Posts tagged ‘Taylor Swift’

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.
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.

Taylor Swift hits it off with the Kennedys

No word yet on whether Taylor Swift’s new album will feature the song she wrote this year about the Kennedy clan.

But we do know she’s spending a lot of time in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts at the Kennedy family compound, first on Fourth of July and last weekend in a rental house on the massive property.

Swift first met the famous family through Rory, whose HBO documentary “Ethel,” about her mother, widow of Robert Kennedy, debuted this year at Sundance.

Swift, who has been fascinated with the famous family for years, asked the documentary filmmaker if it might be possible to meet Ethel and Rory said, “Sure, here’s her number.”

Taylor turned heads when she showed up at the ski town-turned indie film nexus holding hands and giggling like schoolgirls with 83-year-old Ethel.

For the record, Swift called the movie, “moving, hilarious, and beautiful.”

More recently, America’s sweetheart was spotted holding hands with Kennedys closer to her own age. During the Fourth of July bash where the patriotic clan dressed up in red, white and blue wigs, hats and other crazy costumes, it was speculated the 22-year-old music diva was hooking up with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son, Patrick. Especially when he tweeted that Fourth of July 2012 was the best ever.

But during last week’s visit to the family’s Cape Cod estate, the six-time Grammy award winner was caught on camera gleefully consorting with Conor Kennedy, Ethel’s 18-year-old grandson, the son of Robert Kennedy Jr. They reportedly went sailing, went to a party and even attended church together. The New York Post claims it was their third date.

Conor, who is four years younger than the Nashville superstar, turned 18 on July 24 and, unlike Swift who registered to vote on her 18th birthday, immediately filed to be administrator of his dead mother’s estate. Mary Kennedy, 52, hung herself on May 16.

So while we can only speculate on whether Swift’s song about the Kennedys will make the cut for her new album, this we know for sure. If won’t feature backup vocals from anybody in the Kennedy clan. “We love to sing,” Rory reports. “But we are actually terrible, terrible singers.”

Pre-breakup: Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal drank lattes at Big Sur’s romantic Post Ranch Inn

Just weeks before their much-publicized breakup, Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal had one last romantic interlude at Post Ranch Inn, the serene, seductive getaway atop the cliffs of Big Sur, California.

This breathtaking inn with endless views of the Pacific Ocean has won permanent spots on everybody’s “green list” thanks to its organic architecture that curves around old-growth trees and makes use of reclaimed wood, glass, stone and steel. A few of the 40 rooms are even built on nine-foot stilts to protect delicate root balls below. Protected habitats, using only drought-resistant native plants, provide refuge for endangered Smith’s Blue Butterfly, California Red-Legged Frog, Western Pond Turtle and California Condor. Needless to say, the intimate inn is powered by a solar array and its limo is a Lexus Hybrid convertible which guests can take for free into nearby Carmel and Monterey.

Not only does this one-of-a-kind eco-inn sing harmony with nature, but it has daily yoga classes, nightly star-gazing sessions and outdoor pools and hot tubs from which guests can watch migrating whales. The spiraling Pacific Suites with their floor-to-ceiling windows offer stars like Swift and Gyllenhaal commanding views without forsaking privacy.

Post Ranch Inn’s acclaimed Sierra Mar restaurant has one of North America’s most extensive wine cellars with bottles from both well-known wine producers and from rare boutique vineyards. Executive Chef Craig von Foerster’s four-course, prix fixe organic menu changes daily depending on what’s in season.

Although Post Ranch Inn didn’t open until 1992, it has been in the Post family for more than 150 years. In fact, the boutique inn’s logo is the ranch’s cattle brand. Explorer and entrepreneur William Brainard Post married a local Costanoan Indian and became one of the first to homestead Big Sur’s wild beauty. W.B.’s New England-style house that sits on Highway 1 across from the entrance to Post Ranch Inn is a registered historic landmark.

All 40 guests rooms at Post Ranch Inn, paneled with redwood salvaged from old wine barrels, come with king-size beds, wood-burning fireplaces, either indoor or outdoor hot tubs and free mini-bar.

As for Taylor, who tends to write songs that reflect her life, she’s busy looking for words that rhyme with Gyllenhaal.

Post Ranch Inn: Highway 1, Big Sur, California, 831.667.2200,