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cheriecity

London, Pubs

Young’s House of Happiness

Blue Monday – officially the most dismal day of the winter season – is always a tough slog, but what could be better than to spend it with cake, comedy and cosiness?

Yesterday, I ended a challenging day on a hygge high at the pop-up Young’s House of Happiness.  Taking over two floors at Finch’s in Moorgate, the pub became a temple of relaxation with some fun treats.

According to a happiness survey conducted by Young’s Pubs, Brits tend to find joy in simple pleasures such as going on holiday, good food or freshly-washed sheets.  In fact, a restaurant or pub is known to be the nation’s happiest place outside of the home, so it made perfect sense to congregate in the pub to banish the January blues.

It’s not often that you can go around the pub in your slippers, but we were given some lovely, soft slippers to keep our feet comfy while leaving our shoes at the door for a free shoe shine.  After a warming cuppa, I settled downstairs for a 15-minute ‘happiness burst’ with Laughology.

Funnyman Dave Keeling regaled us with witty observations on happiness and offered up some quirky life advice.  As ever, us Londoners were a tough crowd, but within no time he had us hugging and massaging the shoulders of our neighbours (yep, that really happened).

Tasty sharing platters kept us fuelled up, as well as a DIY cake decorating station where you could graze on indulgent brownies and pound cake, embellished with sprinkles and velvety chocolate sauce. For those in search of something harder, there was complimentary Rum Apple Punch and Whisky tasting with Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet.

Of course, a keystone of hygge is mindfulness, so there was the chance to let our creativity flourish with letter writing, complete with a cute red post box, and colouring books.  Add to that professional shoulder massages, tea blending and chatting corners and it was a perfectly uplifting and sociable evening.

Young’s House of Happiness was great start to the week and the rest of January feels much more manageable after this mid-month pick-me-up.  I’m now tempted to return again soon to see if the survey’s claims that a Sunday Roast or proper fish and chips are the key to a Londoner’s happiness are spot on.

Photos by Young’s Pubs and Chérie City

Films

Film Review: Manchester By The Sea

If you have the January blues, Manchester By The Sea is certainly not going to elevate your mood, but that’s no reason to skip it.  In fact, it’s one of the first ‘must sees’ of the year, especially since lead actor Casey Affleck has just won the Golden Globe for Best Actor and the film is set for Oscar and BAFTA recognition.

Kenneth Lonergan’s atmospheric indie film opens with grumpy Boston janitor Lee Chandler unblocking toilets for bored housewives and clashing with his boss over his bad attitude, when he receives the news of his brother Joe’s (Kyle Chandler) untimely death.

Following a pain-stakingly long and at times awkward hospital scene, Lee discovers that he has been appointed legal guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges), since Joe deemed the teenager’s estranged alcoholic mother (Gretchen Mol) incapable.

Panic sets in as Lee not only lives far away in spartan bachelor conditions, but also has some painful memories and a bad reputation from his years living in Manchester, Massachusetts.  However, he concedes and has to learn how to live with typical teenager Patrick, who is juggling two girlfriends, playing in a band and coping with crippling anxiety.

Flashbacks shed light on Lee’s relationship with his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams), from happier times to a fateful night of fighting and a terrible accident that left their two young children dead.  You then begin to understand the reasons behind Lee’s self-loathing and depression, although chaperoning Patrick gives him some distraction and purpose as a reluctant father figure.

Casey Affleck’s performance is epic, capturing Lee’s array of emotions from pensive detachment to violent outbursts and breaking down.  Michelle Williams also plays the hard-edged, yet courageous, grieving mother flawlessly and there are moments of tender comedy between Casey Affleck and rising star Lucas Hedges.

Manchester By The Sea is a well-crafted film and the small New England fishing town landscape is beautifully-shot, but it can be a long, hard slog.  If you can handle Manchester By The Sea’s icy anguish, chase it with a shot of technicolor La La Land, also released on Friday.

New York

How To Plan An NYC Destination Wedding

The New Year always brings a flurry of engagements and if that’s you and your special someone, a million congratulations!  Of course, soon after the initial excitement comes the multitude of questions, the where, when, how…and this is where I may be of some help.

After our engagement in Paris, we knew that we wanted a low-key but luxurious destination wedding in a city that meant something to us.  Our New York wedding last summer was an absolute dream and to mark our first year anniversary, we’re planning a trip back there in a few months to relive the memories.

Destination weddings can take away some of stresses of typical wedding days, however getting married abroad can pose its own challenges.  Here are a few handy tips that I learned along the way on how to have an amazing wedding in New York…

What’s Your Wedding Style?

Most New York elopements tend to be small and intimate affairs, but there’s nothing to say you can’t take over a different city with a big wedding party including all of your friends and family.  Once you’ve established the size, time of year and budget, decide whether your wedding is best suited to, say, a warehouse loft with twinkling lights, the private room at Lafayette that’s sure to please foodies, the chic rooftop at the Gramercy Park Hotel, a pretty spot in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or the quick and easy Office of the City Clerk (City Hall).

Get the Licence

The first step is to get your marriage licence at the Office of the City Clerk in downtown Manhattan.  To avoid extra paperwork at the office, apply online in advance and leave plenty of time have your documents and payment processed by a clerk.  This is also the place where lots of couples get married, so you can pass the time by watching other couples celebrate their big day.  One of the grooms sat next to us fell asleep, but that’s another story!

Timing is a key issue, as you are required by law to wait a full 24 hours before your marriage ceremony can be performed, unless a judge grants a judicial waver (only in exceptional circumstances).  For peace of mind, get this over and done with on your first full day in New York so the fun can start.

How to Get Married in Central Park

Central Park was our number one choice and it couldn’t have been any more magical at the picturesque Wagner Cove, with rowing boats passing by and little turtles jumping off the rocks.  You might be wondering how to go about getting married in Central Park, but it’s actually very simple.  The park is a public space and you can get married there by hiring an officially registered officiant to conduct the ceremony.

There isn’t actually a fee to get married in the park, however, to secure use of a particular venue, it’s advisable to get a special event permit, even if there are fewer than the stated 20 guests.  This costs $25 and covers a two-hour time slot on your wedding day.  The permit takes up to 30 days to process and the permit was sent by post to our officiant, who offered to help secure our venue.

Of course, it’s important to remember that the park is open to the public, so if you arrive to find a family tucking into a picnic right on your spot, get your most charming (or pushy) relative to shift them politely.  There aren’t many park rangers roaming around to lay down the law, but everyone we met in the park was super-friendly and chatty, so it shouldn’t have to come down to flashing your permit.

Do I Need a Wedding Planner?

As many times as I’ve watched J.Lo in The Wedding Planner (more than I wish to admit), it didn’t make sense for us to hire a specialist for our wedding, especially since I’m one of those strange people that actually enjoys planning and admin.  I made the bookings for everyone in our party, including flights, our accommodation at the WestHouse New York and our reception dinner at Little Park in Tribeca, as well as all of our wedding vendors.

Many planners offer a full service, to make things run smoothly on the day for larger parties, but these packages can run into thousands of dollars, so be sure that it’s something that you want to delegate.

Vendors

You might think it’s tricky to organise your big day from such a distance without a planner, but the internet is your friend when choosing your wedding vendors and there is no shortage of talented people in New York to make it happen.

I signed up to Wedding Wire – a handy online directory that connects you with local vendors, including wedding/reception venues, DJs, florists, stylists and jewellers.  I used it to view the portfolio and reach out to our photographer Emilia Randler, who photographed our wedding beautifully and made us all feel at ease.

We found our officiant Sarah Smart at Officiant NYC and liaised by email to decide on our type of ceremony and vows.  She understood the kind of relaxed yet dedicated ceremony we wanted and everything went as planned.

For wedding beauty, it’s worth securing your stylists or appointments well in advance, especially if you can book online.  I knew that New Yorkers are serious about their grooming, but didn’t realise that appointments at the most exclusive nail bars, salons and blow-bars can get snapped up literally weeks in advance.  However, this is the city that never sleeps, so there are still plenty of options if all doesn’t go to plan – you’ll never be left high and dry…or unpolished!

The Technical Stuff

You got married…woohoo!  But it’s not over yet, as it’s back to that ole Office of the City Clerk to do the paperwork and get your marriage certificate.  At this point, it’s essential to know exactly what is needed to make your marriage valid in your home country – it’s not like you can just pop back easily to sort out any mistakes.

You might expect the officials involved in your wedding to be walking wedding encyclopedias, but they’re not necessarily au fait with requirements outside of the US, so I was glad to have done my research ahead of time.

Unless you plan to also get married officially in the UK, you can get everything tied up with a UK extension certificate.  I won’t lie, it’s quite a hassle, possibly adding hours to your City Clerk visit and sending you on a wild goose chase to various government offices in downtown Manhattan.  In fact, it was such a mission that we missed our planned train for our honeymoon in Montauk, so be sure to leave a full afternoon to get it sorted.

While the City Clerk gave us detailed instructions on how to proceed, we found this detailed guide from a UK couple on Tripadvisor extremely helpful.  There are a few extra small fees involved with this process, but it’s necessary to seal the deal back home.

Planning our New York wedding was quite an adventure, but it was totally manageable and mostly a fun experience.  If you have any questions about getting married in New York, send them my way in the comments below.

London, Restaurants

Stylish Vegetarian Bites at Ethos, London

London is full of eat clean cafes, vegetarian restaurants and juice bars, but only a few are as sophisticated and joyful as Ethos.

Located on buzzing Eastcastle Street, Ethos feels like an oasis of calm and wellbeing and is the perfect place to escape the chaos of Oxford Circus.  The restaurant lures you in with its colourful plant-based dishes attractively displayed on marble-topped tables, as well as its bright and chic interiors with trees ascending through the ceiling.

The concept at Ethos is simple – grab a seat and order drinks, then choose a small or large plate and fill it up with hot or cold veggie delights.  Have it weighed and pay at the till and shuffle back to your seat to indulge.  It’s a great system if you want to sample a few different dishes and cut down on ordering and serving time – you can even get a box to take out.

Now, I don’t usually trust myself with anything ‘create your own’, whether it’s a salad or a pizza, because I always end up with an oddball combination of flavours, however, at Ethos it’s pretty hard to go wrong.  The offering may seem overwhelming, but my advice is to do a few laps of the tables to find the most tempting dishes and then add small portions and build up.

My favourite dish was the Celeriac mash with basil, which was so smooth and aromatic.  I also really enjoyed the Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with punchy spiced lentils and a layer of velvety sweet potato and the rich and substantial Cranberry and pistachio nut roast.  Other must-try dishes are the fresh and light Quinoa salad with creamy avocado and those lovely, crispy Halloumi bites.

Steven went for the more decadent options of Squash, sage and chestnut risotto, Stilton and pear gnocchi, Dauphinoise potatoes and Artichoke-stuffed potato bites.  The only dish that didn’t quite hit the spot was the Aubergine lasagne, which I found a little heavy on the garlic and overwhelmed with a dense layer of cheese.

Dessert is a more modest affair – simply choose from an array of individually-priced cakes, tarts, brownies, slices and biscuits.

I was instantly drawn to the Raspberry, acai and coconut raw square – a delicious medley of smooth berries with a crunchy, oaty base that wasn’t overly sweet.  Steven’s Caramel millionaire slice was just heavenly and had a comforting home-baked flavour, even if it wasn’t exactly a healthy option.

It’s also worth mentioning that while Ethos is meat-free, the alcohol is certainly flowing with a decent selection of wines (vegetarian and vegan), bubbles and cocktails, as well as more virtuous smoothies and soft drinks.

Ethos is a great spot for a hearty refuel or a fun night out with friends.  When we visited, it attracted a smart crowd and was continually busy, plus the self-service element made it feel more sociable.  I can’t wait to visit again and try more dishes, whether it’s during Veganuary or beyond.

For more information and to book a table, visit: www.ethosfoods.com

Chérie City was a guest of Ethos

Photos by Chérie City (some interiors by Ethos)

Milan

A Long Weekend in Milan

Milan has been high on my travel list for ages and after a long weekend there, I can truly say that I’ve fallen in love with the city.

I’d been told by travel-savvy friends that Milan is quite industrial and doesn’t compare to other major Italian cities, but even through the rainy weather, it quickly became one of my personal favourites.  It may not have the grandeur of Rome or the romance of Venice, but if you love of fashion, design and great food, Milan is the city for you.

For a stylish weekend in Milan, here are some great places to visit to get a real taste what this city is all about…

Duomo di Milano

Like most tourists, our first stop was the Duomo, Milan’s most iconic landmark.  The spectacular Gothic Cathedral dates back to 1386 and is the largest church in Italy.  You can get great views of the city and marvel at the sculptures from the rooftop, spot a number of gargoyles or see the three impressive alters by Pellegrino Pellegrini inside.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Also perched on the Piazza del Duomo is the magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.  Built in the 19th century, it’s one of the world’s oldest shopping arcades and offers a scenic pathway between the Duomo and the Teatro Alla Scala.

The design of the galleria with its glass dome, frescoes and mosaic floor is just mesmerising and its splendour is matched with elegant restaurants, chic terrace cafes and plenty of Prada.

10 Corso Como

A trip to Milan wouldn’t be complete without a pilgrimage to the beautifully-designed concept store, 10 Corso Como.  Carla Sozzani’s exquisite townhouse is seriously influential worldwide and is comprised of a fabulous clothes and lifestyle store, art gallery, three-room hotel and a picturesque restaurant and terrace cafe.  The designer edit is impressive, but the most covetable offering is the signature circle-print 10 Corso Como range.

Brera

Brera is known as Milan’s artistic neighbourhood and it’s a really charming area to stroll around and take in the energy of the city.  Via Brera is a real hotspot with high end perfumeries such as Campomarzio70 and Olfattorio Bar à Parfumsart galleries and chocolate shops.

Another must-see is the Pinacoteca di Brera, where you’ll find a major collection of Renaissance art and the stately Palazzo Brera courtyard filled with statues.  After an afternoon of shopping and culture, watch the world go by over aperitivo at the historic bohemian bar Jamaica or the nearby Bar Brera.

Fondazione Prada

Once you’ve been in Milan for a short time, you realise just how important Prada is to the city, and the jewel in the crown is definitely the Fondazione Prada.  Just outside of the city centre, this contemporary art institution is a real must for art lovers and you could easily spend half a day there.

Located in a former distillery and renovated by Rem Koolhaas, Fondazione Prada is a visually striking complex and at first, a little discombobulating (so many rules and not much instruction).  However, the curation is impeccable and we saw a truly moving exhibition of works by American artist Betye Saar and the arresting and nightmarish ‘Kienholz: Five Car Stud’ by Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin.

Just as much of a draw is the foundation’s Bar Luce, created by director Wes Anderson in the image of a typical Milanese bar.  It’s an inspiring, fun spot to discuss the exhibitions over Negronis and nibbles or coffee, cake and gelato.

There are some really cool touches such as the Life Aquatic pinball machine, pastel-hued Formica furniture and the trompe l’oeil printed wallpaper.

Pasticceria Marchesi

Milan’s famous pastry shop Pasticceria Marchesi is the most dreamy place to satisfy a sweet tooth.  Established in 1824 on the Via Santa Maria alla Porta, the family-owned business was recently taken-over by Prada and just last year opened a brand new tea salon in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

We sat at a window table overlooking the arcade below and indulged in pots of tea and the most decadent pistachio and white chocolate mousse cake with praline cream and crunchy meringue.

Pasticceria Marchesi is definitely the place to see and be seen in Milan and it was everything I’d hoped it would be, from the jewel box interiors to the divine staff who look after you so well.  Be sure to bring back a souvenir of Marchesi chocolates or fruit jellies in a pretty pastel pink and gold box – it’s impossible to find them outside of Milan.

Biancolatte

One of my favourite finds in Milan was this charming restaurant, gelateria and gift shop.  Loved by Milan’s fashion crowd and well-heeled families, Biancolatte is particularly popular for a lazy Sunday brunch (so be prepared to queue).

Decorated in a rustic-chic style with quaint little white houses and cute milk bottles, Biancolatte takes you back to the happiness of childhood.

The menu is a tempting mix of classic Italian pasta and piadine, healthy dishes and comfort food like signature burgers and mozzarella fritters.  We both had the most delicious Caesar Salad with proper home-roasted chicken for lunch and popped in again later for gelato, since it was so close to the Hotel Principe di Savoia, where we were staying.

Mercato del Duomo

Next to Milan’s famous cathedral is Il Mercato del Duomo, a fabulous temple of gourmet Italian food.  Set across four floors in a renovated historic building is an espresso bar, a market of Italian produce, the casual Bistrot Milano Duomo, high-end restaurant Spazio Milano and Terrazza Aperol with unrivalled views of the Duomo.

We visited during the busy lunchtime period and braved the chaos of the Il Forno counter for a few slices of authentic, fluffy pizza topped with top quality fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil pesto.

The canteen-style seating area is comfortable and the market has a good atmosphere, so it’s a great choice for a quick and tasty lunch refuel.

Eataly

My only experience of Eataly was in Midtown New York, but the posh food market has outposts across Italy, including the expansive Eataly Milano Smeraldo in the modern Garibaldi neighbourhood.

One night, we headed over to Eataly for a late-night supper and enjoyed bowls of pasta while a live band performed.  My tomato and basil pasta had a natural and simple flavour and was served with a generous ball of silky mozzarella.

Even more memorable, however, was Steven’s exceptional gnocchi with pumpkin, mushrooms, brown butter sage and fresh herbs.  Both dishes were perfectly-cooked and very affordable, plus you get to soak up the convivial atmosphere of Eataly in the atrium dining room.

Mamma Farina

Arriving to a rain storm on our first night in Milan, we stayed close to our hotel suite at the excellent Ramada Plaza Milano, and dined at nearby Mamma Farina.  This modern trattoria has a friendly neighbourhood vibe and is part of a boutique chain with two other restaurants in Milan.  The crispy thin-base pizzas were enormous and tasty and we also liked the indulgent Black Angus burger loaded with cheese and bacon with potato wedges and corn cobette (not so Italian, but why not).

Milan is the perfect choice for a stylish weekend break, as you can see so much in a short time.  I also must give a shout out to Bergamo airport, as I was amazed at how slick and well-equipped it is, for a small airport with only two zones.  I can’t wait to revisit Milan and see what else is new in this ever-evolving design city.

All photos by Chérie City

Hotels, Paris

Hotel Adèle & Jules, Paris

On my recent trip to Paris, I arrived early on the Eurostar to spend the afternoon with my Parisian friend Coralie.  Steven joined later after work and so we had plenty of time for shopping and gossiping, just like the old days when we used to live in the same city.

For my stylish base in Paris, I was charmed by Hotel Adèle & Jules, a new four-star boutique hotel in the hip ninth arrondissement and booked my one-night stay through Expedia, but more on that shortly.

Coralie met me at the hotel and we headed out so she could take me around some of her favourite spots nearby and in the Marais.  Here are a few great addresses to check out when visiting Paris…

L’Appartement Sézane

Our first stop was the Sézane Apartment, the hip concept store by designer Morgane Sézalory.  Sézane began as an online fashion brand and the townhouse apartment in the second arrondissement beautifully showcases its offering (and you can buy everything directly).

We filled our Christmas wish lists with Parisian chic clothes, stylish ankle boots and leather handbags. There’s also a homeware section with guest lifestyle brands as well as exclusive Sézane collaborations.  Be sure to visit the petite cafe for a quick coffee on the go.

Leon & Harper

The shopping continued at Leon & Harper, just a few doors down from merci in the Marais.  It’s a lesser-known brand than the likes of Sandro and Maje and its style is indie and cosy with a few quirky pieces like embroidered tees, Tyrolean-style knitwear and denim pinafore dresses.  The geometic and delicate gold jewellery is also on point and hard to resist.

Rachel’s Grocery

This new opening from Rachel’s Pont aux Choux restaurant is the American deli that you dream of having in your neighbourhood.  Rachel became known in Paris for her amazing cheesecake and diner classics and now the grocery offers all of these delights to take away.  You can find proper New York hot dogs, home-made mac n cheese, toasted bagels, hard-to-find American food products and of course the famous cheesecake.

Maison Plisson

Another must for gourmands is the glorious food emporium Maison Plisson.  Often referred to as the Dean and Deluca of Paris, this food temple features a gourmet deli, charcuterie and cheese counter, wine cellar, bakery, cafe and terrace.

It’s the perfect spot for a glass of wine with small bites in the evening or an indulgent weekend brunch.  You might also find it hard to pass the bakery without picking up a little something – the chocolate baguette is just heavenly.

Breizh Cafe

Breizh Cafe is a real Marais institution, where you can find authentic Breton crêpes and galettes at a reasonable price.  You might imagine that it originated in France, but in fact, chef and restaurateur Bertrand Larcher opened his first crêperie in Japan and it has since expanded naturally to Paris, Cancale and Saint-Malo.

It’s a really cosy spot, with the feel of a rustic cabin – perfect for warming up on a cold winter’s day.  I chose a Crêpe with chocolate and Chantilly cream and a signature Breizh Cola.  The crêpe was piping hot and golden with a generous drizzle of velvety home-made dark chocolate sauce that had a rich and bittersweet flavour.

Having visited a number of times, Coralie picked the winning dishes, opting for a crêpe covered in Breton salted butter caramel and Chantilly cream with a traditional, full-bodied cider served in a little bowl.

After a bit more shopping, I headed back to Hotel Adèle & Jules to chill out before picking Steven up from Gare du Nord, a convenient 15-minute walk away.

My Boulevard Club Room was ever so stylish and colourful and because it’s a recently-opened hotel, everything felt new and fresh.  I absolutely loved the vibrant design with cool Ankara and ikat textiles and a palette of vermillion, burgundy and magenta.  The fashion-inspired artwork, Far East-inspired wardrobe and typical Haussmann juliette balcony finish the look perfectly.

Room features include a large LCD TV (with a few more English channels than usual), a luxurious felt sofa, writing desk, bluetooth speakers, Nespresso machine and separate kettle with tea and coffee, complimentary bottles of Evian and of course free wifi.

The king-size bed was extremely comfortable and was covered in high quality bed linen with properly good pillows.  Since the hotel is neatly tucked away in a courtyard, we found it very peaceful and slept well.

The bathroom was spacious and urban with pristine metro-style white tiles, shower, thick and fluffy towels, plush bathrobes and slippers and a full set of Fragonard bathroom products.

The hotel lounge is a cosy place to sit and relax and it also offers a little teatime treat of tea or coffee, fresh juice, mini pastries and biscuits.  As a small hotel, there isn’t a restaurant, however the lounge has well-stocked honesty bar and I spotted some rather tempting room service being delivered to some savvy guests on my floor.  There are also some notable restaurants and cafes close to the hotel such as Richer, Mersea, L’Office, Cafe Pinson and La Crème de Paris.

I really fell in love with Hotel Adèle & Jules and recommend it if you’re looking for a romantic urban bolthole with a homely feel and chic design in a vibrant neighbourhood.

Photos by Chérie City (some interiors by Leon & Harper and Rachel’s Grocery).

Thanks to Expedia for supporting this stay. 

Beauty, Christmas

Laura Mercier Holiday 2016 Collection

Laura Mercier is known as the ‘go to’ brand for the most luxurious gourmande bath and body products, so of course, the Holiday 2016 Collection is just as divine as expected.

Over the festive season, we tend to have a little more time for ourselves and these Laura Mercier treats really nourish the skin and spirit, enveloping the body in sweet aromas.

Little Indulgences Hand & Body Crème Collection is a great introduction to the collection and ideal for travelling or hydration on the go.  The long and slim festive presentation box, finished with the signature Laura Mercier leopard print, includes four petite hand and body crème tubes in different scents, each inspired by French patisserie.

While they all have a warm vanilla base, each crème is very different and unique.  Almond Coconut Milk is luscious and velvety with a strong frangipane scent with tonka and rosewood, while Tarte au Citron has a fresh, zesty aroma and smells exactly like the classic dessert – I can’t imagine how they do this, it must be magic!

Ambre Vanille is seductive and sophisticated with notes of tangerine, tiger orchid and heliotrope (the kind of body crème you should wear with cashmere) and the best-selling Crème Brûlée is ever so decadent and rich with a heady caramelised scent of warm caramel, spun sugar and French vanilla bean.

Also in the Crème Brûlée range is the delightful Sweet Temptations Duet.  This gift includes a Crème Brûlée Honey Bath, which is sticky, sweet and lightly shimmered – perfect for unwinding in an extra-bubbly bath.

It also comes with a cute wooden honey dipper, making it easier to decant.  After bathing, slather on Crème Brûlée Souffle Body Crème, a lightly whipped and deeply hydrating crème that absorbs well and can be used everyday.  What better way to treat yourself or that special person this Christmas?

The Laura Mercier Holiday 2016 Collection is available at Harvey Nichols

All photos by Chérie City

Sample

Christmas

Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Fillers

It’s almost time for Christmas, so you’ll probably have most of your gifts sorted.  But, do you have some special treats to keep those tangerines company in the festive stocking?

Here are a few gift ideas for spectacular stocking fillers…


Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour All-Over Miracle Oil, £29, Debenhams
André Mr A Lips & Eyes Socks, £10, Happy Socks
Cashmere Fingerless Gloves, £35, Johnstons of Elgin
ila spa The Festive Blessing Body Cracker, £20, ila spa
Pump Street Bakery Ecquador 75% Guantupi Chocolate, £6.95, Liberty
Kate Spade New York Glass Stone Bow Cuff, £60, John Lewis
Greeting Life Corgi Memo, £6.95, Liberty
Makeup Revolution My Sign Complete Eye Base Gemini by Krista Madden, £5, Superdrug

Christmas, Drinks

Edgerton Pink Gin Christmas Drinks

Christmas is the perfect time to get a bit experimental with your usual tipple and what could be more fun than the world’s first pink gin?  Edgerton Original Pink Gin is a premium quality spirit distilled in London with more than 15 exotic botanticals, finished with a jazzy rose tint.

Martin Edgerton Gill, formerly owner of London Gin Company, created it in homage to his father’s penchant for pink gin in the navy during World War II.  This multi-purpose concoction of gin and Angostura bitters was launched in 1824 as a cure for seasickness and was later served in London’s famed gin palaces and bars around the world.

Unless you’re taking a cruise this Christmas, you’ll probably just want to indulge because it’s pink, strong (43%) and tastes pretty fab.  Here are a few suggested serves for Christmas (Netflix roaring open fire optional)…

Experience the true colour of Edgerton Pink Gin with a simple Gin and Tonic.  Pour a single or double measure of gin in a tall glass, top with Fever Tree tonic water and finish with a wedge of lime.  The pink gin keeps its colour well when mixed with the slightly iridescent tonic water and it tastes so refreshing and fragrant.

I also love gin cocktails and decided to elevate the Gin and Tonic with a splash of Scottish raspberry cordial, plenty of ice and mini lime segments.  This is a great drink to serve as an apéritif on Christmas Day to keep things light and sparking.  Or, toast the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve – it’s sure to impress.

Edgerton Original Pink Gin is available to buy at Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and selected stockists across the UK. 

Sample

Christmas, Flowers

Aromatherapy Associates Flower Workshop

At the beginning of the festive season, I was invited by Aromatherapy Associates and Only Roses for an afternoon of flower arranging at Carousel in Marylebone.  It’s not often that you get the chance to zone out from daily demands and dedicate a few hours to a creative project, so this afternoon of mindfulness was a real treat.

I joined a small group of lifestyle bloggers in the upstairs events room at Carousel for Prosecco, delicious canapés, warm madeleines and freshly-baked cookies, as well as a look at the Aromatherapy Associates Christmas collection before sitting down for the masterclass.

Our tutor showed us how to make a stylish Christmas centrepiece and we proceeded to snip away at asparagus ferns, eucalyptus and exquisite white roses, fixing them into an oasis inside a presentation box and finishing with festive baubles.

The last time I tried my hand at flower arranging was with McQueens six years ago and this masterclass was a reminder of how fun it can be.  It’s super easy to have a go, although I must admit that my arrangement had a few final tweaks from the tutor to make it look less chaotic.  I also liked how everyone’s arrangements looked so different and unique, as we were given free reign with the design.

Saying that, it takes real skill and experience to get that perfect look, so it’s worth investing some time and practicing regularly.  Maybe it could be a New Year’s resolution?

To continue the relaxation at home, we were treated to an adorable Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil and Revive Mini Candle from the Christmas collection.  I’ve always been a fan of the brand and I just love the Revive range’s uplifting and zesty citrus aromas.  Essential oils of grapefruit, rosemary and juniper invigorate the skin and really help wake you up, reading for the day.

If you’re looking for last-minute Christmas presents, give the gift of mindfulness with Aromatherapy Associates and Only Roses.

All photos by Chérie City

 

Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide: For Foodies

Christmas Day is extravagant enough, but us foodies like to keep the party going for the whole festive season.  Treat the foodie in your life to a selection of the best brownies in town, everything to make proper yummy S’Mores or a fab cook book with recipes from top chefs that’s sure to keep them busy in the kitchen through the holidays…


Cook for Syria Recipe Book, curated by Clerkenwell Boy and edited by Serena Guen, £17, Amazon
Bûche Ispahan, €48, Pierre Hermé
Bad Brownie Chef’s Selection Box, £25, Bad Brownie
Cova Pistachio Panettone, £24.95, Lina Stores
T2 Poppin’ Praline Limited Edition Tin, £16, T2 Tea
Spruzzo Set of Three Cheese Knives, £22, Oliver Bonas
Cointreau Noir Liqueur, £39.95, The Whisky Exchange
Toast for Cheese Gift Tin, £13.95, The Fine Cheese Co.
S’Mores Kit, £7.95, Harvey Nichols

Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide: For Her

Christmas is almost here, so it’s time to pick up those last-minute gifts.  Over the festive period, curl up with a great book, stay cosy in merino cashmere gloves, fill your home with a gorgeous scent and countdown to the new year in style with a cute watch.

Here are some Christmas gifts for her that are sure to impress this Christmas…

Fresh Skincare Treasures, £56, Fresh
Earl of East London Atlas Cedar Scented Soy Candle, £20, Triangle
Eva Five Drawer Jewellery Box, £69, Oliver Bonas
Kate Spade Pave Cat Mini Metro Watch, £153, Watch Station at House of Fraser
Merino Cashmere Long Knit Striped Gloves, £34, ME+EM
18ct Gold Vermeil 8mm Peacock Pearl Twinkle Ring, £140, Dower & Hall
Pantone Espresso Mug in Mint, £8, Heal’s
Couture Confessions: Fashion Legends in Their Own Words by Pamela Golbin (Rizzoli), £21.69, Amazon
The Poppy Bag in Navy Saffiano, £150, The Cambridge Satchel Company
Chloé Fleur de Parfum, £47-£82, Debenhams