Travel Blog: Postcards from Paris – a 48 Hour Vlog!

paris video vlog
I knew that the 48 hours Tiffani and I planned to spend in Paris were going to be all sorts of manic. Though I am by no means an expert, it was my chosen responsibility to deliver her an amazing weekend (after all, it was her first-ever visit to a language-diverse country).

After an eventful overnight coach trip from London, we arrived in Bercy and logged in to the Hotel Tonight app just in time to secure a fantastic deal for Hotel O (a gorgeous, central, and Pantone-hued design hotel).

The following two days were an unforgettable blizzard of adventure, carbohydrates, discovery, accidental seduction, Frenglish, and more.

But enough chat, there’s a vlog to watch…

In Review: Takeaway Afternoon Tea, The Park Tower Knightsbridge

take away afternoon tea
My last trip to The Park Tower Knightsbridge was almost five years ago. 2009 – and The Park Tower – mark my first-ever business meeting with a designer brand.

Having had so much change, bewilder and humble me since that meeting, The Park Tower holds a very special place in my heart. When welcoming one of my close friends and recent London transfers to the city, it seemed more than appropriate to take a pit stop at the hotel and take away their afternoon tea for a picnic in Hyde Park.

Their ‘Take Away Strawberry Afternoon Tea‘ – as you can see – is beautifully ingenious.

In their three tier cardboard tea platter, The Park Tower include:
– London smoked salmon and green asparagus (sushi style) with keta caviar on nori bread (IT. IS. UNREAL.)
– Norwich farm chicken caesar with baby gem chiffonade on carrot bread
– Surrey peppered beef pastrami with horseradish cream on malted grain bread
– Silver Hill duck egg mayonnaise and mustard cress on viennoise briochette
– Scones with strawberry and rhubarb marmalade
– Strawberry Valrhona white chocolate truffle
– Strawberry marshmallow
– Whole strawberry dipped in Valrhona milk chocolate and nibbed sugar (
– Strawberry pâté de fruits
– Strawberry and crème chantilly pavlova
– Strawberry Victoria sponge cake tennis court and lemon tennis ball
…and…the most amazing pastry I have ever laid eyes on…
– Strawberry petit choux pastry swans with pistachio cream mousseline.

Truth be told, stretching out in the sunshine, listening to an insane Beatles cover band, and devouring the petite platter between us was the most gratifying way we could have spent an afternoon. Quintessential London luxury.

The takeaway afternoon tea is priced at £19.50 per person or £69 for two with a half bottle of Moët & Chandon Rosé (GO FOR IT) and available through August 31st. I advise booking 24 hours in advance (by online form or phone) to ensure availability.

take away afternoon tea
take away afternoon tea
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In Review: Cheval Three Quays, London

cheval three quays
Welcome, dear reader, to London’s latest five-star accomplishment: the luxurious apartments and short-term residences of Cheval Three Quays.

Last week Cheval invited me to spend an evening in one of their one-bedroom suites and – as I tend to do most blog experience invites – I did no research beforehand so I could experience everything ‘fresh’.

After being taken to my room (by the friendliest member of hotel staff I’ve ever chatted to), the first point of intrigue was the floor to ceiling windows at the end of the apartment. I almost swallowed my tongue when I went to take a look out. Whether sitting on the adjoining balcony or not, the ‘right’ side of the hotel lets you stare straight in the face of Tower Bridge and The Tower of London. It is one hell of an amazing location, tourist or not.

Eventually dragging myself away from the views, I toured the rest of the apartment with a skip in my step. From kitchen to living room to bathroom, Cheval Three Quays’ appliances are top-notch and the entire space is kitted out as you would expect a personal residence to be.

Not that you were left to your own devices…oh no, some of loveliest parts of settling into the suite were special touches: a pair of binoculars, Monopoly, and a welcome hamper full of fruit, Kettle Chips, tea, a large loaf of bread, champagne-infused jam from the Tower of London, and more.

It became ‘home’ in no time at all.

At 7pm, I was welcomed to a small champagne and canape reception where I was delighted to meet three of my fellow blogger sleepover invitees – Emma (from Adventures of a London Kiwi), Lisa (from Passage To Luxury) and Poppy (from Poppy Loves). We met – and Instagrammed, natch – in one of the Thames-facing apartments on the lower floors. With the balcony lit up by Cheval’s gorgeous waterfall feature, it simply proved that no matter where your apartment is, you can count on stupefying views at Cheval Three Quays.

After a glass of fizz or two found its way into each of us, we were zipped upstairs to one of Cheval’s Penthouses for dinner.

Pause for effect.

THIS PENTHOUSE WAS INSANE. Multiple bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, and the closest thing you can get to a 360-degree view of London. I decided to take a very leisurely stroll around (aka pretend it was all mine for a few minutes) before sitting down at the dining table to enjoy the culinary spoils of Rachel from Sweetapple Catering.

Kicking things off with a crab Cobb salad, my fellow blogger babes and I shared a beautiful evening with Cheval’s head honchos, peppering the conversation with bites of Sweetapple’s pomegranate glazed lamb rump with Jerusalem artichokes and pea and caper relish.

By the time our trio of desserts arrived (the highlight of which was a faultless cardamom rice pudding with charred rhubarb), we had managed to cover everything from royal weddings, to overhyped restaurants, to conspiracy theories.

As each course was paired with a glass of wine, the arrival of the cheese board was timed perfectly with some glazed-eye excitement for the inevitable descent into bed. (True to Cheval form, it ended up being the most comfortable and pillow-esque beds I have ever slept in.)

I’m sipping the Cheval juice. And you should be, too.

cheval three quays
cheval three quays
cheval three quays
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In Review: Staying Cool Apartments, Birmingham

staying cool birmingham
When looking for somewhere to stay the night before I ventured off to The Gadget Show, I kept clicking back on the the tab that housed the website of Staying Cool Apartments in Birmingham. Though it wasn’t the closest option suggested for proximity to the NEC (about 15 minutes by train), it’s location was nothing to be snubbed; in The Rotunda, it is practically piggybacking the Bullring. That, on top of five star reviews? You better believe it was booked post haste.

Sincerely, I could not have had a better experience.

Zipping towards the top of the cylindrical building, I felt myself smiling as soon as I entered the room. Though the space is ‘just’ a studio, the interiors are bright, light, trendy, and all illuminated by floor to ceiling windows that give you an exceptional bird’s eye view of the city.

While a lot of hotel rooms feel like someone else’s space, Staying Cool is kitted out with everything you would possibly need in your own home. For long-stays? Gargantuan and paraben-free beauty supplies, a washing machine, Monopoly, Scrabble, a pack of cards, coffee table books, and more. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I was provided fresh oranges for the juicer as well as a pack of Urban Coffee Company house blend for the cafetiere.

Before venturing out to explore the city for a few hours, I unpacked my things, cracked the windows, and checked my vibrating phone to find a text from the front desk wishing me a pleasant stay and any help if I needed it. Such sensational customer service – especially when followed by a tweet – is just one of the factors that separate Staying Cool from the rest of the pack.

As two of my best friends travelled up from London to spend the evening (and utilize the oven and wine glasses) with me, we were all as enamoured as each others. The views. The location. The bed (!!). The service.

I am quite literally in a hurry to return (maybe to their apartments in Barcelona next time, eh?).

staying cool birmingham
staying cool birmingham 16
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In Review: Scarfes Bar, London

scarfes bar london
Last Friday – after a very busy morning in the rain – The Manfriend and I ran up to High Holborn from Somerset House, through tropical waves of droplets, and darted into Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London as fast as our shoes would allow.

With its own revolving entrance preceding the hotel’s Edwardian courtyard, entering Scarfes is not dissimilar to leaving London. The space is indisputably slick with a tactful living room appeal: a roaring fire, sumptuous velvet chairs and books lining every inch of available wall space. Inspired by evangelist artist Gerald Scarfe – his pieces are featured throughout the bar – everything comes together as a distinctive living canvas.

Deciding to run with a literary homage, the bar have even presented their lunch menu inside an antique leather book jacket. And what a menu it was.

To start, we couldn’t ignore the multitude of cocktails floating from the mahogany bar. In addition to a starter of tandoori prawns (with cardamom and burrani raita) and an exquisitely simple salad of marinated Cèpes, chorizo, and tomato confit, we submitted ourselves to the drinks menu. For me, the Seine River Fizz (Grey Goose vodka, Domaine de Canton ginger, lime juice, basil leaves, Fentimans Victorian lemonade, topped with bespoke elderflower foam) and a Bubble & Shrubs (Sipsmith gin, St. Germain elderflower, home-made berry shrubs, dashes of Orange Bitters, and a splash of bubbles) for the gentleman. Both heart-breakingly delectable.

For our mains, we initially went for the same dish (the ‘Bhapa Bagda’ Bengali Whole Lobster), but decided to split it and order an accompanying casserole – with Venison, root vegetables, and veal jus – to share, as well. The lobster, as expected, was a slice of coconut and mustard-spiced heaven. The casserole (our ‘token second’), as unexpected, impressed us all the same. Served in a Staub tin alongside country bread, the meat was incredibly tender and flavourful without an ounce of stodge.

At first offer, we were positive we would abstain from dessert in favour of cocktails, but were quickly coerced into a Pear & Ginger crumble with spiced anglais and a pot of Winter Rumtopf with rum & raisin ice cream. While I would have happily finished my meal with a Hat’s Off (Jaral de Berrio Mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, agave nectar) alone…

…I just can’t do preserved fruits…

…The Manfriend’s serving-size-for-two Pear & Ginger crumble was an excellent goodbye to both bar and waistband.

This bar is destined for The Lists: Top 50 Bars In The World, 5 Bars You Can’t Miss in London, Best Art Bar in Europe…the superlative potential is endless. My vote? Best Place in London To Spend Your Afternoon. And money.

Thankfully, without regret.

scarfes bar london
scarfes bar london
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