I know, I know, we are such name-dropping, status-obsessed Michelin addicted whores, but what can I say? At least we’re not in denial of it. I like to see myself as a self-actualized Narcissist. Or at least a Narcissist on the path towards self-actualization. I just need to get all the things on my over-compensation checklist out of the way before I can reach my goal.
Anyways, enough of the analyzed life. I do have to say that an unanalyzed life is still very much worth living if you live like this. I would have to say I follow the Epicurean philosophy rather than the Hedonistic philosophy, which is nicely explained in this link.
Enough ‘insulting of the meat’. Let me plug one more backstory for this obscure reference from my college Anthropology days. Since this blog is meant to be educational as well…
Maybe you can tell someone in a conversation now, “Stop insulting my meat!”
Back to luxury and all its vices.
Here is the entrance to this place. It is quite stunning. We were there a month before the Royal Wedding and had no clue that this was where Meghan’s mother was going to stay. It was a pleasant surprise seeing it on TV and knowing we were there before bookings now become impossible.
Here is the back side of the fountain you see in the featured image. Amazing fountain, almost at the level of the Trevi Fountain.
Here is the famous driveway in Royal Wedding’s starting point.
It was raining on and off this day, and the clouds looked like something out of an oil painting.
This was the part of the hotel that we stayed in, closer to the spa.
Beautiful clock tower and Harry Potter bewitched tree in front.
Main building. We decided to walk around before checking into our room in case it started raining and we would not get a chance to do so later.
Amazing landscaping, flowers, gilded gates, and architecture.
Here is the back lawn. Not too shabby, if you are Lord William Waldorf Astor.
Here is the gilded gate we were standing in front of.
Here is a brief bio of the inhabitant of this place. You may have heard of the Waldorf Astoria. You need sunglasses for the 23 3/4 karat blinding gold-leaf paint.
This is the view of the entire building at the end of the back lawn.
This was apparently the Studio 54 of the early 1900’s. Nancy Astor and friends, Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw, etc.
Green as far as the eye can see. This is a foreign concept to my eyes coming from Los Angeles.
This was where the mistress of Cliveden would apparently romp with her lover. They wrote a whole book about this place, it is apparently like a Downton Abbey soap opera. Here is a descriptor of the book.
Built during the reign of Charles II by the Duke of Buckingham, Cliveden attracted notoriety as a luxurious retreat in which the duke could conduct his scandalous affair with the ambitious courtesan Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury. In 1668, Anna Maria’s cuckolded husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, challenged Buckingham to a duel. Buckingham killed Shrewsbury and claimed Anna Maria as his prize, making her the first mistress of Cliveden.
Through the centuries, other enigmatic and indomitable women would assume stewardship over the estate, including Elizabeth, Countess of Orkney and illicit lover of William III, who became one of England’s wealthiest women; Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the queen that Britain was promised and then denied; Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland, confidante of Queen Victoria and a glittering society hostess turned political activist; and the American-born Nancy Astor, the first female member of Parliament, who described herself as an “ardent feminist” and welcomed controversy. Though their privileges were extraordinary, in Livingstone’s hands, their struggles and sacrifices are universal.
Cliveden weathered renovation and restoration, world conflicts and cold wars, societal shifts, and technological advances. Rich in historical and architectural detail, The Mistresses of Cliveden is a tale of sex and power, and of the exceptional women who evaded, exploited, and confronted the expectations of their times.
Off to our rooms to change and hit the sauna.
Look at that Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Looks like our friend Remy.
Nice personal touch to our room entrance. We got a room with a jacuzzi in the patio for cigars and whisky after massages. I’d post the video but it might be very bad for me if there is a video on the internet of me smoking a cigar and drinking whisky naked in a jacuzzi. Not to mention, Erika would not be very happy.
It was a long drive, I need an afternoon cocktail. Perfect timing as the rain just started.
I love the excuse of vacationing as justification for daily scheduled daytime drinking. This was a killer cocktail. Martini with champagne and gold flakes. They are not fucking around when this drink comes as a starter for the “afternoon tea service”. It was called the Cliveden ’66, created in honor of the completion of the house in 1666. Check this out, Chase vodka, Grand Marnier and rose liqueur, topped with 2008 Tattinger champagne with 24 karat gold flakes.
This is living. I will be shitting gold tomorrow. King Midas, wipe my ass and gold flakes will come out.
Here I am waiting for my first afternoon English tea service. Let’s take a look around the library and bar, shall we?
Ding, ding, ding…whisky. I think I will pause here for a moment.
Before I even asked for anything, the bartender pours me a complimentary taste of Bowmore 18 to welcome me. He looks at me and says, “you must have had a long drive” and hands me a dram. This is how you welcome someone to your hotel.
“Why yes good sir, how on earth could you tell?” let me engage you for some more whiskey and cocktails.
This was how the bar looked after the aforementioned regimen of alcohol I quickly consumed.
It’s afternoon tea time.
Look at us posing like a couple of douchebags.
Isn’t it lovely Erika? You match the chair.
If I keep going like this I am going to fall off the chair.
Look at the strawberry mousse inside.
I look like I’m wearing false Austin Powers teeth.
We needed to walk all this off before dinner. No worries, plenty of national parks on the mansion grounds to kill time.
Now for the food. I must say, don’t get your hopes up here as we only had a few dishes after that monster afternoon tea with beverages, we were ready to explode.
The biggest decision was just finding a good bottle, and I remember we impressed the shit out of the som by choosing a 1996 Gravner Orange wine from Italy. The somm was Italian, and she was very happy that we chose this, it made her day. Since we told her how much we loved Mount Etna wine, Benanti winery, and showed her pics from our Sicily trip, she even let us have some of this Magma wine, not to be confused with Trump MAGA; which was actually very good. She went on and on about how difficult it was to get a hold of this rare cult natural wine from Mount Etna in Sicily. Only one case of nine was allocated for the entire UK. Read this article. Almost worth the entire dinner here just to try this wine.
Here is Erika dressed so appropriately for such a setting.
I can’t think of a better time to bust this Victorian looking shirt out.
Finally, we come to the food. It was good ingredients, prepared in a classic way. Exactly what is expected from a 1-star place, nothing more, nothing less.
Some pretty straight-forward hamachi crudo, with vegetables from their garden. Had the typical ceviche taste, with a hint of apple chards here and there.
A very pretty beef tartar with flowers, radish, and other micro-greens. Again, tasted good, nothing out of the ordinary.
Some salmon tartar with herbs from their garden and some nice olive oil. Again, I am at a loss for words, I literally have no memories of any of these dishes. I think I burned out all my dopamine receptors from our late afternoon tea. I could not bear to eat anything cooked, we were just getting a la carte appetizer-sized dishes. I also needed to save some space for tomorrow’s marathon dinner at The Fat Duck.
So, to be quite honest, the main reason people stay here is to be close enough to the Fat Duck and not have to stay in some shitty Airbnb. The dinner here was kind of an afterthought. Don’t get me wrong, we did not dislike it, but when you are eating caviar every day for 20 days, eating gold flakes starts to become a mundane activity. It was a nice bonus finding out later that this is where a lot of royals stay, and that it turned out to be part of the Royal wedding of Harry and Meghan.