Listen to this article
Did I recently see you at a crowded restaurant? Do you prefer the hurly-burly of a celebrity-infested venue or the calm world of silver service with a head waiter properly attired?
I was at the recent opening of the Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone, London, which, I predict, will be a paradise for the networkers and celebrity seekers inside, and a bloody carcass for the vultures of paparazzi outside. Those of us who carry little or no commercial value for the glossy press will have to run the gauntlet of the paps’ contempt. So there will indeed be quite a bit of hurly-burly, which Mrs Patrick Campbell once associated with a chaise as opposed to “the deep, deep peace of the double bed”.
Despite this, I like the new place not only because of its food and service but also its LA charm, finally brought across the continent and ocean by André Balazs who understands the fragrant allure of Hollywood. And the place has deep, deep carpet everywhere, which is so important for reducing the level of decibels, which annoys me no end at other crowded restaurants where one has to shout in conversation, ending up with aphonia. But one will have to suffer the eternal waving and kissing among the fashionable crowd, exchanging utterly inane remarks in order for others to see them rubbing friendly shoulders with some celebrity. Hence there will be many whom I might nickname “shampoo”, after the famous brand “Head & Shoulders”, as they are always looking over others’ heads and shoulders to spot someone else who might be a bigger catch.
Maybe I do, in general, prefer the quieter restaurant. I once went to Le Veau d’Or in New York, which opened in 1937. It was empty except for one other table. Its legendary founding owner Robert Treboux was there as usual and I said to him: “I last came here 10 years ago and your restaurant was empty. Tonight there is one other table. Do you mind if I ask how you have managed to survive?” He looked nonplussed and replied: “Mr Tang, anyone can run a full restaurant. It takes a genius to run an empty one!”
I write this to you from afar, being on the southwest coast of Western Australia, from the seaside city of Mandurah. I note with interest the bit about the subject of bars in homes. Perhaps the best and maybe even the most stylish way in which to both keep one’s liquors and serve them to guests would be in a beautiful art deco cocktail cabinet.
Art deco is one of those styles which is hard to mix and match unlike, say, the classical and the avant garde, or the gothic and art nouveau.
Accordingly, for a beautiful art deco cocktail cabinet to look right, it has to stand in a room filled only with art deco furniture, all Jeeves and Woosterish. So do you have that in your home tucked away in that obscure corner of Western Australia? Would your neighbours be able to appreciate your art deco elegance? I am surprised that you are serving martinis when surely cocktail glasses alone would be a little too delicate and effeminate for you Crocodile Dundees? I would expect men down under to siphon off only beer, or gallons of it. I, along with many readers I am sure, would defer to hear from you on all the subtle etiquette of libation in the middle of suburban Western Australia.
What are your views of the, I believe American, trend to have the bath (“tub”) situated within hotel bedrooms, especially suites, rather than in the bathroom?
Not being in possession of the gravitas of Winston Churchill, I doubt I could pull off having a business meeting in my hotel room with others fully clothed while I sat naked in the bath. More to the point, wouldn’t it be rather awkward if one had any sort of contours or marks on one’s body that one wished to hide from another sharing the room, especially a new boyfriend or girlfriend?
So the design is not at all practical and when I first encountered it in a suite at Soho House in New York, my immediate reaction was that the designer had run out of ideas and thought the only other possible permutation left was to plonk the bath in the middle of the room. If nothing else, this arrangement is clearly impractical as one needs to march across the room to get to the basin and loo, when one is trained for life to carry out the trinity of sanitary activities in the same space.
I would like readers to post comments and questions online at the end of articles rather than via email. That way we can have a debate of spontaneous and dynamic responses, an arena for opposing views.
Get alerts on House & Home when a new story is published