Posts tagged ‘Michael jackson’

It takes The Thief to create guts, glory and glamour in Oslo’s hottest new arts district

When Nobel Peace Prize winners head to Oslo, they stay at the Grand Hotel. When Rihanna, Pink, Steven Tyler and Justin Bieber go to Oslo, they stay at The Thief.

Here’s why. The Thief is provocative, inspiring, even ballsy. I mean, who else would name a hotel after a villain, especially in a city where art thievery (Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” has been stolen not once, but twice in Oslo) has made international headlines?

The Thief has the pedigree to get away with it. It’s owned by Norwegian billionaire, Petter Stordalen, who steals away to his 170-some Nordic Choice Hotels in a biofuel-powered Ferrari. He also chained himself to a nuclear plant in England in 2002, but that’s another story.

In only two years, this edgy hotel has created a splash nearly as big as Pal Enger who, with three other men, waltzed into Oslo’s National Gallery on the opening day of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics and made off with Scream.

The Thief’s contemporary art collection is its protagonist, not some afterthought to match the bedspreads. Curated by Sune Nordgren, the former director of Norway’s National Museum, the hotel’s art collection includes the most important names in contemporary art. The restaurant has a $2.5 million Andy Warhol, the elevators feature Julian Opie video images of blinking, winking women and the Oslo Suite has several Peter Blake installations. Each of the 118 rooms has original contemporary art.

No wonder this bold hotel that sprang up on Tjuvholmen (this tiny island along the Oslo Fjord from reclaimed docklands actually means Thieves Island) has earned the dubious distinction of paying the world’s highest hotel insurance premiums. It’s one thing to abscond with those tiny hotel shampoo bottles, but at this hotel you’re sleeping next to art by Richard Prince, Albert Merz and Fiona Banner. There’s even photography of Kate Moss taken by Bryan Ferry and albums covers from Roxy music.

My favorite perk of staying at The Thief is free admission to Europe’s hottest new contemporary art museum. The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Art, designed by renowned Italian architect, Renzo Piano, is a few steps from Fru K’s, the Thief’s organic, local, artistically inspiring restaurant, and all guests have to do is show their room key for complimentary entry.

I’ve followed bad boy Damien Hirst’s career since 1992 when his controversial shark in formaldehyde landed him a nomination for that year’s Turner Prize. So having unlimited access to The Astrup Fearnley (I went twice) that has a whole room and a half of Hirst’s work was one of the highlights of my time in Oslo.

Of course, entry to this privately-owned contemporary art gallery that created a stir in 2002 when it paid $5.1 million for Jeff Koons gilt porcelain of Michael Jackson with pet chimp Bubbles is just the beginning of Thief amenities.

The robes are designed by internationally-renowned designer Cecilie Juvodden. The chairs by Antonio Citterio and, if you want, you can actually purchase original pieces of art right from your 42-inch plasma TV.

Guests get a treasure map for scouting the hotel’s art collection and, for those crazy enough to to leave the premises (my chief question being, “Why?) just know that within walking distance, there’s a beach, a sculpture garden and many of Oslo’s best galleries and restaurants. City Center’s also nearby.

As the hotel promises, it’s guaranteed to steal you away from the ordinary.

The Thief, Landgangen 1; 47-24-00-40-00, Oslo;

Table Bay Hotel: Cape Town’s home away from home for the A-list

Back when Barack Obama was a freshman senator from Illinois, he booked a room at Cape Town’s Table Bay Hotel. Like many celebrities before him, he chose this exclusive hotel on Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront because of its prime location, stellar views and five-star service.

In fact, if you walk around Oscar, the sea lion statue facing the working harbor, you’ll see dozens of gold plaques with names of the many A-listers who have stayed at this gorgeous hotel: Michael Jackson, Charlize Theron, Stevie Wonder, Sarah Ferguson, Chris Rock and Sean Connery, to drop just a few names you may know.

At the time Obama stayed at Table Bay, the hotel was raising money for charity. Every time a notable person checked in, they’d be given paper and pen and asked to contribute a drawing for the upcoming auction. Keith Richards, Aretha Franklin and others quickly scrawled a doodle. But the future president of the United States gave it some thought and ended up contributing a gorgeous side profile of his wife, Michelle.

“After he got elected, we all looked at ourselves and thought, too bad we didn’t hang on to that,” said Sarah Prins, PR manager for the hotel.

Although no one asked me to contribute any drawing and it’s highly unlikely my name will end up on one of the plaques surrounding Oscar, the Seal, I did have the pleasure of staying at this amazing property on a recent visit to Cape Town. And I can easily second the nominations this 329-room property regularly receives for best of the best international hotels.

Three things stood out for me.

1. The windows.Like a model who knows which side to show when the cameras appear, this stunning hotel makes the most of Cape Town’s unparalled beauty with towering windows. One side of windows opens to Table Mountain, the imposing mesa that recently won a spot on the new seven natural wonders list, and the other to Robben Island, the infamous home of Nelson Mandela during much of his 27 years of imprisonment.

2. Location, location, location. Nearly everything is within walking distance—the gorgeous harbor with its cute shops and boutiques, the boat to Robben Island, the brightly-colored Bo-Kaap neighborhood, St. George’s Mall and the Company’s Garden.

3. High tea. I’ve been to some pretty impressive high teas in my years as a travel writer. In fact, last summer I wrote a whole article on the best and most decadent high teas. But this one at Table Bay Hotel may just take the cake…or the chocolate éclairs or the brandied chocolate mousse or the chocolate brioche with baby pear.

Like Prins said, “If only I’d known.”

From Pretty Woman to Michael Jackson, Beverly Wilshire hosts the stars

Enough already! Kate and William are honeymooning in Seychelles. But most of the rest of the British Royal Family chose to stay at the Beverly Wilshire, the tony hotel where Julia Roberts’ Vivan and Richard Gere’s Edward Lewis fell in love.

That’s not all that happened at this Italian Renaissance beauty that was built in 1928 when Beverly Hills had fewer than 18,000 residents. For example:

1. John Lennon checked in during a rare fight and temporary estrangement from Yoko Ono.

2. HBO’ Entourage regularly films there.

3. For years, Warren Beatty lived in the penthouse suite.

4. The family reception following Michael Jackson’s memorial service was held there.

5. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ limo regularly pulls up to Cut, the hotel’s Wolfgang Puck steakhouse.

6. BFF’s Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been known to join them.

7. Chris Brown and Rihanna shacked up there during a brief post-arrest reconciliation.

8. Justin Timberlake got into a tiff with a photographer while staying there with Jessica Biel.

9. Dashiell Hammett wrote “The Thin Man” there.

10. In the 50’s, Elvis took up residence while shooting movies at nearby Paramount Studios.

11. Even the Dalai Lama has bunked there.

12. Lucy Lawless held her wedding reception there.

13. Socialite Barbara Hutton died of a heart attack there in May 1979.

14. Elton John, Mick Jagger and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber all called it home for long stretches.

15. Speaking of Royals, in 1998, at the height of “Titanic” hystery, the Beverly Wilshire threw a benefit for the Princess Diana Memorial Fund. It was attended by Elizabeth Taylor, Angela Lansbury, Ralph Fiennes, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson and couples who have long been kaput, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.

Find out more at this link: Beverly Wilshire.