Travel

ASPINAL OF LONDON…

With January and almost February finally over… We’re due a break! Constantly summer dreaming (at least in our heads anyway!) we’re in travel planning mode and have never been more ready for the next trip.

Admittedly, there are many brands who offer personalised travel accessories, and many of which we adore. Unfortunately, when travelling, the reality is that it’s very difficult to keep things as pristine as we would like. So as much as we are willing to invest in these items, we look for “accessible” luxury – enter Aspinal of London.

We’ve been pining over Aspinal of London’s luxury travel essentials for a while, scrap that, always. Having travelled-out our previous passport and document holder, it’s out with the old, and in with the personalised!

To sum it up – the whole instore experience was faultless. The service was absolutely impeccable. Aspinal’s knowledgeable and charismatic assistants will adorn your purchases with anything from your initials, monogram, lucky number or a memorable date in gold or silver depending on the colour of your item. The choice of colours and textures is so vast we struggled to whittle it down. In the end decided upon red lizard – a classic, yet with stand out. Being easy to find amongst our hand luggage was a must!

The embossing machine sits pride of place in the Covent Garden store and attracts the attention of shoppers. The wonderful sales associates were a delight to speak with whilst we observed our embossing in action. We were lucky enough to be in store over an eventing weekend and all of our personalisation was complimentary. Generally, on individual items, personalisation costs £15.00. Which in comparison to a lot of designers, this is a minimal addition to have your items personalised.

We’re absolutely in love with our travel pieces, and counting down until the next trip…

So, we’d be lying if we said we stopped there… Like kids in a candy store, the walls were adorned with temptation in the form of leather accessories! We spotted the reversible Soho clutch on the wall behind the till point. One of those, almost dream like moments where you subconsciously reach out?! That happened!! We had a gap in the wardrobe for a burgundy bag and the fact it was double sided with navy justified it immediately – two bags for the price of one, so one is practically free, right?!

Our Soho has been used far more than I imagined. It’s the perfect hands-free bag for commuting – encouraging us to release our backs and arms from under the strain of carrying a tote which just comes with urge to throw everything in and lug it around! Also, it’s the perfect on board hand luggage bag to keep your essentials close by when throwing your carry on in the over-head. Not sold yet?! The Saffiano leather means no scratches and minimum marking so that’s one less thing to worry about… An all round must- have by our standards!

The Flat Soho Clutch comes in beautiful brights for Summer and also a stunning Monochrome mix for those who prefer something a little more classic. We’ve got our eye on the Orange for High Summer…

All available online and in store at Aspinal of London


 

ONE NIGHT ONLY…

After the craziness of Christmas, the mania of New year and a bleak cold January who isn’t dreaming of escaping? Whilst for most of us a sunshine break isn’t on the cards a quick night away can do wonders! A change of scenery, slower pace, and indeed a time to just “be”. Having spent Christmas, new year and the first weeks of January very poorly; a night away was just the tonic I needed to feel like me again!


The gorgeously cosy lounge bar at the Gallivant

I started searching for deals as January is a perfect time to snag a bargain in the boutique hotel world! So I stumbled upon The Gallivant. Situated in the gorgeous Camber Sands and five mins from beautiful Rye. The hotel has won many accolades,  the Independent claims its “one of 13 best beach-side hotels” The Daily Telegraph voting it “one of britains best seaside hotels” ( out of a list of 20 ) Good food Magazine ” best beachside bites”. The list goes on.


Personally I was instantly smitten. Knowing the area well from childhood. Glorious summers spent on the golden dunes of camber, and fish and chips devoured in rye harbour it is a place holding many happy memories. A place I always think of with affection. As an adult now residing by the coast myself I hadn’t visited in many years. My husband is also a fan of the area so on this front is was a win win! The hotel was offering a fantastic deal… A nights stay in a standard room,  afternoon tea and breakfast all for £85 which is half the usual rate. SOLD!!! These deals are often available, do check online and it’s also worth calling the hotel directly as we did.

We headed off on a sunny but freezing Thursday eager to leave our lives for 24 hours! Trying to banish my guilt at leaving my 3 year old with his Nan ( I know, I know, it’s only a night, but mum guilt cripples the best of us! ) I knew I needed it- and more to the point, WE needed it, having a small child can put huge pressures on your relationship/marriage and it’s so important to take time out for each other. ( this is a whole different blog post! ) and time to come back together and remember why the hell you got married in the first place! Anyway, I digress!

We arrived early afternoon to the unassuming low level building. In its former life it was a motel charging by the hour! One can only imagine if the walls could talk! The overall feel is very beach chic… Like a Californian escape but dressed for the british weather! Our room not yet ready, we decamped into the lounge for a G&T and to gaze across the road at the sunshine caressing the sand dunes. So far, so perfect! Staff are incredibly attentive and friendly. The lounge itself is all sheepskin throws and bleached woods. Very relaxed and chic in a casual way. If the Gallivant were a person she would be that tanned girl with sea salty waved hair with freckles on her nose and a huge smile on her face. In the name of equal opportunities… If a man, the hotel would be a surfer dude… Anyhow I’m sure you get the picture!!

Suitably refreshed we checked into our room which was perfectly adequate. As a standard goes and for one night absolutely perfect. Double bed (the most gorgeous mattress and sheets- I slept like a baby which for me is no mean feat!) separate bathroom with bath/shower combo. Tv, radio, kettle etc all the things you would expect.

The afternoon was still young so we headed into beautiful Rye, which has had something of a renaissance. Trendy art shops and restaurants in amoungst the antique and traditional shops. It’s certainly one to watch! We spent the afternoon antique shopping and stopping for drinks in between… A few of our finds below:

The George Hotel- great for their huge list of gins ( try the grapefruit one! ) and light bites… As recommended to me by my great friend.


The Mermaid Inn… One of the most haunted buildings in England with a roaring fire and all original features it’s an absolute must- they also have rooms you can stay in if you dare!

The Fig, at the top of the village next to the wonderful Ironmongers homewear shop. The Fig serves AMAZING green juice should you be partial ( I am ) and to balance all that goodness go for the riccotta pasta with broccoli and pine nuts— DIVINE! Highly recommended, they even offered me painkillers for my headache!


There are so many great antique shops half the fun is discovering them, they are all within walking distance to each other and we saw many gems…

SO wanted this gorgeous mannequin but at £500 it wasn’t to be !

Also in case you wanted to fully indulge… Cobbles tea room (near the Mermaid Inn) serve the best cream teas and have been there since I was very young ( quite a few years!)

Gorgeous Rye…

  
After a light lunch we headed back for tea and cake in the lounge. Herbal teas and coffees and a relaxing read of the magazines on offer- the joy ! The Heaven!! That moment you feel your shoulders inching away from your ears. This is the essence of a quick getaway, total relaxation.

The food at the evening meal was utterly divine. An Al la carte menu, we kicked things off with a flight of champagne… Complimemtary mini ham hocks in light batter- delish. We both opted for the lamb which was cooked to perfection followed by the chocolate ganache…. Delectable. Soft lighting, attentive (but not annoyingly so- service) and great grub. The company wasn’t bad either! Five stars!


We both slept SO well, as sleep deprived parents this is quite an accomplishment! We woke feeling refreshed and ready for breakfast. A full buffet style breakfast is offered as well as a full menu of cooked options. Me, well I was in heaven. Homemade granola bars, fresh banana bread, mini Danish pastries… But my fave was the vanilla yogurt panna Cota… Calories? Pah!


  
Such a great little touch was the “recovery station” . Should you of overindulged the night before a whole array of remedies awaits you! Berroca, Alka-selza and ingredients for a Bloody Mary!

As we left we asked the receptionist if we could see one of the larger rooms. There are 5 “garden” rooms, each with their own garden, roll top bath, huge flat screen TV. We fell in love! This is also a wedding hotel should you be thinking of a barefoot affair, and worthy of note it is also a family and dog friendly abode.

Totally recommend this little bolt hole if you are looking for some R&R or even as a base to explore the surrounding areas. Dungeness is a mere 30 minute drive away, an eerie but mesmerising place like something out of a movie ( wannabe photographers DREAM! ) photo opportunities everywhere! As the Gallivant rightly says “Eat Beach Sleep”. We couldn’t agree more.

For more info and room rates thegallivant.co.uk


 

PERSONAL SHOPPING AT HEATHROW…

Discounted Chanel? Yes, you heard it right, Handbag dreams really do come true!! The moment we discovered we could purchase CHANEL without actually travelling through Terminal 3 was a wonderful one for us – perhaps not for our bank balance… But discounted CHANEL is something to be treasured, and of course shared!


Heathrow’s Personal Shopping service is, point blank, the dream! We discovered it last year and couldn’t recommend it enough. Although CHANEL was our natural choice and raison d’être – you can transfer between terminals to any Boutique – it’s worth noting you need to clear security 3 hours before your flight takes off. This is all at the discretion of your airline however we’ve always found British Airways to be fully accommodating allowing us to bag drop early in Terminal 5. We hear that the Arabic airlines allow you to check in and bag drop up even earlier, up to 8 hours before your flight… Increased shopping time!

First things first, You’ll need to email the personal shopping service and provide your flight details and item codes from your wish list. They can then reserve items 24 hours ahead of your flight. If in stock, you’ll then be assigned a personal shopper. I’ve since liaised with mine to arrange appointments directly via text and email and the process has been utterly seamless.
There is a minimum spend for the service, but at £250 let’s face it, that’s not hard to achieve, especially not in CHANEL – and we all deserve an airport treat right?!

The personal shopping service is friendly yet not intrusive and on occasion just feels like shopping with a friend. The experience was professional without pressure to purchase – we didn’t feel “sold to” at all, unlike some past PS sessions.

Due to the early flight time we opt for,  we actually had the boutique to ourselves which made the experience that little bit more special – we could have done a little dance in our CHANEL pump clad feet – total VIP experience!

Even better news…  There will be a boutique coming this month (December) to Terminal 5!


Honestly, we couldn’t recommend the service enough it was so well organised and stress free – you’re fast tracked through security back to the terminal for your flight – we even had time to hit the boutiques in Terminal 5 too! You can also arrange, if travelling with friends or family, a group session in the PS showroom with champagne for special occasions.

It genuinely is the most cost effective way to purchase CHANEL and the majority of other brands and would be the only way we’d do it now making savings around 17.5%. Not usually ones for mental arithmetic BUT the saving is practically the price of a pair of classic pumps if you’re buying a classic 2.55 handbag that is! Well that’s how we justified ours…

And a final tip – ALWAYS use your Heathrow rewards card, if you’re not a member – sign up! We’re always astounded how quickly these points add up – they’re directly converted to cash to spend at Heathrow.

For example we purchased our Wallet on Chain recently and got enough cash back to purchase a lipstick and liner – winner! Better still – if your purchase is made through the Personal Shopping service you also gain triple points – service and benefits! Luxury savvy shopping at its finest!


 

LIFE’S A BEACH…

At SASH we have been visiting Marbella and Puerto Banus for years… it’s the ideal location for a family holiday and utter perfection for a chic weekend away with the girls!  After spending our mornings bustling around the local markets and discovering the back street boho boutiques looking for that new and undiscovered brand, we love nothing more than a chilled afternoon at a beach club and couldn’t resist sharing with you some of our favourites…

PURO BEACH

Beach clubs in the Marbella area have a bit of a reputation due to a certain TV reality show. Forget champagne Sunday’s at Ocean club (super fun if with the girls or to people watch but not really our scene these days!) – Purobeach is the perfect antidote. Cool and calm with Balearic beats wafting through the air. The whole feel is very bohemian and relaxed. Puro is nestled within Laguna Village, which houses some really special little boutiques. Selling boho luxe brands such as Manoush and the amazing Jenny Packham. Premium swimwear is also available to lure you in, especially after a few champagne cocktails- the credit card slips out SO easily!! All white and tassels against the azure of the sky and sea makes for something completely alluring. Yoga on the beach and Buddhas peaking from behind hurricane lanterns… Lush.  The food is palette pleasing to say the least! It is also very easy to eat healthily which is great if you are spending the week in a bikini. We highly recommend their fresh juices (great for a hangover too!!). You can choose a bed by the pool or the beach. The staff are all incredibly attentive and it’s definitely a five star experience.  Did we mention we have downloaded their uplifting mixes?! Best played LOUD against the backlash of a rainy day –  Summer dreaming at its finest! They have a hotel in Palma as well as various beach clubs around the world … We will meet you on the sand  purobeach.com    

OCEAN CLUB

An old favourite. Now best known now for its legendary Champagne Spray Parties throughout the Summer ( see above!! ). We do admit to partaking in previous years (for the cause – hen party of course!) But for us the Restaurant has always been the real hidden gem. With tables overlooking the sea or the pool, it’s the perfect spot for lunch we’ve visited and enjoyed ever so, equally with the girls and with our families. We absolutely adored the Lobster Salad and have devoured the Sushi Platter on many occasions… washed down with one of our favourite holiday tipples the Aperol Spritz! Five star service is guaranteed and it really is a premium spot best enjoyed midweek if you want to see it in a more low key setting. If you are young and don’t mind your hair being splattered in Veuve, Champagne Sunday it up – We prefer to drink ours and thankfully our Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray gives us the beachy hair look without the champagne scent … Oceanclub.es

NIKKI BEACH

Another favourite, in their own words “tell only your best friends” we love it here for Lunch and equally so for Dinner with stunning views from the open air restaurant  – ideal if you’re staying in Marbella rather than Puerto Banus and what could be more dreamy than seafood with the stunning Mediterranean in sight. The food is fabulous and the menu inspired and represented by all of the places Nikki beach is located from St Tropez to Bali! To top it off the service is absolutely faultless… we’ll see you at the octagon shaped bar … Nikki Beach Marbella.com

LA SALA BY THE SEA

Our latest find is formerly known as Buddha Beach. Now part of the La Sala Group, renound in Southern Spain and in Marbella  for it’s sister restaurant come bar with live singers 7 nights a week. Their latest addition, the beach club, had the perfect relaxed and informal vibe we needed after a heavy night by the port! And you’ll be delighted to hear, it delivers the same delicious food as the restaurant with an extensive menu. We loved their range of health smoothies and shakes to start the morning, making our way through their list of cocktails by the time the sun set …  We’d say it’s got the same chilled Balearic vibe as Puro but located just off the shore in Puerto Banus. With an array of loungers, deck beds, the perfect choice when visiting in couples and came with fruit platter – the cabanas with private jacuzzi are fab for larger groups. It’s instantly recognisable as the much loved Buddha Beach from the statues juxtaposed around both pool sides inspired by the Exotic Far East with stunning views of the Mediterranean… La Sala By The Sea.com

PLAZA BEACH

Located at the entrance to the Port in Puerto Banus, Plaza Beach is the only one placed directly on the beach to allow that toes in the sand, cocktail in hand experience we adore – we can safely recommend the Mojitos and the chilled Ibiza soundtracks,  It is located SO closely to some of favourite swimwear boutiques it’s the perfect pit-stop to rest our tired feet…  Although its a chilled bohemian vibe, there’s always room for a bit of sparkle… Plazabeach.com


TOES IN THE SAND, COCKTAIL IN HAND…

Bonjour à nos amis de la mode de Juan Les Pins! This post is coming to you, bikini clad, from our beach lounger, post a delicious lunch at the Belle Rives – quite possibly our favourite hotel based on a stunning little part of the beach in Juan les Pins to share with you some of our favourite boutiques and eateries should you find yourself in this part of Côte d’Azur this summer. Fashion First of course…

ROSANITA – A fabulous little chain of boutiques in the South of France and stockist of some of our most favourite bohemian brands: Hipanema and Antik Batik to name a couple – you’ll be in embellishment and tassel HEAVEN! We’re head over heels with the handmade bags from SQUAW, an exclusive for Rosanita and utterly perfect for any beach trip from Juan les pins to Ibiza!

SUNDRESS OFFICIAL – An absolute MUST for a trip to the French Riviera. We have been admiring this brand from afar and couldn’t wait to get our paws on one from the official boutique! The detail of these dresses are just divine and are also available for your mini me. The addiction has just started – thank goodness for worldwide shipping!!

NUDE – another boutique exemplifying the bohemian chic luxury look we love for holiday. Located on Boulevard Edouard Baudoin, NUDE is a stockist of the recently discovered Camilla Australia. Their website currently only ship to Australia and New Zealand so this is the closest to home we can get these gorgeous printed kaftans with so many ways to wear!

Shopping in the sun is thirsty work so on to the gastronomy…


THE BELLE RIVES – For relaxed dining with stunning views, it has to be the restaurant at the Belle Rives you can lounge all day and move just inches to lunch with a sea view. The service is impeccable and the food divine. As for the dessert selection, it’s so extensive we just couldn’t choose one – take one look at the images below and you’ll see why…

CAP RIVIERA – For dinner, if you like to hear the waves crashing whilst you dine, Cap Rivera is just perfection! The service is wonderful and the staff are great humoured (a trait often difficult to come by in Côte d’Azur). We loved the offer of the catch of the day which for us was Seabass, presented superbly on marble slabs to select your own – so good we closed the menu straight away our choice was well and truly made! The vibe in here for a Sunday evening was fantastic and it’s relatively small so reservations are a must!

CAP D’ANTIBES BEACH CLUB – Just a short walk from the centre of Juan les pins and offers THE perfect chilled out Ibiza vibe in the south of France. We would recommend staying here all day, sashay from bar to beach lounger to restaurant in a few small steps. Considering view and location it’s fantastic value and we’ll definitely be visiting for dinner next time as evening events run throughout the summer. Most importantly they make a fabulous mojito!!!

LA JETTEE –  a really relaxed environment directly on the beach ideal for casual dining – daytime or evening!

We only had a weekend in this beautiful resort and the list is truly endless – there so so many hidden boutiques and restaurants to discover – these are just a few of our favourites, must say Au Revoir because our glass of Minuty is getting warm…

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