5 Mar 2008

Palazzo Pizzaz

COCKTAILS MAKE me blush. Especially financially. I have a weakness for exotic ingredients flustered into aesthetically gripping collages. This photo trio records part of an evening spent sipping such creations at the immediately voguish, beautifully and meticulously finished Soho Hotel.
Like Andaz (formerly the Great Eastern), which has dispensed with the check-in desk altogether, this venue makes an immediate statement of unconventionality to the traveller. Hence the ten foot tall, black porcelain crouching cat in the lobby. I came face to paw with her after a spirited Sazerac, the absinthe brushed whisky and bitters... I asked the rather camp concierge to explain this. "It's our big pussy" he said, without any trace of irony.
Anyway, Refuel, Bar and Restaurant smells intensely of fresh mint. The low ceilings and utilitarian, pebble covered pillars are inevitable references to the busy site's former use: a tiered car park. The pewter bar must be one of the longest in London. The range of spirits is apothecarial. A Wurlitzer of illuminated liquid icons and lesser known, individual bottles.
Incidentally, this venue has no immediate parking facilities(!)
Soho Hotel - 4 Richmond Mews London. W1D 3DH. T. 020 7559 3000
By contrast, the Four Seasons , where I enjoyed a softly blended 'Vesper' Martini - Vodka and Gin - strains with its every fibre to reproduce a 1970's Italian Grand Hotel. This AA five red star Palazzo is everything the Soho would admonish: wood panelling, cosseting fabrics, Murano glass and afternoon tea with tinkling piano.
Grey tops, thick pile and the occasional hooker versus the collective of media whores down the road...
Four Seasons - Park Lane, London. W1A 1AZ. T. 020 7499 0888