The London Evening Standard is, as its name suggests, a London-based newspaper that sets the Standard for Evening readings. On 12 January 1999, it published the following article in its Lifestyle section, which we reproduce here as an electronically stored, transient copy for the purpose of viewing it online only.

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In the lap of Luxembourg

    by Simon Heptinstall

    The country's top people cheered as the restaurant owner
    ordered his team of waiters to spray him all over with
    cologne: "I've been on TV, on radio ... I'm notorious,"
    crowed Rol Sunnen, Luxembourg's self-styled answer to
    Peter Stringfellow, as he pirouetted ostentatiously round
    his bar.

    Europe's tiniest capital city is a great venue for a nutty
    night out. It's so small you can see the whole range of
    nightlife in one go, from hobnobbing with the rich and
    famous to cruising the coolest clubs. It seemed like a party
    in toytown for us, a couple of shy foreigners, as we got to
    meet most of the people that matter in Luxembourg ... in
    just one night.

    Standing at the bar in Rol's place, Um Plateau, we chatted
    to three club-owners, a couple of politicians and a young
    Burberry-clad trio. "Extremely wealthy daddies - I can't
    tell you who," winked Rol.

    Our restaurant seats were sandwiched between a
    boisterous back-slapping men's party hosted by the head
    of the national parliament, and the table where
    Luxembourg's favourite dyed-blonde TV presenter sipped
    cocktails.

    The food is average but the atmosphere excellent as Rol
    appears suddenly from behind six-foot-tall paper flowers
    to pour out champagne ad infinitum. Turn up on the right
    night and you'll catch Seventies jet-set regulars like Joan
    Collins, Sean Connery or Roger Moore. Our plan was to
    nip over after work on Friday using a new one-hour flight
    from London City airport. Could such a TINY dot on the
    map supply a really BIG night out? Friends scoffed.
    Luxembourg is smaller than Bristol and its only claim to
    fame is a radio station - that and being a major banking
    headquarters. Even the Rough Guide says there's not
    much to see.

    It is actually a picturesque town with plenty of castles,
    museums, shops, cafes and bars for interesting daytime
    strolls - but nightlife?

    Well, it's also a modern cosmopolitan crossroads at the
    centre of Europe. Perhaps the world's bankers are out
    trying to make some friends.

    We started by dumping bags and changing at the top
    bedroom in town, HTMtel Le Royal. A swanky modern
    marble-and-mirrors business hotel near the centre, it looks
    just like the banks that surround it, but champagne on ice
    and trays of handmade chocolates were waiting next to
    our bed. An old friend from Luxembourg's tourist board
    had told me to contact restaurateur Rol Sunnen: "Rol's old
    but knows everyone," he said.

    Um Plateau was a couple of minutes away by cab. Rol
    turned out to be a flamboyant grey-haired charmer and the
    whole place bustled with Luxembourg high society amid
    drapes, tassels and huge china ornaments. Constantly
    clutching a bottle of champagne, Rol explained that
    Luxembourg's clubs and bars mostly follow a 3am
    weekend curfew. To find late ones you have to talk to
    someone in the know. Like him.

    At first we ignored his scribbled list of clubs and taxied to
    the out-of-town Casino 2000. Rol warned that it would be
    "full of peasants". I'd had a sort of James Bond fantasy of
    striding into a baroque room full of millionaires and models
    hunched over roulette wheels. Unfortunately,
    Luxembourg's only casino looks like a municipal sports
    centre. Inside, it's monumentally tacky. Between the slot
    machines and cabaret bars stood a full-size gingerbread
    Wendy house. Disappointed but with wallets intact, we
    took the Casino's complimentary bus back into town.

    I'd found a copy of Luxembourg's listings magazine at the
    hotel. It described Bugatti's as "a classic disco". I imagined
    a cheesy retro palace. Instead the mirrored dance floor
    was surrounded by men in brown jackets and slip-on
    shoes. The music was bad, thumping Euro-dance with
    Pinky and Perky vocals. Modern house-dance club XS
    was nearby but we'd seen a poster for that night's "Kinky"
    saying: "Dress hot and spicy." My checked shirt didn't
    really cut it ...

    Instead, we taxied to Didjeridoo, five minutes away. The
    brightly painted warehouse was seething with a mix of
    trendy clubbers and Euroweirdos in Chanel or Gucci. A
    camp waiter at
"Um Plateau" had mysteriously predicted
    that it would be "full of big trousers". The biggest-trouser
    of them all, Rol, was there too. He'd wheedled himself
    behind the bar and welcomed us by pouring out more
    champagne.

    I started talking to a Tehran gold dealer I'd noticed at Um
    Plateau. Joanna was simultaneously propositioned by two
    slimy bankers. The Iranian chap introduced the
    Didgeridoo's owner, who shrugged and said he ignores the
    3am curfew but, "if the police come we will have to shut
    down and go home".

    Joanna and I danced to everything from Cher to exotic
    African-sounding tracks while younger ravers wobbled on
    raised platforms. Around 5am we walked back to the
    hotel. It felt safe, there were women walking home alone.
    No police, no aggro. Back at the Royal, a champagne
    breakfast was included in the room rate. But breakfast
    didn't start for an hour and we were all champed out. The
    little town had been more than big enough...

    © Associated Newspapers Ltd., 12 January 1999
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