If you look up the definition of 'luxury' in the Oxford English Dictionary it reads: An inessential, desirable item which is expensive or difficult to obtain.
When it comes to identifying what that desirable item is, I’m in agreement with Tom Ford, who knows a thing or two about the subject. For him, me and pretty much everyone else I know, these days the greatest luxury of all is time.
I have five children, a busy job in a changing industry and a new relationship. The juggle is real. For logistical reasons that are too complicated to explain, my partner and I have every other weekend, just the two of us. Where we spend that time together and what we do matters a great deal to both of us.
One Christmas, my partner surprised me with a beautiful Globetrotter suitcase and promised we’d both be well travelled and enjoy regular adventures. We’ve since been lucky enough to enjoy weekends in Paris, Ibiza and the gorgeous English countryside but there is something incredibly exciting and spoiling about being a guest in your own city. So when I was asked to review the suites at Corinthia London, it felt like Christmas had come early.
From the warm greeting we received at the hotel’s reception (we were made to feel so special and important) to stage-diving onto the bed the moment the butler had left the room, time really did begin to slow down. (Sidenote: yes, butler as in Downtown Abbey-type butler, although not a misanthropic Yorkshireman in his sixties but a bright, warm, impeccably dressed woman in her twenties). Nothing was too much trouble and they had thought of just about everything we could possibly need for our stay.
I started my career in the press gallery of the Houses of Parliament, so thought that I knew this area pretty well. The suite we stayed in however - the London Suite - has the most extraordinary views over the rooftops of Whitehall I’ve ever seen. It pulls off that trick that Paris regularly does, where no matter where you look, there is nothing modern in sight. You are instantly transported back in time to a more romantic era. As it got dark outside, I sat looking out of the window for a good ten minutes taking in the architecture, identifying the buildings one by one, watching the lights come on in the building opposite and wondering about the life inside those rooms. It struck me that the view I was looking at was genuinely unchanged in over a century. It made me wonder about all the people over that time who had stood at the very window I was at, and what their stories could have been. That is the gift of time - i allows you to daydream. To do something as simple as stand and look out of a window and think, feel and wonder, that is what luxury means to me.
There is so much pressure in modern life to cram everything in and document every moment without stopping to enjoy it and living in the moment. Even though we promised each other that we’d fill our day with a trip to a gallery, lunch, shopping and exploring the city we live in, we never actually left the suite. We read (the suite offers an incredible array of coffee table books and travel guides) and we slept. We talked. We ate cheese and biscuits in bed and we did what Millennials regularly do - watched an entire box set. ‘Sharp Objects’ starring Amy Adams is one of the best things I have seen for years (you’re welcome).
Monday morning arrived and we woke when our bodies were ready, no alarm and no usual plate spinning with the crazy routine of getting kids ready for school. After breakfast in the beautiful restaurant downstairs, we left the hotel, sun shining, ready and excited for the week ahead and plotting where we’ll go on our next adventure.