Zoe Strimpel

The joy of India’s heritage hotels

As the pandemic roared through India, I wondered when tourists like me would be able to return to a country so central to the traveller’s imagination. When we did return, would it show the scars of the hideous death toll and extreme burden of suffering? Would we feel safe? Finally, nearly three years since I

What the Cambridge dons drink

In June last year, King’s College Cambridge made more than £1 million from an auction of just 41 lots from its wine cellar. Not bad for a college that until just a few years ago had a hammer and sickle flag hanging in its student bar. But the Marxist sympathies of some of its legendary

The age of the male hag

This, we are told, is a very bad time to be a woman. When young, we’re warned that we are sexual prey, privy to a misogynistic ordeal both on the streets and in the sheets, courtesy of the jungle of app-mediated romance. Despite being slaves to the gym and learning to pole dance, we still

In defence of Waitrose

I recently had a call with my accountant, a miniskirt-wearing, swashbuckling bon vivant and wine connoisseur. To soothe myself before we rang off – tax is always depressing – I brought up Waitrose, saying by way of apology for my erratic finances that most of my money went in the supermarket, a large branch of

It’s no surprise dog attacks are on the rise

Love of dogs is hardly new in Britain. There is a growing strand of research exploring the shared history we have with our canine pets. There is some lovely work on Victorian pet cemeteries and dog breeding, while an excellent little series by Kathleen Walker-Meikle includes the indispensable Dogs in Medieval Manuscripts, which chronicles the prominent if exotic

Still fabulous: Savage Love podcast reviewed

Two podcast MOTs this week. I am a long-term listener of sex and relationships podcast Savage Love, hosted by Seattle-based Dan Savage. And tuning in to his most recent instalment, I can confirm it is still fabulous. A quick primer for those not familiar: Savage is famous for giving the world such gems as ‘monogamish’ (mostly

Noma and the death of fine dining

The Menu is a horror film about fine dining that revolves around a psychotic head chef (Ralph Fiennes) who runs a destination restaurant on an American island. The island is uninhabited apart from the chef and his staff, who pluck it for the most refined marine treats to serve the obnoxious clientele on a nightly

Stop broadcasting your ‘personal news’

‘Some personal news! Delighted to announce I’ll be joining [insert major company] as the new [insert extremely impressive-sounding, well-paid, prestigious job title] this week! It’s been great working at [insert other major, if slightly less gleaming company] but I’m so [insert word denoting excitement or thrill, including “excited” and “thrilled”] at what the future holds!

A sceptic’s guide to English wine

Being in possession of a well-kept secret is every wine-buyer’s goal, not least because uncorking an unusual find impresses even the snootiest of guests. English wine-makers have long been trying to break up any residual secrecy about the worthiness of their wines. Not quite new world, not quite old world, English wine was always going

Why war museums matter

On Christmas Day 1942, the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst, along with five destroyers, left its Norwegian base and headed for a series of Arctic convoys, the British fleets transporting material and support to the Soviets. The townclass cruiser HMS Belfast, used to escort the convoys through some of the most dangerous seas in the world, played

Why I’m finished with football

I have spent many, many years dutifully squeezing into pubs full of rapt, drinking men giving excessively loud voice to their feelings of either atavistic triumphalism or atavistic rage – all accompanied by the odd rattle of broken glass and flare-ups of intra-man hostility. But last weekend, as I dutifully prepared to leave my warm

Jeremy Hunt is wrong about ‘British compassion’

Delivering his Autumn Statement on Thursday, Jeremy Hunt specified two ‘great national’ qualities: genius and ‘British compassion’. The Chancellor’s announcements made it clear what he was doing: raiding the incomes of the decently well off to fund benefits rises and protect pensions. Talk of our shared compassion then seems a bit off. Politicians should exploit

‘Luxury’ cinemas are a horror show

‘I know,’ I said to my friend recently. ‘Let’s see a film!’ We booked the Everyman Kings Cross, the only cinema that happened to be showing what we wanted to watch at a convenient time and location. You might already be familiar with the Everyman concept. According to the chain, it’s ‘redefining cinema’ with an

How politics killed theatre

Hope can be remarkably persistent. And so, despite several years of experience pointing in starkly the other direction, a recent weekend saw me at Who Killed My Father at the Young Vic, the latest from ubiquitous Belgian director Ivo van Hove. A young friend had gone with his father the previous week and both described

Beware the cocktail bore

The man at the posh London bar stood with our drinks but wouldn’t give them to us. He had a lecture to deliver first, for cocktail culture – or ‘mixology’ as the craft is now known – is nothing if not didactic. As I looked enviously out at the people with pints of beer across

Beyoncé and the pornification of pop

Beyoncé Knowles has always been sexy: naturally and consciously so. But her sexiness – those astonishing bottom-swooshing dance moves; the gleaming, undulating chest; the ever-changing, lustrous locks – sat alongside a moral substance that grew as her career progressed. She weighed in on politics, raising $4 million for Barack Obama and singing at his first

Turning 40 is dreadful – let’s not pretend otherwise

Last week, pictures of the actress Sienna Miller frolicking with glee in a tiny orange bikini in St Tropez with her boyfriend were widely shared. Miller is 40, and her boyfriend, the Burberry model Oli Green, is 25. Miller was described as looking ‘incredible’, a mixture of fantastic abs and, it was implied, exuberance at

The curious rise of Soho House

The San Lorenzo neighbourhood of Rome, a short walk from the murderous environs of Termini, the central train station, is not particularly old or beautiful. A working-class neighbourhood once connected to the Wuehrer brewery and freight yard, it was bombed heavily during the war, the only massive bombing in Rome. But like Wedding or Neukolln

How Love Island killed sex

Love Island’s annual ‘heart race challenge’ – where contestants perform jokily seductive dances on the opposite sex – took place last week, an eternity in villa time. The girls and boys who raise heart rates the most win. It is always divisive, since the women in particular – dressed in nearly nothing and manoeuvring with everything they

The feminist case for Love Island

Love Island, which started again last night, flirts with virtue just a little more obviously each year. The show is racially diverse, and overwhelmingly working class, despite featuring the odd medic. Hugo Hammond, who was born with a club foot, became the show’s first disabled contestant last year. The latest series features a deaf contestant, Tasha Ghouri, a ‘dancer’ with