What is it about a celebrity name that grabs a headline? Celebrity status has been around since forever. Rome’s first emperor Caesar Augustus knew the power of endorsement back in ancient Rome, adding his image to coinage that circulated around the vast territories. His personal ‘brand’ mimicked Alexander the Great by adopting an eternally youthful clean-shaven image, with a carefully ruffled ‘fringe’ (or bangs, if you’re a US reader, Hello!). This week the industry has rallied together with their favourite celebrities to entice us all out of lockdown.
Rick Stein Seafood Pop-Up
Rick Stein and sons will be bringing Cornish seafood to London this summer. During a one week pop-up culinary happening at Belgravia hotel, The Goring, Rick and his team will prepare iconic dishes with lobster, crab and fresh fish. Signature dishes will include Whole Dover Sole meunière with noisette butter and Tronçon of Turbot with Hollandaise sauce, plus Sea Bass Ceviche with red chilli, tomatoes, red onions, coriander and avocado, and crispy Smoked Mackerel and Green Mango salad.
A special package will include an overnight stay and either a three-course lunch or dinner served on the sunny veranda overlooking the hotel’s secluded garden, and a bonus gift of a Rick Stein book as a memento. During the pop-up sons Jack and Charlie Stein will host a demo and there will be an additional meet and greet book signing event with Rick later in the week. The Goring’s Rick Stein Overnight Stay is priced from £690 per night and includes full English breakfast, a guaranteed upgrade, lunch or dinner for two in the Rick Stein pop-up on The Veranda, and Rick Stein’s book. (14 to 20 June). Book online at www.thegoring.com.
Postscript: Remarkably The Goring opened in 1910 and is still owned and run by the same family. The hotel is close to Buckingham Palace and a new book out last month follows the garden’s team throughout the year. This summer the public are invited to explore the royal gardens and even enjoy a picnic from 9 July to 19 September. Tickets online from £16.50 adult. www.rct.uk/visit/buckingham-palace
Cecil Beaton, Celebrating Celebrity
A new exhibition Cecil Beaton, Celebrating Celebrity opens this month at Blenheim Palace. It will feature iconic images on display throughout the State Rooms by the British fashion and portrait photographer. What a perfectly fitting scene for these stars of stage, screen and the world of fashion. More than 50 portraits including Barbra Streisand, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe will appear alongside Marlon Brando, Coco Chanel, Picasso, Andy Warhol and Twiggy.
Beaton’s career began with his friendship with the bright young things of the 1920’s and spanned five decades. Post WWI and pre The Great Depression and WWII, the Roaring Twenties represent a period of dramatic creativity not truly seen again until the 1960s. Nonetheless, his work continued with stunning images of fashion, theatre, ballet and the social scene of the 30’s and 40’s. In the fifties Beaton became the official photographer of the royal family. As a familiar guest at Palace parties and weekend breaks alongside a host of aristocrats, artists and writers, Beaton was able to develop his interests and connections.
Multi-talented, Beaton was also an accomplished artist, a diarist, an interior designer, and an Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer, winning an incredible three Oscars for Gigi and My Fair Lady. Cecil Beaton (1904 – 1980). Cecil Beaton, Celebrating Celebrity will run from 17 May to 1st August 2021. Access to the exhibition with a general admission ticket. Adult Palace, Park and Gardens Day Ticket £29.50. blenheimpalace.com
STOP PRESS. London Begins At 40 with all the lastest details on what to do and where to go in the city will launch on 17 May and I’m delighted to announce I will have a regular column on the best exhibitions and openings in the city. Watch this space for more details.
200th Anniversary Death of Napoleon
May 5th marks the 200th Anniversary of the death of another emperor, Napoleon, the military leader and emperor who rose to power during the French Revolution from modest beginnings.
Luxury travel concierge service, Ariodante Travel, has created the ultimate journey for exploring locations where Napoleon lived such as Corsica, Paris, Nice, Italy, Spain, Austria, Poland, Russia, Belgium, England and even Saint Helena, where the defeated Napoleon was exiled and later died.
For instance, in Paris learn about Napoleon’s rise to power. Travellers will have private access to Les Invalides and view the keys to Napoleon’s grand tomb, considered a sacred artefact and never on public display. Uncover the tunnels where government weapons were stored during the Revolution, and ultimately ransacked on 14th July on what is now known as Bastille Day. Enjoy private access to Fontainebleau and Malmaison where Napoleon resided with Josephine, and the Napoleon Foundation’s private collection of artefacts, including a series of sketches by artist Jacques-Louis David, also heavily involved in the Revolution, commissioned by the emperor for his coronation in 1804.
Stay in the finest hotel suites, perhaps the Belle Etoile suite at the Meurice Hotel. Ariodante’s Napoleon trip starts from £100,000. Or really push the boat out and stay on top of the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon, where Ariodante can create a glass hotel suite for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity never been done before. Priced at a cool £1.6 million for the privilege. Napoleon would no doubt have appreciated the gesture. www.ariodantetravel.com
Nero, the Infamous Roman Emperor
Even if you haven’t read The Twelve Caesars (121 AD) by Roman historian Suetonius (it’s a cracking good read) you will have heard of Nero, the most infamous of the Emperors. The first major UK exhibition Nero: the man behind the myth opens later this month at the British Museum. Brand has always been a fragile and fluid concept even before the 21st Digital Age. Suetonius himself claims that Nero was hated, with the public rejoicing at his downfall. New research and archaeological evidence dating from Ancient Rome challenges the historical accounts written after Nero’s death. Over 200 objects will chart the young emperor’s rise to power and re-examine his actions during this period of profound social change. Events laid at Nero’s door have included the execution of his biological mother; starting the Great Fire of Rome; and persecution of early Christians. With the promise of new light on these dark moments in history the exhibition is a hot ticket. Nero: the man behind the myth at the British Museum run from 27 May to 24 October 2021. Tickets adults from £20. Book online at www.britishmuseum.org
Dine Like A Celebrity
For the first time ever the grounds to Windmill Hill at Waddesdon, home to The Rothschild Foundation, will offer a new dining experience from 20 May. The Dining Domes will overlook the estate’s spectacular views of the Aylesbury countryside. The Vale was the landscape that inspired Baron Ferdinaned de Rothschild to create the magnificent Waddesdon Manor in the 1870s in the style of a fairytale French chateau. It is home to the much of the family’s eclectic collection of art and artefacts and is open to the public in safer times.
The domes will offer guests time to mingle amongst the cutting-edge art and architecture before dining high on the hill overlooking the Vale. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will pair fresh seasonal menus with delicious cocktails and wines. Sittings for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner will be available from 20 May until 13 June including Bank Holidays. Prices on request. Book at diningdomes.group/waddesdonwindmillhill
That’s it for this week. Stay safe and well wherever you are in the world and remember to take joy in the little things!
Gardens, public and hospitality venues are operating Covid-safe visits with timed admissions and tickets pre-bookable online. Please check the individual web sites for the latest information before you visit.
As always please check the regional and Foreign travel advice web sites for the latest on domestic and international travel guidelines.