of Magnificence exhibition showing until July 19 and its shop has a range of tie-in wares, including beautifully blowsy crystal flower brooches (£25) and, for the homemaker who has everything, baroque frame fridge magnets (£5). www.vandashop.com.
LOUNGE’S other best buys were a Cath Kidston London Carry All (£25; look in Harvey Nichols or Selfridges) printed with instant symbols of London, such as red double-deckers, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, and fig-scented perfume and candles from Miller Harris. ( Lyn Harris also creates bespoke perfumes to match one’s colouring, personality and skin type; more on her stylish shop and tea salon in Mayfair in weeks to come.) www.cathkidston.co.uk; www.millerharris.com.
BACK to gardens for a tick. Lounge was disappointed to miss the Garden and Cosmos exhibition at the British Museum, which opened on May 28. There are 56 paintings on show of life in the royal court of Jodhpur, in the desert state of Rajasthan, in the 18th and 19th centuries. As was the wont of those pleasure-seeking Indian rulers, Lounge expects there
: See how the toffs live in England’s poshest piles. There are castles, converted abbeys and manors with bedrooms the size of ballrooms. Sunday, 6pm, Bio.
: Montmartre and other Left Bank precincts of Paris were used as backdrops to this 2001 feel-good hit starring the lovely Audrey Tatou. Friday, 10pm, Showcase. are images of maharajahs picnicking under full moons and comely maidens dancing. It’s part of the museum’s Indian Summer season; in conjunction with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, its Bloomsbury forecourt has apparently been transformed into a jasmine-scented garden. Exhibition to August 23; garden to September 27. www.britishmuseum.org.
INSTEAD of a taxi from Heathrow into the city for an early-morning arrival, Lounge and her travel colleague booked a chauffeured car from Lewis Day Transport. A uniformed driver meets and greets passengers beyond the customs hall and escorts them to a waiting Mercedes. With bottled water, boiled lollies and the morning papers to hand, what a civilised start to proceedings. And at a set £70 for a central London transfer, not much more than a black cab with meter whirling in traffic. www.lewisdaylimo.com.
FIND of the week: Travel&Indulgence contributor Kendall Hill commends the refurbished Fountainside hotel in Hobart (which charges a recession-busting $129 a night) for its non-greedy stance on minibar prices. ‘‘ Priced for your enjoyment’’ is the mantra here; its in-room drinks and snacks are not marked up so, as Hill puts it, ‘‘ guests can enjoy a tipple without first consulting a financial adviser’’.
Fountainside’s shockingly low minibar prices include $1 for a 350ml bottle of water. Samboy chips and Twisties are $1.50, light beers are $2 and premium beers, $3. A Ninth Island pinot noir or chardonnay is an encouraging $12 a half-bottle.
The hotel keeps phone charges to a minimum, too. Lounge is so astonished she needs to lie down with a cold Toblerone on her forehead; TripAdvisor’s pernickety social networkers give it a good rap, too. www.fountainside.com.au; www.tripadvisor.com.
LOUNGE loves: Afternoon tea at Sydney’s Sir Stamford at Circular Quay competes very well with London’s top high teas. Served daily from 1pm to 5pm in the hotel’s clubby bar, the cakes, pastries, scones and finger sandwiches are presented on a tiered silver stand and quantities are generous. But it’s the range of Ronnefeldt teas (including an Indian blend with wild cherries) and the care with brewing that most impresses. A Ronnefeldt strainer fits snugly inside the teapot so no stray leaves make it to the cup and the ceremony is accompanied by a timer to ensure one’s earl grey or fancy sencha is properly steeped. $38 a person, including a glass of sparkling wine; $18 for scones and tea. (02) 9252 4600; www.stamford.com.au.
LOUNGE loathes: Whingeing travellers . . . but what fun is a recent survey by Thomas Cook that turned up gripes such as: ‘‘ We booked an excursion to a water park but no one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels.’’ Other clients complained that ‘‘ the beach was too sandy’’. And, ‘‘ We bought Ray-Ban sunglasses for from a street trader, only to find out they were fake.’’ Or, how about, ‘‘ It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England but it only took the Americans three hours to get home.’’ Pity the poor sods who had to ‘‘ queue outside with no airconditioning’’.
But best of all is this gem: ‘‘ No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled.’’ Just as well they didn’t bump into any nude plasticine garden gnomes in May’s patch at Chelsea. Price of Fiji cruises slashed by 25 per cent; free nights in New Zealand’s snowy Queenstown; Asian holiday giveaway. These and other money-saving offers are featured in Travel&Indulgence’s holiday deals, updated daily: