Guide to Festive Shopping
By Olga Polizzi
By Olga Polizzi
As the word ‘festive’ begins to grace cocktail lists, restaurant menus and venues around the globe, ideas of the treats and trinkets we’d like to bestow upon our loved ones also begin to emerge. If you’re stuck for inspiration, then who better to advise than Olga Polizzi, the award-winning designer with a stylish eye and reputation for impeccable taste who’s behind the design of Rocco Forte Hotels across Europe? Here, Polizzi shares her tips and inspiration for beautiful stocking fillers, what to buy the man who has everything, wonderful children’s gifts and her favourite boutiques for festive shopping in Europe.
What do you love most about Christmas?
I love having family around me. This year 15 members of my family are descending on my husband and I at home, so I have to think of many meals and many decorations… and I still haven’t started!
Do you have any tips for early Christmas shopping to get ahead of the festive rush?
I have to say I am bad at planning ahead – when it comes to Christmas shopping, I always buy everything at the last minute. My daughter Alex is a brilliant buyer of presents. I can’t bear it if I go to her house. She has already got them all beautifully wrapped and ready to go far in advance. This year though, I have ordered Christmas trees at least. As we will have lots of family, children and grown ups with us for at least four days, I am beginning to write menus and plan for the days they are there.
Beautiful stocking fillers
I am going to buy Irene Forte creams for all of the family’s stockings. They are wonderful, as organic as you can possibly make a cream, and I find them very effective.
The man who has everything
I’ll buy Paul Smith for some of the younger men; Turnbull & Asser for the older ones. You can never go wrong with a nice winter cap too – I find the best are from Bates on Jermyn Street.
My husband always wants to buy our grandchildren classic wooden toys, however they are often more interested in trains that go at top speed. Most of my grandchildren like model-making of all kinds, and that keeps them quiet for half an hour. A football is always great too as they provide hours of entertainment outside in the garden. We are always losing them, so we buy a new one every year.
Friends and family
I’ll buy beautiful pottery bowls from Puglia. I have used a lot of them in Masseria Torre Maizza and everyone loves them.
Which food products do you like to give at Christmas?
I always like giving honey with honeycomb in it. My favourite is from Fortnum & Mason – it’s delicious. Olive oil also makes the best present for old friends or someone you barely know. My favourite food gift to receive comes from Flavio Albanese, who designed Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte hotel and Rocco Forte Hotels’ Private Villas. He always gives me a huge panettone – no one has ever seen one that size before! He has it made specially.
Where do you shop for unique Christmas decorations?
I always see something special in Sebastian Flowers, the florist in Hotel de Russie, a Rocco Forte hotel in Rome. I was there recently and I bought little gold pots to use on the tables throughout my hotel. Sebastian always has unusual, interesting decorations. For the table he had some beautiful yellow birds. Otherwise Selfridge’s in London has some fun designs.
Where are your favourite, little-known boutiques in the UK, Italy, Germany or Russia?
I love hunting for gifts in museum shops, as they often have something slightly unusual. The V&A and the Design Museum in London have some fun pieces. My daughters and I love picking up bits from fairs and Christmas markets in Munich, and the city’s Maximillian Strasse is home to some magnificent shops. I tend to go there to seek out accessories, and often end up finding lovely costume jewellery. In St Petersburg, you can pick out some beautiful pieces at Imperial Porcelain Manufactory. I often buy some to add to my collection on each visit.
Find more festive inspiration in our Rocco Forte Shop or treat your loved ones to gift certificates they can redeem across our hotels, spas and restaurants at a time of their choosing.
When considering the wonderful, whimsical world of surrealist artist René Magritte, Brussels lies at the start. Belgium’s capital is where he won his first solo exhibition, where a chance meeting led him to the love of his life, and where he spent the majority of his prolific career. The two are irrevocably intertwined.
To help you get into the holiday spirit, we’ve rounded up a few of the supper spots, bars and shopping districts attracting a younger crowd in London, Rome and Munich.