Thursday, January 27, 2011
And so to London for a bit of business, some light shopping (very light Iain, I promise although Liberty was a very dangerous five minute walk away) and a very chi chi place to rest my head in the Soho Hotel. Now I have stayed at some fantastic (and a few not so fantastic) hotels in my time, and this one is right up there with the very best.
More about that later...on arrival, BA got me in half an hour early, a joy on a flight that is supposed to land at 9.25pm. However, noticing that there was no driver with my name on the board, I hung around for five minutes then hopped on the tube. I was at Boston Manor when my mobile rang, it’s your driver at Terminal 5 Miss Hockney, where are you? Obviously BA is never early, let alone half an hour early on a flight as short as the Nice hop. The morale of the story is an early flight is not always to be celebrated if it means you end up on the tube instead of in the back of a nice comfy chauffeur-driven Mercedes. The upside was walking through Chinatown and seeing all the fantastic colurful lanterns festooned along Gerrard Street ready for Chinese New Year next week as my picture above shows.
Arriving at 11pm, I gave my name at reception to be told that someone had just checked into my room and had ordered room service! (I found out that this was my celebrity interviewee who shall remain nameless to spare his blushes and was totally mortified the next day when he realised.) At this point things then took a rather gorgeous upturn...my hastily reassigned room was the size of an apartment, with every luxury and mod con you can think of, a super kingsize bed, stunning furnishings and a presentation box of two Miller Harris Soho Hotel lip balms (that’s the girls’ presents sorted then.) There was even an aromatherapy spray to cover your pillow and ensure a deep, uninterrupted sleep. Carrie, the manager, really has everything covered.
The interview went swimmingly the next day, although Lembit Opik was loitering in the foyer looking rather furtive (maybe he had spotted me and was worried about that peculiar tabloid habit of phone hacking) and designer Jeff Banks (from my fave 80s TV treat The Clothes Show, remember?) was sitting at the table next to mine in the restaurant (what is it about these celebs who need to be in my orb?) On the way out, I bumped into my old editor at The Sun, Kelvin Mackenzie, and we had a lovely chat about the phone hacking scandal and life in France, which he has a particular soft spot for having once owned a house in Valbonne. Then my PR pal Lisa spotted me and grabbed me for a chat while she waited for a meeting with the head honchos at ITV1’s Law and Order. It was a veritable media village, like the one I used to inhabit, rather than the medieval village I now reside in.
The night continued in the same wonderful vein, with cocktails at the hotel bar, dinner at Quo Vadis a mere 50 steps across the road and then bizarrely, just as I was planning on being sensible for once and turning in for the night after a nightcap at the bar, I was whisked off to Bungalow 8 for rather too many glasses of Perrier-Jouet and some very interesting shots. Suffice it to say that the aforementioned early night went straight out of the window and the next day as I dropped my bags at the desk to wait for my car, feeling rather more fragile than usual (sadly the bags under my eyes had to remain with me) the lovely twinkly concierge Jamie couldn’t hide his smirk as he asked: ‘Good night last night? A few drinks?’ Oh the shame....
So if you are heading to London anytime soon and money is no object, or someone else is paying, do yourself a favour and book the Soho...you don’t even have to leave the lobby to have a good time. And the breakfast is to die for.
I am now watching Michel Roux’s In Service, based at the Pommery champagne house a few hundred miles from here, and wondering whether I can possibly swing a little press trip to the chateau for a tasting sometime....