Laurent Restaurant at Hotel Café Royal – simply stunning

Sunday, 26 August, 2018

I have always been a fan of the Hotel Café Royal for afternoon tea and drinks, but found it strange that their main restaurant Ten was situated on the ground floor surrounded by passing traffic of people en route to the Green Bar or guests checking in, so was very intrigued to visit their new restaurant, Laurent at Café Royal, on the first floor following the hotel’s £5 million refurbishment.

With an interior designed by Piero Lissoni, Laurent is contemporary yet nods to the hotel’s rich heritage retaining grandeur and elegance and is headed by French chef extraordinaire Laurent Tourondel, and offers an international menu including both steak and sushi all prepared to perfection. I was interested to learn that Chef Tourondel actually worked weekend shifts at Hotel Café Royal when he started out as a young chef, so its absolutely fitting he returns at the helm thirty years later for his first European restaurant opening.

With an open “parilla grill” kitchen and sushi bar, you can choose between the small sexy dining room with its glittering bar facing Regent Street or the intimate balcony tables overlooking the fabulous Italian Murano chandelier taking centre stage in the refurbished hotel lobby.

I have eaten at Laurent a few times now and absolutely love the giant cheesy Yorkshire pudding which is served instead of bread, the in-house cured gin-salmon California rolls and (melt in the mouth) USA Creek Stone Farm beef fillet steak with salt and vinegar chips. And the desserts are simply exquisite.

London has an incredible repertoire of high-end eateries to choose from, but I have to say Laurent will be featuring high up on my list for both business and personal dining for the foreseeable future. Glamorous interiors, incredibly delicious food and warm knowledgeable staff are an unbeatable combination. I simply cannot wait to return! For more information or to reserve a table visit the website.

With love

Sangeeta x

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The Seville Collection by Berta

Saturday, 3 March, 2018

As some of you know, I co-founded a luxury bridal accessory company many years ago and spent many happy years surrounded by the glow of wedding preparations, lacy gowns and sparkling accessories, so its always a real pleasure when I receive press releases about new bridal collections such as Berta’s Seville Collection. I have featured the incredibly talented Israeli designer Berta Balilti on the blog before as I love her truly artistic approach to bridal fashion.

Her collections are considered among the most praised and anticipated in the world, boasting luxurious fabrics and unique detailing and textures for her dresses. And as someone who is passionate about PR & Marketing, have always been in awe of her ad campaigns. The Seville collection shot in the tantalisingly beautiful Spanish city of the same name is absolutely breathtaking so I just had to share some images with you. And as London comes out of one of the most bitter winters we have had for many years, I for one needed desperately to see some pictures of romance, magic and a hint of the summer to come. Let me introduce you to Berta’s new 2018 Seville collection celebrating the design and craftsmanship capabilities to their max. If I were a bride to be, I would be utterly spoilt for choice! What an absolutely gorgeous collection. Check out the website to find out more about the brand.

With love

Sangeeta x

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Newsflash: Conchita is coming to town …

Saturday, 6 January, 2018

Having been a huge fan of Conchita Wurst since she came to prominence when she won the Eurovision song concert in 2014, I was delighted to learn that she will be performing in a very special concert at the iconic London Palladium on Sunday 25 February. Accompanied by the sixty piece BBC Concert Orchestra and incorporating her own rock band and special guests, Conchita will perform songs including Rise Like A PhoenixI Am What I AmThe Way We Were and Goldfinger. I am sure the  show is going to be absolutely fabulous! More information and how to book tickets can be found here:

With love as always

Sangeeta x

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Afternoon tea in style…

Wednesday, 27 December, 2017

I was thrilled to finally get chance to try the afternoon tea at Hotel Café Royal in the run up to Christmas. Having discovered the Hotel last year when scouting for venues for a corporate event, I fell in love the with the opulent Oscar Wilde room and have been trying to find time ever since to do afternoon tea.

When I learned that they had launched a collaboration with one of my favourite brands, French perfumier and candle maker Diptyque, I decided I had to treat my sister and mum (and myself) to their Festive Afternoon Tea.

Awarded the title of “Best Traditional Afternoon Tea 2017”, the Hotel Cafe Royal afternoon certainly ticked all the boxes: gorgeous setting and delicious food. The gilded Oscar Wilde Bar where afternoon tea is served is named after one of the room’s most famous patrons and apparently it was in this very room where Mr Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. Dating back to 1865 and formerly known as the Grill Room before the hotel’s renovation in 2013, the room has been beautifully restored to its original ornate Louis XVI detailing.

The luxurious surroundings were the perfect setting to enjoy our Festive Tea, which included delicious sandwiches with Roast Norfolk Bronze turkey with chestnut stuffing and cranberry sauce and seasonal jams for the scones and of course pastries inspired by iconic diptyque scents such as Jasmine (pistachio cake and jasmine tea). The afternoon tea service was also accompanied by a live pianist and a choice of 30 tea blends and infusions.

And to remember our magical afternoon, we received a beautiful Diptyqye gift set to take away, which included my all-time favourite candle scent, Baies, which is a blend of Bulgarian rose and blackcurrant leaves and mini eau de toilette perfume samples.

The Festive Afternoon Tea is priced at £55 per person, or £65 paired with a glass of Laurent-Perrier NV. The “diptyque Festive Afternoon Tea” with a diptyque gift set is £70, or £80 paired with a glass of Champagne. The sittings are from 11.30am until 7.30pm daily. The Festive Tea runs until 3 January 2018, but I believe that the collaboration with Diptyque will continue all next year, so get yourself booked in and prepare for a real treat! For reservations visit Hotel Café Royal.

With love

Sangeeta x

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Newsflash : Contemplación Tour by Fabian Perez

Saturday, 11 November, 2017

For art lovers, make sure you get to your nearest Whitewall Art Gallery this November and meet sensational contemporary figurative artist Fabian Perez as he showcases his latest collection Contemplación.

Having been a fan and collector of his work for nearly a decade, its always fabulous to meet the man and see his new work, so was a little disappointed he won’t be appearing at any London galleries this time.

Born in Argentina, Fabian’s compositions reflect his upbringing, love of humanity and his numerous travels, and he has been a large part of the movement bringing figurative artwork to the forefront of the contemporary art scene.

As one of the world’s most collected artists, with celebrity admirers ranging from sporting superstars to Hollywood actors and he was recently a guest at the Vatican where he presented Pope Francis with his portrait which now hangs in the Pontiff’s personal private collection.

Over the years he has explored many different paths in his search for greater self expression and artistic truth and his work brings together a broad range of life stories drawn from many sources close to his heart. From the geisha of Japan’s flower towns to the couples who haunt the night clubs of Buenos Aires, all these characters have a story to tell of their disparate and intriguing lives. In his new collection, Fabian explores one single moment in time across four intriguing portrayals of ‘contemplación’.

Kicking off in Whitewall Guildford tonight, Fabian has eight exclusive appearances in the UK, ending in Whitewall Kingston on 18 November. Check out his tour dates here.

London hopes to see you Fabian in 2018! 😉

With love
Sangeeta x

 

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An evening with Havana Club

Sunday, 5 November, 2017

As the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, I cannot think of a better way of spending an evening than in the company of good friends and food so I hope this post will inspire you how to create the perfect dinner party over the festive season. And as someone who positively relishes meeting new people, I was thrilled to attend one of Havana Club exclusive sobremesa dinner parties at the beautiful private members club Devonshire Club in the city of London close to my offices.

The purpose of the dinner was to raise awareness around the Havana Club Iconica range (specifically focused around the Tributo and Maximo expresssions) through the format of a sobremesa experience, which literally means “over the table.” Its about the time that is spent chatting and enjoying each other’s company over a meal; the idea that how we eat is as important as what we eat.

 
Hosted by the brilliantly witty Paul Croughton and Meimi Sanchez (Havana Club’s Brand Ambassador), the line up of guests, including Tom Marchant the charismatic co-founder of luxury travel company Black Tomato, was so interesting and engaging, with the backdrop of the fabulous Library room at the Devonshire Club, I don’t think I could have created a better fantasy dinner party if had tried.
 It was fascinating to learn more about Havana Club’s Icónica collection (and course to taste the rum, including the fabulous Havana Club Máximo Extra Añejo edition which is limited to just 1000 bottles created a year). Meimi explained how the Maestros del Ron Cubano, have aged and blended the finest rum reserves to produce the Icónica Collection.
 The company and concept of sobremesa was enhanced by the exquisite and innovative menu created by the Devonshire Club’s executive chef Oliver Lesnik and featured the picture-perfect (and delicious) edible Cuban garden salad, finished off with cigar-inspired dessert.

And as we often feel like often one of the biggest luxuries in London life is time, taking time to relax over good food and conversation, the sobremesa moment encourages people to take more time to speak with each other in a meaningful way. With a variety of guest speakers, Cuban music playing in the background, and Tim Marchant’s of Black Tomato’s anecdotes about his time in Cuba, we felt were transported to Havana for the evening and I certainly didn’t want the evening to end. It was truly special evening and one I will remember for a long time.

With love
Sangeeta x

(Image credits courtesy of Havana Club)

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A sparkling collaboration

Saturday, 14 October, 2017

I am delighted to feature the stunning Diamond Dust Collection: an incredible collaboration between esteemed contemporary artist Simon Claridge and legendary English photographer Terry O’Neill whose work features at the National Portrait Gallery in London and is considered one of the great British photographers of our time. He gained renown documenting the fashions, styles, and celebrities of the 1960s, and for over six decades he has photographed the frontline of fame, from the greats of screen and stage, to presidents, prime ministers and rock stars.

I first came across Simon Claridge’s work in 2008 when the art gallery near my offices in Canary Wharf invited me to attend a preview of his debut collection and was wowed by his work. My favourite piece was ‘For your eyes only’ a limited edition print, which was so  seductive, powerful and simply stunning. It was also first piece of art I had ever bought.

Over the years, Simon and I have remained friends and I have watched as his work has become even more impressive, featuring well known iconic figures and his now signature use of diamond dust in his paintings. I also love the story of how after graduating with a degree in fine art, Simon began working at an art gallery in Windsor but each night he painted, consumed by the dream of one day having his own work hanging on the walls. One morning, he decided to replace the window display with his own pieces. By lunchtime, he’d sold all of them and never had to work in the gallery again.

In this latest collection, Simon has taken iconic images from Terry’s hallowed archives and applied his signature diamond dust style which he has applied thoughtfully, to retain the essence of the original exposures and showcase the style of both artists.

I was delighted to catch up with Simon at  the launch of the new collection at the gorgeous Castle Gallery in South Molton Street in London over the summer.

My favourite piece in the collection is the one featuring Frank Sinatra on the Boardwalk in Miami, taken in 1968, on the first day of filming ‘The Lady in Cement’, as  Frank was walking from his hotel to the film set. Terry has commented that “This was the first time I ever saw Frank and I was astonished by the mere power of his presence, mesmerizing the crowd as he walked casually past.”  The story of how the picture was taken is even more intriguing. Terry had been given a letter from Ava Gardner who he had met in London, which he delivered to Frank. The letter ensured that Terry could take pictures of Frank without being pushed away by the bouncer entourage!

The collection also features icons such as Mohammed Ali, Raquel Welch and Brigitte Bardot.

I absolutely loved the Diamond Dust collection and can’t wait to see what exciting new work Simon has in store for us in the future!

With love

Sangeeta x

Note the pieces are available on paper and canvas :  Framed Silkscreen on Paper with Diamond Dust | Edition of 150 (from £995) or Framed Silkscreen on Canvas with Diamond Dust (from £2,995) – contact Castle Galleries or Simon Claridge for more information.

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Behind The Curtain…

Monday, 4 September, 2017

Groucho Marx famously wrote in a letter …..

I Don’t Want to Belong to Any Club That Will Accept Me as a Member

I don’t think the newly opened Curtain Club in Shoreditch, East London will have the same problem. To be honest I think it will be the reverse. As the hottest new opening in the area, it is set to rival Shoreditch House and give the eclectic local residents and workers a fabulous new space to work and play in.

Having walked past the building works on my way to the offices every day over the last year, I was intrigued to see the inside of the Curtain Club and so was delighted when it finally opened and I was offered the chance to go in and have a snoop!

The wow factor clearly comes from the rooftop restaurant and bar, The Lido, set in front of a year-round heated swimming pool and sun loungers, but all the spaces have been carefully and beautifully curated, and will transport you away from the, at times, gritty city surroundings.

Interestingly, it was the area that attracted New York hotelier Michael Achenbaum (of the acclaimed Gansvoort brand) to build his club in this area. As he says : “We spent almost 10 years seeking locations throughout London, with the last 7 years specifically focused on the emerging East London area. It’s in our DNA to create hotels in neighbourhoods that are not only ahead of the curve but also in areas that are growing. The Curtain is that vision come to life in Europe.” 

In addition to The Lido, members have access to private club club spaces and bars as well as a 24 hr gym, spa and live performance space.

And foodies, both club members and the general public, can enjoy the delights of Marcus Samuelson’s iconic Red Rooster restaurant, bringing its Harlem cool to London, as well as an all-day taqueria and bar, La Tienda, which are both also on site.

Finally, the Club also offers 120 guest rooms, including five suites, but more on that next time!

Check their website for more information about the club and about applying for membership.

With love

Sangeeta x

Image credits (except pictures 3, 6 & 7 : Adrian Houston)

 

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Hello to my new look blog!

Thursday, 31 August, 2017

I am thrilled to launch my new look blog which has been a long time in the making!

 

As mentioned, recent personal transitions have meant it was time for a re-brand and new direction and so am excited to welcome you to The White Diaries –  a lifestyle blog with a mission statement inspired by the mantra coined by the incredible philosopher Joseph Campbell. 

Life is like a blank white page and I strongly believe we create our own experiences and we can only find true happiness by following our bliss.

The White Diaries is essentially a journal documenting the amazing places I am lucky to experience and the inspiring people I meet in my day to day life. For over twenty years I have worked in the city of London, predominantly as a finance (bond) lawyer. I also set up a luxury wedding accessory label with my now ex-husband. And I now spend my days marketing the skills of incredibly talented lawyers in a city law firm.

I hope The White Diaries provides inspiration and ideas of how to make each moment truly count, and that you find the Inspiring Individuals within the blog, who I will be featuring, as fascinating as I do, and that they motivate you to keep what you are passionate about at the core of what you do!  

If you would like to get in touch with me you can email me at hello@thewhitediaries.com

With love
Sangeeta x

Note:  I remember been inspired many years ago by Conde Nast Traveler’s Mission Statement that it does not accept  free or discounted trips and accommodations or even payment in exchange for editorial coverage. And so when I decided to launch my lifestyle blog I wanted to ensure that I brought the same ethic to the articles I wrote. The majority of the places I feature (hotels, restaurants etc.) have been paid for in the same way as you would without any special treatment or recognition. I hope this allows me report fairly on what I have experienced and provide inspiration and experiences that are affordable.

In some instances, I will write about places I have been invited to as part of a showcase or open evening, and where I do I will make full disclosure. The purpose of this blog is not to generate an income and so I won’t be  accepting sponsorships or paid adverts.

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The Jewel of Mauritius

Sunday, 23 July, 2017

For the final post in my honeymoon series and before I relaunch my lovely little wedding blog into a new luxury lifestyle blogzine, is a homage to one of my favourite destination hotels, The Residence on the gorgeous Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

 On an island replete with luxury hotels, the Residence stands on its own with an old-school luxury and understated colonial-style charm. Even now, two years after my last visit, the smell of ylang ylang, which is used to generously scent the rooms and public areas, takes me back to this magical place. Inspired by plantation houses, the hotel boasts a mile-long beach and every room comes with butler service.

Situated on the east coast, which boasts the islands best beaches, I think the five star Residence would make the perfect luxury honeymoon destination. Well-appointed rooms and suites with views of either the gorgeous tropical gardens or the ocean, this hotel remains one of my firm favourites for total relaxation.

On my last visit I travelled with one of my best friends and we each stayed in ocean-view room, which was elegant and comfortable, but I think if you were staying here on honeymoon it would be worth upgrading to a suite with muslin-draped four poster beds and other thoughtful amenities including your own Nespresso machine. And as mentioned above, each room comes with your own personal butler to help with unpacking after the long flight and even running a bubble bath complete with rose petals.

We had opted for the all-inclusive basis so were able to choose between the the hotel’s three restaurants. Our favourite for lunch was definitely the beachfront Plantation restaurant for its spectacular views of the ocean and delicious fresh seafood and curries.

With plenty to see and do both in the resort and on the island, our seven night stay just flew by. And for the ultimate recharge of those city worn batteries, there is also a fantastic spa and gym in the hotel which I visited several times during my visit.

For me, the Residence retains the charm of a bygone era and although you are staying in a luxurious five star accommodation, there are no airs and graces and you truly feel like you are one of the family.

Longing to return! Maybe next time, will be on my own honeymoon!

 

With love,

Sangeeta x

 

Note: We travelled with Elegant Resorts (approx £3,500 pp on an all-inclusive basis and including single room occupancy supplement) flying on British Airways. The flight from London takes just under 12 hours. Transfer time from Mauritius airport: 50 mins. 

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The White Diaries