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Thursday, 7 July 2011

Peacock Alley at The Waldorf Astoria, Syon Park

The Duke of Northumberland’s estate is home to the new London Syon Park Waldorf Astoria. This, according to my date who knows her way around the sticks, is in somewhere called Isleworth... or was it Iowa? I forget. Perched high at the handsome art deco style bar in the hotel's ‘destination’ lounge, Peacock Alley, we agree that fine cocktails make tonight’s mini-safari to the Wild West worthwhile. Crafted with skill, using freshly picked leaves to order from the hotel herb garden, Basil Martini bears investigation. I prefer a Manhattan built on Pappy Van Winkle 10-year-old. So generous and potent are our cocktails, three will leave you all shook up, like Fay Wray up the Empire State, only in a worse state. My date’s Duchess (£14) is a strawberry accessorised pink Champagne coupe so pretty, the Duchess’s sister, P Middy, might wear it to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. ‘Chapeau!’ - as they say - to its maker, a young Frenchwoman who also introduces me to Brewers Feast (Bulleit bourbon, eau de vie and ale syrup). It’s a sensation. As for the Waldorf A itself, the sensation I feel is disbelief. Housed in an ugly brick barn, it suggests a battery farm or a retail park on the outskirts of Utrecht. Staff introduce us to a courtyard garden laid with an ancient bonsai tree, Moroccan lanterns, Thai gubbins and the sort of 'noir' cane furniture found on a million Home Counties patios. What this has to do with Capability Brown, in whose honour the hotel restaurant - nice enough dinner, dull guests, vanilla room - is named, beats me.  As for the hotel's public areas and Peacock Alley itself, their pick’n’mix interiors are not for the chicken. More design dodo than peacock, here’s queasy colour clash, putrid patterns, garish gee-gaws, gaudy chinoiserie, ghastly silver and white thrones, gibbering Andy Warhol quotations as art, trompe l’oeil bookcases and butterflies in a glass tank (Oh no! ‘They died’). Need a venue for a big fat gipsy wedding? Hit the A4 westbound!
London Syon Park Waldorf Astoria Hotel,  Syon Park, Middlesex TW7 6AZ 020 7870 7777