• Where to go

    Doors opened last week on a brand spanking new hotel, The Hoxton, Holborn.  

    Following in the footsteps of sister hotel The Hoxton, Shoreditch, (launched in 2006), the blueprint is pretty much the same.  There are comfortable, chic rooms with uniquely designed ink-drawn wallpaper (spot the British bulldogs), interesting art (made on a budget of £100 per room) all sensibly priced (£69-£269).  I'm a fan of the  'no rip-off' policy, that means free wifi throughout the hotel and a shop on the ground floor that sells stuff (including late night shenanigan necessities - water, champagne, candy) at supermarket prices.

    All the food and public spaces have been designed by Soho House.  You'll find a Chicken Shop in the basement and Hubbard & Bell restaurant on the ground floor (I had a kale salad with bottarga and a piece of roast turbot - delicious).  There's also a coffee and naughty-looking-cake corner and then opposite a long marble-topped bar, with alluring barmen ready to mix.  The entire ground floor hums like a hive, (apparently this low-level noise is known as 'The Hoxton hustle') with folk on all manner of Apple devices, bearded chaps taking modern, relaxed meetings and thick-fringed girls doing a great line in creative-geek. 

    But the hotel will have its proper launch on Friday 17th October, when for one night only the space will provide the setting for The Backstage Tour, an immersive play written by artist Amy Gadney and directed by Simon Evans.  "The show is about 'backstage' and what that means; the unspoken, the things you don't see, the hidden things," says Amy Gadney, "The energy of being backstage and the feeling that it's accidentally full of potential and drama, makes it feel more real and truthful sometimes." 

    Rumour has it the show has a piece of very 'surprising casting'.  Who could it be…?

    The Backstage Tour, October 17th/One Night Only
    By A&B Productions, commissioned by The Hoxton, Holborn
    For tickets go to www.thehoxton.com/thebackstagetour 

    The Hoxton, Holborn, 199-206 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD  www.thehoxton.com

    (P.S. see more of Amy Gadney's work at her magical, beautiful art exhibition Ghostload - on until 15th November at Cecilia Brunson Projects, Royal Oak Yard, Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3GD www.ceciliabrunsonprojects.com)

    The Hoxton, Holborn offered all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Backstage Tour on Friday 17th October, including food, drinks and a night's stay at The Hoxton, Holborn for two people (worth £200). Don't miss out on future offers, sign up to the A-List.

  • What to see

    Despite having his passport confiscated by Chinese authorities and not being allowed to travel, a show by political artist Ai Weiwei opened this week at Blenheim Palace.

    The show which features over 50 works by Ai Weiwei, is the launch exhibition for the new Blenheim Art Foundation, that under the direction of Michael Frahm will host a programme of contemporary art exhibited within and without the Vanbrugh designed Oxfordshire Palace.

    Though he has never been to Blenheim, Ai Weiwei worked closely on 3D plans and models to create site-specific work for the show including a 50 foot carpet called 'Soft Ground' that on close inspection features tank tyre tracks.  Other pieces include a selection of priceless Han Dynasty vases dipped in the car-paint colours used by BMW and Mercedes, a 'Marble Surveillance Camera' and 2300 small porcelain crabs that appear to spill out of a fireplace in the Red Drawing Room.

    All of the socially-messaged work is set against the opulence, the antiques and… the Chinoiserie at Blenheim.  With the added twist, that none of the pieces are labeled.

    Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace until 14th December 2014
    www.blenheimpalace.com

  • What to buy

    There are just a handful of bathroom cupboard products I'm fanatical about, and Phylia de M is one of them.

    It's a haircare line I discovered in 2011 that totally transformed my barnet.  I'd been ill and one of the many miserable side-effects was a lank, skinny pony-tail.  Three years later and (if I say so myself) I have a swishy mane, thanks to this wonder product.

    Created by LA-based Kazu Namise, who for years had been using Dr Miyayama, her scientist godfather's invention - Phylia Trifecta - that works by reversing skin, nail and hair dysfunction.  Miyayama had sussed that hairloss was the result of stress and internal imbalance that affected nerve function.  Phylia Trifecta targeted the follicle…literally the root of the problem.

    Kazu took the miracle ingredient to the next level when she launched Clean - shampoo, Condition - conditioner and two scalp treatments - Connect and the stronger Re-Connect.  When I started using these products, so much new hair grew I didn't know what to do with it all.  A jolly nice problem to have.

    There are rumours of a skincare line in the offing, which of course makes total sense because Phylia optimizes the keratin process (which includes skin and nails as well as hair).  But until then, the latest development is a natty travel pack that includes miniatures of Phylia de M heroes, including Fulphyl de M - a fulvic acid supplement you add to water or juice, that works by encouraging your cells to become more receptive to nutrients.  If I could shout about Phylia de M from the rooftops, I would.

    Phylia de M complete travel kit, £100 at www.victoriahealth.com