Anthea Gerrie

Ston Easton

By Anthea Gerrie, July 1, 2010

V The trouble with newish country house hotels is that, polished and swagged within an inch of their lives, they spoil us for the real thing. Like Ston Easton Park, a really grand old pile relatively recently converted to a hotel.            Being seriously old, it has a fascinating history — but age brings its problems. So I had to get over the fact Ston Easton has a shabby, discoloured façade compared to the splendid mansions of golden Bath stone a few miles away, and that my vast bedroom smelled faintly musty.

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Yes, really, an undiscovered part of Italy

By Anthea Gerrie, June 24, 2010

When any slice of Italy remains undiscovered by the demonstrably Italiophile British tourist, you have to wonder why.  

And given the beauty and diversity of Basilicata, it can only be down to its history - which is strange and exotic. The Jews who first peddled their wares along the Appian Way in the third century CE are long gone (even from Naples, the nearest major city, which once had a substantial community), as are the stonemasons who worked the quarries before emigrating to build New York's skyscrapers. 

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Grand Hotel Vesuvio

By Anthea Gerrie, June 24, 2010

No-one does old-style glamour like the Italians, and it's particularly true in Naples, the very essence of old-style, baroque, schmaltzy Italy. So it's no surprise to find a wealth of recession-defying silk, marble and silver at the Grand Hotel Vesuvio overlooking Vesuvius, Sorrento and other heart-stopping delights of Naples Bay.

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John Suchet: our carer saved my life

By Anthea Gerrie, June 24, 2010

John Suchet has a tough week ahead, he confesses at the Baker Street block of flats where he grew up and now sits surrounded by boxes. On Tuesday he will close the door on the happiest chapter of his life when he walks out of the home he shared with his beloved wife Bonnie for 25 years. The night before, he has a talk to give at a Jewish Care fundraising dinner.

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Mandarin Oriental

By Anthea Gerrie, June 10, 2010

In a constantly-changing world, London's Mandarin Oriental reassures by appearing to be totally constant. This is, of course, an illusion - even the name of this august old lady of Knightsbridge has changed, and the restaurants and bars have been in constant flux in response to fashion. No more than you'd expect from a hotel with Madonna's seal of approval.

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Intoxicating praise for Israeli vintages

By Anthea Gerrie, June 3, 2010

After more than 20 years of striving for a quality reputation, Israeli wines have come of age with a ringing endorsement from one of Britain's best-known experts.

"These are arguably the finest wines in the Eastern Mediterranean," Times columnist and Master of Wine Tim Atkin told restaurateurs, sommeliers and wine writers who had gathered for the most ambitious tasting Israel's winemakers have ever staged in the UK.

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Hotel of the week: Fairmont Mayakoba

By Anthea Gerrie, May 27, 2010

If anyone could bring a touch of class to an area whose reputation has been damaged by overbuilding and too many package tourists, it's Fairmont. The company which now owns the Savoy, and is overseeing a restoration to its art deco glory days, has shown, in its Mayakoba resort on Mexico's Caribbean coast, that it can also do eco resorts.

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What a Carrie on: Marrakesh just got hotter

By Anthea Gerrie, May 21, 2010

It's no surprise to hear that Sarah Jessica Parker and her co-stars were spotted running riot with their wallets in Marrakesh recently while filming scenes for Sex and the City2. This most exotic of Moroccan cities is one of the great shopping meccas of the world, as well as a great place to dine, to steam in a hammam, to enjoy the local entertainment or to just generally hang out.

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Sofitel

By Anthea Gerrie, May 21, 2010

You don't expect an airport hotel to be glamorous, but that's the first word that comes to mind arriving at the Sofitel Gatwick. Blame it on the soaring atrium and impressive water feature which greet guests emerging from the tunnel which links this hotel (it looks like such an anonymous box from the outside), with the North Terminal.

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Mrs B, the queen of British fashion

By Anthea Gerrie, May 21, 2010

She was a fashion tycoon who made it in her 20s and 30s and lost it all in her 40s - the house, the butler, the housekeeper, the nanny, the places at a top London private school for her two children.

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Welcome to Robin Hood's merry England

By Anthea Gerrie, May 13, 2010

Robin Hood will be riding through the glen yet again this month, at least on the silver screen - and no doubt Ridley Scott's epic is not the last we'll see of Friar Tuck, Maid Marian or Robin himself.  Nor of Merlin, Lancelot and King Arthur, for that matter, given the fact that myths and legends are woven into our national psyche, and we seem to love keeping them alive.

To make it easier to follow in the footsteps of Robin and other legendary heroes - not to mention a fair few real and legendary villains - Visit England has launched a new Myths and Legends map and website.  

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Feathers

By Anthea Gerrie, May 13, 2010

Of all the gin joints in all the world, you won't find one with more varieties of mother's ruin than The Feathers in Woodstock. But there are more reasons to visit this charming country inn than a quest for the ultimate G&T.

It may not be apparent at first glance why Gwyneth Paltrow and Johnny Depp have graced such an unassuming establishment. The tiny reception area is a lot less showy than that of the neighbouring Bear, and with its proximity to Blenheim Palace, Oxford and the Cotswolds, pretty Woodstock is positively spilling over with places to stay.

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Place At The Beach

By Anthea Gerrie, May 6, 2010

Unlike the Californians, who have honed coastal living to a fine art, we British are not great at seaside hotels. We do grand Victorian piles and grim corporate boxes, but hardly ever affordable, contemporary chic which salutes the sea.

So The Place at the Beach in East Sussex is a treasure - an award-winning seaside hotel which is smart yet unpretentious and welcomes families and dogs while still managing to convey a chilled adult vibe that weekending couples will enjoy.

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As ash clouds fell, I went wild for the forest

By Anthea Gerrie, May 6, 2010

As friends' plans for exotic holidays were dashed by volcanic ash clouds, it was hard not to feel smug as we strolled, dog in tow, through the dappled sunshine of the New Forest on a perfect spring weekend. When heaven lies on the coastal fringes of Hampshire and Dorset, who needs to take to the skies?

It is no surprise that the odd coven of white witches has settled in this corner of ancient Wessex - and that should be taken as encouragement to visit.  

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Flemings

By Anthea Gerrie, April 28, 2010

It is entirely appropriate that the refurbishment of Flemings in Mayfair feels as if it was done by some giddy socialite dabbling in interiors rather than a dedicated designer.For there is nothing remotely corporate about this conversion of six Georgian townhouses on Half Moon Street, as you can tell from the moment you walk into the lift disguised as a faux library. Flemings celebrates its 250th birthday as a hotel next year, and with its slogan "chic and discreet", it was surely the scene of some dangerous liaisions.

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Divorce made me smile at strangers

By Anthea Gerrie, April 28, 2010

Has the seven-year-itch been replaced by a new, harder-to-scratch, 20-year variant which prompts the female of the species to up and leave a long marriage? That is what author Linda Kelsey found when her own break-up prompted her to uncover some startling research.

"I discovered there had been a seismic shift in the institution," says Kelsey, a former editor of Cosmopolitan. "In just the six years to 2008, the Office of National Statistics estimated the number of divorced women over 45 jumped by a third.

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Andrassy

By Anthea Gerrie, April 22, 2010

To the traveller, it's a boutique hotel at one of Budapest's swankiest addresses.    But during World War II the Bauhaus building at Andrassy ut 111 meant life over death for dozens of Jewish orphans.

Mamaison Andrassy, a two-minute stroll from Heroes' Square, was built as a Jewish boarding house in 1937, and after the outbreak of war became an orphanage. It was one of the precious "safe houses" in which Raoul Wallenberg and other diplomats were able to protect up to 10 per cent of the city's Jews from deportation.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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