Anthea Gerrie

Israel's jazz legend owes it all to his mum

By Anthea Gerrie, April 22, 2010

A gothic chapel in Islington may seem an odd place for a Jewish boy to play his double-bass, but for Avishai Cohen the north London venue for his concert next week could not be better.

"I've had nice offers from Ronnie Scott's, but I don't play clubs anymore," explains the 40-year-old who has become a huge presence on the Israeli jazz scene. His music has become so spare and unplugged, churches and concert halls - where the acoustics are such that every note can be heard perfectly - are the only spaces where he feels comfortable performing.

More..

Le Bleu

By Anthea Gerrie, April 15, 2010

Forget those Manhtattanite jibes in Sex and the City and Gossip Girl about Brooklyn being Siberia. This outer borough where so many Jewish immigrants lived, is now very cool. Or at least, that's true of areas like Park Slope, New York's answer to Notting Hill with its restaurants, shops and brownstones that a growing number of young professionals call home. No surprise, then, that Hotel Le Bleu should emerge here as Brooklyn's first boutique hotel, though putting it on 4th Avenue is a bit like a London developer plonking a Westbourne Grove hotel beneath the Westway.

More..

Chagall, Emin and the joys of Sussex

By Anthea Gerrie, April 8, 2010

The genteel seaside resort of Easbourne may be an unlikely setting for world-class modern art, but its Towner Gallery is one of Britain's best. So good, in fact, that within a year of reopening in a new building, this excellent institution has already been shortlisted for the nation's top museum award, the national Art Fund Prize.

More..

Kivotos

By Anthea Gerrie, April 8, 2010

Kivotos is that rare creature on the Greek Islands, where dramatic and minimal is usually the order of the day - a ravishingly pretty hotel.

More..

Plaza On The River

By Anthea Gerrie, April 1, 2010

How does a new London hotel gain credence with the five-star crowd in an off-centre location far from the capital's buzz? By ramping up the glamour quotient - something the Israeli-owned Plaza on the River has managed in spades.

More..

The children who swapped the death camps for the Lake District

By Anthea Gerrie, April 1, 2010

To ordinary Britons from the city, the Lake District is a place of tranquil beauty. To the hundreds of Jewish orphans who arrived there from the death camps in 1945 to start a new life, it was nothing less than paradise.

More..

How tea dropped its cosy reputation

By Anthea Gerrie, March 18, 2010

Is tea the new cappuccino? It is if one of my neighbours is to believed; he absolutely has to hit the Starbucks next door to his office every day… for a cuppa!

More..

Chocolate

By Anthea Gerrie, March 11, 2010

Given all the chocoholics in the world, it's surprising it took so long for a hotel to arrive that is dedicated to their whims, and OD'ing on the sweet stuff is not hard to do at the 13-room Chocolate Boutique Hotel in the West Cliff area of Bournemouth.

An Edwardian house painted Milky Bar cream piped in chocolate brown, its rooms are named for the varieties foodies are likely to seek out in their local Waitrose. 

More..

Interview: Frederic Raphael

By Anthea Gerrie, March 4, 2010

More than 35 years after he first wrote about the experience of being a Jewish Oxbridge scholarship boy adrift in a hostile Britain, Frederic Raphael is still battling outsider angst.

More..

Alice's England is just wonderful

By Anthea Gerrie, March 4, 2010

It only opens today, yet half of Britain is already geared up for Alice in Wonderland fever. The new film has inspired catwalk creations, and now it's hoped it will also inspire tourists.

Everyone knows the fictional Alice dreamt of her surreal world while napping by the Thames, but director Tim Burton's wild interpretation of Lewis Carroll's book was based on locations in Devon and Cornwall, while the Carroll trail itself starts in Cheshire.  

More..

The Randolph

By Anthea Gerrie, February 18, 2010

No British hotel is quite so bound up with its home town as the Randolph (which we are now supposed to call the Macdonald Randolph since it fell under ownership of the Scottish hotel group).

You could blame this on Inspector Morse (an episode of the iconic ITV series was filmed here and Morse's creator, Colin Dexter, is a regular in the Morse Bar).However, the hotel was famous long before TV became the norm - it was a favourite for decades with Oxford's flamboyant academics.

More..

The rabbi’s medieval recipe to beat stress

By Anthea Gerrie, February 18, 2010

As a professional stressbuster, Rabbi Marcia Plumb is used to being greeted with the heartfelt cry: “Houston, we have a problem.” After all, the Texas-born guru has made Jewish angst the focus of her life’s work since leaving the USA, being ordained and setting up in London as a spiritual coach.

More..

Shabbat goes gourmet

By Anthea Gerrie, February 11, 2010

It is Friday night, and guests are coming for dinner. You do not know them well but you would like to impress them. Chopped liver, lockshen soup and roast chicken suddenly seem a tad old fashioned — and yet you hesitate to deviate from the norm in case your guests are actually looking forward to a traditional menu on Shabbat.

More..

The Ring

By Anthea Gerrie, February 11, 2010

In a town centre overloaded with the baroque, The Ring Hotel is a breath of fresh air. Aficionadoes of Vienna will know that an edgy, modern city lurks below the veneer of olde worlde grandeur, but until recently you had to head into distant neighbourhoods to discover the handful of hip boutique hotels already in place.

More..

Seaham Hall

By Anthea Gerrie, January 28, 2010

Once envisaged as a grand Georgian port on the Durham coast, Seaham segued into a mining village before the pits closed 30 years ago. Now the black beaches have given way to a romantic wild coastal strip, the little town is to be revitalised by a new marina and Seaham Hall, where Lord Byron wrote his Hebrew Melodies, has metamorphosed into one of the hospitality jewels of north-east England.

More..

When baby drives you mad (literally)

By Anthea Gerrie, January 28, 2010

When Jackie Benjamin gave birth to her first son 18 years ago, the last thing she expected was a descent into manic depression. “I felt elated and euphoric, and so keen to write down all the details of Alex’s birth I didn’t feel like sleeping,” says the Birmingham-based lawyer.

But gradually she became more and more fraught trying to breastfeed, while the lack of sleep made her “so tired, I thought I was going to die. No-one mentioned they thought I was going mad, but when a social worker called, I did wonder if they wanted to section me or take my child away.”

More..

Interview: Mitch Winehouse

By Anthea Gerrie, January 21, 2010

It may not be any kind of proof that Amy Winehouse is back on the straight and narrow, but her father sets a lot of store by the fact she will be at the family Seder this year — and, with luck, not touching even a ritual drop of her four glasses of wine.

More..

Reasons to be cheerful about SAD

By Anthea Gerrie, January 14, 2010

For his November trip to London, Dr Norman Rosenthal has packed a very important piece of bedside equipment with his shaving kit and toothbrush. It is the size of a paperback, but it is not a book or even an alarm clock — it’s a portable lightbox.

“I don’t go anywhere without it,” says the man who learned the hard way that he needed a daily turbo-infusion of wattage to get him through the winter. For Rosenthal is the man who discovered that diminishing daylight brings on SAD — the seasonal affective disorder which translates to one in five of us as winter blues.

More..

Istanbul: The empire strikes out

By Anthea Gerrie, December 22, 2009

One effect of Istanbul’s stint as European Capital of Culture 2010 will be an opportunity to showcase its shiny modern face. The city, best known for ancient Byzantine and Ottoman splendours, is actually a hip, thrusting metropolis with great designer shopping and a burgeoning contemporary art scene. But with a famous historic skyline dominated by domes, minarets and fortified Ottoman palaces, 21st century Istanbul remains largely unknown.

More..

101 Hotel

By Anthea Gerrie, December 17, 2009

It took almost a decade after it became a hip, clubbing capital for Reyjkavik to get the hostelry it was crying out for. The 101 Hotel, named for the central postal district where it stands, remains the height of cool. Where else could you bump into Bjork in the bar or find yourself sharing the hot tub with visiting rock stars?

More..