As we tentatively head out of restrictions, we round up the best places to celebrate this summer
Who needs a club? This year the best DJs are going in-house at restaurants and bars. Soho House’s latest opening, 180 House, will have vinyl DJs playing seven days a week. “We want our music to be as signature as our cocktail menu or interior design,” says Dom Chung, Soho House’s head of music (and brother of Alexa). The Coal Shed founder Razak Helalat is opening his third Brighton restaurant later this month, with a specially curated music programme from local resident Fatboy Slim. Meanwhile, at Bristol’s rooftop bar Bambalan a series of summer parties headlined by big-name DJs, including former Portishead DJ Andy Smith and Norman Jay MBE, are planned. Also set to open in Bristol, the 3rd is the latest restaurant from the Michelin-starred Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, the chef behind Decimo in London. If Decimo’s DJ booth and party reputation is anything to go by, this will be one to bookmark.
The canapé is still big news, but only when served “under small glass cloches or on individual spoons” to keep things Covid-safe, says Anna Wills, founder of ARC Events, who has previously organised large-scale events at Kensington Palace and the National Gallery. “I’ve even brainstormed ideas to serve a small plate of canapés to each guest, or create individual boxes of crudités and dips.” As for the drinks, all hail the return to a classic glass of champagne — the ultimate celebratory drink. At Ginger Lily, the bar of the luxurious new Pan Pacific London hotel, opening in the City this September, Francesco Putignano (formerly of swanky outfit Seabird) is in charge of a list of bottles sourced from more than 100 champagne houses. He is also hoping to lay claim to the longest list of by-the-glass fizz in the Square Mile. And at Boujee, a new restaurant in Manchester, there is an entire room dedicated to Laurent-Perrier’s pink champagne. For private parties, English sparkling wines are still the top choice. “People have had enough of the boredom of lockdown and are raring to go. We are seeing enormous demand,” says Nicholas Coates, the co-founder and director of Coates & Seely, whose Hampshire-grown wines have been poured at the Fat Duck, the Ivy and the Dorchester.
The superyacht boom
There’s only one place the 1 per cent will be found this summer and it’s not on land: stats show that 2021 is set to go down in history as the best year yet for superyacht sales. With air travel proving unreliable and the pandemic-induced restrictions at luxury resorts hard to predict, it’s no wonder the mega-rich are turning to floating palaces. More than 208 posh yachts have been sold on the brokerage market so far this year, compared to just 131 during the same period last year, according to Boat International. Catch superyacht owners dropping anchor near the hot new Maybourne Riviera hotel on the Côte d’Azur when it opens this summer. It has a private beach club that visiting HNWIs are welcome to enjoy. Want to get in on the action? Steven Spielberg listed his own 282ft behemoth for $160 million last month, but for the less flush there is always the “boatel”. Try the Sunborn hotel, moored at Royal Victoria Dock in east London, or Secret Water, a floating glamping pod in Beccles, Suffolk. Ahoy there!
Croquet at Hedsor House DOMINIC JAMES
The new office do
Swish corporate events are back on the cards again, but not as you know them. Think weekend-long parties at hotels booked out exclusively for you and your colleagues in lieu of a packed boardroom. The hot tickets are Hedsor House and the Langley in Buckinghamshire, Cliveden House in Berkshire and Heckfield Place, Hampshire. For one-night-only bashes, the Painters Room, the new bar at Claridge’s, is opening this summer. “As for timings, forget keeping Friday night free,” Wills says. “Holding a party on a Monday or a Tuesday will be a thing, especially if, with the advent of WFH, people aren’t in the office for the latter half of the week. A staggered, smaller series of Christmas parties is also being considered, rather than one big bash.”
Oh Me Oh My rooftop bar, Liverpool
The party postcode
When it comes to a proper party, Liverpool knows how to deliver. Last month the city piloted a concert and a club night — the first in the UK since the start of the pandemic — as a test drive for when restrictions lift, which had thousands descending on Sefton Park and Liverpool docks. This summer a host of new bars in the Liverpool Waterfront area look set to keep the party going. Melia, a Spanish hotel giant, is transforming the former Echo building on Old Hall Street into a giant hotel, Innside Liverpool, which is due to open in August, complete with a 360-degree sky bar and sets from resident DJs. A few minutes away, on Duke Street, the recently opened vegan bar Ripolin is making a name for itself with its cocktail list. Or book in to Tempest on Tithebarn: a bar, event and brunch spot on Tithebarn Street inspired by the bars of New York’s Meatpacking District with a rooftop terrace and live music. Get the bevvies in now!
Sustainability is the hot topic when it comes to party planning this year. “Our approach to everything is now done through the lens of its environmental impact,” says Garrett Moore, co-founder of Immersive Cult, an event production company that has put on extravaganzas for Cartier, Loulou’s at 5 Hertford Street and CNN. “We try to create minimum waste and work locally. You want to make your party about you, rather than about showing off.” The recently launched House of Party Planning website is a “digital matchmaker” that can pair you with the most socially conscious UK suppliers. “We only represent industry leaders and each supplier has to tell us what they’re doing for the environment,” says its co-founder Tor Dashwood. “Every profile on our website has information on how the brand is dedicated to reducing carbon emissions and wastage.” Among those on its books are Tattie Rose Flowers, which did the blooms for Ellie Goulding and Caspar Jopling’s wedding and doesn’t work with floral foam, a single-use plastic; Social Pantry, which works to ensure its entire operation has zero food waste; and Raw Tipis, a carbon-neutral tepee-hire company that offsets the carbon emissions at your party and gives all the guests a tree to plant anywhere in the world.
The quick-fire update
▶ The invites
Out Laser-engraved Perspex invitations — haven’t you watched Seaspiracy?
In A custom gif, sent to a WhatsApp group — more likely to get a quick RSVP.
▶ The party brag
Out Fancy dress photobooths — bit basic hen do now.
In The rapid lateral flow test. No negative, no entry.
▶ The dress code
Out Skyscraper heels.
In Mask chains — like sunglasses chains, except with these you won’t lose your facemask in the crowd.
▶ The music
Out Generic house music. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to dance to.
In French disco funk. Try L’Impératrice at your next house party.