Posts tagged ‘Mick Jagger’

On the 12 Days of Christmas the Ham Yard Gave to Me

Ham Yard Hotel was recently named one of London’s funkiest venues. hamyard 3

Like all Firmdale Hotels, it’s five-star and splashy enough for business glad-handing, post West End theater noshing and people watching–especially if you’re partial to young, beautiful, rich people.

I had one of my top two best London dinners within its gilded pillared restaurant. But the reason Ham Yard made the most funky list is the same reason it offers art enthusiasts a two and a half-hour curated tour and the reason I’m nominating it as the #1 London hotel for a 12 Days of Christmas scavenger hunt.

With Kit Kemp-designed wall fabrics, crazy mad colors and art by Turner Prize winners, Ham Yard Hotel gives us inspiring eye candy throughout. But for the sake of the song and my self-designed scavenger hunt, here are the 12 eccentric gifts Ham Yard gave for us to find:

1. A two-story orange juice squeezer. Rube Goldberg would be proud of this fresh juicing machine that, like a marble track, sends 397 oranges spiraling to their destiny in glasses of fresh-squeezed OJ.
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2. An Attack of the 50-Foot Women movie poster. Although the 1958 horror film was made in black and white, this four-color poster hangs in the corridor right outside the Ham Yard’s au courant movie theater.

3. A 50’s Brunswick bowling alley imported all the way from Texas. It’s called the Croc Bowling Alley and not only does it feature old-school hand warmers and solid maple lanes, but it has a bar, dance floor, silver baby grand and two crocodiles made from driftwood. As Kit Kemp says “I’ve never been in a bowling alley I wanted to be in for more than two minutes.” In this one, you could stay all evening.hamyard 2

4. Vintage costume drawings from the Paris Opera. Not to give their location away, but these cleverly-framed drawings provide definite conversation starters over afternoon tea.

5. An African chandelier made from mud beads. This unique chandelier made from sun-dried, kiln-fired clay beads adorns what designer Kit Kemp calls the Dive Bar. Let me just add that the Dive, in this case, means plunging into water and there’s a neon sign to prove it.

6. A Freak Show in neon. Built on a three-quarter-acre site of one of the 60’s most electric basement jazz dives, Ham Yard pay homage to The Scene, as the club was called, with a whole series of bright neon signs.

7. Glowing porcelain pots. These 32-pots were custom designed by Sigmund Freud’s great great granddaughter, Martha Freud.

8. A signature Tony Cragg bronze. You can’t miss it, but hint-hint, it’s in the hotel’s tree-lined courtyard.

9. A grand piano that doubles as an icebox. Ham Yard’s rooftop that unlike many London rooftop bars is open 365 days a year, also has an herb and vegetable garden, bee hives and killer views.

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10. A private screening room with 190 tangerine leather seats. It has silk fuchsia curtains, two bars, two green rooms (for the likes of Taylor Swift, Sir Mick Jagger and other celebs) and Sunday movies sometimes open to the public.

11. A spa that can train Mount Everest-bound mountaineers. With the exception of the London Eye, the elevation of Britain’s capital is about 70-feet above sea level. But at Ham Yard’s Soholistic Spa, there’s a Hypoxic Chamber that stimulates training at high altitudes with limited amounts of oxygen. Or you could just get a massage.

12. Black margaritas. Ham Yard’s extensive cocktail menu features homemade syrups, bitters and tonics. Its signature black margarita is concocted from thyme-infused tequila, blackberry puree and black sea salt.

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Machu Picchu without the crowds: when only the rare and one-off will do

When you’re George Clooney or Donald Trump you don’t stay at the Holiday Inn. You stay at hotels that provide exclusive fringe benefits, that tell a story or that offer unusual perks.

Inkaterra’s La Casona in Cusco offers all three. Here’s why choosy clients choose Inkaterra La Casona.

1. It’s Machu Picchu without the crowds. Who doesn’t want to mark this 15th century Inca citadel off their bucket list? But it’s your vacation, for goodness sakes, and the last thing you want to do is spend it with 5000 strangers, the average daily attendance at Machu Picchu.

At least not for long. So book a stay at this exquisite 16th century manor house in Cusco and let the concierge worry about the details of your day trip to Machu Picchu. Your only job should be drinking Pisco Sours and enjoying the colonial antiques, roaring fireplaces and giant marble bathrooms with deep Roman tubs.

2. Every detail of this boutique hotel begs to be Instagrammed. From its original textile murals and elaborate hand-carved cedar doors to the open-air restaurant’s handmade pottery, everything about La Casona screams, “Take my picture.” You’ll want to capture it all—the quinoa pancakes, the coca tea, the original Peruvian rugs, the Quechua shamans who show up for special ceremonies.


3. The George Washington (of Latin America) slept here. Simon Bolivar, the famous general who finally freed South America from Spanish tentacles, once lived in this two-story mansion that’s now an 11-suite Relais Chateaux hotel. And that’s just the beginning of its historic pedigree. Bolivar is one of several Spanish conquistadores who lived in this home built in the mid-1500’s on the top of the ruins of an Incan palace. No wonder the Peruvian government named it a national historic monument.

4. The owner pals around with Mick Jagger. Jose Koechlin, the enigmatic founder of Inkaterra, who plows profits from his five boutique hotels into conservation and scientific research in the Amazon and Peruvian Andes, was able to help the famous front man for the Rolling Stones finally “get some satisfaction.” Other notables in Koechlin’s rolladeck are German movie director Werner Herzog and famous Harvard biologist, E.O. Wilson.


5. Location, location, location. It doesn’t get much prettier than Cusco’s cobblestone streets and wide-open plazas. La Casona is next door to the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art on Plaza de La Nazarenas and just a romantic stroll away from the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas and Plaza de Armas with its cathedral and churches bedecked in gold and silver.

Paul McCartney honeymoons in Mustique at Mick Jagger’s villa

Paul McCartney, who married New Jersey heiress Nancy Shevell on October 9, is “getting by with a little help from his friends.”

Well, getting by is a bit of an understatement. After tying the knot on what would have been John Lennon’s 71st birthday, McCartney and Shevell are actually “living big” on their honeymoon at Mick Jagger’s Japanese-style, six-bedroom home in Mustique.

Since paparazzi are banned from this privately-owned island, the happy couple are enjoying some down time far from headlines. Their small family wedding, held on the steps of London’s Marylebone Register Office, the same place McCartney married Linda, included 30 some family members who showered the engaged-since-May couple with rose petals. Beatrice, McCartney’s daughter with Heather Mills, was the flower girl and Stella, his daughter with Linda, designed the wedding dress. And in true, Paul McCartney fashion, he sang a beautiful ballad for his new bride.

As for the private honeymoon at fellow musician’s Mustique retreat, McCartney and bride are enjoying the koi pond, the pavilions and the roar of the ocean that back up to the rambling villa.

And, of course, they’ve been unable to resist a stop-off at Basil’s Bar, the former rum shack where everyone from Prince William (he drank Prince’s Poison and, with a couple friends, belted out Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds”) to the Beckhams (no report on their drink of choice) have knocked back a cocktail or two.

With little more than 500 or so permanent residents, this exclusive island, a short 50-minute flight from Barbados, became a hotspot for the glitterati after Scottish aristocrat Colin Tennant, who bought the whole island in 1958, presented Princess Margaret with a 10-acre parcel of it as a wedding present.

It was also Tennant that gave Basil Charles, the now well-known owner of Basil’s Bar, his start. Born to a poor family on nearby St. Vincent’s, Charles was hired by Tennant in the 60’s as a barman at the Cotton House, at that time, the island’s only hotel. Charles, who was able to charm the mercurial Tennant, ended up marrying British aristocrat Virginia Lyon Royston soon after her husband died unexpectedly in 1973, chumming around with Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon and eventually buying out the open-faced beach club that today reigns as the heartbeat of Mustique night life.

Like the McCartneys, most guests to Mustique rent out private villas, mostly-owned by people whose names you’d recognize. More like compounds than villas, these pricy properties come with between two to nine bedrooms, a full staff including a butler and a “mule,” the island term for a golf cart which is how people get around the three by one-mile island.

Others who have enjoyed Mustique’s laidback vibe include Hugh Grant, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Paul Newman, Amy Winehouse and about every pedigreed royal in the United Kingdom. At Christmas, Jagger has even been known to dress like an elf and pass out treats to needy kids.