Ben Nicholls

Epicurean civil servant

Civil servant by accident. Fell from top school to feeding racing greyhounds tripe six days a week then escaped to the Big Smoke from rural Essex to the only place he knew in London: Harrods. Graduated to buyer in the charcuterie department (where else?) and from there to a food import/export company in Soho. Far too dodgy, so opened the Cuckoo Wine Bar and Restaurant in Thaxted – catapulted into the Which Wine Bar Guide top 50 and Les Routiers’ good books. Then regressed to managing printing firms in Hackney. Also too dodgy. Applied to the Civil Service Commission, impressed the panel with his knowledge of wine (beat The Sunday Times’ wine correspondent in a blind tasting) and was deemed suitable to become an immigration officer. Now works on the international circuit, with an in-depth knowledge of embassy canapés and hotels ancient and modern throughout Europe.

Ben Nicholls anonymously reviewed the following hotels and travel destinations: