Payday beauty treats - 5 of the best products to buy this January

Anyone else find themselves looking forward to payday and making a mental note of all the things that you'd like to buy? January in particular gets a bad reputation for being one the most depressing month of the year but as it's been payday recently I thought I'd put together 5 of the best beauty products to treat yourself to as a little reward for getting through the month:

How gorgeous is the collaboration between L'occitane and stationary brand Rifle Paper Co? L'occitane hand creams are somewhat of a cult favourite thanks to their moisturising shea butter and coconut oil formula but this January they've been updated with a beautiful hand illustrated print. Both designs are inspired by the natural beauty of Provence, although I think the pink rose one is particularly lovely and in addition to being a great hand cream it'll also add a fun pop of colour to any desk.

Since it's launch The Ordinary has earned a reputation for being highly scientific and always delivering on results - not surprising really as it's owned by the same company behind Deciem and NIOD. There's a whole range of products to choose from, but if you're not sure I'd recommend starting with The Ordinary hyaluronic acid. It's a lightweight serum which helps to draw water into the skin and thus help with winter dehydration. A good dupe for the much loved Hydraluron and a great one to try if you're on a budget.

Since discovering the Olay Regenerist range a few years ago this cream has been a firm favourite. It's designed to hydrate and improve elasticity as well as reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, which is definitely something I need now that I'm in my late twenties! It's a good one to use under make up as it's not too heavy but at the same time still rich enough to protect against the elements and keep any fine lines at bay.

Since discovering Bobbi Brown cosmetics for our wedding I've been a big fan of the brand and I think this blush is one of those gorgeous suit all shades. It may not look like much in the pan but applied onto the cheeks it transforms into the most pretty rosy pink flush. A great one for everyday wear, especially for work as it just looks so natural and really helps to perk up the complexion. 

Another office favourite - over the years I've found myself shying away from bright colours and instead favouring pretty pinks and subtle nudes. Described as a shimmering sheer pastel pink Essie Vanity Fairest adds just a hint of colour as well as the most subtle soft glitter which you can only see when it catches the light. A good alternative to the usual nudes for a French Manicure or if you want something that still polished and pretty but without being too eye catching.  

Have you tried any of the 5 products? What's on your payday wish list this January?

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A romantic and tranquil stay at Hotel Felix, Cambridge

Looking forward to a weekend of relaxation and exploring we booked into Hotel Felix, a luxury boutique hotel just on the outskirts of Cambridge. Work had been particularly busy in the weeks before and we couldn't wait to check in, relax and enjoy all that the hotel had to offer:

Hotel Felix
Keen to stay somewhere modern and luxurious it was the impressive Victorian architecture and modern contemporary decor which first caught my eye and I'm glad to say that Hotel Felix looked just as nice in person. As soon as we walked in it felt cosy and stylish with it's rich colour scheme, soft fabric furnishings and beautiful floral decorations.

There are a few lounge areas and hidden alcoves and had we not wanted to explore more of Cambridge I could have easily whiled away a whole day relaxing in the hotel and treating myself to their indulgent afternoon tea. 

The hotel is also surrounded by pretty greenery. Sadly it was too cold for us to really enjoy during our staycation but I think it would have been lovely to wander around in the summer and to dine outside on the terrace. The only downside is that it was perhaps a little further then we could have liked from Cambridge town center (we were hoping for somewhere really close so we could pop in and out during the day), but the half an hour walk was easily manageable and we were happy to compromise for the amenities and luxury of the hotel.

Our hotel room

After our long journey it was so nice to just check in and relax before getting ready for dinner. Our king size room was spacious and modern with stylish dark wooden furniture and a much welcomed armchair and footstool to relax on. I don't know what it is about hotel beds but they are always so comfy and we both slept so well the entire weekend. As a blogger I was glad to see that there was free wifi throughout the hotel and I loved the little extra touches such as the freshly baked shortbread biscuits and The White Company toiletries.

The bathroom is absolutely gorgeous too although my favourite feature though had to be the heated floor. As someone who is always cold it was amazing to come back after a long day and it certainly made getting up out of bed a lot easier in the morning.

Hotel Felix Graffiti Restaurant

We'd booked in for dinner at Graffiti the onsite restaurant on the night of our arrival. As an award winning restaurant serving modern European cuisine we were both impressed with the quality and choice available. The menu changes seasonally depending on the ingredients available, but if you can I'd highly recommend the beef tartare which was so fresh and melt in your mouth. I also really enjoyed my seabass risotto which was perfectly cooked with the fish flakey and the rice having just the right amount of bite and creaminess.

Like the rest of Hotel Felix the restaurant is beautiful and I loved the warm romantic atmosphere. My only complaint was that service could sometimes be a little slow although they seemed short on staff so perhaps it was just our particular weekend.

Breakfast is also served at Graffiti restaurant where there's a good selection of fruit, pastries and cereals available to help yourself to as well as a small hot food menu which can be ordered a-la-carte. I can never resist a full English, especially when on holiday and combined with the hot tea was a perfect start for a day of exploring in Cambridge.

Overall we both really enjoyed our stay at Hotel Felix. With it's luxurious modern facilities, delicious food and tranquil surroundings it was the ideal weekend getaway and we both left Cambridge feeling much more refreshed and relaxed after our little staycation.

Have you ever stayed at Hotel Felix? What are your favourite luxury hotels for a UK staycation?

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Postcards from a beautiful weekend staycation in Cambridge
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Overnight stay at Careys Manor Hotel and Senspa, New Forest

Postcards from a beautiful weekend staycation in Cambridge

As much as I love to travel abroad one of my goals is also to explore the UK and to take more staycations throughout the year. So far I've managed to tick off Bath, Bristol, Market Harborough and Torquay and with it's rich history and proximity to London, Cambridge seemed like the perfect location for our next staycation:

Arriving late in the evening we soon checked into our hotel, relaxed and got ready for a delicious 3 course meal in the hotel restaurant.

With a long history of education and excellence there were so many beautiful university buildings in Cambridge and we loved wondering around, soaking up the inspirational atmosphere, reminiscing about our own university days and discussing our hopes and ambitions for the future.

The town is absolutely beautiful too with it's own winding river, intricate bridges and stunning architecture.

There's pretty much every type of cuisine available and we were spoilt for choice during our short weekend staycation in Cambridge. Particular highlights were the modern European cuisine at our hotel, authentic dim sum in Cambridge town center and a cosy hearty meal at a pub near the university. 

I'll be putting together a full hotel review and Cambridge city guide so look out for the blog posts over the next few weeks!

Have you ever been to Cambridge? What are your favourite places for a UK staycation?

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A luxury cruise along The Thames 
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Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
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Sky high dining with a view - A review of Hutong at The Shard

It's no secret that I love oriental food - combine that with delicious cocktails and the most amazing views of London and it'll come as no surprise that Hutong at The Shard has now become one of my new favourite restaurants:

Having heard so many good things about Hutong at The Shard I was really excited to experience the food and atmosphere for myself. Upon arriving we were seated right next to the window giving us the most beautiful views of The City and St Paul's.

Water was soon poured and we were left to peruse the extensive food and drink menu, all whilst admiring the beautiful views and feeling grateful that we had the day off to enjoy London in the sunshine. 

As we were celebrating my birthday we decided to start with a round of cocktails. Unfortunately I didn't write down the names but both were absolutely delicious, refreshing and sweet but still with a good kick of alcohol and I loved the additional touch of the mini ice cream cone on my drink.

As it was our first time at Hutong we weren't sure what to have so we decided to try the Experince lunch menu which turned out to be a really good introduction to the restaurant and the Northern Chinese style of food from head chef Fei Wang.

To start there are a selection of dumplings elegantly presented and served traditional style in a wooden steamer. We were both really impressed with these - it's easy to go wrong with dim sum but these were cooked to perfection with just enough bite to the skin and filled with the most delicious meat and vegetables inside. The Xo sauce crystal dumplings and rose champagne shrimp dumplings were particular highlights which really stood out.

Before main course there's a palette cleanser of classic poached monkfish in lamb broth. This was light and refreshing but at the same time packed with flavour and umami richness. I was so pleased to see it served traditional style with a light stock base and it really reminded me of my mum's home cooking - the ultimate compliment to the restaurant.

Time for another round of cocktails and again you could tell a lot of care and attention had gone into the choice of ingredients and they both turned out to the the perfect accompaniment to our main course.

Mains were a delicious mix of sauteed cuttlefish with gong vegetable, enoki mushroom and sichuan chilli, crispy beef tenderloin, bell peppers, dried garlic and black bean and wok fried pak choi with garlic sauce, served with a generous portion of chef's picked vegetable fried rice. Like with the previous courses we were so impressed with the complex layers of flavour. Each dish was so authentic and with a mixture of crispy meat, soft fish and light vegetables it was nicely balanced too.

Despite the luxurious location Hutong at The Shard had a really nice relaxed vibe, and with dark wooden decor and hanging lanterns it wasn't hard to imagine we were somewhere far more exotic than London. Staff are attentive but happy to leave you to talk too and we were able to enjoy a leisurely long lunch without feeling rushed or in the way.

Finally to end there's a mango pudding with fruit salsa. I'd describe this as similar to a set custard or panna cotta - creamy and smooth with a delicious burst of mango flavour running throughout. After the intense flavours of the main course this was the perfect dessert and a lovely end to the meal. 

Overall we were both so impressed with Hutong at The Shard. There's a great selection of cocktails to choose from, the food is authentic and delicious and you really can't go wrong with the beautiful view. A great restaurant to visit for any special occasion and we'll no doubt be back to try more of the menu before too long! 

Have you ever been to Hutong at The Shard? What are your favourite restaurants in London?

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Yoga and brunch at Dalloway Terrace - a gentle and mindful start to the day

Having really gotten into fitness and healthy eating last year I was determined to keep it up in 2018. So when the opportunity came up for a yoga class and brunch at the beautiful Dalloway Terrace it seemed like the perfect chance to reset and get back on track after an indulgent Christmas break:

The Yoga Class with Lululemon
The yoga class started bright and early at 7am and our particular session was run by Kate Lister - a singer turned yoga teacher who was so friendly and great at motivating the class despite our early start. Yoga mats are provided by Lululemon and our session was a good mix of breathing exercises, flexibility and specific body postures.

I'd say it was suitable for both beginners and intermediates but if you're more advanced then you may prefer something more challenging. Now I must admit I'm not the most flexible and am usually more of a weights and cardio girl but despite this I still enjoyed the yoga class and came out feeling more relaxed and inspired.

Dalloway Terrace
Located in the heart of Bloomsbury Dalloway Terrace is one of the most beautiful venues in London and having seen it so many times on other blogs and Instagram I couldn't wait to see terrace for myself. It's decorated with the most beautiful hanging plants and greenery and as soon as I walked in I felt like I was in the most enchanting secret garden. 

There's elegant marble decor, overhead heaters and cosy blankets to keep warm with during the winter. And with food and drinks served throughout the day it's the perfect place to escape from the outside world. I know I definitely want to go back to try the afternoon tea and for some after work cocktails.

Dalloway Terrace brunch
Straight after the yoga class we were led up to the beautiful Dalloway Terrace which was all set up for brunch and as it was so early we had the whole terrace to ourselves too which was lovely. To start with there's a tea or coffee plus your choice of a juice, followed by one of 4 freshly prepared brunch bowls. 

I've included a photo of the menu above so you can see the choices available but I'd highly recommend the London Greens Juice and Rainbow Acai Bowl. With a mix of seasonal berries, banana and assorted nuts it tasted as good as it looked and along with the cup of steaming hot tea certainly helped to set me up for the day. 

Brunch is a relaxed affair - something to bear in mind if you need to run off to work after. There were only about 8 or so of us in the class and most people we happy to stay and chat after so it turned out to be a relaxing and gentle start to the day.

Overall both me and my friend really enjoyed our yoga class and brunch at Dalloway Terrace and it's a lovely way to reset and be inspired for the new year. The class runs every Thursday morning till the end of January and you can find more information and purchase tickets here

Have you ever visited Dalloway Terrace? What are you favourite exercise classes and brunch locations?

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