Ladies and gents,
I just winged back from a quick pop-off to London. I have a famously strong body clock, so two-nighters abroad generally don’t sit well with me — but London must agree with my system because I fell right into Greenwich Mean TIme the moment I arrived.
It may not be the world’s number one ranked airline, or even close, but I think the British Airways experience is about the most fun you can have without taking off your pants. I know what you’re thinking: well, sure Scoop, from your perch up in First Class I’m sure everything is hunky dory. Not so fast, dear readers. We columnists might lead glamorous lives, but the budgets ain’t wait they used to be. I did manage an upgrade to Premium Economy by using some Amex points I’d scraped together from a lifetime of rampant materialism. But even in coach, I love this airline. The staff is adorable and accented, the tea is perfect, and Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is my idea of heaven. If I were to ever get married, I’d want to both hold the reception at T5 and also register at Duty Free. (Rehearsal dinner at Wagamama!)
Even dearer to me (and, frankly, just as English) as British Airways are Firmdale Hotels. Much like Wagamama, there was such thing even more special about Firmdale Hotels before they started popping up in New York City — when you’d have to take a journey across the Atlantic to experience the dazzle of of Kit Kemp interior. But each property holds such unique wonders that I promise you, even if you eat lunch the Crosby and swill booze at the Whitby, you’ll be enchanted by the Covent Garden or Charlotte Street or Haymarket or Ham Yard (and the list goes on).
This time I stayed at the very tippy top of the Charlotte Street Hotel in a suite carved into a storybook attic. The charm is off the charts, the service can’t be beat, and each property has an honesty bar (they clearly don’t know who they’re dealing with)!
The purpose for the trip, though, wasn’t just to gorge myself on room service (check), avoid import tax on a case of Scotch whisky (check), and smuggle suitcase of Fortnum and Mason provisions through customs (check). I was there to see Michael Longhurst’s production of Caroline, or Change at the Hempstead Theatre. London has always appreciated Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s masterpiece in a way that mainstream American audiences seem to have missed the first time around. It snagged the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Musical when it first premiered over there. But I think it’s absolutely gorgeous and heart-wrenching. This new incarnation is a revelation, and its star — Sharon D. Clarke — lives up to the hype.
Next stop: West End in the Fall.
My suggestion: buy yourself a ticket on BA, book yourself a room at a Firmdale, and get a ticket!
‘Tidbits from around town….
Spotted Aubrey Plaza at the Century 21 near Lincoln Center.
Overheard James Marsden ordering a flat white at Kaffe 1668.
Caught Marie Osmond fast asleep at the United lounge at Newark.
As always, a toast a something sparkling to you and yours!