Catching up with iconic hotelier and developer, Harry Handelsman

The man behind the Chiltern Firehouse shares his London secrets

Written by Clara Strunck July 21, 2021

For the past 29 years, developer and hotelier Harry Handelsman has been defining how and where Londoners live and stay. Responsible for turning Marylebone Fire Station into the now world-famous Chiltern Firehouse, his latest project is the Scandi-cool, glass-walled Manhattan Loft Gardens in Stratford. If you’ve yet to visit Allegra, its restaurant, you’re in for a treat: Irish head chef Patrick Powell’s menu is the city’s best kept secret. Harry may not be a dab hand in the kitchen himself – he claims the only thing he uses is the coffee machine – but he’s a stalwart fan of the excellent fare at his restaurants, as well as a bottle of burgundy (or two…)

The most used appliance in my kitchen is…

My Miele coffee machine. It’s actually the only appliance in my kitchen that I really use!

The one cookbook everyone should own…

The not yet published (or written) ‘Allegra: The Joy of Food’ by Patrick Powell. If Patrick reads about it here, it will be the first he knows about it! But it will happen one day, I’m sure…

In my fridge you’ll always find…

Olives and a fabulous bottle of burgundy.

Favourite item from The Sette is…

The Storm Grey Vase Without Neck; I like its simplicity.

My most memorable meal…

Ahead of the launch of Manhattan Loft Gardens, I hosted a private dinner at my home on Hyde Park Gardens catered by Patrick. Attendees included Alistair Spalding (Artistic Director & CEO of Sadler’s Wells), Frances Corner (Head of London College of Fashion until 2019), Gus Casely-Hayford (Director of V&A East) and Sir Andrew Davis (President of BBC Symphony Orchestra). Manhattan Loft Gardens is a key component of Stratford’s Olympic legacy, so it’s always been key that I work collaboratively with the institutions making up the East Bank.

No celebration is complete without…

Brilliant company.

When I’m invited to dinner I always take…

A great bottle of wine. I’m lucky I’m able to lean on my head sommelier in Stratford, Luigi Coco, for recommendations from our cellars there.

The restaurant I love the most is…

Chiltern Firehouse; the ambience, together with atmosphere created organically by the customers who flock there, is unprecedented in London.

My guilty pleasure is…

Drinking too much.

For dinner tonight…

I’m heading to Locanda Locatelli. For me, Giorgio is the master when it comes to classic Italian cooking (sorry Ruthie!)

Jet-sette… favourite holiday spot?

Tuscany: it’s the only place I can return to again and again and never tire of the landscape, the food or the wine.

Sette the record straight… something people might not know about you?

My age!

Sunrise or sunsette… favourite time of the day?

Depends on the circumstances and the company.

Heart sette on… what’s on your wishlist?

The end of the pandemic. As a London hotelier this won’t come as any surprise, but also personally, as I’m desperate to travel again.