LIVING IT UP

Luxe columnist Varsha Sehgal checks out far flung feasts and fine things…

THRILLED BY >>

It can be hugely disappointing when old and beautiful is sacrificed to make way for something new and modern.

I have been visiting Annabel’s in Mayfair for years and have always loved the feeling it conjures with its dimly lit rooms, artwork, plush velvets, smart waiting staff and beautifully dressed clientele. As you enter you instantly feel like you’ve been swept into a secret world of decadence.

So I was a little apprehensive at whispers regarding the refurbishment to modernise the club. My fears were laid to rest, however, during a recent visit.

Having made some spectacular changes, they have retained the niche elements that make this place the most exclusive private members’ club. The restaurants, bars, nightclub, private dining rooms, garden terrace and cigar salon spread over four floors are powerhouses of influence and style.

Sat under the glass canopy in the garden, tucking in to my truffle pizza and wine, I was thrilled to be back amongst the movers and shakers in a world that is beyond surreal.

TRAVELLED TO >>

A serene hamlet in the Turkish Riviera, Bodrum is a city of ancient ruins, azure blue seas and unspoilt beaches. A former fishing village with a past that can be traced back to 300 BC, Bodrum had been a part of the Greek and Ottoman empires before it eventually became a Turkish state. These influences remain unmistakable and deeply embedded in the fabric of life in this little peninsula.

Seduced by the beauty of its rugged coastline, pine-clad hills, warm sunshine, an abundance of delicious seafood and wine and an intriguing mix of the exotic and western, Bodrum for me is a fabulous destination. If direct flights in the summer seal the decision for you, here are some ideas that might help plan a visit:

STAY >>

Mandarin Oriental – located in Paradise Bay (the name says it all) this is a stunning resort with private beaches, gourmet restaurants, a beach club (the Blue Marlin) and superb spa. Panoramic views overlooking the Aegean, first class service and a real sense of exclusivity.

Macakizi Hotel – another stylish and luxurious property with a bohemian vibe. Situated over Turkbuku Bay, this hotel boasts stunning views and a glitzy clientele.

LUNCH >>

Bodrum Balikcisi – this is a Turkish restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental serving the most delicious authentic mezzes, warm breads, olives and Turkish fish which go down beautifully with a crisp glass of Domain Ott. The olive trees that grow on the hillside, flower beds bursting with colour and views of Blue Beach below make it a serene place to spend an afternoon.

Blue Marlin – a stylish beach club, it has great music and food and the afternoons melt away into evenings that lead onto parties on the beach at night.

Il Riccio – famous for its stunning setting on Cennet Koyu, this is pricey Italian food paired with exquisite wines – worth a spy anyhow!

Maca Kizi – the most stylish jetty and the best seafood in town unquestionably. Arrive here early and spend the day lounging on a pre-booked cabana, swimming in the Aegean, lunching on freshly caught lobsters, mussels and fish at the restaurant perched above and at sun-down sampling cocktails at the open air bar.

DINNER >>

Assaggio – a cool seabreeze, twinkling stars and the lapping sea make this the most idyllic alfresco dining experience. The fact that the food is top-notch and service superb, render it unmissable. The truffle pasta was so good we returned more than once in a single trip!

Miam – for a semi-casual evening amongst locals, this place is bursting with life and music under the soft glow of the moon and hundreds of fairy lights. The divine food is an added bonus for a perfect evening.

Kocadon – regarded by many as the best food in all of Turkey, this restaurant is in Old Town Bodrum. The setting is simple but not without charm. Candlelit tables in an ancient courtyard and under a canopy of giant palm trees.

Zuma – as far as alfresco dining goes, Bodrum is unbeatable on every count. Japanese food that is consistently good, no matter where in the world a Zuma is located, this restaurant enjoys the added benefit of its perfect and most picturesque location in Palmarina.

SEE >>

A visit to the Old Town is a must, not just because it has some fabulous markets for treasures in the form of a piece of jewellery, shawl or rug, but this is also where many of the city’s historical sights like the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Bodrum Castle and Tepecik Mosque can be found. In the evenings this is a great place to come for a stroll and get a feel of local life and maybe stop for an ice-cream.

DO >>

At sea – The bays that form the coastline of Bodrum also hide caves that are great for exploring. Sailing and all kinds of water sports are extremely popular. The gulet (a wooden, two or three masted boat) from the Old Town is a particularly fun experience.

On land – to be in Turkey and not try a traditional hammam would be a crying shame. A holistic ritual that guarantees pampering of the highest pedigree, this is a tradition that has withstood the test of time. Raki has been a part of Turkish life for centuries and is Turkey’s answer to the French absinthe. It is an anise-flavoured milky drink that should only be consumed with food and sipped slowly.

TASTED >>

Back home, located on Westgate Road, St. Sushi’s appeal is its unpretentious and relaxed attitude to dining well. Having heard so many people rave on about it, as a foodie I felt I simply had to try it out – the fact that it didn’t come with fancy Michelin endorsements didn’t deter me in the least and I am glad I gave it a go.

The menu comprised of almost a hundred different options which the staff were very helpful in assisting me to narrow down to a few dishes. My sushi order of the Soft Shell Crab Maki, Fiery Tempura Prawns and Fresh Salmon Temaki was creative, fresh and heavenly to taste and the Pork Gyoza, Miso Cod, Chicken Teriyaki and Kimchi Fried Rice that followed were equally delectable. The entire lunch experience was thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying and I look forward to more visits in the future.

TEMPTED BY >>

I think most people would agree winter overstayed its welcome this year and many of us have been longing to ditch the heavy coats and dark colours for summer dressing and brighter hues. Walking down Mount Street, despondent by the weather, I walked into the Gianvito Rossi boutique and what was meant to be shelter from the rain and a quick browse ended up being a three pairs of shoes acquisition trip of which the Giada Mule was a noteworthy addition and begs a mention. Ivory mules handmade with white embroidered lace, pictured below. They could almost be bridal but will most definitely sail through summer with grace and enhance the appeal of any beautiful summer dress.

TRIED ON >>

Every Mother’s Day I am treated to a new and brilliant find by my children (good taste and staying ahead of the style curve comes naturally to them, of course). This year my gift came in gold wrapping bearing a super luxurious decanter of the the latest addition to the Tom Ford perfume range, the Vanille Fatale. With similar tones as its predecessor the Tobacco Vanilla, Vanille Fatale is utterly seductive with hints of myrrh, olibanum, roasted coffee and frangipani. It is an enticing and unforgettable fragrance which currently holds pride of place on my dresser.

THINKING ABOUT >>

People are always shocked when they find out that I see myself as a rock chic. Growing up, it wasn’t Tom Cruise or Take That that adorned my walls, instead my room was a shrine where Michael Hutchence, Kurt Cobain and Steven Tyler were gods. In fact, my trip to Glastonbury in 2017 happened only because the Foo Fighters were headlining and Coachella in 2016 was merely an excuse to see Guns n Roses live! I was distraught when I missed Def Leppard a few years ago in Las Vegas so imagine my hysteria when I discovered they are coming to Newcastle this December!

So, 9th December is down in the diary as a ‘let’s get rocked’ day!

Aveika

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