Why It Makes Sense to Visit London, Paris and Amsterdam Now
Not that you ever need an excuse to go abroad, but these new opening attractions and accommodations make a case for booking a flight, stat.
From Eurostar's new $1.4-billion train to Harry Potter's first stage debut, Europe is proving to be the most buzzing destination of the moment. We rounded up seven new reasons why celebrities are heading to London, Paris and Amsterdam this summer.
Eurostar Unveiled Its $1.4-Billion Train
Cara Delevingne may have had a meltdown when boarding her London-bound Eurostar in Paris, but other riders are celebrating the company’s new fleet of e320s, which cost an estimated $1.4 billion dollars. The eight, state-of-the-art trains designed by Pininfarina, the legendary Italian car design house, marks Eurostar's 20th anniversary. Modern features include free wifi, more space per redesigned seat (each now equipped with power points and USB), 300 hours of entertainment via tablet or mobile phone and faster train speed reaching 200 mph. The Business Premier cabin (approximately $400 one way) features gourmet meals by Michelin starred chef Raymond Blanc, double-recline seats, extra comfort cushioning and a dedicated priority check in/customs line and exclusive lounge at terminals. Paris to London routes are just over two hours.
Ketel One Celebrates 325th Anniversary
The Nolet Distillery, home of premium vodka brand Ketel One opened 325 years ago in small-town Schiedam just 45 minutes outside Amsterdam. Run by the Nolet family for eleven generations, the distillery recently celebrated its 325th anniversary party on May 14 with a black-tie event at the distillery where Leon Bridges performed and influencers like fashion blogger/America’s Next Top Model judge BryanBoy and Out magazine’s Aaron Hicklin attended, and celebrities like Jesse Tyler Ferguson toasted via live stream at satellite events around the world. Ketel One is now offering exclusive, VIP distillery tours.
LIVE PERFORMANCE: Leon Bridges performs at Ketel One's 325th anniversary party. (Photo: MIchel Porro)
Private Member Club Wars in London
Soho House is getting competition with a slate of private member clubs debuting this summer in London. Multi-millionaire and Gansevoort Hotel Group president Michael Achenbaum is opening a $100-million private member’s club and hotel in Shoreditch. The Curtain Hotel and Private Member’s Club will be a nine-story property where membership will cost $1300 a year. The hotel will feature 120 rooms, 1,600-square-foot rooftop pool and cafe, nightclub and screening room. Street artist Banksy’s agent Steve Lazarides is helping curate the art. NYC’s private members club NeueHouse is also opening a location in Covent Garden later this year, and Brian Clivaz of Soho’s L’Escargot is opening Devonshire Square Club, a private member’s club that will include a gym, screening room, dining and accommodations. Soho House will unveil its sixteenth outpost at the former BBC Television Centre this fall. The club will feature a rooftop pool terrace, restaurants and 47 hotel rooms.
Luxury Hotel Boom in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has never had a reputation for a strong luxury hotel scene but a city renaissance has prompted the opening of half a dozen luxury hotels in the past few years alone. Boutiques like Hoxton and The Dylan are taking reservations, and American chains like Andaz, W, Waldorf Astoria and Canal Huis 58 have made debuts since 2014. After a multi-million renovation and restoration project, Hotel Pulitzer (where Ocean’s Twelve filmed) is unveiling brand-new guest rooms in a string of historic Dutch canal houses. The luxury hotel was opened by Peter Pulitzer, grandson of Pulitzer Prize founder Joseph Pulitzer, and features Jansz restaurant helmed by a former Momofuku chef. The five-star Conservatorium Hotel is the most original hotel in Amsterdam, housed in an 1897 former music school and featuring one of the largest spas in the city with indoor pool and fitness classes. Famous musicians like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus have checked in.
Harry Potter and a Naked Restaurant
Across the pond, history is being made in London. The Queen of England celebrated her 90th birthday at Windsor Castle where celebrities like Kylie Minogue and Dame Helen Mirren helped mark the occasion. The Queen’s public birthday parade will take place June 11. Harry Potter fans are anticipating the debut of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play by J.K Rowling to debut at the Palace Theatre in July (preview performances started June 7). English theatre director John Tiffany (who won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Once at the 66th annual Tony Awards) is directing. Also debuting in June is London’s first naked restaurant, The Bunyadi. The pop-up restaurant is spearheaded by Lollipop, the same company that launched ABQ, a Breaking Bad-inspired cocktail bar that reached a waiting list of 45,000 people. 11,000 people are on the wait list for Bunyadi. Check into Grosvenor House Suites by Jumeirah Living in Mayfair. The posh hotel and extended-stay "residence," which is on the heels of major rebranding and exclusive VIP Heathrow pick-up, is a magnet to celebrities like Eva Longoria, Charlize Theron and Samuel L. Jackson.
Nobu Takes Paris, Ritz Paris Re-Opens and Eiffel Tower Books Overnight Guests (Sort Of)
Star-studded openings and events happen on the regular in the City of Lights. This past March, world-famous Nobu Matsuhisa opened Matsuhisa Paris at the Philippe Starck-designed Le Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel (a “palace distinction” hotel where A-listers like Madonna and Sofia Coppola have stayed). The gastronomic restaurant is the famed chef’s first Matsuhisa location in Paris and sixth in the world (other locations include Beverly Hills, Aspen, Munich, Mykonos and Athens). Fans of Matsuhisa include Scarlett Johansen, Rihanna and Jessica Alba. After a four-year closure, Ritz Paris finally reopens June 1 with a restoration headed by architect Didier Beautemps and interior designer Thierry Despont. Ritz Paris, a member of Leading Hotels of the World since 1969, has hosted icons since 1898, including Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. France’s UAEF Euro kicks off June 10, and the official theme song is recorded by David Guetta. In celebration of the annual soccer event, Home Away, a luxury vacation rental company, is opening a pop-up at the Eiffel Tower, the first time in history guests can stay overnight at the iconic landmark. Homes previously owned by celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan and Denzel Washington can be booked on Home Away.
WINE AND DINE: Matsuhisa opened Le Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel (Photo: Courtesy of Raffles Hotel & Resorts)
Notable Art, Music and Fashion Exhibits Take London
Never-before seen art and fashion exhibitions are running in London. World-renowned artist Jeff Koons kicked off his much-anticipated solo show "Now" at Newport Street Gallery on May 18 (until October 2016). The show is interestingly curated by artist Damien Hirst (Newport Street Gallery in South London is Hirst’s private museum opened in October for $36 million). The Koons show will span three and a half decades of the artist’s career. Debuted in March, the "Fashion Rules" exhibit at Kensington Palace is the first ever look at the past four decades of all royal women: Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana. 18 couture dresses worn by the royal women are on display. The first-ever international Rolling Stones exhibition, "EXHIBITIONISM," runs until September 2016 at the Saatchi Gallery featuring more than 500 original and rare artifacts from the legendary band.