11 February 2016

Amba Hotel, Marble Arch

One of my goals last year was to explore and make the most of what London has to offer and just before Christmas we had the loveliest overnight stay at the newly opened Amba Hotel in Marble Arch:

 Amba Hotel, Marble Arch

 Amba Hotel, Marble Arch

I actually live not too far away but we'd been to visit a friend in Leicester the night before so checking into the hotel it really did feel like we were on holiday! Being the week before Christmas there were decorations everywhere and Oxford Street looked beautiful with all the lights twinkling away.

Amba Hotel restaurant

Having stayed in some amazing hotels over the years I had high expectations and Amba Hotel didn't disappoint. The room were spacious with the comfiest double bed, a sofa, desk and ensuite bathroom, which was totally gorgeous by the way and I'm now seriously lusting after a walk in overhead shower for my flat. 

 Amba Hotel bathroom

 Amba Hotel bathroom toiletries

What really made it 4 star though was all the little extras which were thoughtfully included in the room. There's an complimentary mini bar with snacks and soft drinks, a selection of teas and hot chocolates, as well as a Nespresso machine and iPad to order room service on. For us bloggers there are also USB charging points and free unlimited wifi and even the boyfriend commented on how impressed he was with the speed! 

Amba Hotel room refreshments

We'd originally planned to take advantage of the good location to do some shopping but unfortunately arriving late on a Sunday all the shops had shut by the time we checked in. It worked out quite well though as tired from travelling we were both happy to relax for a bit before the most delicious dinner at Senor Cerviche in Carnaby Street, a mere 20minutes walk away.

Amba Hotel breakfast

Breakfast is included and the next morning we were both pleased to see that the buffet offered a hot selection along with the usual fruit, cereal and pastries. With it being a cold day in December the full English breakfast and hot tea was a real treat and just what I needed for a day of shopping and exploring!

 Amba Hotel reception lobby

Overall we both really enjoyed our overnight stay and check out was so easy as you literally just have to hand your room card back to reception. This year we've already got a big trip planned to India but having had a year of staycations I can now fully appreciate the restorative powers of even just a night away and if you're ever looking for somewhere new to stay in central, then I would definitely recommend giving Amba Hotel Marble Arch a try.

Have you ever stayed at Amba Hotel? What are your favourite London hotels? 

9 February 2016

New in - Spring skincare launches

I think Spring has to be one of my favourite times of the year. The sun starts to come out more, there's the promise of holidays and warmer weather ahead and with that there are always lots of gorgeous new fragrances, innovative skincare formulas and exciting new make up launches:

With Valentine's just around the corner, Melvita's new nectar de roses range couldn't be more perfectly timed. I always find rose fragrances quite hit and miss which is why I'm so pleased that Melvita's offering is more fresh and floral than old fashioned and powdery. It combines three different hand picked wild roses for a light romantic scent and in particular I'm really liking the hydrating body veil which is perfect for Spring and the multi purpose balm which is great for dry lips and cuticles.

Other than the cleansing oil I've not heard much about DHC but at a recent launch the new Beauty lift range definitely caught my eye. Now that I'm approaching the end of my twenties, anti-ageing has become more of a concern and this range promises to both lift and hydrate the skin. There's a toning lotion, beauty essence, hydrating milk and nourishing cream, all of which feel lightweight and gentle on the skin. Asian skincare has become increasingly popular in recent years and with their simple yet premium packaging these very much remind me of the high end beauty brands from Japan and China.

Finally a new launch for those who struggle with spots or oily skin. Very much like a BB or CC cream, these offer a hint of colour whilst at the same time helping to clear up spots with salicylic acid. The formula's very light weight and oil free and with two shades it covers a good range of skintones. It's very sheer but I like that it has a matte finish without being drying on the skin and as a tinted moisturiser for the gym or on holiday I can see these being very popular. 

Did any of these new launches catch your eye? What are your current skincare favourites?

4 February 2016

January empties and favourites

Seven years in and I think it's safe to say this is my longest running series on Peonies and lilies. It originally started as a way of motivating myself to use up products before trying something new and now it's become second nature and I always find it really interesting to look back and see what I've enjoyed using throughout the year. With the recent cold weather I've tried to make more effort to moisturise and as a result have managed to get through quite a few creams and oils:

January empties and favourites
January empties and favourites

January empties and favourites
 January empties and favourites

Bliss grapefruit and aloe is one of my favourite scents and I'm really sad to have finished the body butter. It was so rich and moisturising and the scent never failed to uplift. Dove Dermaspa is a good budget alternative and it did a great job of keeping my skin soft and supple this winter. Another favourite is Neal's Yard garden mint and bergamot hand lotion. Partly because it smelt amazing and partly because the cream was so light weight and quick absorbing so great to use during the day. The pump dispenser came in really handy too and I definitely need to get another bottle asap! 

For the face I really liked Olay 3 point regenerist night cream. It felt so soothing and nourishing on the skin and I always woke up looking well rested and hydrated. Elemis make up remover was another skincare staple and although it wasn't as effective as Bioderma it was very gentle and a good alternative if you have more sensitive skin. I only managed to get through one make up item but Maxfactor remains my favourite high street brand for mascaras and it's one of the few that manages to stay put all day without smudging. 

How did you on with empties this month? What were your January favourites?

29 January 2016

Winter knitwear - three ways

Every year in December I think oh the weather's not that bad then come January I'm reminded just how cold it can be in the UK! As soon as the temperature drops I find myself in stocking up on knitwear and snuggling up next to the radiator. This winter George at Asda challenged me to create three outfits with a selection of their jumpers and cardigans:

Of the three this sequinned jumper is probably my favourite. A few years ago I brought a sparkly jumper from H&M which I absolutely loved and this is a great alternative. Because the knitwear is quite see through it comes with a simple vest top to wear underneath and teamed with a pair of my favourite Topshop jeans this is now my go to outfit for dinners and casual evenings with friends. 

One of the things I always struggle with is how to look glamorous yet be warm on a night out and when I spotted this textured cardigan I knew it would be the perfect solution. It reminds me of those super warm and fluffy coats but a more cropped version which is more flattering and great with dresses and heels. 

Of course the bulk of my time is spent indoors wearing cosy pyjamas and after swearing that I'd never wear turtle necks again I've done a complete u-turn and fallen in love with this thin knit jumper. It doesn't really come through in the photo but there's a super fine gold thread running through the material which makes it just that little bit more pretty and I love how loose yet warm the turtle neck is. 

Do you own any George @ Asda knitwear? What are your go to outfits this Winter?

26 January 2016

Life - December and January round up

It feels almost too late to be saying this, but as it's my first post of 2016 I wanted to start by wishing you all a Happy New Year! Unfortunately January didn't get off to the best of starts what with being ill and an exam on the first day back but the festive period was so lovely and probably one of my favourites in recent years: 

Christmas is always a good time to try some some DIY and although I'm by no means artistic I had so much fun drinking prosecco and making my own wreath with John Lewis. The evening was inspired by John Lewis' range of crafts and workshops which I really hope they'll do again this year. I went with some of my favourite props, namely pine cones, berries and orange slices, all finished off with a giant flower in the middle. Some of the other efforts were amazing and we were all so impressed with how simple yet striking a red berry wreath could look. 


Towards the end of December we visited 2 of our friends up in the Midlands. We'd been to their wedding earlier this year and it was so nice to catch up, talk all things wedding and of course enjoy a delicious Christmas roast. The next day we went to the local farmer's shop where they had so many tasty treats, festive decorations and the best steak sandwich in the purpose build warm and cosy barn restaurant.

Straight after coming back from Leicester we checked into the luxe 4* Amba Hotel in Marble Arch. Oxford Street and Regent Street had all the Christmas lights up and it felt so magical that evening as we walked to the nearby Canarby Street for dinner. 

We also managed an impromptu trip to Columbia road flower market, making sure to stop off for some Starbucks Christmas drinks first! Having seen so many pretty Instagrams it was great to finally see the market in person. The street is cramped and busy but full of stalls and unique shops. Being December there were so many poinsettias, wreaths and winter blooms to choose from. Definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area or just want to stock up on some gorgeous flowers for the home. 

Christmas always sees me returning back to Birmingham and in addition to seeing all the family it was also so nice to catch up with some old school friends. It's still so crazy to think that we left nearly 10 years ago now but I'm excited for the future as some of us recently got engaged and others are working towards our dream job.

The festive period finished with coming back to London (my first NYE in London since uni) and I had such a nice evening at home with the boyfriend. We were lucky enough to see the fireworks from our flat and it felt so surreal toasting in the New Year with such a spectacular show behind us! 

January started with the flu and an exam but luckily the rest of the month has been a lot better. One of our friends had the most beautiful winter wedding in a vineyard just outside of London. Think gorgeous burgundy colour schemes, fairy lights, wine tasting and a cheese tower during the reception followed by a lovely meal and partying the night away.

One of my goals for 2016 is to be more cultured and see more of London and January got of to a great start exploring some beautiful sites and venues all around the capital. Plus we managed two visits to Kew Gardens, one of my favourite places and we were so lucky with the weather as it was warm and sunny both days.

Much of this month has been taken up with exam and job preparations but we also managed to squeeze in quite a few nights out, catching up with friends and most exciting of all booked tickets to India later this year. It'll be my first visit so if you have any tips or recommendations please do let me know in the comments below!

How was your Christmas and New Years? Did you get up to anything exciting in January?
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