Your Royal adventure at remarkable 800-year-old Ashford Castle

Imagine waking up at the breathtaking 800-year-old castle that was once the home of the Guinness Family and was voted ‘Best Hotel in the World’ in 2016 after reopening its doors following a major refurbishment. The service at Ashford Castle is hard to beat. The staff are incredibly friendly, offering a very warm Irish hospitality.  Many of the staff have been working here for years, some of them decades, which is testament to how special Ashford Castle is.

It underwent a two year renovation and reopened to guests in April 2015. The $75 million restoration of this 13th century iconic building helped reaffirm its legendary status as one of Europe’s most prestigious hotels.

The castle’s 83 rooms and suites (and hideaway cottage) represent real elegance, showcasing stunning original features with modern luxuries.

Thanks to 350 acres of land, there is plenty to keep you busy at Ashford Castle. It’s been a playground for successive generations of the de Burgo, Bingham, Browne and Guinness families for hundreds of years and remains a fun getaway to this day. 

It’s home to Ireland’s first School of Falconry, which provides an amazing opportunity to learn more about these fascinating birds while exploring the grounds. Keep yourself active with some cycling, horse riding, clay shooting, zip lining, fishing or kayaking, or play a round of golf or a tennis match instead. Maybe you’d prefer to skip right to the relaxation part?

An absolute must is a night at the movies; Ashford has its own 32-seater cinema that plays classic films, including ‘The Quiet Man’ starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, which was filmed here in 1951! 

There are formal and informal options at Ashford Castle. For a formal occasion dine in the George V Dining Room where a dinner jacket is required. Named in honour of the royal who visited in 1905, the Castle’s signature restaurant still bears his name to this day. A resident pianist or harpist will play soft music in the background t really set the ambiance for your exquisite meal. 

The Dungeon downstairs, meanwhile, offers a unique setting with a bistro-inspired menu, while the latest addition to the family – Stanley’s (named after the current owner, Stanley Tollman) – is an informal American-style diner. 

Mrs Tea’s Boutique and Bakery (named after Stanley’s wife, Beatrice Tollman – co-owners of the Red Carnation Hotel Group) sells homemade fudge, delicious sandwiches and Mrs T’s legendary ‘Bread in a Bottle’. 

In the evening retire to the Billiards Room for a night cap or to The Prince of Wales Bar where you can sample one of the 60 Irish whiskies there. A flight from London is just an hour. The castle also has its own helicopter landing pad if you’d prefer that option instead. 

www.ashfordcastle.com

Article by James Massoud

Royal Malewane – A thrill for All our Senses

Imagine waking up in the middle of an exotic paradise, surrounded by the majestic animals. Berkeley Bespoke was welcomed to Royal Malewane – a luxury safari lodge in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park that exudes the romance and beauty of a bygone age while offering every modern comfort. A truly magical experience meeting the Big Five, indulging in sensual treatments at their tranquil Waters of Royal Malewane Bush Spa and being surprised by the chefs at the nightly feasts under the African stars.

The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa and one of the World’s biggest wildlife sanctuaries. It is located in the Mpumulanga Province and is about a 6-hour drive from Johannesburg. Approximately the same size as Israel or Wales, it covers some 19,485 square kilometres offering a rich diversity of ecosystems that support over 145 mammal species including the Big 5 and over 500 bird species. The untamed environment stirs deep emotions. We have experienced meaningful and life-changing encounters with wildlife – being 2 metres away from 15 sleeping Lions! Adrenalin pumping adventure!

Wake up before sunrise and experience the ‘Lowveld’ – one of the most spectacular and dramatic regions in South Africa. The ‘Panorama Route’ includes incredible geographic sites such as God’s Window, The Three Rondawels, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Blyde River Canyon and Mac Mac Falls. Pilgrim’s Rest offers a fascinating window into the past and captures the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest to discover gold. The ‘Big 5’ phrase was coined by hunters back in the day. It referred to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot and the degree of danger involved. The term is still used today but without the hunting connotations.

On most private safaris in Southern Africa, we have been guided on specialised Land Rovers by a ranger who drives the vehicle and by a tracker who sits on an especially precarious seat at the front of the bonnet. The tracker’s job is to find elusive wildlife and to notice and interpret nature’s subtle clues through acutely honed senses.

There is no bond stronger than the indelible and intuitive connection between a ranger and a tracker. Wild adventures, unique encounters and proud achievements punctuate their derring-do filled days. Followed by a cuisine that is complemented by a natural canvas to savour as much as the delicate flavours with the dining area overlooking the Malewane River where a variety of curious creatures great and small venture to slake their thirst. The Bush Tent at Royal Malewane provides a feast in the heart of the African wilderness. A truly remarkable and romantic experience with glowing lanterns casting a gentle light among the brightly burning braziers.

Introducing the Farmstead at Royal Malewane

A Brand New – Farmstead is a beautiful new lodge at Royal Malewane just a 12-minute drive south of the existing lodge. The land is elevated offering dramatic views over the canopies of the Greater Kruger National Park while the lodge itself surrounds a watering hole popular with the abundant wildlife. The Farmstead at Royal Malewane consists of the main lodge area, three Luxury Farm Suites, and The Farmhouse. The Luxury Farm Suites and The Farmhouse are either sides of a central lodge area where guests will be able to enjoy breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner in the elegant and comfortable spaces. After dinner guests can relax around the fire pit on the vast deck and reflect on the day’s adventures. There is a double spa treatment room offering a variety of indulgent treatments as well as a gym.

Following last year’s refurbishment of the existing lodge at Royal Malewane, The Farmstead offers something unique in terms of luxury safari accommodation in stark contrast to the ultra-modern style in vogue. In the main lodge area, a vintage North African banking kiosk is repurposed as a serving hatch for the delicious cuisine of Executive Chef Brandon Souris.

The collection of contemporary African Art enhances The Royal Portfolio’s already extensive private collection with notable pieces by Kudzanai Chiurai and James Jana among other works from the AVA Gallery and Smith Studio. In keeping with the community involvement of The Farmstead, there are a number of pieces from Lalela.

There are three Luxury Farm Suites. Each has a spacious bedroom and an en-suite bathroom with a bath and a shower as well as an outdoor shower. There are large front and back verandahs as well as a beautiful deck and a private pool overlooking the bush where inquisitive wildlife might pay a little visit.

The Farmhouse is a three and a half bedroom private villa which is ideal for families or a group of friends. Similar to Africa House and the Royal Suites, The Farmhouse has its own private services including a chef, housekeeper and butler. Guests will have their own private safari vehicle with a dedicated Ranger and Tracker ensuring the ultimate in luxury. There are three main bedrooms as well as a smaller children’s room. There is a magnificent deck with a large swimming pool flowing out into the bush. The total area of The Farmhouse is 636 square metres (6845 square feet) including the vast verandahs and deck. Children of all ages are welcome in The Farmhouse.

The Farmstead is offered as four individual units but will be ideal for the exclusive use of up to 14 guests. Rates are all inclusive.

In keeping with The Royal Portfolio’s Purpose and Values, The Farmstead is part of a broader project to uplift local communities.

Support for the community and conservation of the environment are inextricably linked. The local community needs to realise the financial gains of tourism in order to see the value in protecting wildlife and the environment. The Farmstead land is leased from the local community. Not only will The Royal Portfolio employ and develop members of the community, but at the end of that long lease both the land and the asset will revert to the community with the option to continue working with The Royal Portfolio in perpetuity.

Acqua di Parma brings its Italian flair to the home

Adding to its already extensive lifestyle offering, Acqua di Parma brings its Italian flair to the home with its debut line of candles and home diffusers. Encapsulating all aspects of Italian lifestyle and heritage, the range is centred around ten fragrances, five capturing the way of Italian living and five inspired by the Blu Mediterraneo line evoking the scent of Italian Mediterranean.

Immersive moments captured, the candles and home diffusers reminisce the art-deco codes conveyed through the brand’s iconic bottles and this is reflected in the design and packaging of the line. Signature scents in the collection include Luce di Colonia, a citrusy fragrance of fresh, zesty notes of orange and lemon with an alluring timeless appeal and Chinotto di Liguria, a journey through Western Liguria embodying notes of chinotto fruit and spicy cardamom.

Also launching is new addition to the Blu Mediterraneo portfolio, Cipresso di Toscana, a fragrance devoted to the to the Cypress tress of Tuscany. Available as a fragrance, shower gel and powder soap notes include sage and lavender with base notes of cypress and pine. Acqua di Parma’s rich heritage began as far back as 1916 when master perfumers created the original Colonia made using only natural ingredients.

Refined Italian style and an authentic DNA referencing back to the twentieth century, the brand was initially founded by Italian heir Baron Carlo Magnani who lived in Parma at the time. Inspired by his grandfather, a painter and set designer, he commissioned the first cologne to create a signature scent that would represent the heritage of art and culture present in him and generations to come. It was from this point that Acqua di Parma takes its modern-day references, everything from the iconic yellow branding reminiscent of Parma’s aristocratic houses to the logo borrowed from the royal shield in a nod to the coat of arms of the Dukes of Parma during the time of Duchess Marie Louise.

During the 1930’s through to 50’s, Colonia reached international success establishing itself as the cult fragrance during this influential period, by the 90’s, Acqua di Parma was born introducing a new way of Italian style. Remaining true to its origins, the brand was eventually acquired by LVMH in 2001 branching out into new avenues of women’s fragrance, accessories and home collections. Now a global household name, Acqua di Parma begins a new era under the direction of newly appointed CEO Laura Burdese who follows in the footsteps of Gabriella Scarpa who continues her role as Chairman of LVMH Italy.

Article by Jaz Grewal

Art Meets Fashion at Bicester Village

Marking a first for the fashion powerhouse, Bicester Village’s latest pop-up running until 6th May sees emerging artists and craftsmen showcase their creative talent in a hub acting as a platform into international retail.

Celebrating the colourful and vivid style of some of the capital’s most iconic trendsetters, the Voices: East London concept store is part of the Bicester Village Shopping Collection’s ongoing commitment to offer unique experiences to its 42 million customers across its 11 villages.

Devoted to East London, the pop-up offers a curated edit of wearable art, homeware and accessories from the likes of Daniel Lismore, Sadie Clayton and Tatty Devine alongside a collection of Voices merchandise exclusively available at the boutique.

Since opening in 1995,  Bicester has become the ultimate designer outlet centre in Europe and continues to be the pioneer with its luxury shop-for-less business model which sees a host of events and collaborations throughout the year. 

The easiest way to get to Bicester village is by train from London Marylebone with the journey taking just 46 minutes. 

www.bicestervillage.com

Article by Jaz Grewal

Pandemonia and Daniel Lismore

Voyages of Fragrance with Cartier

Mathilde Laurent’s fragrances for the House of Cartier have for long remained synonymous with the codes of the house and the voyage of travel is often conveyed through her creations. This is very much the case with the Les Heures Voyageuses collection, a line dedicated to the exploration of new and unknown destinations. Journeying through nomadic kingdoms, the fragrances pay homage to far-away lands and infinitely precious materials.

The latest in the olfactory library of this extraordinary collection is Oud & Menthe, an Arabesque encounter of two emblematic notes, deep woody oud and refreshing mint at its heart for a powerful fragrance. Also recently launched, is a reimagination of the iconic Pasha de Cartier, revisiting the archives of the house’s signature fragrance, Pasha Edition Noire takes the fougére accord of the original evoking a citrusy freshness. 

Housed in a limited edition black bottle, three Trinity bands feature above a shimmering window bearing the fragrance’s name. 

Article by Jaz Grewal

BOLD, IRREVERENT AND UNDENIABLY BVLGARI – Berkeley Bespoke captured the POP Vibes

Eva Green and Andrew Bezhenar

To capture the true POP of colours – Berkeley Bespoke was invited to a fascinating GALA night to unveil Bvlgari’s newest high jewellery collection – Wild Pop, naturally called for a wild launch party – and that’s exactly what a selection of VIP guests were treated to with a star-studded celebration at the Roundhouse in London.

The night was filled with a diamond extravaganza with models strutting down a colourful catwalk wearing POP jewellery, followed by a luxurious dinner. The Wild Pop collection epitomizes Bvlgari’s rule-breaking approach to luxury jewellery, so did the Wild Pop gala party – a modern-day embodiment of the experimental and electric 80s.

Roman creativity and disruptive spirit of the 1980s collide into a dazzling collection: Wild POP is the quintessence of Bvlgari’s rule-breaking approach to jewellery. Inspired by a roaring era, Bvlgari plays with rare gemstones, bold designs and fabulous craftsmanship, for entirely unexpected High Jewellery Collection.

Mikey Reece and Andrew Bezhenar

Singita Lebombo Lodge is a celebration of cutting-edge experiences in Africa

Our desire to explore the World has never been so inquisitive. Our journey to Singita Lebombo Lodge was an incredible feeling of being surrounded by picturesque nature, with a renewed sense of freedom and piqued sense of curiosity – a truly life-changing adventure. The modern Lodge overlooks one of the most dramatic landscapes in the Private Singita Lebombo Concession within a remote part of the Greater Kruger region of South Africa, on the border of wild Mozambique.

A tranquil sanctuary – Lebombo concession is an ecological grant developed by Singita in a special, remote part of northern Kruger undertaking a mission in the conservation of wildlife. It is the only reserve in all of Greater Kruger wilderness area to switch over to solar energy. With the structure in place, 1188 photovoltaic solar panels were installed, connected to state-of-the-art batteries and inverters situated close to lodge. Two new diesel generators provide back-up power for cloudy days and when the battery systems run low. With solar energy providing clean carbon-free power electricity consumption at the concession will be halved. A similar solar installation is also ensuring a lighter footprint for the Singita staff village.

We had the pleasure to experience a private villa – the most exciting extension of the lodge; set apart from the main lodge, it features two 2-bedroom suites, each with a private pool. Bold and contemporary, sculptural and organic, the light-filled, ordered structures of the lodge seem almost dropped into the untamed terrain of Singita’s privately-leased concession. Other highlights of the lodge include a roof terrace and wine studio (a multi-level retreat which boasts a library, multi-media room, wine studio and rooftop viewing area). 

Since our previous Space Issue of Berkeley Bespoke Magazine, we always on a watch for fascinating Stargazing experiences. Man has had a love affair with the nighttime sky for centuries and with very little pollution and no city lights to detract for the stars, the view of the heavens at Singita Lebombo Lodge will be crystal clear.

Daily game drives with professional guides and trackers provide the perfect opportunity to get up close to Africa’s incredible animals, while evening drives reveal the elusive magic of nocturnal Africa. During our stay at Singita Lebombo Lodge, we were fortuitous to spot a great variety of wildlife, including leopard, famously large prides of lion, white rhino, elephant and all the rare habitats of our planet.

Another incredible addition – is a camera kit, that is suited to wildlife photography and available for rent during your stay at both Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges. The equipment is available and suitable for all levels of photographers. Both lodges also offer a Photographic Library, complete with one-on-one post-production advice from your guide.

Design your own Adventure in South Africa

Mikey Reece and Andrew Bezhenar

RIMOWA and Aesop: Meet me at the Airport

RIMOWA and Aesop Make the Dream Travel Set

22nd October 2018