"Simples, Alexsandr?" In the new Shangri-La Hotel's ground floor foyer, our reservations are checked on two bit...
Tuesday, 3 June 2014
The Rosebery Room, Knightsbridge
When Anna Wintour issues a decree, Planet High Fashion jumps. The petrifying praying mantis in Prada has reportedly banned her staff from staying in Dorchester Collection hotels after the group's owner, The Sultan of Brunei - a less benign dictator than US Vogue's bobbed Nancy Regan lookalike - decided to impose sharia law on his subjects. I'm with Ms W (and Stephen Fry, Ellen Degeneres et al) on this one. Lovely staff or not, I'm body-swerving the Dorchester, Bar 45, Le Meurice (the Nazis' HQ in WWII Paris) and the rest until the malevolent medievalist mullah realises that taking moolah from gay guys out to get stoned on martinis, while simultaneously stoning them at home for being gay (or any other 'crime' he might persecute in the name of religion), just isn't cricket. Hit him where it hurts; kick the c*** in the cash register, I say, and take Champagne afternoon tea (from £45) instead at the Mandarin Oriental's dashing new Rosebery Room. On the grounds that a picture speaks a thousand words (and that I'm on a tight advertising copy deadline today), I'll let the above jpeg tell you all you need to know about the decor. What I will add, is that my only beef is with the grand salon's afternoon ambient state: even Harvey Nics' dummies aren't as unforgivingly brightly spot-lit. Named after the Victorian PM, afternoon tea was last served in this 'lost' suite in the 1920s. The modern version is a marathon take on the old, with highly prized single estate teas in gorgeous china, superior rolled sandwiches, scones, macarons, cakes (followed by more cake) and chocolate truffles ceremoniously slung our way until my sugar levels are up there with 5-year old class tantrum-thrower, Taylor, on a Haribo-high rampage. Service is every bit as sweet, with more staff per punter than even a dodgy dictator would command. Come 6pm, the lighting is, mercifully, knocked down several notches (but not so low that Nuclear Wintour would remove her shades) and Champagne cocktails are the thing. Bellinis built on tequila, passion fruit, lemon and green tea, or peppermint, elderflower, cucumber white pepper and sakéare standouts on an interesting list. Inch'Allah, not only the fashionisti will boycott the Brunei bigot's Park Lane pile and park their size zero posteriors on The Rosebery's pesto-tone plush; others will too.