The Violet Hour + Astrid Bray
General Manager of the Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living, Astrid joined Jumeirah Group as Director of Business Development for Jumeirah Carlton Tower and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel before taking up her present role in 2012. Astrid’s high flying career has given her unrivalled knowledge of the international hospitality sector. She talks exclusively to Lavender’s Blue about her favourite things from – where else? – the largest all suite luxury accommodation in super prime London.
My Favourite London Hotel… Well, where we are sitting, my own of course! However if I am in traditional mood there is something rather special about walking into Claridge’s. But have you seen the secret garden at Number 16? I love sitting outside having a glass of rosé there in the summertime.
My Favourite London Restaurant… The service and quality of beef at the Rib Room is sublime; the atmosphere at Scott’s is perfect; but Balthazar gets it right every time!
My Favourite Local Restaurant… It has to be The Fulham Wine Rooms. They have a great charcuterie with awesome wines as well as a proper restaurant. They get it right! I’ve regularly dined there since it opened a couple of years ago. You can choose wines to taste from a wall of wine bottles. The team are so well informed too.
My Favourite Weekend Destination… Bovey Castle on Dartmoor, Devon. I love hiking and Bovey Castle is pretty remote. It’s great to escape for a few days from city life.
My Favourite Holiday Destination… South Africa, but a recent trip to the Maldives was a dream holiday. I also travel a lot with my career.
My Favourite Country House… The Pig, in the New Forest. You can dress up or down, put on your wellies, sink into the most comfy sofas, just relax. It really feels like your home from home. The food is great – they even have their own forager.
My Favourite Building… The Chrysler Building in New York City. It’s magical. Such a stunning art deco building. I once stayed in a suite in the Waldorf Towers with windows framing a perfect view of the Chrysler Building.
My Favourite Novel… Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a semi autobiographical story about his escape from an Australian prison and spending time in India. Really interesting.
My Favourite Film… Breakfast at Tiffany’s – pure magic. Truman Capote was so off the wall! Who else could invent a character like Holly Golightly? Perfection! The cinematography is absolutely brilliant.
My Favourite TV Series… Grey’s Anatomy – there is something about a surgeon!
My Favourite Actor… Kevin Bacon for the lust factor! I loved him in Flatliners. And Robin Williams for humour – he makes me laugh every time.
My Favourite Play… M Butterfly. Not to be confused with Madame Butterfly, this play by David Henry Hwang is loosely based on the relationship between French diplomat Bernard Boursciot and Shi Pei Pu, a Peking male opera singer. I saw it in 1989 in the Shaftesbury Theatre in London – the pathos was mesmerising. Anthony Hopkins was electric in it. That was of course in his pre Hannibal days.
My Favourite Opera… Madame Butterfly. I weep every time…
My Favourite Artist… Monet. In 2007 I was invited by the director of MOMA to visit the Monet show in New York at 7.30 in the morning. One huge room full of Monet – and me! It was the ultimate private view.
My Favourite London Shop… Peter Jones – what would I do without it? It has everything! Where else is there?
My Favourite Scent… Chanel Beige.
My Favourite Fashion Designer… Louise Kennedy. She has an atelier on Merrion Square in Dublin but I discovered her shop in Belgravia near where I used to work. Her clothes possess timeless elegance. They have the flexibility of being off the peg but then they are tailored to fit.
My Favourite Charity… Age UK Hammersmith and Fulham. It is inspirational. Charity is more than just giving money. We’re cooking Christmas lunch for the aged at my hotel. We’ve guaranteed to raise funds to pay for tax and insurance for their minibus for the next three years. It’s so important to support a local charity.
My Favourite Pastime… Time spent with my fabulous little family.
My Favourite Thing… Flowers.