Though the month was comandeered by all things work-related, I promised myself I would do at least one Vlogmas this year so made a point to take one day off and treat myself to a little festive fun.
The tomfoolery kicked off with a trip to get my very neglected travel-worn mane fixed by my beloved Jason Collier (Creative Director of the Matthew Curtis Hair Salon at Rosewood London), who you may remember from my glory days with My Little Pony hair.
Vicki (of Honest Mum) and I both love Jason, in fact, so by the time he whipped our differing locks into personal perfection, we were ready to take the day by storm.
After checking in to the Royal Garden Hotel and indulging in a little room service, we Ubered ourselves to the launch of Portobello Road Gin‘s four-floor boutique gin hotel (and then some), The Distillery. The hotel plays home to a working distillery, two bars, a gin museum, an off-licence and a gin-making experience dubbed ‘The Ginstitute’. More than enough to keep us busy for a night and more than enough to take us through to a stunning breakfast at the Royal Garden, lots of work, a manicure, Christmas catch-up, very late lunch, and a holiday party.
But that’s just the top line. Click to watch (above) and have a very merry Christmas, indeed!
Though I spent far more time than I needed to in the state underneath it throughout my adolescence, I had never visited Michigan until this year. This exact Lela Takes The Lakes meander.
Because of its proximity to my best friend’s wedding (hello again, Indiana) and equidistance from my first long-term stop (Traverse City), I kicked all things Great Lakes off with a stop in Grand Rapids.
Before I delve into all that Grand Rapids had to offer, I must introduce you to the best burger in America.
I know. I was as dubious as you, “Mr. Michigan CAN’T have the best burger in America?!”, are. Alas, Stella’s Lounge pulled it out of the bag.
The restaurant-cum-whiskey bar-cum-retro arcade had their half-pound stuffed patties knighted “best burgers in America” by the court of GQ a few short years ago and I refused to pass through the city without pursuing a taste test of my very own.
The truth? The Buffalo (a blue cheese & bacon-stuffed burger served with Stella’s buffalo hot wing sauce and celery mayo in brioche) is the dirtiest dirty burger I’ve ever laid lip on and, as its now a 11+ hour transatlantic crossing away, a complete personal travesty.
Don’t try it without chronic fries (crispy & spicy ay-eff), Angel’s Envy Rye (the finish is outstanding), and a few solid hours of Mortal Kombat.
I actually enjoyed all the aforementioned so much I dragged my travel-weary ass back on a layover between Traverse City and Minneapolis. This time for their veggie/vegan options and weekly Gong Show karaoke. Highlights included the Ted Avocado Nugents (avo beer-battered in Perrin Double IPA and served with Asian slaw & spicy avocado ranch dipping sauce) and performances from every American Idol reject West of New York City.
With over 250 whiskies (some of which I’ve searched bars for worldwide), Ms. Pacman, Q*bert, and the best burgers in America (at least in personal & GQ experience), Stella’s can’t be missed.
As a travel blogger, I can often be stuck spending more time in airports than I do in air so was head-over-heels to find out that Heathrow Airport just launched “The World’s Most Connected Mirror” alongside their brand new Personal Shopping Lounge at Terminal 5.
Along with the help of your (complimentary and all rather adorable) personal shopping, the mirror allows you to connect with friends and social connections to get immediate feedback on desired purchases in real time.
I, naturally, got stuck in as soon as I could. Between sips of champagne, Vuitton-lusting, Harry Potter Store browsing, and cape-twirling in Harrods, I managed to scout the shade I had fallen in love with when trying blue lipsticks weeks beforehand, the MAC lipglass that has always reminded me of childhood, and even a massively discounted early Christmas present for myself (in the shape of a wine-coloured ostrich handbag from Kurt Geiger).
If you’re not going to indulge when it’s duty-free, when are you?
Shop My Heathrow Personal Shopping Buys Now (or wait ’til you get to the airport for the discount!)
While preparing to host a holiday hootenanny, I did what all modern party-throwers do and scoured the internet for inspiration. Before too long, I got caught up in the Christmas cocktails section of thebar.com (my favourite place for cocktail inspiration) and decided to challenge myself with a tried-and-true Eggnogg recipe. The result? So unexpectedly good I decided to throw in a little Lela London magic and share the concoction with y’all.
May I present…
Recipe: The Best Eggnog, Ever
1. Make the eggnog as per TheBar’s recipe (link above).
2. Mix half a teaspoon of ground ginger and a tablespoon of molasses. Add it to the glass.
3. Rim your glasses with cinnamon sugar.
4. Add whipped cream as you like it. Hot tip: coupe glasses will assist a pretty little whip-molasses overflow.
To customize: I like to forgo the original recipe’s sugar syrup when I make the pimped up version but anyone with a sweet tooth should leave it as is! It’s Christmas, after all.