Free Pandora Leather Bracelet Event with SWAG Starts Today!

This is an unmissable for jewellery lovers everywhere. This weekend you will receive a free Pandora leather bracelet when you spend £75 – £95 on Pandora jewellery at SWAG Jeweller.

The leather bracelet event at SWAG starts today, spend £75, £85 or £95 to receive a free stylish leather Pandora bracelet worth up to £50. This amazing offer is only available this weekend (Thursday 24th – Sunday 27th July) and allows any customer that spend the specified amount on any Pandora jewellery to choose from the single, double or triple strap leather Pandora bracelets in a range of beautiful colours.

Simply add your Pandora items over the price of £75 to your Swag bag first, then add your chosen leather bracelet last, and the price of your new bracelet will be removed from your bag at the checkout.

There are the single, double and triple leather Pandora bracelets available to choose from. To be eligible for the single bracelet you must spend over £75, for the double bracelet your items must be £85 or more and to receive the triple strap design simply spend anything over £95 before adding your new bracelet to your Swag bag.

Head over to the SWAG Jeweller website now where they have a huge selection of your favourite Pandora items to choose from!

*This offer is subject to stock levels and availability. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Only valid from and including 24th July 2014 to 27th July 2014.


Notting Hill Kitchen

Since moving to Holland Park, I have endeavoured to discover as many exciting bars, boutiques and restaurants as possible. Notting Hill Kitchen is perfectly located for Portobello Market trawlers or those perusing the boutiques on Westbourne Grove. A contemporary eatery offering Spanish and Portuguese delicacies, it is ideal for a late tapas lunch in summer or a glass of wine with friends on a Friday.

After a floral herb infused Honey and thyme whiskey sour cocktail in the bar, we got comfortable at one of the informal wooden tables ready to indulge in the modern Mediterranean cuisine. The bread was unexciting and a little dry but the thinly sliced Jamon Iberico and the Spanish cheeses were delicious and reminded me of a little tapas bar I stumbled across with friends in Alicante. The best bites though were the tasty little Ham croquetas, with molten cheese oozing out of the crunchy cases.

Main courses are classy and creative… the luxurious Free range chicken with langoustines layered with chorizo, avocado mousse, artichokes and viscaina sauce is presented artistically across the plate, a contrast of textures and creamy and salty flavours. The Seared beef tenderloin was my favourite, chunks of soft meat with a crisp edge, its woody rustic flavour marrying beautifully with the buttery truffled mash, sautéed mushrooms and fresh white asparagus. The food wasn’t fussy, but the quality was as high as you’d expect from a stuffier, smarter restaurant.

The wine selection here will leave you stumped, obscure varieties from idyllic sounding vineyards from Spain and Portugal. I left the decision to our chirpy waiter who chose a fruity, fresh Portuguese wine, Crasto Douro from 2012.The desserts looked beautiful but were slightly overcomplicated in flavour, the posh Portuguese tart would have been better just left alone without the fruit and cream and the Lemon cheesecake conflicted with the chocolate. Most of the attention and detail is given to the savoury courses, puddings seem to be a bit of an afterthought.

Food is pricey, but you’d expect it to be in this area of London. Many of the nearby restaurants exhibit style over substance, Notting Hill Kitchen offers a fresh concept for West Londoners to get their teeth into.

More information and book a table here:

Akaryn, Samui, Thailand

Part of the Thai AHMS collection and a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, Akaryn is a highly regarded hotel on the island of Samui. It is set on the serene Hanuman Bay slightly removed from the main hubbub of tourist activity. With 52 suites built amongst the lush tropical greenery and backing onto the idyllic beach, it is the ideal secluded luxury accommodation.

Weaving our way along a leafy path, we found ourselves at Pool Suite 124, a lovely hexagonal villa with a private plunge pool. The suites are subtly designed in a chic Asian style, a mix of antique furniture and modern technology giving a cosy but contemporary feel. Huge heavy curtains ensure the room is pitch black at night, but they also look grand and indulgent concealing the windows and adding a touch of decadence to the decor. Our open-plan suite had a high ceiling creating a calming sense of space. It included a blissfully bouncy kingsize bed, a thoughtfully designed living area with characterful wooden furniture, fruit bowl and magazines. We didn’t use the TV and iPod speakers spending nearly all our time outside or reading on the wonderfully comfortable bed.

Some of the suites include a glorious hand-carved roll top bath, we were sad to miss out on this but still enjoyed our well equipped bathroom: a simple area with walk-in shower and separate toilet, equipped with complimentary naturally sourced toiletries using essential oil extracts, exclusively designed for the hotel. The only fault with the bathroom was a lack of light which I found irritating in the evening.

In the public spaces a wet bar dominates, guests can splash about while enjoying a cocktail or have a more civilised drink at the side of the pool. There are several refined restaurants from which to choose, important if one is staying for longer. The variety of cuisines on offer created by international chef Christoph Lindner, is a great asset to the hotel. We tried the traditional Thai menu from the Legend Restaurant for dinner whilst admiring the sea view. We loved the spicy Papaya salad, fragrant Chicken satay and irresistibly crispy Stir-fried beef with garlic and black pepper sauce. If you desire something a little more European try the Italian thin base pizzas made in the handmade wood-fired oven. For special occasions one can ask for a romantic, lantern lit dinner on the beach. Breakfast is also served by the beach on the breezy terrace, we tried a delectable selection of treats. I can particularly recommend the Baker’s favourite French toast rolled in cinnamon sugar with pineapple jam and homemade yoghurt, also delicious is the bottled fresh pineapple juice.

When it is time for some pampering, the Ayurah spa offers a range of eclectic and exotic treatments to soothe and revitalise. We experienced our first traditional Thai massage here, dressed in Karate style baggy white cotton outfits we lay face down while nimble ladies pushed and pulled our bodies in and out of shape. It was quite an experience, sixty minutes of painful pleasure! This treatment is known to reduce stress and relieve muscle soreness, but at the time it felt like quite the opposite.

Akaryn promotes itself as ‘intuitive luxury’, it is a relaxing retreat to satisfy all the senses and transport you far away from your busy everyday life.

More information and book a stay here:

How Brown + Hudson is Redefining Luxury Travel

Last week I caught up with Philippe Brown, the founder of bespoke travel company Brown + Hudson, to discuss what truly defines luxury travel, the trends he has witnessed in 2014 and his predictions for the high-end travel market as we look towards 2015.

What about the luxury travel market are you most passionate about?

“Through our slightly unorthodox approach, ultimately we are looking to redefine what people expect from their travel partner. We believe luxury lies within the time spent, the moments experienced, and not restricted to first-class travel or five star accommodation. Turning a dream into reality, with an abundance of personal touches along the way, is what really creates invaluable and inimitable travelling experiences.”

Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu

What travel trends have you witnessed in 2014?

“The digital revolution has taken hold of the travel market, but not in the way we might expect, with many people now looking to rebel and ‘unplug’ when they go away. Discerning travellers are harking back to older values of the Grand Tour and personal discovery to ensure memorable experiences, but at the same time seeking togetherness as a couple, family or increasingly a group of like-minded friends.

“While adventures lasting several months still hold sway, short duration and high impact trips often to ‘edgy’ destinations, where people can remove themselves from their lives for just a few days are now a core offering in luxury travel.

“Equally, meeting insightful individuals has also become popular, whether it be cooking with Murat Bozok, Turkey’s most highly regarded chef, or sipping tea with the King of Ladakh in the Himalayas.”

What is the history of Brown + Hudson and why did you start the company?

“As a young man I found myself working in a Parisian ad agency, enjoying my time, but always wondering how I could really make a lasting impact, on myself and on others. Daydreaming at my desk soon evolved into a solo expedition to Patagonia, on which I would search for the peaks of the Argentinean Andes.

“Trekking through the cordillera, standing on the shores of Lago Viedma and meeting wonderful people along the way signaled the start of my love for travelling. Influenced equally by the writing of William Henry Hudson amongst many others, I never looked back – only forward, to a life of travel.

“In 2009, I took the opportunity to found Brown + Hudson and share what I feel ‘travel’ means with others, absorbing them in the process from start to finish and ensuring every moment of the trip stays with them forever.”

The Singular, Patagonia

What is your top travel tip?

“When an experience is so unique, it is a crying shame to live it through the screen of a camera or smartphone. I would urge all travellers to take a step back and make sketches of their destinations instead, producing something really special to share with the grandchildren.”

Tell me a little known secret about Brown + Hudson that customers wouldn’t know?

“Language unlocks culture and I am fortunate enough to speak not only French and English, but Arabic, Vietnamese and many others too – essential for acquiring local knowledge, making friends and avoiding any confusing situations.”

Photo credit: Andre Arment

What makes Brown + Hudson so special and how does it differ from other luxury travel companies?

“Whether a client comes to us with a fully-formed vision or just a pipe dream, our promise is to create a one-of-a-kind trip with all that they want to experience – and nothing they don’t. It will not have been done before and it will never be done again, only living on in stories told.

“Time is the most valuable commodity we have, so every element of our pre-trip research, planning and reconnaissance is aimed at making every second of the journey irreplaceable.

“Most of all, we love a challenge. If it hasn’t been done, we want to do it; if it ‘can’t be done’, we will prove the doubters wrong.”

What are your predictions for the luxury travel market in 2015?

“We’ve noticed Montana coming to the fore as a lesser known North American destination, with a whole lot to offer. As a far cry – and much-needed rejuvenating escape – from urbanised lives, we are starting to uncover the Big Sky Country for clients who are ever tighter on time but increasingly in need of a breath of fresh air.

“Those looking to journey through new lands have, since 2011, had the option to explore Burma. Shrouded in secrecy for decades, Myanmar’s mainland is complemented by a string of 800 unmapped and remote islands known as the Mergui Archipelago. Inhabited by free-diving sea gypsies, these crystal clear waters and bright white beaches lend themselves to a luxury cruise aboard a wooden sailing boat.

“Thirdly, the slender South American country of Chile, stretching from the world’s driest desert in the north to blue-hued glaciers and soaring southern peaks of Patagonia, is quite possibly one of the world’s most diverse destinations. With so much on offer we are always looking to the less obvious to craft utterly original experiences for our clients. Whether it be through the winding colourful streets of Valparaiso in search of the home of Nobel prize-winning poet and diplomat, Pablo Neruda; navigating a course through Chile’s picture-perfect vineyards and wine lists; or an early morning hike to summit a snow-capped volcano with stunning scenery below.”

Vineyards and mountains in Chile


Brown + Hudson is a London-based team of passionate travellers well versed in creating exquisitely crafted, truly bespoke travel experiences across the globe. Each one-of-a-kind journey is tailored to suit individual tastes, interests and personal style, enabling affluent clients to explore the world on their own terms with expert input, ultimately yielding richer travel stories.

As a cross between a therapist and investigative journalist each experience is drafted through in-depth reconnaissance and unparalleled global connections with itineraries hand crafted. With a focus on culture, wildlife, culinary, wellbeing and more, often involving access to inspiring individuals, travel with Brown + Hudson is insightful and impossible to duplicate.


Hot on the Highstreet Week 217

In the last week every magazine has featured Charlotte Olympia’s new rainbow Kitty & Co capsule collection. The iconic feline flats have taken on a new family of characters, including ‘cheeky kitty’ and ‘pouty kitty’ and are available in an array of pastel and bright shades. As always the shoes are made from the softest velvet with a sturdy sole. Pick a pair for every occasion.

Priced at £525 these shoes are available at all Charlotte Olympia stores or online at

Sumahan on the Water, Istanbul

Those who have visited Istanbul before, or those with a little more time, may be keen to venture to the Asian side of the Bosphorus. This quiet and calm district will give you a taste of the old Istanbul and there is nowhere better to stay than the design-led hotel, Sumahan on the Water.

Housed in a 19th century former drinks factory, this property has great character and charm. We had a lovely days excursion to Sumahan, a much-needed break from the bustling streets and markets of the city centre. Catching the mid-morning complimentary speedboat transfer, we arrived at the hotel in time for lunch. With the sea breeze and the fantastic vista, it felt like a different city.

On the terrace of the restaurant Tapasuma we enjoyed delicious, beautifully presented Turkish specialities. Fine, refreshing local white wine, homemade bread with warm soft grilled cheese and tapenade. My highlights of the menu included warm hummus topped with indulgent sliced beef, tender roast lamb shank with mashed cracked wheat, fresh herbs, dates, plum, apricot and oregano lamb sauce. Pudding was sublime, a butter chocolate soufflé dusted with icing sugar and accompanied with ice-cream and cream. It was soft, sweet and gooey, the perfect consistency and utterly irresistible.

After a flavoursome and filling meal, we had time to relax in the sunshine before heading down to the petite spa. The space was simple but stylishly designed, and very comfortable. Here guests can try a luxurious Turkish hammam or indulge in one of the signature treatments. I enjoyed a vigorous aromatherapy massage with rose oil. The rhythmic movements eased the tension in my back and legs, and though it hurt at times, it felt like it was really improving my posture.

Sumahan on the Water is a blissful escape, a Turkish delight just thirty minutes across from Istanbul’s main city. Never has it been so easy to see two continents in a day, with the picturesque boat ride between being a bonus.

More information and book here.

The Edition, Istanbul

The London Edition is the hottest hotel in town. Artistic and elegant, it is frequented by A-listers from Kate Moss to Damien Hirst. The Istanbul Edition is quite different in style and purpose; located in the business district of Levent, this high class and high rise building is out on a limb. Although the trendy, wealthy area of Bebek is nearby, there are no hip hang-outs on the doorstep or cool boutiques round the corner. But guests need not fear, a metro station is conveniently just outside the main hotel entrance, delivering you to the centre of town within minutes.

Inside there are very few indications of Istanbul, the sleek modern interiors are welcoming but slightly non-specific. While checking-in, I was distracted away from the reception desk by the tank of exotic fish and sea creatures, design quirks like this gave a showy futuristic feel.

Even the smallest rooms are spacious at the Istanbul Edition. Our Deluxe Room was spread over 50 square metres and had every contemporary gadget you could imagine. From the giant central bed, we could operate every blind, curtain, shutter and light, controlling the exact ambience of the room. An internal curtain drew back to reveal the luxury bathroom in all its glory. The design is the epitome of minimalistic chic. The palette doesn’t deviate from pale grey and warm caramel shades. No one could fault the facilities and the design is sure to appeal to most. I slept like a baby in the regal bed, and adored the large rectangular marble bath, complete with own brand toiletries.

We felt like we were the first guests to experience the space, which is testament to the quality, upkeep and cleanliness.

The ESPA is a ‘destination spa’. Located deep underground it feels totally removed from the rest of the hotel. There are numerous treatment rooms, male and female hammams, rock sauna, steam room and snow cabin, oh, and a plunge pool with a sculptural, shimmering onyx ceiling.

Italian-based Cipriani Restaurant is found on the ground floor, all meals are served here including breakfast. With notably more colour and character, this area of the hotel gives off a different relaxed vibe. Breakfast was a tad dull, the lack of hot, freshly cooked, a la carte items was disappointing.

Although located in the financial district, the Edition Istanbul is much more than a business hotel. The spa is reason alone to visit.

More information and book here.

Mayfair Pizza Co, Mayfair

I thought there was nothing left to discover in Mayfair. London’s poshest streets are awash with glossy art galleries, designer clothes shops and expensive fine eateries, so when I got an email about Mayfair Pizza Co my interest was ignited. Located in the idyllic car-free courtyard of Lancashire Court, it is a popular place for professional locals to gather for an after work drink or supper with friends.

A slim staircase leads to an airy high ceilinged room, rustic wooden tables are lined up with plush blue-grey velvet chairs. It is a mix of Italian tradition and British style. The attractively stored wine bottles looked very tempting but delicate glasses of fizzy arrived, a Bellini for me. The very drinkable house Prosecco is priced at £5 a flute, though be warned it is quite addictive.

The menu features a selection of Italian antipasti and starters, simple pasta dishes and a range of creative pizzas. Bitesize Black truffle and mozzarella arancini balls were delightful. Trialling the counter artisan meats and cheeses was definitely a good idea, these delicacies are top quality. I would particularly recommend the Speck di Montagne, Burratina and rich and flavoursome Wild boar salami.

A few pizzas caught my eye, there is certainly a good variety on offer. Caprina is a lovely summery option with mozzarella, goat’s cheese, red peppers, rocket and parmesan, whilst meat eaters will devour the Salami, chorizo, Parma ham and pancetta. The kitchen kindly added extra red onion and nduja spicy sausage when we enquired about it. Additional pizza toppings are charged at £2 each; pizzas are priced between £8 and £16. The bases are medium thickness and toppings are distributed evenly throughout. The cheese is generous and I really loved the fresh crunchy rocket and salty parmesan on my pizza. The meat variety was a little overwhelming, I loved the chorizo and parma ham but wasn’t keen on the salami which tasted too salty and processed.

Dessert caused quite a conundrum, there were three we wanted. Promising to make smaller portion sizes we ordered all three. Nutella Calzone with marshmallow and crushed hazelnuts was a boy’s pudding, thick dough that squelches with a gooey sweet filling. Hardcore Italian food fans will enjoy the Tiramisu, though I found the proportion of cream to sponge wasn’t quite right… there was too much cream to get through. The salted caramel chocolate pot is little and luxurious, smooth and rich fondant-like mousse topped with crackling popping candy and chocolate crumbs.

Pizza and Prosecco are two of my favourite things and I can’t think of a nicer place to enjoy these indulgences than Mayfair Pizza Co.

More information and book here:

Things to do in Frankfurt

When choosing a destination to escape to for a weekend break I consider several factors: flight time, size of city, and cost of trip. And so, though an unusual choice for a leisure holiday, Frankfurt proved to be the ideal place for a 1-night getaway with a friend. 40 pounds for flights, 60 minutes on a plane and a small enough city centre in which almost everything is in walking distance.

To Stay

Roomers Hotel- Seductive and stylish this design hotel is a luxurious place to stay in Frankfurt for the weekend. Located in the centre of town and boasting a chic bar & restaurant, and stunning rooftop spa, it is a brilliant option for both business and leisure visitors.

To Eat

Carmelo Greco- Considering the size of the city Frankfurt has a large number of Michelin star eateries, predominantly to cater for the business customers. Carmelo Greco is a lovely, relaxed restaurant offering delicious refined Italian cuisine. I could not fault the service, quality of food or ambience, it was the perfect way to spend our only evening in the city.

Magarete- This trendy restaurant is must try in the city. Offering modern German cuisine in an arty cool dining space it is always full of fashionable, beautiful people.

Zeit Fur Brot- Translating to ‘Time for Bread’ this inviting café makes all the bread and pastries on site everyday with organic ingredients. At the end of the day they donate the leftovers to the homeless. I don’t normally like cinnamon rolls, but the freshly baked variety here was utterly irresistible, soft, sweet and warm it was very comforting and the perfect snack with a cup of coffee.

To Drink

Plank café bar- This all-black corner café is found in the red-light district. Visit for cake and coffee in the day or at night for a glass of fine German wine. The Plank crew love music and live bands often play, entertaining the evening guests.

The Parlour- Impossible to find and certainly just for in-the-know cocktail aficionados, this tiny bar is setting the mixology trends in Frankfurt. Speak to talented bartender Maxim Kilian who will create you a magical, perfectly mixed drink or order from their inventive list. We tried all kinds of wonderful creations, but I would recommend the Bourbon-based and well balanced Napoleon Dynamite.

Lorsbacher Thal – cider and apple wine is a speciality in Frankfurt and this traditional tavern is the ideal place to try it. Sit at one of the communal wooden tables, admire young charming surroundings and enjoy a refreshing glass of apple wine.

To Do

MMK museum- Frankfurt’s Museum for Modern Art was founded in 1981, it is known as the ‘piece of cake’ because of the unique shape of the building. Exhibiting thrilling and innovative shows, I saw a thought-provoking exhibition inspired by The Divine Comedy in which Heaven, Hell and Purgatory is interpreted by contemporary African artists.

The Dom – With so many high-rise financial buildings it is pleasant to see this historic cathedral and tower, dating back to the 14th century. Climb to the top of the tower for impressive 360 views of the entire city.

Staedel Museum- The main art gallery in Frankfurt has an important collection of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures from seven centuries. The building goes underground in a fascinating extension with a curved ceiling, on ground level there is an amazing and unique garden accenting with circular skylights on the floor.

Villa Kennedy Spa- Indulge and revitalise at this outstanding spa. Located in the grand Villa Kennedy hotel this spa is a pampering palace. Have a soothing massage then enjoy the indulgent facilities, I particularly loved the Turkish steam room and the granite-lined pool which overlooks the lush garden.

To Shop

Tia Emma- This multi-coloured little shop is a delight for kids and adult. Crowded shelves display trinkets, stickers, toys, stationery and other useless but wonderful artefacts. You’ll need to sit down after all the excitement, and grab a coffee and slice of cake from the shop’s café.

Designe Kleine- This miniature design store is definitely worth visiting. Owner Susanne Stahl rents out the display boxes to showcase and sell the work of other designers. There is always an eclectic mix to discover inside, and even when the shop is shut you can use the 24 hour vending machine outside to the shop which dispenses surprise design creations, different every time for 3 Euros a pop.

Apfelweinhandlung: This site was previously home to the beloved concept store Colekt which recently shut. Owner JB’s minimalist shop serves and sells his own brewed apple wine, a Frankfurt specialty. Just 8 Euros a bottle, this delicious brew uses eight types of apples including rare varieties from old German apple trees. Chat to JB about the fascinating process and buy a bottle to take home.

Bitter & Zart- A chocolate shop to inspire and excite. The beautiful interiors wow, with wall art designs by Renata Kos and Oriana Fenwick complementing the cabinets of rainbow hued chocolates. Sit nextdoor in the seductive velvet clad café for Parisian tea or coffee from locally based roaster Jorges.

Many thanks to the Frankfurt Tourist board for their help with this trip, more information here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 216

I love cookbooks, even if they are most commonly used as eye candy on my coffee table. Here are a few of my current favourites, all available to buy on Amazon.

The Art of Eating Well is a revolutionary cookbook that will help anyone who wishes to feel better, lose weight or have more energy. London-based sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley teach their principles of life-long healthy eating with exciting and inventive recipes that are so delicious you forget the purpose is good health and nourishment. Buy here.

Stevie Parle burst onto the London scene in 2009 with the launch of a new restaurant, Dock Kitchen, whose food AA Gill described as ‘faultless’, earning him the Observer Food Monthly Young Chef of the Year award 2010. The opposite of the usual ‘chefy’ restaurant fare, Stevie serves an eclectic mix of dishes that in their countries of origin would all be described as home cooking. Ranging from Mexico to Morocco, from Catalonia to Kerala, taking in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, here are simple, wholesome and perfectly balanced recipes for dishes that will warm the heart in winter and cool the palate in summer. Buy here.

‘Winner of two “Gourmand Cookbook Awards 2014: ” Best in the World, Historical Recipes and Best” “Local Cuisine, For Italy’Food and glass: a combination offering an authentically Venetian experience. Venetian cooking is fundamentally a simple cuisine because of the basic ingredients and methods of preparation and the time required for cooking is short, but it is also complex, giving rise to striking and unusual combinations. This gastronomic tradition is the product of a highly distinctive territory, one in which water and land closely exist. There are fish and shellfish from the lagoon and the nearby Adriatic, vegetables and fruit from the islands in the estuary, and meat and game from the mainland and spices from the distant Orient. Buy here.

The king of beautiful pub food has collected all of his best ideas into this proper cookbook, ready to warm the world on a grey day and restore the nation’s good mood. Tom Kerridge’s idea of food heaven isn’t fussy gastronomy; it’s proper ‘man food’ with Michelin star magic, including breakfasts that keep you smiling for the whole day, indulgent long lunches, teatime temptations, seasonal snacks and heart-warming suppers. In this cookbook Tom proves that everyone can make proper pub food, and the only place he wants to see a foam is on the head of a pint of beer! Over 100 recipes reveal his secrets for making real food truly amazing, including perfected dishes from his childhood and special treats he serves at his own one-of-a-kind pub. These recipes are simply the best version you’ll ever have of the dishes everyone loves the most. Buy here.

More than 100 recipes make up this stunning yet eminently approachable collection of suppers from Jason Atherton: perfect meals to share with friends and family. It is not only a showcase of Jason’s favourite things to cook, both savoury and sweet, but also a celebration of the flavours and techniques that have inspired him from all around the world. Every dish bears the hallmark of excellence on which he has built his reputation as one of the world’s truly great and most innovative chefs. Beautiful, inspiring photography by John Carey completes this collection of stunningly good suppers. Buy here.