It wasn’t just the personal butler, the comfiest bed in the world or that the elegant suite – designed by Queen Elizabeth’s nephew David Linley – was bigger than our apartment back home. No, it was the Rolls-Royce of hotel slippers; their thick, bouncy soles a veritable mattress of sublime comfort. We knew then that we had truly arrived. That, and happening upon the Burberry coats for sale in our vast wardrobe.
If you saw the Inside Claridge’s documentary on BBC Two a few years ago you’ll remember the gossamer-fine attention to detail offered by the super-luxe five-star London hotel. Us being pretty low-maintenance guests however, we didn’t demand that the perfectly decent bath be replaced with a Jacuzzi, like the Japanese pop star in the programme – we were delighted with our premier slip-ons.
This Art Deco diamond in upscale Mayfair was destined to impress. Launched as a hotel in the 1850s, and quickly championed by royalty and aristocrats, it became a symbol of the Roaring Twenties: its lobby was designed by Oswald Milne and Basil Ionides, and its glass door panels by Lalique (present today). A-list celebrities and the mega-wealthy continue to cross its threshold and, as a lover of all things 1920s, I decided there was nowhere in the world I’d rather celebrate my 40th birthday.
“I don’t want to go to heaven, I want to go to Claridge’s,” quipped actor Spencer Tracy. And having ticked-off this glorious place off my bucket list, I know exactly what he meant. For a place of such vintage – and where rooms start at £540 – there’s a surprising lack of snoot. The superb staff treat guests with a light touch, from front of house to the lovely John Alves, who commands the last man-operated lift in London.
Slick, friendly service starts from the get go at Simon Rogan’s grand Fera restaurant. There, we lowered the tone by ordering beers in an elegant room entirely dominated by wine-drinkers. But it was all of the London-produced craft variety (of course) and our charming French waiter was only too happy to impart knowledge of these local brews. As for the food, it was typical Rogan: complex, surprising, umami-rich, multifaceted and last-supper-worthy.
So whether you’re marking an anniversary – or celebrating your naughty 40s – do it through the lens of the Roaring Twenties at Claridge’s. Pleasure guaranteed. Even your feet will thank you.
Brook Street, Mayfair, London, +44 20 7629 8860; claridges.co.uk
WHAT TO PACK
The Correspondent The Carryon, €625 at steamlineluggage.com
Charlotte Tilbury Vintage Vamp palette, €50 at Brown Thomas
Swimming Pool Necklace, £26 at karenmabon.com
Stella McCartney Oversized Cat Eye Sunglasses, €240 at Brown Thomas
L’Occitane Almond Delicious Hands (30ml), €10.50 at ie.loccitane.com
Small Cat Long Silk Scarf, £95 at cleoferinmercury.co.uk
Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille (100ml), €201.45 at The Loop, Dublin International Airport
The Muse by Jessie Burton (Picador), €16.99
This article will appear in the all-new July issue of Cara magazine, which will be available on all Aer Lingus flights from tomorrow.