"Even though this restlessness is the norm, the transformation of London in the past quarter-century has still been extraordinarily dramatic."
I know London so well that sometimes it feels like a second home. But on my recent trip, I was left incredulous by the rapidity of change. All great cities are dynamic: Their economies evolve; their populations shift; new neighborhoods prosper. But even though this restlessness is the norm, the transformation of London in the past quarter-century has still been extraordinarily dramatic. Some argue that today it is the first truly global city, a metropolis where the populations of Europe, Asia, Africa and North America now all meet and mingle.
On this occasion, I opted to stay first at the new Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, located on Floors 34 through 52 of Renzo Piano’s dramatic, glass-clad 1,016-foot tower. Scarcely a hideaway, I know, but I couldn’t resist a glimpse of the view. And the panorama from my room did not disappoint; it was truly extraordinary and reason enough in itself for a stay. I then headed west to more familiar haunts in Soho, Piccadilly and Mayfair. At the top of my list of priorities was the new Ham Yard Hotel, located in a peaceful courtyard just steps from the theaters lining Shaftesbury Avenue. It proved to be a remarkable property and a testament to the imagination of its co-owner and designer, Kit Kemp. Although I suspect that a majority of Hideaway Report subscribers would feel more at home in the traditional surroundings of, say, The Goring, The Stafford or Claridge’s, if you are at ease with contemporary design and relish a youthful urban buzz, this could be a place for you.
Having enjoyed The Dorchester’s boutique sibling, 45 Park Lane, I moved to London’s western outskirts for a stay at Coworth Park near Ascot, which is also part of The Dorchester Collection. Just nine miles from Heathrow Airport, this equestrian and spa resort is ideal for those with long layovers between intercontinental flights, or for travelers coming to the end of tours of southern England.
This issue also contains an account of my rejuvenating week at a thalassotherapy (seawater) spa in Brittany, where I discovered that “dietetic haute cuisine” is not necessarily an oxymoron. In addition, you will find my review of the new Chedi ski resort in Andermatt, an extravagant property that is intended to transform the town into a high-profile ski destination, able to compete with the likes of Gstaad and St. Moritz.