I have just come across this video (below) of Baz Lurhmann’s photo shoot for The Hollywood Reporter and I just had to share it. I am so so excited for this film and I really hope it is as good as Lurhmann’s best works.

To say I wasn’t keen on Australia is an understatement. I still haven’t been able to watch it ’til the end, let alone get to its halfway point.

But The Great Gatsby? It has to be good, right?

(Video link)

By the way, if you are looking to hang out somewhere that oozes inspiration from The Great Gatsby era whilst you wait for the movie to come out, why don’t you have a read of my post on The Wellesley Hotel? It is a truly gorgeous place to listen to some jazz and sip cocktails (as well as have a cigar).

Last week I was invited to take a look around the recently opened The Wellesley Hotel in Knightsbridge. I had popped in a few months ago when it was just a building site and I was very excited to return, to see the end result.

But before I take you on a tour with my photos, let me give you some interesting facts about the hotel. They’ll explain why I think this place is pretty special.

Each guest staying at this 36-room boutique hotel will have complimentary use of The Wellesley’s Rolls Royce for journeys within two miles of the area. Guests will also receive 24-hour butler service, Samsung tablets in their rooms and a Wellesley mobile phone to use whilst staying at the hotel.

When you walk into the building the first thing to hit you is the sumptuous art deco interior, of which I am a huge fan.

The Wellesley HotelTo your right you have The Crystal Bar, which houses an impressive array of cognac (some dating back to the 1770s), whiskies and champagne. The 1920s-inspired cocktails list is also very inviting.

The Wellesley HotelThe bar leads out onto an outdoor terrace with gorgeous leather seats. This isn’t a place you would want to leave in a hurry.

The Wellesley HotelAcross the corridor, in the hotel, is the Cigar Lounge and Terrace. And if you know any cigar fans, you might have to let them know that The Wellesley houses the largest bespoke hotel humidor in Europe and the biggest collection of cigars sold on a stick-by-stick basis in the world.

The Wellesley - Smoking Room

The Wellesley HotelI stepped into the humidor and whilst I don’t know too much about cigars, I do recognise an impressive collection when I see one.

The Wellesley HotelSome of the boxes which store the cigars were impressive in their own right and I could imagine a cigar aficionado having plenty of fun browsing this collection.

The Wellesley HotelAfter a look around, we stopped into the Oval Restaurant for lunch. With seating for 28 diners, I loved the intimacy of this venue as well the design.

The Wellesley HotelThe Italian menu inspired by seasonal ingredients was also a real delight to try.

For starters, I chose the roasted vegetable salad with goats cheese.

The Wellesley HotelFor main I had the pappardelle with wild boar.

The Wellesley HotelAnd for dessert, I had to try the apple tart with Armagnac ice cream.

The Wellesley HotelNeedless to say, attention to detail was integral to the presentation of these dishes. But the pleasures of lunch didn’t end there. The flavours and the quality of the fresh ingredients also elevated lunch to a more delectable level, which was topped off by these sweet offerings at the end.

The Wellesley HotelUnfortunately for me but fortunately for the hotel the bedrooms and suites were occupied, so I couldn’t take any photos this time round. But here is a photograph of one of the rooms, from my last visit – to give you some idea.

The Wellesley HotelAnd whilst I have no immediate reason to check into this hotel, I am intrigued by their jazz bar where Afternoon Tea is also served. The previous venue on this site was the legendary Pizza On The Park where some of the most revered jazz musicians have played. So it seems only fitting that The Wellesley Hotel would want to continue the musical legacy of this location by showcasing both established and up-and-coming acts in their Jazz Room. And that is exactly what they are doing. To find out more, have a look at The Wellesely’s website. This is truly a gorgeous hotel.

I’ve been thinking about my fashion posts recently and how I could make them more interesting and more me. And then, this morning, I had a flash of inspiration. Given that my most populated blog category is cocktails, it just makes sense for me to merge the two: fashion and cocktails. After all, when hitting a bar for a cocktail or few, it’s important to be wearing the right outfight, yes?

So here is my first cocktail-inspired fashion outfit for the Black Velvet. Some of you may already know that this Guinness and Champagne cocktail is one of my favourites. It’s a must-have with oysters, if it’s on the menu but even on its own, it’s a very smooth and luxurious-feeling drink.

From a girly perspective, I’ve always found Guinness to be AMAZING when my head is feeling out of sorts in a PMT way (sorry guys!). In the 1970s, Guinness used to be served to new mothers in hospitals, so there must be something chemical that works to help us ladies feel better. And what better way to indulge in a bit of comfort drinking than to include Champagne into the mix.

At J. Sheeky and The Wolseley, Black Velvets come in silver tankards but if you’re not looking for an accompaniment to oysters, you can of course drink them from Champagne flutes. Here’s one I sipped at The Aubrey Doyle Bar in The Kensington Hotel.

And here is my suggestion for a Black Velvet inspired outfit:

1. Stripy Velvet Boat Neck Dress at Orla Kiely

2. Daytime shoes: Harriet Ballet Flats at French Sole

3. Black and Gold Friendship Bracelet at Links of London

4. Evening shoes: Black Ghillie Shoes at Vivienne Westwood

5.  The Pippa shoulder bag by Modalu at Harvest

I hope it inspires! x

Scallops at Aubrey Doyle, which I’ve enjoyed before.

Yet another ‘I love London’ moment earlier this week.

Cocktail and Cake Liquid Afternoon Tea tasting at The Royal Horseguards Hotel.

Ross X Bute fashion event.

Red Velvet Cupcake from The Chelsea Teapot.

Discovering Addies Thai in Earls Court, almost opposite Ping. Win!

Brunch at Carluccio’s in Kensington.

Picking up some magazines from My Fulham News – one of the only few newsagents left in Chelsea and where I bought my first issues of Just 17 and Smash Hits. These guys are local legends!

Today’s brunch from my fave chef, the bf!

xox

Given the option I tend to opt for a cocktail over pudding after a meal. But imagine if one didn’t have to make that choice? What if cocktails and sweet treats were one and the same, combined?

When I received my invitation to taste the Cocktail & Cake Liquid Afternoon Tea menu at The Royal Horseguards Hotel, I discovered that this was possible. Hallelujah!

The sight of cocktail glasses lined up at the hotel’s Equus Bar was heavenly. This was going to be an afternoon tea designed for me, or so it felt like it.

And as much as I adore traditional tea and scones, I realised instantly that this experience was going to be somewhat different from anything I had ever tried.

The tastings started off with canapés and were followed by food demonstrations …

The ice lolly machine was very interesting – and apparently, this iced platform is also great for carpaccio!

I tried the Long Island Ice Tea jelly shots … Yum!

And one of the Strawberry Daiquiri Macaroons … Delish.

There were also cocktail making sessions. This Lord Kitchener cocktail was to die for! – if you prefer martinis to have a kick, which I do.

After the demonstrations, we were taken around the hotel to learn about its formidable history as well as discover its hidden gems.

My favourite historical nugget is knowing that what is now the hotel reception used to be a bar where Winston Churchill spent much time as a young man when he was a Liberal.

But even as a Conservative, Churchill returned to this building which was and still is in part associated with the National Liberal Club. What would he make of today’s coalition? We can only wonder.

It’s also not a surprise that cocktails on the Equus Bar menu reflect not only Churchill’s association with the building but also its other past inhabitants: George Bernard Shaw, Lord Kitchener and William Gladstone. The hotel used to also be a block of flats.

The tour of the hotel was stunning. This really is a beautiful building and it didn’t feel as if we were in Central London but rather on some country estate far far away.

As for the tastings, what can I say? Each experience was full of flavour. Each of the canapés were a delightful surprise, including this fish and chips in a teacup dish – which is essentially creamy haddock soup with a potato chip carefully laid on top. Amazing.

The cocktails were stellar. The Churchill cocktail included a combination of bourbon, homemade tobacco syrup and aromatic bitters and I can’t recommend it enough.

But if you prefer something sweeter, the Sir Mansfield-Cumming is also a good option …

It contains a mixture of Scotch, Quince Liquer, fresh lemon and Whisky barrel aged bitters – with a maraschino cherry. Admittedly, I ordered this drink because I was thinking more about James Bond. Mansfield-Cumming had set up MI6. But I did enjoy it and again I was met with surprising bursts of flavours.

This Cocktail and Liquid Afternoon Tea menu is only available for a limited time: from 5th until 14th October 2012. And to book or for more information, you can click here.

If you do make it down, have a fabulous time. I’ll definitely be heading back because I hear Adrian (the principal bartender) makes a great Manhattan and I have yet to taste one that blows me away. I cannot wait!

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