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italy, Websites

Love Prosecco with Citalia

Italy is one of my favourite places to spend the summer, especially when it includes lazy afternoons spent dining al fresco with copious plates of antipasti and a glass of Prosecco in hand.

However, I’m not the only one with a penchant for Prosecco, as the Italy experts over at Citalia have launched a Love Prosecco campaign, celebrating what is now officially the UK’s favourite fizz (sorry Champagne, we’re having a Prosecco love-in).

If you could do with brush up on your Prosecco knowledge like me, Citalia has created a handy infographic detailing the vineyards that produce some of the best Prosecco in its native north-eastern Veneto region.  There are also interesting facts about the drink’s history, tasting notes, food pairings and cocktail recipes.

In tribute to the Italian good life and a summer of Prosecco, here are some of my favourite Italian destinations for a stylish break…

Venice

Every traveller should try and visit Venice at least once in their lives, as there really is nothing like it in the world.  The moment when the mist clears and you approach the port by boat (or a chic private water taxi like the Clooneys), is truly breathtaking and you know you’re somewhere very special.

Venice is smaller than you might imagine and the picture perfect Grand Canal is almost like a theatre set with the Rialto bridge and passing gondolas.

Some of my favourite Venice moments on my trip there were having a fabulous three-course meal overlooking the canal (you can’t not do the tourist stuff in Venice), strolling around the maze-like streets filled with carnival mask shops and watching the world go by at the historic Caffè Florian (mentioned in Citalia’s guide to the best bars in Venice to drink Prosecco in) perched on St Mark’s Square. On the balmy evening we visited, the square was filled with the sounds of Pink Floyd performing live in concert – definitely a memorable moment.

If you have plenty of time, or prefer to stay outside of Venice, try the seaside resort of Lido di Jesolo where you can find golden sand beaches, plenty of Italo Disco bars and tiny family-run restaurants that do the most delicious spaghetti alle cozze.  It’s just a short ferry ride over to Venice, so it’s ideally placed for a relaxing sightseeing and sunlounging holiday.

Sorrento, Capri and Anacapri

My travels have mostly taken me to northern Italy, but a few years ago, I spent a day in Sorrento, Capri and Anacapri as part of a Mediterranean cruise.

Sorrento is a real beauty spot with delightful terrace cafes, elegant hotels and peaceful squares.  Nearby Capri is a long-time favourite for Europe’s glam jet-setters with its designer boutiques, exclusive beachside seafood restaurants and luxury villas, however it’s still full of character with stunning panoramas over the sea.

More low-key is Anacapri at the top of the hill with its pretty gardens, limoncello shops, artisan sandal-makers, perfumeries and the lovely Villa San Michele museum.

Rome

Italy’s capital city has it all – history, culture, designer shopping and great food.  Be wowed by the iconic Coliseum and sacred Vatican City, pick up some fresh flowers and sun-kissed fruit at the Campo de’ Fiori daily market and throw your coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure you’ll return back to Rome.

When I visited Rome, I stayed in a typically Italian boutique hotel just off the Via Condotti, a short stroll away from the Spanish Steps and spent an evening at the opera watching a performance of La Traviata.  Be sure to stop for an authentic Italian hot chocolate at Antico Caffè Greco – a bijou literary cafe (and famed haunt of Byron, Liszt and Goethe) that dates back to 1760.

Verona

For a truly romantic trip, visit the charming city of Verona in northern Italy.  The first thing to do is to make a pilgrimage to Juliet’s Balcony – the courtship scene of Shakespeare’s ‘star-cross’d lovers’ Romeo and Juliet.  Owned by the dell Capello family, the ‘Casa di Giulietta’ dates back to the 13th century and is set in a small courtyard with a bronze statue of young Juliet.

I loved visiting the beautiful churches and piazzas of Verona and soaking up the sun over lunch at a chic restaurant terrace on the Piazza delle Erbe.

For my next travels in Italy, I’d love to visit Milan to shop at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, visit the cultural Fondazione Prada and enjoy a leisurely aperitivo with a glass of Prosecco or the traditional Negroni Sbagliato at one of the many traditional bars.

Alghero – Sardinia

One of my favourite beach destinations is the quiet town of Alghero in north-west Sardinia.  The pretty, cobbled old town is filled with adorable restaurants, gelaterias and jewellery boutiques selling pieces made with local coral (Margherita Missoni is known to stock up when she’s in town).

Best of all are the miles of golden sand beaches with crystal clear waters, happily unspoiled and reasonably quiet.  The prime, secluded spots can be accessed with a short ramble through a pine forest – believe me, it’s worth it for the glorious views.

Where is your favourite place in Italy to drink a refreshing glass of Prosecco?  Where is next on your Italy travel wish list?

Photos courtesy of Citalia – Sorrento and Capri by Chérie City

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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.

CB2

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.

Balthazar

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.

Parm

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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London, Restaurants, Websites

Bonapeti Plant-Based Meal Delivery

Nothing can beat the convenience of take-out when you’ve come home on a cold night and just want to have a hot meal and curl up on the sofa.  Sure, an indulgent curry with plenty of sides or a tasty pizza can hit the spot, but sometimes I’ll crave something more healthy and wholesome.

That’s where new plant-based food delivery service Bonapeti can help.  It offers restaurant quality vegetarian and vegan dishes that are delivered straight to your door and can be quickly heated, ready for dinner.

Every day on the website, there is a selection of seasonal dishes, created by Head Chef Sam Pryor and his team, who have previously worked at restaurants such as Ottolenghi, Terre à Terre and Michelin starred The Fat Duck.

Founder Howard Beale saw a big difference in his own health after following a plant-based diet and proves that it doesn’t have to be boring.  While meat and fish options are available, the focus is on being creative with vegetables and grains, taking inspiration from Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines.

In the middle of a busy week, Bonapeti kindly sent me a surprise meal prepared by their chefs - Paul Morgan, Olia Hercules and Victoria Bucknall, to be precise.

It arrived in a specially-designed chill box that’s eco-friendly and includes a cool pack to keep it at the right temperature.  Happily, there was more than enough for two people, so Steven and I were sorted for dinner.  Each dish comes with a handy card detailing the ingredients, cooking times and how to serve.

The first main course was a Brazilian-inspired Smoked red pepper feijoada and corn cakes with molho apimentado (£8.50).  The thick black bean stew was slow-cooked, slightly sweet and subtly spiced.

It was filled with smoked red peppers, chunky pieces of potato and fresh sweetcorn and topped with kale and sprout petals.  I loved the dense, moreish corn cakes and the molho apimentado of golden onions and green peppers added extra flavour.

With a winter cold looming, it was like nature’s own medicine and that little bit of spice helped perk me up.  I found it took a little longer to heat the dishes than stated on the card, so it’s best to check thoroughly before serving.

We were also treated to another main of Broad bean and parsley fritters with preserved lemon taboule (£9.50).  The light, herby fritters were so satisfying and tasted even better when smothered in the gorgeous yoghurt and zoug (a kind of Middle Eastern ‘pesto’ made with fresh coriander, garlic and olive oil), which came in a little pot.

The toasted buckwheat taboule was light as air and had a very fragrant, aromatic taste from the fresh parsley, preserved lemon and fresh tomato.  It’s meant to be heated alongside the fritters, however I preferred it once it had cooled down.  I liked this dish, but personally preferred the Smoked red pepper feijoada, as it was more satisfying and filling.

Our side dish was colourful Roasted root vegetables, heritage carrots, sprouts and aji sauce salad (£4.95).  The vegetables were cooked just right, so they didn’t go too soft when re-heated.  I like the balance of sweet and sharp vegetables and the punchy, tangy aji sauce dressed them nicely.

No matter how healthy I’m eating, I refuse to give up dessert and luckily Bonapeti has a sweet tooth too.  The Coconut and passion fruit syllabub with sesame and date crumble (£4.95) was so heavenly and ended the meal on a high note.

The exotic passion fruit jelly was bursting with juiciness and I was impressed by the cool, zesty vegan ‘cheesecake’ filling made from coconut cream and lime and the naturally sweet, nutty base.  The little pot of toasted coconut, flax seeds and fresh pomegranate seeds finished it off nicely, giving some added crunch.

Our Bonapeti meal was comforting, nourishing and ever so tasty.  While not everything is low-fat, all of the dishes are made with good locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients and are organic where possible.

The prices are reasonable for the amount of food, the quality of the ingredients and the convenience of home delivery.  The only downside is that Bonapeti is not currently delivering to my neighbourhood, only central, West, North West and South West London postcodes, as well as collection from their Battersea kitchen.  However, delivery will expand across London this year (don’t forgot Hackney, please) and then to key UK cities.

Orders can be placed in advance or on the same day by 10am and delivery is £5.  For the month of February, there is also 40% off standard menu prices plus free delivery with the promo code: BON201502. For more information and delivery, visit: www.bonapeti.com

Chérie City received a complimentary meal from Bonapeti

All photos by Chérie City

 

 

Tech, Websites

Plan a Price-Focused Trip with GeniusFlight.com

GeniusFlight.com looks set to change how travellers plan their trips as the world’s first price-focused search engine for worldwide flights.

This first launch from the Amsterdam-based start-up GeniusTravel Group was created by Dutch entrepreneur Gennie Freen, who saw a gap in the market for a price-focused online travel tool.

GeniusFlight.com generates instant search results from the latest airfares of 1000 airlines worldwide, in partnership with Skyscanner.

Like most seasoned travellers, I like to tailor-make my holiday and use price comparison sites for travel, however I often rely on my tried and tested airlines, sometimes missing great deals from the lesser-known affordable airlines.

I tend to choose my next destination based on where I’m inspired to visit at the time, interesting sights and whether I’ve been there before or are exploring for the first time.  Once I have my heart set on a trip, I consider the costs and sometimes it’s just not possible to make it happen.

Luckily GeniusFlight.com has devised a savvy new online tool for holiday planning which allows users to search for flights according to their budget.  What’s more, it helps broaden your horizons and keep an open mind to destinations that might not have previously been on your travel radar.

Simply set the slider to how much you want to spend and add your departure point and dates, plus how many people will be travelling with.  ’The Genius’ then brings up a list of clickable countries on a comprehensive may with prices clearly displayed.

Click on the country that takes your fancy and it produces a number of destinations.  After selecting, all of the possible flights for your chosen dates are listed with a variety of outgoing and incoming flight times.

I recommend filtering your search results to only include specific airports and airlines, departure and arrival times and direct flights only, to narrowly target your search.

Once you’ve selected your flight, GeniusFlight.com takes you to a third party site to make your booking.  I used GeniusFlight.com to book return flights to Barcelona (BCN) in September for Steven and me.

I initially used the site for travel research, as I hadn’t yet decided where to travel to.  The reasonable price of flights, wide range of flight times and a choice of London airports made it a clear choice.  Another appealing factor was that Barcelona International Airport is within such easy reach of the city by air-conditioned metro.

I found GeniusFlight.com very easy to use and straightforward, meaning I could confirm my booking in as few clicks as possible.  It was worth using the website to determine my destination and find suitable flights from all possible options quickly and efficiently.

GeniusFlight.com is currently available on desktop and tablet and an iPhone app is planned for later this year.  A GeniusHotels.com product is also available, featuring over 460,000 hotels worldwide and powered by Booking.com.

For price-focused flight inspiration and to book flights online, visit: www.geniusflight.com

Chérie City received flights courtesy of GeniusFlight.com 

Recipes, Websites

Italian Food by Nife Is Life

Nife is Life (short for Nice Italian Food Everyday) is a fantastic home delivery service that brings the very best of Italian produce to your door.  It offers a mix of everyday Italian products, fresh ingredients sourced directly from Italian producers and the finest olive oil, vinegar and wines.

I recently tried a Nife is Life food delivery and was impressed by the range of tempting products and the high quality of our groceries.  The website is just as easy as any other food delivery service – simply add items to your basket, check out and arrange a delivery slot.  Our order arrived at our door on time in simple white plastic bags (no need for fancy packaging).

To get the best out of the fresh groceries, I had already planned how to use them in tasty Italian dishes throughout the week.

That evening, we started our meal with a gourmet Italian cheese and ham board filled with Buffalo Mozzarella di Campania, Parmesan, sliced Prosciutto di Norcia, Roasted Porchetta and Black Olive Bread.

The buffalo mozzarella was so fresh and creamy, while the crumbly Parmesan had a rich, nutty and mature taste.  Sourced from the Sibillini mountains in Umbria, the  air-dried Norcia Ham had an intense, slightly salty flavour and the Roasted Porchetta was tender and juicy, infused with plenty of fresh herbs.

Both cured meats can be packaged in a fresh bag for eating right away or a handy vacuum pack to extend their life.

We enjoyed the cheeses and meats with a loaf of Exeter Street Black Olive Rye Bread and couldn’t resist adding a dipping sauce of the most delicious Sapori d’Italia Fresh Pesto di Basilico and a few slivers of juicy La Padula Roasted Peppers.  It was a real treat to enjoy an authentic Italian starter and the slices of cured meat lasted for a number of days, making them good value.

We followed this with a delicious pasta dish using a can of San Marzano Tomatoes, Nonno Nanni Mascarpone and Mafalde di Gragnano pasta.

I slow-cooked the tomatoes and added finely-sliced roasted red peppers and stirred in a tablespoon of mascarpone.  The sauce was then mixed with the luxurious long, wavy strands of pasta and served with torn buffalo mozzarella.

I was really wowed by the superior egg pasta and the clean, sweet taste of the San Marzano tomatoes – no wonder cooks rave about them.  The mascarpone was so creamy and silky that only one tablespoon was needed to round off the pasta sauce.

Dinner was washed down with typically Italian San Pellegrino Aranciata Sweet Red Orange, San Pellegrino Limonata and a lovely, refreshing Santal Peach Juice.

With the rest of the mascarpone, I made a Raspberry and Rose Tiramisu, served in individual glasses.  I layered the light mascarpone and whipped egg white mixture (no double cream needed) with trifle sponges soaked in macerated raspberries and rose syrup, fresh rasberries and white chocolate shavings to finish.

The next day, I made Fresh Gnocchi with Sapori d’Italia Fresh Pesto di Basilico, and lightly crisped Norcia Ham and torn Buffalo Mozzarella di Campania, finished with a few dots of Modena balsamic vinegar glaze.

This dish was ridiculously quick to make and a real joy to eat.  I’ve always found gnocchi a little too rich or stodgy, but this one kept its texture well and wasn’t overly buttery.

The rustic pesto was roughly cut with plenty of garlic and was the perfect accompaniment to the gnocchi.  We used our antipasti ingredients to make crostini topped with pesto, roasted pepper, mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil.

For dessert, we enjoyed a couple of Baci Perugina chocolates made with velvety dark chocolate, gianduja with chopped hazelnut and a whole hazelnut.  Each Baci chocolate (meaning ‘kisses’) includes a love letter – so sweet.

More ‘kisses’ were to follow with some delicious Piedmontese Bistefani Baci di Dama Biscuits made with ground hazelnuts and filled with dark chocolate.

With our order, we received a free gift of Casareccia Taralli – savoury bagel-like crackers that go particularly well with houmous.  I also received a small carton of Parmalat Bechamel Sauce, which I plan to use for a mini lasagne or an Italian-style Croque Monsieur.

Nife is Life is perfect for cooking up a little bit of la dolce vita in your kitchen.  The regional Italian fresh produce is just so tasty and worth spending a little extra on.  I look forward to placing another order when I feel like a foodie treat or when entertaining guests.

All photos by Chérie City

Chérie City received a complimentary delivery from Nife in Life

Accessories, Designers, Fashion, Hotels, New York, Shopping, Stores, Websites

BRIKA x The Coveteur at Paramount Hotel, New York

The holidays are a thrilling time to shop in New York with buzzing stores, festive window displays and winter markets.

For a truly unique shopping experience, luxury lifestyle website The Coveteur has teamed up with modern craft online boutique BRIKA to host a holiday gifting shop at The Free & The Brave Pop-Up Shop at the Paramount Hotel.

Founded by three Toronto creatives – designer Erin Kleinberg, stylist Stephanie Mark and photographer Jake Rosenberg – The Coveteur takes an insider’s look inside the closets of stylish celebrities, designers and fashion influencers such as Amber Valletta, Sophia Webster, Pamela Love, Pharrell Williams and the Mulleavy sisters.

Also formed in Toronto by Kena Paranjape and Jen Lee Koss is BRIKA, an online retail site with a carefully-selected range of well-crafted goods by authentic makers, artisans and designers.  

Located in the heart of Times Square, the BRIKA x The Coveteur holiday gifting shop features six curated closets with pieces by BRIKA makers alongside luxury products by established and up-and-coming New York designers.

Styled by The Coveteur, the closets are divided into shoppable gift guides for Him, Her, the Home, the Foodie and the Little Ones. Celebrity astrologer (and mum of Sophomore’s Chrissie Miller) Susan Miller also has her own Zodiac Closet, tailoring holiday gifts to match each star sign.

Shoppers can expect to find fabulous gifts from makers such as Otte, Juma, Journelle, Blueprint Cleanse, La Petite Caravane and Babiators.  There’s even the chance to pick up a tin or two of Karlie’s Kookies, a collaboration between Momofuku Milk Bar and supermodel Karlie Kloss with a portion of proceeds donated to FEED.

The closets are also shoppable online and gifts are delivered to the customer’s home.

BRIKA x The Coveteur is filled with cool gifts for friends and family, plus you might be tempted to treat yourself to something new.  Ending a successful shopping trip with coffee and cake at Paramount Hotel’s Corso Coffee is an added bonus.

The Brika x The Coveteur Pop Up Shop runs until 6th January at The Free & The Brave Pop-Up Shop at the Paramount Hotel, New York. 

All images © Jake Rosenberg for The Coveteur

Designers, Fashion, Shopping, Websites

Chérie Wish List: Thakoon Dresses at Avenue 32

As the party season approaches, the search for a dress to impress is on and top of my wish list are these stunning designer dresses by Thakoon at Avenue 32.

A favourite of Michelle Obama, Alexa Chung, Diane Kruger and Leighton Meester, Thai-American designer Thakoon Panichgul’s dresses are regularly spotted on well-heeled celebrities at parties, launches and on the red carpet.  His dresses are much loved with their femininity, exquisite tailoring, beautiful fabrics and vibrant prints.

I adore Thakoon’s take on the LBD with an eye-catching dandelion print dress, worn by Katy Perry, and a black high collar dress with lace pleats, as seen on Lily Collins.

Rosario Dawson wowed at the launch of the Tanqueray Gin Palace in a cool navy and white dress with split sleeves while Anna Kendrick wore this orange floral pleated dress. Also, Thakoon’s tailored grey wool dress and dusty rose silk pintuck dress can easily take you from day to night with a pair of statement heels.

Black Silk Dandelion Dress, £1,930
Grey Fine Wool Dress, £730
Orange Floral Pleated Dress, £1,150
Dusty Rose Silk Pintuck Dress, £680
Black Lace Insert Pleat Dress, £1,830
Navy Floral Side Draped Dress, £1,220

Which Thakoon dress is your favourite?

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Interviews, Websites

Interview: The Purple Passport

The Purple Passport co-founders Emily C. Brands and Jennifer Garcia-Alonso share their top tips for luxury travel around the world.  Read about how they do stylish, stress-free travel and which destinations are next on their list….

How do you find those hidden gems and cool places in each destination?

We conduct a lot of research for each city we cover, gleaning what we can from articles, books, travel shows, magazines and the web, but our biggest insider look comes from our Purple Panel. These Panelists are friends of ours who share a similar aesthetic as The Purple Passport when it comes to travel/dining/lounging etc., and they’ve passed us recommendations from their own travel or from having lived within said destination.

How do you tailor your destination tips to your successful female demographic?

We personally visit every venue we recommend, asking ourselves the question, “Would we want a friend to recommend this spot to us?” This helps us keep in mind our core demographic (in other words, us!). In the end, we only cover our favorite spots on The Purple Passport.

How do you define luxury travel?

Luxury travel is when you are away from home, and your whims and desires are taken care of without you having to lift a finger or even having to ask. Great service is the most important aspect of a luxury trip.

Can travellers have a luxury experience in a city without a big spending budget?

Yes, definitely! We’ve found that you can easily achieve a fabulous luxurious experience on a modest budget. It’s just a matter of identifying those spots that offer something truly special and unique, which is what we’ve done on The Purple Passport.

Which special items do you always pack in your suitcase for a luxury trip?

An Hermès silk scarf and Chanel ballet flats are staples for virtually any trip.

How do you make yourselves feel more comfortable and relaxed a long-haul flight?

Ballet flats for keeping our feet in good condition on those flights and Caudalie Beauty Elixir for both aromatherapy and moisturizing.

Have your previous experiences in the financial and PR industries helped shape your travels?

When we were busy in our financial and PR jobs with only very limited vacation days per year, it was really important to enjoy those days to the fullest and really make very few travel mistakes! While we’ve always loved getting lost in a destination by doing some unscripted exploring, our limited free time made us focus a lot on the planning before we visited a new place – we did lots of research and asked around for recommendations before visiting anywhere new. We were sure that likeminded women faced the same challenges, so The Purple Passport was born to help people like us when visiting new places!

Which destination has surprised you the most?

For Emily, Bratislava was surprisingly interesting in its Stare Mesto area. She had expected a very Soviet-era feel to all of it, but this was a little pocket of charm. Jenn was very surprised when she started to really get involved in the research for our Washington DC guide – she thought she knew the city well because she had attended college there and has family in the city, but the recent renaissance of food, drink, and culture has really made an already great destination even more interesting.

Which destinations are next on your ‘must see’ list?

For Emily, Turkey, South Africa, and the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). Jenn hopes to visit Cambodia, Morocco, and Scandinavia.

Finally, what is your favourite thing about London?

The cosmopolitan feel of it. There are so many people from so many varied parts of the world working and living in London, which drives a great diversity in cuisines, nightlife, and shopping, among many other things. We also love how that diversity set against the backdrop of a rich British history makes for a really special feel.

To follow Emily and Jennifer’s travels and to send a postcard of destinations visited by the team, visit: www.thepurplepassport.com.

All photos by The Purple Passport

Drinks, Shopping, Stores, Websites

The Art Of Cocktail Making With Alexander & James

An expertly-mixed cocktail made with premium spirits is one of my favourite indulgences. I adore a good Negroni, Old Fashioned or a timeless Whisky Sour in a refined London bar, but having all of the right spirits and tools to mix up a fabulous cocktail at home would be a real dream.

Alexander & James, the smart new online store dedicated to premium spirits offers everything you need to create your own home bar.

The selection of high end spirits and liqueurs is well-edited and carefully chosen, ranging from affordable cocktail staples such as Ketel One Citroen vodka and Tanqueray London Dry gin to a rare Grand Marnier Quintessence and the crème de la crème of whiskys, The Johnnie Walker (a real investment spirit at £2321.32).  You can even have a bottle engraved to make the perfect gift, or to mark a special occasion.

I am particularly drawn to the Talisker 10 Year Old to make a retro Penicillin, Zapaca 23 for a rum-based Planter’s Punch, Don Julio Resposado for a classic Margarita and Cîroc vodka for an Earl Grey Martini.  If you’re not sure which cocktail to make, Alexander & James suggests classic and innovative recipes, alongside expert tips in its online magazine.

The key to an impressive cocktail is mixing and serving it the right way.  Alexander & James’ selection of elegant accessories include cocktail shakers, ice buckets, highball glasses, tumblers, nosing glasses, twisted spoons, muddlers and citrus presses.

Not only is the home delivery service the ultimate convenience, but Alexander & James products arrive in a luxurious claret presentation box.  Drinks aficionados can also become Alexander & James members to enjoy perks including access to limited bottles, exclusive tastings and invites to UK events.

For a refined Mad Men style cocktail party, a weekend treat or a memorable occasion, let Alexander & James be your online barmen.

For more information and to buy online, visit: www.alexanderandjames.com

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Websites

Stylish Travel With Running In Heels

Today, I’m delighted to share my thoughts on ‘stylish travel’ over on one of my favourite lifestyle websites – the always smart and intelligent RunningInHeels.co.uk.  And I’m in good company too!  Travel experts from Condé Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Black Tomato, Hg2, Style Passport and The Outnet have all divulged insider secrets for the ultimate chic trip.

It’s a must-read if you’re planning a trip and are on the look out for some useful travel tips.  I aspire one day to be fabulous and organised enough to pack a big cashmere blanket to combat the in-flight air-conditioning!

To read the full article, visit: www.runninginheels.co.uk

Accessories, Designers, Fashion, Shopping, Websites

Chérie Wish List: Avenue 32

Avenue 32 is the perfect place to find chic, covetable and well-edited womenswear by international and niche designers.  As the days become brighter, I’m thinking ahead to the summer and which pieces I’d love to add to my wardrobe.

For the warmer season, check out the summer dresses, bags and accessories at Avenue 32…

Cédric Charlier Red Open Back Maxi Dress, £390
Preen Paint Splash Bloom Dress, £785
Sarah Chloe Gold Plated Leila Bracelet, £80
Roksanda Ilincic Orange Antares Swimsuit, £315
3.1 Phillip Lim Crystal Spot 31 Second Pouch, £450
BLK DNM Perfume 11, £85
Cutler and Gross White Mondrian Cat Eye Sunglasses, £365
Felder Felder 2cm Black Leather Spike Bracelet, £50
Lena Erziak Cream Khalil Box Clutch, £1015
Yigal Azrouël Blue Paisley Intarsia Dress, £745

Which designer pieces are on your dream list for the hotter months?  What are your favourites from Avenue 32?

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Swarovski Launches Fashion-Inspired Online Travel Guide

Swarovski has the key to travelling stylishly with a brand new global jetsetting online guide called Swarovski Journey, focusing on a fabulous new destination each month for the next five months.

Inspired by Swarovski’s tropical SS13 collection, the guide begins with the glam party city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  For an insider’s view of Rio, Swarovski asked London-based Beauty Editor and travel blogger Bridget March to share her city secrets.

Bridget took a 14-month sabbatical from editing Cosmopolitan.co.uk in London and travelled across Asia, USA, Latin America and East Africa, reporting her finds from around the globe on her blog, Beauty and the Backpack.  Her top tips for Rio de Janeiro include passionfruit Caipirinhas and fresh seafood at one of Madonna’s haunts Satyricon, the chic Philippe Starck-designed hotel Fasano and Brazilian boutique shopping in Ipanema.

Each exotic destination guide shares how to ‘get the look’ with Swarovski jewellery and accessories, which are available to buy online.  For Rio de Janeiro, it’s all about sparkling silver and vibrant pink pieces studded with crystals – perfect for complementing a sun-kissed tan.

Best of all, Swarovski has partnered with luxury holiday experts Kuoni to offer readers the chance to win a once in a lifetime holiday to the destination featured each month.

For more information and to enter this month’s competition, visit: www.swarovski-journey.com