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Spring 2008

MALAYSIA The jet-setters guide to the hippest destination in South-East Asia


Win a seven night’s luxury break for two to Malaysia!


SPECIAL FEATURE: Join us as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Boucheron

Ideas to indulge in a bit of extravagant retail therapy


Things to do over a long weekend in the ‘Red City’…







TRAVEL 14/4/08 17:08:39

Helping orphaned baby orang-utans to learn survival skills in special sanctuaries…Limitless undiscovered beaches, dive-sites and marine parks on two oceans…Endlessly delicious food influenced long-ago by traders from neighbouring countries... Tribal dances of grace and passion, backed by gongs and bamboo flutes that


profoundly echo Malaysia…

For booking contact your local Travel Agent For more information please visit: or call 020 7930 7932 Tourism Malaysia 57 Trafalgar Square London WC2N 5DU email


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The time is now. The place is Malaysia


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Rolls-Royce Motor Cars London, 15 Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6FG Tel: +44 20 7491 7941 Š Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited. The Rolls-Royce name and logo are registered trademarks


1/11/07 16:20:36



COVER CREDITS: Model Roza Necklace Boucheron Metallic snakeskin effect jacket GF FERRE from +IT Location Sky bar, Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

WELCOME TO THE RE-LAUNCH ISSUE OF URBAN LIFE MAGAZINE It has been a while since our last issue, so first of all I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our readers, subscribers and clients for their patience and loyal support whilst we finalised this latest instalment. We are all very excited with some of the new features we are incorporating into the magazine, starting with this issue. You will see a lot more focus on the editorial content, with more emphasis on all things luxury, which is what Urban Life is all about. Firstly, we have our cover story on Malaysia, which is being sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. Our journey takes us through the cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur, with excursions into two of the most beautiful islands on the Malaysian peninsular: Langkawi and Penang. From the hectic fashion and nightlife scene to the peace and tranquillity of the stunning resorts on both the islands, we give you a rundown of the best places to go and see.

URBAN LIFE Published by: ©Westside Communications Ltd 2008. 10 Greycoat Place, London SW1P 1SB T. +44 (0) 871 989 8206 F. +44 (0) 871 989 8207 E. Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Ataur Rahman Art Director Lee Thomas

To complement the cover story, we have secured a top-notch seven night’s holiday for two to Malaysia, and, for our loyal subscribers, we have an exclusive competition to win an oil-on-canvas fine art piece, courtesy of Oc-Eo Art. So make sure you subscribe today for your chances to win!

Sub Editor Will Dugdale Motoring Editor Patrick Anderson Business Development Manager James Tan Features and Commissioning Editorial Nick Dines Features Sarah Walsh, Jodie May, Ivan Petersen

Our ‘Urban Hotspot’ is into its second instalment, with Marrakech being the focus in this issue. In addition we have our usual rundown of the coolest technology, restaurants and nightlife. And if you feel like you need a bit of extravagant retail therapy, then check out our Luxury Gifts Guide in this issue, from diamond encrusted pens to bracelets and private jet travel, we’ve sourced some of the hottest purchases to flex your credit-card! Our new look website is also up and running, so log on regularly to be kept abreast of news and developments. And of course, I am at your disposal for any feedback or suggestions. Write to me at:

UNTIL THE NEXT ISSUE… Ataur Rahman Editor-in-chief


Social Correspondent Funky Nora Editorial Assistants Andy Simpson, Clara Thomas Photography Patrick Anderson, Adam Parker Advertising Becky Chatsworth Subscriptions Manager James Mason If you are interested in stocking Urban Life Magazine, please call the office or send an email to: with your requirements. © Westside Communications Ltd 2006. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part as well as storage of same in any retrieval system or transmission in any form including content and advertisement designs without the express prior written permission of the publisher will result in legal action. The content and views contained within this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. All details correct at time of going to press but are subject to change. All errors and omissions excluded. All special offers and competitions are subject to terms and conditions (please see individual offers for details). Urban Life cannot be held responsible for any unsolicited material. All enquiries relating to advertising and sponsorship should be directed to the sales team in the first instance: To subscribe please fill out the subscriptions form available in this issue, otherwise download it from the website: Alternatively contact the office on the number on the left or email: subs@


For your nearest TW STEEL stockist please telephone 01428 656822 or e-mail



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LUXURY GIFTS GUIDE Urban Life’s guide to some of the best gift ideas around COVER STORY: MALAYSIA A jet-setters guide to the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur and the exotic islands of Langkawi and Penang


MALAYSIA COMPETITION Win a seven nights trip for two to Malaysia! MOTORING Nick Dines takes an Aston Martin for a spin whilst Patrick Anderson goes to Iceland for a ‘Land Rover experience’ TECHNOLOGY A rundown of some of the hottest gadgets for personal and home use URBAN HOTSPOT: MARRAKECH A mere three hour’s flight away, we explore the ‘Red City’ for an in-depth look at some of its best hotspots


URBAN LIFE SPECIAL FEATURE: BOUCHERON All things glitz and glamour, we celebrate with the House of Boucheron and take a peek at whats lined up for release this year


ART & CULTURE: UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS We look at four of the most exciting art exhibitions taking place; from all things Bond to fashion and archictecture


URBAN TASTE – RESTAURANT REVIEWS A selection of the restaurants we’ve tried out recently, including: BBB and Awana, the fine dining Malaysian in Chelsea


NIGHTLIFE Our social butterfly is back with a run-down of the best joints in town







URBAN LIFE SUBSCRIPTIONS Keep ahead of current trends with London’s hottest lifestyle magazine. Subscribe now for your regular copy!


The winner’s name will be drawn at random, on the 21st July, 2008. *Competition open to current and new subscribers only. No cash alternative will be offered. Editor’s decision final To get your regular copy through the post, sign and fax this page to: +44871 989 8207 or post to: Subscriptions department, Urban Life Magazine, 10 Greycoat Place, London, SW1P 1SB. All fields must be filled in correctly, otherwise we will not be able to process your application. And don’t forget to include your cheque to cover P&P!

Green Field by Bui Suoi Hoa (Oil on Canvas, size: 27x35)



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So you’re thinking of blowing some of that left over year-end bonus but not sure on what or where? Fear not, for we have been ‘shopping around’ on your behalf and think we may have a few suggestions to alleviate your wallet of all that excess cash you are so painfully carrying around…

CLASSIC ITALIAN… Maserati have recently launched their new accessories collection in Harrod’s, with much fanfare. Quite rightly so, for as any weekend warrior will tell you, it’s not just what car you drive up to the weekend retreat with, but what your luggage sets comprises of that distinguishes the wheat from the chaff! And with these bespoke five-piece luxury luggage set made by Salavatore Ferragamo, you will be turning many a head with their stylish yet understated clean looks. Each set comprises of five individual pieces (suitcase, shoe and garment holder etc), which can also be purchased individually (and no, Jodie doesn’t come with the set unfortunately!). Available from the Ferragamo store on Old Bond Street or through the Maserati dealer network and website.



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THE BUFFALO EFFECT Here’s something for the man who has everything. Not content with the usual Jewell-encrusted chairs, tables, bedside lamps or toaster? Well, this ought to draw attention to your er, flamboyant taste in interior decoration: a Swarovski crystal encrusted African Water Buffalo’s head, containing over 18000 of the little sparklers! Adorn your bachelor pad with this and it’s sure to stir up many a dinner time conversation with the ladies… A one off limited edition piece is available at a cost of £5700, which comes with a Chrome plated stand. However, if you’ve missed it, then all hope is not lost as there are a further limited edition of six photographic prints (taken by BAFTA nominated filmmaker and photographer, Ray Kilby), which will be available at £650 each.

WORK OF ART This beautiful 18 carat pink gold bracelet is part of the Links collection, now available from Avakian. Set with 496 diamonds and 504 pink sapphires, this is truly an exceptional work of art, sure to raise a pulse or two. The collection includes earrings, sold separately. £46,400.00 Avakian – 0207 235 0025



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NETJETS PRIVATE JET CARD As the largest operator of business and private jets in Europe, air travel is no longer a distressing experience. Boasting unrivalled desirability, the NetJets Private Jet Card is the ultimate gift, providing a luxurious, affordable introduction to private air travel. Card holders are entitled to 25 hours of flight time to jet off wherever they choose at only 24 hours notice, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Having created a more accessible Europe, kiss goodbye to crowded airports. Delayed flights and lost baggage are a thing of the past as the jet card offers all the benefits of guaranteed availability, speed, privacy, and security at a minimal cost. Prices for the Private Jet Card start at €129,000

LIMITED EDITION The ultimate accessory for the motoring enthusiast! This limited edition Tibaldi for Bentley pen is destined to become an instant classic and a must-have collector’s item. Individually hand-made, the design takes its inspiration from the Arnage and Continental GT Diamond series. With such workmanship, you would expect an equally impressive case, so naturally Tibaldi have handcrafted this luxurious box using English Oak (the very same used in the doors of the Arnage Diamond series). There are only 400 of these fountain pens made, so hurry if you want one. xx STYLE BIBLE For all you fashionistas and budding jet-setters, this season’s must-have accessory is a platinum membership card for Style Bible, the on-line concierge service. Whether you’re into fashion, luxury travel or want access to exclusive events and parties; this is your passport to all things sexy and stylish. Currently operating in London, New York, Amsterdam and Las Vegas, with the Algarve on the way, membership affords you exclusive access to the world of the privileged few, without costing an arm or leg!

£3500.00 The Pen Shop

Annual membership is available at a cost of £120.



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SKY HIGH INKL Trader’s Sky bar provides the background for Malaysia’s hottest designers and fashion trends. Photography: Adam Parker Stylist: Weechee Cho Make-up Artist: Belinda Chee Hair: David Shaw Models: Roza, with Faces Model Management Amadeo, with Andrews Models



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Roza wears an Ombre chiffon bustier gown with satin pumps, by Michael Ong


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Amadeo: *Cotton shirt and pants, CNC Costume National from +IT Roza: *Cotton drill corset and suede gloves, Louis Vuitton *Washed denim jeans, GF FERRE from +IT *Ankle boots, Boss Women



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Roza: *Crepe de chine caftan and silk charmeuse bikini, Bernard Chandran *Metal sandals, Louis Vuitton *Bracelets, CC Skye from Maizen Maison Amadeo: *Velvet tuxedo, vintage Brioni *Buckle belt, Louis Vuitton *Bathing suit, Nike *Leather shoes, Aldo



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*Printed silk crepe caftan, Farah Khan



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*Cotton twill military jacket and pants, Kwan by Daniel Cho *metal belt, Galliano from +IT



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Amadeo: *Cotton jacket and necklace, Kwan by Daniel Cho *Ddenim jeans, Evisu Roza: *Chintzed silk trapeze jacket, Khoon Hooi *Metallic leather pants and ankle boots, Boss Women *Silver cuff, Louis Vuitton

Amadeo: *Satin tuxedo and lace shirt, Bernard Chandran *Denim jeans, GF Ferre from +IT Roza: *Mohair fringe dress, Fendi *Silver cuff and suede platforms, Louis Vuitton


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*Necklace, Boucheron *Metallic snakeskin effect jacket, GF FERRE from +IT



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*Batik appliqued lace shirt, Bernard Chandran *Denim jeans, GF Ferre from +IT



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escribed as Asia’s cultural melting-pot, Malaysia is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse countries in the world. There are three main groups that make up the population: Malay, Indian and Chinese, along with a multitude of other indigenous cultures, all with their own distinct identity, yet living side-by-side. A land of contrasts: the moment you step out of the airport, it’s not only the tropical heat which hits the senses, but a kaleidoscope of smells, colours and tastes. 21st century skyscrapers sit comfortably alongside ancient temples and monuments; the finest restaurants serve world class food, yet you could go to a street stall and eat to your hearts content for pittance; you can shop in the finest boutiques selling luxury goods or get lost in the numerous flea markets where you can buy anything your heart desires for a fraction of the cost. Malaysia celebrated its 50th independence last year. The whole of 2007 saw a multitude of events across the country, which was nothing short of a spectacular display of cultural pride and celebration of nationhood.

“2007 SAW A MULTITUDE OF EVENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WHICH WAS NOTHING SHORT OF A SPECTACULAR DISPLAY OF CULTURAL PRIDE AND CELEBRATION OF NATIONHOOD.” Getting around is a breeze as pretty much everyone speaks fluent English (our colonial legacy lives on!) It’s a bit of a cliché when it comes to talking about friendly locals in travel writing, but the people here are truly welcoming, which really does make one feel at home. Whether you’re after the modern, fastpaced experience of life in the capital city Kuala Lumpur (KL) or the idyllic off-thebeaten-track locations found in Penang or Langkawi Islands, Malaysia ticks all the right boxes. So we will start our journey in KL, with its world-class shopping, entertainment and sporting events ensuring its place on the jet-setters map – not to mention the wide array of choices for high-end leisure travel or investment opportunities.


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FLYING THE MAYLASIA WAY Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier of Malaysia, is recognised as one of Asia’s largest, flying more than 48,000 passengers to some 100 destinations across 6 continents everyday.


t currently offers 14 weekly direct Boeing 747-400 flights between the United Kingdom and Malaysia linking London with the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Its code-share partner, British Midlands connects customers from Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Teesside, Leeds Bradford, Glasgow and Manchester to London for onward connectivity to Kuala Lumpur onboard Malaysia Airlines. ‘The airline holds a lengthy record of service and best practices excellence, having received more than 100 awards in the last 10 years. The most notable ones include the “Asia’s Leading Business Class” award by World Travel Awards, “World’s Best Cabin Staff” 2007 award by Skytrax UK, “5-star airline” in 2005, 2006 and 2007, as well as No 1 for “Economy Class Onboard Excellence 2006” also by Skytrax, UK’ Malaysia Airlines is well-known for its award winning cabin crew offering gracious and warm Malaysian hospitality. Its first class and business cabins offers spacious surroundings, fine dining and comfortable flat beds. First and business class passengers also enjoy the airline’s signature dishes including satay. Great entertainment is offered onboard including up to 50 movies and 100 short features (including comedies and documentaries) as well as a wide selection of music catering to diverse taste.


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“THE AIRLINE HOLDS A LENGTHY RECORD OF SERVICE AND BEST PRACTICES EXCELLENCE, HAVING RECEIVED MORE THAN 100 AWARDS IN THE LAST 10 YEARS.” It also provides special services to cater to passengers who require special care. These passengers can be the aged, expectant mothers, unaccompanied young children and the physically challenged. It also caters for special needs include special meal, wheelchair and stretcher requests. To retain its position as the most preferred air carrier to Malaysia, the airline has continuously upgraded its products and services. In 2006, it introduced ‘Enrich Enhanced’, an upgrade of its existing Loyalty and Frequent Flyer programme, which now offers members increased benefits and more redemption options. Members are able to use their Enrich Miles not just for their travel privileges, but also for other lifestyles privileges throughout the year including free flights, travel class upgrades, Golden Holidays packages, in-flight shopping and access to Golden Lounges worldwide. Customers can earn miles with Enrich partners in over 4,000 locations worldwide, ranging from airlines, to banks and credit cards, hotels and lifestyle partners. The award winning airline continues with its efforts towards its ultimate goal of positioning itself as a truly global brand well known for its personal touch, warmth and efficiency. (


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Fast becoming a shopper’s paradise, Malaysia has already established itself as the premier shopping destination in South East Asia, and nowhere more than Kuala Lumpur. So much so, you will be spoilt for choice when looking for a bargain, whether it is in the street stalls, indoor markets or the numerous luxury shopping centres and boutiques all over the city. Trends in fashion reflect what’s hip and current in London, Paris, Milan and New York and this is clearly visible amongst the local urbanites. In addition to the advantage of the exchange rate (six Ringits to a Pound), there are a wide range of added benefits for the travelling shopper. Compared to London, things are generally cheaper here of course, but with various annual promotions such as the two month long ‘Mega Sale Carnival’ (24 May – 3 August) and the year-end sale (29 November 2008 – 4 January 2009), shopping definitely should be a part of the plan when booking the next trip. Even if you take your shopping very seriously, then KL should satisfy even the most hard-core of you. Amongst the best places to find practically anything at bargain prices (and they’ll happily barter), are the Central and Chinese Markets, which are two of the biggest in KL. Accessories, electronics, fashion and jewellery, practically anything you can think of (or carry), is available here. Amongst the numerous mid-market shopping centres selling high street brands (Body Shop, Timberland and Topshop, or their equivalents) are the Mid-Valley in Bangsar (the biggest in South East Asia) or Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang. If you feel like flexing the plastic a little more, however, then three of the biggest and most exclusive (and impressive) shopping centres are the Starhill Galleria by the Marriot, the newly opened Pavilion not far from there or the Suria KLCC at the Petronas Twin Towers. All are open until late as they also boast an array of bars and restaurants which provide both a respite for the tired feet as well as a cool option for just hanging out and people watching.

SPORTING EVENTS There are all sorts of sporting events taking place each year, from show-

jumping, sailing and golf tournaments, to marathons, water and extreme sports. For the petrol heads however, there is plenty of action to be found at the Sepang International Circuit, which is the home of the Malaysian Moto GP, the A1 GP and the Merdeka Millennium Endurance race. The crowning event, of course, is the Formula 1 race, which attracts the glamour and fashion set from around the world. Now in its 10th year, it has certainly put Malaysia on the map for the global jet-setter and celebrity fans of the sport. KL central comes alive when F1 hits town, with an overwhelming number of social events and parties being thrown throughout the lead-up week and during the course of the three race days.


Like the UK, the cultural diversity of Malaysia is best experienced through the rich variety of cuisine on offer. Whatever your tastes, from traditional and authentic to the fusion and modern interpretations of classical dishes, are all available from the humble street stall to the finest establishments in the best hotels. Again the main types of cuisine, reflecting the primary ethnic mix are Malay, Indian and Chinese, with Japanese, Indonesian, Thai and French following in their footsteps – then you have a hundred and one other regional influences, which make for a gastronome’s delight! The first amongst some of the noteworthy restaurants we tried was the Restoran Rebung in bangsar Park (, run by celebrity chef Ismail Ahmad, a regular on Malaysian cookery TV programmes. On the face of it, there’s not much to the restaurant in terms of wow factor, but don’t let that fool you as the food certainly is. Chef Ismail is quite a character, very flamboyant in nature, but passionate about food and the history behind regional specialities. His other claim to fame is his business partner Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian astronaut to go into space. Food is served either a la carte or buffet style, which comes highly recommended. The Satays, Rendangs and various types of soups and noodles are simply exquisite. Booking is advised.


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Chynna at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur was one of our other pit stops. Aside from the plush surroundings of this fabulous new addition to the KL skyline, this is where you want to try out authentic Cantonese delicacies. Order from the a la carte menu or open dim sum bar, but either way you will experience one of the best fine-dining eateries in KL. To be honest, I would love to go into detail about all the wonderful dishes I sampled, but unfortunately I had to cut my dinner short as an expected guest of mine turned up unexpectedly early, therefore after a quick taste from a selection of starters, I had to excuse myself from the main course! However, having sampled what was on offer, I can confidently say go for the whole shabang, if you have the time! The Hilton is located right next to the Stesen Sentral (central station). Gobo Upstairs Lounge & Grill (yes it’s quite a mouthful!) at the Traders Hotel is the fine dining concept, whilst Gobo Chit Chat is the diffusion,all-day diner downstairs. We ate in both, but Gobo Upstairs requires an extra mention since it was an extremely memorable meal. Executive Chef Theodor Falser, a passionate Italian, is equally passionate about the virtues of a piece of steak, and how it ought to be cooked and consumed. Not only that, but he feels similarly about Spinosini Pasta (Gobo is the only restaurant in KL to serve it), which is flown in especially from Italy. I think between the five of us we ate off the entire menu! Dishes worth trying are Yellow Fin Tuna and Hazlenut Dukkah with Hokkaido Scallops for starters and for mains, grilled Wahyu Beef, Spinosini Pasta with Boston Lobster cooked with 24 hours dried tomato or Fillet of Kurau (a local fish). The Norwegian Salmon Steaks with White Truffle Sauce were exceptionally tasty too. For desserts the Chocolate Torta and Combination Chef’s Special (chef’s own concoction which changes daily) were the perfect ending to a fabulous dinner.


The nightlife in KL is one of the most vibrant in South East Asia, and on the whole pretty good. There are a number of areas that have a concentration of pubs, bars and clubs, such as Bukit Bintang and Bangsar. However, our

recommendation is to head for the Asian Heritage Row, which offers a wide selection of nicer and trendier venues. In terms of the real style bars, which you could really get used to, there are only a very few, with one of the most notable being the Luna Bar at the Pacific Regency Apartments. This is one of the older venues in town, but it still pulls in the fashionable crowd with its rooftop terrace and open-air swimming pool. The adjacent gym has

Gobo upstairs and Luna Bar

“SKYBAR ON THE 33RD FLOOR OF THE TRADERS HOTEL IS PROBABLY THE HOTTEST PLACE IN KL, WITH THE BEST UNOBSTRUCTED VIEWS OF THE TWIN TOWERS.” now been redesigned and incorporated into the bar, and it looks pretty good, offering a slightly more refined experience with private booths and air conditioning. The new kid on the block is the Skybar, located on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel, which provided the backdrop for our photshoot and cover story. This is probably the hottest place to be in KL right now. With the best unobstructed views of the twin towers from most seating positions, the place really comes into its own at night. Celebrity clientele and the fashion brigade are a regular fixture, so make sure you book before heading up there, as they usually have to close the door early due to capacity! If you still fancy a little more excitement, then head over to Zouk, and its sister venue Velvet Underground. Situated on Jalan Ampang, it’s a stones throw from the towers, so pretty central. Be wary, though – it tends to get extremely busy, so plan ahead, especially weekends. The music tends to differ between the two, and to an extent so does the clientèle. The beautiful crowd, along with the whole of the foreign models community, seems to hang out here, so scrub up, you should feel right at home!






Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Dato Bernard Chandran is one of Malaysia’s most celebrated fashion designers. Known as the ‘Prince of Fashion’ due to his Royal patronage, the Parisian trained designer is one of the most exciting couturiers to have emerged from South East Asia. Chandran embodies all that is modern Malaysia and takes inspiration from his rich cultural heritage (he is of Chinese Indian parentage), which is fused into his creations. A blend of East-meets-West, his designs are instantly recognisable for their bold use of colour, exquisite tapestry and sumptuous materials. Having just shown at the London Fashion Week for the fourth season, his collections are now marketed throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East from his base in KL. And with an impressive list of international celebrity clients and royalty, Chandran has definitely put Malaysia on the fashion map. For further information and images of the new collections from the catwalk show the London Fashion Week, log onto: www.bernardchandran/com

It was about 12 years ago that the then unknown Dato Jimmy Choo OBE launched his eponymous couture shoes label with former business partner Tamara Mellon. From the humble beginnings of a workshop in Hackney, to what is now one of the most desirable footwear labels in the world, Jimmy Choo has been instrumental in transforming the fashion and footwear industry both in the UK and overseas. Born in Penang, Choo hails from a family of shoemakers. But it wasn’t long before the London fashion magnet beckoned, attracting Choo to Cordwainers’ Technical College (which has since merged with the London College of Fashion), where he honed his skills. Based on a foundation of practicality and an attention to detail bordering on obsessive, the innovative elegance of Jimmy Choo continuously maintains a high profile fan base. When you have an abundance of international stars such as Scarlett Johanssen, Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham showcasing your collection, you can’t complain. The Jimmy Choo name is synonymous with beauty and elegance, perfectly demonstrated by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who was one of Choo’s biggest fans. Known for his luxurious and unrivalled craftsmanship, Jimmy Choo has played a major role in making London the pinnacle of the fashion world, earning an OBE for his services to the UK fashion industry and honoured with a Dato’ship (equivalent of knighthood) from the Sultan of Penang in his hometown in Malaysia. Since offloading half his stake in Jimmy Choo Ltd over six years ago, Choo has left his brand in the capable hands of co-founder Tamara Mellon and his niece, Sandra Choi, who heads up the creative talent for the successful ready-to-wear collection. Choo now dedicates his efforts to his exclusive Jimmy Choo Couture line of handcrafted shoes and handbags, complimenting the finest designer clothing.


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EJC A4 May06.qxd



Page 1

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The island of Langkawi is less than an hour’s flight from KL and a complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of city life, especially in the tranquil surroundings of The Datai, where we stayed for three days. The aim of this part of our journey was to get some R&R before heading on to Penang for the remaining three days. After our gruelling six days in KL, we were absolutely shattered and the Datai was just what the doctor ordered. A spectacular property, it’s located on the North-western point of the island, surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, with its own private beach overlooking the Andaman Sea. This is the epitome of pure unadulterated luxury. From the moment you walk through the main foyer, you are ushered into the Lobby Lounge, where you are given cold towels and a refreshing cocktail before someone comes around to check you in. A civilised way of doing things, as there are no queues to join or standing around any longer than necessary. There are 54 Deluxe rooms, 40 stand alone villas and 18 suites, including the Datai suite on the property. Tastefully decorated, they are spacious, with large bathrooms and living areas, balconies with views of the sea and the forest canopy and some of the villas and suites with their own plunge/swimming pools. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning/humidity control and satellite television as standard, with DVD/ music players in the villas and suites.

There are three restaurants: the Pavillion, which serves fantastic Thai cuisine, the Dining Room, with an eclectic Malaysian and International menu and the Beach Club, which offers alfresco dining with an ocean view or, if you really fancy it, on the beach at your very own private table. Trés romantic, especially at night when you are dining away from other guests by just candlelight! The Lobby Lounge offers a snacks menu and an extensive cocktail list for those lazy times sitting and chatting the night away. For the active sort, there are numerous recreational activities to get stuck into: water sports, snorkelling, jungle trekking, cycling, tennis or playing golf on the 18-hole championship course. There’s even a gym if the weather turns a little sour. And for the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation, the Spa offers a variety of treatments to restore balance to body and mind. If you are going for more than a few days, you should try one of the three, five or seven day rituals, which allows you to experience different elements of the treatments on offer every day. Due to the constant rain during our visit, we didn’t really venture out as originally planned, which is just as well since we got to really enjoy the facilities and completely chill out. The staff were effortlessly charming and always attentive to our every need, providing the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing and beautiful stay.


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The last leg of our journey ended in Penang, a former British colony, also known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ owing to its year long mild equatorial climate and natural beauty. Our journey from Langkawi took just over two hours by ferry, which apart from the initial delay at departure, was pretty uneventful. Upon arrival at the port, we were greeted by a butler with floral garlands and offered glasses of Champagne from the bottle on chill, which he proceeded to open en route to the hotel. This was an unexpected welcome ritual and a pleasant surprise, which was to set the tone for the following three days. The Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, which has undergone a major refurbishment programme, is located just 20 minutes away by car from the centre of Georgetown, the capital city. With a total of 10 suites and 179 rooms in the Garden Wing (aimed more towards those with families) and a further 7 suites and 107 rooms in the superior Rasa Wing (which provides access to the Rasa Wing Lounge, offering complimentary beverages, high tea and cocktails in the evening,) the resort offers a wide choice in the level of comfort and facilities, whether you are on a romantic getaway or have kids in tow. Rated as one of the best resorts in Asia, The Rasa Sayang is everything you would envisage a grand dame to be: beautifully designed, luxurious and with facilities to keep you busy for days, should you decide not to leave the grounds and take it easy, which we pretty much did! It was a delight to stay at the Rasa: with a relaxed yet

attentive service ethos, our every whim was catered for. And since each suite is assigned a personal butler, everything was just one phone call away. At the resort there are three outdoor swimming pools, a fully equipped gym, a health centre and yoga studio. The Chi spa, with its signature treatments was one of the best I’ve visited anywhere and recommend it wholeheartedly! For the active sort there are also numerous other activities to get involved in. There’s a Par 3 executive golf course, outdoor tennis courts and being by the water, there are plenty of watersports to get stuck into: sailing, water-skiing, diving, the works!

“FULL OF 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY HERITAGE BUILDINGS, MOSQUES, TEMPLES, CHURCHES AND CLAN HOUSES; THIS IS THE FINEST EXAMPLE OF THE CULTURAL DIVERSITY THAT MALAYSIA IS KNOWN FOR.” The hotel is literally two minutes away from the famous Batu Feringgi Beach, and a five minute walk from the night markets on the Feringgi Road, which stretches along for as far as the eye can see. Everything from art and artefacts to clothes and electronics are available here, so if you’re in the mood to get some shopping done, this is the place. Penang is modern and built up like many

an urban centre, with high-rise blocks and developments, yet it’s also steeped in colonial history and influences from the succession of settlers over the centuries. To really get a feel for the rich tapestry of cultures and their influences, a visit to Georgetown is a must. Full of 18th and 19th century heritage buildings, mosques, temples, churches and Clan Houses, this is the finest example of the cultural diversity that Malaysia is known and celebrated for. Penang offers a glimpse of what Malaysia is truly about and has the same three main ethnic mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian, with the rest comprising of indigenous cultures. And again, nowhere is this more visible than in the food: aptly named as the food capital of Malaysia, the cuisine reflects the multi-cultural population with its different cooking styles and influences. When here you must try the hawker foodstalls on the famous Gurney Drive, a sea of traders serving fantastically delicious fare freshly prepared. For the culture vultures, there are numerous festivals and events to look out for throughout the year, including the Penang World Music Festival (2nd – 4th May), International Lantern Festival (1st November – 31st December) and the Penang Island Jazz Festival (4th – 7th December). And for the nocturnal types, there are plenty of bars and clubs to see in the daylight, just ask the concierge for a selection of the best places to go. Ataur Rahman Additional research by Nick Dines and Andy Simpson


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We have teamed up with our partners at Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines and the luxurious, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in Penang, to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a seven night break for two.

There are currently 14 direct weekly flights out of the UK, offering a great deal of choice and flexibility when it comes to booking a flight.

The winner will be picked at random once the competition closes. The prize includes two economy class tickets (from London to Kuala Lumpur* and return only) on Malaysia Airlines**, with the 5-Star Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa providing accommodation in a Rasa Premier room, in the exclusive Rasa Wing for the seven nights.***

When it comes to in-flight entertainment, there is plenty to choose from: offering the discerning traveller a great mix of current cinema releases, music stations and wide range of old classics to keep them entertained throughout their journey.

*Prize excluding airport tax **From KL to Penang and back to KL, it will be up to the winner to make the necessary travel arrangements. The cost of the journey or return flights for both passengers will be re-imbursed by Urban Life Magazine, upon submission of a valid receipt or proof of purchase. If you require further clarification, please contact us at the office.

*** In addition to the seven night stay, prize includes: • Daily A la carte breakfast served at the award winning Feringgi Grill Restaurant • Daily coffee, tea, juices and soft drinks at the Rasa Lounge • Selected alcoholic beverages excluding champagne, served at the Rasa Lounge • Evening canapes served at the Rasa Lounge • Cocktails and selected alcoholic beverages served a the Rasa Lounge • Usage of meeting room, subject to availability, (up to a maximum of 2 hours) per day • Wireless Internet access at the Rasa Lounge • 3.00pm late check-out

Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier of Malaysia, is one of the largest airline operators in Asia: flying to some 100 destinations across the world on a daily basis. Renowned for its award-winning service and cabin crew, Malaysia Airlines offers a superior flying experience across its entire fleet with attention to detail and superior customer service.

The Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, part of the Shangri-La group of Hotels and Resorts, has recently completed a major refurbishment programme, lasting 21 months. Widely acknowledged as one of Asia’s premier luxury resorts, the Rasa Sayang has spared no expense in creating a haven of tranquillity and sumptuous luxury.


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To enter the competition; please cut-out and fill in the entry form below and post it in an envelope to: Competitions Department, Urban Life Magazine, 10 Greycoat Place, London, SW1P 1SB. Competition closes on the 23rd of June. The winner will be chosen at random and notified by the 30th of June. URBAN LIFE COMPETITION ENTRY FORM Question: How many destinations in the world does Malaysia Airlines fly to daily? a) 200 b) 75 c) 100

The resort is split into two blocks: the superior Garden Wing and the premier Rasa Wing, each with it’s own entrance and lobby areas. With the Rasa Sayang located a mere 20 minutes drive from the historic city of George Town, you will have the opportunity to explore the island of Penang with it’s multitude of cultural and historical attractions, exquisite shopping, vibrant nightlife or should you choose, simply take it easy and indulge in the luxurious amenities available within the resort.


Answer: Name Profession/Job Title: Address:

Town/City: Postcode: Contact telephone number: Email:

Terms & Conditions: 1. This competition is open exclusively to readers of Urban Life Magazine. The competition is only open to UK residents, over 18 years of age. Only one entry per household. 2. Competition closes on the 23/06/2008, with the draw taking place on the 25/06/2008. The winner will be chosen at random and will be notified by the 30/06/2008. 3. The prize must be claimed by 15 August 2008, all travel must be completed between 15 September and 30 November 2008. 4. There will be airport taxes, which the winner will be liable for. All airport taxes and charges applicable must be paid prior to tickets being issued. Taxes vary according to the Rate of Exchange. Payment can be made by Credit or Debit Card or by cheque, made payable to “Malaysia Airlines. 5. There will be at least one treatment per person, offered on a complimentary basis, at the Chi Spa. 6. Proof of postage will not be accepted as proof of delivery. 7. Editor’s decision final, no correspondence will be entered into. 8. Offer is subject to availability, at the time of booking. 9. Tourism Malaysia (TM), Malaysia Airlines (MH) and the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa reserve the right to alter dates and/or prize value, should the need arise, and in such circumstances will make alternative arrangements. Prior notice will be given if such action is necessary. 10. Competition is not open to employees and/or their relatives of Urban Life Magazine, TM, MH or the Rasa Sayang. 11. A cash alternative will not be offered. 12. Your details will be published by Westside Communications Ltd (Publisher of Urban Life Magazine), in accordance with UK data protection legislation. 13. Westside Communications Ltd. may contact you with information about our other products and services in the future. Please tick here if you prefer NOT to receive such information by post or email. 13. Westside Communications Ltd. may share data, a secure basis, with other reputable companies who may wish to contact you with information about their products and services. Please tick here if you prefer NOT to receive such information. Winner’s details may be used for promotional purposes. Full terms and conditions available upon request.


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ASTON MARTIN V8 VANTAGE ROADSTER Having come within a point of the Formula One World Championship in his rookie season, commercial magnet Lewis Hamilton recently embarked on another hectic Formula One campaign. Perhaps had the young sports star been driving the new Aston Martin V8 Roadster, he would have began this season as a World Champion.


here’s no doubting this model’s credentials as a high-performance sports car, boasting one of the most lightweight engines and body structures around. Like the fruit in the Garden of Eden, the appealing Vantage Roadster has been sent to turn even the most timid driver into a speed demon. Where long straight roads are abundant, every inch of tarmac entices you to hit the gas. Whether you’re the driver or passenger, the Roadster sticks to the floor like no other, resulting in an extremely safe feeling around corners. Its curvaceous shape, style and ability to do 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds are the model’s main assets providing an exhilarating ride. Whilst not quite Richard Hammond death defying speed, the V8 Vantage Roadster is still a seriously quick ride. The sportshift Graziano 6-speed manual transmission replaces the conventional manual gear lever, using column mounted paddle controls: the closest you will get to imitating the likes of Lewis Hamilton. It’s so fast in fact that for a slight second I was Marty Mcfly with

Doc and Einstein in the passenger seat, checking the rearview for flame tyre tracks. Whether it’s watches or suits, the majority of the world’s finest luxury goods are all painstakingly handmade. After all, it’s not priced upwards of £91,000 for no reason - Aston Martin wished to create a model that represents the characteristics of power, beauty and soul. It’s all the more surprising that with all that hard-earned cash, it doesn’t buy you a car with parking sensors. However, I’m well informed that this is an imminent addition. The hand-craftsmanship of the instruments and facia makes the interior as aesthetically enjoyable as the exterior, thanks to the immaculate stitching of the leather seats; and we’re definitely not talking fresh off the production line. Even small details such as the metal mesh grills and trims instead of the typical plastic alternatives, make for a pleasing visual experience. It pains me to criticise a car of such perfection, however if you’re of a certain height, you may be in for a slightly uncomfortable

experience. It’s quite enclosed and awkward for a member of the Peter Crouch society. Quintessentially, the Roadster is simply a roofless Vantage Coupe, but designed from the outset as a convertible, the soft-top closing time mechanism is an impressive 17.5 seconds. The Vantage offers the rare ability of masquerading as an ultimate weekend treat whilst delivering the expected comfort of a weekday working car. Whether your journey means tractors and fields or congestion charge and tower blocks, the Roadster is as comfortable in the city as it is in the country. Like a cheating partner, it portrays a façade of calmness and elegance when in reality it’s a caged animal waiting to flout the laws and willing to seduce. The V8 Roadster keeps up the traditions that have kept Aston Martin at the top of their game. The V8 Roadster smacks of class. Never mind being Merc’d, we were well and truly Aston’d. Nick Dines



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Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster Price: £70,000 - £104,000 Engine: 4.3 litre V8 Power: 380 bhp Top speed: 175mph 0-60 mph 4.9 seconds Soft-top closing time 17.5 seconds FURTHER INFORMATION Find out more on the V8 Vantage Roadster at Grange Aston Martin: 2 Brook Street, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5LU (01277 249 555)


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LAND ROVER FREELANDER 2 TD4 When working out road tests, especially for 4x4s, the usual problem is how to assess a vehicle under many conditions in a short time. Luckily the launch for the new Landrover Freelander 2 TD had that well sorted - a trip to Iceland gave every road and weather condition you could want within a 48 hour radius.



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LAND Rover Freelander 2 TD4 2.2-litre TD4 diesel – 160 PS / 118 kW, 37.7 mpg : 7.5 l/100 km 3.2-litre i6 petrol – 233 PS / 171 kW, 25.2mpg : 11.2l/100 km Price range from £22,000 to over £30,000 FURTHER INFORMATION


aving landed in Reykjavik we headed off along the main road but soon took to off-road – beach driving along the shore line we really got the feel of the automatic and four wheel drive, rather like driving off road in a luxury armchair. Despite its imposing size from outside it is actually one of the smaller SUVs, although slightly larger than its predecessor, and it comes full of new gizmos. Lots of glass makes the Freelander feel roomy. The elevated ‘command driving’ position – a Land Rover hallmark – and ‘stadium seating’, where rear passengers sit slightly higher than front occupants, are both retained. Land Rover’s unique Terrain Response makes off-roading significantly more easy, and a new full-time intelligent 4x4 system ensures superior traction and better on-road fuel economy. On top of this, the patented Gradient Release Control makes for excellent control when releasing the brakes on steep and slippery slopes. With 5 people in it’s a tight fit, although there’s plenty of leg room, so tall people can sit in the back without too much discomfort. As the name Landrover suggests it’s really an off roader and a

little sluggish in the city traffic, with a quoted combined cycle fuel consumption of 37.7mpg. After a night stop in an isolated but beautifully located hotel on the sea’s edge, we made an early start across country roads and onto off-road tracks through mountain streams and towards the glaciers. All was fine until the weather decided to show us the more extreme conditions, as a low fog came down and we were suddenly in the teeth of a real blizzard. Sadly we were forced to make the sensible decision to re-route off the mountain top but with fresh snow falling heavily and visibility down to a few yards, it was a total white out. The surprising thing with the vehicles was they had no inbuilt sat-nav set up and had to utilise one that had been specially customised for Icelandic roads. However, once back on the road it was fast driving (keeping a careful eye on speed limits as fines are on the spot and expensive) back to Reykjavik for the night to a city hotel that boasted all the clean design and luxury one associates with Scandinavia, and of course, Landrover. Patrick Anderson




Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has just signed a major three-year sponsorship deal with the Ferrari F1 team, current holders of the Formula One World Championship. It follows a separate three-year deal where Etihad becomes a title sponsor of the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, starting with the inaugural event in 2009. The F1 sponsorship came into effect from the opening race of the season in Melbourne. The deal comes in line with the on-going association Ferrari has with the Emirate, including the construction of a USD 600 million branded Ferrari theme park in Abu Dhabi. Aimed at families and Ferrari enthusiasts alike, ‘Ferrari World’ will have a range of 24 different attractions, offering unique experiences from the first ever F1 branded twin roller-coaster to a 70-metre tall G-Force tower.

SALON PRIVÉ TOP MARQUES MONACO The annual luxury super-car show Top Marques Monaco takes place at the Grimaldi Forum between 24-27 April; which sees a whole host of new additions to its roster of new launches. The exciting exotics on show this year include the 224-mph Gumpert Apollo, which boasts so much downforce and aerodynamic efficiency; it can be driven upside down on the roof of a tunnel! A new category has been added to the roster, which can be labelled as the ‘Supercars of the Sea’; and they include the XSR48 by XSMG, which is referred to as the ‘Bugatti of the sea’. Combining the performance of a supercar and detailing of a superyacht, this powerboat runs on Bio-Turbo Diesel engines, producing an impressive 1600hp.


The UK Motor Boat of the Year award winners Sunseeker, will also be showcasing their range of luxury powerboats and yachts. Staff will be on hand to offer expert advice and guidance with everything from choosing the right boat and maintaining it to sourcing the right crew and insurance.

Our very own luxury supercar show Salon Privé is back at the Hurlingham Club for the third year (2-4 July 2008). Building on the strength of the exotic marques on show, the three day event sees some of the best known names presenting the newest additions to their stables. We’ll be running a full feature highlighting some of the new launches following the event in July. Watch this space…



EDITOR’S CHOICE Freeloader 8.0 Here’s something that caught our eye recently: the Freeloader Portable Solar Energy charger. A clever little gizmo, it allows us to charge our ever-increasing number of personal gadgets on the move (mobile, camera, iPod, PSP etc.) using only the power of the sun! Weighing 185g and measuring 123x62x17, it’s very compact (similar in size to a Nokia 9300) and light. It’s great for outdoor use, especially when travelling overseas, where it really comes into its own. The crystalline solar cell panels take about 5 hours to charge under direct sunlight, which can go on to charge a mobile phone for about 44 hours or a PSP for 2.5 hours. Naturally if the sun is somewhat lacking, then the Freeloader can be charged using your laptop via a USB cable in about 3 hours and tucked away for emergency use. Aside from the obvious benefits, what we really liked about this gadget is that it has fantastic ‘green credentials’. As we become more environmentally conscious and look at ways to offset our carbon footprint, this is a small step in the right direction in redressing the balance. As with everything, it takes the first step and small changes individually to make a huge difference collectively.

RRP: £29.99


Apple MacBook Air If you are aesthetically driven and like your products to ooze sex appeal, then it doesn’t get any sexier than this. The MacBook Air is the thinnest laptop currently on the market, measuring only 0.16 inches at its thinnest point, with a maximum height of 0.76 inches. Standard features include: 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor with 4MB L2 cache, 2GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 80GB 1.8 inch hard drive, Bluetooth 2.1 and 802.11n Wi-Fi technology and built-in iSight camera. Going for a minimal look, the MacBook Air is stripped to the bone with only the bare essentials; one USB port, a headphone jack and external monitor port, neatly tucked away in a fold-down compartment. The 13.3 LEDbacklit screen is a joy to look at, with super sharp colour and clarity. The multi-touch Track Pad incorporates the latest technology seen on the iPhone allowing you to tap, scroll,

pinch and rotate using one, two or even three fingers. Naturally this will take some getting used to, but once you do, using any other laptop will just not be the same again! The keyboard is full size, and backlit, which helps when working in poor lighting conditions, especially on flights, thereby reducing eye strain. The MacBook Air is a fantastic machine all around, and certainly has the right features to keep most people happy. However, there are some design discrepancies some might find a turn-off, such as the lack of a built-in optical drive, removable battery, firewire or mobile broadband. But these issues are of minor concern if you are looking for a high-spec laptop which is ultra-portable and with enough power to keep even the most demanding user happy.


LG Design Art Series Palm Treo 500v When we were asked to review the Palm Treo 500v Smartphone, we were slightly apprehensive about how it would perform, since we had come across a few negative remarks from people who had used one in the past. And although our initial fears were proven to be wrong (it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be!), there were a few quirks in the system that needed attention, but got resolved fairly easily once we got the hang of it. The main issues were really more to do with usability than technical glitches, although the only real problem we had was logging onto Facebook! Aside from that mini-drama, we can’t really think of anything bad to say at all! If anything, it was very easy to-use, the call quality was superb and clear at all times and with the added 3G capability, staying connected was a breeze. The Treo 500v runs on a Windows Mobile 6 platform, which means it has all of the applications needed when work calls: Outlook, Word, PowerPoint etc. And with email on the go, it proved to be quite indispensable, so much so, we were slightly reluctant to give it back.

Price subject to network and contract.

Having created a unique home cinema system that is both distinctive yet discreet, there’s no doubt that LG equals perfectionist personified. The Virtual Sound Matrix created by the sub woofer and five speakers, including innovative ‘champagne flutes,’ provide a slick, glossy style, pushing Naomi Campbell in terms of model looks! Like an orchestral performance, the speakers, assisted with LG’s collection of aesthetically pleasing HD TV’s, complement each other, thus providing a dynamic and

powerful sound for a vivid lifelike viewing experience. The sophisticated, glossy 37 and 42-inch HD Ready TV’s, perched atop a unique ring support, provide the pinnacle of the Design Art series. TV’s are now more than just electronic devices; they provide the cornerstone of the modern day living-room. So let’s raise a toast to LG’s latest distinctive system: uniting art with technology.

For full technical specifications and prices visit:

Thiel Viewpoint Loudspeakers Symmetry Systems have filled that niche in the market by introducing the Thiel Viewpoint Loudspeakers to the technology world. With high-performance sound partnered with an integrated appearance, these custom-built loudspeakers boast the ability to merge with any flat-screen, size or colour. Thiel has managed to raise the competitive bar by creating speakers that penetrate every inch of the room. With the woofer innovatively

angled towards the wall surface, a more accurate degree of tonal fidelity maximises technology’s full potential. Whilst the positioning of just two loudspeakers around the screen eliminates the need for a third central speaker, they also enhance the wide-screen sensation. This truly is a sound investment.

For full technical specifications and prices visit:



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Steinberg Sequel The Sequel is an all-in-one entry level music studio, with an easy to use interface similar to what you would get in a professional studio. It allows you to record, mix and edit your music using a library containing over 5000 loops and 600 instrument sounds to compose and produce music to a high standard. Covering all popular genres, including: Hip Hop, R&B, Dance and Metal, it allows a seamless integrated approach to music creation and even live performances. With built-in studioquality effects, you can compose, create, mix and re-mix music to suit your style and taste. A slightly more premium product, since Steinberg is used by professional producers all over, it’s still a snip for achieving the desired end result if you are serious about your music!

RRP: £75.00

LG Blu-ray rewriter and HD DVD-ROM drive

With its cost effective range of software titles, you have a whole host of options to get your music off to a banging start, using royalty free digital samples with the Virtual Sounds 1, 2 & 3. So whether you have a taste for R&B or Hard House, you can buy each of the products individually or all three at the same time (each costs less than the price of a club ticket!), and start creating your next number one single! The best thing about it all is once you have bought the products, they are yours forever, so there is no royalty to pay anyone. Each title provides two DVD’s containing 8GB (25000) sound samples, so there is plenty to choose from. A must for all budding Daniel Beddingfields out there.

If like us, you’re having problems finding space on your hard-drive to store your ever increasing volume of data, the solution could be in the shape of one of these new generation external storage drives. Keep all your files, photos and music collection safely and securely backed up in one place with one of these Blu-ray and HD-DVD optical storage drives. With the ability to read and write Blu-ray at 6x, they’re also super fast. And of course, they also read and write CDs and DVDs (the GGW-H20L is the only model that can write to Blu-ray). A typical Blu-ray disc has a capacity of 50GB, which is the equivalent of 10 DVDs (at 4.7GB each) or 64 CDs (at 800MB each), which should help clear out a lot of shelf space too! For all you aspiring Music Producers and DJ’s, we have two products to set you on the road to fame and fortune; the eJAY music creation software suites and the Steinberg Sequel.

RRP: £19.99 Visit:


B&O Beovision 4 Plasma TV The BeoVision 4 from Bang & Olufsen, reconfirms that we haven’t quite seen the last of Plasma screens just yet. The beautifully designed, curved brushed aluminium frame complements the striking triangular BeoLab 10 loudspeaker, adding to any contemporary interior décor. The Plasma screens come in two sizes: 50-inch and 65-inch, which are full HD-ready, offering superior picture clarity and contrast (at 1920 x 1080 pixels RGB). The BeoLab 10, acting as the dedicated central speaker, provides surround sound experience through its centre channel at a 180 degrees in the horizontal plane, meaning you get purity of sound and balance. But the best thing, and slightly futuristic, is the new Automatic Colour Management technology providing the best solution to the problem of colour deterioration in plasma TVs. After every 100 hours of viewing (which can be changed as required), an extended robotic arm with a camera eye swings down from behind the aluminium frame and measures a test picture on the screen. It then analyses the colour temperature and makes adjustments to ensure colour reproduction is consistently maintained. This is in addition to the automatic picture control sensors continuously measuring light conditions and adjusting brightness and contrast accordingly. Currently available in black and silver until the summer, after which there will be colour options.

RRP: from £12,861 including BeoVision 4 and BeoLab 10 (Knightsbridge store)



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f you think you know Marrakech as a back-packers’ destination du jour, which is intrinsically linked to a hippie-era romanticism (think Kate Winslett in Hideous Kinky), we have news for you! Yes, you can do the boho/student thing and get around on a budget. But that’s not what we do, because here at Urban Life, things are taken a little more seriously and our sights are aimed a little higher as we do things with a tad more flair. This being the second instalment of our new feature ‘Urban Hotspots’, our defining mission is to experience the best a city destination has to offer. I have to confess that I have fallen in love with the ‘Red City’ (aptly named after the magnificent red fortifications that surround it.) It has everything a



discerning traveller could wish for: exotic location, hot climate, friendly locals, good food, great shopping and a vibrant nightlife. And the best part is – it’s less than a 3 hour flight away from Gatwick. Marrakech is still the unofficial capital of Morocco, and as such it has everything one could wish for: an instant sense of timeless beauty that is reflected in the wonderful mix of the old with the new. The city is growing fast, with developments of residential and commercial property visible everywhere. Yet the beauty and charm lies in the fact that tradition and an age old way of life is still preserved, which co-exist sideby-side without conflict. You can choose to live as fast as any major metropolis or take it slow. It’s all down to personal choice.


As with all destinations, one should always take a little time out to see the sights and local attractions the first time round. Not only does it help to get a feel for the culture and its history, but at the very least it will help to establish bearings for those times ahead for shopping, eating and partying! Thus, for our initial sightseeing of the city and day trip to Essaouira, we decided on getting a little help from our friends at Complete Tours (, a British owned Destination Management Company, who provided us with a very knowledgeable English speaking local guide. So without further ado, here are a few highlights of what we think you should be adding to your checklist when considering Marrakech:

THE SIGHTS DJEMMA-EL-FNA; The first stop for all newcomers to Marrakech should be the Djemma-elFna, the central square in the Medina (old city). Translated as the Square of the Dead due to its morbid past, this is where public executions were held, which thankfully is not the case anymore! This is undisputedly the heart of Marrakech and although relatively quiet during the day, after dusk it comes alive with everything from street performers, magicians, entertainers, musicians and snake charmers to the best street stalls selling the freshest and tastiest of foods. Here you will find the square teaming with locals and tourists alike. Everyone is out to enjoy a bite to eat and go on a bargain hunt in the hundreds of little shops lining all four sides of the square. And if you are feeling really adventurous, and wish to lighten the load of your straining wallet a little more, then venture deep into the Souks a few minutes’ away in the old quarters. Here a myriad of little alleys and lanes are bursting at the seams with shops selling anything your heart desires; leatherwear, craft ware, jewellery, clothing, art, antiques, interior decoration, exotic spices and so much more. But do be cautious when looking for a bargain. This being a haggling culture, one is automatically expected to haggle for the ‘best price’ of anything. As a rule,

always assume anything (and pretty much everything) is worth at least half to a third of the opening figure. So if you can haggle down to that, pat yourself on the back. Don’t forget it’s very easy to get seduced by the excitement of it all, especially as almost everyone is so nice and friendly. Be prepared to walk away, you can always come back if you can’t find the same item slightly cheaper elsewhere! KOUTOUBIA MOSQUE; This is one of the best preserved examples of 12th century Almohad architecture. It’s right in the middle of the city (south-west of the Djema el Fna) and the Minaret is still one of the highest and most iconic features of the skyline. The Koutoubia is the largest Mosque in Marrakech, and the oldest of the last three remaining Almohad minarets in the world (the other two are the Hassan Tower in Rabat and the Giralda in Seville). Construction began shortly after the Almohad conquest of Marrakech circa 1150, and finished during the reign of Sultan Yacoub el Mansour (1184-1199). Definitely worth a close look as the minaret has been the model for the Giralda in Spain, which in turn has been a major influence in Church towers throughout Eastern Europe and the USA (Churches on Red Square and the Manhattan Municipal Building, to name a couple). SAADIAN TOMBS; The tombs of the Saadi dynasty and their families are all contained within this mausoleum, which was sealed up and lay hidden for over three centuries. Re-discovered in 1917 on a French aerial map, it has since been restored to its former glory. There are two

main mausoleums, which overlook the garden. The main mausoleum to the south, houses three separate rooms, with the most impressive being the central hall with the 12 columns, containing the tomb of the Sultan Moulay Ahmed Al-Mansur. Having been kept away from prying eyes for centuries, the interior has remained in a pristine condition. The sheer beauty of the carved Cedarwood, Carrara Marble columns, geometric motifs, friezes with Koranic verses and intricately laid Ajolica tiles are simply breathtaking. THE MAJORELLE GARDENS; The Jardin Majorelle was designed by the French artist Jacques Majorelle in 1924, after he moved to Marrakech to live as an expatriate during the French colonial period of Morocco. Renowned for his paintings, yet his legacy and masterpiece remains in the design of the gardens, which is laid out like an exquisite painting. Using a dark blue (‘Majorelle Blue’) to paint some of the built features in the garden, there is a play on colours that offers a striking contrast with the surrounding exotic plants and vegetation. Water features play an important part in the overall design, with fountains, walkways and ponds, which are teaming with life in their own ecosystem. The main part to the garden is the Museum of Islamic Art, where there is a collection of Islamic and tribal (Berber) paintings and artefacts. It also includes some of Majorelle’s own art; textiles, ceramics and jewellery, as well as items from Yves Saint-Laurent’s personal collections, who has been the owner since he bought the property in 1980.





There is such wide variety of restaurants in Marrakech that we could write a book on the subject, however in the interest of space and time, we’ll mention four of the best that we think you should definitely try when in the red city. All prices and tastes are catered for, although here we’re concentrating on some of the trendiest places. Naturally, they all come at a cost! LE COMPTOIR DARNA Le Comptoir is where you want to go to experience the local cuisine in a busy and fun atmosphere. On an average night, the place is full of diners and drinkers, especially for a more informal gathering in the upstairs bar. There’s always something going on here with musicians, DJs and belly dancers who really kick the place into gear with their (at times) loud and theatrical displays (think Momo’s, but twice the noise and buzz!) The tagines and pastillas are amongst some of the best I’ve tasted in Marrakech! BO & ZIN For something a little more snazzy, try Bo & Zin, a designer restaurant to match any of its contemporaries in London or Paris. It’s a trendy hangout for the fashion-set, serving French/Thai fusion food. The décor is Zen influenced, with the main dining area indoors and a beautifully designed garden with additional seating to the rear. During the hot season this really is the place to be, with resident and guest DJs playing the best in ambient ‘lounge’ music. Be aware though, it’s a good 20 minutes trek by taxi from the centre, and there is no passing traffic, so taxis are very scarce – ensure you have a driver/taxi booked to pick you up after dinner, as otherwise it could be a while before you get back!


KIOTORI CLUB (AT THE PALMERAIE GOLF PALACE) Probably the only Japanese worth mentioning in Marrakech. This again is a 20 minute trek from the centre, but once here, the food and atmosphere are to be savoured. It’s one of a total of nine restaurants in the Palmeraie Golf Palace complex (five being formal dining and the other four café/bistro style serving light food.) Clientele tend to be a mixture of guests staying in the complex and trend-setters from the centre. Highly regarded by those in-the-know. CRYSTAL Crystal is one of two restaurants in the Pacha complex, where the kitchen is headed up by Alain Ducasse, serving eclectic franco-mediterranean fare. The restaurant is kitted out in colonial art-deco, and is one of the hottest in town. Frequented by the social elite of Marrakech, the clientèle is a collection of powerbrokers, the beautiful and hip. Expect to see a lot of model types, picking on a salad before heading over to the club to party the night away....








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You are invited to join the space race.

Secure your membership at Marrakech’s most exclusive golf club and villa complex. For details, contact +44 (0) 20 7491 9791. Or or eleonora


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Although there are many bars and clubs all over town, we recommend three, which in our opinion are more in line with how we do things in London: Pacha, Theatro and the recently opened La Suite at the Meridien. These are without doubt the best of the destination clubs. Expect to see familiar faces from the usual hangouts in Paris, London, St. Tropez and Ibiza, along with the customary vodka-swilling, champagne-spraying shenanigans that go on (thankfully the latter is still not a common occurrence here!)



BEST PLACES TO STAY IN; KASBAH TAMADOT Our stay at the uber-cool, Kasbah Tamadot was one of the most memorable to date. This is Sir Richard Branson’s Moroccan retreat, opened nearly three years ago following an extensive renovation period. Located on the outskirts of Asni in the Atlas Mountains, it’s less than one hours drive from Marrakech. Tamadot is a spectacular property. From the moment you drive through the gates you enter another realm, offering you a sense of total peace and serenity, where luxury and opulence come as standard. Add to that the sheer beauty and majesty of the High Atlas, with its truly breathtaking views, and you really feel you’ve arrived. Tamadot belonged to an Italian antiques collector and interior designer before Branson bought it back in 1998, during one of his famous ballooning expeditions. Along with the sale came a collection of antiques and artifacts the previous owner assembled during his extensive travels throughout India and the Far East, which has since been put to good use in furnishing the property in magnificent style. In terms of facilities, the property has five junior and five deluxe suites, including one deluxe suite with its own plunge pool. In addition there are six superior rooms and a three bedroom studio, which can be booked exclusively for those in need of total privacy.

There are two pools (indoor and outdoor infinity), a gym, two tennis courts and a Hammam, offering traditional Moroccan treatments. Kanoun, the main restaurant offers a selection of local and international cuisine, run by Jean Mundell-Murphy, a Raymond Blanc prodigy who honed his skills at Le Manoir aux Quat’ saisons. Dinner by starlight on the roof terrace is highly recommended, particularly if you are with a loved one and are looking to impress! THE PALMERAIE GOLF PALACE: First opened just over ten years ago, the Palmeraie Golf Palace has been undergoing a major refurbishment programme. As well as upgrading the existing facilities, the group has expanded its portfolio with some new additions: Le Palmeraie Village (luxury apartments), Les Jardins d’Ines (boutique hotel) and Le Pavillon du Golf (44 all-suite hotel where we stayed). The award winning Robert Trent Jones Sr. eighteen-hole golf course is also adding another nine holes, which should be opening as we go to press. With plenty of amenities to keep one occupied, there is a great deal of choice when it comes to leisure, entertainment and relaxation, including numerous signature restaurants and probably the best Japanese in Marrakech, which we mentioned earlier.



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However, as much as there has been no expense spared in the refurbishment process, I felt that the service level was not quite up to scratch. The staff were polite enough and willing to help, but the lack of urgency in dealing with queries was a bit disturbing. A few things that come to mind are: having had to ask for a plug adaptor about five times in 24 hours, having to change suites due to the phone and some plug points not working, and in the Spa the treatment rooms were noisy and cold. Instead of coming out feeling relaxed, I was more agitated then when I went in! But it’s not all doom and gloom, and I do see the PGP being a fantastic place to go to once these teething problems are sorted out. Whilst we were there in mid December, which is the low season, the complex looked like a ghost town with minimal occupancy. However, when the weather starts to warm up and there are more people around, I think the properties will really start to come into their own.

etc.), a small dipping pool in the middle and a rooftop restaurant. However, the difference in size did nothing to dampen the spirit or character of the place. A mere few minutes from the madness of the souks, it really is a little haven tucked away in one of the many hundreds of winding alleys The Perle is also very distinctive in its interior design and furnishings. Kitted out fully in art-deco with influences of Stark and Newton visible everywhere you look, this is one cool boutique hotel. All the rooms are fitted with Bang & Oulfsen plasmas, DVD players and music systems. If you are looking for a chic and sexy riad that’s centrally located, the Perle should be the first on your list. Ataur Rahman Additional research by Ivan Petersen and Clara Thomas

FACTBOX: Complete Tours Email: Tel: +212 4882 3402 Atlas Blue (for the first trip) Email: Tel: 0207 307 5803

RIAD PERLE LOTUS Our next stay was at the completely contrasting Riad Perle Lotus, a boutique hotel in the heart of the Medina. The Perle is tiny when compared to the Tamadot. It has five individually themed rooms, named after icons (Gatsby, Chanel, Cartier

Cadogan Holidays, using GB Airways for flights (for the second trip to the PGP) Tel: 0845 615 6793





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Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson

Michelle Yeoh

Julianne Moore and Jean Christophe Bedos

BOUCHERON As the house of Boucheron celebrates its 150th anniversary, Urban Life takes a special peek at some of the new creations and one-of-a-kind collaborations that are lined up for release throughout the year. In celebrating the past, the creative minds at Boucheron are digging deep into the archives to take inspiration for some timeless creations. Sticking with tradition, jewellery and watch-making will take pride of place, but their collaboration with other luxury brands, including Vertu and La Maison du Chocolat, will ensure we see some exquisite numbers that are truly breathtaking. To kick-start the celebrations, the launch of ‘Enchanting Boucheron’ (a new high-jewellery collection) took place with a private preview and dinner for 150 especially invited guests, including A-list Hollywood stars, Fashion Editors and VIPs. In creating the pieces, Boucheron’s master craftsmen took inspiration from the jewellers’ seven ‘fundamental values’: audacious, magic, voluptuous, mysterious, dangerous, curious and gourmand. So expect to see some daring and innovative creations that will not only stir the imagination, but evoke a certain sensuality that will last a lifetime.

Anna Wintour and Francois-Henri Pinault



Preview dinner at the Petit Palais

Emmanuelle Seigner sings a happy birthday

All Photograhs by Francois Durand/Getty Images for Boucheron 08

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Green necklace (Collier Magie)

Ellipse anniversary watch (WA011308)

Chocolate necklace (Collier Serpent Chocolat)

Vertu phone (vertu audace)

Ring (ava bijoux)

Vertu Phone (Vertu-Gourmandise+Pamp)



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UPCOMING ART EXHIBITIONS Our take on four of the best exhibitions taking place in London, starting with ‘For Your Eyes Only’, celebrating all things Bond...

For Your Eyes Only… Date: 17 April 2008 – 1 March 2009 Admission: £8.00 adults Where: Imperial War Museum, Lambeth R’d, London, SE1 6HZ Studio headshot portrait of British author Ian Fleming

(1908-1964), the creator of To celebrate the centenary of Ian James Bond. Getty Images Fleming’s birth, the Imperial War Museum is producing a major exhibition devoted to the life and work of the man who created the world’s most famous secret agent: James Bond. The exhibition will feature rare material, some of which are on public CASINO ROYALE © 2006 display for the first time, including Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation. Getty Images Fleming’s desk and chair from his Jamaican home ‘Goldeneye’, on which he wrote all of the Bond novels. Additional material include the Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver presented to Fleming by the Colt Company; a working model of an Aston Martin DB5, complete with gadgets, made for HRH Prince Andrew, which was used in Thunderball and Goldfinger; Halle Berry’s bikini from Die Another Day and the ‘blood-spattered’ shirt worn by Daniel Craig in Casino Royal. In addition to the above, this year also sees a number of events celebrating the life of Ian Fleming, including the publication of Devil May Care, a new James Bond book written by Sebastian Faulks, published by Penguin [ ).

13th chelsea Art Fair Date: 24th to 27th April 2008 Admission: £6.00 Where: Chelsea Old Town Hall, Kings Road, London SW3 5EE


This year’s Chelsea Art Fair brings together around 40 UK and International galleries exhibiting in the Chelsea Old Town Hall. With a strong emphasis on contemporary British Art, the four day fair offers art lovers a chance to explore and buy works from the 1930s to the present time. With a rich variety of art on show, ranging from Prints and paintings to Sculptures and ceramics, and all starting at an affordable price of £50 going up to £30,000+, there’s something for everyone. With the growing interest in Asian art, we’ll also see the likes of Artsrepublik, specialising in Chinese contemporary art and Hanga Ten, the only gallery in Europe to specialise in contemporary Japanese prints, exhibiting at this year’s show. So whether you are a budding collector or a seasoned investor, there’ll be plenty of choice to discover new talent as well as old favourites.

Hussein Chalayan Afterwords Collection (Autumn/Winter 2000) Collection Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, MUDAM, Luxembourg Photography Chris Moore Courtesy of Hussein Chalayan

Skin + Bones - Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture Date: 24 April – 10 August 2008 Admission: £8.00 adults Where: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA Somerset House is to host the first major International exhibition exploring the complex relationship between fashion and architecture, Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture, in an installation designed by the architect Eva Jiricna. London is the final destination for the exhibition’s international tour, organised and first shown by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), in November 2006, which opened to much critical acclaim before moving on to The National Art Centre in Tokyo in June of last year. Skin + Bones showcases over 200 works by over 40 renowned fashion designers and architects, including: Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyake, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron and Thomas Heatherwick. The exhibition examines the visual and conceptual ideas that unite fashion and architecture, with many iconic garments, 3D architectural models, plans, film footage and a number of specially selected new exhibits for London with work by Boudica, Nigel Coates, Martin Margiela and Hussein Chalayan. A full-colour comprehensive publication will accompany the exhibition, with written entries on each of the architect and designer in the exhibition, which will be available to purchase at £35.00.


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The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery Date: 14 March – 28 September 2008 Where: The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace Admission: £8.50 adults Having recently shown in Edinburgh at the Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, this major exhibition brings together the works of four artists and a collector who have, in their respective times, shaped our knowledge of the natural world around us. Chosen from the Royal Library by Royal Collection Curators in collaboration with the distinguished naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, the exhibition brings together the works of: Leonardo da Vinci, Cassiano dal Pozzo, Alexander Marshal, maria Sibylla Merien and Mark Catesby, who all shared a passion for all things beautiful and bizarre in nature, in one of the most exciting exhibitions in the arts calendar this year. The exhibition is accompanied by a book, Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery, by Sir David Attenborough, Susan Owens, Martin Clayton and Rea Alexandratos. Published by Royal Collection Publications, the book is priced at £9.95 for the exhibition.

Alexander Marshal Crocuses, anemones and jay, c.1650-82 The Royal Collection © 2008 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


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NGUYEN DIEU THUY – TRANSPARENT SPACE “Within a transparent space that extends to infinity, I explore the limitless horizon of the beauty of humanity, nature, freedom, and destiny...” Nguyen Dieu Thuy


c-Eo Art introduced rising Vietnamese artist, Nguyen Dieu Thuy, to London in November at their highly acclaimed exhibition, ‘A Sense of Space’, part of the 10th annual Asian Art in London festival. Born in Saigon, Thuy studied violin at the Conservatoire de Musique in Ho Chi Minh City. After she graduated in 1988, she joined the Ho Chi Minh City orchestra as a violinist and taught music. In her spare time, though, she painted, and two years later she gave up her professional music career to devote herself to painting. Thuy is one of a generation of women who, through work, talent and determination, have overcome the sadness and struggle of growing up in post-war Saigon. She is drawn to white, and this lends a contemporary eye to her harmonious compositions of traditional Vietnamese urban and rural life – women in white, people of the floating markets, fishermen, sparrows, rice bowls, chopsticks, earthenware jars, fans and flowers. For Thuy, each object has its own space, a soul, a life of its own. Her rice bowls and earthernware jars, painted in rich earth tones, are symbols of the land, of life renewing itself. ‘Give it a breath of life, since it has a reason for being’. Sometimes she adds silver or gold leaf to reflect modern civilisation.


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Her birds are symbols of freedom. ‘If you had time in war and had time of the ruin after that, you will see how beautiful if we could have a simple life as little sparrows, happy on my canvas.’ Similarly, her paintings inspired by the floating markets of the Mekong, are deeply philosophical: ‘It make me think about our life. Just like these people, each one of us has our duty and we drive our boat on this river of life.’ Although she paints her women in traditional white ‘ao dai’, the narrative of these paintings is contemporary. Invariably, she adds a touch of colour with a fan, a scarf or flowers, and the poses her figures adopt are poised and elegant: classical, graceful and poetic, yet ready to meet the challenges of a new Vietnam. Oc-Eo Art is privileged to be able to bring Vietnamese Contemporary Fine Art to England and in particular to be sole representatives of Ms Thuy’s work in the UK. Please see our web-site for details of where and when Ms Thuy’s work will next be exhibited. Vietnamese art has, over the last 1015 years, become increasingly sought after and is both sold by galleries and collected by museums worldwide, as well as being featured extensively in Southeast Asian art auctions. We believe that not only is it deserving of still greater recognition, but that it is some of the best value fine art to be collected anywhere in the world.

Above Song of Nature, oil on canvas, 50x50cms (1 of set of 4) Above right Summer, oil on canvas, 100x80cms Below right Under the Shadow of Bamboo, oil on canvas, 150x120cms

CONTACT DETAILS Peter & Carol Quintana Oc-Eo Art 149 High Street Chapmanslade Wiltshire BA13 4AP T 01373 832 939 M 07775 795 867 E W


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hen I was initially told of Gilgamesh, I could barely pronounce it let alone know of its location. Hidden away in the heart of the notoriously trendy Camden lies one of London’s most spectacular culinary delights for a hip, sophisticated crowd. One minute you’re hurriedly avoiding some shady-looking characters around the busy Camden Market, and the next you’re approaching the manned, torch-lit entrance. The slightly bemusing but ostentatious escalator soon whisks you into a low-lit, moody atmosphere, providing an almost hypnotic feel. Gilgamesh, an epic Babylonian story about the first heroic figure in history, an ancient king who’s two thirds god, one third human, encapsulates the finest food and combines history with elements of contemporary and modern art. The pan-Asian Gilgamesh consistently offers an exotic, mystical Babylonian experience. The designers obviously didn’t know the meaning of understatement, finding a balance between exuberance and garishness for this £12 million establishment. Gilgamesh, seen as a catalyst for Camden’s regeneration, was a welcome addition to the run-down area. The challenge of producing food that can match the grand design is a tricky one, however critically acclaimed chef Ian Pengelley’s imaginative array of contemporary Pan-Asian cuisine passes with first class honours. Having marvelled at the immense ‘Tree of Life’ filled with immaculate ornate wooden carvings which were inspired from work at the British Museum, you soon experience the exquisite décor of

the main bar, the centrepiece feature of this indulgent venue. The intricate 50ft wooden bar, featuring handcrafted battle scenes carved by an Indian team of 10,000, depicts scenes of Babylon from the Gilgamesh period. It’s visually stunning and provides a magnificent showpiece. The restaurant is smouldering with fabulous stone murals, 3-ton Gilgamesh statues, fine marble pillars and ornate hand-made furnishings, adorned with rich lavish materials such as satin. The 15,000sq-ft main restaurant is a behemoth of a venue, capable of catering for a whole Babylonian army; well, several hundred of them. It was a Thursday on a chilly October evening and the place was heaving. Engaged with the whole theatrical nature, you are at risk from your food going cold as aesthetically, it’s awe inspiring. I find myself slightly intimidated with hoards of Babylonian warriors staring at my every move, almost as if they’re eyeing me up as a sacrificial addition to the menu. I kept on expecting Harrison Ford to tumble in, resembling something straight out of the latest Indiana Jones set. The bizarre nature of the venue is enhanced further with the occasional freight train that passes by the window, adding to the oriental feel. The charming, faultless service adds to the comfy experience, enhanced by the throne-like horseshoe banquette seating. Our waitress for the evening informed us of every dish while delivering us our chosen beverage for the evening – a palate pleasing 2005 Pinot Noir Rosé.




ost people’s first time should always be special, intimate and memorable. With the temperature mild, candles lit, harmonious music playing and alcohol flowing, I was nervous but Beach Blanket Babylon had seduced many before. Nestled in Notting Hill’s Ledbury Road, Beach Blanket Babylon occupies an old 18th century Georgian House, boasting the charm and grand eclectic décor of a French country chateau. A visit to BBB isn’t just a culinary experience as you can gauge the whole vibe of the venue as early as approaching the imposing Louis XVI entrance door. In a Narnia-esque moment, you are transported into an enchanting labyrinth world of the bourgeois French aristocratic society mixed with hidden entrances and cave-like passages. Named after the famous boulevard in San Francisco, BBB is a brand that exudes all the class and exuberance that comes with West London. Marble busts of emperors and fantastically detailed urns litter the interior enhancing the already high sense of drama that is always associated with BBB. The suave and opulent bar is the epitome of the house, leaving you with a pleasant dilemma over the extensive cocktail menu. With an enviable array of worldwide whites from across South America and Europe, the champagne shortlist also boasts a decadent listing of Krug, Moet, Magnum Cristal to vintage Jeroboams of Dom Perignon.

Thanks to extensive renovation, BBB has reclaimed its title as one of London’s most sought after bar and restaurants and a definite destination for the respected socialite. The recently completed Ballroom is most definitely the house’s piece de renaissance, embellished in 17th Century tapestries, period chandeliers and fireplaces as well as sumptuous silk curtains decorated with 18ct gold and Swarovsky crystal. Assisted by a drawing room and wine cellar, it provides the perfect venue for large cocktail party dining. The 200-seater restaurant is like no other as you have the option of dining in either The Chapel, The Crypt, The Gallery or The Scullery, interconnected via unique walkways, tunnels and bridges.



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Dining at Gilgamesh and not sampling Pengelley’s legendary minimalist sushi dishes is like visiting Egypt and not seeing the pyramids. The moist, plump sea bass and yellow tail in particular are exemplary, bizarrely served on a rather dramatic bed of dry ice. Other gems consist of duck spring rolls with hoisin sauce and Pengelley’s famous crispy chilli-salt squid served with garlic and a very hot chilli sauce. This is clearly pan-Asian cuisine from a pro, immaculately and painstakingly displayed. The main course, rack of lamb complimented with confit ratte potatoes, stirfried Asian greens and fried rice, proved a worthy crescendo to what felt a high quality, flavoursome treat, reeking with attention to detail. I’m always quite sceptical about Asian desserts, as they tend to tarnish what usually has been a pleasant meal. However, the neat array of cheesecakes and chocolate puddings on offer proved a surprising combination of flavour and texture. A finale fit for King Gilgamesh himself. Every factor has been thoroughly thought through, with the innovative lighting system enhancing the ambient feel of the venue, offering a warm atmospheric glow, which illuminates every detail. Laid-back lounge music does its job, arousing the senses every now and then. The private Babylon VIP bar sits seductively alongside the neighbouring restaurant, sharing the vibrant energy while containing a more intimate experience. Gilgamesh also boasts an Oriental Tea House, respecting the cultural traditions of Asian tea in a harmonious, tranquil environment. Whether you’re after a relaxing drink, an in-depth meeting or private party, Gilgamesh caters for all your requirements under one roof. Although having said that, on a glorious summer day Gilgamesh is capable of loaning the cloudless sky for the customers’ benefit thanks to said roof being retractable. The lavish Gilgamesh has travelled a long distance in such a short space of time. It’s a concoction of opulence, drama and historical meaning: Eastern seduction at its best. Nik Dines

FURTHER INFORMATION Gilgamesh, Camden Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 0207 482 5757



hen one talks of Malaysian ‘street food’, the last place you would expect to find it is in London, let alone Chelsea. But that’s exactly where you’ll find it, and no we’re not talking from a stall either! Since its opening back in 2005, Awana seems to have gathered quite a trendy following: from the Chelsea set to the occasional celebrity, but most importantly, you will see a lot of Malaysian faces amongst the diners, which certainly re-affirms the quality of food on offer. The design of the restaurant is based on a traditional Malaysian Teak house and uses Batik silks and Teak.. The staff uniform is designed by Bernard Chandran (see the Main article on Malaysia), couture designer to the KL glitterati. The restaurant is divided in to two sections. The main floor is where you would sit on a table and order either from the Satay Bar or from the a la carte menu, which offers a large selection of curries, grills and stir-fries. However, if you fancy something a little light or are in a hurry, then you must try the Satay Bar at the back. Emulating a stall, here you can observe the chef at work, preparing a tasty selection of satays, roti canai (flat bread served with lentil sauce) and seafood dishes, which are a great introduction to the more substantial dishes on the menu. Head Chef Lee Chin Soon, has succeeded in adding a contemporary twist to a traditional menu, offering a wide selection of dishes using freshly sourced ingredients from Malaysia, reflecting its various cultural influences and diversity. Having eaten in Awana quite a few times, I am slightly spoilt for choice in recommending any particular dishes, as there are so many! However, a few of my favourites from the menu are; Cornfed Chicken Curry with coconut , Beef Rendang (slow cooked using coriander, herbs and coconut milk), Udang Harimau (butterfly king prawns with pepper leaves and chilli jam) and Kari Ikan (red snapper curry, with tomato, okra and aubergine). As with most South East asian cuisine, the curries tend to be spicy and quite heavy, so ensure you don’t go on a full stomach! For desserts, if you still have room, the Dadar (pancake roll with coconut) and Sago Gula

Melaka (baked egg custard with sago coconut, caramel and champagne) are highly recommended. With a comprehensive and wellsourced wine list (average price for a bottle of white is £25 or from £5.25 by the glass), you would be looking at an average spend of between £45 - £55 per person, and is worth every penny. So if you fancy trying out some Malaysian, hold off booking that flight to KL and instead make a reservation in Awana, I think you’ll not be disappointed… Ataur Rahman

FURTHER INFORMATION Awana 85 Sloane Avenue, SW3 0207 584 8880


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The Chapel in particular is kitted out with strong visual identity in mind. Littered with monastic Gaudi inspired architecture, the room is dominated by the imposing fireplace, heightening the sense of drama. Starters such as ‘Pan Fried Quail Breast with Caramelised Commis Pear & Foir Gras’ offer a sound choice and an appropriate warm-up act before moving on to ‘John Dory with Braised White Onion, Sweet Sherry, Soaked Raisins & Lemon Pomme Puree’ or ‘Roasted Pork Belly Marinated with Fennel Seeds, Sautéed Spring Greens, Creamy Mash, Buttered Apples & Cider Jus.’ Both were equally spot-on, allowing for a smooth transition to the desserts of which White Chocolate Crème Brulee is a must along with the Rich Chocolate Tart. November saw the BBB brand spread its wings and extend across London to a brand new 10,000 sq.ft sister venue in Shoreditch, incorporating a 150-seat restaurant, club, bar, private members lounge, art gallery and roof garden. The beauty of both venues is whether you’re looking for an intimate venue for a romantic rendezvous or a 17th century themed ball for a large congregation, BBB most definitely provides. If you haven’t heard of Beach Blanket Babylon before, you have now. Nik Dines

FURTHER INFORMATION Beach Blanket Babylon 45 Ledbury Road, London, W11 2AA 0207 229 2907 19-23 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA 0207 749 3540

These days, luxury is a much-devalued word. Some people, however, refuse to compromise on standards.


Mehek Indian Restaurant

45 London Wall, Moorgate London EC2M 5TE Telephone: 020 7588 5043/7588 5044 Facsimile: 020 7588 5045 Email: Website:

If you are one of them, then you'll find Mehek has been created especially for you, where fine dining is truly exquisite, and where sumptuous cuisine and some of the world's finest wines are served in exclusive surroundings. After all, your parties and events are too precious to be left to chance, and too important to expose to indifferent service or inferior food standards. So isn't it time you came on board?

Now you can experience luxury without compromise

Some of the acclaims for Mehek: Multiple times winner of the AA Rosette Awards, winner of the British Curry Awards, BCA no.1 in the City, Best In Britain Awards, Safety Thirst, City of London Safer Pub & Club Awards, TopTable Gold Award, and numerous recommendations by restaurant guides, newspapers and magazines.

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In and around town with Funky Nora…


One of the newest additions to the top-tier clubbing scene, Maya is what was once known as Opium in Soho. With a complete re-vamp of the interior, the former bar/restaurant has been transformed into one of the most exciting members’ clubs to have opened in recent times. The brainchild of Markus Thesleff (he of Pangaea fame) and business partner Marc Boyan, Maya is slowly (and ever so quietly) gaining a regular following of the stylish and hip trend-setters that most clubs aspire to, but which few manage to attract and retain. Since its opening back in September of last year, we have seen many a celebrity-fuelled and fashion-industry party to give it the oomph factor in droves. And judging by the patronage of the ‘London set’ (the trend-setters who make or break a place), there are good times ahead… The design team behind Maya are Julian Taylor Associates, who are responsible for the uber-cool Mint Leaf restaurant on Haymarket and the recent transformation of Attica (now 24 London). A boutique club in the truest sense, official capacity is just 270 people, which means the door policy is pretty damn tight with the riff-raff kept firmly outside! One of the key design features of the club is the DJ booth, which overlooks the dancefloor (yes, an actual dancefloor!) Going against the trend of the table-only VIP clubs of the past few years, this is going back to what clubbing should be all about: having fun and boogieing ‘til the lights go up!


12/4/08 12:10:13


Okku Dubai

Clearly a winning formula, Thesleff is planning on rolling out a further three (Maya) clubs in Moscow, New York and Las Vegas in the near future. However, work has already started and is nearing completion on his other project, the ‘Okku Restaurant and Lounge Bar’ (an ultra-chic Japanese eatery with some of the best known celebrity chefs in the business) at the five star Monarch Hotel in Dubai, which is due to open in April. And if our sources are anything to go by, it’s one of this year’s most eagerly anticipated openings in the city of glitz, and that is saying something for a town that is in a constant state of evolution where new openings are dime a dozen.

Okku Dubai


12/4/08 12:10:43




Eight is a private members club, located in the City of London (across the road from the Royal Exchange). Of course, it’s worth pointing out immediately that since it’s based in the Square Mile, we’re not talking of a nightclub as such, rather a modern interpretation of the old gentlemen’s club, with a contemporary twist.

Hot off the press…

The entrance to Eight is through a doorway situated down a discreet alley. Although very inconspicuous from the outside, once you have descended the wrought iron stairway, you enter one of the most stylish venues to have opened in the city over the past few years. Eight occupies two significant basement vaults, with luxurious and comfortable seating areas, all with impressive furnishings and eclectic artwork. The relaxed and sophisticated members’ lounge, on the first level, is an ideal place to entertain guests, whether for work or pleasure (there are wireless internet facilities and phone reception boosters if work be your forte.) As well as several state of the art private meeting rooms the lounge also includes three championship Brunswick pool tables; however the central focus of the lounge is the bar, housing an extensive list of premium spirits, wines and champagnes, as well as a wide ranging list of classic and modern cocktails. The second level offers larger meeting, event and conference facilities. As with the other private rooms, each has its own Plasma screen, DVD player and Maxi bar, which can accommodate from 6 to 120 guests. There is also a luxury private cinema room, which seats up to 16 guests and can be hired exclusively. Membership provides the usual list of benefits and privileges, including invitations to members-only event days (golf, motor racing, shooting, etc.,) arrangements with luxury partners (hotels and resorts) as well as internal events, including regular tastings, competitions and film screenings. But apart from all that, what it does provide is effectively a little sanctuary in which to work, relax and entertain in. A new Eight Club will be opening just off Finsbury Square in a few months. Set over two newly built floors and with a 60 cover restaurant, the club will have superb views over Moorgate and Finsbury Square. Although the majority of members will still be from the financial sector, I think with the near proximity to Shoreditch, we may see a lot more of the media and creative types joining, as it is a rather cool concept. For membership enquiries or further information, log on to the website:

Back to the west-end and our favourite club has just turned up the ante with a newly launched ‘membership benefits programme’ for its members! It’s been a while in the making, but they’ve really pulled out the stops with an impressive list of partners, including Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor, Stoke Park, Hush, Lulu Guinness, Jamie Aston and Avolus. There are numerous benefits, including priority bookings and discounts available exclusively to Chinawhite members. So whether you fancy a round of golf with the new business contact you’ve just made or want to impress the girl from last night with a bunch of flowers or even want to treat yourself to a spa treatment to recuperate from the hard partying, get out that card and enjoy the Chinawhite experience long after you’ve left the club! For further information log onto

Next issue

In the summer issue, I’ll be giving you a rundown of the best and hottest clubs in London, especially with the swathe of openings since my last report. More details will be up on the website, so log on and stay informed. And of course, if you have a favourite or think I should be covering any particular club (members-only please!), then email me with details and I’ll look into it:

Urban Life_family safety_10th September 08.pdf 05/09/2008 19:13:06









Urban Life Magazine - Malaysia Special Edition