Tonight’s the night! We’re down at the seat of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, one of the 12 Great Livery Companies of the City of London. This medieval guildhall, protected from the proletariat by a cloistered courtyard overlooked only by the neon glory of 99 Bishopsgate, endows picturesque scenery on the international awards ceremony celebrating brilliance in luxury boutique hotels and villas. It’s the gala evening, the very grandest of City Livery dinners. The jetset have flown into town. We’re so excited we just can’t hide it! We just can’t get enough:
- Laurent-Perrier champagne (they’re a sponsor)
- Grilled artichoke, poached salmon and avocado salad with Caesar dressing, pea and basil coulis
- Rosti potato, tomato and shallot tart with rocket and parmesan salad
- Nougat parfait, almond and raspberry mille feuille and malt ice cream
- Pierre Marcoloni truffles (they’re a sponsor)
Select industry players, 200 of us, are black tied and white laced and ball gowned, ready for pleasures in the night. An enigmatic entrance off Threadneedle Street, a discreet doorway to decadence, leads into a long hallway lined with old masters of old masters and deadly 15th century hearse cloths illuminated by Grecian sconces. A vaulted gallery spills into the floodlit garden and flows into the great hall, its beauty blurred by the suffusing warmth of a thousand candles. The architecture is a highbred of Queens: Elizabeth, Anne, Mary and Elizabeth again.
“Be amazing!” declares guest speaker Tim Dingle. “If you want to be successful you can genuinely change the world. Don’t survive, thrive!” The awards recognise an academy of excellence amidst these suitably collegiate surroundings. “Liking your blog very much by the way,” says Mercedes Alonso. Scarlet Bray agrees. Wallpaper*, Elite Traveller, Spear’s Magazine, The Financial Times and The Telegraph: everyone is here. Clare Island Lighthouse, a clifftop six roomed hotel, scoops a prize, adding prestige to our emerald isle. Barry and Roie McCann are thrilled!
Echo Valley? Echo Valley? Norm and Nan Dove’s British Columbian ranch is amazing. Cowboy hats at dawn. Summertime in Goa, an exclusive use hilltop villa, wins Asia’s Most Romantic Retreat. Actually Asia features heavily. Our Man in India Alfred Tuinman is pleased. So is Suzanne Vertillart Chayavichitsilp. Africa is big this year. We’re dreaming of being washed ashore to Sea Monkey Villa, Mahé Island. Lovely to meet Christabel Milbanke-Brayson. Lyton and Eroline Lamontagne look resplendent.
There’s at least one UK winner: Hotel Gotham in Manchester gets the vote for World’s Best New Hotel. The top prize for World’s Best Boutique Hotel goes to Secret Bay Hotel, Dominica. All the hotels and private villas, the finest on earth no less, are illustrated in a glossy book, a coffee table essential. Sponsor Elisabeth Visoanska’s synergistic products mean we’ll all be looking particularly fresh for the next while. The Parisian cosmetician believes, “Preserving one’s youthfulness does not mean stopping the course of time; it means living life with continually growing passion.” We’d like to propose our own toast to Most Fun Boutique Hotel Reception Staff. And the winner we know, we know, we know is… The Capital (on Basil Street, a ruby’s throw from both Harrods and Harvey Nics). Sweet memories.