Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Geoffrey Kent’s London

Geoffrey Kent is chairman and CEO of luxury travel operator Abercrombie & Kent, which he set up with his parents in Kenya in 1962. The company now has 62 offices worldwide.

May 16 2010
Alison Gunn

“After a day in the office on Friday, I like to go out for a late dinner, somewhere Japanese, such as Nobu or Roka. I like the Nobu at the Metropolitan Hotel; the Wagyu beef is delicious. I’ve been going there for many years – the food and service are excellent.

On Saturdays I like to sleep in. I travel so much all year that it’s a rare pleasure to get up late, have a leisurely breakfast and read the papers – the FT, International Herald Tribune and The Sunday Times at the weekend. I always watch CNN, too, to check that there haven’t been any disasters that will affect our operations. After the recent earthquake in Chile, all our clients there were trapped and we had to drive them out to Buenos Aires.

From my home in Belgravia I’ll go out for a run in Hyde Park or Green Park, or to play tennis at the Harbour Club in Chelsea. I work out four or five days a week, for at least an hour – I think it’s left over from my army days, but I’ve always kept myself very fit. I used to play polo every weekend – I was captain of Windsor Park Team and competed all over the world – until 15 years ago when I had a bad accident, so I had to find something else to do. Running is quite boring, but I’ll focus on an idea for the company as I run – multitasking!

For lunch I’ll drop into La Poissonnerie on Sloane Avenue and have oysters and the delicious mackerel tartare. I’ve got an army stomach and can eat anything. Growing up in Kenya, I got used to things such as goat curry, and when I started scouting remote locations for A&K, I never knew what I was going to eat and drink. Our motto used to be: “We go to places where you can’t drink the water.”

One place I love to visit is the Imperial War Museum (pictured). I think it’s a marvellous museum. I’ll look at all the tanks – the Centurion, the Sherman – and compare them with the ones that I drove in the army. I was in Aden in 1963 as a young dragoon guard and, although I found it all very exciting, I never really understood why we were there – none of us did – so it’s fascinating to have all the history explained.

In the evening I’ll probably go out with my old friend Wilbur Smith, the writer. He was born in the same hospital as me in Lusaka. We go to Harry’s Bar, or The Ivy, and swap African stories.

You need to speak fluent Italian to understand the menu at Harry’s, so I usually ask the maître d’ for the special. But I do think it’s some of the best Italian food in the world. I like The Ivy, too; you always see some interesting celebrities.

My Sunday-morning routine is the same; breakfast, read the papers, go running. But this time I have a treat – two hot dogs from the stand in Green Park, smothered in French’s Mustard – the bright yellow American stuff – which I’ll smuggle in in my tracksuit pocket. From there I might pop into the Sladmore Gallery, which has a wonderful collection of Bugatti animal bronzes, or Christie’s. I like contemporary art and I collect a little – I’ve got an Eric Fischl painting, called Nude Bathers. But I only dabble.

Later I might meet my son, Joss, who is president and COO of the company, and his children – Hector, seven, and Tiva, five – and take them to the London Aquarium, which they’re mad about. Otherwise I’ll go to the cinema – one of the enormous ones in Leicester Square, such as the Odeon. I’ve recently seen The Hurt Locker, which is great. I loved Avatar, and Invictus, about the life of Nelson Mandela. I grew up in Kenya and I know Cape Town well, and I have huge affection for the man and what he achieved.

I’ll probably be flying somewhere on Monday morning, so Sunday evening is spent quietly at home. Last thing before I go to bed I’ll check CNN again for the world news. Then I’m off.”

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