How to Plan a Surprise Romantic Trip

surprise romantic break
As the wise words of Germaine Greer made very clear, the essence of pleasure is spontaneity. Last-minute holidays and romantic getaways go hand-in-hand but can be exceptionally difficult to navigate.

Having just booked a last-minute trip to Italy (Venice and Florence!) for the end of the month with a very handsome man, I have partnered up with Expedia.com to compile a little surprise romantic trip how-to

1. Pick the Location
This is everything. Is there somewhere your partner has been dying to visit? A place they feel they’ll never get the chance to return to? Do your research (time of year and weather is important!), then do the magic. For our upcoming trip, we chose Venice and Florence (romance on romance) because we found two stunning hotels at unbeatable prices with a short train journey in between (with the option to stop by Pisa on our final day, if we chose to do so!).

2. Clear Their Schedule
Before you book, check their schedule. Long weekends work best for surprise trips as they are easy to veil under a “Can we plan to spend the weekend together? I want to take you out”. For any work conflicts, ask one of your bae’s work friends or supervisors to assist with secret time off scheduling.

3. Plan Your Activities
Planning is key! Though the idea of a romantic location might seem like enough, the devil will always be in the details. Be it a unique tour, special meal, pre-purchased attraction tickets, beach-side massages or an aphrodisiac in between, the effort you put into designing your love’s dream getaway will not be taken for granted.

4. Get Them To The Airport (optional)
You can choose to tell them that they are going somewhere one day in advance and give them time to pack, but the uber-romantics should take this as an opportunity to give them the surprise of their life and pick them up on your way to the airport. You will need to pack their bags (making sure to pack weather-appropriate things they love to wear!), toiletries (abiding by flight safety rules), chargers, and passport beforehand, so an evening flight (“I’ll pick you up from work tonight…”) is highly recommended.

Be it for Valentine’s Day or just because, let the spontaneity guide you (and me sure to let me know how it goes)!

A Healthy, Gluten-Free Retreat at One Aldwych

one aldwych london
Thanks to its location and beautiful any-occasion atmosphere, I have frequented One Aldwych for a number of years. I have staycationed in the hotel during Fashion Week, spent many memorable evenings in the Lobby Bar, and indulged in my fair share of business lunches at Indigo (One Aldwych’s all-day restaurant).

I have not, however, been to the spa nor Indigo since its sneaky gluten-free and dairy-free menu transformation.

With a healthy half-day retreat dreamt up to resolve said issues, my friend and I hot-footed it to the belly of the hotel for a spot of pre-lunch indulgence.

While she swam and sauna-ed herself to euphoria, I enjoyed a 75-minute OSKIA Signature Glow facial Utilizing a multitude of active ingredients in the brand’s multi-award winning nutritional skincare, the facial is able to cater equally to both the health-lovers and self-rewarders. We’re talking cleansing, massaging, facial extraction, masks, and moisture – all capped off with a back massage using melted candle wax.

Fighting the urge to then fall asleep in the changing rooms, we left our underground haven and travelled two floors upwards for lunch at Indigo.

Though he doesn’t promote the restaurant as such, executive chef Dominic Teague has grafted one of the most incredible gluten-free menus in London. As it has always been, the dishes are still heavily influenced by traditional British faire with a large focus on foraged foods. Just secretly, wonderfully, gluten and dairy-free.

Whilst being charmed by one of Indigo’s genuinely lovely waiters, our ‘ladies lunch’ took charge of a man-sized culinary exploration: hand-picked Dorset crab (with potted shrimp & pickled mackerel), cured Loch Duart salmon (with citrus fruit, coriander & avocado), organic Rhug Estate lamb rump (samphire, smoked aubergine, capers & anchovies), a medium-rare single muscle rump steak (with roast shallot, hand-cut chips & soft herb salsa), crushed swede, and braised red cabbage.

Not forgetting fresh gluten-free bread so fantastically moreish it almost makes you cancel the rest of your order.

To tie the bow on the day, we shared Dominic’s genius orange polenta cake (with toasted pistachio) and Amedei chocolate mousse (with honeycomb & almond milk ice cream) before saluting the hotel’s special OSKIA Rose de Mai cocktails in the Lobby Bar.

I would be more than happy to Groundhog Day this retreat for the rest of my life.

one aldwych london
one aldwych london
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Beauty Favourites – February 2016

beauty favourites
Hot Chocolate Wax at Pamper Rooms
After a waxing ordeal that deserves a Carrie Bradshaw-style column of its very own, I sat down with a number of lady friends to reassess my choice in waxing professionals. All signs pointed to Lycon Hot Chocolate Wax so I booked into Pamper Rooms to trial it for the first time. Long, TMI story short? I am a total convert. The chocolate wax is perfect for sensitive skin, intimate areas, and generally making a painful experience feel like a spa treatment. Pamper Rooms have the most incredibly lovely staff, super-boujis treatment rooms, and are discreetly but conveniently located in the lower levels of Shoreditch’s Celestine Eleven boutique.Β Talk about getting pleasure out of pain.

Perricone MD Nutritive Cleanser & Eye Lift
At the beginning of the year I switched back to a former cleanser favourite – the aforementioned – and should have done so sooner. The facial wash and makeup remover is as gentle as it gets, yet delivers substantial anti-ageing benefits thanks to the addition of DMAE and Alpha Lipoic (both aid in brighter, smoother, and more balanced skin).

A throwback love affair browse also turned me on to the brand’s High Potency Eye Lift – an intensive eye treatment – which has already knocked a good five years off my eyes. Though I have no deep wrinkles, I do notice fine lines creeping in every now and then (especially if I am dehydrated) so have found this liquid gel an absolute lifesaver. Dr. Perricone’s had used Pycnogenol (boosts elasticity/tightness) and his patented anti-ageing ingredients (DMAE and Phospholipids) to invent a practically perfect cocktail for the eye area. Wrinkles, bags, and circles – be warned!

Redken One United Multi-Benefit Treatment
I was very dubious to try One United as its packaging rambles on – a bit maniacally – about having “25 benefits!”. Recipe for a gimmick, if experience has taught me anything. Thankfully, and marketing aside, it is a fantastic product. The multi-benefit spray does everything you could desire post-hair wash (detangles, softens, heat protects) and keeps my recently-coloured hair silky and manageable. A judgemental thumbs up.

Valentine’s Day Shopping at Brent Cross

brent cross blogger
Earlier in the week I took a few hours out of an especially hectic day for a pre-Valentine’s Day shopping spree at Brent Cross. Though I am not all that inclined towards the romantic side of the holiday, I love using it as an excuse to spoil friends and – in turn – facilitate them to spoil themselves.

A few thousand Lush bath bombs, Yankee candles, and Victoria’s Secret sport bras later (girl power!), I met up with a friend to self-indulge at Leon. With practically the whole menu. Their protein shake and Moroccan meatball hot box is a dream healthy lunch epitomised.

For a creature of online shopping habit, I felt truly nostalgic for the shopping centre afternoons I racked up as a teenager. Nothing beats tangible gift-giving.

What I Wore:
Julian Hakes Mojito heels (soleless shoes!)
White shirt from rag & bone
Vintage grey striped dress (similar here)
Dusty pink Kenneth Cole handbag (similar here)

brent cross blogger
brent cross blogger
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#SmallChanges with Optiwell!

optiwell
Last month, I was delighted to attend an adorable event hosted by new healthy yogurt drink brand, Optiwell. Having just launched in the UK (you may have come across their Holly Willoughby-fronted campaigns already), the brand invited a small group of health-conscious bloggers to participate in an evening of Optiwell-doused fun.

After learning more about the products’ highlights (no added sugar and 64 calorie servings were a huge selling point for me!), we took time out for smoothie making, Cowshed massages, and manicures (sat in front of a wall of Sex & The City-screening retro televisions).

As part of their #SmallChanges campaign (visit their website for your chance to win a trip to New York!), we also sat down with dietician and sports nutritionist Laura Clarke to discuss the personal changes we could adopt to contribute to a healthy 2016.

Want to know what changes I’ll be making? Watch the video below!


optiwell
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