Spa in the City

Browns

Finding a good Spa in any City isn’t so hard, but finding a great one is much more of a challenge. Quite often the hidden gems stay just that – hidden gems. Well, not any more folks. I am officially outing Brown’s Spa in London’s Mayfair right here and now as one of the very best I have ever experienced. And not just because of the epic treatment, but also the relaxed atmosphere and friendly team who really made my treatment all treat and no chore. Whether you are looking for a pre-wedding day pamper, or something a little more serious a week before the big day itself, Brown’s has a little something up it’s sleeve for every requirement. And that includes a quick dash for a pick me up during a lunch break, or an extended weekend stay soaking up the luxurious surrounds of the hotel itself.

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The various treatments have been developed by some of the World’s leading beauty experts and on my visit, I opted for a spot of indulgence courtesy of the ‘artisans of beauty’ – Carita. Founded over 60 year’s ago by two sisters – because at a time of post War depression, it was their thinking that a little pampering would lift one’s soul a little – the Carita girls developed anti-ageing formulas with unbeatable results, which are still going strong today. And the best bit? Some of their deluxe product’s contain pure gold elements. Yes real gold! The finale of my treatment included a 24 carat touch to really make one feel fabulous and party ready.

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The spa at Brown’s also houses a cutting edge gym with a mix of facilities to try out pre-beautification if so inclined… personally, I headed straight for a treatment. Clearly no will power!

To book and find out more just click here!

There’s something about Wasing Park

Wasing

In my line of work, you come across many wedding venues who like to describe/sell themselves as unique – be it the location, facilities, styling… the list goes on. It’s a real bug bear of mine because most venues are anything but the U word and closer to wedding factory farms churning out celebration after celebration over anything else. Well, Wasing Park is one venue I can say with hand on heart that very much deserves to describe itself as unique and then some!

Located in the Berkshire countryside, the location, facilities, styling… in fact every element of this venue ticks the U box for me – and that includes the accommodation. Set in a stunning 18th Century Park Woodlands, this venue is more like an English Hamlet frozen in time that hasn’t dated for over 250 years more than an obvious wedding venue. And with it’s own Parish church on-site, you can also opt for a more traditional day if you prefer.

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Wasing Park is liked a walled haven, secluded from the outside World and when it comes to planning a big day, surely this is the place dreams are made of for most couples on the hunt for a memorable location. And what I really love about this venue is it’s diversity of space. From a Castle Barn to a Victorian Summerhouse, there is a wealth of celebratory rooms for both the reception and ceremony itself to take place and suit all tastes. There is even an option of hosting a festival themed wedding deep in the park woods!

The food menus presented by Galloping Gourmet are also pretty sensational and most importantly original too. We had the pleasure of sampling three courses and although the company was great – the food was better :-)

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When I said the accommodation was epic, I wasn’t messing about either! Here I am larking around in the Honeymoon suite – which by the way, houses one of the biggest beds in the UK. On top of this, there are a mix of stunning options for your guests to chose from for a truly unique and luxurious nights sleep… check one said space on stilts below:

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To book a viewing or find out more about this stunning venue simply visit www.wasing-weddings.co.uk

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Adventures on the River Thames

 

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The Thames Jet Experience – a thrill unlike any other…

They always say, the only way to see London is from the river and I must say, whoever came up with that pearl of wisdom deserves to be shaken by the hand. Actually scrap that, served a pint by the river post cruise might be more suitable! Talking of cruises, why not take it up a notch and experience the river at a faster pace… a much faster pace! Yes, a few month’s back, my friends and I tested the The Thames Rush – 50 minutes of river action I guarantee you are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

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A perfect kick-start for any Hen or Stag Celebration, this adrenaline fuelled adventure is the ultimate London sight-seeing tour with a difference. Not necessarily for the faint hearted, said speed boat departs at quite a leisurely pace to start with, as you soak up the views of Big Ben and the South Bank, but fear not adrenaline junkies, the pace soon rev’s up as you pass Tower Bridge and head down the Thames. Twists, turns and wave jumps accompany your views as you check out Canary Wharf and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in a James Bond rive boat sequence – this is it folks! OO7 heaven.

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For me personally, The Thames Jet really packed a punch and is a great way to start a weekend of activities in the Capital. Not only did you feel like you were in safe hands, the entire team were so welcoming and friendly, which added a special personal touch to proceedings… we also made friends with all the other thrill seekers on our boat and had an absolute scream navigating the Thames at high speed. A truly unforgettable morning.

To book and find out more about The Thames Rush experience simply click here

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West Country spa hen weekend ideas

West Country Spa Weekend

Charlton House Spa Hotel… the perfect rural retreat

Nestled neatly into the heart of what I can only describe as a breathtaking scene of beauty, Charlton House holds quite a history for the Somerset town of Shepton Mallett. Developed as a boutique hotel by Roger Saul – founder of the Mulberry fashion & handbag empire, this stunning hotel and bar complex is now successfully operated by the Bannatyne group and I recently visited with my sister to experience the day spa… unsurprisingly – we had a ball!

Charlton House Hen weekend

My lovely friends over at BUY A GIFT kindly invited me to road test one of their divine day packages and I thought it would be rude not to! And divine it really was. From the minute we arrived to the moment we departed – kicking and screaming might I add – things got pretty messy with security (jokes!), we both really did relax, unwind and enjoy every second of our experience. The team within both the hotel and spa couldn’t have done more to make us feel welcome – and by the way, nobody had any idea I would be writing this blog feature, so it wasn’t like we were getting the vip treatment or anything. You just got the feeling that everyone was a vip at this location – my kind of venue.

West Country Spa

Once we had grabbed our robes and completed the formalities, we quickly settled into the hot tub and took a dip in the accompanying pool. It was bliss. We really should have ordered a glass of bubbles though as pictured – it was the only thing missing! Also a good point to note here is that we arrived on a Monday morning, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves which was lovely. An ideal time to visit if you are a Maid of Honour and thinking of treating your Bride-to-Be pre-wedding day for some proper RnR time.

Restuarant at Charlton House

A three course lunch followed which was not only beautifully presented, but perfectly sized and well considered for a spa day retreat. Nothing worse than an overloaded plate for such occasions. Light and healthy should be the order of the day when detoxing a little – well, we did have a glass of bubbles thrown in at this juncture and a delicious pud, but hey, we were treating ourselves after all!

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Next up after lunch it was time to hit the spa for a hot stone massage – A-MAZ-ING! In one word. And trust me, I’ve experienced loads of hot stones! This treatment was up there as one of the best. My Sister loved her back and neck massage also. Now normally, I don’t like to take another dip post treatment, but on this occasion, we just couldn’t resist! It was back into the hot tub before rounding off proceedings with a Cappuccino in the drawing room. All very Agatha Christie and all very fabulous!

To book a perfect day retreat or overnight stress buster pre-wedding simply visit buyagift.co.uk

London hen party restaurant ideas

Laura Santtini
With Laura Santtini at Santini’s London

When it comes to throwing a memorable party, Santini’s in Central London has the lot. Private dining, a cocktail bar, an intimate restaurant and a gorgeous terrace too. Ok, so I was blessed with some pretty fabulous company, but honestly, I am not even sure you would need that to have a good time at Santini’s! And I can tell you from personal experience, you really are guaranteed a night to treasure, because not only is the food utterly exquisite and the cocktail menu to die for, the relaxed atmosphere at this stunning venue – steeped in a glorious history is… out of this world too!

Established back in 1984, Santini’s offers a superb menu of classic Italian food and wine served with a distinctive Santini’s twist! Designed with a strong Venetian accent, the menu is simply incredible and can only be described as a massive hug on a plate that literally ignites the senses. Now in it’s 30th year, my party and I had a ball at this intimate venue that seems to really come alive after 9pm. Trust me, it was buzzing and we visited early in the week!

Santini's restuarant evening dinner

Now headed by Laura Santtini (pictured) who is recognised as a global expert in flavour and as an award-winning author of the cookbook At home with Umami, this iconic venue has also played host to a wealth of stars and politicians over the years from Bill Clinton to Lisa Minelli and was also known to be Frank Sinatra’s favourite restaurant in London too!

So, if you are looking to add a little star dust to your Hen Party plans, Santini’s is definitely the location for you. And with private dining rooms at your disposal, you could even think about hosting an intimate wedding dinner or pre-wedding meal at this venue too!

For bookings click here

Santini's private dining room London wedding

Bridebook has landed

Bridebook

A few weeks back I was thrilled to be invited to the launch of a real innovation within the wedding industry, set in the super gorgeous library at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair. Now as I am sure you know, there are lot’s of boring spreadsheets and planners that can help us break down the a-z, but Bridebook offers something completely different – because it helps makes wedding planning fun! And super inspirational too. Visually you just want to delve right in and get stuck into the planning, which for most will be a first! And on top of that, there is a serious amount of expert advice from some of the best in the business including: Mary Berry, George Clooney’s wedding stationer and Kate Moss’s wedding stylist. I totally adore the look and feel of this site which I suspect, is going to start a bit of a revolution in the wedding business…

Bridebook The Wedding Fairy

Described as the World’s first virtual wedding planner, this state-of-the-art toolkit allows you to plan your entire wedding in one place…. or your wedding planner a la wedding fairy of course! Welcome to the ‘world wide wed’ – how great is their catchphrase?! Only wish I could take the credit for it. The live wedding ‘dashboard’ also gives real-time updates, guidance on the planning process and what to tackle next. Perfect!

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Bridebook founder Hamish Shephard (who I am pictured with above) says about the new wedding planning site, ‘We believe everyone deserves a wedding planner. Whatever your budget, Brideboook is completely personalised for you. We are transforming the whole wedding planning process into an incredible journey of inspiration, discovery and creativity.’

Here here I say! And I am sure you’re wedding fairy will be contributing a few pearl’s of wisdom to the site real soon too…

For more on Bridebook, why not visit the site, register and discover just how easy this fabulous new service is for yourself.

Professional head shots and pic below by The Springles

 

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Seaside themed weddings in Brighton

Weddings in Brighton

Weddings in Brighton

Ok so maybe the kiss-me-quick and candy floss look might not be for everyone, but I adore Brighton and the diversity it offers for a truly spectacular wedding destination. Actually, talking of candy floss, bringing elements of the traditional British seaside actually works really well for a summer wedding, as does customised rock for your favours – just had to snap this advert to share with you! I am also loving retro ice cream vans serving classic 99’s and of course the Nation’s favourite – fish ‘n’ chips – to follow the theme through onto the table. The real treasure of Brighton of course is it’s natural ambiance and this really is something to treasure…

Sunrise in Brighton

Sunrise in Brighton

I recently spent a weekend at The Steine Hotel courtesy of my friends over at BuyAGift and what a gorgeous retreat it was. My converted loft room was so homely and everyone welcoming. As was breakfast, delicious in fact, and all locally sourced. Brighton in general has to be the most eco and food conscious town in the UK  – offering a vegan option is the norm for example. Finding guest accommodation or a little retreat for a pre-wedding getaway on the other hand takes a little research and can be more challenging. It’s not the cheapest place to stay in the UK, but this little nugget – as with Brighton itself – is worth every penny and I am more than happy to recommend to you.

Steine Hotel Brighton

Steine Hotel Brighton

And on that note, here is my top 10 rundown of favourite wedding venues in Brighton for you to check out too:

The Royal Pavillion

The Tempest Inn

Brighton College

Hilton Brighton Metropole

Brighton Music Hall

Proud Cabaret Brighton

The Grand

Blanch House

Drakes of Brighton

The Old Market

Click here for more brilliant ideas from BuyAGift.co.uk

*Background image by Child Friendly Brighton

We must remember them – Armistice Day

Life post

Armistice day

Imagining what life would be like today if it wasn’t for the sacrifice of so many is pretty difficult to comprehend and probably something most of us rarely stop and think about. I for one would hold my hand up to that. But for some reason this morning, the news coverage has grabbed my conscious and led me to do exactly that. Probably because I am working from home and my mind isn’t totally in ‘work’ gear as it were, I find myself reflecting somewhat on the bravery of so many to fight for a freedom we know of and take for granted today. It’s human nature for us to do so, but stop and think we should because even now, the potential consequences of an extreme political or religious idea taking hold is all too evident for us to see.

We face a tide of problems – particularly with regards to social equality and protecting precious institutions at the heart of our Country – but, remembering our ancestors and all those that actually gave up their lives for what we have, is something we must all respect and be thankful for. Without doubt, many of us in this Country are way more blessed than others and I count myself in that bracket.  A loving upbringing, education (including fee free university) and a freedom to go and grab life and make the most of it. Taking a moment to reflect on my own achievements today has been a pretty powerful force, especially when you think it might not have been possible without others making the greatest sacrifice of all.

We all know people from both sides of a war suffer and I wish we could exist without such terror. My fingers are always crossed for a peaceful existence. The mere thought of being called upon to fight and be prepared to give my life for freedom is terrifying, and something so many less fortunate are doing across the World right now. A basic right I rarely think about I am guilty to say. Many could also argue that people choose to join our military forces today and it’s way of life. This is true – what brave people they are. There is much talk of heroes in sport and the world of celebrity. Soldiers are the true hero’s, along with nurses, doctors and so many others who fight for others on a daily basis.

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So, if like me, you are starting today, pretty much the same as yesterday, stop and think about everything you have that might not have been possible without them.

Find out about the British Legion’s work in supporting veterans of war by clicking here

Luxury destination weddings in Marrakech

Worlds Greatest Wedding Venues

CASINO ES SAADI

When I was invited to review Es Saadi Palace Gardens & Resort in Marrakech it really didn’t take me long to say yes. In fact, one visit to the website and I was hooked! To be fair, anyone in their right mind would hop on a plane tomorrow to soak up such luxury, and luxurious ladies & gents I assure it is. To hit the top spot of my Worlds Greatest Wedding Venues series you need to be pretty spectacular and this venue truly deserves it’s position at the very top of the A-list pile.

Designed in 1966 by Jean Bauchet, the Palace has been passed down through the generations and is now run by his grandson, Jean-Alexandre Bauchet and his wife Caroline. Known as the most glamorous venue to be seen at in Morocco, the venue certainly lives up to it’s reputation and has played host to icons including: Princess Margaret, The Rolling Stones and more recently Leonardo DiCaprio. Even our very own Kate Moss has graced the casino. Quite simply, Es Saadi oozes sophisticated fifties star-style glamour that is near on impossible to replicate. An authentic Moroccan experience that guarantees to deliver a memorable celebration unlike any other.

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My adventure began with what I can only describe as one of the most spectacular of welcomes I have ever experienced in my life – a poolside party at one of the Palace’s 10 private villas. Not only a sensational location for a private dinner, but an incredible space to choose for a pre-wedding celebration with loved ones, or even a wedding breakfast. Something I always treasure in a venue is a flexible approach to hosting parties and this is where Es Saadi Palace delivers a first class service. The food btw, was to die for! The traditional lamb Tagine with all the trimmings I sampled on this particular evening was something not to be forgotten in a hurry!

Es Saadi palace breakfast

After the night before it was time to explore Marrakech, kicking off with a gorgeous breakfast with my fellow travellers. The view poolside from this location is just stunning and again, makes a gorgeous spot for hosting a drinks party on your big day. To be fair, you could pick any spot within the grounds to say ‘I do’ and it would be incredible. On that note, my room was rather fabulous too, with lots of lovely personal touches including handmade truffles on arrival and an indulgent body scrub to delve right in to. Hello I am in heaven!

Biggest pool in Morocco

An aerial view pool side – The 2400 metre swimming pool is the largest in Marrakech &
includes a swim-up bar!

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A Senior Deluxe Suite at Es Saadi Palace & Gardens

Now clearly I couldn’t come all this way without checking out the World famous souk markets & ancient Palaces of Marrakech. Abdul our knowledgeable guide gave us a whirlwind tour of the key sights and even managed to throw in a few beauty treatments along the way too! Morocco is renound for its incredible mix of herbs, spices and healing oils. And I guess ultimately all these Ancient Moroccan traditions are the true Wonders of Marrakech – beyond the fact it is only three and a half hours from London and the sun is always shining – that and Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle which was honestly a highlight and worth a visit in it’s own right.

Exploring Marrakech

Exploring Marrakech with our brilliant tour guide Abdul

Jardin Majorelle in the summer

A view of the spectacular Jardin Majorelle – home of the late Yves Saint Laurent.

Next up, it was time to hit the five star spa at Es Saadi Palace – the perfect way to relax, unwind and prepare for a party! Showcasing the very best in luxury treatments, the spa boasts a cutting edge mix of hydrotherapy treatment systems, one of only two Dior Institutes in the World offering professional make-up services and an in-house salon to get you big day beautiful before the wedding. At the heart of the spa is a 100 year old eucalyptus tree that symbolises renewal and transformation – everything this incredible spa stands for. And the best bit? Well, I am thrilled to be previewing an exclusive first look at the new couples spa treatment room, which is due to open at the end of 2015 and quite honestly, is out of this world…

Couples spa at Es Saadi Palace

Es Saadi Palace couples spa room

So, all dressed-up and ready to go post spa indulgence, it was time for a big night out with a sumptuous dinner and a cocktail or two at the stunning L’Epicurien bistro & lounge bar. And to really get the party started we hit the dance-floor post meal and popped some bubbles to celebrate Es Saadi style! A dream location to toast any occasion – especially a post wedding party – that guests can continue into the early hours at the TheatrO nightclub. Literally all your entertainment needs are fulfilled and exceeded on-site to the point you don’t ever have to leave the resort! You can move between the various spaces on offer at Es Saadi and each one feels like you are somewhere different. When it comes to the wow factor, it doesn’t get bigger than this. And without doubt, this is what really makes Es Saadi stand out above and beyond the rest. The Palace even plays host to Africa’s very first casino too. A hugely popular attraction for both residents and tourists alike. When I said, everything is catered for I wasn’t joking!

L'EPICURIEN LOUNGE RESTAURANT

L’Epicurien bistro & lounge bar

TheatrO nightclub Marrakech

TheatrO nightclub – the best in Morocco

Diamonte camel Marrakech

How was I ever expected to resist a snap with a sparkly camel?!

Kate Moss outside casino Marrakech

More importantly, how could I say no to a quick swing in the cage outside the casino? Granted, I may not tick all the boxes of a traditional showgirl, but hey, when they told me Kate Moss had a go on a swing at the casino, not even security could hold me back! What a backdrop and what a night to remember.

Luxury destination weddings in Marrakech do not come bigger than this, in all honesty, I think you will be hard pushed to find such a treasure anywhere globally offering so much variation under one roof. It’s not a brand, it’s a family home and that’s what truly makes Es Saadi so special for a wedding. Steeped in a glorious history, there is an air of both majesty and mystique – a thrilling combination that is rarely found and cannot be faked. Es Saadi is the real deal. A place to make your own, where memories to treasure for a lifetime are made and dreams really do become a reality.

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Getting ready for a party – table setting for a Christion Dior dinner

To discover more about hosting a wedding or event at Es Saadi Palace Resort & Gardens simply click here to connect with their wedding team

London spa ideas for bride-to-be

M Spa Jacuzzi London

Whether you are on the hunt for the ultimate hen party pampering, or a little RnR time pre-wedding with the other half, I have uncovered a total nugget of loveliness for you and trust me – you will NOT be disappointed. If you depart leaving anything other than fabulous, I’ll massage you myself!

Yes The M SPA by Montcalm really is a rare contemporary haven of relaxation right in the heart of London’s tech city. And it’s super handy to reach too, being only a few minutes walk from Old Street Station. Open to the public since April 2015, I was particularly keen to see what this new spa-on-the-London-scene had to offer and as I am sure you can already gather… all expectations were superseded and then some!

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With interiors by Versace, you can instantly imagine the wow factor on arrival. In fact, the entire hotel has a cool cutting edge feel about it the moment you walk through the door and this sense of innovation follows through the entire experience at the venue. I was greeted by my wonderful therapist Giovanna who kindly showed me around the spa before promptly slipping into my robe. Oh I do love a robe and that transformation from real life into a world of relaxation is simply unbeatable. Anyhoo time for a quick Elemis shower before heading straight-in for the main event… a jacuzzi, swim and iced lemon water poolside. #heaven

And to be fair I really did drift off thanks to the fact this spa is so well thought out in terms of not overcrowding to purposely offer a sense of exclusivity – a very important element I think for both a party with the girls or a time out with your partner. I could have stayed poolside for hours, but a full body massage awaited me and there was no way on Earth I was going to miss out on that!

Full body massage M Spa

Now I must admit, I have road tested quite a few spa’s in my time and often find hotel therapists a little disappointing, or rather light on substance/expertise shall we say. But hands down, this was actually the BEST deep tissue massage I have had to date. And I told Giovanna too! She was very happy I am pleased to say. Using a mix of various disciplines, Giovanna promptly deknotted and detoxed my body leaving me feeling refreshed and revitalised, ready for a night out on the town with some friends. A perfect tonic pre-event that’s for sure!

The carefully selected ranges used at this ultimate urban sanctuary are pretty fabulous too, with meticulously sourced products from both ila-spas organic collection and the results driven Natura Bissé skincare range.

Montcalm Hotel

The facilities are simply sensational and also include a massage room for two! Ideal for you and your partner to enjoy a treatment together. Plus there’s a sauna, steam room and light-experience showers for you to try out. Oh and even a state of the art gym if you fancy a de-stress workout pre-relax!

M SPA LONDON

For full details and to book The M Spa by Montcalm London simply click here!

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