Part 1: Killing two birds with one stone in Mexico: Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s day.

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Part 1, Mexico City:

Today I’m off to one of my favorite cities in the world to research the real estate market for my new restaurant project in Mexico City. It will be a nice change going to the warm weather of Mexico after a week of freezing cold in Canada. It’s the 5th of May, which, in the US, is a big celebration of the Mexican independence “Cinco de Mayo”; the irony is that NO one celebrates this holiday in Mexico; it’s just an American manufactured holiday for the purpose of selling beer and tequila. Oh well…I guess no one here needs an excuse to drink beer and tequila…the least, me!

I’m exited to stay, once again, at my Mexican ”Brother from another mother” Eugenio Lopez’ amazing Polanco penthouse, surrounded by one of the best art collections of contemporary art in the country. I’m a little concerned about the news that Mexico City is experiencing one of the worst air pollution in its history; something like smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day just by breathing the air….I’m glad I stopped smoking! To try and contain this urgent problem the city has come up with a system of allowing only half the cars in the city to operate on certain days of the week and the other half on the remaining days of the week. Pretty cleaver if you ask me; it forces people to use public transportation…not that I would be happy with that!

I immediately notice the difference when Eugenio’s driver picks me up at the airport and there is no traffic on the way to his home. Mexico City is renowned for one of the worst traffic congestion in the world and today it took us only 15 minutes to get to our destination, a trip that usually takes one hour and a half. I’ve been a guest at Eugenio’s home several times before, so Its always fun to come back and see all the friendly faces that work for him, especially his personal chef Lupita who always spoils me with the most delicious Mexican specialties during my stay. Eugenio is in full form and I am quickly updated on our busy schedule of dinners and parties and who know what…it’s never a dull moment with my Eugenio!


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They have really big spiders in Mexico…bring bug spray!

 

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After a quick change of clothes, we are going to one of the city’s best restaurants: La Rosetta (www.rosetta.com.mx) where we are meeting up with his Mexican contingent. The elegant restaurant is spread through several rooms in a stunning old mansion house in the city’s Roma district, in Colonia Roma and it is renewed across town for its delicious and simple Italian food with a Mexican influence by chef Elena Reygadas. Dinners are very long in Mexico, just like Europe, they loooove sitting at the table for hours and hours. At the risk of sounding rude, I must take my leave; I’m beat from getting up at 5am in LA to travel to Mexico, so after my 5th Vodka Tonic, I excuse myself and retire in my fabulous Polanco penthouse.


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The beautiful 18th century villa turned into the restaurant Rosetta

 

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More Rosetta Restaurant

 

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The hilarious Christian Hannig and Claudia Zacarias

 

My morning starts with one of the best possible treats I can think of: Lupita’s famous Chilaquiles…in bed! There are no words to describe how good this classic Mexican breakfast dish is, with fried “Totopos”, green chile salsa, roasted chicken, Crème Fraiche with a side of beans and Mexican cheese…YUMMY! As I mentioned before, I am here in Mexico City to look at locations for my new restaurant project, so I have my brother David picking me up to spend the day driving around Polanco and La Roma to look at potential spots. It’s amazing to see how many high-end American restaurants, such as Nobu, Morton’s and Mr. Chow, are popping up everywhere in the rich areas of Mexico City, a definite sign of the emerging upper-class starving for luxury goods and services and high-end restaurants. For lunch we stop at one of my favorite cafés in Polanco, the darling Maison Belen (www.maisonbelen.net); a charming café where you can enjoy all sorts of Mexican and American brunch dishes on a lovely, sunny terrace.

 

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Lupita’s famous Chilaquiles…in bed!

 

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Nobu in Polanco

 

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Mr. Chow…opening soon in Polanco

 

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Uriarte, my favorite Mexican pottery store in Polanco

 

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Maison Belen in Polanco

 

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The lovely display of pastries at Maison Belen in Polanco



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Two “Packing” gentlemen fixing my bedroom TV…only in Mexico!

 

It’s now 4pm or otherwise know as siesta time! I’m dropped off at Eugenio’s home so I can rest for a few hours before getting ready for Charro Salinas’s birthday party tonight. Charro is the son of the ex president of Mexico Carlos Salinas, and he’s having a sit-down dinner at the iconic Mexican restaurant Cicero Centenario, in the Zona Rosa of the city (the naughty area…), a breathtaking 18th century building decorated in colonial style with amazing traditional Mexican food…right up my alley! We arrive at 10pm, on a 9pm dinner invitation, and we are the only ones at the restaurant beside the birthday boy and his girlfriend; That is typical Mexican behavior: 9pm means 11-12am; don’t try fighting it, it’s not going to change…ever!!!!

 

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Cicero’s amazing dining room

 

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The bar at Cicero

 

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Cicero’s dining room

 

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Delicious ceviche at Cicero’s


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Alvaro and me drunk

 

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Mariachis playing all night long behind me

 

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Cake time for Charro Salinas’s birthday

 

By 11:30pm the party is in full swing and I get to meat the most wonderful people, starting with Alvaro Ariza, a local restauranteur and the gorgeous, club owner Karla Deregil among many others. I will say, Mexicans are so incredibly polite and charming and always going out of their way to make you fell welcomed and comfortable. Four hours later and 8 margueritas in, my new best friend Karla, kidnaps me, along with Alvaro, from Charro’s dinner and whisks us through the streets of DF in her chauffeured Cadillac to her night club: M N Roy, named after Manabendra Nath Roy, the Indian born revolutionary and founder of the Mexican communist party. Of course, M N Roy is the hottest underground club in Mexico City and within an hour it is packed to the hilt with beautiful people, dancing to the tunes of DJ “Gordo”. Though plenty of fun, I manage to escape around 4am, totally exhausted and desperately ready to get into my comfy bed back at Eugenio’s. Buenas noches amigos!!!

 

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The gorgeous Karla and DJ “Gordo” at N M Roy night club

 

It’s morning again, or should I say, almost afternoon and I’m just waiting to see what will appear at my bed for breakfast today; after ringing the bell my the bed (I know…super fancy!), a tray with Huevos Rancheros arrives and they are as delicious as the Chilaquiles from yesterday; I could get used to this really easily!!! It’s time to get out of this bed, pack and get ready for my brother David who’s picking me up to drive to Cuernavaca to surprise my mother for Mother’s Day on Sunday. It’s been a wacky 48 hours and I’m so thankful to my dear friend Eugenio for treating me to yet another great time in his beautiful city!!! I can’t wait to open a business here so I have a reason to come here more often.

 

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Huevos Rancheros in bed…as one does!

 

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Amazing view of Chapultepec Castle and park from Eugenio’s penthouse

 

Part 2, Cuernavaca…coming soon.

Lunch with the dinosaurs, tea with Dame Joan and total madness at the Summertime Ball festival at Wembley Stadium

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Another day…another packed schedule! Today I’m revisiting my childhood by going to one of my favorite museums in the world: The Museum of Natural History (www.nhm.ac.uk). I can still remember my reaction when I first saw the massive Blue Whale hanging form the ceiling and the first dinosaurs in my life…I must have been 5 or 6 years old. Since then I have seen many dinosaurs, in fact, I’m surrounded by them back home in Beverly Hills…but that’s all together another story! My very handsome and very fit friend Robbie Banner, picks me up at 11am and off we go to see the lizard; after an hour searching for parking (don’t bother driving in central London, It’s impossible to find a parking and when you do, it costs a fortune!!! Better to use Uber or a cabby), we finally make our way into the iconic building that is The Natural History Museum. The first site in the main lobby, is an amazing skeleton of a Brachiosaurus Dinosaur who reveals a striking resemblance to so many people I know back in the US…oh no he didn’t!!!!! Just kidding…not really. The place is exactly how I remember it exempt all the animals and skeletons seem much smaller. Both Robbie and I are suddenly 15 years of age again, looking in wonder at all these amazing creatures filling the halls of this beautiful museum. After a quick lunch at the grand cafeteria at the museum, it’s off to the legendary Harrods (www.harrods.com) for a look-e-loo. I’ve been visiting Harrods since I was a baby and nothing has ever stuck with me more than Harrods’ food halls; they are truly a thing of beauty, imagination and perfection! I can spend hours wondering these halls, not to mention, I can also spend a small fortune here on all the amazing world foods readily available at all times. Harrods has gone through lots of changes through the years, but it is still a treat and a London MUST DO when visiting this amazing city.

 

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Natural History Museum

 

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Main Lobby and it’s main attraction: The Brachiosaurus Dinosaur

 

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T-Rex skeleton

 

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Robotic T-Rex

 

Now it’s off to Belgravia for tea with my ex-step-mother Joan-Collins…now Dame Joan!! Depending on the mood, It’s always a laugh catching up with Joan and the mood is better than ever now after recently receiving her title of Dame Commander of the British Empire from Britain’s Prince Charles…She is one happy and proud Brit!!! It’s also really nice sharing my recent experience in Peru with Joan’s husband Percy Gibson, who is himself, a Peruvian.

 

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Dame Joan after receiving her title of Dame Commander of the British Empire from Britain’s Prince Charles

 

It’s 6PM and Robbie is on his way to pick me up for the highlight of the day: The Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium. I don’t know if I’m ready for this…I hate concerts and I hate big crowds, but my boy Bob Semanovich is behind this event so I will suck it up and make the best of it! The ride to Wembley Stadium is only about 30 minutes but parking your car is another one hour (should have taken a damn Uber!!!). The event started at 3pm; it’s now 7:30pm and we are entering the arena: “God help me”, it’s packed with 60,000 screaming teenagers; there is no way in hell I will survive in here…I’m already planning my escape! “Alright Kass, it’s survival mode: first thing…find a bar, get drink, calm nerves!” I desperately wobble through a maze of hotdog stands, pretzel stands, Slurpee machines and screaming kids to find the mother load: alcohol. I finally see something that looks like a drink but is in fact a Smirnoff wine cooler bar…it will have to do, I’m desperate! Robbie and I make our way back to our seats and slurp away on our disgusting wine coolers through three acts: Ariana Grande, Ne-Yo and Pitt Bull before we agree that it’s really time to leave!!! It’s 10:30pm and we are famished; we must find a suitable place to eat before joining Bob at the Summertime Ball private after party bash at Mahiki in Mayfair. Turns out that finding a place that serves food after 11PM in London is quite a challenge…shocking!!!!! We went by a dozen restaurants and all of them already stopped serving food; what’s up with that??? Isn’t this London???

 


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Tickets to Summertime Ball

 

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Wembley Stadium

 

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Ariana Grande performing

 

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Ne-Yo performing


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Pit Bull performing

 

All right, time to regroup and think…we take a cocktail brake at the very glamorous The Wolseley on Piccadilly Road (who’s kitchen is also closed), inhale 10 mini cheese balls each from the bar, two Martinis and…Eureka!!!!!! Hard Rock Cafe is just down the street and it’s definitely open till late!!! We stumble down what seems much further than I remembered, but finally arrive at “Old faithful”: the very much OPEN, Hard Rock Cafe. At the risk of aging myself, I came at the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe in London with my Dad back in the 70′ when we lived in Mayfair; it was the very first Hard Rock Cafe and the then owner Peter Morton, was my dad’s friend and that joint became a favorite of ours for many, many years. Memories aside, I’m salivating over the idea of the HRC bacon cheeseburger with a black & white shake…It’s on!!!!

 

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Having a drink at The Wolseley in Mayfair with Robert Banner


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Hard Rock Cafe London

 

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Hard Rock Cafe interior

 

1am…food coma! Got to snap out of it, it’s time to join Bob at the after party up the street at Mahiki! After a few meltdowns at the door when they couldn’t find my name on the list, we finally make it down to the basement floor of this 4-story club and reunite with a now very “Happy” Bob and co. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long before Robbie and I catch up with the rest of them, especially when very large bottles of Ciroc vodka are parked in front of us calling our names. The rest of the night is a little blurry and probably not suitable for this blog anyway.

4am…What an amazing day: I am exhausted, drunk, happy and “one” damn year older!!!!! Tomorrow it’s off to Switzerland to visit my family and celebrate my birthday once again, in a much more civilized and subtle way…it’s always good to keep a good balance!

Good night everyone and Happy Birthday to me!!!!!!!

 

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The Shot Boat at Mahiki in Mayfair

 

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The 19 year old amazing DJ that rocked the house

 

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Robbie Banner trying to tell us something about the very large bottle of Cîroc

 

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A very happy Bob Semanovich

 

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I don’t quite know what’s going on here with Mr. Kass

“WE” are off to London Town…England that is!

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After a very brief few days in LA, it’s off to London to celebrate my 40…ish birthday and check out what’s new in one of my favorite cities in the world! London is very dear to me, I lived in London throughout my youth and went to grammar school at St. George School in Hanover Square where I was made to wear a red blazer, red shorts, striped white & red tie and red hat…I believe that’s where it all went pear shaped! When my father, Ronald Kass, was asked by the Beatles to be President and founder of Apple Records in the early 70′; we all moved to the lovely neighborhood know as Mayfair. My brother and I were very young and started living between Lugano, Switzerland and London. Even after my dad and his, then bride, Joan Collins moved back to LA, I continued my love affair with London for many years up to the present day. Through all these years I’ve cultivated amazing friendships in London that I continue to enjoy immensely and use as an excuse to pay the occasional visit.

I am particularly exited about this leg of the trip because I am using the website Airbnb for the first time (www.airbnb.com) and I’ve rented a lovely 1 bedroom apartment in Chelsea, one of my favorite neighborhood in London. I’ve been hearing about his new way of lodging for some time and I decided to take the leap and try it out; who knows…is this the death of my usual high priced hotel rooms? I’m also exited to fly one of my top 3 airlines in the world: British Airways (www.britishairways.com); This time around, I managed to get a free…ish business class trip with my American Express miles, even though the tax and luxury fee you have to pay on a miles ticket is pretty steep; even so…it’s a hell of a lot better than the standard $8000 plus you have to fork out for this kind of fare! So off i go for my favorite travel routine: cocktails, dinner, 2 movies, sleeping pill, sleep, breakfast and I’m in London! I’m flying the massive Airbus 380 for the first time, so I did my legwork (as I always do before traveling) and researched which is the best floor on this double decker-flying monster and which is the best seat I should get; as usual, I refer to www.seatguru.com to do the job. Top floor, window seat it is!

After a brief visit to the very un-impressive business class lounge at the new International Terminal at LAX, I’m ready to nestle into my fancy little cubical for the next 12 hours. The first thing I notice when I arrive to my seat, is that they are arranged in such a way that the person next to you is NOT facing the same direction as you are, as in all flights, but the opposite way; meaning, he’s next to you and facing you! We’re talking facing faces 2 feet away from one another. Now, I have two problems with this, first of all, I need to face the direction that the plane is flying towards, no flying backwards for my sister! Number two, it’s very uncomfortable and awkward having a perfect stranger so close to you trying not to stare you in the face; of course there is an electronic separator that you can raise once you reach 35,000 feet, which opens up a new set of issues of who will be the first to have the courage to raise the privacy wall. I definitely don’t like this layout at all! I try to break the ice with my neighbor with a few witty remarks, but apparently he was not amused and asked to be moved to another seat! All the better, now I don’t have to stare at “Mr. Humorless” and I can raise the separator without feeling rude. I thought my remarks were quite funny…oh well.

Not a moment after settling into my seat, I hear a voice from the cubical behind me: “Robert, is that you???”. I can’t believe it, it’s my dear friend Bob Semanovich, who just happens to be in the seat behind me…what a laugh! Bob and I go back a long time and I’m so exited to have all this time to catch up with him since we haven’t had a chance to visit in quite a while. Bob is a big shot in the music industry and I am pleased to hear that he is going to London for a big music festival at Wimbledon Stadium that his company is organizing and even more exited that he will give me two tickets to the event…I guess I’ll have to fit that in my very busy London schedule somehow! All right, enough pleasantries with Bob, we both want to pop a pill, sink into our flat beds and sleep our way to London…ZZZZZZZZZ.

 

 

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British Airways’ flying monster Airbus A 380

 

 

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BA’s weird business class layout with facing seats

 

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The very comfortable business class cubicles on the Airbus 380

 

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My surprise traveling neighbor Bob Semanovich

 

We are just about to land and I’m anxious to see my new Airbnb “flat” in Chelsea. After a short 45-minute Uber ride (these people are everywhere!!!) I arrive art the flat to meet Alessandro, the landlord; I am happy to say that this place meets all my expectations; a charming classic English 1 bedroom apartment with lots of light, a lovely terrace for my afternoon tea (that will never happen…) a fully equipped new kitchen and a very comfortable bed. The location is perfect, just in the mix of things and e few Uber pounds away from my social neck of the woods. I settle in, unpack my 15 outfits for my English stay…yes, you need lots of outfits when socializing in London, lots of fashion rules, fashion snobs, mandatory suits or dinner jackets in many places, all rules to which I gladly succumb to…coming from LA where you wear shorts and flip flops to a wedding! In the rush of things leaving LA I did forget a tie and tonight I’m going to the chicest and most exclusive private club in London: Loulou’s, where jacket and tie is a must to enter, so is a membership! Thankfully, my dear friend George Glasgow is a member and has invited me to dinner at this “impossible to get in” new spot.

So it’s off to Jermyn Street, one of my favorites streets in London for shopping; I’ve been coming here since I was a baby with my dad who was very fashion forward and extremely dapper. One of his favorites was Turnbull & Asser, a very old fashion English brand that has been around since 1885. I’m a sucker for tradition so I think it appropriate to honor my father’s memory with a tie from this gorgeous and yes, quite stuffy store. $150 later, I have a tie for tonight; it’s now off to my beloved Fortum & Mason for a little visual stimulation; This iconic department store, as Harrods, is a tribute to England and all that is traditionally English; it’s been around since 1707 (like most everything in this country) and it’s the definition of English high-end shopping. Though I am always so temped to stock up on their amazing tea selection, biscuits, Stilton cheese, patés, etc… this time around, my long travel schedule won’t allow weighing myself up with merchandize, so it’s going to be just a jar of my favorite Blue Stilton cheese and some water crackers for my afternoon snacking back at the Chelsea apartment.

 

 

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Jermyn Street, SW1

 

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Windows at Turnbull & Asser

 

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Side entrance at Fortnum & Mason

 

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One of the many beautiful design features at Fortnum & Mason



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Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly Road

 

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Wine and spirits hall at Fortnum & Mason

 

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Fortnum & Mason’s famous teas

 

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Alright, it’s time to go back for a nap and get ready to meet my dear friend George Glasgow (CEO of G.J. Cleverley & Co., one of the best of bespoke English shoemaking and craftsmanship), for an evening at London’s hottest new private club: Loulou’s. Turns out two good American friends of mine, Michelle and Jason Sheldon are also in London so I invite them along with my British friend Robert Banner to join me at 5 Hartford Place, Mayfair; which happens to be just a few blocks away from my old house on South Street. It’s time to see what all the fuss is about; we enter though the very nondescript side door and into a small reception area where immediately you are asked for your name and membership; after telling the very well dressed gentlemen that I was expected by George Glasgow, we are ushered into the the main salon to sign our names on a book and then directed to the Martini Bar on the 3rd floor where George is waiting for us with Martinis at hand.

Loulou’s has become the hotspot for London’s upper crust; it’s a multi-story townhouse, along Mayfair’s Shepherd’s market. Owner Robin Birley, English businessman and political activist, has transformed this traditional townhouse into several lounges, a drawing room, a martini bar, a library, a cigar room, stunning courtyard, a nightclub and two très chic restaurants all designed by Turkish fashion designer Rifat Ozbek (who’s never designed an interior space before). Robin Birley, is the son of Mark Birley and Lady Annabel Goldsmith, who themselves owned several members’ clubs in London, including the legendary Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar, both of which I frequented as a young lad. Each room at Loulou’s has a different mood and provides a totally different experience. There’s a stuffed giraffe, greeting the guests as they enter the Madagascan Bar on the way to the over-the-top disco room. The who’s who of London are regulars here including the Royal family, Mick Jagger, Daphne Guinness, Kate Moss, me, George Clooney and the list goes on.

By 10 pm the place is packed and it is practically impossible to move, having been in LA for so long, you can’t not notice how everyone, and I mean everyone, is so elegantly dressed in suits and ties, black ties, long gowns and fashion galore…these Brits sure know how to whip it up! Drinks start at $30 a drink so you better be ready for a BIG bill; my favorite is the passion fruit martini! I don’t even dare find out how much dinner costs; then again London is the most expensive city in the world, so if you’re on a budget, you got your work cut out for you!!! My favorite story of the night is when the group “One Direction” came in without being members and arrogantly told the front host: “don’t you know who we are?? We are One Direction and we want in!!!!” to which the host calmly replied: “I’m terribly sorry Sir, but you are not members of the club, so the only direction you’re going is out the door!!!” So British…so Brilliant!!!!

 

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Loulou’s on 5 Hertford Street

 

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My Posse: George Glasgow, Michelle Sheldon, Jason Sheldon and Robert Banner

 

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The Dining Room

 

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One of the two stunning Dining rooms

 

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The beautiful outdoor patio

 

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3rd floor Martini Bar

 

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Basement Bar and night club complete with stuffed Giraffe

 

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The venerable toilet at Loulou’s

 

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The beautiful Madagascan Bar

 

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George is set on showing me every room at Loulou’s, where of course we must have a drink; so 8 rooms later, I’m about to pass out! This place is really fancy so perhaps it’s time to leave before I make a fool of myself. Michelle, Jason, Robert and I have the brilliant idea of walking to Barkley Square for a nightcap at Morton’s…that part is a little blurry but I know I was there because I have a photo to prove it! Thankfully I make it back safely to my Chelsea pad; what a great first night in London!!!! Tootles possums…talk tomorrow!

 

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4AM at Morton’s in Barkley Square for a nightcap…hopefully!