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Accessories, Designers, Fashion, Shopping

Summer in the South of France Wish Lyst

My first big trip of the summer season is to Aix-en-Provence via Eurostar in July, so I’ve been looking at street style in the South of France for inspiration.  It’s the perfect excuse to update my summer wardrobe and add a little je ne sais quoi.

Summer fashion in Aix is chic and breezy with a touch of bobo cool since it’s a popular university town.  To look the part in the South of France, I compiled a wish Lyst inspired by French brands and Riviera style.

Lyst is a fantastic online shopping tool that I use to plan outfits, create bespoke wish Lysts and discover new brands.  It’s particularly helpful before travelling so you can get organised and buy any last-minute pieces to enhance your capsule wardrobe without trawling around the shops in a panic.

If you’re stuck for ideas on what to wear for a country wedding, a week of sun in Ibiza or skiing in Chamonix, Lyst regularly features edits by the likes of Moda Operandi, Mary Katrantzou and Rebecca Minkoff to get you inspired.

One of my favourite features is the handy email alert to notify you when an item in your Lyst has gone on sale.  It means never missing out on a must-have piece and scoring a good bargain.

Do you plan your outfits on Lyst?  What would you add to your wish Lyst for this summer?

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Beauty, Shopping

Travelling with the ghd IV Styler

When travelling, my itinerary is usually jam-packed, so my grooming routine needs to be efficient and fuss-free.

Having naturally curly hair, I would usually simply wash and go for a busy day out in Singapore, Valencia or at a festival – it’s not worth even trying to fight the humidity.

Here are some of my care-free curl moments on my travels – as you can see, I’m at my happiest when keeping it low-maintenance and breezy.

However, for a night of dinner and cocktails in New York, Paris or right here in London, a more polished look is required.

I’ve always simply blow-dried my hair and made the ends wavy with ceramic curling tongs, but I’ve recently been introduced to the power of ghd with the original multi-award winning ghd IV Styler.  Since hotel hairdryers can rarely be relied on and luggage space can be limited, ghd hair straighteners can be a beauty life-saver.

Even if an inferior hotel hairdryer does little to tame my tresses, I’ve found that the ghd IV Styler can add the smoothness needed for a straight-hair look.  Most importantly, the straighteners can shave vital time off hair styling and I can often go from curly to straight in less than 20 minutes if I’m in a rush.

So far, I’ve used my ghd IV Styler on trips to Paris, Dublin and two cruises – now I can’t quite imagine travelling without it.

So, what makes ghd straighteners so special?  Firstly, it’s suitable for all hair types and can create not only poker-straight locks but also loose curls and waves.

The aluminium plates covered with a thin layer of ceramic coating and are are fully heated in less than 30 seconds.  Also, the round barrel and swivel cord make it easy to really work on the hair and style it with ease.

Another bonus is that they’re very slim, light-weight and very sturdy, so they don’t take up much suitcase room and travel well.

Here are the results of my express ghd hair straightening.  I could go further with a more sleek, smooth look but I like it when the natural curl adds a soft wave and a touch of volume.

I’m really impressed with my ghd hair straighteners and now know why my friends have always stayed loyal to the brand.  I’m tempted to start a mini ghd collection and invest in a ghd professional hairdryer (to improve my blow-dry skills) and perhaps a creative curl wand to refresh my curls when going natural.

Have you tried ghd hair straighteners?  What are your tips for a quick and chic style on the go?

The ghd IV Styler is priced at £99 and is available to buy online here:


London, Shopping, Stores

Shinola Detroit – London Soho Store

I fell in love with Detroit-based watch and leather company Shinola when it arrived in Europe two years ago.  Ahead of its launch at Colette in Paris, I met up with the Shinola team and found out first hand just how cool and unique the brand is.

Shinola opened its first standalone store outside of the US in London late last year, just off Carnaby on quaint, cobbled Newburgh Street.

This pocket of Soho has become quite the haven for menswear, with neighbours including Fred Perry, Onitsuka Tiger, Peckham Rye, Nixon, Filson and Flying Horse.  The location really couldn’t be any more perfect for the all-American modern heritage brand.

If you don’t already know about Shinola, it’s a lifestyle brand with soul and a social conscience, established in 2011 by Tom Kartsotis – the founder of Fossil watches.

Shinola’s range of luxurious watches, leather goods and bicycles are hand-made by craftsmen from its factory within Detroit’s College of Creative Studies.  As the brand expands organically, its roots remain firmly in Detroit and they continue to reinvest in the recovering city.

The petite, two-floor Shinola London store features the full collection of watches and quality products including American footballs, baseball jackets, leather-bound journals, pet accessories, candles and home furnishings.

You can also enjoy a bottle of Shinola Cola and of course pick up a tub of the famous Shinola shoe polish.

Part of the store is fitted out like a cabinet of curiosities with watches such as the bestselling Runwell presented in open cases ready to try on.  The watch straps are made with American leather and naturally vegetable dyed, then hand-cut, stitched and finished.

There’s also an engraving station, so that pieces can be personalised in-store.

The basement houses the most covetable Shinola bicycles that are hand-assembled in Detroit and available in beautiful bold and pastel colours with luxurious leather details.

Shinola London is a great destination store where you can learn all about the brand and discover new products.  I love all of the products but particularly have my eye on the stunning new Accordion Crossbody Bag in red.

For more information, visit:

All photos by Chérie City


New York, Shopping, Stores, Websites

Hayes and Jarvis Shop NYC App

New York is famed for its amazing shopping and it’s one of my favourite cities for finding those cool hidden gems.

While I love wandering around the Big Apple and discovering hotspots as I go, it can be easy to take a wrong turn and miss the best shopping streets.  Luckily, travel specialists Hayes and Jarvis have created a handy Shop NYC app for the iPhone, so you’ll never miss the best places to drop some dollars.

The innovative app features 100 of New York’s best stores handpicked by retail experts as well as curated shopping guides and reviews of all stores.

The stores are filtered into 10 categories for easy navigation, under sections including American Classics, Beauty Products, New York One-Offs, Classic Department Stores, Homewares and Food & Drink.  It couldn’t be easier to plan a day of boutique hopping, or simply whip out the app when you’re in need of a bit of instant inspiration.

Shoppers can find important info such as opening hours, direct links to the store websites and even call stores directly from the app.  Even though New York is known as the city that doesn’t sleep, it’s still easy to make a shopping faux pas and arrive to find the shutters closed, wasting valuable holiday time.

One of my favourite features is the route planner, calculating the walking time between stores and noting the spots that you can visit on the way.  It’s almost impossible to get lost, as the real-time GPS pinpoints your location and guides you along your route.

My favourite shopping area is Downtown New York, in particular its SoHo and Nolita neighbourhoods.  This hip area below Houston Street is filled with designer concept stores, independent boutiques, and American brands that are hard to find in the UK.

Here are a few of my favourite haunts on the SoHo and Nolita shopping scene…

Madewell SoHo

The younger sister of J.Crew, Madewell is the place to find your downtown New York wardrobe with high quality basics, casual dresses and slouchy leather bags.  I bought one of my favourite jewellery pieces – a hot pink thread and gold bead necklace – at Madewell last time I was in the US and often stock up on accessories there.

Opening Ceremony

Carol Lim and Humberto Leon launched their first Opening Ceremony store in New York and this SoHo store still leads the way with a well-edited selection of pieces by designers across the world.  Look out for cool sneakers, exclusive collaborations and lashings of KENZO.

Nicole Miller

I’m a fan of New York-based designer Nicole Miller’s cool, playful clothes with bold prints and interesting design details.  With only one other store in West Hollywood, you’re sure to find a unique dress that no one will be wearing at your next cocktail party.

Proenza Schouler

The SoHo flagship store of New York designer brand Proenza Schouler is a sleek, high-tech space that houses the full collection of womenswear, jewellery, shoes, bags and accessories.


The hipper offshoot of Crate & Barrel, CB2 offers well-priced contemporary homewares and furnishings to recreate that New York loft vibe at home.  You can even have a one-to-one consultation with the resident design expert every Thursday from 6-8pm.

McNally Jackson Books

It would be easy to lose an entire afternoon in this fantastic independent bookshop.  Not only does it have an excellent selection of books and a cute cafe, but you can self-publish your very own book right there and then.

Of course, even the most seasoned New York shopper needs a quick refuel, so here are my top places to indulge and really make a day of it…

Charlie Bird

Hot downtown restaurant Charlie Bird takes new spin on Italian-American comfort food with plenty of New York hip hop soul.  Tuck into tasty pasta, fresh oysters and seasonal vegetable dishes.

Crosby Street Hotel

Find a little corner of London in New York at Firmdale Hotels’ colourful SoHo hotel.  Start a day of shopping with delicious Eggs Benedict, refuel with a decadent afternoon tea or numb the pain of weary feet with cocktails and bar bites.


Keith McNally’s French-style bistro is a SoHo institution and still the place to see and be seen.  Cosy up on a red leather banquette and review your purchases over Steak Frites and a glass of Champagne.

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Home of the trend-setting Cronut, Cookie Shot and other sweet creations, Dominique Ansel Bakery is perfect for a SoHo sugar fix.  Be sure to get there early in the morning if you want to try the world’s most talked-about pastry.

Dean & DeLuca

I always find myself drawn to this gourmet food temple when I’m out and about in SoHo.  Its posh deli sandwiches and fresh salads are to die for and don’t forget to share (because they’re enormous) a box of sweet potato fries.


Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone’s Italian-New York diner in Nolita is the place to feed the soul with classics such as parmigiana subs, mozzarella-smothered meatballs, baked ziti, club sandwiches and patty melts.

Where are your favourite shops in NYC?  Are you more of a Downtown or Uptown shopper?

To get the best out of New York shopping, download the free Hayes and Jarvis Shop NYC app for the iPhone from the App Store.

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Cafes, Dublin, Shopping, Stores

Things To Do On A Weekend In Dublin

Last weekend, I took my mum on a luxury girls’ trip to Dublin, filled with sightseeing, shopping and plenty of eating.

It was our first time in the Irish capital and we were both absolutely charmed by the city’s culture, elegant architecture, friendliness and of course, the craic!

Our stylish base at The Westbury is well-located to see lots of the city, but there are still plenty of things on our list to bring us back.  Here are a few fun things to do on a weekend in Dublin…

Trinity College

Taking a stroll around Dublin’s impressive Trinity College is an absolute must.  Founded in 1592, Trinity College is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland (in good company with my alma mater, University of Glasgow).

It’s home to the Book of Kells in the beautiful, wood panelled Library of Trinity College and notable alumni include literary greats such as Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker and more recently actor Dominic West.

Ideally, visit on a Sunday afternoon when the students are away studying (or nursing hangovers) and absorb the history and atmosphere of the classical buildings in the open quadrangles, Parliament Square and Fellows’ Square.

Drinks at The Temple Bar Pub

Temple Bar is a lively, historic part of town close to the River Liffey, known for its traditional Irish pubs.  On the weekend, it’s cobbled streets are filled with revellers and buskers, and the sounds of live folk music can be heard from the pubs.

Before visiting Dublin, my mum told me that she rather enjoys Guinness.  I wanted to put this to the test, so we popped into the famous Temple Bar Pub for an aperitif before heading back to Balfes for dinner.  True to her word, my mum ordered half a pint of Guinness and I played it safe with a suitably Irish Baileys on ice.

The Temple Bar was established in 1840 and named after Sir William Temple, the provost of Trinity College, whose house and gardens were built there in the early 17th century.  The pub has an extensive selection of rare and interesting whiskeys – you can even order a whiskey flight to taste three different kinds.

Shopping at Avoca

Avoca is a glorious lifestyle store with 11 outlets across Ireland only, so it’s a real hotspot for shopping.  Avoca is Ireland’s oldest handweaving mill, established in Avoca, Country Wicklow, back in 1723.  When the three Wynne sisters inherited the mill, they revolutionised weaving in Ireland by adding colour to their designs.

Today, the family-run business produces the most beautiful, striking throws and blankets alongside clothing, perfume, ceramics, glassware and gourmet food.  I discovered Avoca in Belfast and was delighted to find out that the 7-floor Suffolk Street Avoca store was just a short walk from our hotel.

At the top of the store is the Avoca Cafe with an all-day menu and vintage-chic interiors (it feels more like a restaurant than cafe) and there’s also the more informal food hall on the lower ground level where we had lunch.

The food hall has a deli, salad bar and counter full of baked goods as well as a separate rotisserie.  I enjoyed a tasty chicken Caesar wrap and my mum went for a spicy chickpea and quinoa cake with carrot salad and antipasti from the salad bar.  For dessert, we couldn’t resist sharing a slice of scrumptious lemon curd cake – one slice was more than enough for two.

To bring a bit of Avoca back home (along with as many scones as we could carry), we picked out a stunning wool throw each – so pretty and so cosy.

South Georgian Area

The Georgian area at the bottom of Grafton Street on the South bank was my favourite part of Dublin.  This elegant, affluent part of the city is characterised by its rows of townhouses with handsome doors and tall windows.

It’s home to Merrion Square, where artists sell their works on the railings on a Sunday and also the fantastic National Gallery of Ireland.  I fell in love with the ivy-covered Boston College on St. Stephen’s Square and enjoyed strolling around the tranquil St. Stephen’s Green with its duck pond and pretty gazebo.

Lunch at Fallon & Byrne

Dublin is a real foodie city and Fallon & Byrne is a great place to find the best Irish produce, delicious meals and fine wines.  The top floor features a popular restaurant while the food hall has a small cafe for lighter bites.

After a long walk in the cold, we were ready for a bowl of delicious carrot and coriander soup, served with thick slices of freshly-baked brown soda bread and butter.

You can also get meals, salads, cheese and cured meats from the deli to eat in at the cafe or do a spot of posh food shopping.

Have you visited Dublin?  Where are your favourites spots and things to do in the city?

All photos by Chérie City

London, Restaurants, Shopping, Stores

Macaron Making at L’Orchidée, Westfield Stratford

Whenever I go to Westfield Stratford, I can’t resist grabbing a bite at one of its tempting eateries.

I’ve worked my way through many of the shopping centre’s cafes and restaurants, but am always lured to the Great Eastern Market that offers a tasty selection of artisan bread, authentic Italian arancini, sushi and Indian sweets.

This is where you’ll find L’Orchidée, a petite patisserie and cafe with a colourful macaron counter.  At the helm is Chef Daniel Garcia, who has trained at Le Cordon Bleu and worked at The Langham London and Firmdale Hotels.

As part of Westfield Stratford’s Engage the Senses foodie events, Chef Daniel Garcia demonstrated in the cooking theatre how to make L’Orchidée’s signature macarons in front on a sweet-toothed crowd.  I’ve eaten plenty of macarons in my lifetime, but haven’t given much thought as to how they were made, so this was a learning experience for me.

Chef Daniel showed us how to lightly whip up meringue using a KitchenAid and fold it with finely ground almonds and sugar to create the delicate macaron shell.  He then filled a piping bag with the mixture and carefully piped it out in small discs on a baking sheet, ready to bake on a low heat in the oven.

L’Orchidée macarons are filled with a generous layer of buttercream (or sometimes a fruit jelly) and Chef Daniel demonstrated how to get a perfectly smooth and velvety buttercream.  He took a tray of macaron biscuits that were baked earlier and once again used a piping bag to add the filling and sandwich the two pieces together.

Of course, the moment everyone was waiting for was getting to sample some of Chef Daniel’s creations.  Needless to say they were devoured rather swiftly but I managed to try a few flavours – Kir Royale, blackcurrant and violet and my favourite milk chocolate and orange.

Before the macaron demonstration, I arrived early to start my day at Westfield Stratford with a delicious brunch at Balans.  The modern brasserie is a London institution with restaurants in Soho, Kensington, Westfield Shepherds Bush and even Miami.

I was tempted by the Maryland Crab Cakes and Eggs Benedict but finally settled on Banana Pancakes with toasted broken pecans and warm maple butter.  The giant pancakes were light and fluffy with a generous amount of sliced banana and the toasted pecans made them even more decadent.

I washed them down with a pot of loose-leaf Earl Grey tea and caught up on some reading – a perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday.  The staff were ever so friendly and efficient and I liked the relaxed atmosphere.  It’s definitely the kind of place to sit and collect your thoughts in peace before making a big purchase.

On a sugar high from the macarons, I headed to Toni & Guy Westfield Stratford for a spot of hair pampering.  My locks were in desperate need of a colour injection and I’d wanted to try the salon for quite some time.

Some of the stylists were over at Somerset House doing hair for the London Fashion Week shows, but luckily I was still able to squeeze in an appointment.  I was booked in for a colour regrowth and refresh with the lovely Pavlos Rafail Kyriakidis, an experienced Technician at Toni & Guy.

We decided on a warm, natural colour that would blend in well with the lengths and complement my skin tone.  While the dye was applied, we chatted about living in east London and Pavlos gave me tips on where to holiday in his native Greece (I can never turn off from thoughts of travel).

Assistant Philip Rothery (also a performing arts student) washed my hair and gave me a fantastic shiatsu head massage before finishing with a quick blow-dry.

I’m so pleased with the colour and enjoyed the laid-back, friendly salon experience.  It’s worth noting that it’s one of the most affordable Toni & Guy salons in London for colour, so I can see myself returning regularly for a root touch-up.

To finish off a splendid day, I did a spot of shopping in lifestyle store Tiger and had a look around Zara Home, The Kooples, Reiss and the new T.K Maxx store (hello Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu handbags).  I also couldn’t help but get excited that Shake Shack is on its way to Westfield Stratford, opening mid-2015 – as if I need an excuse to come back!

My day at Westfield Stratford was lots of fun and there are so many great foodie events to get involved in.  Keep an eye out for what’s going on!

Chérie City received a gift voucher towards a day out at Westfield Stratford

Images by Chérie City, Balans, Toni & Guy and Westfield Stratford 

Cafes, London, Shopping, Stores

Mast Brothers Chocolate Arrives in Shoreditch, London

Brooklyn-based chocolate makers Mast Brothers is finally here in Shoreditch and what better time to launch than on Valentine’s Day?

Brothers Rick and Michael Mast teased us with a chocolate pop-up at the nearby Ace Hotel and now London has the full experience at their sleek, minimal chocolate factory on Redchurch Street.

I made a pilgrimage to Mast Brothers London on its second day of trading after strolling around Spitalfields and Brick Lane to see what else is new (its neighbour T2 Tea is also not to be missed).

The factory window resembles an art gallery installation with ‘Mast Brothers is making chocolate here’ lit up in neon above stacked sacks of cocoa beans.  As you walk in, you notice the rich, malty aroma of hand-made chocolate that subtly fills the air.

Mast Brothers is London’s first bean-to-bar chocolate maker and you can watch the magic happen in the open factory behind a floor to ceiling window.

The chocolate brand is also a pioneer in chocolate drinks, which are offered at the cool chocolate bar, or to take away.  Instead of a flat white, try a signature Brewed Chocolate, using house-roasted cocoa beans and served either hot or cold.

There’s also a decadent Hot Chocolate or non-alcoholic Chocolate Beer to try, plus sourdough with chocolate spread if you’re feeling peckish.

The full range of Mast Brothers chocolate bars are neatly presented, as though they were accessories in a designer boutique.  The display is so perfect that I found myself instinctively reaching to rearrange the bars after they’d been ruffled!

Not only is the packaging beautiful, but reading the labels is like taking a tour of the world with cacao from some exotic destinations.  The Origin Collection includes Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, Dominican Republic, Peru, Belize or the original Brooklyn Blend.

Other interesting bars are Stumptown Coffee, sheep’s milk, vanilla and smoke, cacao nib, sea salt and almond.  The samples Belize and vanilla and smoke were fantastic, but it was a bar of Maple Chocolate that we bought to enjoy at home.

The 70% cacao dark chocolate has real depth of flavour with fruity tartness and a pleasantly grainy texture from the maple sugar.  It’s pure indulgence and definitely a treat to be savoured – we made ours last for three nights.

£8 is the most I’ve ever spent on a bar of chocolate, but the quality, design and artistry makes it a cut above the rest.  I’m sure I’ll work my way through the other bars gradually, but top of my Mast Brothers list is a cup of hot chocolate at the bar.

For more information, visit:

All photos by Cherie City 

Accessories, Designers, Fashion, Shopping, Stores

Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for a bit of a splurge, whether it’s a gift for your significant other or simply a treat for yourself.

While I like to spend the most romantic day of the year getting slushy over a decadent meal and movie at home, I’m a sucker for a spot of Valentine’s kitsch with as many red hearts as possible.  If you’re still looking out for ideas, here are some luxurious gifts to share the love…

Olivia Von Halle Alba Mizuki printed silk-satin pyjama set, £295, Net-a-Porter
Charlotte Tilbury limited edition K.I.S.S.I.N.G lip trio, £29, Harvey Nichols
Sophie Hulme mini envelope cross-body bag, £375, Matches Fashion
Kate Spade skinny bow bangle, £65, Selfridges
Pierre Hermé bonbons chocolat coeur, €30, Pierre Hermé
House of Hackney Palmeral set of three A5 flexi notebooks, £14, House of Hackney
Bella Freud Loving candle, £38, Liberty

Accessories, Designers, Fashion, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, London Fashion Week, Restaurants, Shopping

Chloé Debuts at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

It’s rare that I write about hotel packages, but Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London’s partnership with French fashion maison Chloé is just too fabulous not to share.

I can’t resist a luxury fashion and hotel collaboration when it’s done well and the Chloé Debuts package is a cut above the rest.  In celebration of London Fashion Week, hotel guests can own the Drew handbag ahead of the shows and enjoy a limited edition Chloé afternoon tea at The Rosebery with Chloé champagne cocktails.

The package also includes one night’s accommodation for two in an elegant Knightsbridge Turret Suite, à la carte breakfast for two, personalised service at Chloé on Sloane Street to receive the Chloé Drew bag, plus a bottle of Chloé Love Story perfume.

As someone who owns almost every Chloé fragrance, I’m interested to see if the special champagne cocktails will be inspired by notes in the fragances (a current cocktail trend in London) or the colours and shapes of the new collections.  Either way, they’re sure to be refined and feminine, befitting their exquisite surroundings in The Rosebery.

In addition to the hotel package, there will be a mannequin showcasing the fashion collection in the Lobby, plus two vetrines displaying the Drew bag in a number of colours and patterns.

Drew is a delicate, modern saddlebag with round, sculpted lines, sumptuous leather, a knotted fob chain and horseshoe pivots – available in three sizes.  Who could resist?

Do you love hotel and fashion brand partnerships?  Which is your favourite fashion-inspired afternoon tea at a luxury hotel?

The Chloé Debuts accommodation package starts from £1,568 and is valid from 12th February to 9th March.  For more information and booking, visit: 

Beauty, Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Fillers

For an extra Christmas gift, fill a stocking with small gifts that are sure to delight.  Tangerines and nuts and optional.

Bleach London Spin The Bleach Bottle Colour Kit, £12, Boots
Flowers of Liberty Betsy Liberty Print Disc Charm Bracelet, £14.95, Liberty
Kate Spade Set of 10 All Wrapped Up Correspondance Cards, £25.95, Selfridges
Diptyque Winter Scented Mini Candle, £26, Space NK
Wedgwood Original Tea Caddy, £8.95, Wedgwood
Benefit Sugarglam Fairies Gift Set, £44.50, Boots
Melvita Sparkling Oil L’Or Bio, £32, Melvita
Rococo Busy Bees, £5.95, Rococo Chocolates

Beauty, Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide 2014: Beauty

Christmas is the time to splash out on friends and family with something they may not usually buy themselves.  What could be better than finding luxury beauty gift under the tree, whether it’s a Bobbi Brown limited edition eye palette, a gorgeous Bella Freud candle or an elegant Penhaligon’s Christmas fragrance set…


Bobbi Brown Warm Glow Eye Palette, £59, Bobbi Brown
Penhaligon’s Ellenisia Christmas Collection, £65, Penhaligon’s
Chloé Eau de Parfum 50ml Engraved Bottle, £60, Boots
Bodhi & Birch Rosa Rosa Skincare Set, £80, Bodhi & Birch
Bella Freud Je T’Aime Jane Candle, £38, Harvey Nichols
Rouge Louboutin Nail Lacquer, £39, Christian Louboutin

Caribbean, Cherie Soleil, Cruises, Shopping, USA

Celebrity Cruises Eastern Caribbean: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

The second destination of our Celebrity Cruises Eastern Caribbean Getaway was Chalotte Amalie on the beautiful island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

One of my favourite parts of a cruise is sailing in to the port of a new destination and feeling the excitement build as the scenery unfolds.  Even better if it can be from the privacy of my own balcony, complete with a plush bathrobe and room service breakfast.

Arriving in Charlotte Amalie was a real thrill as we admired the colourful buildings and lush green hills along French Bay and Prince Rupert Cove.

We decided to explore Charlotte Amalie on our own, however there are some tempting shore excursion such as a tour of nearby island St. John, snorkeling in Shipwreck Cove or a trip to Magens Bay Beach.

From Havensight Port, we took one of the public safari buses for a short ride into Downtown Charlotte Amalie.  The open-sided buses are frequent, comfortable and the most popular form of transport for cruise guests to get around the town.

Charlotte Amalie is a haven for duty-free shopping and most cruisers head to Main Street with its pretty, colonial-style buildings to pick up some bargains.

On arrival, a friendly local bar owner spotted us and kindly gave us a mini factual tour of the nearby buildings.  Proud of the town’s historical spots, which may often be overlooked by the lure of shopping, he said emphatically “shopping, that way… history, this way”.

On his recommendation, we took some time to visit the pretty, Georgian-style Frederick Lutheran Church.  Built by the Danes in 1820, it’s the oldest Lutheran church in the Western Hemisphere.

The church was open and quiet when we visited, so we had a chance to step inside.  It was so tranquil and atmospheric with a mahogany alter, an elaborate chandelier and simple stained glass windows.

If you fancy a challenge, climb the 99 steps (actually 103) behind the church up the Blackbeard’s Castle, one of five National Historic Landmarks in the U.S Virgin Islands.

Dating back to 1679, the watchtower is said to have been used by the notorius English pirate Blackbeard (real name Edward Teach) as a lookout point.

Charlotte Amalie’s Main Street (also called Dronningen’s Gade) is filled with a number of high end diamond boutiques and large stores selling every spirit you could imagine, as well as rum, coffee and chocolate produced in the Caribbean.  There’s even a dedicated Chanel cosmetics and fragrance boutique, a Tommy Hilfiger outlet and a number of Little Switzerland watch stores.

There’s a real vacation atmosphere around the town with a live Calypso band by the harbour, cheery shopkeepers and copious amounts of rum.  So many residents greeted us as we wandered around, which made us feel welcome rather than burdensome tourists.

An exciting discovery in a courtyard off Main Street was the home of Danish-French painter Camille Pissarro.  Born on St. Thomas in 1830, Pissarro lived on the island until he went to boarding school in France, aged 12.  He later became known as a father figure for the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, influencing the likes of Cézanne, Monet and Gaugin.

The second floor is now an art gallery, offering a selection of original paintings and prints by local artists.  There is a collection of Pissarro works depicting the island life of his childhood, as well as pieces by artists inspired by the great painter.

Our plans to take the Skyride and see Charlotte Amalie from Paradise Point were hampered by an unexpected tropical storm (well, it was the rainy season after all).  We took shelter in one of the many passages filled with shops and restaurants before catching a safari bus back to the ship.  Even the intense rain, thunder and lightening couldn’t dampen the spirits of the Celebrity cruisers – they remained chipper, cracking jokes throughout.

Charlotte Amalie is a delightful destination with a relaxed, friendly Caribbean vibe.  To get the most out of your day there, it’s worth taking a short excursion to the other side of the island to swim in the crystal clear waters at Magens Bay Beach before an afternoon of shopping and sightseeing.

It’s so easy to get around that you can easily do both and still have time for a cheeky rum punch in one of the port bars before embarking the ship.

Join Celebrity Reflection on a nine-night Eastern Caribbean Getaway fly/cruise from £1,650 per person (based on two people sharing an ocean view stateroom).

Price includes return flights from London Heathrow, transfers, one night pre-cruise hotel accommodation and a seven-night cruise departing from Miami (Florida) and calling at San Juan (Puerto Rico), Charlotte Amalie (St. Thomas) and Philipsburg (St. Maarten) before returning to Miami for the flight home; meals and entertainment onboard the ship and all relevant cruise taxes/fee.  Price based on 2 January 2015 UK departure.  

For more information or to book, call 0845 456 0523 or visit 

Chérie City was a guest of Celebrity Cruises and all views are my own.  

All photos by Chérie City