Hotel Huus Gstaad

Santiago Places December 10, 2017

Taste, Comfort and Adventure

literary great once questioned, “What are men to rocks and mountains?” A valid point when considering the staggering magnitude of the Alpine peaks. Here in the glorious Swiss Alps, amid supreme natural wonders, it becomes clear exactly what man’s status is – explorer, adventurer and humble houseguest.

Set 1,111 meters above sea level in the heart of the Bernese Oberland, the spectacular surroundings of HUUS Gstaad permeate every aspect of the hotel – from the tangible to the experiential. Housed in a traditional wooden-clad chalet, the 136-room hotel transcends simple Swiss hospitality to embody the home of a close friend. Defined by pine lined valleys, snow-capped peaks and clusters of impossibly picturesque gingerbread-house chalets, HUUS Gstaad’s design concept is influenced by the centuries-old traditions and legendary hospitality that permeate this pocket of the Swiss Alps.

Striking the delicate balance between a restful retreat and acting as a community hub for like- minded adventurers and adrenaline junkies, HUUS Gstaad is the ultimate house for all seasons. From the adventure lounge, restaurants, spacious spa, and fully fledged family area to the all- inclusive activities and complementary equipment, HUUS Gstaad is the sheer embodiment of Bernese bonhomie. And one things for certain –
you’re all invited…

Huss Gstaad’s all-inclusive Summer Program is a seven-day schedule of activities: Monday – Friday – guided bike tour with the latest models from Rocky Mountain Bicycles Monday – Saturday – guided nature walks through the region Tuesday – Abseiling and Tyrolienne Wednesday –Rafting along the Saane or Simme River Thursday – High Rope Course Friday – Guided bike tour with the latest models from Rocky Mountain Bicycles Saturday – Canyoning Sunday – High Rope Course

The Region: With just 7,000 inhabitants, Gstaad-Saanenland is known for its secluded, relaxing retreats, yet it is its world-class cultural programs, outstanding skiing, and “chalet-chic” exuberance that makes it one of Switzerland’s premier destinations. The area around the hotel offers 220 kilometers of slopes and trails for skiers of all levels and a full immersion into nature through river rafting, family canyoning, rappelling, rope park adventures, bike tours, and more.

Evenings at Huss Gstaad can be spent in one of the hotels four restaurants where Head Chef Giuseppe Colella and his team serve a range of dishes made with the best organic, locally sourced ingredients. Then it’s onto the hotel’s rooftop bar or garden, where guests can enjoy a sundowner to the sounds of resident DJ Ewald Klassen.

With the philosophy ‘think global, act local’, community integration is as ingrained in the DNA of HUUS Gstaad as its sense of adventure. From working with regional suppliers when stocking the kitchen pantry, to employing neighboring artisans and local businesses during the renovation process, the hotel blends seamlessly into its locale.

Wellness – a healthy balance of the mind and body. Those needing a break from the outdoor adventuring are encouraged to explore the hotel’s spa, spread across 2,000 square meters and three floors, which takes the concept of relaxation to another level. Here, the Finnish sauna, offers panoramic views of the gardens below, while the aromatic sauna allows guests to unwind after a long day on the slopes. Other features include an ice fountain, herbal steam bath, panoramic swimming pool, children’s spa and yoga classes. The two treatment rooms also offer invigorating massages and facials to rejuvenate weary bodies and minds.

My Mykonos

Santiago Places July 2, 2017

By Dimitri Demetriades

My first memories of Mykonos date from the late 1970s when my parents would regularly stop on the island during our cruises of the Aegean Sea. It always had a unique feeling, certainly accentuated by the stories my father would tell me of his partying there as a young Athenian in the 1950s and 1960s. The island had just been “discovered”, most beaches were only accessible by boat and electricity would only run for six hours a day!


In the early 1990s, as a teenager, I came back to explore the island by myself and fell irrevocably in love with its spirit. Back then the all-day beach partying scene was already vibrant, the town had many nice restaurants and the first world-class hotels had sprung up. After swimming, straight from the beach, we would all rush into to town to catch the sunset from the Caprice bar which exists to this day. It recently relocated by 5 meters from its historic location but the view and the cocktails remain as good as ever. Do not miss it.

The 2000s and Greek economic boom brought more Athenians with higher spending power and the locals responded by raising their game. The metal tube-and-plastic strap sunbeds were replaced by wood-and-mattress ones, the cheap plastic umbrellas replaced by folding cloth ones. The beach restaurants which used to be little more than prefab cantinas turned into gastronomical havens. Pioneer in this shift upmarket was Nammos restaurant which opened in 2003. Luxury Collection, Leading Hotels of the World, Relais et Chateaux and other chains also landed on the island during that period.

The financial crisis struck towards the end of the decade just as the first bottles of champagne were starting to appear on the beaches. By 2010 Greece had been hit harder than most other countries and the entire middle class of the country had been wiped out economically. As a result the local hoteliers and restauranteurs, resourceful as always, shifted their attention once more to the up-market international crowd with an added focus on the newly rich emerging markets. By 2015 the Greeks had broadly been replaced by Arabs, Turks, Brazilians, and Russians. Today Mykonos seems to be fully accepted as one of the Mediterranean elite destinations along with Ibiza, Sardinia and the South of France.

For the past twenty five years no summer has passed without me visiting the island for a week or two (and often more!) and as a result many friends now ask for my ‘list’ of suggestions on the island, a summary of which you can find below.

The first decision you will have to make is where to stay. If you are afloat the best anchorage in my opinion is the bay of Psarou. Completely protected from the northerly Meltemi wind (during the summer it can blow fiercely for weeks at a time) while giving you easy access by tender to Nammos, Skorpios and
Santa Marina.


If you are sleeping ashore the main question is in town or outside. If you prefer the convenience of walking back to your hotel after a long night out then I recommend the Belvedere Hotel. It has a great location, a nice view from its pleasant pool and the Mykonos Nobu/Matsuhisa restaurant. The owners Nicolas and Tassos are always welcoming and you will also find them managing the Matsuhisas of St Moritz and Athens.

If walking to your hotel’s private beach is more important, then the clear answer is the Santa Marina Hotel in Ornos. It was the island’s first luxury hotel, built in the 1980s by the visionary Ilias Papageoriou (a friend of my father’s) and run today by his daughter Christiana who constantly renovates and upgrades the facilities. Apart from the private beach it has several pools, great views of the nearby islands and a Buddha Bar beach restaurant for late lunch. The complex also has small villas with private pools if you value privacy. The drive into town is only ten minutes (although traffic and parking can make it longer) and you’ll probably need a car anyway in Mykonos to go to the other beaches, unless you take the hotel boat of course.

Talking of other beaches my favourite ‘quiet’ one is Lia (not to be confused with Elia) which is also the most remote one. The waters are  crystal clear blue – green, the sunbeds nice and the restaurant very decent. Another quiet suggestion is Agios Sostis with equally nice waters and sand but no infrastructure whatsoever. For the bohemian-chic crowd this virgin state might be an attraction point, for others the sunburns might be a turn off.
Your decision.



If you chose a ‘party’ beach the unmissable classic of the island is Nammos on Psarou bay. The sunbeds are probably the most luxurious of the island but unfortunately also the most closely packed which is probably why I prefer to skip the swim there and arrive around 4-5pm for a late lunch. If you feel truly festive get a table in the semi-indoors side which goes into proper party-mode after 6pm with champagne spraying etc. Nowadays I prefer the garden side with a more relaxed Club 55 feel. Music is not as loud, there is no dancing while the food is excellent on both sides.

Another favourite, ‘Principaute Mykonos’, was opened last year in Panormos beach by the legendary maître d’ of Nammos, George Papageorgiou. Very carefully designed with unrelenting attention to detail, amazing food, crystal clear waters and spacious sunbeds. It is possibly the best beach choice if you do not want to risk being champagne-sprayed on!

Alemagou at Ftelia beach is upping its game every year with very good food while keeping its fantastic combination of sunset views, uncluttered beach and great music. Be warned though of the ‘event’ evenings when the beach turns into a proper festival with thousands of guests!

Skorpios near Paraga beach opened in 2015. The beach area is spacious although the sea is not great. Sunset views are among the best on the island and the food is good. Thursdays and Sundays sunset parties are very popular but it gets a bit too crowded for my taste. Given its enormous size it can unfortunately maintain neither the exclusivity nor the ‘niche’ feeling of the other beaches.

By 10 pm you might want to hit the town for dinner. Your first stop, at the feet of the iconic floodlit windmills, should be the classic Sea Satin Market restaurant. Excellent fish served by the sea. The (mainly Greek) music picks up around midnight and the dancing on the tables goes on for several hours.

A recent addition to the dining scene is Hakkasan/LingLing run by the Nammos team: great vibe, great crowd, great food. Possibly my favourite option for an eclectic evening.

For a more relaxed dining experience try Catari close to the old port, owner Egidio will always make you feel very welcome and will delight you with his amazing Calamari pasta. The colourful ceramics on the wall and the Sofia Lauren movies playing above the bar complete the Neapolitan atmosphere.

The nightlife of Mykonos town is so diverse and vibrant that I cannot enumerate all the possibilities. Probably the best strategy is to walk through the small meandering streets and hop from bar to club to bar. My only special mention is Astra, one of the pillars of the scene since the 1980’s. Usually packed from 2 till 5am and even later on weekends. You will listen to the best dance, electro and rock on the island. Just don’t expect to hear any Lady Gaga or Greek music there.

Closing this little list of Mykonos and usually also closing the night on the island is Cavo Paradiso on Paradise beach. An “institution” that has been bringing the best international djs to the island for more than twenty years, its amphitheatrical arrangement around a pool on a cliff by the sea offers one of the best sunrises of the Med.

Personal ‘hidden gem’: the most romantic place to watch the sunset or the stars is the Armenistis lighthouse at the very north extremity of the island (usually the windiest too) where you can see the nearby islands of Tinos, Syros as well as the smaller, uninhabited Rinia and Delos. Delos is possibly the most important Greek archaeological site outside the Athens Acropolis so if you have time do the day-trip visit.

Special thanks to Der Mits (@dermitsphoto) for allowing us to reproduce his photographs of the Armenistis Lighthouse and Mykonos Port for this article.



Santiago Places December 5, 2016

by Maura Wasescha

ENGADIN ST. MORITZ- St. Moritz bei Nacht im Sommer mit dem beleuchteten Badrutts Palace Hotel, Kulm Hotel, Carlton Hotel und das Hotel Waldhaus am See. Im Hintergrund die Crasta Mora (2935m). St. Moritz at night in summertime with the illuminated Badrutts Palace Hotel, Kulm Hotel, Carlton Hotel and the Hotel Waldhaus am See. In background the Crasta Mora (2,935m). St. Moritz di notte con le luci del Badrutts Palace Hotel, Kulm Hotel, Carlton Hotel e l¿Hotel Waldhaus am See. Sullo sfondo, il Crasta Mora (2935m). Copyright by: ENGADIN St. Moritz By-line: Sonderegger

Copyright by: ENGADIN St. Moritz By-line: Sonderegger

St. Moritz owes its legendary fame to Johannes Badrutt. In 1864, this budding hotel manager invited four English friends to spend the winter in St. Mortiz. The sun here was so warm, the air so crystal-clear, there was no doubt his friends would enjoy sitting on the terrace in this secret paradise. Johannes even offered to refund them the trip costs, if they left unsatisfied. It was this simple bet that allowed St Moritz to become a winter tourist spot. In the summer, its popularity was already strong: visitors used to to come to St Moritz for the water cure, a tradition that started 3000 years ago when the ferruginous spring waters flow, later discovered by the Romans, this tradition was carried over by the aristocracy since 200 years ago. This was just the beginning, St. Moritz keeps establishing its leadership among the alpine holiday resort industry and its popularity is strong worldwide. St. Moritz hosted the Winter Olympics games twice, the Ski World Championships five times (including the coming 2017 championships). St Moritz is proud to be an international icon of style. Not only sport, but aristocracy, rulers and politicians from all over the globe, including movie and television stars, have given and still continue to give a luxury image to St Moritz. An image of adventurous lifestyle and glamour, a place that has never forgotten its origins and its traditions. Last but not least, the nature, the landscape with its lake plateau make of this region a unique place in the world. Today, when my clients ask me, ‘Mrs Wasecha, do you know that you are living in paradise?’ My answer is undoubtedly… Yes!


ST. MORITZ/SWITZERLAND, 31JAN15 - The players of team Badrutt's Palace Hotel (in black) and the players of team Cartier (in red) fight for the ball during the Etihad Cup match at the 31st Snow Polo World Cup in St. Moritz, January 31, 2015. Andy Mettler

ST. MORITZ/SWITZERLAND, 31JAN15 – The players of team Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (in black) and the players of team Cartier (in red) fight for the ball during the Etihad Cup match at the 31st Snow Polo World Cup in St. Moritz, January 31, 2015. Andy Mettler



38 years ago, when I arrived in St. Moritz from Italy, the paradise of it all was not clear to me. It was by complete chance that I landed here, with a high school diploma in my hands, and only limited information about this glamorous location. In reality, my career at the beginning was not easy at all, far from all the nice stories that you can read in magazines. Being supported by a strong personality, my motto has always been “you should never give up…” In my life I always carried on, I started to work as a simple cleaning lady, but I was lucky enough to become the founder of a real estate agency specializing in luxury properties of the highest standards. Properties which fully respect the environment and the quality of life of the people living in them and
around him.

There have been many schools of thought behind the realization of our projects, which have made this dream come true. In order to truly feel and experience the real meaning of expression one must aim to achieve “maximum well being.” As you see, St Moritz has fascinated me and still does today. The poetry of a wonderful landscape lives together with the typical glamour of the place, a unique destination. Come and visit us… I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.


Santiago Places December 4, 2016

by Sneha Rupani

Hailed as Phuket’s father of tourism, Wichit Na-Ranong was born into a family that revolutionized Phuket’s trade industry with tin mining. After hosting a James Bond film crew in the 1970s, Wichit knew he could make Phuket an international destination. His efforts put Phuket on the map, opening up her white-sand beaches and clear blue seas, to the world. Now, his daughter Krystal Prakaikaew Na-Ranong, brings forward-thinking hospitality to the forefront with The Slate – the island’s only avant-garde expression of a true Phuket heritage.


Krystal Prakaikaew’s vision was to create a sanctuary that intrigues and inspires guests through placing importance on intuitive service, satisfying guest’s desires while simultaneously engaging their curiosity. To bring her vision to life, Krystal Prakaikaew recruited one of South East Asia’s leading designers, Bill Bensley to create a seamless marriage of Phuket’s tin-mining heritage and her avant-garde, innovative
design philosophy.

The result is a 177-room property that oozes industrial chic. Krystal Prakaikaew’s emphasis on design has resulted in an oasis that borrows heavily from the past but is yet innovative and forward-thinking. The Slate’s strong design elements are a nod to Phuket’s and her family’s tin-mining heritage. Krystal Prakaikaew says, “We wanted The Slate’s design to stand out from the other resorts in the region and offer a distinctive atmosphere that will intrigue urbane travelers but at the same time, not be modern for modern’s sake. Good design has to be rooted in something and in The Slate’s case, it is the history of the island.”

The Slate is just ten minutes away from the airport, but guests will feel like they’ve entered a different world from the moment they pull up into the lobby. Located along Phuket’s northern beaches, The Slate is far removed from the hustle and bustle of Phuket’s southern party zones.

Our favourite is the private pool villa, ensconced within a lush walled tropical garden. Wake up in a cloud-like, oversized bed to the soft chirping of tropical birds and the whispering waves in the background. Cool off in your private plunge pool or lounge in your striped sofa out on your sun terrace. Request your private butler to organize a therapist to come to your own in-room spa area and relax on the luxurious massage beds or enjoy the private sauna and steam rooms.

the-slate-lobbyThe Slate offers a myriad of activities for you to explore Phuket. Their concierge team can arrange to charter yachts for you to go island-hopping, deep sea fishing, colourful, coral diving or simply to cruise into the sunset. On land, delve into local culture and customs with temple visits, Thai cooking classes and modern art tours. Fitness fans can enjoy tennis, archery, yoga, tai-chi, Pilates, Fit Ball and Muay Thai boxing. Visit Shore Thing, our beach club overlooking the Andaman Sea, while delighting in fantastical sunset cocktails.

If idling the day away is more your style, the stunning Coqoon Spa was built around a tropical garden with eight treatment rooms-for-two, the highlight of which is a spectacular woven Nest built into a 100-year old banyan- tree. Krystal Prakaikaew designed the Coqoon Spa programme to offer treatments that invoke healing and the relaxation techniques of Thai massage. The Slate’s three sparkling pools have relaxing sun loungers, swaying palms and stunning views.

Foodies can tuck in at any of The Slate’s eight restaurants. Tin Mine restaurant highlights with Steak & Grilled and a selection of Indian cuisine as well as international buffet breakfasts and specialty cuisine evenings. Experience Thai street-food cooking stations which are also featured in this alfresco restaurant. For fine dining, visit Black Ginger, The Slate’s signature Thai restaurant. Set on a private lagoon, it can only be reached via a rope-pulled boat ride and features special dishes from the Phuket region. Rivet is an intimate and artistic venue setting with plush, leather upholstered chairs and unique tables as well as geometric metalwork.

With a distinct story to tell, a combination of gorgeous industrial chic design, top-notch service, close attention to detail and the beautiful backdrop of Phuket’s northern beaches, The Slate offers up the perfect recipe for a beautiful getaway.! 


Santiago Places December 2, 2016


The Art of Japanese hospitality from the Edo period, Kanazawa was ruled by the powerful Maeda clan. With a history of over 430 years, Kanazawa boasts one of Japan’s three famous landscape gardens, Kenrokuen Garden,with a different look for each season. Having been spared from war,historical areas such as tea house entertainment districts where geisha still train and many former samurai residences have been preserved.

Since the Maeda clan, in an effort to avoid war, had dedicated their significant resources to promoting cultural pursuits, traditional crafts and arts such as gold leaf and Kaga Yuzen silk dyeing have been handed down to the present day. In 2009, Kanazawa was designated as a UNESCO Creative City in the field of Crafts and Folk Art.

Kanazawa has also contemporary look such as the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. You can enjoy the harmony between its traditional past and contemporary present. Surrounded by the Japanese sea and the mountains, Kanazawa is blessed with an abundance of fresh seasonal ingredients. So Kanazawa offers the best Japanese cuisine
every season.

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Asadaya is one of Japan’s most prestigious ‘ryokans’ ( a traditional Japanese inn) and is located in the historical city of Kanazawa. This beautiful Japanese inn started business in 1867 as a humble Ryokan with thirty seven rooms. In 1977, Asadaya began serious renovation works, scrapping and rebuilding their business into a luxury, boutique Ryokan with only four elaborate rooms. Their aim was to reduce their number of rooms and instead provide luxury, top quality services for a minimum number of guests. Today, Asadaya welcomes celebrity guests from around the world who are looking for a unique, true Japanese Ryokan experience with full privacy. Asadaya is also well-known for its outstanding cuisine which has a Michelin star. Dinner is prepared with local, seasonal ingredients, cooked according to traditional Japanese culinary techniques, and served using the most beautiful and refined Gold-lacquer antiques. The restaurant is fully equipped to respond to all its guest needs, due to the limited numbers. Vegetarian, allergies, organic, likes and dislikes, all your needs are cared for. Asadaya create true lasting relations with their guests by recording each individual’s likes and dislikes. Food allergies, bedding material preference, size of Yukata and other personal information is all added to their client data-base. On your next visit, you will be cared for immaculately without any need to repeat your desires.

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Cozily tucked away in the quieter streets of Kanazawa’s bustling Katamachi, Zeniya
is one local destination not to miss on your next visit to Ishikawa. The restaurant, which is a historic ryotei of the highest caliber, serves multi-course Kaiseki sets of breathtaking elegance and refinement. At the behest of chef Shinichiro Takagi, the restaurant responds carefully, with great sophistication, to the sequence of Kanazawa’s seasons. Seasonality, as chef Shinichiro Takagi believes, is not merely about dates on a calendar or metrics on a record. Rather, it is about the very gradual changes of life in the nearby soils and waters. “Sometimes”, explains Takagi, “one season can be divided into four or five periods. The menu is a constant effort to reflect these gradual changes. The seasons dictate the ingredients. The ingredients dictate the menu”. Chef Shinichiro even sources his water with extreme care. The entire team at Zeniya have taken great pride in their ground water sourcing and even bottle and pack gallons of their water which they pass onto their collaborators and events around the world. After experiencing the rich flavors and vibrant colors of Zeniya’s multi-course fare, one emotionally connects with Chef Shinichiro and his team and their grand effort to truly create their raison d’être: to serve the chant of their seasons and the flavor of their ingredients with utmost nuance. They truly do so with grace, hospitality, and inclusion. We confidently declare: the Zeniya experience is nothing short of impeccable.

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Araya Totoan

Araya Totoan dates back to 1639, with an order by the ruler of the Maeda Family, to protect the Yamashiro hot spring, which he personally owned. The home has been running for eighteen generations and is a real jewel. The best features of this ryokan is definitely its “hot springs” which are truly something special. Araya is known for its drawing of the largest amount of hot spring water, more than all the hotels in the area. The superior quality of its hot springs are well established and offer its guests a luxury experience, bathing in the privacy of their own room with a private open-air bath. They also have the precious works of Kitaoji Rosanjin and many Kutani ware and contemporary artists on display. After having a beautiful seasonal kaiseki meal, you can enjoy a cozy nightcap at the cottage named “Arisugawa-sanso”, which serves as a lounge bar and offers a wide selection of fine wines and local Japanese drinks. During your stay you will feel the essence of traditional Japanese hospitality, an honored guest with your every need taken care of.


Santiago Places May 7, 2015

Secret Me is an organisation that makes the world of Walter  Mitty come alive. For some thousands of pounds,  candidates, carefully selected by invitation only, can pretend to be James Bond.

Under the watchful eyes of ex-SAS instructors, the fortunate few are shown the art ( a curious word in this context) of how to kill quietly –coyly referred to as ‘threat elimination’. Candidates must also graduate in kidnap and escapology.

Having passed the Houdini test, the successful are whisked away to some exotic foreign location to be rated on their progress. Finally, for the fortunate few who have succeeded in these momentous tasks, there remains The Mission.

But have no fear. This is not all blood ,sweat and tears. This is basic training club class: it comes with canapes! Seduction and what is politely referred to as ‘the art of persuasion’ are all part of the mix. There are even sessions with a Savile Row tailor to ensure that even if the deeds are dirty, the dress will be immaculate. Finally, as the pubicity blurb promises, ‘there will be plenty of time to relax and enjoy the luxurious suroundings’. But of course

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Santiago Places May 6, 2015




Tom Bastok

Looking to Invest

My Art Invest, is a trading platform for art, launched in London in 2014 by a French collector who gave up his financial studies to develop it. London, he says, is “the natural place to try something that involves new ideas and new technology.”

The gallery on Commercial Street in Hoxton, will rotate exhibitions of around 30 works, in which shares are available. It opens on Thursday April 10th, with a show of street art including Banksy and Shepard Fairey, as well as more cutting edge artists such as D*Face, Katrin Fridriks and the French-born Ludo.


Baldassare La Rizza

Cultural Mix

Baldassare La Rizza is a name that conjures up exotic  and magical ideas. A true European citizen, born in France, raised in Belgium by Sicilian parents. This mix of cultures and influences is reflected in La Rizza’s eclectic designs.

La Rizza trained at the Inchbald School of Interior Design and then served the customary apprenticehip with Alistair Colvin Limited. Now he runs Larissa.

Speaking 4 languages has enabled La Rizza to undertake many successful overseas residential projects – homes from New York to Kuwait and throughout Europe from London, Rome, Verbier and the South of France.


Helene Darroze

A Culinary Board Game.

Going to Helene Darroze’s Michelin star restaurant is like playing a culinary board game. Guests are presented with the menu in a unique format. Each of the twelve ‘products’ are named on a marble ball made for a traditional solitaire board.

Choosing from the balls, diners select their own bespoke menu.To add variety, guests can also choose a starter or dessert of the day.

Most suppliers are from the South West of France, where Hélène grew up.

Ecologically sourced fish are a priority on the menu. For instance, the scallops hail from  pristine, ‘Class A’ waters off the Scottish coast, among the best in the world. Keltic Seafare provide extra large, eight inch scallops, which Hélène serves with tandoori flavours, carrot and citrus.

The three-course lunch menu is priced at £35. (£42 with wine). Dinner can be taken as five, seven or nine courses, priced from £88.


MADAMA BUTTERFLY.10075_56. ACT 1  (C) HOBAN 2011

Madame Buterfly

‘One fine day…’

In David Roger’s magnificant production, Madame Butterfly’s  house is perched on stilts above the shimmering surface of a Japanese water garden. No opera surpasses the tragedy and pathos of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly – a tale of unrequited love that inspired some of Puccini’s most sublime music.

The differences in attitudes and styles of east and west were skilfully woven together in this remarkable production.

Highlights are the magnificent love duet, ‘One Fine Day’, when Butterfly imagines the return of Pinkerton, her American lover, and the tragic aria at the end ,where she realises her betrayal.


Astsuko Kudo

‘…It’s the talk of the town’

Until recently, the label Horiyoshi the Third was the big name in Japanese fashion, so called for incorporating the work of the tattoo artist of the same name.   

Now however, the new name on the block is that of Atsuko Kudo. Atsuko shot to fame when Lady Gaga discovered her in 2009 and started performing in her clothes. Other celebrities soon followed: Beyonce, Kate Moss, Jennifer Lopez among others. She has also collaborated with important designers like Chalayan, Vivienne Westwood and Fendi, to name a few.

Atsuko’s influences are European haute couture combined with Hollywood Noir, which she describes as beautiful, decadent, sexy and glamourous. The material she works with is exclusively latex, creating collections to be worn in nightclubs, salons and bedrooms.

Great Britain



‘…It was a damn close run thing’

Windsor Castle (to the west of London) is hosting a new exhibition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo – bringing to life the 10 hours of fighting on whose outcome the whole future of Europe depended. It marked the final defeat of Napoleon. But, as Wellington once admitted, “ It was a damn close run thing!”

The exhibition includes paintings by contemporary battlefield artists, the equivalent of today’s war photographers. There’s also a fascinating copy of a diary kept by Admiral Cockburn, who took Napoleon to his final exile on St Helena aboard HMS Northumberland, in which he reports asking Napoleon if he really intended to invade Britain.

One of the more remarkable exhibits is Napoleon’s cloak, captured from the defeated emperor’s baggage train as it fled the battlefield.


Mandarin Oriental

Devouring History

The name Dinner does not immediately reveal the delights of this Knightsbridge restaurant run by Ashley Palmer-Watts on behalf of Heston Blumenthal.

Blumenthal’s journey of exploration began when he met Richard Fitch and Marc Meltonville, two food historians at Hampton Court Palace (which once dedicated no less than 50 rooms solely to the art of cooking!)

The result is a light-touch, interactive tour through history that filters Britain’s gastronomic past – unearthing dishes that date back to the 14th century – but making full use of modern techniques and flavours.

The Meat Fruit Loaf, a main feature of the restaurant’s starter menu, is an excellent example of this alchemy. The dish itself was first devised for Blumenthal’s Channel 4 show – Feast. Dating back to the 16th century, it has become one of Dinner’s signature dishes. Slice into what appears to be a mandarin, and you discover it is a ball of chicken liver parfait coated with a stunningly realistic peel of mandarin-flavoured gel.

There is also a Chef’s Table comprising eight courses


Hot chocolate - with truffles and chocolate

Alexeeva & Jones

‘…Simple pleasures are the last resort of the complicated.’

Previously a top marketing director for a European car company, Gareth has decided he prefers the smaller luxuries: chocolate.  His Russian wife, Natalia Alexeeva, is the second contributor to the shop’s name.

The couple met up in Moscow, where they hatched their plan to open a chocolate shop to stock artisan chocolate that is hard to find outside their country of origin.

Currently, there is a house selection by Natalie, plus chocolates from Davenport’s, Franck Daubos, Centho, Beschle and British chocolatiers Paul Wayne Gregory Iain Burnett and Damian Allsop, whose ganaches, based on water, have intense flavours – raspberry, hazelnut, coffee and other traditional flavors.


The Russian Ballet

‘…Flight performed by the soul’


The 10th anniversary Russian Ballet Gala is a multimedia experience by living masters celebrating the life and art of the greatest performers of the Russian Ballet

‘Flight performed by the soul ‘is how Alexander Pushkin described Russian ballet, whilst speaking of contemporary ballerina Evdokia Istomina in Eugene Onegin.

Through the decades, Russian ballet has captivated audiences worldwide, with mesmerizing performances by dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Fokin, Leonid Myasin, Bronis lawa Nijinskaya, Vazlav Nijinsky, and George Balanchin. And of course, the sensational Ballets Russes of Sergey Diaghilev have passed into the annals of ballet history.

Gala 2015 featurea significant excerpts from the Russian classical repertoire, alongside masterpieces created by the top choreographers of our time – all of whom acknowledge their debt to the aesthetics of Russian ballet.

In London,  the performance included contributions by Andre Bezard, Frederico Bonelli, Alexander Cambell, Alina Cojocaru and Dorothee Gilbert. They were supported by various performers chosen from a large number of dance troupes including those of the Bolshoi, Mariinsky, The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, ballets of the Grand Opera Paris, Berlin Staatsoper, New York City Ballet and, finally, the Ballet of Monte Carlo.


1. Zubin Varla as Dara_credit Elile Kurttz

The story of Dara

Jealousy and intrigue

The story of Dara, recently produced at the National theatre, is one that begins thousands of miles away from the concrete jungle of London’s South  Bank.

It dramatises the true story of Shah Jehan, the Mughal emperor who built the TAJ MAHAL. It describes a struggle for power, and the rivalry of his two sons over who should succeed him – the radical elder son Aurangzeb or the liberal younger brother, Dara Shikoh.

The process of collaboration between Pakistani playwrite, Shahid Nadeem, his theatre company Ajoka, and the National, took four years to complete.

The play is a first for the National, which has never previously taken an original south Asian production and both translated and adapted it for a British audience.



Cheltenham on the roof of the world

With its retro ceiling fans, marble table-tops, and yesteryear photos of polo and cricketing triumphs, Gymkhana has the look and feel of an Anglo-Indian club in Simla – once famously described by Malcolm Muggeridge as ‘Cheltenham on the roof of the world’.

Sethi, the owner, lays on a splendid spread of modern Indian dishes based on regional masalas and marinades. Her daughter, Sunaina Sethi was one of thirty award winners in the world under thirty sommelier contest, 2012.

As for the food, game lovers are well looked after with  mountjac biriani, fried peppered partridge, and roe deer cooked with pickling spices. Tandoori-seared guineafowl breast boasts a mellow, mustardy smokiness, enhanced by toasted sesame seeds – making a tasty contrast to herb scented potato straws, tossed with tongue-tingling chopped green mangoes.

Gymkhana was nominated Restaurant of the year in 2014.