the chapel candle
I have a confession to make. Though I been doing the “feminist as f*ck” thing for a number of years – all “Girl Power!”, “Love yourself!”, “Equality and kindness for women!” – I am very rarely kind to myself.

Do I believe I deserve as much as anyone else? Sure. Believe I’m a good person? Absolutely. Ever take time out for myself? Uh…no.

And it wasn’t until I went to the launch event of The Chapel‘s new incredible product range that I realized as such.

Rather than inviting 300 members of the press to take Snapchats of her new products and shove as many overpriced canapes as possible down our throats, Amanda (Dicker, The Chapel Founder) asked a handful of us ’round to her Islington Salon, fed us from fresh sharing platters on her own china, poured us her favourite tipples, and led an all-empowering feminist pow-wow.

The entire logic behind expanding her award-winning hair, beauty and lifestyle business was to encourage people to take the brand’s renowned “haven” status home with them. To reclaim time outside of the salon (the only place most of us allow ourselves “me time”) and put themselves first.

“Too often these days we mistake a hectic schedule for a full life, yet the time thattruly belongs to us is the moment when we pause…” – Amanda Dicker, Founder of The Chapel and all-round Wonderwoman

It was a much needed wake-up call for me. As our makeshift circle of trust shared personal stories, I related with patterns my own sacrifice, insecurity, and societal pressure. “Me Time” is long overdue. And The Chapel’s products are the perfect gateway drug.

The three products – candles, hand cream & pulse point fragrances – come in three fragrances; Oparus (Bergamot, Geranium, Sandalwood, etc), Mellifera (Apple, Tuberose, Vanilla, etc), and Noctula (my favourite – Mandarin, Violet, Patchouli, etc).

Though I fell in lust with all three scents I, naturally, went for the “hot red lips” (Noctula) scented candle as when you complete the 80 hour burn time you can use the exquisite ceramic candle holder as a home accessory.

That has “me” written all over it.

cheers

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tank and paddle london
There is something bittersweet about promoting restaurants I love. Especially when they’re hidden gems. But Tank & Paddle is a little too brilliant to keep secret.

It lives up to (and yet somehow defies) every expectation of a “pizza and beer” place. Though it is situated in the centre of The City, it is virtually impossible to “stumble upon” (below ground in Minster Court) and is significantly more affordable than its surrounding banker-seducing restaurant alternatives.

Yet the food is just as good.

With an absence of the postcode’s notorious white tablecloths and sommeliers, you get bar service (perfect for large groups), cosy corners, killer cocktails, and outright feasts at the cost of a dessert somewhere else.

After a round of Porn Star Martinis (my #sorrynotsorry pizza companion of choice), my dinner date and I split a Billy Goat’s Stuffed pizza (Rosary Goat’s Cheese, spinach & red onion chutney), pepperoni & chilli filled mac and cheese (a gooey-as-they-come delight called “The Hot One”), a gargantuan Greek salad, and savoury dough sticks with Garlic & Herb Butter and Chilli Butter (they also do a Nutella-filled option for dessert – your skinny jeans are forewarned).

It was a banquet that took us all the way through our Martinis, a bottle of bubbles, and more than a handful of dance breaks.

For its location, food, drinks (everyone around me was cooing over their beers), pricing, vibes, and deals (ie “Any regular pizza for £5 on Mondays”!), Tank & Paddle might just be the City’s greatest hideout.

tank and paddle london
tank and paddle london
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pan chai harrods london
Conceptually, dining in department stores once felt as naff as naff gets. I’ve spent twenty-plus years as a shopper watching tired families shove “Cafe” fish fingers into tired toddler mouths while people-watching OAPs hoard enough teacups to start department stores of their very own .

I subscribed to a state of non-partisan (or participative) acceptance.

Then, as per hedonistic usual, Harrods changed me.

Their Food Hall’s Pan-Asian counter restaurant – Pan Chai – was everything I needed to be convinced otherwise.

After a hardcore dance class, my dance ‘n’ dinner date and I settled in to the booths for a well-needed refuel and had our proverbial socks knocked off.

Pan Chai serves a menu as creative, decadent, and pure as ‘fusion’ comes. Every dish was a genuine delight; a mouth-watering snow crab salad (with avocado, caviar and seaweed), spicy squid tempura, tofu steaks (two deep-fried ‘steaks’ served with teriyaki sauce and asparagus), an avocado roll (enough for two), and the most exquisite grilled Wagyu Beef Bulgogi you could ever imagine (in Korean barbecue sauce with Japanese mushrooms, asparagus and steamed rice).

All washed down with some Daiginjo (Shirakabegura sake) – the smoothest premium sake I’ve ever tasted – for good measure. It was the best thing I’ve tasted since discovering Masottina.com.

A lunch or dinner may come with a Harrods price tag but will also come with a Harrods supremacy.

pan chai harrods london 2
pan chai harrods london
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dance class london
Y’all know how I feel about dance classes. They are truly the one thing that I can drag myself into a sweat for, bar none, and I do a lot of them. In fact, I’ve spent over 20 hours dancing this month alone and have found so many incredible gems I had to share some of my favourites with you.

So, here they are: the current best dance classes in London

One Day Salsa Masterclass
I’m not sure I had properly considered how much dancing would be done in the seven-hour Salsa Rapido 1-Day Intensive Course, but it is – eponymously – intensive.

The point of the class is to leave with the ability to dance salsa anytime, anywhere – whether it’s your first or fiftieth time doing so. Hence the intensity (but don’t let me scare you off, it is fun as hell and there are two rest breaks in addition to a break for lunch).

The creator and expert of a dance teacher, Alastair Sadler, is a laugh-a-minute and keeps you on your toes from start to finish. Quite literally. These intensive workshops have been 15 years of salsa dancing in the making for him.

Though the spacious basement of Bar Salsa! may welcomes you as – let’s be honest – pretty hopeless, time flies before it bids you adieu when the bar opens to the public, somehow confident enough to dazzle anyone with your one-two-three step.

Do you need a partner? No. (Every leader and followers swaps around during the class to keep everyone learning).
Do you need to have dance experience? No. But it also wasn’t boring for someone with dance experience. There were even a few people who had done the class before and wanted to refine their skills.
Do you need to bring a change of shoes? Absolutely. You’ll thank me later.

Whether you’re prepping for a trip to Cuba or simply want to burn 2000 calories feeling sexy, Salsa Rapido is an absolute must.

Swing dance
If anyone knows anything about Swing Dance, it’s London’s Swing Patrol. The ever-expanding group of swing classes and socials have been the city’s calling card for all things hip and Lindy-hoppy for years; I could hardly pass up their Swing Dance Class for Two steal when I found it on Not On The High Street.

Having already done the salsa masterclass a week prior, the four hour masterclass seemed like a piece of cake. Until I was there. Sweating out of my eyeballs.

Despite its cuteness, swing dance is not a cakewalk. The session introduces you to the six-beat swing, the eight-beat (or Lindy Hop), and the Charleston but – even with fifteen minute breaks between each – takes no prisoners. It is deliriously fun and a HIIT workout for the musically inclined.

Grab your swishiest skirt, best pal, and head out on Swing Patrol. Quick. While you’re trying to secretly become Emma Stone in La La Land…

Last but not least Nonstop Dirty Dancing
…of the non-twerking variety. We’re talking O.G. Baby and Johnny Dirty Dancing. Now at Pineapple Dance Studio.

This was, by far, the most difficult and dancer-friendly class of the three. One for the guys and dolls working towards a body that makes ‘That Lift’ a possibility.

‘Non-stop Dirty Dancing’ is exactly what it says on the tin; constant movement, constant Swayze-worthy tunes, and constant access to the brilliant dance tutelage of Paul Kitson – the first British actor and dancing to play the leading role of Johnny Castle in the original London West-End musical.

Blending salsa (thank you, Alastair!), cha cha, mambo, Latin, jazz, and other iconic moves from the film itself, the class is a treat for superfans and dancers alike.

The class runs every Tuesday at 6pm and, if you feel so inclined, you even have the opportunity to practice The Lift of Dreams before you put yourself – crumpled – in the corner.

(Can you tell I’ve spent my entire life wanting to become Baby?)

tootoomoo bottomless brunch london
There aren’t many things that can drag me out my negligee and into London’s bitter chill on a Sunday, but Tootoomoo‘s Bottomless Brunch managed to do just that.

In fact, I hauled myself across the river in anticipation of unlimited pan-asian feasting.

Real unlimited. Not asterisked unlimited. Over the weekend, Tootoomoo’s branches offer a bottomless brunch with nothing excluded from the menu. Not cocktails, not sashimi…all inclusive.

It was a dream come true in a city overflowing with bottomless syrupy-sweet ‘champagne’ brunches and sub-par eggs on breads.

At their Lilliputian Islington branch, I took advantage of their Malaysian/Chinese/Japanese/Thai/Vietnamese fusion without reservation; crispy hoisin duck rolls, Shichimi squid, Hamachi sashimi (with kizami wasabi), soft shell crab Maki (with gari, wasabi & soy), duck & watermelon salad, et al.

Though there were a number of authentic-looking noodle and curry dishes available, we couldn’t fathom a single plate more than the ‘nibbles’ we ordered ‘to start’. By the time two or three (or four, ahem) of their killer reposado gold Margaritas get down you, a mock liquid diet of natural frozen yogurt (with unnatural but tequila-demanded Oreo pieces) is about as much as you can handle.

And perhaps an Elderflower Tootoomoo (gin, sparkling elderflower & fresh mint).

If you’re looking for a good time and better-than-good brunching, Tootoomoo’s got you.

tootoomoo bottomless brunch 2
tootoomoo bottomless brunch london
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