Taking place at the glorious Syon House for the first time, 2011's Salon Privé was a genteel mix of fine automobiles, well-dressed people and free-flowing champagne.
Although the three-day programme (22-24 June) featured evening events such as a charity ball and a jazz picnic, the main focus was on the daytime car display in the house's expansive grounds: a mix of modern supercars such as the Lamborghini Aventador, Bugatti Veyron Super Sport and Aston Martin Virage, as well as clasics from the past century. From the latter, we were particuarly fond of the 1961 Aston Martin Zagato and the spiffing cherry-coloured, dictator-worthy Alfa, although Norman Foster's Dymaxion looked more like it belonged in Syon House's vegetable garden than on the Concours D'Elegance.
We were invited to Ladies' Day which, despite the poor weather, proved enjoyable. Tours of the car collection were punctuated by long stops for lunch and afternoon tea (good by mass catering standards), as well as a car parade and the Boodles award for the best dressed lady − a £7,500 diamond ring that, perhaps fittingly, went to a lady attired in a shade of sports car orange.
Although many of the attendees remarked that the admission charge (at least £175) didn't provide value for money − despite the open bar − and the venue's distance from public transport meant that there were lengthy queues for the shuttle bus, nearly everyone we spoke to vowed to return again next year. Perhaps Salon Privé is like some of the cars it's designed to showcase − expensive, high performance and (unfortunately for the bank manager) irresistible.
For more details visit http://www.salonprivelondon.com/