Autumn Knits: Part Two

Photographed in Palais Royal, Paris

Originally the thought of matching knits made me conjure up images of the infamous twinset - a style made famous in the 50s and 60s by the likes of Jackie O and Grace Kelly. Although chic at the time, I distinctly remember mums donning them in the 80s and turning the once stylish combo into what can only be described as somewhat past its sell by date. 

But the matching knit concept has been revived, remade and upgraded for the modern woman, into the knitted skirt set or 'co-ord'. Equal parts cosy (and warm), as it is stylish, this set is ideal for cold winter days when you’re fed up of wearing jeans or trousers, or just want to look stylish when you’d rather be wearing pyjamas or fuzzy jogging bottoms, i.e no fuss - just-throw-it-on-and-go outfit. So comfortable, I could probably easily go to bed in it. So when I spotted this Comfy Direction Sweater and Skirt set in Grey on Chicwish - a site with a plethora of chic and happily affordable items, I knew immediately what I was going to wear for the second part in my collaboration with Chicwish. And you know how I love grey! I'm usually a size 34-36, so selected size small, but it is a perfect fit and the skirt even flattens by hips (try as I might to wear a pleated skirt, I just cannot get them to look good in one), which are on the wider size for my frame. 

I do love a bit of art imitating life, so we (Roxy & I) photographed the shoot in Palais Royal amongst Daniel Burian's sculptures -  note how the ribbed knit combo complements the black and white candy cane columns. 

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I'm wearing the Chicwish Comfy Direction Sweater and Skirt Set in Grey // COS navy coat, similar here & here // APC Demi-Lune Leather Shoulder bag // LK Bennet Leather Snake-Print boots, similar here & here

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Creative Direction: Marissa Cox // Photographed by Roxanne Matiz, with photos edited by Marissa Cox.

Park Hyatt Mallorca

From the road winding up towards the hills, I caught sight of the peach-coloured villas perched between the trees that look out towards the sea.  Park Hyatt Mallorca has been built to resemble a village rather than hotel, complete with a Plaza Mayor (main square). With three restaurants and a cafe, including an Asian restaurant and tapas bar, 142 rooms, two outdoor pools and a spa, it's pretty much all you might want or could ever need for a holiday destination. I spent a couple of days there last week soaking up some rays and eating my way through their menu. 

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Tables post-breakfast in Balearic restaurant

Tables post-breakfast in Balearic restaurant

Lunch at Cafe Sa Placa

Lunch at Cafe Sa Placa

The Presidential Suite bedroom

The Presidential Suite bedroom

The Presidential Suite living room 

The Presidential Suite living room 

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The spa in itself is a reason to put a visit to Park Hyatt Mallorca on next year's wish-list. Beautifully designed, it's an ode to all things calm, amongst striking architecture, interiors and art installations - see second image below. 

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Thanks to Park Hyatt Mallorca for having me. 

Autumn Knits: Part One

Photographed at Du Pain et Des Idées in Paris

I'm wearing: Chicwish Sweater // COS Wool Coat, similar here, here and here // LK Bennet Boots, similar here, here and here // ME+EM Leather Saddle Bag // Madewell Jeans // Dior Lipstick // Sisley Foundation

There's nothing more satisfying than updating your wardrobe when the season changes. Ok I think of a few things - Thai prawn red curry, popcorn, a rom com with popcorn, the perfect light, a hug, a glass of good red wine, roast, spicy margarita... But seriously as a woman, the wardrobe is serious business - you want to look good; you don't want to look like you just dragged yourself out of bed and got dressed in the dark. And who wants to spend an hour every morning trying to figure out what to wear?! Ok I still do that sometimes, but either way it's better to be prepared. As soon as the temperatures begin to drop, or when I pack my swimsuit away, I start thinking about what I need to update my wardrobe with. I'm one of those people that goes through her wardrobe at least four times a year to clear out the old, over worn and not so loved items to make way for fresh, joy-inducing items (yes I'm citing Marie Kondo's tidying bible). I give it a good spring, summer, autumn and winter clean, and I even go so far as to make an inventory of what I have and a list of what I need - try it, it'll certainly helps solve those "i have nothing to wear" moments. Not that I've banished them, I'm just much better at getting dressed in the morning since doing this. US brand, Chicwish, besides doing a brilliant choice of stylish year-round items, offers a great selection of knits that will up your winter dressing anté. 

This is the first of a three part series showcasing a few of my favourite knits from the Chicwish collection. First up is the Lace-up Rhythm Sweater in white. If you've been following me for a while, you might know that I have a habit of going minimal to the max - in other words I often wear a uniform. So I thought it was time to push my sartorial sweater boundaries and pick one with some detailing, like this slightly risqué, sexier tied-up, yet still cosy and warm sweater, as what's the use of clothes (besides covering our modesty and keeping us warm), if we can't have some fun, whilst also feeling more confident. I paired the sweater with jeans, leather snake-printed boots and a navy coat and saddle bag, whilst indulging in a l'escargot rhum raisin at one of my favourite boulangeries in the neighbourhood, Du Pain et Des Idées - this place combined with its colours and smell of baked goods wafting out the door, couldn't be a more perfect place to hang out in autumn!

Created in collaboration with Chicwish.

Chicwish Sweater // COS Wool Coat, similar herehere and here // LK Bennet Boots, similar herehere and here // ME+EM Leather Saddle Bag // Madewell Jeans // Dior Lipstick // Sisley Foundation

Close-up of the sweater's lace detailing

Close-up of the sweater's lace detailing

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Creative Direction: Marissa Cox // Photographed by Roxanne Matiz, with photos edited by Marissa Cox.

Jardin du Luxembourg

I went location scouting around Paris in the week for a few upcoming collaborations. Following a meander around le Marais, I decided to cycle south of the Seine and ended up Jardin du Luxembourg. After hauling myself up a hill (I almost didn't make it and was cycling in heels!), I parked my velib, guzzled a bottle of water and wandered into this pretty place, which I hadn't visited in probably months. I live in the 10th, so don't often venture to the 6th. The sky was grey and the air was damp and a bit foggy, but the colours of this place were magical, so here are a few snaps. Enjoy! 

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The Snakeskin Boots

LK Bennett Boots, similar here, here and here // Acne Studios Scarf, similar here // Sisley Anti-Ageing Fondation // Ray Bans // La Redoute rug

Fergie once said (yes, I am indeed quoting Fergie of Black Eye Peas fame): "the right pair of shoes can change the feel of an outfit and even change how a woman feels about herself." I've always thought this to be true, but I'm not sure how many times I've actually experienced it. For example, I do feel more womanly and sexier in high heels, but the fact that they usually rub my feet, leave blisters and make me never want to wear heels again, does slightly mar the whole event. Never has a pair shoes truly changed the way I feel, until now. Let me introduce you to the snakeskin printed leather boot. I've had my eye on a pair of boots like these since last winter, but somehow neglected buying them. But as soon as the weather started to turn colder in Paris, I began eyeing up boots, as one does and remembered how I had wanted a pair just like these. And since buying them I've hardly taken them off. Besides being comfortable leather, just the right heel height so as not to batter the balls of my feet too much when I'm pounding the pavement, they make me walk taller, with more confidence and more purpose. In fact I've caught myself positively strutting on a few occasions (a bit like Dave in that MoneySuperMarket ad - if you're a Brit or work in advertising, you'll know what I'm talking about, if not you can watch it here.) And to top that off, I've been getting a lots of compliments (or maybe my friends are just being polite after I force them to look at my boots). Either way I don't think I've been this excited about shoes since Clarks launched Magic Steps in the 80s (again you'll need to be British to know what I'm talking about.)

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes, or any other item of clothing for that matter, that has had more than a physical affect on you? 

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New York Eats

My recent trip to New York involved mainly eating (can it be classed as a hobby?), so thought I'd put together a round-up of a few of the eateries I visited! 

The Butcher's Daughter

First up, breakfast. Undoubtedly the most important meal of the day and the one I wanted to eat the most in New York. Paris is gradually improving on the breakfast front, but still lags behind the likes of London and New York. And I love nothing more than a good breakfast to start the day with. I met friends at the West Village outlet, not far from where I was staying at the Arlo Hotel for the KitchenAid event I was in New York for. They serve up great coffee by Aussie brand Vittoria coffee, fresh juices and a good choice of breakfast bites - I went for the suitably named 'Breakfast Bagel'. 

Address: 581 Hudson Street, New York.

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Toby's Estate

A classic New York coffeehouse, Toby's Estate is the perfect pitstop for coffee and a quick breakfast. I ventured to the West Village outlet on my first day in New York to meet Eva and Stefan from Trotter Mag. Feeling the need for something healthy (knowing I wouldn't follow suit for the rest of my stay), I went for the granola topped with fruit and yogurt, which didn't disappoint.

Address: 44 Charles Street, West Village, New York

Five Leaves

I stayed in Bushwick for the first leg of my trip and was eager to find a brunch spot in Brooklyn that I hadn't tried yet (last year I visited Reynards and Egg Shop - both of which are delicious). Five Leaves popped up with great reviews. After a 40 minute wait - it opens at 8am, so expect to queue after 10am, we were given a table inside. What's clever about this place is their coffee window, so you can order coffee while you wait. And it was worth the wait, I ate the best cooked breakfast that I've had in a long time that came complete with hash browns, baked beans, eggs, toast and bacon. 

Address: 18 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

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The Spotted Pig

I'd heard good things about the Spotted Pig, besides the fact that it's April Bloomfield's restaurant. Decked out like an old English country pub, this place is very cosy. I met Joann for lunch on the Monday and we shared a plate of their Shoestring Fries (tasty shredded fries cooked with rosemary) and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Onion Marmelade and Mustard, which were equally delicious and enough for both of us. And the eating experience was made better by spotting Pierce Brosnan coming downstairs. 

Address: 314 W.11th Street, West Village, New York

The John Dory Oyster Bar

I met Anna, Digital Editor at Domino magazine for lunch here. A little hard to spot as the outside is covered in foliage, they dish up good fish. I had a delicious serving of the Chorizo Stuffed Squid, which despite it's small size (for the US) it was the perfect portion for lunch.

Address: 1196 Broadway at 29th Street, New York

Momofuku Milk

I have been waiting with baited breath to try this delicious cup of ice-cream goodness. Of course I ordered the famous cereal milk with extra cereal flakes. It was delicious, but trying to photograph ice-cream in 31 degree heat isn't the smartest move I've ever made and the who thing dripped all over me. 

Address: 15 W 56th Street, New York

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The Wythe Hotel

To catch some of the best views of the city, I headed to the top floor bar of the Whythe hotel with my friend Asiyami, who was also in town. I was here last year for breakfast at Reynard's with Sharon and although visited the top, hadn't sampled their drinks. Being a big fan of margaritas, I tried their classic recipe, which was very good despite being a bit pricey.  

Address: 80 Wythe Avenue, at N 11th Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

 

Grand Army

Having already enjoyed brunch and a margarita on the Sunday, I decided the only way to make the most of the day was to carry on in the current spirit (see what I did there), so I whiled away a couple of hours with friends in the cosy bar that serves up great oysters and more cocktails. The oysters were delicious, as were the cocktails. 

Address: 336 State Street, Brooklyn, New York 

Maison Premiere

As if I hadn't eaten enough oysters in one day, we followed up Grand Army (plus pizza slice in between) we a jaunt to the New Orleans speakeasy-style cocktail & oyster bar, Maison Premiere. I'd dined there last year was dying to go back. It was just as good as I remembered and we each ordered an exotic looking cocktails and a couple of oysters. Yum.

Address: 298 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

I also ate at and recommend the following:

Freeman'sOst Cafe, AP Cafe, Lucy's (great Vietmanese in Bushwick), La Esquina (great tacos) for more New York tips (including shopping, cafes and what to see), read my post from last year here

 

 

Maldives with Constance Hotels Part 2: Halaveli Resort

 Halaveli is the kind of luxury resort that you might conjure up when asked to think of the Maldives. From the pool, restaurants (there are four, including a sushi bar), villas (there's also a huge presidential villa, should you be feeling extra plush and want to gather a group of friends to join you), to the experiences they offer, it has everything and more that you could ever dream of. And those experiences include dinner in the resort's wine cellar and wine-tasting in the lagoon. Yes - drinking beautiful bottles of wine in the lagoon. At sunset. With baby sharks swimming past your feet. I didn't even know that that was on my bucket list, but I ticked it off! Perhaps it's time I update the bucket list. Both are obviously a must. 

A 25 minute speed boat away from Moofushi, Halaveli is a completely different kettle of fish. While Moofushi is equipped for diving and has a more desert island disc vibe with a younger ambience, Halaveli is like the older, bigger, more luxurious brother that caters for families. But if you're considering them both for a honeymoon destination, they are equally wonderful. I'd highly recommend spending a few nights in each resort, to get the best of both worlds - just saying. And you could do what we did and stay in a water villa at Moofushi and a beach villa at Halaveli to get the full experience!  

Thank you to Constance Hotels for making this amazing trip possible! 

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Pathway to the spa

Pathway to the spa

Water villa interiors 

Water villa interiors 

Bathing in one of the water villa's private infinity pool 

Bathing in one of the water villa's private infinity pool 

Jahaz restaurant and bar

Jahaz restaurant and bar

Sushi at Kaika Sushi bar

Sushi at Kaika Sushi bar

My outdoor bathroom 

My outdoor bathroom 

Beach villa complete with outdoor bathroom and private pool next to the bath

Beach villa complete with outdoor bathroom and private pool next to the bath

The pool at the presidential villa 

The pool at the presidential villa 

Wine-tasting in the lagoon! 

Wine-tasting in the lagoon! 

Our ride home

Our ride home

Halaveli from the air at sunset 

Halaveli from the air at sunset 

Maldives with Constance Hotels Part 1: Moofushi

Three flights later, including a seaplane, we landed somewhere in the Indian Ocean, in some far flung edge of the planet, in a group of scattered islands called the Maldives. It's the kind of place you might have dreamt about during one of those rare dreams, the ones you can fly, where you conjure up crystal clear turquoise waters and whiter than white sandy beaches lined with palm trees. Well, I can attest that paradise is alive and well, not far from Sri Lanka. If I'm honest the Maldives was never top of my travel list as it always felt so unattainable; a place dedicated solely to honeymooners or a once in a life-time destination to celebrate something truly special. Now back in Paris, it feels like a dream, albeit a real one. 

The first destination of our four day foray in the Maldives, was the brilliantly-named Moofushi Resort, otherwise known as 'the jewel island' to the locals. I stepped off the seaplane and straight into the warm welcome of the staff and assistant resort manager, Srikanth. Having not slept (I’m not really a plane sleeper and I can’t resist watching the films, much to my own detriment), I was pretty dazed and practically running on empty, but anticipation, excitement and curiosity gave me enough fuel to see me through the rest of the day. Unfortunately the weather, although warm and humid, was a bit rainy and grey, but thankfully it didn’t mar the beauty of this incredible place, just prevented me from taking copious amounts of photos and forcing me to live in the moment. No bad thing, when I often see the world through a lens.   

Moofushi has a slightly rustic, tree-house vibe to it. Upon arrival, the staff actively encourage you to remove your shoes and spend your stay barefoot. It’s luxurious, but less flashy - more cosy and relaxed than you might expect a 5 star resort to be, but in a good way. During the course of two days, we explored the island, were treated to a massage, snorkelling and went diving. Beautiful reefs surround the island, so it's paradise for snorkelers and sea babies, and it also happens to have the best (award-winning) diving school in the Maldives. The centre is run by fellow Brit, Miles who very kindly offered us the first stage of the PADI course and held my hand throughout. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, not only for the experience, but also to help quell my fear of the sea! I’ve been scared of waves and what lies below since a child and I'll try anything that might help (within reason - think I'll leave those caged shark dives to those braver than I!) After sampling the island's activities during the day - including a massage in the island's spa, a tour of the island and more snorkelling, in the evenings we dined at both island restaurants. Manta, the resort’s main eatery that also provides breakfast and lunch during the day, hosts a different themed cuisine every evening. Fortuitously we arrived the day they were cooking Mexican - if you follow my IG Stories or Snapchat, you’ll know this is a favourite. The following evening we dined in the Moofushi’s a la carte restaurant Alizee. With tables that line the beach, accompanied by live music and a delicious menu to match, it was more than dreamy. There's nothing like dining under the stars and listening to waves gently lap against the shore. Sigh... 

The spa - each hut is a massage room with peep whole to the sea, so you can relax and watch the fish swim by. 

The spa - each hut is a massage room with peep whole to the sea, so you can relax and watch the fish swim by. 

Pre-spa flip-flop prep 

Pre-spa flip-flop prep 

The pool. 

The pool. 

Cute messages from couples who have stayed on the island

Cute messages from couples who have stayed on the island

My private steps to the sea & water villa terrace!

My private steps to the sea & water villa terrace!

Breakfast at Manta

Breakfast at Manta

New York City Light

On my last day in New York I woke up at the crack of dawn to head out to take some photos, as any wise photographer does (or should) at least once while they're visiting another city. Besides golden hour (just before sunset), early morning offers up some of the best light to shoot in. Getting up early and venturing out is something I’m trying to do on every trip I take, despite not being a morning person. If it wasn’t for Marta knocking on my door – I would have dove down deeper into my duvet, I was so tired. It was the morning after the KitchenAid dinner (If you've been following my Stories you would have seen that I was in town as I was part of their new Mini Mixer campaign!) Anyway more on that later and back to the light. I'm making this post short and sweet, but wanted to accumulate all the photos where light played the main part in different spots around New York. Hope you like it. 

L’Odyssée d'un Roi

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On Tuesday I ventured south of the Seine for a very special breakfast at Hermes flagship store in Paris’ Saint-Germain-de-Prés, a beautiful space that was designed by the architectural firm, RDAI in a former 1930s swimming pool. The event marked the unveiling of a crystal magnum decanter – one of three of its kind that was made to rest in a bespoke leather trunk crafted by Hermes. This unique decanter, accompanied by four glasses, has been created in collaboration with Hermes, Saint Louis Crystal, Puiforcat and Louis XIII, to be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in New York, Hong Kong and London. The proceeds will go to The Film Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded in 1990 by Martin Scorsese to protect cinema’s heritage - something that's close to my heart, being a big film buff! This project celebrates adventure, discovery and luxury travel at its best, so it’s only apt that the decanter be filled with an exclusive blend of the world’s finest and most travelled champagne cognac – Louis XIII, an intense, rich liquor with notes of leather, nutmeg and coffee that has been served aboard the likes of the Orient Express and Concord. 

I was invited to taste it – I don’t usually have the stomach for potent spirits (the type to put hairs on your chest), but it’s not every day that Louis XIII requests your company to try a very exclusive cognac, one so rich in history. So I obliged and as the Director of Louis XIII described, the deep gold liquid did indeed wash over my tastebuds in delicious waves. Find out more here

Created in collaboration with Hermes & Saint Louis. 

Back to Work with My Blend

With the summer holidays behind me, plus a trip to the Maldives under my belt, I am firmly in camp rentrée - France's phrase for 'Back to Work'. So as I get my September schedule in check and prepare for further travelling, there's no better time to reveal a video that I made along with My Blend earlier this year. As the name suggests, My Blend is a concept created by Dr Olivier Courtin that enables the user to concoct their very own blend of creams dependent on their skin type and lifestyle. Using one cream as a base, you add boosters (serums) that are recommended to you after a consultation. It's very clever stuff and I'm surprised no one has come up with the idea before! We are all unique and so is our skin and its needs. In the video I was paired with French blogger Aude Sakamari from My Name is Odd, to highlight how very different skin can be, even if we might lead a similar lifestyle. I was recommended the Antioxidant+ booster, to aid my skin when it's been subjected to too much pollution and the Speedy Recovery booster that is perfect for someone who travels extensively.

Skincare is something that has been important to me from a young age, instilled in me by my mum who insisted I start wearing moisteriser to protect my face in my early teens. Thanks to a combination of good genes and a long-engrained morning and night cream routine, I look younger than you may think I am, and now with a little help from My Blend I hope to stay that way! Anyway I'll leave you to watch the video below to see how it works. 

Created in collaboration with My Blend

Obonjan Festival

Obonjan is place you won't believe exists until you visit. Dubbed a holiday with a twist it's that and so much more. Part music festival, part glamping site, part wellbeing getaway- it's a must-visit for anyone looking for a festival off the beaten track or a very different holiday experience. Think island living, sunrise yoga, fine-dining, mind-expanding workshops, cocktails by the beach (or pool), followed by dancing the night away under one of the most beautiful night skies I've ever seen (that gave its own show of shooting stars). Equally it's for anyone who loves to unwind in the downward dog position (I'm a convert) and wants to explore wellbeing in all its forms, including meditation and hypnosis.

A 45minute boat-ride from Sibenik, the island of Obanjan was originally occupied by one man and his dog. The organisers (the boys behind Unknown Festival) had to create the infrastructure from the ground up, installing running water, electricity, accommodation, restaurants, bars and music venues. It was a huge and ambitious undertaking, but despite a rocky start I'm more than sure this place is going to be on everyone's wish list next summer. We arrived on the opening weekend so it wasn't completely set up yet,  but this unique place surrounded by turquoise blue waters and all it has to offer, overshadowed any logistical hiccups. What I loved most, what with perhaps being (cough) a little older than your average festival goer, was that I didn't have to scrimp on creature comforts - our Forest Lodge that came complete with an ensuite bathroom and terrace, was basically a much cooler hotel room and it was a five minute walk to a morning yoga session, one minute to the sea and ten to a restaurant. I already want to go back, or perhaps I'll move there next summer. 

Thanks to Obonjan for hosting me! 

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I'm wearing an ASOS dress, similar here and here / Tevas / vintage bag from Kenya / Ray Bans / Lack of Color hat

Strolling in Split

This wasn't the first time I've been to Split, but it was a much different place to the historical city (it dates back to the 4th century) that  I wandered through seven years ago with a friend in early May. Split has since exploded with tourism and bars, to become quite the party town, with music bellowing out of almost every street corner, swarms of people walking through its little streets, looking like (aptly described by a friend we bumped into) they were part of a big wedding and Yacht Week boats docked in its bay. There was none of that off-the-beaten track, relaxed vibe I encountered last time I was here. Not that I was complaining, it just wasn't what I was expected and I arrived feeling very underdressed. Luckily we managed to find a few quiet corners, good eateries (even if you have to queue) and beautiful beaches - the ones further away from Split being the better. Scroll down to my address book for a few must-eats. 

Address book: 

Fife - with large wooden sharing tables, it looks like a busy beer garden, but this place does the biggest plates of fried calamari I've ever seen, at a ridiculously good price. You'll have to queue for a table, but no more than around 20 minutes as it has a very quick turn around. Just don't expect to wile away a whole evening here, unless you're a very slow eater! 

Uje Oil Bar - this was our favourite, more upmarket restaurant. You'll need to reserve or you can grab a glass of wine at the bar while you wait for a table to become available. Try 'Our Pork' and they have great wine. 

To Je To - this was the best place we found for coffee and good for lunch too!

Shop the post: 

Riad Fès

Riad Fes is a gem of a place. Tucked behind the walls of the medina, you wouldn't even know it existed if you didn't have directions. But once through the doors, the space suddenly opens up into a beautifully-decorated atrium and hotel spanning multiple floors, complete with spa, restaurant, roof terrace bar with a panoramic view over the city and my personal favourite, the outdoor pool! It's one of those magical places that you don't want to leave and after spending a few hours in the hustle and bustle of the medina, it's the perfect retreat to come back to when the heat is at its highest. 

Fes Address Book: 

Cafe Clock - great spot for lunch and try the smoothies! Set over 4-5 floors, it also has a great roof terrace and hosts music and poetry nights.  

The Ruined Garden - an idyllic place for dinner, where you dine in the beautiful walled surroundings of a ruined garden! We ate the 7hr cooked lamb, which you need to request in advance, but it's worth it! 

Restaurant Numero 7 - sadly I didn't make it here, but it will be top of my list for my next trip to Fes. It's a dining space and restaurant that hosts chefs from around the world on sabbatical, to create a continuously changing dining experience! 

Dar Roumana - a small restaurant with four/five tables currently run by a French chef and his Australian wife. It also makes great alternative accommodation. 

And thank you to Relais & Chateaux and Riad Fes for organising my stay! 

Northern Delights

Plum & Spilt Milk restaurant 

With all the travelling I've done over the past year, including staying in beyond your average accommodation (I've become rather spoilt), I'd like to think I'm a pretty good judge of hotels. Hell I could easily be a professional a reviewer - now there's a thought! 

As a frequent traveller on the Eurostar (read: I practically live on it), the Great Northern Hotel is the most conveniently located, beautifully designed and affordable place around! Sat just opposite Kings Cross St Pancras station, it couldn't be better situated - I barely stumbled out of the train, before stepping to the hotel - maybe 20 steps? Next time I'll count. 

I stayed in the Cubitt room, which like all the rooms was tastefully furbished in a minimal, calming palette of creams and green. And in the evening I dined at the hotel's restaurant Plum & Spilt Milk (named after the livery worn by the dining cars the Flying Scotsman first pulled out of King's Cross), which even if you're not staying in the hotel I urge you to book a table. With a menu concocted by acclaimed chef and served in the plush surroundings of cream leather, wood panelling, polished black table tops, brass detailing and hand blown lamps, you could easily wile away hours there. I opted for the crab starter and scallops for main - both equally as delicious.  

You can book it here

I stayed in the Cubitt room.  

I stayed in the Cubitt room.  

View of St Pancras from one of the rooms & the cosy bar. 

View of St Pancras from one of the rooms & the cosy bar. 

The Blue Pearl

Breakfast at Casa Perleta. 

Breakfast at Casa Perleta. 

Do:

  • Walk up to the Spanish Mosque (about a 30min hike up a hill) to watch the sun set over Chefchaouen
  • Get out into the streets at 7am before everyone else wakes up to get some shots

Eat:

  • Don't miss lunch (make that dinner too) at Bab Ssour - they do great tagines for around €5. Head up the stairs to the terrace for a breeze and a view over the rooftops. 
  • To be honest I didn't eat much besides a crepe, but grab at least grab a drink here to have an excuse to go up to the terrace and oogle the view, one of the best of the city. 

We stayed at Casa Perleta, but if I'd been a bit more plush, I'd probably have stayed at Lina Ryad and Spa.

 

To Venice by boat with RIVA x The Gritti Palace

Ever since I inter-railed around Europe as a teenager (strapped to a backpack bigger than me) and stopped in Venice for a couple of days in, I've been wanting to return to the floating city. When I was last there I stayed in a 50 bed dorm room, which was a convent-turned-hostel, complete with a curfew set by nuns. This time (thankfully) was quite a different story. Getting invited to Venice to spend a couple of days exploring the city, whilst riding around on a beautiful RIVA boat to celebrate a new collaboration with The Gritti Palace - was one of those 'pinch me' moments, and one I couldn't say no to - I even delayed a much-awaited trip to Morocco.

By boat is the only way to get around Venice (although I'm still amazed that taxis come in the form of speed boats!), so a hotel that has its own private boat, available to guests for hire is genius. And the Gritti Palace, where the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Tom Cruise and Scarlet Johansson have stayed over the years would only opt for the very best boat brand to collaborate with, hence RIVA. Off to Venice soon? Scroll down for a little must-do city guide! 

I'm wearing Iris & Ink top and skirt from The Outnet 

I'm wearing Iris & Ink top and skirt from The Outnet 

The Gritti Palace Hotel

The Gritti Palace Hotel

Glass-blowing demonstration at ARS Cenedese 

Glass-blowing demonstration at ARS Cenedese 

Island of Burano 

Island of Burano 

I'm wearing: Iris & Ink crepe gilet, COS white jeans, J.Crew sandals, ME+EM leather clutch bag. 

I'm wearing: Iris & Ink crepe gilet, COS white jeans, J.Crew sandals, ME+EM leather clutch bag

Piazzo San Marco 

Piazzo San Marco 

Bellinis at the RIVA Lounge, Gritti Palace  //  Bridge of Sighs

Bellinis at the RIVA Lounge, Gritti Palace  //  Bridge of Sighs

Eat/Drink:

RIVA Lounge at the Gritti Palace: now I'm not just saying this because I stayed there, because if you want beautiful views of the Grand Canal, brilliant service and the best Bellinis you've ever tasted, this place should be top of your list!

Harry's Bar: grab a drink in this Venice drinking institution - go for the Bellinis here too if the peaches are in season!

Dinner at Trattoria Antiche Carampane: order the spaghetti vongole, you won't regret it. 

Lunch/ snack at All'Arco: located a little off the beaten track, it's a great respite from the Venitian tourist traps - of which there are many.. Order a bottle of Prosecco and their little open sandwiches. 

Get a taxi (or the RIVA if you're staying at the Gritti and feeling plush) and ride out to Ristorante Da Celeste for fresh fish and seafood (and more Prosecco!)

Do:

Wake up early: explore Venice while everyone is still sleeping. Venice is busy at any time of year, but in summer it gets crazy. You can barely walk down its narrow streets for the throng of tourists, so I went out at 7am before breakfast, which was still not quite early enough (others had the same idea), but I got to see an almost empty Piazza San Marco. 

Wander the fresh food market: and watch the gulls steal the fish from the stalls - it's quite a sight to see the giant birds swooping down onto the stalls to catch a quick meal! And the market in itself is perfect photo fodder. 

See glass-blowing on the island of Murano: call ARS Cenedese ahead for a little tour and check out their amazing showroom! Everyone from Nicole Kidman to Robin Williams has been there. 

I stayed at The Gritti Palace and big thanks to Starwood & The Luxury Collection for making this trip possible. 

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Dressing for Summer with M&S

M&S, Marks & Spencer or Marks & Sparks, whichever way you prefer to refer to it, you’ve probably heard of the British brand. It’s a brand I’m very familiar with; I practically grew up with it. There’s a big one on Canterbury High Street, the city I grew up in, in the UK, which has been there since I can remember (not surprising since it was established in the late 19th century!) In fact I even distinctly recall having a tantrum on the shop floor aged 3, as my mum rolled her eyes at fellow shoppers, whilst I lay faced down on the floor beating my arms and legs against the lino, probably because she wouldn’t buy me a pack of Percy Pigs… (mmm Percy Pigs).  

Anyway I digress – suffice to say I know it well, I still buy my basics there – underwear, tights and socks and I’ve bought a lot of provisions from the food hall over the years, including said Percy Pigs. Like the sultry, sexy female voice-over says in the now famous former ad, with dulcet tones of Groove Armada playing in the background, “this is not just (insert word – i.e summer, winter, chocolate cake) food, this is M&S food”. M&S is a British national treasure, and over the last two decades I’ve watched its style evolve, as fashion has. It’s always been great for basics, but more and more great style and cuts have been hitting the hangers, especially in its Autograph range and recent collaboration with Alexa Chung, so I was very happy to oblige when asked to choose a few styles from the summer shop this season.

 I love the heat and am happiest in the sun, but I do like to keep cool, so despite my general pastiness (I also lather myself in factor 30, so as to prevent any skin damage and that obviously makes any sun catching take longer) I love nothing more than getting my legs out, throwing on a dress on and heading out. Dresses are the easiest things to wear when the sun is beating down, so here are a few of my favourites, which I shot whilst staying on the dreamy island of Ibiza last weekend for a friend’s wedding.

 

This striped Linen Blend Shirt Dress is perfect for summer weather – cool enough in the heat, it can also be thrown over a bikini on the beach. With full-length buttons down the front, it has easy access (if you’re changing into a swimmer on the beach that is) and I love the tie waist detail, which if you have hips but a small waist like me, makes a dress all the more flattering. It’s a casual style, but can also be dressed up – these snakeskin sandals add a little edge, or team with heels.

 

I have a thing for dungarees and have recently been living in denim dungaree dresses. I do feel a bit like a kid in them, but that’s perhaps the charm. This white dungaree dress is definitely more grown up though, ending at the knee. Dungaree dresses are also perfect for beach days. I’m wearing this over a little camisole top, but they also make the perfect bikini cover up (when you need to put something on for lunch and don’t want to be the only one sat chomping on prawns half naked) or keep it casual worn over a simple tee and sneakers.

I paired this pretty silk floral shift dress with cream espadrille wedges, but it could just as easily go with sneakers or flat sandals. The beauty being that it’s versatile for any occasion, even a wedding. I wore it out that evening for my friend’s pre-wedding drinks. Plus even though it’s silk, it can be thrown in the washing machine!

I’m wearing: Pure Silk Floral Shift Dress / Linen Blend Striped Shirt Dress / Cotton Rich Dungaree Dress / Leather Slingback Sandals / The Hattie Cami

Collaboration Supported by Marks and Spencer & Shopping Links. 

Shot at Ibizazen Hotel in Ibiza. 

London Lately

I'm wearing: Monki cream coat // Monki denim dress // Adidas Stans // Iris & Ink navy leather bucket bag, similar here // Tom Ford lipstick 

I travel to London every month, and I'm often asked for recommendations, so thought I'd put together a quick guide of my favourite places to eat, drink and sleep. Do you have any favourites? 

Eat: 

  • Beast - for giant Norwegian crab and beef 
  • Otto's  - lobster 
  • Padella - amazing pasta 
  • Shoryu Ramen
  • Granger & Co
  • Bao London - go for lunch and try to get there before 12 as there's always a queue 
  • Shotgun - great ribs 
  • Paradise Garage 
  • Lyle's 
  • Clove Club - also good for cocktails 
  • Wright Brothers - great oysters 
  • Barrafina 
  • Dishoom - great Indian 
  • Santo Remedio - great Mexican, some of the best I've had! 
  • The Pressery - fresh juice 
  • Honey & Co - good breakfast 
  • Duck & Waffle - for breakfast with a view 
  • Yam Cha - dim sum 
  • The Riding House Cafe - breakfast / lunch (great eggs & avocado)
  • Ceviche - Peruvian 
  • Berners Tavern 
  • Hawksmoor (go Sunday and have the roast)

Coffee: 

  • TAP
  • Allpress Coffee 
  • Monmouth Coffee
  • Prufrock Coffee
  • Kaffeine 
  • Workshop Coffee Co
  • Look Mum No Hands 

Drink: 

  • Hix
  • Blind Pig - try their Mexican Mexican't cocktail 
  • The Gun (East London) 
  • Ruby's Bar & Lounge 
  • Ridley Road Market Bar 
  • The Punch Room at Berners Tavern 

Stay: 

  • Ace Hotel (also place to work from and they do good coffee) 
  • Town Hall Hotel (also good cocktails and the Corner Room restaurant) 
  • Zetter Townhouse (also good cocktails)
  • Culpepper 
  • London Edition (same venue as Berners Tavern + The Punch Room)

If you freelance like I do, Hubbard & Bell in the Hoxton Hotel is a great place to work from, as is the Ace Hotel. 

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White Heat

Ah heat -  the sun briefly reared its head a couple of weeks ago, only to disappear behind a blanket of grey cloud more recently. These photos were shot on a fortuitously sunny day at the Palais de Tokyo (one of my favourite Paris galleries) before we had our little short-lived heatwave a couple of weekends ago (remember me wearing my off the shoulder Ganni top?). Luckily, in between passing clouds, brilliant white sun shone down onto the sand coloured stone building – making it look deceptively hot and like I'm basking in its rays. It was nippy at best (and freezing in the shadow).

{An aside note: now you may or may not know that I'm British (well half - other is American, but I spent my whole life in the UK before moving to Paris, besides an ERASMUS year in Valencia, Spain during university), and we are notoriously known for talking about the weather. I do it on a daily basis, it's part of my culture - having grown up on an island that is regularly battered by the elements, so forgive me if I often prattle on about it!}

As soon as spring hits, I fish out my parka – it’s lightweight so good for the (ever so slightly) warmer weather, and has a hood – protection for any of those frequent spring showers. I’m currently looking out of the window at a friend's in London, while I write this and am watching the grey sky fill with rain clouds – so a hood is a necessitiy, if not one of those clear hooded gagools that they dish out at the Niagara Falls for example? I joke (kind of).

This particular one is from A.P.C and I’ve had it going on 5 years.  A parka is a wardrobe essential and you can’t go wrong Khaki – it goes with everything and it’s refreshing adding a little green to your closet as the season changes. Other great options: here, here, here and here

I also start wearing white when spring comes around. This year I'm being a bit more daring and wearing it top to toe, rather tricky when you live in a city, it's better on the beach - but I will persevere!  It crops up on the catwalks every year as it's just so easy to wear (as long as you don't go near red wine, spaghetti bolognese, animals, general everyday life) and will keep you cool when the heat finally hits. [Scroll down for outfit links!]

I'm wearing:

ME+EM white jeans (they run a little big so take a size down // & Other Stories Silver Shoes // Ray Bans // COS bow front shirt shirt - similar Topshop one here, Ellery one here and Tibi here // Tom Ford  // Noir Jewellery earrings from the Outnet, similar here

ruerodierwhiteheat12.jpg

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Photos of me by Roxanne Matiz, edited by me.