Guests are what gives a hotel its personality. Glamorous, elegant and distinguished, the waft of the cine-sirens whispered volumes about the Athenaeum’s chic and desirability. All that was missing from the mix, perhaps, was a dash of danger, a soupçon of larger-than-life. Enter the dragons. Thus did rock superstars, burning with boredom and on the prowl for fresh meat, roll up with battered guitar cases to see what all the fuss was about. And thus did The Athenaeum enter yet another phase in its irresistible history, as London’s premier celebrity auberge.
Would that I could count the number of exclusive interviews, press conferences, elaborate junkets, star-crammed launch parties and photo shoots I attended within these walls during my tenure as columnist on such titles as the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the News of the World and the Sunday Express. Here was where I took afternoon tea with rock goddess Stevie Nicks, whom I had interviewed only a fortnight earlier at her home in the Hollywood Hills; who presented me, not with an embellished shawl nor a beribboned tambourine, but with a fetching self-portrait she had daubed for me on the flight over, setting up her easel, brushes and paints right there in First Class.