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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest February 2017 Reviews

The Metropole Hotel, Venice, Italy | Bown's Best


The Metropole in Venice is one of those hotels it is very easy to love. It is not only comfortable, well-located and blessed with a Michelin star twinkling over its restaurant: it also has character. Character is difficult to define, but when you encounter it you recognise it immediately. In a world in which too many hotels seem to strive for the same ghastly blandness, The Metropole stands out as a beacon of hope. The owner and General Manager, the charming and vivacious Gloria Beggiato (pictured, with your correspondent), runs her establishment with enormous panache. The result is that hers is the very best sort of luxury establishment.

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Londra Palace Hotel, Venice, Italy | Bown's Best


When you are deciding about your hotel in the most beautiful city in the world, you should seek out the Holy Quartet of hospitality: a marvellous location, accommodation which is both comfortable and elegant, good food and wine and friendly service. The Londra Palace has all four in generous abundance. And it also has something else, of which no other hostelry in Venice can boast. It has an equestrian statue of the first King of the re-united Italy right in front of its main façade. This is significant, because Victor Emmanuel II loved the best locations. Or, to be more accurate, his monuments did. Since 1887, when the statue by Ettore Ferrari was erected, he has been sitting on his horse, with a sword in his hand, right in the middle of the riva degli Schiavoni. Earth hath few places to show more fair. Following the regal gaze, straight ahead are the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Square. To the King’s left, on the other side of the waters of the Bacino di San Marco, is the exquisite façade of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore. And on the royal right is the Londra Palace Hotel.

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Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen, Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom | Bown's Best


Let me admit immediately that I have little experience of vegetarian food. Of vegetables I am a devoted fan, but ‘vegetarian food’ is rather different, and implies combinations of tastes and textures which might provoke reactions of surprise from the carnivore’s palate. Still, now and again, the thought comes upon me that I should venture into unfamiliar territory, and where better to do that than in England’s most beautiful city? Moreover, Bath has a restaurant which is highly regarded for this sort of cuisine – The Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen.

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See also Dining in France & American Farm to Table

Francis Bown 2003
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