Backwell House – Bristol

I’ve always been someone who would choose an experience over a physical thing. I’d rather pay for memories than materialism, which is why travel is so important to me. So naturally, when I was asked what I’d like for my recent birthday I knew just what I wanted… a romantic night away (can I still call it away if it’s in my hometown?).

Living in an urban city and never having actually stayed in a hotel in Bristol, I had NO idea where to go, but after extensive Googling I discovered a gem, located in the countryside yet a mere 15 minutes from the centre and my own home.

To our surprise, upon arrival we had been upgraded to a room worth almost twice as much as we’d paid for; a lovely gesture for the eve of my birthday. The room was wonderful – rustic as advertised with a modern touch that made me feel like a millionaire from another era.

We opened the handle on the wall to explore, and found the most amazing ‘hidden’ bathroom I’d ever seen.

My favourite part of the room, the bathroom was delightful. With a luxurious roll-top bath, a shower, and beautifully designed sinks, it was flawless. Before arrival, I’d read on their website that they supported local businesses, and was excited to see South-West based Bramley’s bath products (which left me smelling amazing!) dotted around the room.

“Could it get any better?” I remember thinking, before opening the curtains to see French doors opening out to a view of the house’s very own gardens.

When they said ‘garden view’, I had no idea this was what they meant. The views were beautiful and semi-private which was a plus.

Time for tea? The room had a serving tray jam packed with individually wrapped Twinings teabags, including herbal, green, and black teas. Attention to detail in this hotel was phenomenal.

Fast forward an hour or so after check in and we’re in the bar, a small room with leather armchairs, fully stocked with wine, gin, beer, and pretty much every spirit and cocktail ingredient known to man. (Anything we bought during the stay was added to our room and paid for upon checkout so it was difficult to find out prices, upon checkout I worked out that this G&T cost me around £11…)

The guy serving us was a happy Italian gentleman who, although lovely, was quite difficult to understand at times. After an awkward conversation regarding what we thought was whether or not we’d ordered two glasses of prosecco, we finally realised he was offering us two complimentary glasses of prosecco, which we unknowingly denied… oops. Oh well! The wine was wonderful, and it was so nice to sit outside on the grounds with the view.

Upon check-in, we were handed a menu and asked whether we’d like to book an evening meal. The meal sounded wonderful so we booked; it seemed as though the menu changed daily, there was a set menu that was specific to that day.

There’s something about hotel breakfasts. After the evening meal, I couldn’t wait to eat here in the morning. The continental spread was full of fruit, berries, cereal, yogurt, cinnamon rolls, and those strange cake-bread things that are always in hotels. Do people actually like those things?

Tasty cooked breakfast although small portions (only one of each item) and although both of us requested scrambled egg, we received fried.
I loved exploring Backwell House for my birthday, and loved being in a new part of my city not far from home, despite it feeling like it should be a million miles away.

Five Places for Amazing Breakfast in New York

Everyone living outside of America seems to hold the view that American breakfasts are portioned for a giant and piled high with pancakes, eggs, and bacon… And they are right.

If you’re travelling to New York and want to experience a traditional American-style breakfast, these are the places to go:

Bubby’s 

 

My ultimate favourite breakfast of the holiday, Bubby’s is like heaven for anyone who loves to mix sweet and savoury – in particular pancake lovers. Particularly famous for their homemade pies, Bubby’s is dedicated to embracing and promoting American food culture.

Both Bubby’s restaurants are located in beautiful areas Tribeca in Manhattan and the High Line in Brooklyn, and with a menu packaged full of pancakes, griddles, omelettes, breakfast platters, and even oatmeal, there’s something for everyone.

Applebees

 

Applebees is a grill and bar that serves USA through and through, with sky-high sandwiches, steaks and burgers galore. The breakfast menu isn’t too different, and is much more of a UK lunch menu than breakfast, but amazing all the same.

The all-day brunch burger is definitely the highlight of the breakfast menu, with a juicy quarter-pounder patty, a fried egg, and hash, topped with crispy bacon bits, cheese and onions.

Rockefeller Centre Cafe

 

We stumbled upon this gem after window shopping in 5th Ave (I never knew window shopping could be so exhausting), as an excuse for a drink and a sit down. The title is very misleading as it’s so much more than just a cafe! This restaurant serves brunch, lunch and dinner with a view, and has a lovely bar.

I’m not sure what time they stop serving brunch, but we had brunch there at 3pm! The menu is a la carte without the luxury price tag; of course I had pancakes, but they serve salads bowls, steak, eggs and fish dishes. Rock Cafe brunch is the lunchiest brunch on the list, but is definitely still a great option for fulfilling first-thing-in-the-morning hunger, too.

TSQ Times Square

 

TSQ Brasserie is a grill diner in the heart of Manhattan, Times Square. Their breakfast menu consists of traditional US items and combos, including a PB&J waffle which I’d only saw on the menu once I’d already ordered *cry*. The portions are large enough for even the biggest stomachs, although for a lighter bite, TSQ serve fruit, oatmeal, and croissants.

IHOP

 

The place RnB stars love to sing about, a non-American’s first trip to the USA has to include at least one trip to IHOP. The ‘International House of Pancakes’ is a 24-hour breakfast place where almost everything is served with a side of pancakes. From short stacks to full stacks, buttermilk to red velvet, the pancakes here are fluffy and plentiful.

If, for some strange reason, you’re not a huge pancake fan (for a start, shame on you), there are so many other American-style breakfast choices at IHOP: waffles, French toast, crepes, steak, omelettes, and traditional breakfast combos.

Why Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is my Holy Grail – Review

I’ve always struggled to find a good foundation. As someone with an inconsistent skin type, my foundation needs are relatively high maintenance, making the search even more difficult.

I will start this review by saying that this is my all time favourite foundation. It ticks every single box on my list of must-haves, but remember when you read foundation reviews that skin is so diverse that your check-list may be totally different to mine!

My foundation check-list:

  • Decent colour selection
  • Buildable coverage
  • Dewy (but NOT oily)
  • Not sticky
  • 0 SPF
  • Lightweight

The Luminous Silk collection has 21 shades and accommodates all undertones; I found that some brands only catered for pink/peach undertones, where mine are yellow. I use shade 6.

The coverage is completely buildable dependent on amount of product used. A little product will give a lovely light coverage and the more product used the heavier the coverage can be, making it perfect for both everyday use and special occasions.

I don’t deal well with a matte finish whatsoever; I feel like my face looks weird with a matte foundation, and in general I think a dewy look always looks more natural. This foundation is the BEST dewy one I’ve tried! I have combination skin and I don’t find that my oily t-zone is made more oily wearing Luminous Silk, nor that my dry patches are being clung to. Paired with the 0 SPF (so no ghost faces in flash photography – bonus!), this makes for a great ‘no-makeup’ makeup look.

Sticky foundations are my worst enemy – I despise the way it feels on my face. I’ve tried a few drugstore types of Luminous Silk and one of many reasons I keep going back to this is that despite the fact that it’s pretty pricey, it feels so lightweight on your face and doesn’t make you feel like your face could peel off like a mask.

I have very sensitive skin that used to be prone to acne breakouts – any change of beauty product would make my skin freak the f**k out. This is one of very few foundations that doesn’t make my skin red and blotchy when I take it off, and doesn’t give me acne or aggravate existing blemishes.

It’s this very foundation that, with its buildable coverage, allowed me to lower my daily wear of foundation to the point where I finally feel confident enough to leave my house wearing no foundation! I would recommend this to anyone with similar skin type and check-list to mine, and medium to dark-skinned ladies are bound to find a shade to match your skin-tone.

Travel Tips – New York City

Visiting the big city we all dreamed of as kids and teens is an incredible experience that should be no less than perfect. It’s common to get holiday stress once you book a trip to NYC, and that’s understandable – you want the holiday of your dreams to be just as you imagined it, right?

If you’re suffering from Newyorkophobia and would like a slight nudge back into excitement then read these tips on where to shop, where to eat, how to travel, and buying tickets!

TICKETS

Anywhere you look online, you’ll be advised to book Broadway shows and sports games at Madison Square Garden more than a few weeks in advance. I don’t know why, because the majority of shows can be bought from the ticket booths (in currency exchange shops) that are dotted around NYC, and can be bought for any available date. I bought my tickets here 4 or 5 hours before the show was due to start, with second-row seats! These booths also sell tickets for sports games too.

Any popular shows like The Lion King or Hamilton should be booked as soon as possible; these sell out the fastest, and if you’re lucky enough to find a spare seat or two a week before the show, either the ticket is phony, or you’ll have to prepare to lose more than a few hundred dollars.

I was advised to go to the TKTS stall in Times Square (there’s also one in Brooklyn) for discounted on-the-day tickets. Perhaps it was just a bad experience but after waiting for what felt like two years in the Arctic cold – it was actually only 45 minutes but close enough – one of the shows we wanted had sold out, and the other TKTS were selling at $100 a seat when the ticket booth across the road were selling at $89 a seat… Makes sense.

TRAVELLING

The thought of travelling around a huge city you don’t know can be daunting, but it’s so easy. As long as you know the basic layout of where you are and where you’re going, you will be fine: and remember that avenues run north to south, whereas streets run east to west.

The subway system is alphabetical, so for example the ‘A’ line runs through Manhattan and Queens using 8th Avenue. Google Maps will be your best friend throughout your holiday if you plan on using the subway often, just screenshot the instructions before going out and it’ll tell you the line to take and where to get off. If in doubt, just ask someone at the information desk in your local subway station!

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The subway is definitely the cheapest method of transport, with single rides $3 and day tickets about $9. Ubers, Lyfts and yellow cabs are super easy to get hold off but will cost a little more.

Yellow cabs tend to be a fixed rate going from borough to borough, or to JFK airport, and are best to catch last minute if you have no Wi-Fi for an Uber and your legs hurt from walking too much. Ubers are best if you have a little more planning time and want to be picked up immediately (say from your hotel to a restaurant); the only problem with Uber is that obviously the money comes out of your bank account, so doesn’t come out of the cash you’ve budgeted for.

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RESTAURANTS

If you want to go to a restaurant on or around a public holiday like Christmas or Valentine’s Day, it’s best to book before your trip by either calling (which may be expensive if you live outside the US), emailing, or using OpenTable.

OpenTable is an amazing, really handy mobile app and website that allows you to book tables and see when a restaurant has available slots. My boyfriend and I had pre-booked a table at a restaurant over Valentine’s Day but had trouble with the restaurant on the day so had to cancel hours before the evening. After a few tears (lol I’m v emotional ok), I had a quick look on OpenTable for restaurants that still had tables left and came across one that ended up providing us with our favourite meal of the entire holiday!

On a normal day, most restaurants are great with walk-ins and you won’t normally have to book in advance unless it’s famous. Even then, though, we walked into Planet Hollywood at 7:30pm one night without a reservation and were seated within 15 minutes, despite how long the queue looked.

If you really cannot be bothered to move from your bed, or you’re in the middle of a Friends marathon and do not want to miss what happens to Chandler, use UberEats. UberEats is a pre-pay app like Deliveroo or JustEat, that delivers takeout from restaurants direct to your hotel or Air BnB: there are so many NY restaurants that use it from breakfast to pizza to dessert – even steak and chinese!

SHOPPING

Now to the part you’ve been waiting for – where to shop?

Fifth and Madison Avenue are must-dos for your list of shopping areas, full of all the big designer brands you can think of from Ralph Lauren to Gucci and everything in-between. For me, this was more of a window shopping opportunity than anything but the shops are incredible and so luxury. So many opportunities for good photos, too!

Department stores like Saks and Macy’s are definites too; we went into Macy’s on about three different occasions. Again, you get to see all of the big names and more in these, and here there’s much more of a chance of discounts. My boyfriend bought a few things in the Ralph Lauren concession and got an extra 10% off just because the guy loved his accent! We were also lucky to have been in NY for the weekend of President’s Day where there were sales everywhere, so made the most of that.

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Times Square is yet another signature shopping destination, and if you venture out of Times Square you’ll find many stores that we don’t have in the UK, like Barnes and Noble, and also independent stores that make the city seem so much more homely. Greenwich Village is a beautiful area in Manhattan that is full of shops, too.

Enjoy exploring this amazing city, and if you have any questions just drop a comment below!

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12 Best Products for Natural Curls

Until last year, I’d gone my whole life hating my natural hair. I used to straighten it almost every day, and if for any reason I wore it natural, my self esteem would completely diminish.

I have since learned to love my curls by learning what they need and caring for them appropriately; I had to wait months before I started to see a truly noticeable improvement in its condition but caring for my curls is the best thing I ever did.

My hair is naturally very curly and voluminous, but is also very dry and frizzes easily. I honestly had no idea how naturally curly my hair actually was until 2017 as it was so heat damaged! I learned what products to use to get it looking bouncy and beautiful, and here are some products that helped me to love my curls:

1.

This OGX coconut oil mist spray is perfect for unruly curls and frizzy areas, and is best used on curls that are older than a day. I use it on my second and third day curls in the morning to rejuvenate and hydrate them and it’s a miracle! Be aware that the bottle is relatively small; it may be much cheaper to make a homemade coconut oil spray with a few spoons of coconut oil mixed with distilled water.

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Hempseed oil is SO GOOD for your curls I cannot express enough how much this has improved the condition of mine! Just squirt a few drops onto your hands and rub it into your hair all over (but focusing on the ends), and your hair will be stronger and shinier in no time.

3.

Yet another absolute diamond, the Twisted Sista curl activator creme helps your true curl pattern come out from its shell. Enriched with a mixture of oils that are great for natural hair such as coconut and avocado, this smells unreal and helps to prevents frizz. I use this after I wash my hair, in the ‘LOC’ routine (leave-in, oil, creme), in order to lock in the moisture from the conditioner and oil and define my curls.

4.

Olive oil is another super moisturising oil, both for your hair and your scalp; using this as a weekly treatment will minimise dry flakes and deep condition your curls. It penetrates pores and follicles without clogging, so warming some olive oil and applying it over your hair regularly can help to repair damage such as split ends: this treatment can be done either overnight, or for 20-30 minutes.

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Palmers does wonders for skin and hair galore. This coconut oil ‘Moisture Gro’ formula does what it says on the tin! I massage this into my hair and lightly coat my ends with it to protect split ends and encourage hair growth. It provides a layer of protection while leaving curls sleek and shiny.

6.

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Lush is my favourite beauty brand: full of wonderfully natural and eco-friendly products, it’s possibly even the most trustworthy brand out there at the moment. ‘RnB’ is a hair moisturiser made for curls, and a little product really does go a long way – I bought two of these last year and I’m still making my way through the first pot! Too much product may may your curls crunchy and stiff, but using the right amount on damp hair post-wash will hydrate your hair and define your curls beautifully.

7.

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If your  hair is naturally dry, you’ll know the struggle of never getting on with shampoo. I used to shampoo almost daily, leaving my curls dehydrated and lacking moisture, but by shampooing less and using this gem, infused with Moroccan argan oil, my new wash routine suits my hair type perfectly. The OGX renewing shampoo effectively removes product build-up WITHOUT removing any natural oils in the hair, making it feel soft and silky.

8.

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Is there such thing as too many Moroccan argan oil products? Probably, but seeing as this oil works its magic without making your hair feel greasy and oily, I guess the only way to use ‘too much’ is to drench your hair in it. I mainly use this on the ends of my hair as it’s usually them that lack shine, but you can use it all over for an effortless satin finish for your ringlets.

9. Shea Moisture Strengthen, Grow and Restore Leave-in Conditioner

Shea Moisture is a brand I’ve only quite recently discovered, but I’ve fallen in love with. It specialises in curly, kinky, and afro hair, and many curly girls swear by Shea Moisture products! This amazing leave-in conditioner moisturises curls and leaves them looking soft yet defined. Use it post-wash on damp, towel-dried hair, sectioning your hair and applying the product evenly from root to end before scrunching each section. This is my ultimate ‘holy grail’ and my curls wouldn’t be the same without it!

10.

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This John Frieda conditioner is the one to use if you want super soft frizz-free curls. I tend to use this along with one or two other conditioners just to  add some dimension to my hair, as using this alone can make your hair a little too soft and bouncy. This conditioner nourishes and replenishes damaged curls and is great for those with high density curls that need revitalising.

11.

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If you haven’t yet joined the Aussie hype, now’s your chance! Another one designed for dry locks, this gorgeous-smelling ‘Miracle Moist’ conditioner is enriched with Macadamia oil to prevent frizz and tangles, moisturising the hair follicles from the inside out.

12.

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OGX strikes bullseye yet again with the coconut milk conditioner; I couldn’t live without this and use it no fail in every wash. It’s gentle and detangling, so you can brush your hair with it in before rinsing – you can even use a pea-sized amount as a leave-in conditioner to wake up your second or third day curls! With ingredients such as coconut milk and oil, and even egg whites, this is great for deep conditioning but also perfect for regular use.

The Perfect Blush for Every Skin Tone

I’ve never really been a ‘blush’ kind of girl, and I think my skin tone played a big part of that.

There’s a common misconception that only fair skinned girls can get away with rosy cheeks – and it was only when I’d swatched this one and fell in love with it that I learned ANYONE get away with it.

NARS’ ‘Orgasm’ blush really does live up to its name; it was lust at first sight. At a glance, it seems to be one of those bright shades that doesn’t quite look as nice on the skin, but with a touch of a blusher brush you really can brighten up your whole face.

With gold specks throughout, it gives a luscious shimmer and blends well beneath a highlight: I tend to prefer a slight shimmery blush or bronzer as opposed to a matte finish as I hate the block contrast between blush and highlighter.

Initially, I accidentally picked up Super Orgasm – I wasn’t keen at all! It is pretty much the same colour, however it has quite large pieces of glitter throughout and can look a bit odd on, particularly in a natural makeup look.

Its more natural-looking sister gives a lovely muted rose gold tone to the cheeks, and can be built up or down to one’s desire. Its subtlety and golden undertones means it can look beautiful on all complexions, whether fair, medium or dark, and is perfect for both the no-makeup look, and more intense Friday nights out.

Stay Cosy this Valentine’s in this Perfect Winter Colour

Wine. Rubies. Roses. Just a few things that resemble romance; what a coincidence that they all share the same rich berry shade!

In many parts of the Western world, this Valentine’s Day is forecast to be super cold. But just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean us girls can’t still look sexy. Okay, you might be a liiiittle bit chilly wearing all lace in -10 degree Celsius weather, but whatever the outfit, throw on some dark red lippy, a cute red clutch, and top it with fresh oxblood nails and you’re good to go, girl.

Pair it with gold detailing and you will look and feel like royalty for the night!

I’ll be in New York for a week over Valentine’s Day, so look out for plenty of tourist blog posts to come…

If you have any New York go-to recommendations please do chuck them below in the comments!

The 6 Must-Have Perfumes Every Girl Needs

There’s something truly satisfying about knowing you smell amazing. Smell is so unique to an individual and fragrance is important: this is way I love scented baths, scented candles, and perfume.

I’m not a fan of sickly sweet smells at all (unless it’s pancakes – in that case HMU). One time my mum accidentally bought me a ‘men’s’ Ted Baker perfume and I loved it; we didn’t even realise it was made for men until I’d used it all!

SIX

I know it’s Eau So Fresh in the photo, but Marc Jacob’s ‘Daisy’ is such a lovely everyday fragrance I’ve bought almost all the different versions.

The original has a beautiful floral overtone with fruity notes like subtle strawberry and grapefruit. It’s a sophisticated effeminate fragrance; remembering that it was my first designer perfume as a teen, it really made me feel like a woman, and I got complimented whenever I wore it!

Eau So Fresh is a little more fruity and less woody: the berry and pear overtones in this version makes it a lot sweeter than the original.

FIVE

Gucci Guilty is definitely a guilty pleasure. It’s one of those fragrances that was odd at first scent, and took a while to get used to before I realised that I loved it. A sexy fragrance that begins with lilac and peach and ends with patchouli and pink pepper.

FOUR

It was difficult to decide between this and the next one as I love them both equally, but I’ve settled on Chloe’s signature eau de parfum as number 4 on my list. This is a gorgeous everyday fragrance with the main scent of rose, which I adore! Peony and lily accompany the floral tones while the fragrance is left powdery with dry musk and cedar; it’s soft femininity makes it perfect for daily wear.

THREE

I’ve put Giorgio Armani’s Si above Chloe for its richer and less floral scent. The blackberry and patchouli top notes leave an autumnal subtle sweetness as a contrast to the musk, cedar and cassis base. A hint of rose and vanilla assists in making this a truly elegant perfume, great for either special occasions or day to day use.

TWO

I absolutely LIVE for this perfume! I loved it at first smell: full of rich coffee and vanilla top notes and a patchouli base, Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium is a recipe by a genius. Subtle woody and peppery notes throughout even out the scent; it’s amazing for special occasions and I always get complimented when I wear this.

ONE

Drumroll please…

My absolute favourite perfume of all time is Tom Ford’s Velvet Orchid! This is the most amazing fragrance I’ve ever smelled – it literally makes me feel like a goddess. Rich bergamot, honey, suede and rum scents are the first to hit, relaxed with the beauty of florals such as orchid and a subtle rose hint.

Vanilla, myrrh and sandalwood bass notes leave a gorgeous warmth to the mysterious fragrance: this makes it the perfect winter perfume. I’d recommend this for any of you women who love a subtle masculinity to a feminine smell: Velvet Orchid is an empowering perfume that screams femininity despite the expected androgyny.

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Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet Foundation – Review

I tend to use drugstore foundations, and for the past few years have sworn by L’Oreal’s ‘True Match’ and ‘Infallible’. As I’ve just run out of my most recent foundation, so I thought I’d go for a high end foundation to compare. 
I originally went out looking for Estée Lauder Double Wear, however after walking around Debenhams getting my shade tested in different concessions, I fell in love with CHANEL’s Perfection Lumiere Velvet! 

This foundation gives a semi-matte finish, which is amazingly natural-looking. It is high coverage, and very lightweight, meaning it’s not cakey on the skin whatsoever. You’ll feel like you’re wearing nothing at all! I allllways wear concealer with foundation, but this foundation covered all of my blemishes extremely well. As a sufferer of mild acne and acne scars, I was hugely impressed with the coverage of this foundation! I wore this foundation from 8am to 5pm, with it staying put completely throughout the day (I didn’t even want to take it off, I felt so flawless). 

  
Perfection Lumiere Velvet prices at an expensive £33, especially compared to my usual spend of about £10 for a foundation. HOWEVER, I think it is 100% worth the splurge, as having a colour match determines perfection, and the finish and coverage is amazing for me. This foundation may not be one for those with very dry skin, but is definitely the best foundation I’ve tried. For those with normal/oily skin, this will be amazing for you!

Wearing the foundation, my skin looks and feels flawless.