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Spring London

CELEBRATE SPRING IN LONDON

London in spring offers visitors and locals alike the chance to get out and about amongst the Royal Parks, along the River Thames and into the lesser-known but vibrant neighbourhoods of London. Whether you have planned a trip to London in the next few months or not, we are here to add a little Insider inspiration for your future plans.

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN 'SAVAGE BEAUTY' - until 19th July
'Savage Beauty', by the late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, became one of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's (New York) top 10 most visited exhibitions. See it for yourself at London's V&A Museum this year.

V&A Museum, until 19th July, vam.ac.uk

SHAUN IN THE CITY ART TRAILS - 28th March - 25th May
A flock of 50 five-foot tall sculptures of Shaun the Sheep will be arriving on the streets of London for the ‘Shaun in the City’ art trail. Visit them at London's famous Covent Garden for some great photo opportunities! 

Various, 28th March - 25th May, shauninthecity.org.uk

THE BOAT RACE - 11th April
This year, the world-renowned Boat Race will be taking place on Saturday 11th April and sees Oxford and Cambridge battle it out. First started in 1829, the race attracts over 250,000 spectators in South West London. For our recommendations on where to watch it, speak to the Concierge team. 

Putney Bridge, 11th April, theboatraces.org

LONDON BOOK & SCREEN WEEK - 13th - 19th April
Taking place from 13th-19th April, it’s the capital’s biggest ever celebration of books, and the films, TV programmes and virtual worlds they’ve inspired. The week unites readers, writers, gamers and film fans, with hundreds of events taking place across the capital that celebrate stories and the written word in all its forms.

Various, 13th - 19th April, londonbookandscreenweek.co.uk 

CHELSEA ART FAIR - 16th - 19th April

This annual hidden gem on the International Art Fair calendar will once again bring together 30 of the leading UK and international galleries to the historic Chelsea Old Town Hall. 

Chelsea Old Town Hall, 16th - 19th April, chelseaartfair.org

LONDON MARATHON - 26th April 
One of the world's biggest long-distance running events, the London Marathon has been held every year since 1981 and sees over 35,000 participants. The race starts in Greenwich Park and passes outside the hotel, finishing on the Mall. 

Various, 26th April, virginmoneylondonmarathon.org

MUSEUMS AT NIGHT - 14th - 16th May
The 'Museums at Night' weekend is a once-a-year opportunity to discover museums, galleries and heritage sites in London as they open their doors after hours for a weekend like no other. 

Various, 14th - 16th May, museumsatnight.org

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW - 19th - 23rd May
See Chelsea in full bloom as the area transforms itself and celebrates the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Enjoy creative window displays, pop-up shops and exclusive events. Speak to Concierge about tickets. 

Royal Hospital Chelsea, 19th - 23rd May, rhs.org.uk

For more information and inspiration about what's on this season, speak to a member of our Concierge department, or follow #InsiderGuidetoLondon. 

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Berry Bros and Rudd

With two Royal Warrants, more than 300 years of history and eight Masters of Wine, Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s original wine and spirit merchants. The shop's rich history includes secret meetings held by Napolean III during his exile in the 1840s. We speak to London store manager Francis Huicq to find out more about this London gem...

In the 17th century, the Widow Bourne started a grocer’s business at No.3 St James’s Street. In the 1690s, selling wine was almost certainly not on the agenda: instead, the Widow was a purveyor of goods such as tea and the era’s most fashionable beverage, coffee. To this day, the sign of the coffee mill remains outside the shop at No.3 in tribute to our roots.

Over three centuries later, the family business continues to flourish, with its heart still very much at No.3. The company’s colourful history encompasses London’s last duel to the death with swords, supplying smugglers running alcohol into Prohibition-era America, and sheltering Napoleon III in the cellars beneath our shop.

While much has changed over the years, we are still owned and managed by members of the Berry and Rudd families and we continue to supply the British Royal Family, as we have done since the reign of King George III. We continue to weigh customers on a giant set of coffee scales, a tradition which began in the 1760s, with Lord Byron, William Pitt and Beau Brummell among those who have had their weights recorded in our ledgers.

With services including a Wine Club, Cellar Plan, Tutored Tastings, Private Wine Events and a Wine School, we provide the closest link between those who make the wine and those who drink it. Most importantly of all, we continue to hold to the simple belief that wine is meant to be enjoyed and that all wine knowledge can be distilled to one simple question: “Is it good to drink?”

Find out more about Berry Bros. & Rudd or speak to a member of our Concierge team.

Berry Bros cellars

 

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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year - 19th February

2015 is the Chinese Year of the Goat and London's thriving Chinese community will be celebrating in style. Join one of the capital's largest and most colourful festivals with an abundance of activities, restaurants and celebrations to choose from. Speak to our Concierge team for ideas to celebrate Chinese New Year in London. 

 

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InterContinental London Park Lane Secrets of the City

The true beauty of a city lies in its untold stories. At InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, we know that the most enriching and rewarding travel comes through authentic, unique experiences that truly allow you to feel like an insider. Watch the film below and embark on a journey to discover our Insider Experiences and unlock the Secrets of the City



Find out more about our bespoke Made in Mayfair Insider Experience, giving guests a behind-the-scene tour through Mayfair’s rich history of custom-goods to see how the area has evolved to create a ‘Best of British’ showcase, which blends tradition with contemporary talent.

Discover more #InterContinentalSecrets and follow the conversation here.

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Start your new year with a bang and enjoy some of the abudence of events and experiences that London has to offer with our guide to what's on this month:

The Knicks vs The Bucks - 15th January
The New York Knicks return to London and play a regular season game against the Milwaukee Bucks at The 02 as part of the NBA Global Games 2015. For more information, visit nba.com

New Guiltless Tea - available now
The award-winning team at Wellington Lounge have launched Guiltless Tea, a new Afternoon Tea free of refined sugar and carefully created with all natural nutrient-filled ingredients. The menu, which shows that guiltless should still be delicious, can be tailored to any dietary requirements including gluten and dairy free. Available now, visit royalcollection.org.uk

Rembrandt: The Late Works - until 18th January
London's iconic National Gallery displays arguably some of the finest collections of paintings. This exhibition displays four of Rembrandt's self-portraits created in the last years of his live. A must for art lovers. Visit nationalgallery.org.uk for more.

For more ideas, please speak to a member of our Concierge team.

 

 

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Meet the Craftsmen

Next in our Meet The Craftsmen series we meet William Skinner, managing director of family-run tailoring house Dege & Skinner. Located in the world-famous Savile Row and established in 1865, Dege & Skinner is the only tailors to have a permanent shirt-cutting service based in the shop and celebrates its 150th anniversary next year. We spoke to William to find out more about his Christmas traditions....

William-Skinner-small1

Christmas is all about the children and family values; keeping the children's imagination going with Father Christmas, log fires, champagne for the grown-ups, eating heartily and enjoying board games. The Queen's Speech is a must..wrapping paper everywhere..the look of excitement on the children's faces as they unwrap the best gift ever! Church and falling asleep with a full tummy of food and goodly amount of Claret.

My Mayfair Christmas highlights has to be the Christmas lights. I love shops that are colourful and festively decorated, a beautiful sight and most definitely gets me in the Christmas mood..the bustling streets of people doing their Christmas shopping..the bars and restaurants busy with customers celebrating the Christmas Season as they take a break from shopping.

Every year, the time consuming, but nevertheless necessary and appreciated sending of Christmas cards to all my supportive customers and suppliers is a must..and on a personal note..the one way of touching base with old friends. A Christmas card continues the friendship.

My top Christmas tip? Always make sure the fridge and wine rack is well stocked, just in case of friends dropping in unexpectedly.

After a long day in the office, I like to relax, spend time with the family..enjoy a slower pace of life for the days surrounding Christmas..walking the dogs, having a pint by the fire at the local pub, jigsaw puzzles, fire burning and resting after a busy year travelling and on Savile Row. Watching a James Bond Film and nearly always, The Great Escape!

Dege

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Meet the Craftsmen

Floris, the world’s oldest family run perfumers, have created scents for Oscar Wilde, Eva Perón, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe and every monarch since George IV. Next in our 'Meet the Craftsmen' series we speak with Edward Bodenham, 9th generation of the Floris family and company director, to find out more about his favourite Christmas moments. 

Edward Bodenham

About Floris

Since 1730 my family business has been creating individual British fragrances for men, women and the home, which are sold in our original shop at 89 Jermyn Street in the heart of Mayfair and St James’s. The premises used to serve as the family home back in the earlier days of Floris and is still very much the heart of the company. We hold all our original formula books dating back to the 1700s, which have been carefully handed down over generations and are a constant source of knowledge and inspiration. We also experiment with new raw materials and techniques to create exciting scents for the next generation of Floris customers.

What are your Christmas highlights in Mayfair?
We are lucky to be located opposite St James’s church in Piccadilly and it's wonderful to listen to the carol singers who gather in the lead-up to Christmas. Mayfair becomes quite magical at this time of year and you can’t help but to get into the festive spirit, especially on an clear cold evening when all the lights are on show. The market in St James’s churchyard is a great source of stocking fillers and unusual Christmas gifts.

What you make sure you do every year?
I always make sure that I have a look at the Fortnum & Mason Christmas windows as they are always beautiful and so creative. I like to stroll along Jermyn Street and Bond Street in the evening to soak-up the festive atmosphere and then look at the lights in St. Christopher’s Place before a meal with friends. As a family we visit the West End to see a show at the theatre. 


What are your family Christmas traditions?
I do love Christmas and we tend to get festive early with the Christmas tree going up at the beginning of December. There’s nothing like all the family dressing the tree together with Phil Spector’s Christmas album on in the background, a glass of good cheer, and of course one of our Cinnamon & Tangerine scented candles to set the mood. We always try and see a carol service on Christmas Eve and then the children are allowed to open one present before they go to bed. 

Is there anything you like to do closer to home?
At home we gather on our local village green to see the lights turned on before singing Christmas carols with the rest of the village and to have a festive ale or two in our local family pub. It’s always a wonderful atmosphere and lovely to see everyone getting into the festive spirit. My daughter really enjoys baking so we tend to make a few batches of mince pies and share them with our neighbours over a drink and a chat. Chestnuts are always a big part of Christmas at home and make sure we are well stocked-up so we can enjoy them in front of a roaring fire.

Floris

To find out more about Floris, click here

 

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Meet the Craftsmen

Mayfair's rich history of custom-goods has evolved to create a ‘Best of British’ showcase, which blends tradition with contemporary talent. Some of the world's oldest family run business still create from their original unassuming workshops while new craftsmen use the same traditions, but with updated twists.

As part of our ongoing Made in Mayfair experiences, we have asked local artisans (old & new) for their favourite Christmas traditions as well as what to do, see and buy in the area.

Natalie Melton from The New Craftsmen starts this December series... 

Natalie Melton

The New Craftsmen works with a selection of Britain’s finest craft makers to showcase the materials, skills and craft products of the British Isles. Natalie, who is one of the founding partners, created the Mayfair organization in 2012. They currently represent a network of over 75 makers working in textiles, silverware, furniture, ceramics, jewellery, glassware and beyond. The New Craftsmen showcase and sell a carefully selected range of products, limited editions and exclusive collaborations via their Mayfair shop & online.

Prior to The New Craftsmen, Natalie spent 5 years as Commercial Director of Arts & Business and managed Crafted, a mentoring scheme pairing skilled craftsmen with leaders from the luxury sector.

Natalie says " We present objects that are deeply connected to culture and place. Our distinct position is to forge collaborations with designers and makers to give a contemporary take on specific skills and materials. From this we offer our customers, interior designers, and architects a range of services that enable them to customise, commission and collaborate with us on developing bespoke pieces".


Christmas gifts suggestions
We’re bursting at the seams with beautiful, hand-crafted Christmas gifts. Some new favourites include potter Iva Polachova’s glazed stoneware candlesticks, festive coloured hand-blown glass from Michael Ruh, exceptional quality Irish linen from 31 Chapel Lane, Scottish cashmere from ESK, & finely carved chopping boards by Tim Plunkett which are as much a work of art as functional pieces of beauty. For unique stocking fillers look to Stephanie Tudor’s ‘Opposite Attract’ Coasters which combine an innovative use of jesmonite with glass, stones & resins – or for something playful, our beech & elm slingshots by Geoffrey Fisher Design are great fun & useful for launching ‘seedbombs’ or fish bait.

Where is the best place to buy British craft outside of London?
2 great days out to learn about and be inspired by the traditions of British arts and crafts would be Kettles Yard in Cambridge and Turner Contemporary in Margate. Both can easily be done in a day and offer a fascinating perspective some of our greatest artists. Kettles Yard is the home of a former curator of the Tate, through which he amassed an extraordinary collection of work from some of our leading artists and set it alongside beautiful craft, objects and personal memorabilia. Turner Contemporary is a beautiful space designed by David Chipperfield that plays host to a exceptionally well curated series of exhibitions. Jermey Deller's English Magic is on until March.; an exploration of mysterious acts and ‘magical’ transformations in British society - its people, myths and folklore as well as its broad cultural, socio-political and economic history. both offer a lovely selection of gifts, prints and books to purchase.

Any craftsmen to watch?
Aimee Betts stands out for her truly innovative use of traditional braiding & knotting techniques, which reference the great maritime knotting & rope-making skills found in Britain. She marries design, colour and texture, and technical adaptivity with brilliance, & we're incredibly excited about the different applications of her craft – for instance we have just launched her ‘Colour Wheel’ mirrors - a collaboration with John Jones picture framers. For Xmas we also have a small but perfectly formed collection of Aimee's braided necklaces and bracelets - perfect for stowing away in a suitcase.

It is also worth investing in Eleanor Lakelin’s modern & contemporary carved wooden vessels, which she sandblasts, bleaches & scorches to conjure up a world of fossilized landscapes or gnarled fruit-wood. We particularly love her new & limited edition vessels carved from 7000 year old bog oak – sourced from one of a group of ancient oak trees discovered by a potato farmer deep ploughing in the Cambridgeshire fens.

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Parents and children can enjoy an exclusive hands-on class directly with Aimee Betts, thanks to the new Crafty Kids Insider Experience. To find out more visit: http://parklane.intercontinental.com/craftykids.html

 

 

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Elizabeth Street

Set in the heart of Belgravia, just a short walk from InterContinental London Park Lane, is historic Elizabeth Street. With a trading history that dates back to the 1860’s, the area is now a unique combination of high fashion boutiques, niche luxury brands and speciality foods – a great meeting place for locals and visitors alike, with the potential for a celebrity sighting or two. 

Elizabeth Street, which runs from Buckingham Palace Road to Eaton Square, underwent an extensive regeneration at the end of 2010, after several months of construction work to improve accessibility for pedestrians and traffic. The unveiling and relaunch was officially opened by His Grace, the Duke of Westminster. The wide tree-lined Victorian street is home to many great
independent retailers, from international fashion designers Jenny Packham, Cleo B and Allegra Hicks, to Perfumery Les Senteurs, luxury bakery Peggy Porschen and cigar house Tomtom Cigars. All perfect for finding something a little bit different to take home.

CLEO B
Named as the ‘shoe brand to watch’ by British Vogue, The Financial Times and Grazia, Cleo B is a luxury British footwear brand
creating shoes that embody a unique fusion of girly charm with quirky sculptural shapes and eye catching details.
147 Ebury Street, London, SW1W 9QN
020 7824 8666
www.cleob.com

Allegra Hicks
International luxury lifestyle brand Allegra Hicks is the place to find sophisticated eclecticism, from a silk jersey jumpsuit in orchid pink to a dainty aqua blue print silk scarf, the Allegra Hicks signature style ticks all the boxes.
42 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9NZ
020 7730 3275
www.allegrahicks.com

Tomtom Cigars
Tomtom Cigars has become one of London’s leading cigar merchants. In a relaxing atmosphere that welcomes anyone who wants to indulge a taste for real tobacco you will find a wide range of cigars – from limited edition Havanas, (including Cohiba), to aged Cuban cigars. Also in stock are all kinds of accessories and gift ideas from humidors and cigar cutters to Dupont lighters and hampers.
63 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9PP
020 7730 1790
www.tomtom.co.uk

For more recommendations, please speak to our Concierge team

Tom Tom

 

 

 

 

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Umbrella Shop London

Britain has a long-term love affair with the trusty umbrella, owing both to the unpredictability of our weather and our fixation for talking about it. Whether it’s April showers, festival season or our so-called ‘Indian summer’, you should never leave home without one. These days, it’s possible to get a weather report immediately from your handheld device or laptop relating to your exact location. But in days gone by, the Brits have had to rely on a mixture of physics and superstition to judge the need for an umbrella.

Whether it’s red sky in the morning, a seagull sitting on the sand or cows with tails to the east, the chance of the onset of rain is genuinely high, according to meteorology. However, there is little to be said for it being ‘clear by eleven if it rains before seven’ and certainly no meteorological truth behind ‘cats and dogs eating grass before rain’. Perhaps the most fabled day in the British calendar for weather forecasting is St. Swithin’s Day (15th July) on which day “…if thou dost rain, For forty days it will remain, … if thou be fair, For forty days ‘twill rain nae mare.” We’ll let you be the judge of that one! Our advice is to take a brolly with you whatever the forecast – consider it a fashion accessory as much as a way of protecting you from the elements!

Get ready to face London’s unpredictable weather and check out our selection of the very best umbrellas that London can offer:


James Smith & Sons Umbrella Shop – the oldest umbrella shop in London. 
53 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1BL

Billionaire Couture’s Umbrella– the world’s most expensive umbrella ($50,000).
9 Sloane Street, London, SW1X 9LE

Swaine Adeney Brigg – for the classic, elegant umbrella.
54 St James’s Street, London, SW1A 1JT

Fox Umbrellas – the first nylon umbrella producer.
240a Wickham Road, Shirley, Croydon, Surrey CR0 8BJ

Squid London – the most creative, these umbrellas change colour when it rains!
squidlondon.com

 

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Shelter in a Storm

This week, the team at No. 1 Park Lane have been running, biking, walking and baking their way to raise money for IHG®'s Shelter in a Storm's fundraising initiative, Race Around the World.

IHG Race Around the World is about raising funds and awareness for the work that Shelter in a Storm, our global disaster relief programme, does. So whether it's financial help, vital supplies or somewhere warm and safe to stay we can support our colleagues, guests and the local community when they most need it. Click here to see our pledges. 

This week, the team have participated in a range of events including:
- A morning 'Wheelie' bike ride with Director of Engineering, Paul Carr
- Keep Fit Bike Challenge - whereby associates took part in a race to see who could cycle the furthest in 5 minutes
- Specially designed lunches in our Park Lane Cafe
- Inter-departmental walking competitions
- A morning jog around Hyde Park with HR Manager, Anja Henschel
- Cricket match in the park
- Football match in the park
- Sales & Marketing charity bake sale

Congratulations to all the team for their hard work!

Bake Sale     20140923 080752

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 Londons Bees

International concern sparked a grass roots urban beekeeping community that spread from city-to-city gathering pace, support and momentum as it went. Paris, Toronto, San Francisco and New York have all placed it high on their environmental agendas and in London, Mayor Boris Johnson has launched a Capital Bee campaign to encourage bee-friendly behaviour and community beekeeping throughout the city. Bees are dependent on flowering plants for resources and flowering plants often depend upon bees for pollination. Being surrounded by the Royal Parks, InterContinental London Park Lane and the Natural Beekeeping Trust have joined forces to install our very own hives on the roof of the hotel. 

Under the tutelage of the Trust, the hotel’s ‘Bee Guardians’ care for colonies housed in Golden Hives on the hotel roof; in exchange, the Natural Beekeeping Trust will receive support from the hotel to develop a Bee Garden at its base in Sussex and to launch a bursary programme. According to Miranda Hansen Lise, a trustee at Natural Beekeeping, practices such as leaving much of the bees’ honey for them to eat during the winter rather than harvesting it all are crucial to the fight against the health concerns facing bees globally. “We encourage the practice of sustainable guardianship, allowing bees to express their instincts fully through building their own comb, swarming and overwintering on their own honey, (rather than refined white sugar syrup)”. As Professor Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate and Patron of the Natural Beekeeping Trust,  counsels in her poem Virgil’s Bees, “bees are the batteries of orchards, gardens, guard them”. To find out more on the Natural Beekeeping Trust, visit www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.org

THE BUZZ AROUND THE GLOBE

In addition to many other environmentally responsible initiatives, a number of InterContinental properties have started on-site apiaries. 

InterContinental Hotels in North America

InterContinental Boston’s ‘Miel Brasserie’ was one of the first to install a rooftop apiary and appropriately so. Miel means ‘honey’ in French, and many of its wonderful culinary concepts feature organically harvested honey taken right from the hotel’s own hive.

InterContinental New York Barclay has had four colonies of honeybees on the hotel’s 15th floor rooftop garden since June 2010. The ‘Barclay Bees’, as they are affectionately known, play an important role in the pollination of the hotel garden, flying between its rooftop and treetops as far away as Central Park.

In May 2012, InterContinental New York Times Square sent midtown Manhattan buzzing with the installation of its first rooftop beehive. Located on the hotel’s green rooftop, the hive is expected to produce 20-30 pounds of honey in 2013. 

InterContinental Berlin 

Berlin‘s beekeeping boom recently came to public attention when one of the city’s leading hotels, the InterContinental Berlin, installed beehives on their roof. Many other large buildings, like the Berlin legislature’s offices, have also have become home to bee colonies. A pro-bee initiative, ‘Berlin Buzz’, was recently awarded a federal grant to equip prominent buildings in Berlin with beehives.

The Buzz on Park Lane

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The History of Mayfair

A stroll along any of Mayfair’s streets will usually involve gazing through windows adorned with displays of the finest tailoring, jewellery, yachts and real estate that money can buy. It’s been like this for over 200 years. However, the area we now refer to as Mayfair has not always been quite so glamorous, with achequered past being the cause for concerted effort to gentrify the area. 

Back in the 1680s, James II launched a fifteen day fair mainly for the purpose of cattle trading. This would take place each May and would engulf Brookfield Market, the myriad streets and piazzas we now call Shepherd Market. As a result, the district became known as Mayfair. The fair quickly grew in popularity and size with both the rich and poor of London convening to trade and party throughout the fortnight. 

Simultaneously, London was in the grips of the so-called “Gin Craze” – an epidemic of extreme drunkenness, caused by the ready availability and low cost of gin which reportedly saw almost two pints of gin being consumed per week by every single Londoner! 

Over the years, the May Fair became rife with overexuberance and disorder. It was finally banned in 1764 and local architect Edward Shepherd was tasked with redeveloping the district with grand houses in the place of the iniquitous taverns. The centrepiece was a two-storey market topped with a theatre which attracted a much higher class of visitor, with which Shepherd Market is associated today. 

Very quickly, Mayfair became the most fashionable of addresses, its appeal being further elevated in the 19th and 20th centuries, with regular high society references in the works of Oscar Wilde, P. G. Wodehouse, Virginia Woolf and Noel Coward.

Such history on our doorstep is from where we have taken inspiration for our particular celebration of gin, the spirit of choice at The Arch Bar, here at InterContinental London Park Lane. Historical anecdotes compliment descriptions of each of our signature cocktails and our bar team, led by the ever-enthusiastic Stefano Filistad, has a million unprintable stories to tell from this foregone era. And if you want to be thrown back to a time that celebrates Mayfair and an age gone by, come along to one of our regular Gin & Jazz evenings, (ginandjazz.com), to experience what has been drawing those that enjoy the finer things in life to our doorstep for many centuries.

To celebrate the 3rd birthday of Gin & Jazz, we are hosting an exclusive evening on 3rd October. Find out more about  about our Gin & Jazz Dinner Offers.

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A Memory Made - Bomber Command

On Thursday 28th June 2012 a memorial was unveiled in our neighbouring Green Park to honour the 55,573 men of Bomber Command who lost their lives in World War II. This Sunday will mark two years since the grand unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial by Her Majesty The Queen. Insider speaks to Colin McGregor, former RAF Tornado pilot, and Arthur Spencer, one of the original Bomber Command, to find out what the memorial means to them.

Colin McGregor is a former RAF Tornado pilot who learnt to fly the Lancaster World War Two Bomber as part of the BBC1 programme ‘Bomber Boys’ which he made with actor and brother, Ewan. “The veterans of Bomber Command, many now in their nineties, waited 67 years for a fitting memorial to be built in London to their lost colleagues, the airmen from countries round the globe who gave their lives in Bomber Command during World War Two. Of all the volunteer aircrew who joined Bomber Command between 1939-1945 nearly half lost their lives, and only one in four completed their tours of duty. Yet, the Bomber Boys never received the recognition they deserved, as the politicians of the time sought to distance themselves from the strategic bombing campaign of the War. After a mammoth fundraising effort, mainly by Bomber Command veterans themselves, a Memorial to Bomber Command was built in the North West corner of Green Park. “As a former RAF pilot, I know that the public understands the importance of supporting the men and women who risk their lives in the Armed Forces, regardless of the politics. This Memorial is a fine physical example of that important principle. Having met many of the veterans, I also know how important this memorial is to them. Despite overwhelming odds, Bomber Command crews continued to carry out the orders of their political and military leaders with unparalleled dedication and bravery. The surviving veterans lost many friends and compatriots during the campaign and they have worked tirelessly to get them recognised”.

Bomber Command Memorial

Arthur Spencer, a navigator in 97 Squadron during 1942/3 explains about his time in the Forces and the significance of the memorial opening. 

"I was born in Wiltshire in 1921 but my parents moved to Southampton in my infancy where I enjoyed a happy upbringing. I was lucky enough to enjoy school and stayed on in the Sixth Form, but during my first year came the Munich crisis – it was pretty clear that war was coming sooner or later. 

“After the school year came to an end, I applied to join the RAF as aircrew, but wasn’t called until November just before the big night raids on Southampton began. “After a year training in Florida, and more training in England, I was posted to 97 Squadron, one of the first in Bomber Command to be equipped with Lancasters. Our first real operation over Germany involved carrying a 4,000lb. bomb and over 1,000 small incendiary bombs to the Ruhr. I was absolutely horrified to be greeted by searchlights and flak all over the sky, and I just couldn’t comprehend how an aircraft could survive in such a maelstrom of fire. Eventually, I even got used to it and I went on to fly in 50 operations, more than half of them in Pathfinder Force. To this day getting caught in search lights remains the most frightening memory from my time in the Air Force. 

“Later, in Transport Command and BOAC, I travelled the world and I made some incredible friends, one of whom, a navigator that I trained with in Florida in 1941, recently spoke at my 90th birthday. I also lost some wonderful friends including three of my crew who were killed over Berlin just two months after I left. Their names are on the Runnymede Memorial for those airmen with no known grave. My pilot was an eighteen year old Canadian; it was his 57th operation. 

“The opening of the RAF Bomber Command is an opportunity to remember those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy freedom. The generosity of the people who have donated means that those men have not been forgotten”. 

Arthur Spencer is now a retired comprehensive school headmaster, who lives with his wife Eva in Weston-super-Mare. They have two daughters,five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. 

The Bomber Command Memorial was dedicated and unveiled on June 28th 2012 at a private ceremony attended by many relatives of the veterans of Bomber Command, and both Colin and Arthur were present at the event. 

InterContinental London Park Lane hosted a special Afternoon Tea service for the attendees of the event. Click here to see more photos from the day. 

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Aziza

Congratulations to Aziza Igamova from the Wellington Lounge who was recently awarded 'Tea Champion' status and is now officially our first Tea Expert here at the hotel. The course was created by our friends at London tea emporium Tea Palace, and saw Aziza embark on an intense one-on-one Tea Specialist course exclusively designed for her which explores all aspects of tea including countries of origin, production methods and, most importantly taste profiles. 

In keeping with the emphasis that we place on sourcing individual ingredients, even displaying our own botanical apothecary at The Arch Bar, Tea Palace explored the botanical features of the tea plant and the way in which it is cultivated. Aziza can pass on her knowledge to both the rest of the Team and guests alike, understanding how altitude, climate and manufacturing processes each contribute to subtle differences in flavour and define different types of tea from black and green through to lesser known teas such as Oolongs and Pu-erhs.

Tea’s growing popularity as a health drink is transforming the tea industry today, not just the nation’s favourite drink, but the second most popular drink globally after water. As we remember that when tea was first welcomed to British soil, it was enjoyed by those in royal and aristocratic circles – what could be more appropriate than sitting in the Wellington Lounge, located on the site of Queen Elizabeth II’s former childhood home? By tracing the development of the different traditions of afternoon tea, Aziza was able to form a deeper understanding of how tea is enjoyed today not just in the UK but in each tea drinking country.

All this while continually tasting the teas from the extensive Wellington Lounge Afternoon Tea menu. This includes two exclusive Bespoke Blends (Number One Park Lane and The Wellington Blend) developed by Tea Palace together with the hotel team to complement our Afternoon Tea menus. Comparing and contrasting distinctive notes and aromas, Tea Palace’s in-house tea specialist guided Aziza through the tasting, enabling her to identify each taste profile and determine the quality of the tea.

As our resident Tea Expert, Aziza has an excellent understanding of the world of tea and is able to advise guests on each tea enabling them to make a well-informed choice. Aziza says "I am extremely proud to be InterContinental London Park Lane's first ever Tea Expert, and to wear my specially designed teapot badge! The course was hugely informative and I thoroughly enjoyed delving deeper into the world of tea to better advise my guests and colleagues alike. It's vital that I inform guests, much in the way a sommelier would, about which teas are best suited to their menu choices. I look forward to putting my knowledge to the test!".

For more information on Tea Palace, visit teapalace.co.uk. Be sure to visit Aziza in the Wellington Lounge soon! 

Tea Palace Champion

 

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 Brazilian Carnival - A Carnival of Flavours

It’s an exciting time in Brazil. We will all be dancing to a samba beat as the country prepares to host two of the world’s greatest sporting events. The 2016 Olympics will be the first time that the Games has ever been held in South America, and the 2014 World Cup, which starts today, will be the first time that the tournament has come to the continent since Argentina in 1978.

With such exciting times ahead for this passionate and patriotic nation, Insider takes a look into what visitors to the country can expect from its diverse cuisine. With over 500 years of history, Brazilian cuisine is the result of a great mixture of traditions and ingredients – the product of a natural progression from an indigenous community that experienced the arrival of diverse cultures over the centuries. The continental country is home to a great variety of ingredients and each region has its specialities, due to the differences in climate, type of soil, vegetation and the history of the area’s colonisation.

Brazil

AMAZON REGION
Much of this region’s cuisine is influenced by its indigenous legacy. The shrub Cassava is a highly used ingredient in Brazilian
cooking and is originally from the Amazon. 

Typical dishes: Tacacá (hot broth served with tucupi, dry shrimp, jambú and tapioca starch); Maniçoba (the feijoada from Pará – cassava leafs cooked for seven days and served with pork meat) and Pirarucu de casaca (fish with flour).

NORTHEAST REGION
From the shores of Pernambuco to Bahia, African presence is stronger due to the legacy of slavery from the sugar cane plantations. On the northeast hinterlands, the climate favours the consumption of meat, especially combined with root vegetables.

Typical dishes:
Acarajé (deep fried black-eyed peas); Baião de Dois (rice and beans, often served with dried meat) and Canjican (corn porridge).

PANTANAL (Wetlands)
The tropical Pantanal wetlands in Mato Grosso is the largest continuous flood plain on the planet. From these formations, a selection of ingredients came to the table of the people from the wetlands, generating very specific recipes in the region.

Typical dishes:
Caribéu (jerked beef and cassava stew); fried Chipa (fried cured cheese and tapioca flour dumpling); Furrundu (green papaya sweet and brown sugar) and roasted Pacu (fish).

SOUTHEAST REGION
Until the 19th Century, Southeastern cuisine was influenced by its Portuguese, African and indigenous origins. Since then, the arrival of Italians, Japanese, Lebanese, Syrians and Spanish, particularly in São Paulo, has transformed the region into a great culinary melting pot with many innovative and unique dishes. 

Typical dishes:
Feijoada (stew); Couscous Paulista (steamed cake made from corn flour, vegetables, spices, chicken, or fish); Shrimp Bobó, Moqueca Capixaba from Espírito Santo State (seafood and fish stew) and Brigadeiro (chocolate truffles).

SOUTH REGION
The South boasts an incredible ethnic mix resulting in a cuisine completely different from the rest of the country. Italian and German dishes complement the omnipresent Portuguese and Spanish influence.

Typical dishes:
Capelete soup (tortellini soup); Sago with wine (Tapioca/starch pearls); Barreado (meat stew with banana) and Arroz Carreteiro (Cart Rider’s Rice)

BRAZILIAN FOOD IN LONDON
Brazilian cuisine has become increasingly popular in London. There is a growing interest, not only the result of a large Brazilian community in the capital, but also by the growing British passion for discovering this fresh and exciting culinary tradition. Some of the most authentic experiences can be found behind the most unassuming doors, such as Rodizio Britannia on the Wandsworth Road, Stockwell or Barraco Cafe in Kilburn. There is also a growing presence of Japanese-Brazilian fusion, the product of more than 1.4 million Brazilians of Japanese decent in Brazil, which in London alone has brought up-scale dining at the likes of Sushinho on the King’s Road and SUSHISAMBA at the top of the Heron Tower in Bishopsgate.

For more recommendations, please speak to a member of the Concierge team. 

 

 

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Craftsmen - Made in Mayfair

Following on from our first Made in Mayfair post, another organisation championing creativity in the heart of Mayfair is The New Craftsmen, a company established in 2012 to represent and sell the work of Britain’s finest craftmakers. Natalie Melton is the co-founder of The New Craftsmen. In this post, she celebrates time-honoured British craftsmanship and explains why Mayfair is
a fitting place in which to showcase it.

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To date we have worked with some 70 craftmakers from the length and breadth of the British Isles with a wide variety of skills and knowledge. From the far north we have worked with a traditional Orkney chair maker, Kevin Gauld, and partnered him with a rising star of the design world, Gareth Neal, to reimagine an Orkney chair and present a contemporary take on this classic piece of furniture. We have fourth generation scissor makers from Sheffield, jewellers from Hatton Garden, wood-fired potters in Dorset and award-winning silversmiths from Devon…there is a wealth of talent across the British Isles and it is very much our job to go out and find people who deserve to have a spotlight shone on their amazing work.

Mayfair is recognised across the world as the heart and home of luxury – and the roots and origins of luxury are based in craftsmanship. It was the natural home for an enterprise that wants to give a platform to true craftsmanship in all its shapes and forms. Mayfair is an exciting place to be at the moment – there are so many emerging British brands taking up residence here and forging an international reputation – it’s an inspiring place to be and to be able to establish our own base here is enormously exciting.

Mayfair is a shopper’s paradise – beautiful streets and heavenly windows to entice you into the treasures in store. For me, Mount Street has a great mix of the traditional and the contemporary. The butcher Allens of Mayfair and Sauter cigars are both worth a isit for heir rich history. Hedonism Wines is an oenophiles paradise; the interior is extraordinary, the staff fantastically knowledgeable. Solange Azagury Partridge has opened her atelier on Carlos Place, coincidentally in the very same building where we launched with a pop-up in December 2012. I love the fact that you can see the workshop in the basement. Connection

to the making process is very visible and that’s an important element of what we represent. They have worked wonders with the building – a gorgeous riot of colour and decadence that perfectly complements her exquisite jewels. I can’t wait for Roksanda Illincic to open on Mount Street this year. The technical skills of her designs, along with her divine use of colour makes her a stand out as a designer in my opinion. 

What makes Mayfair a truly unique place for me is that it is at the heart of the city, but operates at its own pace – less hectic, more considered. As shopping increasingly becomes about experience, an afternoon wandering through the streets and shops of Mayfair is pretty hard to beat – stunning architecture, wide open streets, charming doormen, grand squares and public art. But it continues to evolve, with old spaces being put to use in new ways, and quiet streets taking on new life. Our new home is up in north Mayfair, and this is an area that is undergoing significant transformation – it will be exciting to see who will be joining us in as-yet-undiscovered shops and spaces. 

The New Craftsmen will open their new shop and showroom at 34 North Row this month. For more information visit thenewcraftsmen.com

Tagged in: British Craft Mayfair
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SUNDARI - Spa InterContinental

Spa InterContinental is thrilled to welcome some California vitality to No. 1 Park Lane with the inclusion of a new Ayurveda-inspired skincare line and treatment menu from luxury brand SUNDÃRI. Created by supermodel Christy Turlington and two-likeminded female partners, Ayla Hussain and Cavan Mahony, SUNDÃRI promotes health and beauty by balancing mind, body and spirit.

Lisa Capozio - SUNDARI

Lisa Capozio is Head of Development for SUNDÃRI. Lisa helps us to understand Ayurveda and how it is woven into their products and treatments. Ayurveda, acknowledged as the oldest medical science in India, is a 5,000 year old science of life advocating a methodology that seeks to establish one’s holistic balance. Ayurveda teaches that the balancing of mind, body and spirit will ultimately lead to peace, harmony and lasting beauty. In basic terms Ayurveda is the balance of three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha and when they are in sync this equals health and when unbalanced this equals disease. We all possess a unique combination of these doshas, which define our temperament and characteristics. Each of us has a natural combination of these three elements and the aim is to seek this balance.

Christy and her partners wanted to create a line of products and treatments that combined these principles with modern technology and the purest botanicals that would help nurture truly healthy skin by encouraging a sense of well-being. Their legacy is SUNDÃRI, which looks at the whole picture when preparing a treatment or regimen, which includes the individual constitution, daily habits, food habits, exercise and sleep. Unlike traditional science, Ayurveda has a holistic vision that considers the body, mind and soul. Stress is both external and internal and many disorders are known to ensue from stress-induced disharmony. This is not just a philosophy; research has shown that stress is linked directly to accelerated ageing with collagen and elastin protein breakdown, skin wrinkling, acne and hair loss. Each SUNDÃRI session bgins with an Ayurvedic consultation during which the therapist will prescribe your personalised treatment plan. Looking at the heat of the room, the type of therapeutic grade oils used and pressure of touch, we can achieve optimum results. Our Abhyanga massage is a rhythmic, stress-reducing massage which combines traditional Ayurvedic movements with the drizzling of warmed oil to rejuvenate and restore the flow of ‘Prana’; our body’s vital energy. Profound relaxation is induced through the clearing of stagnant energy and the oxygenation of cells. The Andhana massage is a muscle melting form of Abhyanga which softens and heals muscles through deep pressure and stretches. Tissues are warmed and renewed through increased circulation from Katafray whilst soreness is relieved with Arnica. Even the stiffest of muscles are restored and renewed.

Our SUNDÃRI Head Massage diminishes stress and tension in the scalp, neck and shoulders with a melting massage adapted from the ancient Indian Head Massage. Hair is nourished with warming and soothing Neem and Coconut. Peppermint and Eucalyptus is used to awaken the mind and relieve pressure. Formulated with organic ingredients and therapeuticgrade essential oils, SUNDÃRI products are free of synthetic dyes and fragrance, and they are not tested on animals. Key ingredients range from such well-known plants as camomile, aloe vera and lavender to more exotic ingredients from India. We offer four key collections that feature firming, which uses ingredients such as Gotu Kola to stimulate collagen production. Supplifying uses a proprietary complex with Omega-3 to help ultra-hydration for mature skin, healing with the incredibly versatile plant Neem. Finally, to nurture we use essential oil and botanicals that maintain healthy skin. SUNDÃRI facials incorporate a customised skincare programme inclusive of a deep exfoliation and an intensive treatment mask. Our signature MarMassage (energy point stimulation) continues to bring balance to both the mind and skin.

For more information on SUNDÃRI and the new treatments available at Spa InterContinental now, please visit spaintercontinentallondon.com

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 English Wines - InterContinental London Park Lane

With more than 430 vineyards producing around 3 million bottles of wine, England is quickly being recognised as a serious wine producer poised for the world stage. Julia Trustman Eve, Managing Director of the English Wine Producers, explains the current boom and the future of the British grape.

Romans are credited with introducing the vine to England and the Normans advanced this by planting and connecting vineyards with manorial holdings and monasteries. Henry VIII destroyed many of these structures and with that went the vineyards. 

Wine production lay mostly dormant until the mid-20th Century when the first commercial vineyard was planted in Hampshire in 1952. In the late 1980s investment in the production of sparkling wine began when an American couple, Stuart and Sandy Moss, planted the first Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier varieties on their estate in Sussex. 

Planting these three grapes, which are the main varieties grown in Champagne, grew quickly in the early 1990s. Today they account for 45% of all plantings with sparkling making up 65% of the wines produced. 

England is geographically close to the Champagne region – one of our Sussex producers calculates that as the crow flies his estate is just 88 miles away – and our sparkling wines have a strong similarity. They possess a lovely freshness, clean acidity and some people prefer the slightly softer fruitier notes. Our still white wines, which are made from the aromatic Bacchus grape, account for 25% of England’s wine production. They are fresh, crisp and relatively light in alcohol – lovely with seafood, salads, fish, white meats and as an apéritif. 

Over the last decade, English wines, (particularly sparkling), have done consistently well in competitions and blind tastings. Time and time again we have beaten tough competition from well-established wine regions. In this same period the British have become much more aware and supportive of local produce. The food and drink industry has grown exponentially in popularity with more people wanting to know what they are consuming, where it comes from and how it was grown. We are proud of what is being produced on our doorsteps and English wines have benefited dramatically. 

An important point when discussing ‘English wine’ is the use of the term itself. There is a distinct difference between English wine and British wine. English wine is produced from grapes grown in England and the wine is produced in wineries here too. British wine is a product made from imported grape concentrate – the only British component being the water that’s added to it – and it’s bottled over here. It’s not technically wine and is not very pleasant to drink. Unfortunately, it is an easy mistake to make – particularly when referring to English and Welsh wine collectively. 

The future is looking very promising for English wines. We have seen more plantings year-on-year and in the last seven years acreage has nearly doubled. While we won’t see the results of this for a number of years, (it takes seven years from planting to having a bottle ready to sell), we know that the next few years will be very exciting. I predict that we will see more export taking place with new labels and wines coming on the market. It has already started, but there are some very exciting prospects. I hope also that the trend for consuming English fizz will continue to grow and remain something we can all be really proud of.

Next time you are at No. 1 Park Lane, why not try some of these English wines, available at The Arch Bar.

Bacchus, Chapel Down, Kent England (White)
The Bacchus grape has been selected for its ability to ripen in cool climates, (perfect for the unpredictable nature of the English weather). The grape produces a refreshing, fruity and medium bodied white wine, great with fish, Thai dishes or with a summer salad.

Chapel Down English Rose (Rosé)
A blend of Pinot Noir that delivers a wine with great aromas of red fruits, red currants, strawberries and hawthorn. Great with barbecued meats or salads.

 

 

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Made in Mayfair Experience

Mayfair, which makes up an intricate network of 42 streets and lanes bordered by Park Lane, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly, is considered the hub of British craftsmanship.  A large portion of the Mayfair area was built during the mid-17th to 18th Centuries and was quickly established as a fashionable residential district. Its reputation attracted luxury dealers and early luxury merchants, some of which are still trading today. Just a stone’s throw from many of the big brand stores, Mayfair offers some of London’s oldest and most cherished artisan names as well as new designers. 

Insider speaks to Richard Dickinson, Chief Executive of The New West End and London Luxury Quarter, who manage this esteemed estate, about what makes Mayfair the hub of bespoke luxury goods and how the area has successfully evolved to marry the timehonoured and traditional with the very best in contemporary life.

INSIDER: What is the London Luxury Quarter? 
RICHARD: The London Luxury Quarter (LLQ) was founded in 2004 to celebrate the heritage products, specialist galleries, exceptional dining, luxury hotels and international goods that make up the 42 streets of Mayfair and St. James. The high-value establishments, which are focussed in a very concentrated area, create a ‘Best of British’ exhibit that (combined) contribute more

than £2 billion to the UK economy each year. From the main shopping thoroughfares of Bond Street, to the lesser-known shopping streets of fashionable Mount Street, Dover Street, Court Street and Pollen Street, Mayfair and St. James offer exceptional shopping, art, food and culture in beautiful and elegant surroundings. This is a very unique proposition for international visitors and our own domestic market. Historically, we (the English) are not very good at shouting about what makes London great. While this is part of our charm, we also need to celebrate all the characteristics that really make the city so special.

INSIDER: What do you think makes Mayfair such a haven for design and luxury?
RICHARD: Bond Street has more than 300 years history of high-end retailing and today more than 1,000 stores line the street of Mayfair and St. James. Visitors come to this area looking for a piece of history and heritage craftsmanship. For example, Savile Row boasts a level of tailoring that is not available anywhere else in the world, while Jermyn Street is known as the birthplace of custom-made shoes and Mount Street, home to some of Britain’s most exclusive designers and international fashion names. Foster & Son, noted for creating shoes for Clark Gable and Paul Newman, is the oldest surviving bespoke shoemaker and Floris, founded in 1730 is the sole perfumer to The Queen. They have created hand-blended scents for Oscar Wilde, Eva Perón, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe and every British monarch since George IV. These stories are key to what makes this area so unique.

On the contemporary front many of our great British brands have stores here including Mulberry, Alexander McQueen, Nicholas Kirkwood and Alice Temperley. Creativity abound, Dover Street Market is filled with small designer gems. The influx of very wealthy people has increased the area’s cache and attracted more of the world’s finest international jewellers lining our streets. However, it is not just shopping. Outside of the iconic Christie’s and Sotheby’s we have specialist art galleries in abundance with recent openings including PACE.

INSIDER: What sort of Insider shopping experiences are available in Mayfair?
RICHARD: From behind-thescenes tours through company archives to face-to-face meetings with designers, in this market retailers will go a long way to provide a peerless experience. Impeccable service goes beyond the product and gives clients an experience and memory that will remain. The Insider experiences are service standards which were developed to showcase the bespoke elements awaiting guests in London. 

Find out more about about our exclusive ‘Made In Mayfair’ Insider Experience.

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