London calling once again - I'll be signing off this week for a work trip to London (no complaints here). In anticipation for the trip, I'm hoping that I might be able to sneak in a drink at Claridge's Bar. It's not a casual place to be sure, but it's a classic.
When I first started traveling as a consultant, directly out of school, my first work project and event were in London, where we were put up at Claridge's for nearly two weeks. At the time, I had barely stayed anywhere more than a hostel or on my parent's dime for family vacations, so when I saw the room rates, I immediately tried to figure out how to stay elsewhere and simply collect the difference in my pay check. No such luck and in the end, it was lucky me. It remains one of the greatest hotels in the world, and remarkably I learned many a lesson there in elegance and poise, in carrying myself professionally, and why orange juice was 12 pounds a glass ("But it's from fresh oranges, madam.").
Claridge's has a history unlike any other. Luxist has a nice synopsis including this anecdote:
During World War II, many exiled royals made their way to Claridge's, including the Kings of Greece, Norway and Yugoslavia, as well as the Queen of the Netherlands. In 1947, a diplomat telephoned the hotel asking to speak to "the King". The polite response was "Certainly sir, but which one?".
Everyone who's anyone has stayed there, but there's always room at the bar. Jay McInerney also wrote a an ode in Travel and Leisure last year that I thought captured the spirit of the bar beautifully. Pull up a chair, order a glass of champagne without looking at the price, hand over your card without looking at the bill, and delight in the fact that you're part of history, and that one day, you'll be able to come with a friend, a child, a grandchild....and the bar will still be there.