I love London. I sign things London. London is the key to my heart – it deserves some writing.

In Review: Amba Hotel Charing Cross, London

amba hotel charing cross
I can’t even deal with The Amba Hotel (in the expressively grateful Valley Girl sense, of course).

Last week, I booked in for an evening sandwiched between late events and early meetings and was truly overwhelmed by the whole experience.

First things first: the building. During my review searches, I had seen a number of previous guests coo over its proximity to the tube, but didn’t realise just how close it was. Amba Hotel Charing Cross is literally attached to the rail station and a 180-degree turn to face the front door as you emerge from the Underground. It is also rather majestic (yet unassuming) on the inside; I’m not sure anything could make a Londoner’s heart pitter patter much more.

And then, the service. From the second I went to check in, I was welcomed by a handful of staff that were not only pleasant and professional but genuinely friendly and considerate. I almost felt like a was about to stay in a friend’s (exceptionally enormous) home.

Climbing the grand wraparound starcases to the fifth floor, I entered the room and immediately wanted to cancel all the evening’s plans. The view (adjacent to Trafalgar Square)! The complimentary minibar (with a mini-sized Prosecco bottle)! The walk-in shower (and two-person tub)! The bed (adjacent to a large desk, but much more fun to do work in*)! The free iPad (hello, room service of the future)! The wi-fi (excellent, compared to generic ‘free wifi’)!

While I was Lady Boringpants and spent most of my afternoon having Nespressos over my laptop, its tourist’s dream of a location was not lost on my cold London heart; I opened all the windows to play peeping tom on the tourists and tourism on The Strand below.

After a tiresome evening of events and luxurious night of catching Zzzs, I played ‘Queen of The Amazon’ in the rain shower and sashayed down to The Terrace for a bit of Eggs Royale. Every single part of this scenario was perfection.

It was only checking out that burst the bubble. This hotel has the potential to become quite an expensive hobby.

* (I was recently interviewed for the Gumtree blog about the interior design in the Celebrity Big Brother house and I have to say I have never been anywhere so comfortable while ‘doing work’.)

amba hotel charing cross
amba hotel charing cross
amba hotel charing cross
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In Review: Afternoon Tea at The Lancaster, London

lancaster london afternoon tea
If you’ve been clicking around my blog for any longer than a week (thank you, superbabe!), you’ll know I love to pepper my work days with as much adventure as possible. Though I tend to work from dawn to dusk, I know I need to step away from the grind when schedules and clients allow.

When you’re in London, there’s no better escape than afternoon tea.

When a slot in Wednesday’s schedule opened up, I made a date with the Lancaster London‘s Ben Purton and his signature afternoon tea.

In August, Purton took over the hotel’s two restaurants (Island Grill and Nipa Thai), banqueting for up to 3,000 guests, room service, the Lounge Bar, and the Lunge Bar’s Afternoon Tea as Executive Chef.

All that and the man still manages to knock the scones – and then some – out of the park.

Kicking things off with a glass of Laurent Perrier, I decided to go for a pot of organic darjeeling (champagne of teas to follow the champagne of champagnes, naturally) while my tea buddy chose his favourite – a classic pot of English breakfast tea (a full-bodied version blended with three different Assam leaves).

While the tea timer did our dirty work, we began to plate up our savouries; a Lancaster London smoked salmon sandwich, an egg & wild cress sandwich, a cucumber sandwich, a wild mushroom, chicken and tarragon tartlet, and a roast beef-filled Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream (the cake-taker, by far).

With excellent timing, our waitress then approached us to ask if we would like any more sandwiches (not with scones coming!) and if we were ready for our scones (YES, ALWAYS YES!). The warm plain and raisin carb clouds were then served to us with homemade strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, making all our dreams come true.

Making a push for the sweets tier, I took small bites of everything to ensure no sugared stone went unturned. From favourite to could-still-be-a-favourite, the final plate featured white chocolate and raspberry lollipops, apple and honey cupcakes, lemon fruit tarts, caramel and hazelnut tranches, and passion fruit and raspberry macarons.

When a macaron comes ‘last’, you know you’re dealing with a pro.

lancaster london afternoon tea
lancaster london afternoon tea
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New Year, One New Change

one new change
Resolutions can be a recipe for disaster. After the first ‘night out’ drinking soda water or the first dinner-without-dessert since last new year. willpower doesn’t come so willingly. To combat this, I prefer to set myself goals I can invest in.

This year, I have resolved to go on more adventures. The first step was to book flights to and from Bangkok for early March (I am going to jump you like an Olympian, Thailand!) and the second step was to refresh my ski wardrobe at Ellis Brigham in One New ChangeM/b>.

I haven’t been skiing in almost ten years. Though I took to the snow like a fish to water, before I knew it a couple of holidays had passed, a few years had passed, a lot of ladder-climbing had passed, and I ended up here; obsessed with the snow from afar.

It is time to get back on the slopes.

Walking into Ellis Brigham (after the obligatory elevator trip to the top of One New Change to take in London’s dark blues), I was convinced I was going to leave the store with a shiny new pair of ski boots.

I got distracted. Distracted by rainbows of goggles, helmets, skiwear and all of their neighbouring goods. As quick as as money could possibly be spent, I spent it. With black and white skiwear protruding from my closets at home, I opted for the white Era 14/15 helmet from Giro (incredibly comfy, sleek, and made with thermostat control venting) and – my big investment – the Dragon APXs Whiteout 14/15 goggles with pink ionized lenses. Having dealt with a plethora of eye issues over the last year, it was clear goggles took precedence over boots as soon as I started to peruse the cases.

They also make my ski-obsessed Manfriend green with envy. Score.

On the way to check out, I remembered my final piece of non-rentable ski kit essentials – ski gloves – and left shortly thereafter with a bag full of promises.

I’m coming for you, Alps.

one new change
one new change
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The View From The Shard

view from the shard
I’m not sure any view of London is better than The View From The Shard. Even a helicopter ride would have trouble competing.

On a slightly nippy night in December, The Manfriend and I decided to play tourist and zoom sixty-nine floors into London’s skyline for a glass of bubbles. Natch.

Having visited the Empire State building at the start of our courtship, our expectations weren’t set all that high (views of a major city = pushy, camera phone-wielding crowds in my mind) but knew we would enjoy the ‘scene’ at the very least.

After ascending 800ft, our minds were blown. The 360-degree view is more breathtaking than words could do justice. With London’s major landmarks the size of Monopoly pieces beneath us, our small lift-riding group of four fell silent the second the city came into periphery.

Check out our full experience in the Youtube video, below!

Tips:
– Go on a clear day or night to ensure you see the full 40 mile stretch.
– For crowd control, head straight up to floor 72 when you step out of the final lift as the majority will start on 69 and discover the staircase to floor 72 later on.
– Turn your flash off if you’re taking photos.
– Though we went at night (and it was stunning), I would recommend a time slot near sunset to get the best of both worlds.
– The View From The Shard is open-air, so dress for the weather.
– Go to the toilet (the video will explain all).

In Review: No 11 Pimlico Road, London

no 11 pimlico road
I wish I had discovered No 11 Pimlico Road earlier.

When I first moved back to London as an adult, I saw a lot of the 170’s bus route between Victoria and Clapham, but never noticed the gorgeous interiors of No 11 Pimlico Road, let alone the food menu. Years – and an intense passion for restaurants – later, I was invited for brunch and it turned into a blog. This blog.

No 11 is a diamond in the not-so-rough. The clientele are noticeably diverse (yet always smiling), the atmosphere is lively (yet, somehow, quite homely), and everything of the menu is divine (no yets). From the arrival of my Bloody Mary – Ketel One Citroen vodka & fresh tomato juice served with their house spice mix – I knew I would be a return customer. Even my dining partner’s homemade pink grapefruit and ginger lemonade could be bothered to be made with an in-house lemon sherbet. The charm is all in the details.

Details like a deconstructed club sandwich packed with noticeably high-quality ingredients; succulent grilled marinated chicken, smoked bacon, avocado, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and basil mayonnaise on sourdough toast. Details like a generous truffled macaroni cheese side that oozed with fragrant truffle and cheese. Details like ‘prawn salad’ that crunches through a bed of chilli mayo salad, avocado, and Monster Prawns…

…maybe its time to move back to Clapham.

no 11 pimlico road

no 11 pimlico road
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