Little black book Stuart Dunn is the manager of Vista Rooftop Bar & Restaurant in Dubai Knowledge Village.
Good food, good views, good works
Stuart Dunn is the manager of Vista Rooftop Bar & Restaurant in Dubai Knowledge Village. Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities in the world. I've stayed many times at The Langham, which is full of those little touches which make all the difference. I also like Nicholini's restaurant at the Conrad Hotel (+00 852 252 1383). I booked it for a former girlfriend's birthday and they really looked after us well. It's won the Insegna Del Ristorante Italiano, awarded to the best Italian restaurant abroad by the Italian president, numerous times and the harbour views complete the equation. The food was sublime, from the homemade breads to the lamb (which I still try to recreate today) and was finished off with the best desserts and service I have ever enjoyed.
I'd also recommend the tailors Manning and Son. It started as a father and son operation and now they are a part of a much larger organisation. They still offer that one-to-one service and I have always found their workmanship and quality second to none. The son also comes to London twice a year for clients who can't make it to Hong Kong. That's what I call service. In London, I recommend Hotel 41 (@email:www.41hotel.com, +44 (0) 2073000041). It's a fantastic five star hotel located on Buckingham Palace road near Victoria station. It's London's smallest boutique hotel, with only 16 rooms and a couple of suites. I've found it to be a great place to take someone for a special occasion or if you want to get away from it all and let the butler do everything for you. It even has a pantry area so you can help yourself to a midnight snack.
The old railway station near Petworth (@email:www.old-station.co.uk) is somewhere I stumbled across on the internet while looking for a short break destination for a couple of days. As the name suggests, it's a train station long retired surrounded by fields and away from everything. As well as a couple of rooms in the station itself, they have four original Pullman carriages from the Orient Express, each divided into 1920s luxury-styled rooms. Breakfast is served platform side and if moving is too much of an effort, you can just stay there for afternoon tea. It's a perfect day. Close by you'll find the Arundal with its impressive castle and Petworth House, which has a deer park and an impressive art portfolio, which is worth dedicating an afternoon to.
The first time I missed the UK since I've been living in Dubai was when a friend told me of the first game of the season on the menu at the Admiral Codrington in South Kensington (@email:www.theadmiralcodrington.co.uk, Mossop Street 17, London). It's a fantastic place for dinner. Think roast Yorkshire pheasant, foie gras, celeriac mash and parsnip chips. Vista in Dubai (04 4275500) consumes my life, but for what we are creating, it is definitely worth it. We have a great location and we are trying to create simple, tasty, affordable food using quality seasonal ingredients. We are lucky enough to have two outside areas where you can watch the sun go down behind the Palm and generally take in the everchanging Dubai skyline.
The Anjunna market in Goa on Wednesdays is enormous and, although a little touristy, there are many amazing items to be bought. The best deals are to be had at the end of the day. Handmade rugs and cashmere shawls are my two top buys. Haggling is a must and, for me, that's half the fun. When I visited Indonesia I couldn't believe how undiscovered this country really was. Jakarta is a complete monster of a city which refuses to be tamed. For the real Indonesian experience I headed north-west towards Labuhan and Karkatau. Luxury isn't on the cards but this trip will guarantee lifelong memories. The dormant Karkatau (or Krakatoa) is a sight to behold - even when climbing it. It's just rocks and ash but is still unpredictable.
In Laos, get the fast boat up the Mekong to The Gibbon Experience, a conservation project to help protect and cultivate the reduced Gibbon population. You can take up residence in a tree house deep in the jungle for three days. You then spend your days zip lining across impassable valleys and hiking in search of gibbons and other wildlife. It's left an indelible memory. (@email:www.gibbonx.org).