A Night at Hawkstone Hall*

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Is there anything more glorious than spending a night or two away in a luxe hotel? I certainly don’t think so. No matter how busy, stressed or anxious you’ve been feeling – the moment you check in somewhere plush, the worries tend to absolutely melt away.


I’ve been having a busy summer, and without the time to go a proper holiday somewhere sunny, it felt like fate when the opportunity to spend a night at the stunning Hawkstone Hall came up.


An absolutely stunning early 18th century mansion nestled in the heart of the English countryside, we headed down on a rather soggy Wednesday afternoon, and it felt like an absolute dream when we rounded the corner, and came across the hotel.

Only opened back in April following a two year renovation, Hawkstone Hall was previously a family home, then a Roman Catholic Priest Retreat. Sumptuously decorated, we were met at the door with a glass of champagne, and allowed to relax in the morning room during check-in.


Honestly, the building is one of the most staggeringly beautiful hotels I’ve been in. There are some many incredible original features, so that every time you look around, there’s something new to see. I’m a bit of an architecture and interiors nerd at the best of times (I studied Art History at university, and I can spend days in galleries and museums) so the hotel was quite literally a dream come true to stay at.


With 39 bedrooms to choose from, all named after British authors, Hawkstone Hall is a hotel which really feels like the quintessential country house hotel.


We were swiftly shown upstairs to the Christie room on the third floor. Named after the famous mystery novelist, it was absolutely everything you could hope for in a hotel. Seriously plush, with an oversized tub, huge bed and all the mod cons, I could have happily spent a week in here and still been sad about leaving.

After a four hour drive from Edinburgh, the bath was soon put to good use, and after the obligatory photos were taken, it was glorious to have a good old soak, making good use of the fabulous Elemis toiletries on offer.

The bathroom itself was just as dreamy – incredibly spacious, with more than enough room to set out my skincare goodies, thanks to the his ‘n’ hers sinks – I loved the vintage touches and roomy shower. With some serious pressure behind it, it was the perfect way to get the morning started!

The bed was the stuff of dreams too. Absolutely huge and decorated in taupe and grey, it was hard to resist jumping right into.

Right in the centre of it, was Hector – a fun little touch, which would make the perfect souvenir of your trip. Throughout the room, we were completely blow away by all the little extra touches. The bedside tables had Elemis pillow spray and lip balm, whilst the drinks trolly had a wonderfully curated selection of drinks and nibbles.

It’s these little touches, which for me, really make a hotel memorable, and Hawkstone Hall has quickly become one of our favourites.


Not only was it absolutely beautiful, but the staff were unfailingly wonderful. Full of enthusiasm and knowledge about the building, it’s clear that the hotel really have a wonderful team in place.


We headed down to the Saloon for dinner (it was so good, it’s got a whole post of its own), but were were back down for breakfast.

We headed down to the Saloon for dinner (it was so good, it’s got a whole post of its own), but were were back down again for breakfast.


The Saloon really is one of the grandest rooms you can imagine, but impressively, it’s cosy, and wonderful to sit and relax in. In addition to breakfasts and dinners, it also plays host to afternoon tea too!

We kicked things off with a fruit platter, which came beautifully presented. Slices of watermelon, pineapple and mango were delicious, and the berries were all sweet and succulent.

Despite not normally being much of a breakfast person, I couldn’t resist their cheese omelette, and I am so glad I indulged! A fluffy cloud of eggs, filled with melting cheese was presented, and promptly devoured. Unlike most omelettes which rely on a sprinkling of cheddar, Hawkstone Hall had (once again) gone above and beyond – a touch of brie and blue cheese worked to give it a delicious savoury richness, and I could happily wake up to it daily from now on.

We had made a couple of appointments in Cheshire for later that morning (rookie error on our part), so after breakfast I took a quick walk around the hotel to see what was what.

My first port of call was the Tapestry Room, which was absolutely stunning. Decked out in powder blues, it makes the perfect spot for an intimate wedding ceremony, and the plasterwork on the ceiling truly was the stuff of dreams.


The features which Hawkstone Hall have retained are absolutely incredible. I could have happily spent the day taking photographs of each and every detail.

I can see why the hotel is so popular for weddings and for retreats – every single corner of the place is glorious – a especially loved the corridor heading up to the Tapestry Room which had a real greenhouse feel – such a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy the sunshine in!

I couldn’t resist sneaking into the Ballroom too! Already set up for their next event, the room had some serious glamour! With a gilded ceiling and crystal chandelier, this room was an absolute dream to explore – I can only imagine how stunning it must be full of people enjoying themselves!

If you’re looking for the North of England’s prettiest ballroom – I’m pretty sure Hawkstone Hall has the crown!


The hotel also enjoys acres of stunning grounds, including lily ponds and terraced gardens. There’s a bank of hunters at the front door to slip into if you want to explore – as well as a golf cart which can show you round in record time. Thanks to the aforementioned appointments, we weren’t able to explore, but the next time we visit, I’m leaving a whole afternoon free to properly explore.


As you can probably tell, we had an absolute ball at Hawkstone Hall. The staff could not have been lovelier, and honestly, the hotel is an absolute jewel. We’re already planning a return visit, and I’ve been shouting about the place to pretty much everyone I know.

Thank you so much to Hawkstone Hall for having us. Rooms start at £200 and you can find out more information here

A Taste of New Orleans with the US Consulate*


It’s not every day that an email from the US Consulate pops into your inbox. Even rarer is one inviting you to brunch. Not quite sure what to expect, I headed over to the stunning Principal Officer’s Residence in the heart of leafy Edinburgh for a taste of New Orleans in the heart of Scotland.

As part of the Taste of America initiative, top US chef, Tory McPhail had travelled to the UK to introduce us to a true taste of New Orleans. Executive Chef at the iconic Commander’s Palace, and winner of 2013 James Beard Award Best Chef South, I don’t think that we could have been in better hands for the afternoon!


After kicking things off by getting to learn about the Consulate’s role in US-Scotland relations, as well as a taster of Southern cuisine, we were treated to some milk punch. Called an ‘eye-opener’ when you’re brunching in ‘Nola’ and made up of bourbon, half and half (single cream in the UK) a splash of milk and grating of nutmeg, it was a delicious start to the proceedings.

Soon it was time to tuck-in, so we headed through to the dining room to try some of Tory’s signature dishes. As with all great chefs, Tory is a real champion of what’s fresh, what’s local and what’s in season, so rather incredibly, The Commander’s Palace menu changes daily, with even the recipes being tweaked each time! We were treated to a seafood starter, with a trio of seafood – salmon, lobster and caviar. Served on a warm blini with a grated duck egg, it was incredible – fresh, surprisingly light, and full of flavour, it paired perfectly with our champagne!


With a beautiful open kitchen, we were able to snoop on proceedings – wondering what was coming next. It was absolutely mesmerising to watch Tory and Executive Chef Meg Bickford at work as they whipped, plated and served up at record speed.

Our main course was the stuff of dreams – the most tender pork had been rubbed with Creole spice, which gave it the perfect amount of peppery heat, and it was served alongside toast, melted brie, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, mushrooms and an absinthe vinaigrette. Indulgent doesn’t even begin to cover this dish – the rich hollandaise was the perfect foil to the heat from the pork, and the sharpness from the vinaigrette absolutely shone. Truly, I don’t think I’ve ever had a dish quite like it – and I’ve already attempted to replicate the pork at home. As we tucked in, we were able to discuss what life and eating is like in New Orleans with Tory and Meg, and it was so inspiring to hear about how they keep an iconic restaurant like the Commander’s Palace at the top of it’s game. Opened in 1880, it’s a landmark for the city and is regularly ranked as New Orleans top spot. It was fascinating to learn about dishes which are a real part of the Louisiana culture, like Turtle Soup and Jambalaya.

All too soon it was time for dessert, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an exciting preparation of pudding! The iconic Bananas Foster was on the menu, so the entire table headed through to the kitchen to see Meg and Tory at work!


If you’ve never tried the dish (stop everything and try a classic recipe like this one), it’s an absolute riot. Bananas are sautéd in butter and brown sugar, and just when they reach a soft, pudding-y consistency, they’re flambéed with rum then served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can see how it all went down here.

The result is pretty much everything you want from comfort food – soft, sweet and deliciously rich – it really is the ultimate pudding!


The afternoon finished with strong black coffees brought over from New Orleans – and they were the perfect pick-me-up after such an indulgent few hours. It was such a delight to meet Tory, Meg, Chief Officer Ellen Wong as well as everyone who attended. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that New Orleans is now topping the (rather long) list of holiday spots!

Thank you so much to the US Consulate in Edinburgh, Chief Officer Ellen Wong, Tory McPhail and Meg Bickford for having me, and educating me in all things New Orleans. You can find out more about the Commander’s Palace here

Go Visit: V&A – Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams


When it comes to fashion exhibitions, living in Scotland often leaves me feeling a little out of the loop. Each year I devour the news and images of each Met Gala and following exhibition, often ordering the accompanying books so I feel like I’ve managed to enjoy at least a sliver of what’s on offer, and usually London’s fabulous V&A exhibition is the closest thing I can get to the hallowed halls of Fifth Avenue.

When they announced the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition, I couldn’t resist booking a trip down to see it. Dior has long been a favourite designer of mine – I grew up idolising the dreamy creations of John Galliano, and his couture collections plastered my walls at school.

Obviously, he left the house in disgrace, but I can’t help adoring his whimsical gowns which fall somewhere between dreams and costumes. Bold, brash and full of colour, seeing them in person was an absolute thrill, but it wasn’t the only highlight of the exhibition – which kicked off with the original New Look Bar Suit from 1947.

The exhibition followed the house’s fashion pretty much chronologically, and some of the first rooms, filled with coats and jackets from the 50s and 60s were absolute favourites. Displayed in stunning neon-lit black boxes, the focus was entirely on the clothes, and the sleek lines echoed those in the clothes.

Getting to see iconic gowns like Princess Margaret’s 1951 gown was a real treat. I just adore seeing pieces like this in the flesh, so getting to examine every inch of it was incredible. I just adored the attention to detail – like the star motif in the beading which you can still see in bags and accessories today.

Rooms like the one inspired by Versaille and the wardrobe of Marie Antoinette were an absolute dream to linger in. Dresses from the original Dior archive mixed with those by Galliano and Chiuri. I’m not going to lie – I spent an inordinate amount of time in the room, examining each ruffle and pleat in minute detail.

In addition to the influence of the court of Louis XVI, the global influence on Dior was examined. From Ancient Egypt to the plains of Latin America – all have a place here. Colours are vibrant and jewel-like, worn with abandon by mannequins.

Photos don’t do justice to the room inspired by flowers and blossoms. Again, original Dior designs sat side by side with more modern creations, and I absolutely adored seeing the same motifs appear on dresses decades apart, and the hand-crafted quality of many of the original Diors was absolutely darling.With blossoms cascading from the ceiling, this was the ultimate in whimsy.


The later galleries were a celebration of all things glamour and celebrity. With dresses worn by Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence, lights and music changed to create theatrics worthy of the Oscars themselves. It was glorious to linger in, letting the crowds whizz past as I enjoy the sheer beauty of my surroundings.


It is important to note how popular the exhibition has been. When we visited it was verging on uncomfortably full, with a slow-moving wave of visitors methodically pausing at the alter of each gown. Honestly though, it was worth any hustle and bustle to enjoy, and I’m already planning a return trip. The exhibition runs until September 1st, and tickets are now completely sold out – but there is still a couple of ways to get in! Extra tickets will be released on the 15th July, whilst very limited tickets are available to purchase daily at 10am from the Grand Entrance on a first-come, first-served basis; these tickets are for times throughout the day on that day only. If you don’t fancy trying your luck, you can also do what we opted for, and just buy a V&A membership. They’re £79 per person a year, and you can get in to any exhibition without booking or paying additional fees. You can also enjoy a discount at the gift shop, and have access to exclusive events. Not only this, but you’re also supporting one of the world’s finest museums, and really, who wouldn’t want to do that?!

Check In: The Strozzi Palace Boutique Suites by Mansley*

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When we were down south last month, we were so lucky to be invited to stay in two of by Mansley’s stunning apartment suites – 44 Curzon Street (full review here) and The Strozzi Palace Boutique Suites in Cheltenham. We had opted to stay in London first, and had planned to drive from the city through to Cheltenham early-ish on in the afternoon so we could fully enjoy what the town has to offer. Enterprise, however, had other ideas, so we actually ended up leaving London at 7pm, reaching the fabulous Strozzi Palace close to 10pm. Not ideal since we wanted to soak up every second of the place!

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Located right in the heart of Cheltenham, the Strozzi Palace Suites are a collection of six stunning residences only minute or so from the centre of town. With a fabulous Italianate Palazzo facade, the residences feel wonderfully opulent from the offset. The suites are also completely up-to-date, offering a virtual doorman meaning that even when we arrived later on in the evening, our check-in process was seamless.

A day or two before your stay, by Mansley text you your entrance code which acts as a key for both the exterior door and your room. This means that, if like us, you’re delayed or arriving later on in the evening, you don’t need to worry about letting anyone know – you just pop in your code, and you’re good to go!

We were staying in the stunning Milano suite. Located on the first floor, it was gloriously chic space, with large living space, fully equipped kitchen and cosy bedroom. We loved the slick ensuite, which was wonderfully modern, and kitted out with Gilchrist & Soames goodies.

We got to explore our suite further the next morning, and we were absolutely delighted with what we found. The living room, complete with beautiful cast iron fireplace was absolutely beautiful. With large television, comfy sofa, and enough room to spread out and relax.


There was even a beautiful desk area which was perfect for setting up my laptop and powering through a few emails in the morning. What we loved, was how well thought out the apartment was – from the keyless entry (no cards to lose or break) through to little extras like a shopping bag left out for any groceries, to the continental breakfast in the fridge, by Mansley have created an apartment truly tailored to the modern traveller.

Whether you’re in Cheltenham for work or for leisure, make sure to check out the Strozzi Palace Suites – you’re going to love them!

Thank you so much to by Mansley for our stay – you can find out more about the Strozzi Palace Suites, and book your own stay here.


Go Visit: Pat McGrath Labs Mothership lands at Selfridges


If you have even a fleeting interest in beauty, chances are Pat McGrath’s makeup line will be high on your Wishlist. I’ve been dying to try out the products since the iconic Face Kits launched back in 2015, but considering there hasn’t been a UK way to try before you buy, I’ve been hesitant to purchase, just in case I’ve picked the wrong shades.


So, when I was down in London last month, I made my pilgrimage to Selfridges, where the Pat McGrath Mothership has landed. The installation will be in place until June, and even if you’re not a makeup junkie, it’s worth a visit. From the space-age window displays to the golden installation, it’s truly a sight to behold!


The Mothership contains everything from makeup to lifestyle bits as well as some seriously luxurious fashion picks. When I popped in their were Tom Ford shoes for sale alongside specially commissioned chocolate coins, and you can even enjoy beauty treatments like manicures and makeovers.


Obviously, I was there for the makeup. After playing around with some bits and pieces, I couldn’t resist picking up a selection of products – the Eyedols shadow in Celestial (£23 available here) which I reviewed here, as well as the Lust Lip Glass in Future Femme (£25 here) and Love Potion (£25 here). The whole experience was so fun – from getting to play with the makeup (I’m still dreaming about the Mothership Palettes and Skin Fetish highlighters) to experiencing the whole display – it’s a real must visit!

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