the table knew what Hogget was, but it appears to be sheep’s meat somewhere between lamb and mutton! I love lamb but sadly this wouldn’t have been my choice as a bit too tough or perhaps it needed a jus!

Dessert was apricot and caramel cream in a puff pastry served with a lemon and lavender sorbet. Everything was beautifully presented and the service couldn’t be faulted.

It all came about as I am a Gold Card holder of the Automobile Association, andIMG_1033 decided to look at what that meant. There was a competition with a chance to win dinner for two at Angela Hartnett’s Michelin star restaurant Murano in Mayfair. As this is up my street, I entered and actually won. For the occasion, the AA took over her restaurant for the evening. Angela was at the restaurant, and took time from the kitchen to talk to us. She has a lovely sense of humour. A protégée of Gordon Ramsey Angela was awarded an MBE in 2007, and opened her own eatery the following year where she still cooks. Currently, Murano has 4 AA rosettes, and is one of the Good Food Guide’s top 50 restaurants for 2015. Murano is the first independent restaurant to be in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.

Murano By Angela Hartnett

20 -22 Queen Street, London W1J 5PP.     T. 020 7495 1127

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British Museum promotes Treasures from the Waddesdon Bequest

IMG_1010_2The Rothchilds were among the greatest collectors of the 19th century. The Waddesdon Bequest was donated to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild on his death in 1898. The Baron’s aim was to possess a special room filled with splendid, precious and intricate objects in the tradition of the European courts of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

The public can now also enjoy the items on display, which have been moved to what used to be the reading room of the British Museum, made possible through a donation by the Rothchild Foundation. The collection, originally housed in the New Smoking room at Waddesdon Manor, has since June 11, 2015 been moved to a more prominent position at the British Museum. The Baron wanted it to be free. “You collect things to tell people you are not going anywhere”. The collection demonstrates how, within two generations, the Rothchilds expanded from Frankfurt to become Europe’s leading banking dynasty, and reflects the way in which they enhanced their power and status through discerning collecting. They valued virtuosity, and demonstrated discernment and a sense of history in selecting their treasures. Baron Ferdinand’s ambition was to rival the great court collections of Europe.

Film at the side of some of the displays allows visitors to see the intricate detail of the items that might otherwise be missed. An amber tankard from the 17th century has panels carved out, representing the seven deadly sins. Not to be missed is the Holy Thorn Reliquary, made to contain a thorn supposedly from the Crown of Thorns that was placed on Christ’s head before the crucifixion. The Reliquary is enamelled with gold, sapphires, rubies and pearls. Several of the exhibits are known forgeries.
The Bequest is named after Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, a FrenchIMG_1008 chateau built by Baron Ferdinand from 1874 – 83. At the back of the room on the wall housing the collection is a film showing rooms at Waddesdon which is now a National Trust property.
Admission free. The British Museum, London.

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Osteria Francescana at Sotheby’s London

Originally posted on Spoonhq - Food PR & Restaurant PR Blog:

“The Jimi Hendrix of Italian Chefs”*

Massimo Bottura to bring Osteria Francescana, his three-Michelin star restaurant in Modena, Italy to the Contemporary Art Galleries of Sotheby’s London
27th, 28th and 29th June 2015

“Cooking is about not only the quality of ingredients, but also the quality of the ideas”
Massimo Bottura

Massimo Bottura © Paolo Terzi

London, 1 June 2015 – One of the world’s most creative culinary forces, Massimo Bottura, will bring his celebrated three Michelin-starred restaurant, Osteria Francescana, from the medieval Italian city of Modena to the contemporary art galleries of Sotheby’s London auction house this summer.

Transporting the conceptual premises of contemporary art into the kitchen, Massimo Bottura is a leading figure amongst a new generation of Italian chefs. Juxtaposing tradition and innovation with art and design, Bottura draws inspiration from a myriad of avant-garde contemporary artists – an approach that has won him the number three place on list of the World’s…

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Must See “Alexander McQueen” at the V&A

PARIS fashion week march 2006 READY TO WEAR FALL WINTER 2006/07 ALEXANDER Mc QUEEN

PARIS fashion week march 2006

Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London which runs until 2 August is one of this season’s must-sees exhibitions.

McQueen who grew up in London’s East End made the town the epicentre of his work. Ten rooms in the V&A showcase the dominant themes and concepts within McQueen’s body of work. Many of the rooms have dim lighting with music or footage from his catwalk shows. The sections are built around garments that span the breadth of McQueen’s collections from his MA graduate collection in 1992 to his unfinished 2010 collection.

Throughout his career, McQueen loved to push craftsmanship to its creative limits with designs that were largely about form, and how soft malleable fabrics can realise it. “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.
I want to create pieces that can be handed down like an heirloom”, he said.

The Cabinet of Curiosities forms the heart of the exhibition and is presented in a double-height gallery with 120 garments and accessories. Screens show film footage from his many catwalk presentations.

McQueen found a muse in Isabella Blow who introduced her protégé to Nadja Swarovski. The latter who is sponsoring the exhibition, opened his eyes to the creative potential of crystal.

If fashion is your thing its worth investigating the accompanying lectures being held during May and June including one on Friday 5 June with Sarah Burton, the creator of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, on ‘Designing McQueen’.

During May and June there are also brief courses for those in their teens and early2._Butterfly_headdress_of_hand-painted_turkey_feathers_Philip_Treacy_for_Alexander_McQueen_La_Dame_Bleu_Spring_Summer_2008_copyright_Anthea_Sims_1 twenties.
T. 020 7942 2000

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Stately, dog-friendly, splendour in Truro

The Alverton Aerial View

Hidden away, but only minutes from the town’s centre, the 34 bedroom Alverton Hotel in Truro is impressive to say the least. The east wing was built as Alverton Manor in 1830, and later became a nunnery. A chapel, now known as the Great Hall, and designed by the same architect as Truro Cathedral, was added. In 2012 the building was converted to a dog friendly luxury hotel, the city’s only 4 star hotel, which recently won the best wedding venue award in Cornwall at the South West Wedding Awards 2015.
We were given an executive suite. Spacious with its own small lounge area, it was stylishly decorated in shades of green and fawn, with mullioned windows, that was typical of the rest of the building. Near the billiard room, there was easy access to beautifully maintained gardens for Poppy, my dog.
The restaurant is designed in a way that doesn’t make it look empty if there are only a small number of diners. Their new head chef Simon George is talented. The menu is small with beautifully presented food. I wasn’t sure what to eat, but was pleasantly surprised as my meal tasted better than the menu description. The kitchen were also happy to alter my starter of pan-fried scallops to exclude cream, creating a delicate white wine reduction flavoured with grain mustard. For the mains, I had lamp rump that came pink as requested. Dessert, chocolate orange fondant, chocolate sponge cake oozing with dark chocolate, was served warm, Sadly their wine list is limited as is the choice of wine by the glass.
The hotel presents well and is stylishly decorated with courteous and helpful staff.IMG_0781_2 What is so surprising is the lack of detail. We stayed in an executive suite and yet for a 4 star hotel there was no towelling dressing gown or slippers. There was a good selection of toiletries by the upmarket brand Gilchrist & Soames, and yet there was only one shower gel to share between the two of us. While I appreciated the tea and coffee making facilities in the room, I had to ask for herb teas. The big plus, however, was that Poppy was welcome everywhere except in the restaurant, and had we chosen to, we could have eaten in the bar and had her with us.
T. 01872 276633 IMG_0782

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