Three very grand queens cruised into NYC for some fun, and I’m not talking about Johnny Weir, Elton John, or Oprah. Mayor Bloomberg, who has been campaigning for marriage equality even before he took office, welcomed the three queens of Cunard Line’s fleet of luxury ocean liners for a Royal Rendezvous. This historic event celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s maiden voyage to NYC alongside her sister ships, Cunard Line flagships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.
Watching all three queens sail past the Statue of Liberty under the glow of a Grucci fireworks display was a memorable moment. The Royal Rendezvous was also celebrated with the lighting of the Empire State Building in Cunard Line’s trademark red color and Cunard executives ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
FYI: Although Cunard has carried passengers across the Atlantic for 171 years, these are not your grandmother’s ships. The new fleet and its crew are gay-friendly, and the ship’s daily calendar includes a daily Friends of Dorothy cocktail hour, where you can stop guessing whether your gaydar is on the blink while you gather with your fellow LGBT passengers. It’s typically a crowd of 10-40 people, from their 20s to 60s. No, the ship’s captain hasn’t married any of us yet, but that’s because of legal problems, not physical ones. Since its founding in 1865 Cunard has represented the epitome of British refinement. 15 million people will take to the high seas in 2011; 10 percent of that is 1.5 million sophisticated LGBT travelers. Go to www.cunard.com to discover a voyage you’ll never forget.
Once you have disembarked in Southampton from the Queen of your choice, may I suggest you spend the weekend in London at the Langham. Oscar Wilde loved this grand hotel that opened in 1865. It was over lunch at the Langham that he struck the deal with his publisher to write The Portrait of Dorian Gray, a novel that you should reread every decade after you check your portrait in the attic to see if you need another shot of Botox, a syringe full of filler, or a nip and tuck from Dr. Robert Grant. www.robertgrantmd.com
The Langham London has just completed a stunning $126 million renovation. David Collins, Madonna’s interior designer, redid the hotel’s critically acclaimed restaurant Roux and the sexy Artesian bar where I spotted the Material Girl having a glass of champagne. Although she lives in the area, pop icon Amy Winehouse checked into the Langham for a fortnight and could be found in the bar having a mojito after spending an hour on the hotel’s treadmill.
The Infinity Suite, at $9,000 a night, is one of the Europe’s most luxurious and perfect for a honeymoon. Although there are legal hoops to jump through, Americans can get married at the Registrar’s Office. amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research) board member Jonathan Canno and his longtime beau, pilot Pierce Roberts, did exactly that. The happy couple gave out pictures of themselves exiting the ceremony in silver frames to their friends when they announced their marriage at a party at their majestic mansion, Maidstone Hall, in East Hampton, NY. Bravo, boys!
I like the Langham’s posh Junior suites. They are perfect for a weekend alone or with a beau. Email ahead to Brian, the Langham’s savvy concierge. He can get you anything you dream up, including good seats to “War Horse,” the town’s hottest play, and “Love Never Dies,” the West End’s flawed but entertaining musical. This is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s prequel to “The Phantom of the Opera” and worth seeing, as the stars’ voices are spectacular. The Langham now stands alongside The Ritz, Claridges, and the reopened Savoy as one of London’s top hotels. www.langhamhotels.com
I’ll write about the Marriage Equality party eternal debutante Cornelia Guest and hotelier Andre Balaz gave at the Boom Boom Room at the top of the standard in NYC on our next date. Come back to me.