“When I die, I don’t want to go to heaven, I want to go to Claridge’s.” Those are the words from renowned American actor Spencer Tracy, one of the brightest stars from Hollywood’s golden age.
If that quote isn’t enough to show how lavish this hotel is, then consider the fact that The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s ruby wedding party and Charles and Diana’s wedding reception have been held there and that it’s colloquially known as the ‘annexe to Buckingham Palace’. It’s not just members of the royal family that have had a ‘knees up’ there, famous visitors include Winston Churchill stayed during the Second World War as well as cultural icons such as Audrey Hepburn. However, it’s signature attraction is its afternoon tea in Thierry Despont’s magnificent Foyer. It’s hardly surprising, considering Afternoon tea accompanied by finger sandwiches are regarded as an institution and is steeped in the history of the hotel.
The quality of the cold food is equally complimented by the hot food. Claridge’s flagship, Michelin-starred restaurant is called Fera (which is Latin for wild), now run by head chef and Simon Rogan protégé Matt Starling. Here, the focus is purely on the food, with no exquisitely detailed cutlery or painstakingly crafted to distract you from your dish in the art deco space. Speaking of food, it’s nothing less than sumptuous. Black truffle, one of rarest mushrooms in the world is featured on the menu. The restaurant only endorses the freshest ingredients that are at the peak of their maturity, so the menu is prone to changes as the year progresses. All this results in a typical a la carte three-course meal costing in the region of £80 per head.
Claridges’ image of ‘quintessential English-ness’ is contrasted by some of its unique quirks, such as its take on the traditional Christmas tree. As far back as 2009, the hotel has been inviting fashion designers such as John Galliano from Dior, Christopher Bailey from Burberry as well as Kally Ellis from McQueens to decorate the hotels Christmas tree found in the main entrance. These spectacular marvels have drawn in crowds consistently and the presentation of the tree has since become a feverishly anticipated event in Mayfair.
If all of the above still doesn’t convince you of the sheer magnitude of the place, consider this: Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia was born in the hotel after his exiled father had soil from his home country placed under the bed, so his son could be literally be born on home soil.
Featured Image: condenast.co.uk