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The Dorchester hotel unveils first phase of its renovation

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There are certain buildings that exist as microcosms of the cities they are in, with their own history a reflection of the larger world outside them. The Dorchester hotel in London is one such place and now, thanks to a historic renovation, it is about to embark on a new phase of its history in keeping with the ever-changing city it inhabits. Since it opened in 1931, the luxury hotel in the heart of Mayfair has played host to a particular subset of London society: from writers like Somerset Maugham and Cecil Day-Lewis in the 1930s, to General Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip in the 1940s and 1950s, to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Now, The Dorchester’s latest renovation is ushering it into a new era. (Image credit: Mark Read)The Dorchester hotel reimagined Liberace’s piano at the Artists’ Bar(Image credit: Mark Read)Upon first stepping into the new Dorchester, visitors will be greeted by an exuberant display of opulence. The entrance lobby, a long hall flanked with black marble and gold columns, and with pastel-painted walls stretches down to the Artist’s Bar, where guests can sit at a high-top bar of black stone, gold, and glass to drink in their surroundings and their champagne. In between these two bookend points is The Promenade a dining area where hotel guests and Londoners alike can gather for breakfast, lunch and dinner on plush, pastel chairs and settees reminiscent of the furniture in Marie Antoinette’s Versailles. From this vantage point, they will be able to see the 18 works of art that line the entire length of the hall. Each of the artworks is by a different artist, with a strikingly different style, and has been commissioned by The Dorchester specifically for the space. All of the artists are British-based and 16 of the 18 are female, each work a response, in its own way, to the theme of English landscapes. (Image credit: Mark Read)A new menu starts with a decadent breakfast of lobster casserole and buttermilk pancakes, and spans to lighter lunches of superfood salads, as well as traditional afternoon teas. In the evening, canapés such as quail egg tartlets and lobster arancini with truffled eclairs start things off, before mains such as The Dorchester’s signature chicken and langoustine pie or Delica pumpkin and sage risotto. (Image credit: Tina Hillier)Unsurprisingly, every detail of the new Dorchester has been considered. The table dressings in the dining area will be changed according to the time of day, and range from table sets decorated with a pattern that reflects the moulding and gliding on the ceiling to bright pink tea sets designed in correspondence to one of the paintings. The open layout of the new space is guaranteed to make the new Dorchester a theatre showcasing a particular kind of London luxury. Whether perched on one of the Artists’ Bar stools or snuggled into of the dining area’s seats, visitors will be able to take in a vivacious display of unabashed style, all of it refracted in Lalique crystal finishes and mirrored ceilings, and soundtracked to music played every evening on Liberace’s legendary mirrored piano. (Image credit: Mark Read)Speaking about the renovation, general manager Luca Virgilio says, ‘We wanted to create a space that still attracted people who loved this hotel for many years, but we also wanted to start speaking a different language. So we will still have the established sophistication but we will have a bit more vibrancy and make it a bit more captivating, not only in the design but in the design of our uniforms and our service style.‘I like to say it will be sophisticated without snobbery, elegant without excess, curious but without judgement. So a place that is very reflective of London.’ The newest edition of The Dorchester will be open to the public soon.dorchestercollection.com (opens in new tab)

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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The dwindling case for living in London

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The recent debate around ‘levelling up’ may be missing something. I would argue that there is another way to consider geographical inequality – and, by this alternative measure, a levelling has been under way for more than 20 years.

I’ve spent three decades working in advertising, so it’s unsurprising that I tend to view economic life through the lens of consumption. By contrast, mainstream economists tend to view disparities through the medium of earnings or wealth. To me, measures of wealth should include not only the quantity of money you have but the breadth of worthwhile options available in choosing how to spend it.

Let’s put it another way. If you live in a boring village, and suddenly a great pub or café opens on the high street, then by my measure you have become richer; by the economist’s measure you have not.

Things that would once have been available in London decades before the provinces now appear everywhereat once 

There was undoubtedly a time when you were richer in London in two ways. You had more money, but you also had a far more exciting range of ways to spend it. Now not so much.

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London is a great city but, in terms of consumption quality, it has not improved markedly in the past 20 years. Over the same period, many smaller cities and even towns have advanced rapidly, significantly narrowing the gap. The kind of things that would once have been available in the capital decades before making it to the provinces – like sushi – now appear everywhere at once. Consider Turkish barbers, who seem to have taken over the country in only five years. (I can remember a time when it was enough just to get a haircut without having burning methylated spirits flicked in my ears. Back then I just didn’t know any better.)

This levelling is especially true of anything in the digital world: Amazon gadgets, Netflix films, Asos fashions and PlayStation games hit Aberystwyth the same day they hit Islington. But it also applies to the physical environment, as anyone over 50 can attest. I went to Manchester and Sheffield for the first time in 1989. Compared with London, they were then, let’s be honest, utterly rubbish. Now, when I visit those same cities, I experience mild ‘northern envy’. There are interesting places open everywhere. Northerners have better cars, because they have more money left over after paying for housing. And they are much better-looking, because they can nip home to get changed before going out.

Relatively speaking, London has improved far less dramatically than these provincial cities have. (New York, many aficionados argue, has got worse.) OK, the Tube is better than it used to be. Uber is a handy addition. But some things are awful – the last pleasure of driving in London ended when they put speed cameras on the Westway. Accommodation costs for the young wipe out any salary gains.

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By my measure, high property prices won’t just hit Londoners once – they’ll hit them twice. Not only do high rents wipe out what you earn, they also put at risk London’s once unassailable advantage as a great place to spend what money you have left. Creative businesses of any kind require space at a price which allows them to take risks. For a time, London found this space by moving its heartland from west to east. But suppose the people supporting what Douglas McWilliams calls ‘the flat white economy’ flee altogether? In my own experience, Kent suddenly seems weirdly full of fascinating restaurants founded by London exiles. If more of these people leave, the case for staying weakens further.

Londoners always say things like ‘Yes but there’s the theatre’. Let’s face it though – even Shakespeare left London for Stratford in his mid-forties. As he no doubt found, the theatre is all very well, but it’s nothing like being able to park outside your house.

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Gentrification is not a sin

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Gentrification is not a sin – UnHerd

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