Monday, 28 August 2017

My 26th Birthday At St James's Hotel And Club



I remember when I was a kid, I used to run through the Argos catalogue and write down the catalogue numbers of all the items I wanted for my birthday. I think any 90s kid can relate to that. I had a list of 100s- of course I’d only receive a few- but I loved getting presents. Physical presents. As I’ve gotten older, there isn’t much I want in terms of gifts, which causes my parents hassle now. Instead I want to experience things, spend time with loved ones and just have fun. Which is why for my 26th birthday I decided to forgo the pile of presents and instead checked myself into The St James Hotel and Club for a wellness weekend of food and pampering.

The St James's Hotel and Club has been on my radar for a good year now, having ate there several times, but I hadn’t actually stayed before, so I thought it was the perfect time to go for a special treat.



The St James’s hotel opened its doors in 1859 and was a club for diplomats, until it became a hotel in the 70s where it attracted celebrity guests including Rodger Moore. It still homes the rich and famous whilst they are in London due to its unique hide-away location, down a cul-de-sac off in Mayfair. Recent guests have included Halle Berry and Dita Von Tees.

Inside it is a mixture of traditional, old gentleman's club mixed with modern luxury touches. Dark solid woods, impeccable fabrics and high quality details make the design of the hotel extremely elegant and faultless in terms of looks.


Now I’m all about birthdays being about fun and happiness and letting loose, which for me usually means cake, champagne and many boxes of chocolates. However I really loved the sound of St James's Hotel’s Wellness On The Move package. The package is a nights stay, with a wellness breakfast for two and a 60 minute massage for 1. The wellness breakfast is powerhouse of goodness and nutrients which sounded like something I could really get into, as I’ve been hitting the gym hard recently.

But before breakfast it was time to see the room, and like I said, you can not fault the design here. I was staying in the Deluxe Suite, and what a treat it really was. The lounge had a beautiful fire place, and plush sofas and a huge solid oak desk.


The bathroom is huge! Plus I'm always a big fan of double sinks- I'm sure many marriages have been saved by them.



The room had everything you could need, including a mobile phone which gave local guides to the area and hotel, except there was one very crucial thing missing which I must raise. There was no tea or coffee facilities in the room. Now yes it is minor but to me it's such a staple item and for a 5* hotel I expect a coffee machine or at least a kettle.



After a quick freshen up (with his and hers sinks) it was time for my pre-birthday dinner. Now the hotels huge draw is the restaurants. The famous one is Seven Park Place by Michelin Starred chef William Drabble, which I ate in at Christmas with Lucy Choi, however tonight we decided to keep it slightly more casual and headed to the Bar and Bistro.



The menu consists of classic dishes that will suit everyone.



However you must order cocktails from the bar first, as I remembered from my last visit here, that the bar is very good. I of course had a gin cocktail with elder folder and cucumber in it, which Dan went for an Old Fashioned- his go to drink.



For starters, Dan went for a Caesar salad, which he actually raved about saying it was delicious. Trust me now, this is high praise. Most things are "It's fine".



I went for the charcuterie board as I love cold cuts of meat. Top this on some bread, and it's one of the simplest but delicious meals.



Dan said he really like his burger as it was a "Long eat". On clarity apparently that meant it was a big heft burger that you wouldn't finish in two mouthfuls, which he said was a good thing for him (He's 6ft 5) and so can polish off things pretty quickly. The burger also came with medira sauce which made it feel like it was a steak between those buns.



Which leads me onto my actual steak. It might not look much, but damn it was a good steak! Fatty, rich and really well seasoned, the sirloin steak was one of the better ones I've had this last year, and thoroughly enjoyable.



And of course, no Laura meal would be complete without an espresso martini, my absolute favourite drink in the world.



Seeing as this was my (pre) birthday meal, we decided to get dessert. Without a doubt it wad going to be the brownies, especially as I sae the word pistachio on them.



Although a second dessert came my way with a surprise birthday treat!

The St James's Hotel was such a cutie!



The next day I woke up after a really comfy sleep - the bed was huge by the way, so plenty of room to starfish sleep- to breakfast in my room. My birthday breakfast! It was my 26th Birthday!



So let's talk about the wellness breakfast. The wellness breaks consists of 4 parts based on healthy, nutritious elements that will kick start your day.



There is soaked oats with raspberries and macadamia nuts.



Then there was smoked salmon and avocado on whole wheat pancakes, which was delicious. I actually have smoke salmon everyday for breakfast- usually with poached eggs- so its one of my favourite things to eat.



Then there was grain made crumpets with honey bananas and finally there was the green smoothie. Now the crumpets and pancakes were really delicious and felt really healthy yet still a treat (I didn't eat the oats as I don't drink milk) however the green smoothie wasn't for me. I like green juices and smoothies but this one I didn't have any fruit in it, so was way to healthy for me. Apparently it was made especially for Dita Von Tees when she came here, so I can see it being super healthy as she's tiny, but for the average gal who is used to things on the sweeter it was just *too* healthy.



After breakfast it was time for my birthday massage. St James's Hotel have teamed up with Perfect 10 Black Label which is a on call beauty treatment company who will come out to hotels and homes for massages and beauty treatments.

I asked for a strong massage as like I said I'd been hotting the gym hard and I was getting some tension built up in my shoulders and legs. Boy did my therapist work out those knots! She was good. I could feel her really working them out again and again, which whilst not relaxing, felt really satisfying.



Sadly it was then time to check out of the hotel and carry on with the rest of my birthday.

The St James's Hotel and Club is such a wonderful hotel which impeccable service and style. The wellness package is a great addition to a night stay and if you have some free time to relax, you should definitely take up as that massage will set you up for anything.

Like I said, I much prefer experiences than physical presents now and my birthday stay at St James's Hotel really topped the list.


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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Plum Gin Fizz Recipe


At the weekend, I found myself doing my usual look through the fridge to see what fresh stuff I had left over and what I potentially needed to buy for the new week- all very adult-y.

There on the middle shelf was a punnet of plums I'd bought on a whim in a bid to be more healthy. I think at the time I'd muttered something about fruit and porridge but that never happened. I didn't want to let the fruit go to waste, but I didn't fancy just snacking on them whole. I racked my brains, until my eyes drifted over to my alcohol cupboard. I wonder...

And so the Plum Gin Fizz recipe was born.




If you haven't guessed by now, gin is my go to drink. I mean I'm happy with just a simple gin and tonic, which wouldn't be the same for something like vodka, so it's a nice easy drink. But add in a few ingredients and you can lift it to a whole other level. Plums can be either sweet or tart, and I try to go for the middle of the road variety so I can layer the other flavours into the cocktail. This recipe is ridiculously simple, and one that you can make with just a few house hold items, except maybe the plums- unless you too bought some on a healthy kick whim. I think adding them to gin though might negate their healthy factor.




For this recipe I used G'Vine Gin. Now I want to clarify, this isn't a sponsored post, I had some in my cupboard after I went to their 10 year birthday party in Paris a while ago, and thought G'Vine would make a good pairing and also might be good to introduce you to a more unusual gin than I've spoken about previously on my recipe posts.

G'Vine is a French gin and slightly unusual in that it's made from grape vine which most gins are not.  They use the grape vine flower which has only a window of a few days before it turns into normal grapes, meaning there is only a small window to make G'Vine. It's quite silky in texture and slightly more sweeter than some of the standard British gins. I also thought it went well with this recipe as one of it's flavour ingredients is lime, which I'll be using.



Recipe

Ingredients 

  • G'Vine Gin- 50ml
  • Tonic Water 100ml
  • 2 plums
  • Half a lime
  • 1 teaspoon of runny honey 
  1. Slice the plums into thin slices and add into the bottom of your desired glass. I like the mason jar for this as it feels fun but a standard glass will do. 
  2. Squeeze the juice of one half a lime over the plums
  3. Next add one teaspoon of ruin honey on top. 
  4. Then add the gin, and then the tonic. 
  5. Stir well to mix in all the flavours.
  6. Serve 



And there you have it, a very simply but punchy drink that will use some of those cupboard staples. So if you are like me and actually can't do the healthy eating regime I told myself, at least this way you aren't wasting food. I'd say that's still being an adult, right?
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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Spa Day at The Four Seasons Hampshire


London is a wonderful place. Full of excitement, pop ups left right and centre and usually running around to keep up to date. However one thing it lacks is space. Peace. And that classic English countryside. But fear not as just s short train ride out of London's Waterloo and you end up in glorious Hampshire. More specifically I end ed up at the Four Seasons Hampshire for a very refined country day out.

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Monday, 7 August 2017

Ampersand Hotel, London Review



I started this blog as I was about to move down to London to start my graduate job and my new life. I wanted to write about all the amazing places I found; cool bars, restaurants and events on, as I truly believe London is one of the best cities in the world. Because of this I've managed to gained readers all over the world (hello you lovely lot) with many of you coming to London to also discover all the wonders on offer. So it would only be right if I shared a London hotel with you too, so you have somewhere exciting to stay too. So say hello to the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington.
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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

La Dolce Vita - Theo Randall Brunch


So we've hit midweek and now all I’m thinking about is how close the weekend is. Some people like nothing better than to lie in at the weekend, or just doing nothing and hanging out in front of the TV. But me? I love heading out to Brunch. Brunch food is the best food. There is no denying that. It’s sort of an everything goes. Pancakes. Check. Fries. Check. Dessert. Check. Champagne. Check check check. 

So I’ve got a goodie of a new brunch recommendation for you today, and you’ll be very glad to hear its all you can eat AND drink. Yes thats right. It’s a bottomless brunch. It's possibly the most indulgent brunch in London. 


Theo Randall at The Intercontinental is a upmarket Italian restaurant near Park Lane. Now never having been to Italy I can’t be sure on their brunch status, but I feel like brunch foods would be really good in Italy and so with a touch of the Park Lane luxury, I had high hopes. 

The restaurant doesn't open till 12:30 (not strictly brunch time...) and I arrived 15 minutes early so I had an espresso martini to keep me occupied whilst they set up. Well it is my favourite drink of all time.


The brunch is called La Dolce Vita, and let me tell you, the concept is so much food it’s enough to feed a small army. Like I said, indulgent is the key word.

‘La Dolce Vita’ brunch menu is inspired by the Italian tradition of friends and family gathering together around a table and sharing food “family style” . It’s a 4 course brunch; antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci and with bottomless prosecco or Bloody Mary’s. The first course, it is help yourself at the communal table. Next a small pasta dish, followed my a main off the menu and then it's back to the communal table for desserts. 


The set up is gorgeous, and they have gone to a lot of effort to make the antipasti table as fresh and inviting as possible. 


The antipasti table really was a feast. Colours, textures and smells burst out. I have to hand it to to them they really have made an effort with presentation. The dishes ranged from cold cuts and cheeses, salads, vegetables, breads and fish.

It's really easy to pile your plate high but I tried to be a little restraint as I knew there was many courses still to come.  


The antipasti selection was just the right amount and gave enough choice for everyone to enjoy. It tasted fresh and full of flavour and I would just be happy to do a brunch purely from that table. 


The pasta course was a small plate of spinach ravioli which whilst small was really delicious. Creamy  and light, it was a nice contrast to the rich flavours of all the salads and cold cuts. 


Now for secondi, and buy are portions big here. Well I say big. They are normal main meal sizes, but having ate 2 previous courses, I do wonder if this is normal for Italians, as how do they stay so slim? But for a special treat, it really is a treat. The guinea fowl was lovely and gamey and fatty which I personally love. The cream and mascarpone sauce is a welcomed addition to cut through the rich meat, although it does add to the rich overall richness and heartiness of the dish. 

However my favourite was the fontina cheese baked souffle with zucchini and spinach. So light and cheesy, and you know me, I adore cheese. Never having fontina cheese before, its sort of like gruyere as it's a good melting cheese. 


Finally dessert time. Now what I wasn't expecting is that they actually bring out a trio of desserts before you can head up to the dessert table where there is more cake and pancakes! If this isn't he most indulgent brunch in London, I don't know what is?

The flourless chocolate cake is an absolute must from that trio. Its dense and fudgey, and sticks to your mouth as you lick it off the spoon. Personally the fruit cake was nice, but very much like any other fruit cake, so I'd say pass and head over to this table instead...   


A build your own pancake station. Once a fresh pancake has been made to your order, its up to you how healthy or unhealthy you make it. There is fruit, cream, chocolate sauce, honey, nuts, everything you could want. 


Having plugged away at the dessert table, I actually felt like I might roll out of the restaurant (I did infect have a nap when I got home). La Dolce Vita by Theo Randall really is a luxurious treat and I loved the concept, setup and way they don't rush you and in fact encourage you to take your time and chat. If you are looking for an indulgent, bottomless brunch in London, I highly recommend. 


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