We go to Paris and Venice every fall and spring to shop for antiques for the showroom in the Dallas Design District (Paris) and to develop new glass lamps and chandeliers (Venice). We very often end our trip in London just for fun and a few days of relaxing after 2 weeks of work.
Since I’ve written so often about Paris, I am focusing on Venice and London, although I will show you a few photos of pieces we found in Paris at the end of this post.
Arriving in Venice
It never seems to change---that feeling you get as your water taxi comes around the corner and you see the entrance to St. Mark’s Square---there is nothing more romantic. We love Venice!
Entrance to the bar at the Gritti
Our favorite place to stay is the Gritti Palace----you can’t beat the location because it’s close to everything, yet far enough away to be quiet. The service and the wonderful concierges who work there are fantastic. You can always count on them to get you a table in the best restaurants.
Warning: The Gritti is closing for 14 months for renovations (NOTE TO STARWOOD--please, please don’t ruin it!!), so it will be January of 2013 before you can stay there….not sure where we will stay next year.
The Cipriani is also one of our favorite hotels anywhere, but I would only recommend staying there May-September because the pool there is one of the main attractions. Since it is on the island of Guidecca ,you must take their motor launch to St. Mark’s.
Terrace at The Monaco Hotel
After checking in, we walk to The Monaco Hotel, which is next to Harry’s Bar. They have the most marvelous food and it’s delightful to eat on their dining terrace (do not go there if the terrace isn’t open). I know you are wondering about hotel restaurants since they are not always the best, but this one is really good and you are right on the Grand Canal, so lots and lots of activity that is fun to watch.
On the way back to the hotel, Gucci, Fendi and Prada are all calling---I don’t usually like to shop in stores that we have in the U.S. while I’m in Europe (and really don’t have much time to do so), but there is something about these 3 shops in Venice. They always have pieces you might not see otherwise. I understand that Ms. Prada loves her store in Venice. She also stays at The Gritti when she comes to Venice.
St. Mark’s Square
After a nice siesta, we love to walk around the city and through St. Mark’s, then across the Academia Bridge to Peggy Guggenheim's wonderful palazzo which is now a museum. The small streets with little shops and tiny places to eat are very special in Venice. It’s a great place to get lost! For Jim and me, this is one of the best things about this amazing place.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection
St Mark’s Square
Dinner at Al Covo
Al Covo, Diane and Cesare Benelli
Dinner at Al Covo is a special treat. We love the owners---Diane and Cesare Benelli. She is a Texan who has lived in Venice for 25 years. Her husband is the chef, but Diane makes most of the desserts. Jim’s favorite meal of our entire trip was here----tiny tiny soft shell crabs that were as light as a feather.
The next day is all about visiting the factories that make the stunning glass lamp bases and chandeliers for my furniture/lighting collection on the island of Murano. Murano can be mysterious, touristy and very insular, but it is one of my favorite places.
Factory visit in Murano
We always send shop drawings several months ahead so that I can see the prototypes when I arrive at the factories. That is the best part of designing furniture and lighting----seeing your ideas become reality. We are particularly excited about our new collection which will debut at Westweek next March in L.A.! Stay tuned for the news on that in the coming weeks. Hint: THINK WHITE.
Lunch at Lele’s
A day on Murano without having lunch at Lele’s would be disastrous in my opinion. This is one of Philippe Starck’s favorite places---I know because he has been there several times when we have. I always ask Lele to send me his favorite appetizer of the day and his favorite pasta. He hasn’t failed me in the past 15 years!
Violet Murano Glass
After lunch, we visit another of the factories and decide on a new color for one of our most popular lamp shapes. It will be available next year, so if you like a soft purple (we are calling it Violet), you will be thrilled with these lamps!
Arrivederci Murano----be back next spring!
Jim and I with Roberto at Toscana
Our special table at Toscana
Our absolute favorite spot in Venice for lunch is not as well known as the other places I’ve mentioned. Toscana is a treasure. One of the reasons it is so special to us is that we always have Roberto Moressa as our wait person. He has been there since he was 18 years old and is now head waiter. Go with his recommendations, they are always the best! We love this place and adore Roberto!
Entrance to Harry’s Bar
Interior of Harry’s Bar
A trip to Venice is never complete for us without dinner at Harry’s Bar. Sit downstairs where the locals sit---we always have such interesting conversations with people at Harry’s, and have a great time as well. I adore their famous baked pasta dish. And, of course, this is where the Bellini was created.
After 2 weeks of shopping for antiques and working with the factories in Venice, we are ready for a few days of doing nothing---no plans!! London is a great place for that.
Front of Claridge’s
Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s
We arrived just in time for tea at our hotel. Jim and I both love Claridge’s because the rooms are so spacious and the location is perfect. It is quiet and the staff is lovely. We particularly like, Miles Wakeling, our favorite concierge. All of his recommendations were perfect, and, he is such fun!
Miles, Our concierge at Claridge’s
Jeremy King, owns this restaurant---we had dinner with Jeremy and our dear friend, Lauren Gurvich one night. The food was delicious and the atmosphere fantastic. The building was a originally the home of The Wolseley Automobile in the 1920’s, then a bank, then Jeremy and his partner, Chris Corbin bought it. They kept the integrity of the original building and it has been hugely successful. Don’t miss it when you are in London. We loved spending the evening with Lauren and Jeremy.
The shops in Mayfair
It’s always fun to walk in Mayfair---one street is strictly shops for men---Jermyn St. Just window shopping is fun.
Stephen Friedman Gallery
Another good reason to stay in Mayfair are the art galleries. London is such a key player in the art world, and galleries are abundant in this area.
The Princess Garden, London
If you are in the mood for really great Chinese food while in London, go to Princess Garden. It was our last night before the long flight back to Dallas and we enjoyed the service and the food. It is within walking distance of Claridge’s or The Connaught.
Orange trees in the Tuilleries, Paris
As promised earlier----very unprofessional photos of a few items that will be arriving in Dallas in mid November….
Serge Roche style palm sconces
Willy Daro bronze lamp, c. 1970
Paolo Venini Trilobi chandelier, c. 1960
Pair of Jacques Adnet chairs in original leather, c. 1950
Glass, Lucite and bronze console, c. 1970
Murano amber/clear chandelier
Pair of Louis Phillipe style bergeres, c. 1940
Have a great Thanksgiving!