Whisky Magazine Issue 16
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David Stirk visits the Atenaeum Hotel and Aparments in London, an establishment looking to educate its guest on the delights of malt whisky
As I drive through Piccadilly, I can't help but notice the wealth that this part of London exudes. Chauffeurs wait patiently by their cars for their employers to emerge from luxurious hotels, passing the time by polishing the front of their limousines or straightening their generic chauffeur suits. Unfortunately the Whisky Magazine driver is on extended leave (this follows an unpleasant reverse parking incident after a rigorous whisky tasting) so it's up to me to ferry myself to the Athenæum Hotel & Apartments, well known as London's celebrity hotel.
After having my car valet parked, a first for me (it doesn't tend to happen too often in Yorkshire where I grew up), I walk into the hotel through mighty glass doors opened for me a by a doorman (who happens to be the size of a bungalow) into the small foyer. On first impressions, the Athenæum appears a tad small with the bar, lounge and restaurant seemingly borrowing space from each other. However, the luxurious ambience of the establishment more than makes up for its compact nature – you are left with the impression that money is no object here.
I'm shown through to the lounge by one of the hotel staff – a young, foreign lady who is trying so hard to sound English that she sounds like Eliza Doolittle before her dalliance with Professor Henry Higgins. I imagine that the hotel may also employ a member of staff who sounds uncannily like Dick Van Dyke's character in Mary Poppins. She offers me a cup of tea, which I accept, ...