Category Archives: Robin Rea

The London Hilton

The London Hilton on Park Lane

The London Hilton on Park Lane was not a hotel we ever lived in.  But we did spend a fair amount of time there for two reasons: Mother’s best new friend in London, Mary Broomfield, was the hotel’s upper class consierge and Trader Vic’s was in the basement.

The hotel was built in 1963 in the swanky Mayfair section of London and towers over Hyde Park (it remains the tallest hotel in London).  In 1967 the Beatles met the Mararishi Mahesh Yogi there and in 1975 the IRA bombed the place killing two and injuring 63 including Mary who lost hearing in one ear.  Trader Vic’s was the faux Polynesian bar chain (which originated in San Francisco, I believe) whose big, colorful, fruit-garnished drinks and Tiki mugs were an irresistible draw for teen expat wanna be grown-ups like me and Robbie and our crew from ASL (The American School in London).

Picture of Wendy Rea

Wendy Rea by Pedro Menocal

Pedro Menocal, Cuban-born portraitist to high society (and their horses), was in London in 1972 when he did Mother’s portrait (featured on the cover of Chanel).  He had done our, by then ,ex-stepbrother’s and ex-stepsisters’ portraits in New York so Mother had him do ours as well — me at twelve and Robbie at eleven.  It was during the phase between my stepfather Oliver Rea and Mother when they were happily living apart but kind of falling in love all over again.  Mother sent a note to The American School and told them Robbie and I were to be called Wendy and Robin Rea in an effort to further lock her self in with Oliver.  I supposed having our portraits done by the same artist who had done our stepfather’s other children was another way of strengthening the bond.  I would be officially known as Wendy Rea until I was twenty and changed my name back.