A taste of the high life at the Hilton

The Park Lane hotel offers old-school class and a great afternoon tea. (Supplied)
Updated 23 August 2019

A taste of the high life at the Hilton

DUBAI: It would be difficult to guestimate just how many hotels have opened since the London Hilton on Park Lane. But given that the property debuted in the 1960s and is still going strong, it has certainly demonstrated that it has lasting appeal for customers. And it continues to attract a large percentage of travellers from the GCC.

Let’s do the math: It’s a stone’s throw away from a multitude of tourist attractions, West End theatres, beautiful green parks, and many a Mayfair establishment — including the trusty Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants that seem to get away with charging $35 for shisha (because, London).

The views have no doubt contributed to the Hilton on Park Lane’s longevity. Offering a splendid panoramic sight of the UK capital, with no building in front of the hotel, it’s situated in an area that developers would love to get their hands on. And it continues to win awards, most recently nabbing the Luxury Scenic View Hotel at last year’s World Luxury Hotel Awards.

The five-star hotel comprises 453 rooms including 56 suites. For such a large hotel, service at check-in is welcoming and speedy. We get to our room in no time, a gorgeous suite featuring a walk-in wardrobe and double-sink bathroom. The balcony opens to views of Hyde Park, offering plenty of Insta-worthy photo opps. Whilst the layout and views are fantastic, you do get a general sense that the interiors — both furniture and décor — could do with a minor facelift. The key to retaining customers is to evolve, and sometimes Hilton can seem stuck in its ways.

Speaking of which, there are things that seem a little too old-fashioned to still be around. For example, standard Wi-Fi is not offered to guests. You need to book stays through Hilton’s own website in order to enjoy Wi-Fi free of charge.

Secondly — we get it — parking in London is a nightmare and doesn’t come cheap. However, given that rooms at the London Hilton on Park Lane don’t come cheap either, it seems ludicrous that parking in the hotel’s car park costs about $60 per night.

Nonetheless, these niggles are made up for by an incredibly comfortable bed, a good selection of amenities, and extra lifestyle offerings including restaurants, a fitness centre and spa. It’s home to the signature 24-Karat Gold massage, an hour-long treatment that uses gold leaves and gold-infused oil to rejuvenate the skin.

One area in which the hotel truly excels is its afternoon tea offering, and, let’s face it, what’s a trip to the United Kingdom without enjoying a selection of brews, finger sandwiches, scones and cake? The Podium Restaurant & Bar located on the ground floor is where to go for the London Hilton on Park Lane’s signature experience, created by chefs Emmanuel Bonneau and Sam Leatherby. The duo made headlines last year after winning the British TV show “Bake Off: The Professionals” – a spin-off of “The Great British Bake Off” – and Podium’s afternoon tea’s creations have been inspired by their time on the show.

There’s deconstructed black forest gateaux and passion fruit-and-strawberry miniature tarts. Other exquisite items include a traditional praline roulade, three-tiered Pina Colada cheesecake, and caramelised banana milk chocolate macaroons. It is highly recommended that you book ahead.

Given the current climate, a trip to the UK is becoming more and more affordable, and at the moment, Hilton is hosting its annual summer sale that offers up to 30 percent off the best rates. But be quick, as you only have until August 19 to take advantage of that deal. The good news is that you can book stays up to next year.

Celine Dion returns to Canada to kick off world tour

Updated 19 September 2019

Celine Dion returns to Canada to kick off world tour

  • The Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album titled “Courage”
  • She said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager

QUEBEC CITY: After living and crooning for years in Las Vegas, French-Canadian superstar Celine Dion returned home to Quebec to kick off her first world tour in a decade on Wednesday.
At 51, the Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album titled “Courage,” which will be her 12th in English and is due out on November 15.
The first single “Flying On My Own,” featuring her powerful vocals backed by techno beats, has already hit the airwaves, while three more dropped Wednesday: “Courage,” “Lying Down” and “Imperfections.”
Known for her blockbuster ballads, Dion said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager Rene Angelil.
“When I lost Rene, he wanted me back on stage. He wanted to make sure I was still practicing my passion,” she said. “I wanted to prove to him that I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re going to be OK. I’ve got this.”
So, after more than 1,140 concerts for 4.5 million fans over 16 years in Sin City, she bid adieu to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace with a final two-hour show.
“Courage is exactly the way I feel,” she told public broadcaster CBC at the time, talking up the upcoming tour of the same name.
“In the past three years, it has been difficult for me to talk to my children, to raise them, to lose my husband, wondering am I going to sing again... so much has happened, but at the same time I feel that I’m in control of my life.”
Some 60 dates in North American have been confirmed so far, her label said, with two arena shows in Quebec City on Wednesday and Saturday kicking off the tour, which will run through April 2020, and will be her first world tour since 2008-2009.
Her show was almost two hours of mastery, as she performed some of her greatest hits — from “I’m Alive” to “My Heart Will Go On” — as well as new material to an ecstatic crowd of roughly 20,000.
“It was really impossible to miss Celine at home,” Nicolas Delivre, a French university exchange student in Montreal, told AFP.
Donald Berard, from Quebec City, said he had grown up listening to Dion. “We love her like a member of our family.”
“Courage” marks the first album and tour in Dion’s long career without Angelil, who steered her success beginning in 1981 when he mortgaged his house to finance the young teen’s debut album.
The pair began a personal relationship in 1988 when she was only 19 years old, and married in a lavish ceremony in 1994. Angelil died of throat cancer at age 73.
In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Dion revealed that she longs for the hugs and laughs that come with a relationship, but added, “I’m not ready to date.”
The youngest of a family of 14 children raised in the suburbs of Montreal, Dion has sold 250 million copies of 23 studio albums in English and French, including collaborations with French singer-songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder.
Back in Canada, she told the Montreal Gazette that the tour schedule was “a little crazy,” but that she had found time in advance to take in life’s small pleasures.
At a press junket last Friday, Dion told Radio-Canada: “There are good wines that age well, and there are good wines that age badly. I hope to be a good bottle of wine.”
“I’m not a new Celine,” Dion added. “I’m a continuity of myself.”