Naga, Kensington

The best thing about moving homes is discovering a new neighbourhood, and Holland Park has a lot to offer. Living in this area of West London definitely has its perks, with Notting Hill and Kensington so close there are always plenty of options for keen restaurant frequenters! I’d never heard of Naga, nor spotted it just off Kensington High Street, but I’m always enthusiastic to find somewhere new nearby.

This restaurant offers oriental food which I feel is best described as Vietnamese with a touch of Thai and hint of Chinese. Along with the new tofu bar (the first in London), Naga has a great deal to offer to Kensington and Chelsea residents, with food this good it is also worth travelling to visit.

Owner and general manager, Tri, was keen to select our meal and we were happy to oblige bewildered by the menu. Soon a bottle of Italian white wine was open and we enjoyed a glass while observing the jovial atmosphere of the place – it was full and buzzing on a Saturday night.

Silken tofu with ginger dressing, duck and watermelon salad, and chicken satay were up first: an array of fragrant, flavoursome food that tasted just as good as it looked. The satay was spicy and aromatic, and the salad was sensational but needed more duck meat and less coriander leaves! The tofu was less appealing to me but understandably successful thanks to the creamy consistency.

I don’t know how to describe the main course – which was all truly delicious – silence fell as we both dropped conversation in favour of food gobbling. Flash fried beef fillet with scallions is a must – juicy, high quality meat coated in a peppery sauce. My guest adored the indulgent slow-cooked pork belly with crackling and Asian mash – fatty but wonderful pork with a sweet sauce and aromatic mash bedding. Our mains were accompanied with light and delicious egg fried rice, and amazingly addictive garlic French beans which are apparently made from a very secret recipe.

Coconut ice-cream and chocolate fondant soothed the tastebuds after all the piquancy of the meal. We tried to work off some of the calories by strolling home through Holland Park, overhearing the end of the Bizet opera on the way.

More information here.

Cobella, Hair and Spa, Kensington

I can’t think of a more lovely way to spend an afternoon than having a facial and hair treatment and at Cobella you can experience both in a luxury afternoon of pampering. As the weather drops to below freezing our skin and hair is put through gruelling conditions and a bit of TLC is essential to look glowing in the winter months.

Cobella is conveniently placed on High Street Kensington, with another branch in Selfridges. The salon is huge – endless chairs and mirrors and stylists milling around everywhere ready to perform master makeovers. I went for my facial first, downstairs in the blissfully warm spa. In a small calming room, I was introduced to my therapist, Almaz (who had immaculate skin herself). I was booked in to have the Oxygen Facial but after carefully looking at my skin she decided this might not be the best treatment for me, instead opting for a bespoke facial. Almaz was incredibly thorough, tailoring the treatment entirely to my skin’s needs and adjusting the signature facial accordingly. Yet again I was told my skin was suffering from being severely dry and she was fierce with me, insisting I must take more care to ensure I don’t suffer from premature ageing. Almaz was so honest and experienced, I went home afterwards and threw out all my unhealthy products, no more of my regular moisturiser or face wipes as these were apparently responsible for drying out my skin.

Almaz scrubbed, cleansed, toned and refreshed my skin, revealing a glowing complexion I was proud to leave with. She used an oxygen machine to add freshness and life to my skin and used tiny electric currents to energise me, getting rid of that tired dull winter look. Every question I had she answered truthfully, offering solutions without trying to sell me products.

After my facial was finished I was directed upstairs for a hair treatment and blow dry. If I could, I would visit a salon every week for a blow dry, the salon method completely revolutionises the way I look and feel. My hair stylist Ekatarina was less chatty, or perhaps she was just shy. She decided an intense Shu Eumura moisturising treatment would be best for my hair.  The treatment was heavenly, and the girl washing my hair massaged my head so wonderfully I could have fallen asleep in the sink! Ekaterina then gently dried my hair adding subtle curls with GHD straighteners. The styling was beautiful, so soft and romantic and natural, I felt ready for a part in a Bronte novel.

The layout of products to purchase is staggering: every gel, lotion, wax, cream, foam and liquid in every brand is available. I picked up a few of my favourite Keraste hair products to keep my bleached hair under control and was very tempted by the extensive range of Shu Uemura products too.

Cobella has everything you need for the perfect spa day, book here for the instant winter remedy!