Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Sarah Chang’s Philadelphia

Former child prodigy Sarah Chang has emerged as one of the world’s top violinists. She was named a Young Global Leader for 2008 by the World Economic Forum.

November 28 2010
Hilary Whitney

“I’m not a morning person, so if I don’t have a rehearsal, I’ll sleep in until about 11am. I have a beautiful home about 20 minutes from Philadelphia with a huge garden and a pool, so I’ll have a swim and then meet some friends for brunch in the city. One of my favourite places is Rouge, right on Rittenhouse Square, a wonderful little park, which is one of the most peaceful and picturesque places in Philly. I don’t usually drink during the day but, if I’m not working, I might treat myself to one of their delicious lemon drop martinis.

There are lots of very nice boutiques in that area but my favourite place is the King of Prussia Mall, which is the second largest mall in the US. When I’m in Philly, I practically live there. It has everything you could possibly want including a Macy’s and a Nordstrom, which has a fabulous shoe department, but Neiman Marcus is my favourite. I’ve had a Neiman’s store card since I was a teenager, even before I had a regular credit card – I have no idea how she did it, but my mother pulled some strings. .

However, much as I love shopping, I’m also a huge baseball fan. I’ve had some of my best times watching the Phillies – although sadly they didn’t win the 2010 World Series – so if they are playing at Citizens Bank Park, I will definitely go to see the game.

In the evening I go to see a movie with friends. I love Hollywood blockbusters but my all-time favourites are classics like My Fair Lady and Vertigo. There’s a great cinema in downtown Philly called The Bridge. It’s very intimate and has a cocktail bar, so you can make an evening of it.

Over the past 10 years, downtown Philly has really come into its own. There wasn’t much going on but when the Kimmel Center, our very beautiful concert hall, opened in that part of town, it rejuvenated the whole area.

For dinner we’ll go to Buddakan, which does amazing pad Thai, or 1225 Raw, which is a very funky sushi restaurant. I also like Pod, which has Thai-fusion food and is ultra-modern – you sit in these illuminated booths and the lights change colour, so it’s a bit like being in a discothèque. But the food is fantastic.

After dinner we might go to XIX Nineteen, a bar and restaurant at the Hyatt at the Bellevue hotel. When I lived in New Jersey, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency – so often that they gave me my own bathrobe with my initials on it. XIX is very atmospheric, with gorgeous dark wood. I also like Ladder 15 where they do fabulous seasonal cocktails, such as cotton candy martinis.

On Sunday I get up just in time for brunch. I’ve recently discovered a new place called Devil’s Alley, which is very urban – it looks like they stopped in the middle of refurbishing it – and they do the most amazing brioche bread pudding with butterscotch ice cream.

Not long ago I spent an afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s a stunning building with a very dramatic set of steps (pictured) that have featured in lots of movies, including Rocky.

I’m a big tea drinker and I really enjoy going to the Hyatt at the Bellevue for high tea. They do lovely finger sandwiches and the service is amazing – they give you a little kiddie’s stool to put your purse on, so you can keep an eye on it. And the tearoom is beautiful. It has this incredible dome and is decorated in shades of blue and cream. In fact, I love it so much that when I bought my house, I asked my interior decorator to take it as the inspiration for my bedroom.

Because I travel so much, I enjoy staying in. Sunday evening is spent watching DVDs in my home cinema. I’m a hopeless cook, so I’ll order in and settle down in front of something like Entourage or Californication. And then I tumble into bed, extremely happy to be in my own home.”

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