Byline: James Fallon / Jeannette Park
LONDON — Ian Schrager has done it again, with his new Sanderson Hotel here, currently the hottest place in town.
The pregnant Madonna works out in its gym, while Jade Jagger, Alexander McQueen and Lady Helen Taylor slip into one of its Alain Ducasse restaurants or the Purple Bar, which looks like the inside of a jewel box.
The 150-room Sanderson opened this spring and followed Schrager’s arrival in London last fall with the St. Martins Lane. Schrager and the team led by Philippe Starck, designer Anda Andrei and developer Michael Overington have turned the site into an “urban spa” that is aimed at a person who is the complete opposite of the St. Martins Lane clientele.
“St. Martins Lane is for the extrovert, this is for the introvert,” said Andrei, who like Starck and Overington has worked on all of Schrager’s hotels.
The Sanderson in Berner Street is only one of five hotels Schrager has under development: The 800-room Hudson Hotel in New York will follow this fall, and the 15-acre Miramar resort hotel in Santa Barbara, the Clift in San Francisco and the Empire in New York are all set to open in 2001.
“We always want to surprise people, to keep them guessing about what we’re going to do next,” Schrager said. “It’s a constant reinvention. Hey, that’s the fun!”
The Sanderson is located at 50 Berner Street, London W1. Telephone: 0-7300-9500.
PARIS — “It should be like going to your grandmother’s house and having a meal.”
That’s the philosophy of Chantal Di Donato, owner of Farnesina, a tiny, elegant Italian restaurant located near the chic Rue Faubourg Saint-Honore.
The idea behind Farnesina, which opened a month ago, is to take the best of Italian food and present it to the French, according to Di Donato, who came back to Paris in 1985 after a 10-year stay in Italy. She stresses the importance of fresh meat and produce, so all of the ingredients in even the simplest dishes stand out. For example, she imports fresh free-range buffalo mozzarella from a small producer near Naples, and her coffee comes from an artisanal roaster, also near Naples, whom she has known for 25 years. Farnesina, which serves lunch and dinner, has a small menu that includes appetizers such as an insalate Siciliana, a salad served with oranges, fennel and olive oil. Main courses include rumpsteak with arugula and parmesan and the melanzane alla parmigiana or eggplant parmesan.
In addition, there is a choice of daily specialties. For the moment, the lunch and dinner menus are the same, but Di Donato, who runs the restaurant with her daughter, Alexandra, hopes to create a more sophisticated dinner menu, adding dishes such as risotto.
The restaurant also has a small boutique where clients can buy, for example, bottles of the balsamic vinegar or olive oil that dressed their salad.
Farnesina is not Di Donato’s first business venture. She founded the decor store Galerie Farnese in Paris and Los Angeles, specializing in rare Italian marble and hand-painted tiles.
Farnesina, open weekdays only, is located on 9 Rue Boissy d’Anglas. A meal for two, without wine, costs between about 200 and 300 francs.
Reservations recommended. Tel: -65-57.
Milan — Looking for a quick fix after a hard day’s work? Then grab your coat and purse and head for Roialto, which has all the makings of a hot social club.
Getting in may be be a challenge, though, especially on the weekends, when it’s jammed-packed. The ex-warehouse is filled with an eclectic collection of antiques, ranging from a cherry conference table from the British Consul’s office in Havana to 1955 rattan chairs that look like they’ve been snatched off your aunt’s veranda in Miami Beach, or the 1907 credenza located behind the black marble-topped bar.
So, buy a good cigar, order a refreshing cocktail, sit back under the palm tree and enjoy the live jazz band. Roialto is located at Via Pier della Francesca, 55. Tel: 936616.
Milan — Hankering for down-home Milanese veal cutlets or risotto with saffron? The newly remodeled Exploit, next to the Colonne di San Lorenzo in Milan’s historic centre, has the perfect menu for such tastes.
This minimalist, but cozy, space, which seats a mere 55 people, takes on a warm glow from the large canoe-shaped wall lights in each corner. The fare also relies on simplicity, since chef Romolo DePascal advocates ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil from Umbria and balsamic vinegar from Modena.
Exploit can be found at Via Piopette, 3 Tel: 408675.
DUSSELDORF, Germany — Dusseldorf’s Hafen, or harbor, has become the neighborhood for this city’s cutting-edge crowd.
Advertising, media and now fashion companies are taking up residence along the water’s edge, joining an attractive crew of contemporary galleries and restaurants. The architects, notably American Frank O’Gehry, have created a stunning three-building Zollhof complex that has made a trip down to the harbor all the more worthwhile.
Built on the site of a former customs hall, a sculptural, curving white building with rounded contours, an angular red brick edifice and a brilliant stainless steel tower create a modern and expressionistic urban vista.
In addition to media and consulting firms, the Neue Zollhof houses the showrooms of Toni Gard, Comma and Joseph Janard. Key fashion agency Franco Bruccoleri has been based in the harbor for several seasons, and this season, Hugo Boss will be presenting its men’s and women’s collections in temporary showrooms there.
PARIS — Paris hotels are going through a revival phase. One of the latest refurbishings is the Hotel Bel Ami tucked away in the tony St. Germain-des-Pres area.
Parisian hotelier Grace Leo-Andrieu turned to young designers Veronique Terreaux and Nathalie Battesti for a cool, clean interior. Reservations should be made for the first floor only. The three other floors will be renovated next year.
Hotel Bel Ami is located at 7-11, Rue Saint Benoit, Paris 75008. Tel: (33-1) 4261-5353. Fax: (33-1) 4927-0933.