A GUIDE TO SALON PRIVÉ
There’s no event in the world like Salon Privé. For true automotive fans, it’s kind of like a rite of passage. For socialites on champagne, it’s just a great day out and a chance to show off their summer attire. Just like Royal Ascot, the Henley Regatta, or a posh game of polo in the park, this is yet another Pimms-fueled garden party where people come together to celebrate the finer things in life.
So what is the quintessentially English, supercar studded soiree all about? It’s a gathering of the UK’s most dedicated ‘petrol heads’. But really it’s much more than that. It can be a social status flag for money and power. It can be a great suntan followed by a Veuve Clicquot headache. And it can also be a lavish way to immerse yourself into British culture.
Tickets are steep, but if you’re planning a luxury vacation in the UK and want an impressive setting to entertain your group, buying a table will be worth it. Here’s everything there is to know about the event, including what’s on, dress code and how to get there.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
There are events that take place across four days for Salon Privé every year in September. These are Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance, Salon Privé Ladies’ Day, Salon Privé Bentley Masters, and Salon Privé Classic & Supercar.
The most popular for the champagne crowd is perhaps Salon Privé Ladies’ Day. This is the day when ladies are invited to dress up in their finest outfits adorned with hats and fascinators to celebrate with fine dining, afternoon tea and some luxury shopping.
The main attraction is, of course, the cars, with the event bringing together some of the world’s top automotive collectors. So this really is a global event. Expect a day filled with OEM supercar and hyper car manufacturers, luxury boutiques and lobster luncheons, all finished off with a flurry well-heeled guests and a glamorous English garden-party atmosphere.
HISTORY OF SALON PRIVÉ
Salon Privé started in 2006 as a way to bring something entirely new and exciting to the UK and Europe. Despite it being a relatively young concept, the French term ‘Concours d’Elégance’ (meaning ‘Competition of Elegance’) actually goes all the way back to the 17th Century. Back in the day, aristocrats paraded horse-drawn carriages in the parks of Paris during summer weekends and holidays. When cars were invented, Concours started to get competitive.
The interesting history behind the name was the inspiration behind Salon Privé. Inspired brothers, Andrew and David Bagley, were captivated by the elegance and exclusivity behind the traditional events, and they decided to capture the spirit in an event of their own. They conducted research in the US at the resorts of Amelia Island, at Monterey Car in California, and also at the world-renowned Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza in Lake Como.
Salon Privé first launched at the Hurlingham Club in London and became an instant success with automotive fans and collectors. After five years, they expanded to relocate to Syon Park. But the event only flourished further, with more brands participating every year.
Today, Salon Privé takes place at the grand and luxurious Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Regarded as one of the greatest palaces in Britain, it’s a setting that truly fits the event and the discerning crowd that gathers here.
THE EVENT DAYS
Anyone who appreciates luxury cars will have something to see. Salon Privé brings together automotive brands, classic car owners, serious collectors and car enthusiasts for four full days of exciting displays and celebrations.
Here’s a quick run-down of the events:
SALON PRIVÉ CONCOURS D’ELÉGANCE
This is a globally recognized event sponsored by Chubb Insurance and is a must for any classic car fans. A beautiful party atmosphere and a beautiful setting with fine dining and champagne for the UK’s most prestigious classic car competition. Mingle with like-minded automotive fans and enjoy an unforgettable day out.
There will be over 50 motorcars and more than 20 motorcycles on display, and these are some of the rarest and most valuable vehicles in the world. Expect a full itinerary of judging, parades, awards and presentations.
On-site, there will also be a superb shopping experience, featuring over 30 luxury brands selling everything from jewelry, shoes and perfume to aviation and travel, furniture and interior design offerings.
SALON PRIVÉ LADIES’ DAY
This is one of the most exciting days to attend, particularly for those who have an interest in millinery fashion. Salon Privé Ladies’ Day by Boodles promises some of the most spectacular hats and outfits you’ve ever seen. Women get the chance to take center stage, and the dining experience is set to be fun, intimate and relaxing. It’s a great summer party for the fashionable crowds.
On the day, you can enjoy a delightful luncheon (often with lobster and a selection of salads and classic desserts), a Pommery Champagne bar, and traditional afternoon tea. There will also be a selection of Boodles jewelry to try on, as well as over 30 luxury brands selling their goods. Enjoy beautiful cars, beautiful food, and an exciting day of shopping and socializing.
If you want to rub shoulders with Britain’s elite, this is the event not to be missed during your vacation to the UK.
SALON PRIVÉ BENTLEY MASTERS
Sponsored by Chubb Insurance, Pirelli, and Lockton Private Clients, the Salon Privé Bentley Masters is a centenary celebration in 2019. Bentley Motors has been around for 100 years (founded in 1919 in Cricklewood by W.O Bentley), and this North London company is now recognized around the world. It’s one of the most famous British manufacturers of luxury vehicles and SUVs.
The history of this iconic brand will unfold with displays of models old and new. From the earliest cars to the very latest creations, this is an unmissable event for anyone who appreciates a classic car collection with a rich heritage.
SALON PRIVÉ CLASSIC & SUPERCAR
Previously two separate events, the Salon Privé Classic & Supercar day now comprises of two major displays across the South Lawn and the North Lawn. You will see upwards of 2,000 sensational vehicles on display, including supercars, hyper cars, luxury cars, and vintage classics. The mix of new technology and classic cars from bygone eras makes it the perfect day out for all ages and generations of car lovers.
At the South Lawn enclosure, you will find automotive brands from the UK, Europe and USA. There will also be yachts and helicopters on display, plus a selection of luxury brands for anyone looking to shop for jewelry, watches, fashion and clothing.
To the front of the venue and the North Lawn, you will find the Supercar Clubs, the GT Tour Paddock, and Bentley Motors.
For this event, you don’t need to dress up. The dress code is smart/casual, so as long as you are well presented, you will fit in just fine. Please note though, t-shirts and shorts are not allowed.
Ticket prices are also much cheaper for this day as there is no hospitality area or any pricey fine dining packages available. This is a much more relaxed day for those who want to enjoy the cars without all the glitz and glam.
WHAT TO WEAR
When it comes to dressing for Salon Privé, it’s important for everyone to look their best. The dress code is elegant and the website advises that everyone be smart, stylish and comfortable. Shorts and t-shirts will not be permitted on any day.
Dress code for women:
A smart and elegant wardrobe is essential for this prestigious event. Summer dresses, skirts and heels are welcomed, as are beautiful hats and headpieces. If you are attending Ladies Day, you’ll be able to spot hats of all shapes, sizes and colors – all matched with stunning summer outfits. Feel free to go all out and shop for a dress and hat that will make you stand out. For inspiration on what to wear, visit the official website and look at the gallery.
Dress code for men:
For the men, it is recommended that they wear a comfortable suit or blazer with chinos. Footwear should be smart, such as a pair of brogues. For the Salon Privé Classic & Supercar event, the dress code is smartly casual and comfortable. But for the other days, you should have a smart wardrobe at the ready.
FOOD AND DRINK
Event catering doesn’t get any better than what’s on offer at the Salon Privé days. The four-day bonanza not only celebrates the finest cars in the world, but it’s an ode to some of the best quality ingredients sourced nearby and some of the most upscale food and drinks brands. The exceptional automotive displays are equaled by exceptional cuisine. Here are some of the things to expect:
- English afternoon tea
This is a traditional table selection of dainty sandwiches, savory snacks, cakes and elegant desserts. Brought into popularity by Queen Victoria who wanted something to cure her hunger between lunch and dinner, this delightful spread is ideal for ladies (or men) who enjoy light bites. Traditionally served with a pot of tea, but also ideal with a glass of champagne or a gin and tonic.
- Pommery Champagne
One of the hallmarks of this event is Pommery Champagne, the first commercially successful Brut Champagne in 1874. La Maison Pommery uses the optimal conditions for production, marking quality as a requirement. This style of champagne production is all centered on style and finesse, focusing on the elegance of aromas rather than strength.
- Luxury luncheon
Guests will get to experience the very best of British fine dining with the luxury luncheon at Salon Privé. Some example offerings include a lobster BBQ, traditional salads, locally made cheese tarts, and classic summer desserts such as Pavlova with lashings of berries and cream.
Please note that food and some drinks will be included in the total ticket price.
HOW TO GET THERE
Blenheim Palace is a breathtakingly beautiful landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the market town of Woodstock in Oxfordshire. The palace is the principle residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, with a stunning historic house and gardens that are open to the public. It’s also the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to have the title of being a palace.
To get there, follow the M40 from London or the North to the A34 and A44. Situated just twenty minutes from the city of Oxford, it’s a convenient location that is easy to get to, and an ideal day out for anyone staying in the area. Blenheim Palace is also within easy reach from London and Birmingham, two other major cities (both around 1.5 hours away by car).
Woodstock can also be reached on public transport. Regular trains and buses run from Beaconsfield and Oxford. The closest train stations are Blenheim Palace Station and Farm End Station.
OTHER EVENT INFORMATION
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your day:
The event is open from 10am to 5pm everyday across the four days.
Tickets are £295 per person, per day (or £195 for the Saturday event). You can buy them directly from the Salon Privé website.
Tables seating up to 12 people are also available to buy. This is a great way to entertain a large group of guests, with tables costing £3,528.
Children are welcome to the event on any of the days. The cost is 50% off the ticket price for kids under 12.
There’s free parking on-site.
Close to the town of Woodstock are cities/towns of Oxford, Banbury, Bicester, Aylesbury and Swindon. The town is also located right on the edge of the Cotswolds, a popular travel destination known for its lush greenery, nature walks and beautiful chocolate box villages.
Book your stay at our featured property, Ashby Manor House in Northamptonshire, located just over an hour from Woodstock. It’s the historic family home of the Gunpowder Plot, and can sleep 23 guests in a selection of bedrooms to suit adults and children.