Travel

The Curtain Hotel & Members Club

From the outset, it commands attention; a behemoth of a complex in a street of otherwise uninspiring architecture. Upon entry, we are greeted by a sleek industrial aesthetic complete with exposed brickwork, steel girders and large floor to ceiling windows. Think emerald green upholstery, bare lightbulbs and staff with trousers rolled above their ankles. If we were to personify The Curtain, it would be Justin, the slick newcomer to town. The impeccably dressed entrepreneur at the hotel bar, who dons a pencil moustache and Macbook. Takes elongated sips of Talisker between conference calls to Sydney and Montreal. Perhaps you even know Justin? Perhaps you are a Justin? Either way, this…

Samujana – Koh Samui

After two nights spent crisscrossing the urban metropolis of Bangkok trying to catch up with old friends, I was rather glad to be arriving on the tropical island of Koh Samui.

Into the blue

Five percent. Only five percent of the ocean has been topographically imaged. This means that 65% of our planet, where you and I live, is unknown. We’ve mapped Mercury and have an incredibly detailed “Idiot’s Guide to the Moon”, complete with ramblers maps which show you how to trek around the international claims of the US and Soviet governments. But comparatively, we know very little of the abyssal plains and continental shelves. Now, this doesn’t mean I am advocating that you go and knock on your government’s door and demand they commit more money to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Whose budget is dwarfed by that of NASA…

The Academy Hotel, Bloomsbury

It’s easy to miss The Academy. Standing elegant yet inconspicuous on Gower Street, Bloomsbury, the only thing hinting that you’ve arrived at a hotel is a sign for The Alchemy Bar outside. Comprised of five Georgian townhouses, The Academy’s semi-recent redesign was overseen by Alexandra Champalimaud, whose clients also include The Dorchester and The Carlyle. Characteristically, then, while there’s still a nostalgic sense of l’originale, the design, themes and palette here are quintessentially modern and boutiquey. I hate to tarnish or expose anyone for having a ‘concept’, but The Academy’s evocation of its literary locale is both befitting and tasteful, with novels by the Bloomsbury Group—Woolf, Forster, Keynes—adorning pockets of…

The Marylebone hotel

It was forty-five minutes past the witching hour and all was tranquil. The torrential rain that had marred our otherwise scenic drive had gladly ceased leaving Marylebone Lane awash with the glow from the ornate street lamps. Spirits were high, bolstered by the recent nuptials at the Powell Burke wedding in North London that very evening. By this point in the proceedings, I had imbibed enough to play Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong in some sort of homage to My Fair Lady. Which incidentally was actually shot on neighbouring Wimpole Street. I abhor anyone playing music on their mobile phone in public. Unless it’s the First Lady of…

West Barn Lodge

I should start with full disclosure. I was born and bred in Wiltshire. With its rolling chalk download and grazing farmland, it really was an incredibly wonderful and rural place to grow up. I remember hot summers at the Marlborough Jazz Festival and trudging through Savernake Forest, winter walks around Avebury and Stonehenge, and weekends spent at Bowood House and atop Silbury Hill. So deep are the county’s agricultural roots that our houses at school were named Stonehenge, Whitehorse, Ridgeway and Sarum. So, when I decided to spend a long weekend at West Barn Lodge, near Favant, it felt more like a homecoming. We booked our stay with Premier Cottages….

Shizuoka

With just under three months until the start of the Rugby World Cup, excitement is building in the Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka, which will be hosting four of the matches – including Ireland v Japan (28 September) and Scotland v Russia (09 October) – at its Ecopa Stadium. Only an hour from Tokyo by bullet train, this stunning region is home to the iconic Mount Fuji, the beautiful Izu Peninsula – often described as Japan’s Riviera – and some of the best food in Japan, making it the perfect choice for rugby fans this autumn. To help visitors make the most of their time in the prefecture, here is a…

New York

New York was imprinted on my heart back in the day of my early mad ad career working on a transatlantic airline account. The regular pit-stops gave me unbelievable bragging rights, but as a quick time check, on my last visit I was privileged enough to sit above the clouds drinking cocktails at Windows on The World on top of the North Tower in Downtown Manhattan. Sadly not a vista I can ever re-visit. But as many moons have passed since that view was obliterated and New York’s landscape changed forever, I was super hyped to share this mesmerizing city with my family now in tow and hopeful that NYC…