The Tories are in, the Royals are cool and RP is ringing out – the upper-classes are on the up. But you don’t have to play polo to pass for posh. Eddy Frankel tells you how to fake it before you’ve made it.
There was a time when to be posh was a source of shame. Everyone wanted to be an extra in a Guy Ritchie film, pretended they understood cockney rhyming slang and slummed it down the allotment. But no more. Sales of Hunter boots and Burberry clothes are on the up, while posh countryside coat-maker Barbour reported a 42 percent rise in profits last year. Meanwhile, bigname celebrities like Jack Whitehall, Eton graduate and hot new heartthrob Tom Hiddleston, the Middleton sisters and the ever-evolving cast of ‘Made in Chelsea’ couldn’t be less ashamed of their good breeding – and it’s making the rest of us go potty for posh. So much so, that classic upmarket London locales are seeing a cool revival and a host of new events and venues are popping up to cater for the upper crust.
But chances are, you’re not posh. You’re just like rest of us, spending your time asking: Why don’t I own a gilet? Why are none of my trousers red? Why have I never eaten tartiflette in an Alpine chalet? And what the hell is tartiflette? Well, wonder no more! We’ve produced a handy guide to being posh in London. When we’re done with you, you’ll either be walking, talking, and eating like a genuine blueblood, or you’ll be tarred, feathered and paraded up and down the King’s Road like some common oik. Godspeed.
9am Breakfast at Bluebird
Bluebird in Chelsea is the place to be seen breakfasting like those adventurously coiffed toffs from ‘Made in Chelsea’, who are regular patrons. Yes, you read that right: breakfasting. If you’re going to fit in, you need to start using all sorts of words as verbs. ‘I summer in Cape Cod,’ for example. Bluebird won’t make too much of a dent in your wallet (a full English costs £11), but with its modern European cuisine, wine room, swanky décor and celebrity and royal clientele, you’ll be kicking off your day of elegance in style.
11am Morning exercise at Riding Club
Sure, exercise is great, but why do it yourself? When you’re posh, you can pay to have animals do the hard work for you: like one of the Riding Club’s horses. The private members’ club was founded by the wonderfully named Ashley Parasram and Rosie van Cutsem to offer not just riding lessons and horse clinics, but also equestrian trips, swanky parties and cocktail evenings. There’s apparenly been a dramatic rise in Riding Club memberships recently, due to the popularity of the Olympics as well as the recent influx of Chinese, Russian and Middle Eastern clients keen to capitalise on the ‘Downton Effect’. Plus, they have a freaking concierge service (for you, not the horses) – and there is nothing posher than a concierge.
1pm Lunch at Club Gascon
While the rest of the city is getting their hands dirty with cheap American street food, gorging on ribs and burgers like zombie peasants, there’s been an explosion of high-end eateries across London. We now have a veritable Downton kitchen’s worth of superstar chefs, with Oli Dabbous, Heston Blumenthal and the Roux clan all piling up the Michelin stars – and business is booming. So ignore the cheap budget fare of the food trucks by indulging in foie gras, caviar and truffles at the Michelin-starred Club Gascon, where a set menu costs £90, with the sommelier’s choice of wine pairings. You’ll have to look up ‘sommelier’.
2:30pm Shopping in Mayfair
There was a time when only the formal boutiques of New Bond Street offered high enough price tags for the super rich. But the tide of posh shops is lapping at the hip shores of east London now, so if you want to take out a mortgage to buy a measly scarf, you can do it in very cool concept shops like LN-CC in Hackney and chic menswear boutique Anthem in Shoreditch. If you prefer to keep it aristocratic, old-money Mayfair is also seeing a boom in popularity. Galleries are creating an art scene (mega-spaces like David Zwirner, Michael Werner and Pace are flocking in), and new shops are opening: Paul Smith recently opened a boutique here, and Posh Spice herself, Victoria Beckham, is due to open her first store in Mayfair this spring. But fancy-pants shopping doesn’t have to involve spending money: you can just go to the Lamborghini showroom on Old Brompton Road and see if they’ll let you test-drive a £300,000 Aventador (we tried, they didn’t, although you might have more luck).
4pm Down time at the Bulgari Hotel Spa
If there’s one thing upper-crusters have loads of, other than money, it’s time. And a desire to sit in really hot rooms. So if you’re tired of the overcrowded airing cupboard that passes for a sauna at your local leisure centre, you need to experience a proper pampering. The Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge is owned by the luxury Italian jewellery brand, and its spa is the definition of OTT opulence, with a 25m-long pool, 11 treatment rooms, Turkish baths and a gold leaf-tiled ‘vitality pool’, where you will surely feel, er, vital. For a mere £900, you and a friend can have a personalised spa experience, or you can go solo and opt for the ‘synchronised four-handed massage’ for £700. Which implies that the rich have somehow managed to breed four-handed massage mutants to do their bidding, like something from ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’. Be afraid.
8pm Dinner at Bodo’s Schloss
The well-heeled love to hit the slopes of Verbier and St Moritz – but can you tell your business moguls from your snow moguls? Learn how without leaving the comfort of Kensington at Bodo’s Schloss. It isn’t just an Austrian-themed restaurant and bar, it’s also a prime nightspot for west London’s poshest. The young royals, the Beckhams and the ‘Made in Chelsea’ posse have all been caught partying Alpine style and chowing down on surprisingly affordable schnitzel and bratwurst here. The duo behind Schloss, Diego Bivero-Volpe and Antoin Commane (seriously, we’re not making these names up), also opened the temporary Ruski’s Tavern down the road. The vodka and caviar bar (potato juice and fish eggs are just more elegant than hop juice and a bag of crispy pig fat) was the place to be seen for the three months it was open. And it’s now relaunching in March.
11pm Clubbing at Koko
In 1990, the Berlin wall came crashing down, uniting east and west Germany. In 2014, we’re breaking down barriers of our own – that’s right, the la-di-das are leaving Kensington, ushering in a new era of unity in our fair city. Don’t believe us? Just ask Jacobi Anstruther- Gough-Calthorpe. Him and his gang have been putting on parties all over Knightsbridge and Chelsea for years, but he has headed to the unfamiliar grounds of north London’s Koko for his latest series of nights, called Housekeeping (the next swanky party is set for May). Now you can hobnob with the best of the west. Is that the sweet smell of revolution in the air?