by Michelle McDermott
Shopping and checking in to Boutique Hotels are two of
my favorite things. So much so, that I even have my
own website dedicated to these pursuits!
[www.ohsoboutique.com] With one week’s vacation time
and a clutch of travel tickets, here’s how you can
visit three European cities, stay in the best boutique
hotels and shop in the most stylish locations. Pack
the Jimmy Choos!
Grey Skies Blue
Day 1 – The clouds are low and the sky is dark. Not a
very glamorous start to my epic journey. So what do
you do with 24hrs in Glasgow and a debilitating dose
of transatlantic jet lag? Check into Hotel Du Vin at
One Devonshire Gardens and let the ‘Best of Scotland’
come to you!
This five star hotel in the fashionable West End of
Glasgow has become home to many a visiting dignitary
or Hollywood actor. Star spotting was far from my mind
as I lowered myself into the deep claw-footed tub and
watched the local news on the bathroom flat screened
TV. This hotel room was truly huge! The black
velveteen fleur de lys wallpaper provided a stunning
backdrop to the room, with bright orange cushions
scattered around the lounge area. As I dozed off to
the Jesus and Mary Chain blasting out the sound
system, I knew I was resident in a very special place.
Later, in preparation for the trip ahead, I fortified
myself with dinner in the Bistro. Letting the ‘Best of
Scotland’ come to me, I chose from the locally sourced
menu of fish, veal, pork and lamb. After wards, the
Head Sommelier gave me a guided tour of the vast and
impressive wine cellar in the basement. As the rain
splashed against the stained glass window, I retired
to my Schlossenburg suite [all the rooms are named
after wineries] and threw myself on the gigantic bed,
letting the waves of jet lag consume me once more.
Make sure to order the substantial Continental Breakfast!
Pendolino it to London
Day 2 – On this trip, I had decided to avoid airports
at all costs. Instead, I booked a first class ticket
on the Virgin Trains’ Pendolino service to London.
Swish! Fast! and very comfortable, these trains are
high speed tilting locomotives. Never one to miss out
on an adventure, my Mum, my partner in crime, had
decided to vacation with me. Passing through damp
hills and glens and rough Northern cities, we dined on
the never ending service of sandwiches, scones and
wine and pulled into London Euston Station, relaxed
and rather light headed! We had no idea that this was
to be our state for the next four days.
Champagne and Canapes
Our next port of call on the ‘Glamour Trail’ was
Langham Hotel, London. Dating back to 1865, Langham
enjoys an imposing location on Portland Square. As we
drove up in our black cab, the red carpet was awaiting
our arrival. Inside, the atmosphere is one of casual
elegance, and professionalism. But let me tell you
that this hotel has a secret! The inner sanctum of the
building is home to the Langham Hotel Club, which
provides access to the Club Lounges and the Langham
Health Club and Spa.
Book a Club Room and you will gain access to
the lounges, which serve complimentary snacks and
beverages all day long. The champagne is free flowing
and the service is superb.
Shaken not Stirred!
Artesian at the Langham is the place to kick back in
your new Jimmy Choos! As the waiter presented us with
our elderflower daiquiris, I almost choked as I saw a
very suave actor sitting to my right. After regaining
my composure, I whispered to my Mum to look over her
shoulder and to confirm it was who I thought it was.
She politely declined and told me he was deserving of
Walk Like You Own It!
Day 3 – On our second day in London, we had made
arrangements to have a delectable Champagne Tea at the
Ritz. Once again, it was time to don the Jimmy Choos
and enjoy my ‘Tiffany’ moment as I hailed a cab and
told the driver to ‘take me to the Ritz!’ A jaded
Londoner, he was not impressed in the least.
Walking into this famous establishment, my Mum
whispered some words of advice – ‘walk it like you own
it.’ Inside, the decadent decor, a rich historical
tapestry of bygone days, takes its influences from a
very grand French chateau. We laughed at the irony as
our waiter placed some paper under the table leg to
stop it from wobbling. Then the rituals of High Tea
began. Sitting under the Palm Court’s frosted glass
ceiling, we smiled as the delectables were paraded in
front of us; scones with jam and cream, petite
pastries and rows of little crust less sandwiches.
Edwardian London was alive and kicking!
Check out the Art Deco Rivoli Bar.
Day 4 – Paris was awaiting! Eurostar was my choice of
transport to get us from city center to city center.
In just under an amazingly short three hours we would
be arriving in time for a late lunch.
Hotel de La Tremoille, around the corner from the
famous Plaza Athenee, was to be our boudoir for the
night. I wanted to prove to my mother that my language
degree was not a waste of her hard earned cash, so we
braved the bus all the way to Galleries Lafayette,
Paris’ premier department store. Unfortunately, it
took us a little longer to find our way back. As we
entered the land of Dior and Gucci on Avenue
Montaigne, I informed the bus driver that we were
home! It was indeed a delight to be home for the night
in La Tremoille and enjoying all that the hotel’s
restaurant had to offer. Letting the ‘Best of Paris’
come to us, we dined on the classically French
The stylish bedroom was warm and inviting, after an
exhausting day of trying to squeeze in as much of
Paris as we could in the limited time available. Muted
velvet draperies, over the three ornate balconies,
provided sound proofing from the busy street below.
The bathroom was delightful, complete with a deep
soaking tub, a separate rainfall shower and toiletries
by Molton Brown.
Day 5 – Next morning, aware that time was running out,
we stepped out for a walk along the Seine, sat in a
sidewalk cafe drinking our cafe au lait and then it
was time to brave the bus one more time to catch our
Eurostar train back to London.
Check out Paul and Joe on Avenue Montaigne,
the staff are very friendly and they sell a diffusion
range of fashion in Target.
The Met Bar
Our final destination hotel was The Metropolitan hotel
on London’s Park Lane. Chic and minimalist The
Metropolitan is an iconic hotel adored by the media
crowd. With a stunning city view from our balcony
overlooking Hyde Park, we shared prime real estate
with the Four Seasons next door. Harrods is a ten
minute bus ride away [depending on traffic] and if you
want to stay local, the quaint Shepherd’s market is a
short stroll behind the hotel. After a week of eating
some of the finest food at some of the best
restaurants in Northern Europe, we were crying out for
a London curry!
As the sun set on our final evening, we headed back to
the calmness of our contemporary room and showered
with the Como Shambhala products in the bathroom.
Revitalized and re-energized, it was time to put on
the Jimmy Choos and head down to the famous Met Bar.
Here, the best of London’s media and music crowd
strive to get ‘in’ while you, as a guest of the hotel,
will be able to walk on by! – Just remember to walk it
like you own it!
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Continental Airlines flies from Chicago to Glasgow via Newark
Based on an internet search, one way ticket from
Chicago to Glasgow from $641. One way ticket from
Glasgow to Chicago from $641. Both flights stop in Newark.
Hotel Du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens
reservations: +44 (0) 141 339 2001
reservations: +44 (0) 20 7636 1000
reservations: +33 (0) 1 56 52 14 00
reservations: +44 (0) 207 447 1000
The Ritz London
reservations: toll free from the USA 1 877 748 9536
Eurostar is moving to St Pancras International station on 14th November 2007. US travelers can purchase Eurostar tickets from eurostar.com. Single fares in standard class startfrom $94 with returns from $101. Eurostar’s Leisure Select fares start at $167 for a single ticket and $205 for a return ticket. Leisure Select offers complimentary meal, beverage, newspaper and more leg room. London to Paris in 2hrs 35min – faster that a flight.
Glasgow to London Pendolino service in 4.5hrs.
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OhSoBoutique reviews Boutique Hotels worldwide.