TLC Staycation: RHS Chelsea Flower Show with The Dorchester

Whether you know your Acer Saccharinum from your Liriodendron Tulipifera (which I don’t either FYI…) you don’t need to be an avid horticulturalist to LOVE the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. The Royal Hospital Chelsea annually transforms its grounds with stunning floral displays, with world renowned designers creating show stopping, cutting edge gardens, creative floral artwork and frequently unusual floral displays. It’s a much anticipated date in every Londoner’s diary, and one that allows for a few stolen hours of pure browsing bliss in the sunshine amidst the plants and the sculptures.

Imagine the next level excitement I felt therefore, to not only attend this year’s show (tickets are like gold dust), but to also be invited to preview The Dorchester’s Afternoon Tea pop up before all the rest of the floral folk and fancies. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough (and lets not underestimate my notorious love of cake), but I also got to stay at The Dorchester the night before in a maaahooosive suite – AND be chauffeur driven around in my very own Rolls Royce convertible Dawn. Yes, I know, Cinderkella had it goooooood.

My stay at The Dorchester was, as ever, dreamy, with my highlights always including wallowing in their bathtub (the deepest in London, in case you wondered) and of course, ROOM SERVICE. Is there anything more luxurious than having your pancakes, bathed in Maple syrup, wheeled into greet you first thing whilst still in your fluffy white towel robe at The Dorchester?! I think not.

I was so lucky to visit the Rolls Royce Factory a few years ago, and have to say, they really are ALL the hype and more. People literally stop and stare as you drive past, wondering who you are… Ummmm, Kelly Kardashian, OBVs. The car’s unparalleled craftsmanship is matched only by its beauty, and it really is a total show stopper. I couldn’t have asked for a better day to be whizzing around in a convertible, with the sun blazing down upon us, although I soon realised why ladies ‘back in the day’ took to wearing head scarfs…!

The show is attended by around roughly 157,000 visitors each year, so imagine what a treat it is to have a sneak peak before the masses arrive...

The Dorchester pop up was everything you would expect and more, and by 11am I was two scones down and mid way through their signature Chelsea Flower Show cocktail, ‘Her Majesty’s Cup’ (below), served from a floral teapot! The elegant, quintessentially British pastries and flower arrangements were exquisite, and I really had the opportunity to relax, kick back and smell the roses - not just Instagram them!

Here is a little video of my day...

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Thank you to The Dorchester, Rolls Royce and the team at London.

Photography and Film: Merrick Winter

Hair: Secret Spa

TLC Staycation: The Hari, London

I can’t even tell you how spoiling it was to stay at The Hari, London during London Fashion Week… But I can try!  At a time where I zoom around like a mad thing, keeping to a tight schedule with multiple outfit changes for varying shows and events, it was a total dreeeeam to have The Hari, a little gem of a hotel in London’s Belgravia, as my beyond comfortable base, with their phenomenally helpful team on hand to make sure I was as Happy as Larry… So happy in fact, that actually leaving was pretty heartbreaking!! 

Above: Checking in with my Rimowa Limbo Suitcase and personalised Tephi Garment Bag

There are 85 bedrooms, including 14 luxury suites, at The Hari, created in an almost Mad-Men’esq way by leading British interior designer Tara Bernerd.  Think plush velvets, hardwood oak floors, eclectic furnishings, marbled bathrooms… Heaven!

Above:  Now that's a welcome!  Being met in my rooms by bubbles, truffles and and an indulgent LFW Survival Kit which included treats from Biscuiteers, Ren, and a Sunday's Mini Moon eye mask.

The Hari was perfectly located for me to zip in and out of town without any hassle, being only a five-minute walk to Knightsbridge tube station, or quick ride in an Uber... But juuuust about far away enough from all the buzz to really be able to zone out and relax when needed. 

Above:  My Sisley Paris beauty products and Tom Ford make up looked more than at home in my chic marble bathroom at The Hari. (Jewellery from Laura Gravestock, Missoma and Auree). 

The 24-hour room service was a totally blessing - not only did I enjoy the most amazing breakfasts each morning (I quickly learnt I was just MADE to be woken up with fresh orange juice and sea salt porridge with maple syrup), but having delicious, healthy food on hand after long days rushing about grabbing snacks on the go, was incredibly appreciated. (Masini and  Chern Barbados Pyjama Set at Apples & Drawers).

The hotel’s impeccable concierge service was utterly amazing, helpfully receiving any of my deliveries and catering to any of my particular whims. I don’t have many particular whims in case you were wondering, but HOW comforting to know that, in case of emergency, they would have been meticulously catered for! 

When not spending every possible second at The Hari snuggled up, resting my poor battered feet, there were plenty of chilled areas around the hotel to enjoy a little R&R (and a cocktail or two…) The terrace is particularly gorgeous and bar area was clearly a popular evening option for guests and non guests alike. 

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Below:  Checking Out.  Thank you to The Hari for being the ultimate LFW haven to lay my hat (and eight dresses, six pairs of heels, three pairs of boots… and... and...)

HAWT: Naomie Harris in J Mendell

Hawt = A late 1940's and early 1950's acronym for "Having A Wonderful Time."
Now the word is used on the internet as slang for something reeeeally hot.

I attended the opening of the new Rimowa store last week, and alongside being rather dazzled by the brand’s signature, lightweight and totally glistening luggage, I was utterly mesmerised by Naomie Harris’ outfit.  Wearing a J Mendel cut-out, peek-a-boo dress (my favourite style), Christian Louboutin heels, an Edie Parker white quartz clutch and Monica Vinader jewellery, the Bond actress looked beautifully chic.  

After some giggles with Juliet Angus, an illustration from Clym Evernden, and several salted-caramel macarons, I had a selfie taken with Alessandra Ambrosio (which sadly did not capture her thigh-high leather boots… Sorrrrry fellas!)  And yes, I’m the one that clearly looks like she should be on a Starbucks run. Repeat after me Kelly, ‘Do Not Take Selfies With Supermodels.’ Lesson learnt.

TLC LOVES... RIMOWA

TIMEX Fairfield Weekender Collection Launch

TIMEX recently revealed their new SS’16 Fairfield Weekender watch collection and I was very kindly invited to the European launch.  With a night’s stay at the fabulous Mondrian London’s on the South Bank, a fun afternoon spent touring Borough Market and an evening partying at Shoreditch House, this was twenty-four hours of pure fun, food and frivolity in the capital. 

We started our TIMEX adventure with a delicious lunch held in the Mondrian’s Rumpus Room where, alongside the best possible views in London, we learnt more about the brand from the TIMEX Design Director Giorgio Galli, the man responsible for creating the brand’s watches for the last decade. It was at this lunch I was given two of the new watches, both personalised with my initials, and given my particular obsession with orange accessories, I was thrilled with my new arm candy. 

The afternoon was spent with a tour of Borough Market.  I have lived in London for years, and I was still so excited about this. I loved meeting all the stall vendors and having a taste of so many of the amazing treats available to buy (the sea salt fudge and the coconut pancakes in particular!) We ended our trip with some wine tasting and doughnuts!... Yup, I rolled my way back to the hotel to get ready for the party!

The party at Shoreditch House commenced, and alongside the popcorn and candy floss (a nod to the brand’s American heritage) there was a customisation bar for guests to choose their own TIMEX stylish watch face (which all light up I later discovered, much to my delight!) and a fun, interchangeable, colourful strap from a large selection, pick'n'mix stylie! 

In the morning, wearing my AscenoxRollingStones PJ's (a collaboration that coincides with 'Exhibitionism') feeling a little bleary-eyed and after some delicious room service (yes, pancakes covered in syrup, obviously), I made my way down to the hotel’s beyond relaxing spa to enjoy a heavenly massage before heading back over the river, and home.  Such a fun TIME, thank you TIMEX! 

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TLC STAYCATION: Ham Yard Hotel with Sisley Paris

I recently was utterly spoilt, spending two glorious nights at Soho' s Ham Yard Hotel as a tourist in my own town, courtesy of Sisley Paris. The entire experience had my eyes on stalks (and my fingers on my Instagram!) as it was certainly the most colourful, chic and fun few days I’ve spent in a long time...

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When I told my sister and friends I was to be working with Sisley Paris they were all incredibly jealous, as the brand is a much loved staple on their bathroom shelves and in their make up bags. Founded in 1976 by Hubert d’Ornano, Sisley Paris is known far and wide for its innovative cosmetic and skincare products, using a combination of phytotherapy and aromatherapy. The plant extracts and essential oils are perfect for sensitive skin, such as my own, and I was really excited to try the amazing samples left for me in my hotel room (alongside their accompanying Biscuiteer replicas!) upon my arrival at Ham Yard Hotel.

Above:  Checking into the Ham Yard Hotel, with my two of my most favourite and trusted travel companions; My Bric Bellagio Suitcase and my personalised Tephi Garment Bag.

I fell crazy in love with Ham Yard Hotel.  I’m sure you could see on my Instagram account, Kit Kemp’s magnificently vibrant, British interiors are a social media dream.  You feel like you in a Wes Anderson film and everywhere you look there is something unpredictable and eclectic which catches your eye.  From the butterfly and drift wood crocodile decorated dance floor, the bowling alleys, the neon signs, quirky art and the television IN MY BATHTUB (below right), it was a total joy to refer to this hotel as ‘home’ for two nights… As a consequence, my once fabulous flat down the road from this hotel, now seems just a wee bit ‘Meh!’ 

Above:  Wes Anderson, much?! Just call me Margot...

Above:  Wes Anderson, much?! Just call me Margot...

Above:  Driftwood crocodiles and 3D butterflies on the dance floor, next to the bowling alleys (below). Just amazingly fun. 

Over the course of the two days we got to dine at THREE of my favourite restaurants in London; the suntrap that is Petersham Nurseries, the celebrity trap that is Chiltern Firehouse and the delicious taco haven that is La Bodega Negra. I know… My job does NOT suck (#SorryNotSorry) and despite being just a few days late to spot pre-Oscar Leo at Chiltern, it was great to chat with the other bloggers and the Sisley Paris girls in such fun locations over one (or three) cocktails. London at it’s very best! 

The beautiful  Petersham Nurseries  (Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10)

Above/Below:  Too soon for rosé  ? Not when at the Petersham Nurseries (Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10).

Below:  The obligatory shot taken in the ladies at Chiltern Firehouse (1 Chiltern St, London W1U).

The obligatory shot taken at  Chiltern Firehouse  (1 Chiltern St, London W1U)

Above/Below:  With the formidable Juliet Longuet and the rest of the lovely GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS at La Bodega Negra (9 Old Compton St, London W1D).

We spent our second day all together at Christine d’Ornano’s S.T.U.N.N.I.N.G West London home.  It turns out I’m actually neighbours with the glamorous Global Vice President of Sisley International, and let me tell you, there isn’t a house nearby I’d prefer to turn up at to borrow some sugar!  After a presentation introducing us to the brand, revealing it’s family-run history, and demonstrations showing us the latest Sisley Paris skincare and cosmetic additions to the brand, Christine hosted a delicious lunch for us.  

After lunch, behind velvet doors (when I grow up I'm having these in my house!) we were all given a make over, using Sisley Paris products, by the fabulously talented British make up artist, Tania Grier

 I was very impressed by all the naturally active products I tried, and by their chic aesthetic (obviously being from Africa the zebra print had an obvious appeal!) but there were obviously always gong to be some favourites which I thought I would share with you...

1.  Black Rose Cream Mask (RRP. £95.50):  My sister had already warned me this would become a ‘must have’ after I’d used it once, and she was right.  Known as a cult product in France for it’s nourishing, rich anti-aging benefits, you apply a generous layer for up to fifteen minutes before blotting away any residue (of which I had none of because my greedy face ate it all – yum!)

2.  Phyto-Lip Twists (RRP £29.00) I am well known for loving a bright lip, day and night, so these were always going to be a real winner for me.  Appearing like a tinted balm, but with the strong pigment of a lipstick, and the shine factor of a lip gloss these fun, chubby Lip Twists are as hydrating as they are long lasting. Ideal and in my handbag at all times. 

3.  Phyto-Eye Twists (RRP. £29.00):  I love how easy these are to apply, and they are perfect to use either as a thick eye-liner or a smudgy smokey eye. Enriched with plant-based active ingredients, so your delicate eyelids are protected, the Eye Twists are waterproof and available in multiple colours which all compliment each other so well (you’ll end up purchasing quite a few…) but Lagoon and Topaze were my faves. 


4.  All Day All Year Moisturiser (RRP. £236.00): Jam packed full of antioxidants like Apple Skin Extract and White Willow Extract, this heavenly product shields your face pollution, sun, and every day environmental toxins. Swoooon… My hero! 

TLC ON TOUR... SOHO SUITCASE:


(Click on the items below for their direct links)

Thank you Sisley Paris! Bisous xx

TLC Staycation: North Yorkshire with Natural Retreats and Emu Australia

Having landed fresh off a plane from NYC early last month (I say fresh, but I really wasn’t, having just celebrated both my birthday and Halloween…) I ventured t’uuup North for some country air and relaxation with Natural Retreats and Emu Australia.  This couldn't have been better timed! 

Arriving in the beyond foggy Yorkshire Dales (at times I did feel like I was on a horror movie set… Woodlands… Mist… RUNNNNN!) with a bag full of sheepskin Emu Australia boots, Carly, Josie  (left) and a rather large dose of jet lag, I went on to enjoy two days of country rambles and exploring, cycle rides (yes, I can sometimes be athletic, try and not faint!) soothing massages and some beautifully loooooong, cosy sleeps in our Swedish’esq Natural Retreats log cabin (below). 

I took ankle height grey Emu boots for travelling in (my faves, I now want every colour), snuggly slippers (above) for hanging out in the cabin and generally feasting on all the crumpets and biscuits strewn across the kitchen for us (they saw us coming!), waterproof Emu boots for all my stomping through the dewy Dales, and some smarter, lacy black boots for our evening out on the ‘toon.  Basically, my feet were spoilt for choice, and ultimately warm, dry and insanely comfy at all times with not a heel or stiletto in sight!

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Above:  Farm Style Emojis...!   Below:  Picturesque surroundings by the River Swale

Above:  All together now, "Swooooooooooooooooon!"

Above:  A ramble around the impressive ruins of Easby Abbey, founded in 1152.

Above:  Making fast friends with Saxon... (that awkward moment you lean in for a hug and 'he' goes for full face!)  Below: Aaaaaaand RELAX!  A heavenly few days, thank you!!

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TLC Vacation: Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya

There are many reasons as to why growing up in Kenya lead to a rather magical, privileged and enviable childhood, but one of them was almost certainly my close proximity to Giraffe Manor.  I grew up visiting it’s neighbouring Giraffe Centre, a breeding programme for the endangered Rothschild giraffe, most days after school (frequently feeding the giraffe from my mouth, driving the tourists wild, and driving my poor mother to absolute distraction!)  I would often gaze onto the Manor ahead, dreaming one day I would live there, alongside my wondrously leggy and lashy friends.

Giraffe Manor was built in 1932 by Sir David Duncan, half an hour outside Nairobi, on 12 acres of picturesque private land, next to 140 acres of forest with stunning views of the Ngong Hills.  In 1974 Jock Leslie-Melville and his American wife Betty, who founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), bought the Manor, bringing with them two baby Rothschild giraffe, the first of many generations to inhabit the estate.  After Jock passed away, Betty opened the house up to visitors, and to this day staying at this colonial residence, and having giraffe poking their heads into the dining room looking to share your breakfast, is one of THE most unforgettable experiences you can have in Kenya, if not Africa. 

Well, my dream of owning Giraffe Manor sadly did not come true, but I did have two wonderful recent opportunities to visit the Manor.  Before Christmas I was invited for breakfast with my sister and my niece Willow. Willow, a New York resident, was six months old and on her first trip visiting her mother and aunt’s beloved Kenya.  Sharing darling Willow’s first meeting and greeting with my giraffe pals was so unbelievably special.  Not an ounce of fear in her little body, my niece launched forward to touch Helen’s face, who seemed far more interested in the grain pellets I had in my hand than the tiny baby poking at her eye (a relief to us all as as these gentle giants have been known to give a ferocious head butt if irritated… I unfortunately, albiet amusingly, have a couple of experiences of this!... OUCH!) 

Steering clear of the warthog, hilariously funny to watch following the giraffe around in the hope of finding discarded food, but obviously less baby friendly, we ate delicious pancakes and enjoyed fresh juice and coffee to the accompanied sounds of Willow’s excited shrieks. 

Then earlier this year, I was asked, alongside some other bloggers and journalists, to stay at Giraffe Manor for the night by The Safari Collection, the latest owners of the residence and several other luxury holiday hot spots around Kenya. I know… I say it time and time again, but my job does NOT suck.  Reminiscent of the homes existing in Kenya’s colonial heyday, a time when my grandparents were living in the country, the hotel is cosy and romantic, and a little insight into a bygone era.

After a wonderful morning visiting the elephant orphans at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, we returned for a lovely lunch (munch, drool and slurp!) on the Manor's sunny verandah.  We were then left to enjoy the Manor in it’s entirety for the afternoon. There are spa services available, a gift shop and copious wildlife photography books, and famous colonial Kenyan’s autobiographies scattered around the sitting room and library for your perusal; an entirely relaxing environment.  That is, until 4pm, when non-residents can now venture in for their afternoon tea. This is a brilliant time to explore the nearby boutiques or historical attractions (feeding giraffe, as experienced with Willow, can cause extreme excitement and squeeeeals!) 

After a delicious red wine fuelled evening dinner in the candle-lit dining room we all sat by a roaring fire (Langata, and Karen where I was raised, can be notoriously chilly at night due to their high altitude) drinking our choice of tea and sharing stories. Old-school elegance at it’s best.

Sadly, no giraffe came to my window the next morning but boy, did Ed over-compensate for that at breakfast!  One of the larger males, Ed showed no desire in waiting his turn in line, as he repeatedly lunged through the dining room windows towards our plates of pancakes and fruit – totally hilarious, and yes, like I said, an unforgettable experience that only this unique property afford you.

Yes, some of the bedrooms in the main house are a little basic and could use a minor lift… Yes, the wifi frustratingly only works in the Manor’s extension, and not in the main house… BUT, lest we forget, YOU GET TO EAT BREAKFAST WITH GIRAFFE!!  And for that amazing reason, these small details are easily forgiven.  A brilliant, and beyond special, start or end to your holiday in Kenya. 

Below:  Could my giraffe-tastic SENSO IDA XI mandals beeee anymore perfectly placed?! 

TLC ON TOUR... GIRAFFE MANOR SUITCASE:

(Click on the items below for their direct links)

Below:  Willow's experience at Giraffe Manor clearly stayed with her.  When back in New York she immediately went to kiss her giant toy giraffe, a trick her naughty Aunty maaay have taught her!  See below (and hover for links) on some of Willow's favourite 'Sophie La Girafe' toys and products.

FACT: One of the Manor's giraffe is called Kelly. A coincidence? I think not.

Thank you to Giraffe Manor and The Safari Collection.

To make a donation to the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife please go HERE.