02
Dec 13

Gifts for The Best Friend and Sister

DHC Olive Oil Butter – £15.50
Cold weather man leave skin chapped and flaky so an all over moisturising routine is essential to keep you ready for summer (even though it feels years away!). This body butter contains shea butter, olive oil, avocado oil, squalane and argan oil and leaves skin non greasy and super soft.

Mavala Oil Seal Dryer – £11.85 
The drying part of applying nail polish is the worst. And we’ve probably all slept on our freshly painted nails and woken up with patterns from our duvet! This new oil seal dryer leaves nails touch dry within seconds and also provides nourishment for cuticles.

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Aveda Damage Remedy – from £20.50
Party season means lots of hair washing, curling and twirling. Treat her tresses to the three-day restricting system from Aveda. With babassu and quinoa protein, this shampoo, conditioner and intensive restructuring treatment helps strengthen and repair hair from the inside out.

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Clinique Superprimer for Deeper Skins – £20 
Finding a primer that doesn’t leave dark skin looking ashen or grey is not as easy as you’d think so thank goodness Clinique have formulated one especially for deeper skin tones. The primer colour corrects dullness in deeper skins with its soft, pearlized bronze tinted colour and corrects ashiness and dullness leaving you with a radiant, healthy looking base.

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MALIN + GOETZ Absolute Rose Candle – £37 
With top notes of green ivy and Anjou pear, middle notes of Moroccan rose and bamboo and base notes of musk, this is the loveliest candle I’ve ever come across. I vote they make it into a perfume!

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Burt’s Bees Therapeutic Bath Crystals – £10.99
Pippa Middleton recently called Burt’s Bees Therapeutic Bath Crystals ‘hydrating, healing and de-stressing’, which sounds exactly what we all need for Xmas and the New Year!

burtsbees


01
Dec 13

Thai Square Spa Covent Garden

Housed on Sheldon Street off of the famous 7 Dials, the Thai Square Spa is a revolution in elegance, opulence and tranquility. A little hint, if you’re visiting in non-daylight winter hours enter via the Spa’s rear exit on Earlham Street. It’s like entering a mountain Sanctuary in Chang Mai!

Upon entry I was warmly greeted by the receptionist shortly followed by Spa Manager, Sarai, who showed me several of the rooms including the group bookings suite and treatment room. The facilities upstairs are stunning. The decor is very dark, with walls finished tastefully in dark woods and gold leaf.

Heavy antiqued metal ornaments, bell and statues complement these staple finishes and lots of Buddhas back dropped by candles. Sarai tells me the Spa used to be an Italian restaurant; certainly no trace is left following the refurbishment. I was offered a choice of teas to kick start my treatment and not before time Bea, my masseuse, arrived to take me downstairs.

Thai Square Spa 1

If you thought the upstairs was nice the downstairs is truly the height of decadence. Once in my stunning treatment room, complete with copper slipper bath (next time I mentally note) Bea begins to bathe my feet, in what I can only say is the most loving way my feet have ever been bathed. Not even am I that loving! I’m then asked to de-robe and hop up on to the couch. I opted for a traditional Thai Massage to the neck, back and shoulder. The massage works on heating the body temperature and muscles using hot oils massaged into pre exfoliated skin. Once warmed up a multiple pressure points are applied and manipulated to relieve tension. Blissful.

The room is very dark and aromatic, the mood music is soothing and peaceful and the massage itself sends me into a state of limbo; not sleeping, aware of my surroundings, but detached, far removed, an almost out of body experience. But it’s not so when Bea announces the treatment is over we both have a giggle as I struggle to get up. I’m that relaxed! She offers me another tea and a chance to recover back in the changing room.

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All in all, the Spa is first class. The staff are proud of this fact and it shows in the attentiveness, hospitality and friendliness of everyone I met. Bea is an excellent masseuse; all staff at the Spa have trained at the prestigious Watpo (Temple of Reclining Medicine) Thai Traditional Massage School in Bangkok.

In the run up to the holiday season the Spa have a number of award winning packages to suit all:
Super stress relieving Package £69 (was £110) – a package for men or women including a 30 minute Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage with either a 30 minute foot or Head massage depending on whether you are over worked or over shopped!

They also have an indulgent Siamese Traditional Stress Relieve treatment priced at just £99 which includes a 90-minute Thai Massage and a 30-minute oriental foot or head massage. I cannot recommend this Spa highly enough. It lifted exceeded my expectations and lifted my spirits, the only thing it didn’t do was tuck me into bed!

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Thai Square Spa
25 Shelton Street
London
WC2H 9HW
Tel – 020 7240 6090
www.thaisquarespa.com


27
Nov 13

Gifts for Mums & Aunts

Dolce & Gabbana The One For Him/Her – from £45
The One for women has a floral scent and opens with fresh top notes of zesty Bergamot and Mandarin combined with juicy Lychee and Peach. Let’s not forget about Dad/Uncle; The One for Men is a blend of tobacco notes and refined spices. Both come in Limited Edition Gold and Platinum bottles and have great bathroom shelf showing off power.

dolce gabbana the one

Elemis Pro Collagen Perfection Kit – £70 (save £38)
This complete anti-ageing regime for cleansed and nourished skin comes in a gorgeous silver vanity case and contains:

Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser 30 ml
NEW Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm 20g
Rehydrating Ginseng Toner 50ml
Papaya Enzyme Peel 15ml
Limited Edition Pro-Collagen Marine Cream 30ml
Pro-Collagen Oxygenating Night Cream 15ml
100% Cotton Wash Cloth

NEOM Organics Comforting Home Candle – £42
Made from 100% natural vegetable wax and pure aromatherapy oils, this candle has a deep woody fragrance with hints of orange and liquorice. Burn time 50 hours so don’t let its small size deceive you.

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Avon Pretty in Neutrals Make-up Palette – £30
A great neutral palette at an ever greater price. For only £30 you get 24 eye shadows, 6 blushers, 4 lip glosses and 6 applicators.

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CHANEL Rouge Allure Velvet – £25
Every woman should own a red lipstick and trust Chanel to create the perfect luxurious matte Xmas shade. No 317 La Precieuse is not for the shy but if she’s not going to wear a bold colour at this time of year then she probably never will and you’re totally justified in keeping it for yourself!

Toulou Organics Timeless Raspberry Face Oil – £26
With raspberry seed oil and rock rose, this antioxidant face oil is rich in omega 3 and 6 as well as vitamins A and E so is great for mature skins who want a natural way to treat signs of ageing.

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23
Nov 13

The Arch London

This hotel is hidden gem in London but the word is out. Who knew it was there! On arrival we were warmly welcomed and all the concierge staff were professional and helpful. While looking around you can’t help but be drawn in to the wonderful modern chic decor. With rich mahogany furniture and eye catching artwork well placed all around the hotel every little corner or corridor is appealing. It is a smaller hotel compared with many I have stayed at but the discreet, intimate location and feel is very special and once you’re inside you realise it’s not small at all. The hotel was busy but it didn’t feel impersonal or uncomfortable and there was no dip in the level of service.

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We were very impressed with the CHAncery 242 suite. The decor again was spot on, the bathroom boasted a TV and the walk in shower was gorgeous! The products samples were from MALIN + GOETZ and they were sweet smelling and had a really unisex look which didn’t put my husband off from using them! Honestly after my deep bath I still could have spent all my evening in there! We had a huge bed with a large flat screen TV. The suite resembled more of a large decorative luxury apartment than a hotel room, as it contained a spacious sitting room and a modern kitchen, (with a pretty tea pot which I would have loved to take home!). There was a well stocked mini bar in both the living room and bedroom. Once we’d put our bags down and had finished chatting about how elegant and tasteful the suite was we sat down and read our welcome note which was a really nice personal touch. It came with a bowl of delicious fruit and scrumptious chocolates that were wrapped in a little box. It’s all in the detail at The Arch.

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Made from a wine cellar, the gym had a quirky design but more importantly was well stocked with the latest equipment including a power plate for those that know! There was complementary water in the fridge and fresh towels. Definitely worth a visit whilst you’re here.

We had dinner booked for 8pm and again it didn’t fail to delight. I’m a massive foodie so my expectations were high. We had a three course a la carte meal. We were made to feel welcome and given what I thought was the best seat in the restaurant. The waitresses were friendly and professional but were not over familiar. The restaurant Managers were very friendly and had a little chat with us however I must say all credit must go to the chef. The food was absolutely delicious!

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We had a starter, main, dessert and they also threw in complementary soup before our starter and chocolates at the end of the meal. Here are some photos of our meals. I’m sure the photos will do all the talking. If we could recommend a few things on the menu it would be

  • The salmon starter. It was light and refreshing.
  • The duck starter was well presented and rich in flavour- complimented by a chutney and almond bread.
  • Chocolate fondant dessert was mouth watering. My husband wanted another one!
  • The wine menu offered a sufficient choice of wines. I would recommend the Australian Merlot and the Sicilian Pinot Nero.

the arch london2

In the morning, after a wonderful nights sleep, we headed down and met the morning staff who were friendly and attentive. The kitchen Manager introduced himself and made us feel welcome. We thoroughly enjoyed a full English breakfast. We were also offered a choice of continental. The yoghurt, fresh fruit and an option of gluten free bread was such a bonus.

If like myself you want to relax after breakfast, take a stroll to the library where you can sit and read any of the books or newspapers on offer. At a slow leisurely pace we got ready to leave although we never felt rushed out of the hotel and really felt like we could have stayed on for a few more days!

the arch london 1

Overall I would say if you want to feel like a star but you don’t want all the fuss or attention of hotel staff on your back the whole time then this place is for you. It’s probably one of the most intimate, most modern elegant hotels I’ve ever stayed in.

The Arch London
50 Great Cumberland Place
London
W1H 7FD
www.thearchlondon.com


23
Nov 13

The Beauty Edit: Honeybell & Crabtree & Evelyn

Honeybell Organic Hand Lotion
The Honeybell Soap Company have branched out from soaps into organic hand and body lotions containing 89.95% organic ingredients and either a blend of essential oils or fragrance oils.

They are extra moisturising for the skin, do not contain any SLS, parabens or any other chemicals and are suitable for all types of skin. The Cucumber & Aloe Vera Lotion is particularly good for sensitive skin and, for those lucky enough to be escaping to some winter sun, for use after sunbathing as it contains pure Aloe Vera gel.

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Honeybell lotions are made in England, come in 200ml recyclable bottles and are available in seven different fragrances:

English Rose & Patchouli
Honeysuckle and Jasmine
Oriental Plum
Blackberry & Basil
Cucumber & Aloe Vera
Grapefruit & Lime
Tangerine Burst.

Honeybell Hand & Body Lotion – £12

Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Luxury Essentials
As Xmas approaches, the gifts sets available multiply. With its nutrient-rich seaweeds, this trio helps nourish the skin. Lightly scented with a relaxing fragrance, the Bath & Shower Gel, Body Lotion and award-winning Hand Therapy will leave skin gently cleansed and conditioned.

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Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Essentials – from £8.00


20
Nov 13

Label.m Thickening Range

This month saw the launch of the new Label M (the official hair care product of London Fashion Week) Thickening collection.

toni and guy thickening

The range is made up of a Shampoo, Conditioner and styling products Thickening Cream and Volume Foam all created with framboise stem cells, kona red coffee berry and qmilch fiber to add thickness, lift and shine to flat and lifeless hair.

The range has been designed to enhance hair thickness, density, volume and abundance and is paraben free. Ingredients help protect against damage with antioxidants and the brands’ exclusive Enviroshield Complex.

This collection works to improve the look of fullness with the unique label.m NRG Complex and Time-Release technology – helping to give increased benefits with prolonged use.

Prices start at £12.95

www.labelm.com/uk


19
Nov 13

Bobbi Brown Warm Smoky Eye Palette

I’m a huge fan of Bobbi Brown; she doesn’t make mad and crazy colours, her products are timeless and classic and can be worn by a teenager and her grandmother with neither looking anything other than beautiful.

This time of year means limited edition make up collections and my favourite from the Bobbi Brown Holiday range is the ‘Warm’ smoky eye palette.

bobbi-brown

The palette has a variety of nude 
to rich shades in warm tones which will suit pretty much every complexion:

Ivory Eye Shadow
Antique Gold Metallic Eye Shadow
Blonde Eye Shadow
Golden Chocolate Metallic Eye Shadow
Chiffon Sparkle Eye Shadow
Espresso Eye Shadow

Apply lightly during the day and for evening, simply use the enclosed brushed to amplify the colours.

Bobbi Brown Warm Smoky Eye Palette – £37.50 (limited edition)


18
Nov 13

Found: The Perfect Baby Bag

Finding the perfect baby bag is no easy task so when I was asked to review the new PacaPod, I gave the task to someone who knew their stuff; my sister in law who has just had baby number three. Here’s what she had to say:

Being on my third child I can safely say that it has been a quest! Preparing to take a baby and/or toddler out of the house, whether for a shopping trip, rhyme-time group or visit with friends can be a military operation. Once you are out of the comfort zone of home you need to have packed the many things a baby and/or needs and most importantly have instant access to them (wet wipes at the ready, nappy cream accessible and hand sanitizer – well, to hand!)

The perfect ‘baby bag’ not only needs to fit the essentials but it must be a bag that can be relied on for easy storage and access of said essentials without becoming an abyss where the car keys seem to do a disappearing act. It needs to be of good quality, practical and (forgive the superficiality) look good!

Finding the PacaPod Moab has meant that finally my quest is complete. The stylish grey wool felt mix with black leather trim gets the style points but the real show stopper is, unique to the brand, the 3in1 baby organisation system. Included in the bag are two completely detachable feeding and changing ‘pods’ one for storing baby and toddler feeding, the other for changing items thereby keeping them hygienically separate; the design concept is simply brilliant.

moab-pacapod

The Moab is deceptively large; inside you’ll find an inner draw-cord parent pocket, zipped pocket with elasticated key fob, dividing pockets as well as enough space for the changer and feeding pods. The Changer Pod includes 7 pockets including detachable clothes pouch, changing mat pocket and first aid pocket. The feeder pod works as a fully insulated cool bag and easily held three Tommee Tippee bottles whilst keeping the contents warm. There is also a detachable insulated bottle cover. With two children under two I have space for everything I need and feel totally in control of their varying needs when out and about.

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The PacaPod Moab is part of the brand’s luxury range and at £175 is certainly an indulgent purchase. However it is a worthwhile investment as it has a style that is timeless, is unisex in design and is a bag that will be used beyond the nappy and bottle carrying stage of parenthood.

www.PacaPod.com


17
Nov 13

Gifts for the Beauty Lover

Toni & Guy Deep Barrel Waver – £35
Create extra deep-set waves with Toni & Guy’s Deep Barrel Waver. With ceramic tourmaline plates and colour lock technology to protect, condition and colour hair, you can have retro looking hair (works on all hair types) without frying your precious tresses.

Dolce&Gabbana Make Up Sicilian Jewels Collection – from £17
Creative Director, Dolce&Gabbana Make Up, Pat McGrath says: “Matching your lipstick to your nail lacquer is a hot make up trend. We chose four new shades that showcase the theatrical and playful side of looking good: they are so shiny and special that they’ll be a perfect complement to any Christmas or New Year outfit. They can be worn in a young, ironic interpretation or with a more grown-up, sophisticated vibe. Just like a piece of jewellery.”

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The Body Shop Joyful Gingerbread House – £17
Perfect for the younger beauty lover, this gingerbread schoolhouse (Community Fair Trade gift box handmade by Get Paper Industries in Nepal) contains:

Cranberry Shower Gel 60ml
Gingerbread Shower Gel 60ml
Cranberry Body Butter 50ml
Gingerbread Body Butter 50ml
Mini Crinkle Lily – Cream

The Chelsea Day Spa Winter Wonderland Luxury Candle – £25
With top notes of sweet orange, cinnamon and clove base notes of sandalwood and vanilla, you can’t help but feel festive with this 100% natural soy wax candle.

BareMinerals Ready To Go Complexion Perfection Palette – £39
This new perfecting palette contains everything you need for a flawless, radiant complexion with that elusive ‘no-makeup’ look and feel.

Palette includes:
Deluxe sample of bareMinerals READY SPF 20 Foundation in a shade of your choice
Mini bareMinerals READY SPF 15 Touch Up Veil
Mini bareMinerals READY Bronzer in The Skinny Dip or The High Dive
Mini bareMinerals READY Luminizer in The Love Affair or The Shining Moment
Mini Correcting Concealer SPF 20 in a shade of your choice
Mini Precision Kabuki Brush
Mini Tapered Face Brush
Bag

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15
Nov 13

The Beauty Edit: Moo Goo, Bioderma & Leonor Greyl

Moo Goo is an award winning (Pure Beauty 2013) natural skincare brand from Australia. MooGoo began on a dairy farm in Australia where its founder adapted Udder Cream – originally used to help keep the cows udders in optimum condition – to help a family member with a skin problem. MooGoo has since moved on from cows with a range of over 30 facial, scalp and body products for babies and adults to help relieve skin irritations such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. Prices start at £3.00 for a lip balm.

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www.moogooskincare.co.uk

I’m a huge fan of Bioderma; I think it’s their fault French women look so perfect all the time. The new Hydrabio H20 range is perfect for wintery dry and dehydrated complexions. The Hydrabio H20 micellar water (£9.99) helps skin stimulate its own ability to generate and maintain essential moisture levels thanks to the patented Aquagenium® biological complex. If you want super hydrated skin, try the new Hydrabio Mask (£14.50). With Glycerin and Xylitol to boost moisture levels, plus the patented Aquagenium® biological complex, after ten minutes your skin is ridiculously smooth and soft.

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www.escentual.com/bioderma

Leonor Greyl offers a new level on hair care. Using only high-quality, environmentally safe, mostly natural and organically certified ingredients, Leonor Greyl specialises in solution-specific hair care products. With aromatic fragrances of fruits, flowers and botanical oils such as sea lavender, chilli rose, seaweed extracts, camomile, avocado, added Vitamins A, E, F, wheat proteins, propolis, honey, acacia, collagen, zinc, iron, magnesium and silk proteins their hair care products give hydration, nourishment and, over time, give your hair back its brilliance, beauty and health.

With no added silicone, sodium laureth sulfates, parabens or coal tar and natural UV filters to protect hair from sun, chlorine, and saltwater all of the products are colour-safe, Keratin treatment safe and animal friendly. The UK range has of over 35 hair and body care products so there is something for every hair type and problem.

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I tried the Masque Quintessence (200ml/£79) which contains cupuaçu oil and manketti oil and is perfect for those who straighten, colour, blow dry or chemically treat their hair. Use sparingly as a little goes a long way and work through to coat every strand for picture perfect healthy, bouncy hair.

www.net-a-porter.com

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