Connection in Quarantine

Part 5: Henrietta Klug

Henrietta Klug

Henrietta Klug is the Buying and Merchandising Director at The Conran Shop, the home of considered design and curated living.

As part of our Connection in Quarantine series, we caught up with Henrietta about taking an Instagram detox, missing her daily walk to work over Tower Bridge, and she also shared her trick for making the perfect Old Fashioned...

What's your favourite time of the day and why?

Sundown. As that’s when the adventure starts. With a perfect sunset.

If you didn't live in London, where else would you live and why?

If I didn’t live in London my only choice would be Paris. I consider it my spiritual home. I have definitely lived there in a past life.

What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?

Having a complete Instagram detox at the start of 2020; my dry January. And I was actually OK!

What do you wish you had known 5 years ago that you know now?

That getting around London by tube is a lot quicker than by cab. All those hours I’ll never get back!

The cover of the Louis Vuitton travel guide to Mexico City

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m flicking between the Louis Vuitton travel guide to Mexico City - dreaming of my next holiday after lockdown is over - and The Path, a guide to living modern day life through the eyes of the ancient Chinese Philosophers. It’s not helping. Yet.

If you could visit one restaurant right now, where would it be?

Scott’s in Mayfair. I have an insatiable love for their seafood cocktail and Bakewell pudding. You haven’t lived till you’ve had one mouthful…

Describe your perfect day out of quarantine...

It would involve three key ingredients: sand, sea, barefoot.

An Old Fashioned

If you have any cocktail any place right now, what would it be?

Always an Old Fashioned and made by favourite barman at Chiltern Firehouse. The trick is the huge freshly carved ice cube.

What does ‘luxury’ mean to you?

On a deeper level luxury means the freedom to do whatever you want. On a day to day level it means an hour long soak in my fragrance-filled bath at the end of a crazy day.

You have an hour free and can go anywhere - how would you spend it?

I would spend the hour on top of Primrose Hill looking across London. Sitting, thinking, planning... you can never tire of that view.

How do you unwind after a hectic day of working from home?

It’s an age-old relaxant.... wine.

Tower Bridge

When do you feel at your finest?

What makes me feel happy every morning is walking along the River Thames to work, past Tower Bridge and thinking how lucky I am to see this every day. At that point I feel like everything is OK - I miss it now I’m working from home.

What hotel do you wish you could self-isolate in?

It would have to be a hotel with real old-school opulence and elegance, like the quintessentially British Claridges, or I could be swayed by the more understated luxury of the Upper House in Hong Kong, with panoramic views of the city from your bathtub!

How Henrietta would spend her Fine Hour

You can peruse the wonderful interior design pieces Henrietta curates over at The Conran Shop, and enjoy 10% off your first A Fine Hour experience when you sign up to their newsletter.

Part 4: Aftab Pathan

Aftab sitting on rocks, looking out to sea

Aftab Pathan is a digital content creator and the person behind successful luxury travel blog, Fresh and Fearless.

As part of our Connection in Quarantine series, we caught up with Aftab about appreciating little luxuries, his penchant for an Amaretto Sours and found out exactly what a travel blogger does when they can’t travel...

What does your daily schedule look like now?

My day starts a bit later than usual. Some days I spend 30 minutes doing yoga before indulging in a scrumptious breakfast and a piping hot vanilla latte, moving in the slow lane.

How has your idea of luxury changed over the last two months?

I never thought I would find luxury in having a roof over my head, spending time rustling up authentic home-cooked meals with finesse, and focusing more time relaxing, doing home-workouts, and upping my skincare routine.

How are you bringing a bit of luxury to your home?

I’m investing in premium quality ingredients for my home-cooked meals, ordering those skincare ‘must-haves’ that I’ve put off ordering, spending more time enjoying light-hearted entertainment in the form of soppy rom-coms with a bucket of butter popcorn. It’s the little things.

Aftab in the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

How do you switch off after a day of working from home?

On days that I haven’t done yoga, I go for a long run along the local country lanes, making the most of the fresh air and sweet-smelling flowers on my route. Otherwise, I dive straight into comfy loungewear and start cooking up a storm.

What are you reading at the moment?

A Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly. It’s quite ironic, as all the unforeseen moments in each of the characters' lives came out of nowhere, just like the pandemic has for all of us. It’s somewhat nice to escape reality and read about the whirlwind journeys of others, albeit fictional characters.

What's keeping you positive at the moment?

That there is light at the end of the tunnel. But, also the fact that I’ll have a greater appreciation for the little luxuries in life, like being able to decide to experience a new restaurant on a whim, or book a last-minute getaway somewhere exotic.

Aftab walking on the beach

How has the crisis impacted your business - as a lot of your work is focused on travel?

It has all gone quiet, which is expected. I’m in a fortunate position where I don’t rely on it for my sole source of income but I feel helpless that I can’t do my part to help keep those that rely on hospitality and tourism to keep their economy afloat.

What about the luxury travel sector has made you most proud during the current situation?

The community. I think we all get caught up in our little bubbles, but over the past weeks and months I’ve observed something quite spectacular. Hospitality and tourism individuals doing live cooking sessions from their homes, sending out care packages, supporting healthcare workers and raising money for charities. Everyone is doing their part to keep us positive and motivated during this dire situation.

What area of the business are you planning to focus on during the lockdown?

I’m preparing for the future. We will all travel again, so I’m in the process of creating guides, helpful round-ups and features that will hopefully in-still a sense of wanderlust once again.

How can people support the luxury travel industry at the moment?

Buy gift card and experiences for your favourite hotels and restaurants. If they are open for delivery, order something, even if it’s small. Every little helps.

Aftab on the Brooklyn Bridge

What advice/words of encouragement would you give to other people in your sector?

Don’t lose faith. We together will ensure we take to the skies again and regain what the hospitality and tourism industry once was.

If you could visit one restaurant as a special exception where would it be and who would you take?

It would be Celeste at The Lanesborough and I’d take my mum. We were both due to have a mother-son afternoon together just as the lockdown struck, so I’d quite like to live that missed moment.

Where is the first country you will visit once we are on the other side of the lockdown?

I’d say St. Lucia. It was a trip I was due to embark on a matter of days after the government of St. Lucia announced that nobody could enter the island as cases started to rise. It was also a trip that was two years in the making, so it was supposed to be extra special. And I know it will be, when I finally make it.

What do you wish you had known 5 years ago that you know now?

“You is a good you.” A saying that has stuck with me in recent years, after a long-battle of self-love and acceptance. Being completely different from the typical stereotype is what has always made me stand out from the norm, and that’s something to be celebrated.

Portrait picture of Aftab Pathan

What’s your signature cocktail and where do you sit to enjoy it at the end of the day?

I’d say an Amaretto Sour — the perfect mix of sweet and sour. I currently enjoy it on my balcony, watching the sun set. It’s the perfect way to have some down time and reflect.

If you could spend an hour anywhere other than home right now, where would it be?

In the Four Seasons Trinity Square spa, enjoying a full body massage.

What hotel do you wish you could self-isolate in?

Four Seasons Trinity Square. The rooms are modern and have interiors to die for, the have a swanky cocktail bar, a private members club, and two of my favourite restaurants in London. Oh, did I mention the divine spa?

Who would be your dream virtual dinner party guests?

They would be filled with people that inspire me in one way or another. My party guests would be Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Pompeo and Ellen DeGeneres.

When do you feel at your finest?

When I’m somewhere hot, drinking something cold (and alcoholic!) with good food and picturesque views. Not hard, right?

How Aftab would spend his Fine Hour

You can follow Aftab's adventures in luxury travel over on his Instagram or through his blog Fresh and Fearless.

Connection in Quarantine

Part 3: Dr Tara Swart

Dr Tara Swart

Dr Tara Swart is a neuroscientist, leadership adviser, award-winning author and a medical doctor.

Her bestselling book ‘The Source - Open Your Mind, Change Your Life’ has been translated into 36 languages and is the go to tome for anyone looking to achieve mental resilience and peak brain performance. A neuroscientist by background, Tara has dedicated her career to helping people flourish in both their personal and professional lives by harnessing the power of the brain. She founded a consultancy based on applying neuroscience to business and leadership and she was also the world’s first ever neuroscientist in residence at a luxury hotel - The Corinthia Hotel, London.

As part of our Connection in Quarantine series we caught up with Tara about the importance of structure, pivoting her business during lockdown to focus on mental health and the pure, adulterated luxury that is a silk pillow case...

What does your daily schedule look like now?

I love the fact that I don’t have to wake up to an alarm and my body has really found its ideal sleep cycle. The rest of my day is structured around some anchor points: preparing three meals a day and eating mindfully with my husband; playing tennis or croquet together at 5pm; and having an hour of ‘me time’ or catching up with friends at 6pm. I fit my work and the house-keeping in between those times, and we always make sure we totally change gear after supper and spend quality time together.

How has your idea of luxury changed over the last two months?

I’ve always considered time to be the ultimate luxury commodity, and that is still the case but in a different way now. Having time for myself, for self-care, for health and beauty regimes, art, in nature, or inwards - in terms of personal development - are more important to me now than things like jewellery which I am not wearing for hygiene reasons, handbags that I’m not using because I am not going out, or shoes that I don’t need because I am mostly barefoot. I am more aware of how fortunate I am to have travelled extensively in my life, but I do yearn for the luxury of travelling to exotic places.

How are you bringing a bit of luxury to your home?

I have definitely turned my bathroom into a sanctuary and am keeping all the bath salts and aromatherapy shower oils topped up. I’m using my dry body brush, bamboo body tapper, jade Gua Sha and gold derma roller regularly. Our ultimate luxuries are our silk pillowcases.

The front cover of Dr Tara Swart's book The Source

How do you switch off after a day of working from home?

We play tennis or croquet at 5pm then I take a bath or call a friend. Afterwards I start preparing dinner and we eat together doing a debrief of the day, pick a movie or continue the latest series we are enjoying together.

What are you reading at the moment?

Painting as a pastime by Winston Churchill.

What keeps you positive?

I have been practising abundant thinking for many years through meditation, gratitude lists, positive affirmations and journaling. I find my work very rewarding and I have good people around me (virtually and in real life).

How has the crisis impacted your business?

The focus of my business has pivoted from applied neuroscience to more specifically mental health issues. I have been able to do most of my work - like executive coaching - by phone (we walk and talk) and have been able to deliver my key-notes via webinar. I’ve been doing more IGTV and IG Live plus other pre-recorded video work to extend the reach of our messages about utilising your brain to change your life.

What about your team/business has made you most proud during the current situation?

My team has refused to accept anything less than working hard to offer the same services and value that we did before lockdown. They have very quickly adjusted to doing things slightly differently and remained abundant in their attitude.

What are you focusing on during the lockdown?

I am focusing on saying no to the work I no longer wish to do, to make space for the life I would like after lockdown.

What advice/words of encouragement would you give to other people in your sector?

You can do everything that you were doing before, virtually, and your business can flourish during this time - if you think outside the box.

What hotel do you wish you could self-isolate in and why?

Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. I love the ocean and could snorkel all day. I also love the ethos of sustainable luxury.

When do you feel at your finest?

When I go to Annabel’s private members club. Even though I was hanging out there a lot prior to lockdown, it feels like an occasion every time. The décor is stunning, the service impeccable, and I love soaking in the finery all around.

How Tara would spend her Fine Hour

You can find out more about Tara’s fascinating work here and order her book The Source now.

Part 2: Arielle Free

Arielle Free

Arielle Free is an international DJ, podcast host and TV presenter. She is also at the helm of Radio One’s early morning weekend show, which - with her infectious energy and passion for uplifting music - is the perfect antidote to lockdown lethargy. With Summer approaching, Arielle would usually be packing her bags for a few months of chasing the sun between festivals and DJ gigs in Ibiza, but, like many of us, the current crisis has put her plans on hold.

As part of our Connection in Quarantine series, we caught up with Arielle, about missing festivals, her ‘Normal People” obsession and the best East London Japanese, where you can get your sashimi with a side of dancefloor shimmying...

What does your daily schedule look like now?

I’m lucky to still be hosting my radio show Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. My Monday was always my admin day and I’ve tried to stick to this in lock down, although there’s not as much admin as my DJ gigs and most jobs have been cancelled for the rest of the year. Wednesday and Thursdays are spent building my radio shows and any DJ sets I’m live streaming. Some days are super productive, others not so much, but I’ve learnt not to be hard on myself.

Arielle Free

How has your idea of luxury changed over the last two months?

I suppose luxury is now found in the little things. Like treating myself to a nicer piece of food in the weekly shop or a more expensive wine. Nothing too extravagant but it's those little things that feel like a much needed treat after getting through another day/week of lockdown. My biggest luxury has been to enjoy how close I am to one of my favourite parks in London, the daily bit of exercise I get from running around it has been so good for the soul.

How are you bringing a bit of luxury to your home?

I’ve finally managed to frame pieces of work that I’ve been meaning to frame for ages. I also bought myself a bedside table, which I’ve needed for a while and also donated bags of clothes that I've been meaning to clear from my flat for months. Having less clutter has instantly transformed my little haven.

How do you switch off after a day of work?

I’ve taken to having a walk at the end of the working day. I get home, shower, slap on a yummy body lotion, shove in a hair mask or face mask, pour myself a pint of water then start cooking something fresh. If I fancy a wee treat then a glass of pale rose with a cube of ice is the go to, it makes me feel like I could be on holiday.

Arielle Free

What are you reading at the moment?

I read DJ Targets ‘Grime Kids’, it's a great insight into the beginnings of grime music and how it's gone on to be a globally recognised and celebrated genre of music. I also read ‘Normal People’ after watching the TV series. I've watched the series twice now and then picked up the book, obsessed much? Before you ask, yes I do follow ‘Connell’s Chain’ on Instagram!

What's keeping you positive during lockdown?

Being on the radio each week. I know it's a privilege to be able to work at the moment and the fact that I keep the public company on the airwaves at a time when people need it the most has been an honour. Having time to regularly check in with family and complete tasks that have been on the to do list for a while has been great too.

Arielle Free

Where is the first country you will visit once we are on the other side of the lockdown?

Hopefully Spain to go and see my mum and family. Either there or Scotland - again to see friends and family. I’ve missed Glasgow more than ever.

What do you wish you had known 5 years ago that you know now?

Everyone has their own journey so don’t be impatient if things don’t work out straight away. There is no wrong path.

Arielle Free

If you could visit one restaurant as a special exception where would it be and who would you take?

Brilliant Corners in Dalston. I’d eat every plate of their delicious Japanese food menu, drink my bodyweight in their next level cocktails and then burn it off by having a shimmy there once I’d finished eating. They have an amazing sound system with DJs always playing and as for who I’d take with me…well I’ll keep that to myself.

What’s your signature cocktail and where do you sit to enjoy it at the end of the day?

Picante all day everyday. Tequila, chilli, lime juice, Agave syrup and a bit of coriander. It's refreshing with a little kick and tequila makes me happy.

If you could spend an hour anywhere other than home right now, where would it be?

At a rave or a festival or Ibiza, with a thousand ravers, the sound system on full whack, the bass reverberating through my bones and an hour of incessant dancing - being totally lost in the music.

Arielle Free

What hotel do you wish you could self isolate in?

I’m not sure I could choose one specific hotel. Somewhere that had a rooftop with daily sunshine, was close enough to a beach that I could dip my toes in the sea each day and somewhere that has a yummy seafood and fresh salad menu.

I’d drink from a coconut each morning, munch on some mango and watermelon for breakfast. Then I’d do my work from the roof, have a fresh lunch, go to the beach, dip my toes in the sea, come back, read a book and then have a cocktail with my seafood dinner in the evening.

Who would be your dream virtual dinner party guests?

Grace Jones, Prince, David Bowie, Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Dr Dre.

When do you feel at your finest?

When I’ve worked out, treated my body to some good food and checked in with my friends and family. Or when I’m let loose on the dance floor.

How Arielle would spend her Fine Hour

You can listen to Arielle’s early breakfast show on Radio 1 on Fridays from 4am - 6am and Saturdays and Sundays 5am - 7am.

Part 1: Suki Thompson

Suki Thompson

Suki Thompson is a serial entrepreneur, who has made her mark in the media and communications industry. Co-founder of the award winning marketing agency, Oystercatchers, Suki is also at the helm of Haystack and Bunker Gin and Let's Reset, the cultural change transformation company. She recently collaborated with iconic British photographer, Rankin, on the Let’s Reset book. The project combines stories and portraits of business leaders, that shine a light on the importance of wellbeing in the workplace and nurturing your mental health as you navigate your career.

As part of our Connection in Quarantine series, we caught up with Suki about staying positive, the importance of innovation in business and bringing a little luxury to her Cornish home in the form of fresh lobster...

What does your daily schedule look like now?

I’m lucky enough to have the beach about 40 steps away from my house, so now I'm not commuting I use that time to go for a run - with my dog, by the sea - at 7am. I then come home and do an online yoga class, run by my cousin Jenny. I’ve never done yoga before so this is a new skill I’m learning during the crisis. My mum and friends also join the class, so it’s a great way for us to do something together and it also gives me some time to look after myself. I usually have to leave the class a little early to start business calls, it feels weird not starting work at 9am!

Most days, when work starts, I am balancing two jobs. For Oystercatchers, I am interviewing agency chief execs, understanding what’s going on in their industry. For Let's Reset, I am speaking with company leaders, psychologists, and different executives – talking about the commercial impact of the coronavirus on well-being. We’re also running 5 different workshops, centred on well-being and resilience, and working with leadership teams to understand how they are going to change their culture to help them come out of this scenario in a better position.

I have dinner together with my children every evening, and we like to play games together too. My daughter, Jasmine, usually cooks, and my son, Sam, sometimes cooks - he’s a meat eater and loves his steak.

When this is behind us, I want to look back and have done some positive things, so I am putting together three photo albums on the development of the Let's Reset book, our holiday in Africa, and another family album. I would also like to feel like I have achieved something new, so aside from the yoga I have also signed up for a course with Reading University on anxiety, stress management & CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy).

How has your idea of luxury changed over the last four weeks?

I definitely feel like certain food, if you can get it, is a luxury. One of the companies here is delivering fish and they delivered a live lobster to us. We kept them alive for a day and a half, before enjoying them. We really relished the experience - it was so different from going to a restaurant, where you sit down and the lobster is brought to you already prepared.

Because we’re in Cornwall and can only walk to the corner shop, we can’t always get everything we want. My mum used to say that she loved having bananas – during the war they were a luxury. Now it feels like even butternut squash seems like a luxury.

How are you bringing a bit of luxury to your home?

Definitely the lobsters!

We are so lucky to have our home in Cornwall. Perranporth is the 10th most beautiful beach in the country. I grew up here and have lots of friends and family who live here. We only have 20 shops in the town – 10 of which are closed during winter - so it’s a perfect place to be at this moment. There are no people around.

We are privileged – every day we see the sun, sea and sand. That is my luxury. This is the best luxury I could ever have.

How do you switch off after a day of working from home?

We go for a walk along the beach – and watch the sunset from the porch.

What are you reading at the moment?

I like to read fiction and non-fiction - usually a self-help or business book - at the same time. The novel I’m reading currently is ‘The Secrets We Kept’ by Laura Prescott. It’s based in Russia and I’m really enjoying it. I’m also reading ‘The Defining Decade’ by Meg Jay. It’s all about what young people should and shouldn’t do in their 20s and what they should be thinking about - career versus settling down. Jasmine, my daughter recommended it to me. She is 22 and my son is 20, so it’s great to get an insight into their world.

Suki Thompson

What keeps you positive?

I meditate every day and have done since I got cancer 12 years ago. I think of the positive things and try to not think about the stuff that is unknown. I have also reduced how much I’m watching the news!

Another helpful exercise for staying grounded and positive is putting your worries into two lists: the things you can do something about and the ones you can’t do something about. Prioritise the ones that you can address and let go of the things that are out of your control - such as ‘when is the lockdown going to end?’

I want to take the time to reflect. I see people running around – and filling their time completely. It’s important to live through what we’re going through. It’s extraordinary. It is important to feel some of that pain. Otherwise, when things do return to normal we won’t change and take on some of the positive elements that have come out of this situation.

If you want to change, you can change. You have to take the time to think about it and reflect.

How has the crisis impacted Let’s Reset?

To begin with it was catastrophic. All of it was face to face. Everyone deprioritised our work. But we’ve put our courses online, started interviewing key people and understanding how they are thinking. Now that we are beyond the initial crisis, they are realising the importance of what we do and are beginning to think about the significant impact on their culture.

We have taken on a couple of new psychologists, along with some commercial experts who will be able to help companies come out in a better place. We’ve taken our face to face workshops and put them online and we’re seeing the impact that has on people. It genuinely helps.

What about your team has made you most proud during the current situation?

At Let's Reset, we bring in consultants when we have business. With the Covid-19 crisis, we suddenly had no revenue and couldn’t pay anyone. I went to our team and proposed to pull all the workshops together and put them online. I even suggested we started helping some companies for free, in certain cases.

Even though some of them are self employed - and at the beginning, when the government wasn’t supporting them, all their income dried up overnight - they said yes. They stepped in to help pivot the business. I am so excited and so proud.

I am also a director at Xeim and at Gately PLC, I am non-exec. It is great seeing how positive and innovative people can be in challenging circumstances.

Suki Thompson

What advice/words of encouragement would you give to other people in your sector?

For luxury and travel, it is a terrible time for most companies but amazing what some companies have done. Barbour is now producing protective clothing. LVMH is producing face masks. It is incredible to see this innovation and how they changed their factories to address the urgent needs. Other examples are hotels opening up to key workers and other companies making food for the NHS.

At a time when our business is being decimated – that sense of innovation is what will help those businesses get out of this. People and passion are crucial in those circumstances, so it's important to look at the cultures that breed that mindset. Often that is not the place where companies start.

What hotel do you wish you could self-isolate in and why?

I absolutely love South Africa and I have to be able to look at water. So I would choose the Silo Hotel in Cape Town. Beautiful, amazing hotel. I would love them to keep the art gallery open and we would be allowed to self-isolate there.

When do you feel at your finest?

It's so trite, but when I can spend time with my kids. I feel great when I’m with them. In lockdown, we are chilling out together and have gone on our daily exercise walks. They have both kind of left home, so I realised - when did I last go on a walk with my children? It’s been really nice spending that time with them.

Who would be your dream virtual dinner party guests?

I’d love Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Judi Dench.

I would also like Boris to come along and tell us what he is thinking!

I miss not being able to see my mum, so I would like her there too. And my partner - he is self isolating in Scotland with his children so I would definitely invite him!

How Suki would spend her Fine Hour

You can find out more Suki and her work by visiting the Let's Reset website. The Let's Reset book is available to buy now.

Each week we'll be speaking to inspiring creatives and business leaders from the luxury sector, to hear how they are adapting to life in quarantine and incorporating moments of luxury into their new routine.

For some ideas on how you can bring a little bit of luxury back into your life once the crisis is over, explore A FINE HOUR.