This is the last post in a series of five by our guest blogger Lisa Borgnes Giramonti. Look for a return engagement in early 2010—and until then, indulge all your aesthetic cravings on her blog, A Bloomsbury Life. Read Lisa’s previous posts for Wmagazine.com HERE.
As much as I love home, I am consumed by wanderlust. Even the prospect of a 14-hour flight doesn’t faze me as long as there’s an adventure at the end of it. This season, my ports of call include New York, London and Marrakech. Here’s what I’m planning so far:
Before I depart from LAX, I plan on seeing “British Watercolors of the Eastern Mediterranean” at the Huntington Library. Exoticism was all the rage among 19th century trendsetters and, as a result, legions of artists set sail for foreign climes to paint for profit. The image of all those frilly sleeves frantically daubing brush to paper has me eager to see the results. huntington.org
I can’t wait to finally stay at the Bowery Hotel. Full of moody glamour and period furniture like velvet fainting couches, tattered rugs and wood-panelled interiors, it evokes a laissez-faire elegance that makes me want to sidle up to the lobby bar and order a Sazerac. theboweryhotel.com
Pity the silkworm. This season, it’s all about the spider. A spectacular four year labor of love has produced the rarest textile in the world—a piece of golden cloth woven from the silk of one million giant spiders in Madagascar . Now on display at the American Museum of Natural History, it’s crazy beautiful. Do you think Karl Lagerfeld is already planning his Fall 2013 collection? amnh.org
When in England over the holidays, I’ll be making a beeline for Ye Olde Bell restaurant in Hurley, designed by Ilse Crawford (former editor of Elle Decoration UK and the style force behind Soho House New York and Cecconi’s.) Conceived as a “modern coaching inn” and offering locally sourced cuisine, the cozy timber-framed building dates to 1135 and has been renovated with such classic touches as high-backed settees covered in Welsh blankets and bridle leather belts, rush matting and lime-and-horsehair plaster. Don’t forget to bring your copy of The Pickwick Papers. theoldebell.co.uk
My good friend Belinda Carlisle is taking over the part of Velma Von Tussle in the West End production of Hairspray, opening October 26th. I just spoke to her mid-rehearsal yesterday and she’s having the time of her life. I can’t wait to see how my favorite GoGo with punk roots channels the peroxide campiness of John Waters.
I absolutely am counting the minutes until I visit Dennis Severs’ House. This formerly dilapidated Georgian house in Spitalfields was transformed by Severs into a living time capsule now open to the public. Half-eaten food on tables, the sound of footsteps overhead and echoed conversations all create the illusion that a fictive family of 18th century Huguenot silk weavers is living all around you. Decrepit elegance coupled with a spooky soundtrack… it’s like London’s Grey Gardens. dennissevershouse.co.uk
Ever dream of sleeping in a castle keep? What about a manor house shaped like a pineapple? Or an actual Martello tower? The Landmark Trust rescues architecturally interesting buildings from neglect and then rents them out to experience as if they were your own. I’ve stayed in three over the years and have just booked another one in Scotland for next summer. Aristo-bohemian fantasy, here I come again. landmarktrust.org.uk
Last time I visited the souk in the heart of Marrakech’s ancient medina, I found everything from ammonite fossils and hand-stitched leather shoes to delicate lanterns made from repurposed bicycle spokes and the occasional performing cobra. And I was only there for an hour. This time, I’m going back with a guide, a handtruck, and an entire day dedicated to the pursuit of treasure.
Ah, the Mamounia Hotel. Winston Churchill called it “the most lovely spot in the whole world.” Marlene Dietrich shot Morocco there and didn’t want to leave. Everyone from royalty to rock stars have succumbed to its magical pleasures. Now, after a lengthy renovation by Jacques Garcia, this legendary Marrakech pleasure dome has finally reopened. Come Christmas, I’ll be drinking champagne at the Churchill Bar. Come join me. mamounia.com
While in Morocco, I may have to make a detour to meet my favorite American expat, Maryam, of the blog “My Marrakech” and peruse some of those gorgeous sequined wedding blankets she sells online. Each one is vintage and handpicked with her unerring eye. Mental note: bring extra suitcases. moroccanmaryam.typepad.com
Two years ago, I went on the ultimate Grand Tour: a 24 day around-the-world odyssey via private jet with National Geographic Expeditions. From Easter Island to Angkor Wat, from the Taj Mahal to Tanzania, and from Lhasa to Giza, it was an experience that thoroughly altered me forever. It ain’t cheap, but if you’re saving up for a big trip, this is definitely the one worth scrimping for. nationalgeographicexpeditions.com