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Hotel Silver - A Chat With Hilary Allinson

Cassandra’s Kitchen has had a long-standing relationship with Ginger Kilbane of Hotel Silver for many years, bringing our customers a variety of beautiful vintage silver pieces. This past year, Hotel Silver launched their Private Label Collection, blessing us with gorgeous new bowls, pitchers, and other serving wares inspired by vintage pieces made for deluxe European hotels, steamship lines, and fine restaurants.

I recently sat down with Ginger’s daughter, Hilary Allinson, and discussed the new line and silver product basics. I hope our loyal Hotel Silver customers and those wanting to start their collection will enjoy hearing about how it began and where it is now. 

 

Some people are intimidated by the upkeep of pure silver. What would you say to them to ease their fears? What to do? What not to do?

All vintage pieces are "brought back to their formal glory" and are re silver-plated in London before they arrive into our inventory. The re-plating allows them to stay gleaming longer – certainly longer than if they were sterling silver. Hotel silver, designed by some of the most renowned silversmiths of their day, was originally designed to look beautiful and for everyday use. The more you use the pieces, the less you have to polish and to clean, just wash with warm soapy water after use and dry with a soft cloth. When in need of a polish, we recommend a gentle polish such as Twinkle Silver Polish.

Avoid leaving anything acidic on the surface for too long, as it will cause pitting on the silver. We whisk up vinaigrette in the sauce boats for serving and wash w/soapy water after use. Sometimes, when tomatoes or citrus are left too many days on the surface it can cause pitting. Just be careful not to let anything sit too long in or on the silver.

We leave most of our hotel silver out on open shelving to daily use. When storing, we wrap in loose-fitting plastic bags or wrap in acid-free tissue to keep the tarnishing at bay.

 

What creative ideas to you have for entertaining and giving Hotel Silver as gifts?

There are so many uses and ideas for incorporating the hotel silver for the holiday season! Wine Chillers become elegant vessels for poinsettias, orchids and seasonal greens. Pedestal Cake Stands make instant holiday centerpieces when piled with pomegranates or deep red apples with sprigs of boxwood of holly leaves tucked in between the fruit. A vintage spreader tied onto a jar of favorite jam or a small wooden boxed round of camembert cheese with a pretty ribbon makes for a beautiful gift. Any one of our vintage platters/trays, look great with votive candles flickering on them and a simple glass vase of flowers in the center for a table setting. At night the reflective nature of the silver makes candlelight and flowers shine.  

 

 

If I have a new found interest in Hotel Silver, what pieces should I invest in to get started? 

Some of my absolute favorites include the round and oval Divided Dishes. They make great gifts and are a great everyday piece. They were originally designed to serve cooked vegetables. In our family, we fill ours with everything from lemons and limes on a bar set-up, guacamole and chips, nuts and olives. The uses are endless. The Footed Sorbet Bowls are equally versatile for serving everything from candy to nuts for entertaining. The Bottle Coaster works for a great bottle of wine, sparkling water, or as a bowl for nuts/chips. The Wine Chiller Bucket often is perfect to fill with fresh flowers from the grocery store when not in use chilling a bottle of wine.

 

Is investing in good silver worth it? (Of course it is!) And why?

It's an everyday luxury to have things you love around you. If a piece speaks to you, you love it and know you'll find multiple uses, I say, go for it. Silver simply adds sparkle and elevates the table or serving space. I know it may sound silly, but we use ours when we serve homemade meals, takeout, or even simple bowls of junk food in our home. Everything looks that much more special when served up in a piece of silver.  

 

Why did you launch the Hôtel Private Label Collection?

In the 30+ years we've been collecting vintage European Hotel Silver, we've held onto many special, stand-out pieces for our own, personal trove. 

We created the Private Label Collection to share these favorite designs with a wider audience. When a treasured one-of-a-kind piece is sold, it's gone. This curated Private Label Collection is an opportunity to make these special pieces more available to those who love hotel silver as much as we do.

The 'Iced Water' Pitcher is an example of a vintage piece that caught our eye at a pre-dawn antique market in London. We were drawn to its unique, appealing design and etched lettering. We hadn't seen it anywhere before and thought others would adore it as much as we did for entertaining and gift-giving. The designs of the Kensignton Wine Chiller and Ice Pails, while varied, all work together as a collection. And, when not filled with ice and chilling a bottle of wine, they make great vessels for flowers from the market or a myrtle topiary.

 

 

Ina Garten

We've been blessed to have influential, talented tastemakers such as Ina Garten collect our vintage hotel silver from the very beginning.

Ina really epitomizes what the hotel silver is all about - casual elegance at its best - meant to be used and enjoyed everyday. 

Ina's style and use of the hotel silver in her cooking shows and her display on open kitchen shelves have inspired so many to seek out the classic, clean lines of the silver.

Over the years, when magazines and fans asked where they could acquire her vintage Hotel Silver pieces, Ina generously led them to our collection. We couldn't have asked for a better spokesperson and for that, we're so grateful! We've loved staying connected with Ina through Cassandra's Kitchen. When demand for some of Ina's vintage classic pieces became tougher to find in quantity, we turned to expert silversmiths to reproduce the classic bowls, wine cooler and pedestal cake stands from her kitchen. We have loved partnering with Cassandra's Kitchen to share both the vintage and the newly crafted pieces to be loved and enjoyed by so many. 

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