Tag Archives: Claridge

BBC2…Lunch is Av-Ant Garde at Claridge’s!

18 Dec
Claridge's Hotel in Brook Street, London, Engl...

Claridge’s Hotel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should the Big Yellow Box be worried? Apparently Claridge’s offer long term storage for their customers, particularly if you spend a reasonable time at the hotel. Say maybe 30 days a year for last 10 years and insist on a suite that sets you back £3,500 a night.

Welcome to another edition of BBC Two’s fly on the wall Documentary – Inside Claridge’s. Although being Claridge’s it probably more aptly termed rare Tibetan turquoise tiger beetle on the wall rather than some common domestic fly.

We start off with a visit from Jose ‘Pepe’ Fanjul. A billionaire with interest in sugar companies across the world including Tate and Lyle. For Pepe Claridge’s is a home away from home. In between jaunts to Scotland for a bit of shooting and trips across the world he likes to come back to the familiar luxury of Claridge’s.

He is in and out so frequently that the hotel stores clothes, furniture and presumably pretty much anything else he wants stored to ensure every night stayed there is as stress free as possible. At £3,500 a night it is the very least they could do.

The big theme tonight was the Olympics. The episode was filmed over this year’s London summer Olympics and Claridge’s was heaving under the weight of delegations from over 30 countries  If you ever wondered where some of the billions that the Olympics cost went, a fair sum seemed to have been spent here. With Rooms at £5,000 a night you would need an Olympic sized budget to cope which Seb Coe obviously had.

We saw entourages from across the world checking in, a team of 16 from Malawi staying for 11 nights, team of 9 from Gabon for 8 nights, the Attorney General of New Zealand and many more. Prince Andrew also popped up, although it was unclear if he was there as part of the Olympic jamboree.

As a special celebration of the Olympics, Claridge’s had teamed up with what is supposedly the best restaurant in the World – Copenhagen based Noma  - for a two-week special event.

Noma’s specialty menu for the event included amongst other things foraged greens, Juniper oil and live ants all for the princely sum of £195 a sitting.

I often find when people have to explain or justify why a particular dish is great you do come away with the sense that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors under pinned by great marketing rather it being simply great food.

That was the sense I came away with watching all the to and fro’ing as they set our recreating the spartan Scandinavian feel of Noma in Claridge’s ballroom. Maybe I am just a food pleb with an agrarian palate but it seemed that everyone shown ‘enjoying’ the food for this event had to ‘like’ it irrespective of what their faces portrayed as they nibbled of a selection of live ants.

I did warm a bit to Noma head chef Rene Redzepi though when asked about Prince Andrew and his quizzical response was “Who’s he?”.

The Olympics clearly looked like a winner for Claridge’s but it came at a price as the hotel was invaded by vast numbers of what can only be described as the hoi polloi, congregating in the lobby in numbers and even going as far as resting their feet on footstools. You get the feel that Claridge’s could not wait for the hotel to return to its traditional luxurious gentility.

BBC2…How many people does it take to choose an Alarm Clock at Claridge’s?

10 Dec
English: Claridges Hotel This luxury 5-star ho...

Claridges Hotel  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BBC2 took us on a trip into one of the last bastions of British Gentility as it once would have been. The Claridge’s Hotel in London. To call Claridge’s well-appointed is to understate its poshness. It is like a shop with no price tags, a club with comfortable well-preserved Chesterfield chairs, a church with wedding banns from the 1700′s.

I often find with these things it is the scale, or sometimes the detail of what goes behind the scenes that is impressive. With Claridge’s I was impressed the longevity of service of the staff, the fact that the hotel had their own tailors making made to measure uniforms for staff, and the scale of their laundry operation. Not sexy but very impressive.

In times where so much is outsourced and contracted out, retaining full ownership of the what makes you unique may not be the most profitable way to run a business but it almost certainly ensures that you can maintain the quality you are renowned for, and maybe also allow you to get away with charging £6,900 per night for your most expensive room. A move that is not going to make you popular on TripAdvisor.

The eye watering charges notwithstanding, it does come across as a great hotel, an institution that has stood the test of time.

We saw a sample of the guests attracted by its opulence, The Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, the actress Joan Collins and an East End Bookie made good, old money, celebrity and a geezer with lots of cash. I suspect in the old days the cockney geezer may have had a somewhat harder time getting the welcome he gets now.

Like the Hotel itself the programme was gently reassuring. The Manager Thomas, with his clipped  German accent, exuded an aura of Teutonic efficiency but still showed a clear appreciation of the importance of tradition.

If I had the cash to blow, I think a few nights at Claridge’s would definitely be on my list.

And Oh the answer to the question is 4. That’s how many members of staff it takes to choose an Alarm clock at Claridge’s.