That was the memorable title of a 1969 film in which a tour guide, played by Ian McShane, herds a coachload of American tourists around 9 European countries in 18 days. Hardly a holiday, the schedule required the poor travellers to be up at the crack of dawn each day, in order to compress an entire country’s culture into a 24 hour bite size cliche.
The week before last I had a similar mad dash around Europe, mostly shooting hotels, although I didn’t reach Belgium until Thursday, and even then it was only to change planes en route from the Algarve to Berlin. The week had started calmly enough, with the end of a brief but wonderful holiday high in the Pyrenees in southern France. We returned home on monday evening, giving me just enough time to unpack, pack up my photography gear, and set the alarm for 4am.
The first leg of my journey, was on behalf of Central Design Studio (see also: Chicken Tonight & Raising the Bar). They had redesigned the Connich Bar at the city’s Hilton Hotel. Connich, meaning encounter in Gaelic, is just the place for a whisky by the fire, surrounded by clubby red leather chairs, curvy banquettes, and dark wood shelving, which divide the large space off the main lobby into cosy, intimate rooms.
Wednesday morning, and I was briefly back in London, and having a break from hotels, shooting a house in Belgravia for Architect, Nick Umney, and Stonemason, Pierre Bidaud. Nick had beautifully reconfigured a Georgian house and adjacent mews house, with the help of Pierre’s elegantly hewn stone staircases.
Thursday: The Algarve
Strictly speaking, this leg of the journey began on wednesday, with a mad dash from Belgravia to Gatwick. We were heading for the brand new Conrad Algarve. I had been commissioned by the Conrad’s parent company, Hilton Worlwide to shoot the hotel for the upcoming European Hotel Awards. The interiors are the work of UK firm, Rethink Interiors.
I’ve wanted to visit the German capital for many years, and ironically had planned to go for my birthday next September, so this flying visit served as an enticing ‘amuse bouche’. On a major intersection in the city centre, and right opposite the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, one of the city’s most recognisable symbols, stands the imposing new Waldorf Astoria. Part of the Hilton family, the WA is their most exclusive 5 star brand. The hotel interiors were designed by a long established French company, Inter Art Etudes, while the design of the spa was by Aukett & Heese.
The European Hotel Design Awards take place on November 19th.