Building foundations with Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry
Walking into Le Méridien Piccadilly and being handed a neon molecular cocktail that smoked with dry ice and befuddled the taste buds is not your everyday occurrence, but for a handful of Starwood Ambassadors, the hotel organised an artistic treat in homage to the manipulation of perspective. The event was followed the morning after by a visit to the hotel’s Unlock Art™ partner, Tate Modern, and an expert led tour of the Damien Hirst exhibition.
For dinner at Le Méridien guests were seated around a butterfly-adorned table, shrouded in pink lighting as glitter particles hung in the air. The hosts offered a menu that showcased the creativity of Le Méridien Piccadilly’s consummate cooking skills. Fabergé eggs, suckling pig and a board of discovery delivered mind-bending taste experiences. Exploding chilli chocolates, ice-cream lollipops and chocolates sprinkled with glitter. Each course was masterfully conceived, with fine wines paired with each dish, rounded off with a vanilla and chilli-infused G&T, poured from a teapot into a cup, making it more akin to an afternoon brew, an intriguing twist to complete this feast for the senses.
After a night as guests of Le Méridien Piccadilly, the group made its way across the river to the Tate Modern. Described by the gallery as a survey the Damien Hirst exhibition covers the last 24 years of his career, the show (which runs until 9 September) includes many of the artist’s most renowned works, from a stomach-churning severed cow’s head abandoned in a Plexiglas prison of swarming flies to a windowless graveyard for exotic butterflies. All agreed the star of the show is For the Love of God, Hirst’s iconic diamond-covered skull, presented in the Tate’s huge Turbine Hall.
When Starwood Hotels acquired Le Méridien in 2005, it immediately set about injecting the group’s French heritage with a jolt of cultural modernity. With more than 100 properties in 50 countries worldwide, the project was ambitious, but with creative input from Le Méridien’s cultural curator Jérôme Sans, the result is an intelligent synthesis of individually distinct properties within their respective cultural settings. Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts have been transformed into staging areas for contemporary artworks by both established and up-and-coming artists and through partnerships with local cultural institutions, the group has forged a place for itself at the core of the art world. Via the Unlock Art™ programme, guests’ key cards designed by LM100™ members are literally a complimentary ticket to a city’s leading art forums. By any measure, the group’s elevation of the quotidian hotel experience into a cultural one is inspirational.