Restaurateur and hotelier Jeremy King on Paul Smith, Paris and the visceral art of Lucian Freud
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My personal style signifiers are my Timothy Everest suits. I first went to Timothy in 1991 and am still wearing many suits from that time. And then ties from Turnbull & Asser – the only ones I wear. Timothy Everest, 35 Bruton Place, London W1 (020-3802 7011; timothyeverest.co.uk). Turnbull & Asser, 71-72 Jermyn Street, London W1 (020-7808 3000; turnbullandasser.com)
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Tillypronie Estate, west of Aberdeen, near Balmoral – the home of Philip Astor and Justine Picardie. I can now understand the royals’ affection for the area, one that defies adequate description. It plays into my love of vast open spaces. Offers of over £10.5m; struttandparker.com
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is from my 60th birthday lunch at La Colombe d’Or, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. James Seymour and Anya Hindmarch gave me an exquisite box from Anya’s bespoke collection. Each drawer is inlaid with a photograph and individually labelled. It’s a souvenir of the occasion, the setting and my life. Bespoke boxes from £2,500; anyahindmarch.com
An indulgence I would never forgo is solitude – I could be very happy at Tillypronie. And properly laundered shirts.
A recent “find” is actually a rediscovery – of Postman’s Park in the City of London, which is host to George Frederic Watts’ Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice. And whenever I drive through France I try to find military cemeteries. I’m currently interested in the German ones from the first world war. It is fascinating to see how many of the soldiers were Jewish – the graves at Neuville-St Vaast are especially moving. St Martin’s Le-Grand, London EC1 (cityoflondon.gov.uk)
The bar on my travels that blew me away was the American Bar in Vienna, designed by Adolf Loos, because it’s a perfectly proportioned jewel of supreme art deco beauty. It’s a place that always impresses me. And Vienna is a true city of culture. Kärntner Durchgang 10, 1010 Vienna (+431-512 3283; loosbar.at)
My three carry-on essentials are only two: a book and my reading glasses.
The last meal that truly impressed me was at an unprepossessing family fish restaurant called Ristorante da Gino, on a backstreet of Marina di Pisa. It’s packed with locals on a Sunday; we had carpaccios of incredibly fresh seafood, together with an exquisite soufflé and simple grilled sea bass. Via Curzolari 2, Marina di Pisa (+390-503 5408; daginoamarina.com)
Next on my travel bucket list are two old favourites. First, a return to Sicily. I have more memories of travelling there 30 years ago than of any other holiday; we did a tour around Segesta and Agrigento, then went inland to all the beautiful old towns. We saw the London Symphony Orchestra playing Strauss in the ancient theatre at Taormina. Second, La Gazelle d’Or in Taroudant, Morocco – it’s been too long since I used to hole up at this hotel solo, and I’d like to show it to my wife Lauren. From £170; facebook.com/hotellagazelledor
The best gift I’ve given recently was a Burberry Barrow bag, to my daughter Margot, to celebrate her birthday and first year of work with the advertising and PR company WPP. From £1,195; burberry.com
And the best one I’ve received recently is my watch: a 1960s black-faced Breitling Top Time, from my wife.
My fail-safe jet-lag cure is not caring.
My style icon is Paul Smith. I first met Paul in the late 1970s, when he came down from Nottingham with clothes in the back of his car and was standing, looking concerned at a derelict warehouse on Floral Street that was to become his first London shop. I admired his vision and continue to admire it in everything he does – as a person, an employer and a creator. He is so natural, so bien dans sa peau.
The last music I downloaded was Arvo Pärt’s Musica Selecta. I am a sucker for the minimalists and these are definitive recordings.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was an unusually light – for me – grey Prince of Wales suit from Timothy Everest. But I am clinging to my Connolly wardrobe and can’t wait for Isabel Ettedgui to resurrect the brand with her new shop. Opens October 28; 4 Clifford Street, London W1 (connollyengland.com). Timothy Everest, 35 Bruton Place, London W1 (020-3802 7011; timothyeverest.co.uk)
My favourite room in my house is my study. It’s dense, filled with books, photos, memorabilia and pictures – my whole life is there.
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Paris. I’ve always regretted I didn’t, dammit. In many ways the lure is summed up by Edmund White’s book The Flâneur. To live in the Place des Vosges, shop in the markets, argue in the cafés, has been a dream since I first went there in the 1970s. It’s had an immense influence, restaurant-wise – where else can you decide to dine only in restaurants that are over 150 years old and still eat well? I love the new Allard renovation and I am a great fan of Ducasse’s Aux Lyonnais. Bouillon Chartier was the inspiration for our Brasserie Zédel, and when I’m in the Marais, it’s Petit Fer à Cheval, where the floor clearly influenced the bar in my Colbert. I can’t travel without observing and learning. Au Petit Fer à Cheval, 30 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75004 (+331-4272 4747). Aux Lyonnais, 32 Rue Saint-Marc, 75002 (+331-5800 2216; auxlyonnais.com). Le Bouillon Chartier, 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 (+331-4770 8629; bouillon-chartier.com). Restaurant Allard, 41 Rue Saint-André-des-Arts, 75006 (+331-5800 2346; restaurant-allard.fr)
An object I would never part with is my car, a silver-grey Bristol 411, which I have driven for over 30 years. I just love it. It’s the only car I want – and not to envy the possessions of others is the path to happiness. From £35,000
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Lucian Freud. I say it not just because we used to have the pleasure of seeing him every night at The Wolseley, but for the visceral reaction I had, and still have, when I see his paintings. marlboroughgallerylondon.com
I never leave home without several suits to keep me going while I’m away – it drives my wife Lauren crazy.
The last thing I bought and loved was our dog Theodora – Teddy for short – a brown cockapoo who thinks she is châtelaine of the restaurants. And a close second is a bust by Lucien Gilbert of the aviator Jean Mermoz, for The Beaumont. It captures perfectly the feel of the hotel. 8 Balderton Street, Brown Hart Gardens, London W1 (020-7499 1001; thebeaumont.com)
And the thing I’m eyeing next is on its way, actually: I have been eagerly awaiting our delivery of The Beaumont candles, which have a scent generously created for us by Jo Malone for Jo Loves. It evokes the world of Jimmy Beaumont, the fictional inspiration for the hotel, right down to a touch of citrus, which, in Jo’s words, “suggests the gentle whiff of aftershave as he passes through the lobby”. Candles from £50; joloves.com
In my fridge you’ll always find eggs, chicken, Badoit water, white burgundy and veg for Teddy.
The sight that inspires me is the view of the countryside from the Schiffer house at Col de la Forclaz, set high above Lake Annecy in the Alps. The Schiffer family and I have mutual friends in New York chef Jonathan Waxman [of Barbuto]and his wife Sally. I once met up with them at Annecy when driving through to Italy, and can still remember the first impact of the view from this house. I can also still remember the impact on my body when Craig [the late Craig Schiffer, former CEO of Dresdner Kleinwort and Lehman] persuaded me to cycle all the way down the hill and back up the following day.
If I weren’t doing what I do…? One thing I thought I might want to be was an architect, but I just didn’t believe I had the innate talent to change the world through it, and I believe strongly that I can’t – shouldn’t – do something unless I’m really going to make a difference. I like to write, I enjoy art and I enjoy design, and all three come together within my restaurants and hotel. Deep down, though, I suppose I had a hankering to be a doctor. I diagnose people and my diagnoses of conditions often elicit the question as to whether I actually am a doctor. I think it’s a combination of intuition, empiricism and personal fascination.