The former Director General of the MI5 Security Service Dame Stella Rimington tells us about her favourite venues and events

  • BEST Bash
    My most stand-out ‘party’ experience was dinner in the desert outside Jaisalmer in Rajasthan in India. We rode on camels, ate and drank while lounging on cushions, and watched the sunset listening to a group of musicians playing ragas. Then as a huge moon rose and the camels burped, for some reason we all sang On Ilkley Moor Baht ’at. 
  • BEST Buzz
    The launch of President Clinton’s memoirs at the Guildhall. Packed with celebs from all walks of life, and Clinton charming them all.
  • BEST Bond
    Sean Connery in Goldfinger.
  • BEST Spy
    John le Carré’s character George Smiley in a series of his novels. He is the archetypal counter espionage officer.
  • BEST Venue
    Domaine de Terre Blanche, near Cannes. I spoke at a dinner there once, on a terrace at sunset against a backdrop of hills and golden-roofed villages. The scent of lavender and thyme was everywhere.
  • H4EJ1D03.jpgBEST Bed
    My favourite hotel in London would have to be the Claridges, while in the UK, I would say, the Gleneagles in Scotland. The Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur, India is my number one in the world. All are beautifully appointed, have excellent service and Gleneagles and the Lake Palace have spectacular settings.
  • BEST Bites
    My finest dining experience was actually a lunch in the private dining room at Le Gavroche, hosted by Michael Roux. I was given the Le Gavroche cookbook – even the photographs are enough to make your mouth water. My favourite party food is Beluga caviar, though I’m not often offered it!
  • BEST Drink
    I love Champagne, preferably Krug Grande Cuvée.
  • BEST Band
    Victor Silvester and his Ballroom Orchestra would get me on the dance floor.
  • BEST Bag
    The best ‘goodie bag’ I’ve ever received contained a cashmere plaid shawl, which I was given when I became a Keeper of the Quaich at Elgin Castle in Scotland.
  • BEST Ticket
    Tickets to the England/Australia Test Match in Sydney would be hard to resist, while my favourite event in the British social calendar is the annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
  • BEST Of The Best
    If I had the chance to organise the ultimate event with no restrictions, I would take all my family and friends to Venice where we would stay at the Cipriani and go to the opera at La Fenice. The next day we’d take a boat across to Torcello and lunch at Locanda Cipriani.

r102354_313262.jpgThe former Director General of the MI5, and the first woman to hold the post, Dame Stella Rimington now spends much of her time writing novels and speaking at events. Since resigning from the security services in 1996, she has held a number of positions, including chairman of the Institute of Cancer Research and associate director of the Crown Prosecution Services, where she coaches and mentors. Her first published work was her autobiography Open Secret in 2001, followed by her first novel At Risk in 2004, which became a best-seller. Her most recent novel, Illegal Action was released in August 2007, and she has two more books in the pipeline.

For more information on Dame Stella and other celebrity speakers, contact DBA speakers, tel: 01932 228544,

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Autumn 2007.