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My favourite summer lunch recipe: Gazpacho soup

If there was ever a dish that screamed SUMMER to me this is the one – even if the weather we are experiencing here in the UK is far from summery.

Fresh, seasonal, cooling, nutritious and absolutely delicious, not to mention SO easy to make.

Gazpacho soup recipe

Gazpacho soup recipe

Gazpacho is absolutely my go-to summer holiday meal choice. Whenever I see it on a menu I just have to order it – and after eating it at every opportunity whilst on the Amalfi Coast last year I vowed to recreate it at home. And here it is. I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was to make something so delicious.

If you haven’t had Gazpacho before simply put it is a cold vegetable soup, but that doesn’t so it any justice at all. Originating from the Andalucian region of Spain, it started as a soup made from stale bread, garlic and olive oil. However since then it has evolved and is now a perfect combination of fresh, ripe vegetables that will transport you to the Spanish countryside in a heartbeat with just one spoonful.

Everything in the dish is raw and fresh so it really is very healthy and it takes about ten minutes form start to finish to make! I love to serve it at a summer lunch party as you can make it well in advance and alongside this, not everyone has tried cold soup so it creates a wonderful talking point. (You can read my other lunch party tips here).

Gazpacho soup recipe

There are so many different versions of this soup now, but I like to keep it really simple – use the ripest and freshest ingredients you can find (don’t compromise on this as it really will affect the taste) and they will do all the talking. Making it too fussy spoils the simplicity of the key ingredients that just work so beautifully together. I’ve left bread out of my recipe as I know many people aren’t able to eat gluten and it also keeps the recipe really quick and easy to make.

Gazpacho soup recipe


How to make a delicious, fresh gazpacho soup in minutes


Serves four to six people

INGREDIENTS

1 kg very (very) ripe vine tomatoes

1 whole cucumber, roughly chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 green pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 spring onions roughly chopped

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

100ml mild extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar if needed (taste blended soup before adding)

DIRECTIONS

To start, chop all your vegetables – you don’t need to make it too perfect. Add  all your vegetables, vinegar and olive oil in to  a good blender and blend until soup-y! You want it to be quite smooth, but not so much that you lose all of the texture. Season with salt and pepper, stir and taste. If you need a little more sweetness, add in a little sugar.  You can also add more olive oil – it adds a wonderful richness.

Gazpacho soup recipe

Gazpacho soup recipe

Gazpacho soup recipe

Gazpacho soup recipe

Gazpacho soup recipePour into a bowl and refrigerate until cold and you are ready to serve. I have found that leaving it overnight helps the taste deepen and this is also perfect if you are entertaining as you can serve up quickly and easily!

Serve with toasted ciabatta bread if wanted and garnish with another drizzle of olive oil and a basil leaf to make it look pretty.

Gazpacho soup recipe

Gazpacho soup recipe


SHOP

Gold cutlery from Cox and Cox | Stoneware side plate and bowl from The White Company | Grey linen napkins from The White Company (in the sale) | Small black tealight holder (in the sale) | KitchenAid Artisan Food Processor|


And there you have it – a seriously delicious and healthy Gazpacho that will taste like summer, even if it looks like it is winter outside!

And finally on a very exciting note…

…I am SO excited to say that I have been shortlisted for the very prestigious Amara Interior Blog Awards 2017 for Best Interior Lifestyle Blog. If you enjoyed this post or my blog in general, I would be SO SO grateful if you would take a moment to vote for me and help me secure a place in the finals.

It only take two secs (I promise) and it would mean the world to me. Thank you.

Photography: Marlene Lee

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Career profile: Holly Scarsella, founder of PAMPELONE CLOTHING

Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone Clothing

Happy Sunday lovelies. Grab yourself a cup of coffee because you are going to want to get comfy to read this interview.

Holly Scarsella is the incredible founder of Pampelone Clothing, a glamorous and wearable resort wear clothing brand that was inspired by the Riviera. Her clothes can be found in some of the most recognisable shops across the world and her designs have been worn by the likes of Pandora Sykes, Eva Longoria and Blake Lively. Oh, and by me of course ;)!

Holly secured a place on Richard Branson’s Virgin StartUp Scheme where she received funding and mentorship and launched Pampelone in July 2015. Since then the brand has gone from strength to strength and Holly was even named on Forbes 30 under 30 in the retail category this year.

I was lucky enough to hear Holly speak at Big Small Business and developed an instant girl crush. Alongside her friend Elizabeth Scarlett, who is also a super successful and inspiring entrepreneur, they talked about the highs and lows of setting up your own business.  Holly has bags of style and chutzpah and was so inspiring to listen to.

I was delighted when Holly agreed to share some of the insight here on The Green Eyed Girl. I do hope you enjoy!


Career profile with Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone


Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone ClothingTell us about Pampelone Clothing? What makes it special? 

The idea for PAMPELONE first stemmed from my time spent growing up in the South of France. Our family had a holiday home in which we spent 4/5 months a year, and the women I would see on the beach always looked so chic in their effortless cottons and linens, bought from St Tropez market. But no matter how hard I looked to buy similar styles back in the UK, I could never find any beachwear that emulated the same feel. The Pampelone collections are special as they capture the feel and ease of fashion in the French Riviera; they are so easy to wear and beautifully (and ethically) made to a very high quality.

Where did the idea come from? 

I had a honeymoon wardrobe dilemma a couple of years ago when I couldn’t find any of the right kind of beachwear! I was looking for good quality pieces, which weren’t out of this world expensive! A lot of people, myself included, can’t justify paying £300 for a beach dress. To me, there was a clear gap in the market for mid-priced, beautiful resort wear, and so Pampelone was born!

Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone Clothing

What were you doing before-hand? 

Before I set up Pampelone, I worked in Fashion PR for five years. Being in that environment really opened my eyes to how you can create a successful brand, how to get into the right magazines and get your product worn by the right people. I had the pleasure of working with some incredible global brands but also some ‘lesser’ brands, and I was amazed at how successful they were with clever marketing. This really stuck with me. I always thought that if I found a product I truly believed in, well, the sky was the limit.

What made you want to take a career change/ set up your own business?

During the last job I had in PR, I learnt so much about other aspects of business, not just the PR & Marketing that I was used to. I was exposed to wholesale, e-commerce, and customer relations amongst other things. I absorbed as much information as I could there, and for the first time really understood how a business worked. This gave me the confidence and the basic understanding of how to launch my own business. Of-course I still had so much to learn and I’m still learning on a daily basis, but it gave me the foundations.

Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone Clothing

How did you get started?

I had my idea, business name, business plan and initial funding in place before I decided to leave my job to launch PAMPELONE. It was the biggest risk I have ever taken but one I would take time and time again. Yes, the pressure to make the business a success was huge, but I think that pressure only drives you to work even harder. If I have any piece of advice to give, it would be just to do it. If you’ve put the time and effort into research to figure it’s a viable idea – you just have to go for it!

What support have you received – from friends/family to professional?

Support from family and friends is vital and I’m so lucky to have such great people around me. It can be so lonely starting a business, as well as physically and mentally exhausting working seven days a week, all hours of the day and night, that a boost to your day and uplifting phone call really do make all the difference.

Professionally I am not afraid to ask for as much help as possible. I go out of my way to meet amazing professionals to try and get meetings with. And if I’m lucky enough to get a meeting, I go incredibly prepared, well researched and garner as much information as I possibly can.

What has been the greatest challenge so far? 

Just how self-motivated and proactive you need to be. Success is never going to come to you – you HAVE to chase it. It is difficult sometimes to get back up again after getting told ‘no’ by a million people but you have to believe enough in your product and brand to make it succeed.

And the greatest success? 

Being named as one of Forbes 30 under 30. I was gobsmacked to be nominated alongside such amazing people. Also really happy that all the hard work had been recognised.

Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone Clothing
What’s a ‘normal’ day for you? 

One thing I love about this job is that there never really is a ‘normal’ day. I’m so involved in every aspect of the business still so I could be designing, on a photoshoot, planning for a trade show, sales appointments etc! It really is so varied.

What is your favourite part of your job? 

Meeting customers. I love hearing feedback first hand.

Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone Clothing

How have you learned to master the different roles within your business?

Trial and error. I haven’t had a choice until now so you do just have to get on with it. Now I have staff, I’m so glad I’ve done each and every single job because I know the challenges, best practise etc.

What do you think is the biggest driver in your success?

Success itself. The more we succeed, the more I want to keep on going.

How do you face the challenges / overcome the difficulties?

I am constantly facing challenges, but instead of letting them break me, I’ve had to learn to deal with problems differently. Worrying about the challenges is something that still keeps me awake at night and something I still have to learn to control. But at the same time it’s the challenges that push you forward, and make you work so much harder to ensure the business works.  Sometimes I want to pull my hair out and question why so much goes wrong! My husband always reminds me that ‘it’s not meant to be easy: if it was, everyone would do it’.

You recently launched the Mini-Me collection (so cute) – what other exciting plans do you have for Pampelone?  

Ahh thank you! The kids collection is just one of my favourite things ever! Later this summer we’re launching an exclusive pair of sunglasses which I can’t wait to show you! Watch this space!

Do you have any tips for those who have their own business or are thinking of setting up their own business? 

Acknowledge the importance of marketing! Don’t forget that you can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows it exists, then you won’t make any money!

Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone Clothing


AND JUST FOR FUN


Favourite thing to do on a Sunday?  A long lazy walk in Richmond Park and then lunch at Petersham Nurseries.

Favourite travel destination? 
 Having spent a lot of my childhood at my grandparent’s house in a simple Provençale fishing village in St Tropez, it’s somewhere I’ve always returned to. I don’t think there’s been one year of my life I haven’t been; it will always be a special place to me.

Favourite way to relax? I really relax through reading, and I have a weird obsession for “dad” thrillers! At the moment I’ve got my nose buried in a John Grisham.

Favourite blog or Instagram account? I love @tropicalwayoflife on Instagram – transports you to paradise each time you look at it.

What is your favourite Pampelone piece? It has to be the Romana Dress. It’s an embroidered navy tunic style dress that can be worn straight from the beach to drinks in the evening. I take it everywhere with me!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?  Sophia Amoruso who wrote GIRLBOSS said ‘JUST GO OUT THERE AND DO IT’ which I think about all the time. Stop talking about it, thinking about it, making a million excuses as to why it may not work – just be proactive and make it happen any way you can.

Holly Scarsella, founder of Pampelone Clothing


Want more? I don’t blame you!

Shop Pampelone here, and follow on Instagram for a daily dose of beach wear inspiration.

You can also find Pampelone on Twitter and Pinterest.


So, what do you think? INCREDIBLE right! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…

And if you’d like some more career inspiration, don’t miss my interviews with Jennie from Lois Avery, Teigan from Olive et Oriel and Sarah from Floribunda Rose.

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The three best decisions I made when planning my kitchen

The three best decisions I made when planning my kitchenWhen I set about my kitchen redesign I thought long and hard about how I wanted it to be. I knew that I wanted it to be bright, white and light filled which was the complete opposite from what we had when we bought the house. You can see the full kitchen tour here with before pictures.

I also knew that I wanted to live in it – it wasn’t going to be a show kitchen. Kitchens are often the most used area of the home these days and as we were lucky enough to be building a kitchen/dining/living space I knew it would be the hub of our home. I didn’t want to have to tip toe around, scared to use it in case I ruined it or marked it.

I cook every day and if I am honest, I am not tidy! If I bake, we can find flour and icing for weeks after, smeared on cupboards, walls and floors! I drop things, spill things and really I don’t know how it happens but food gets everywhere!

I needed my kitchen to be able to stand up to everyday life, the test of time and still look great.

So I did a bit of research and I feel that after four years of full-on use my kitchen has born the brunt of my cooking and (more than) a couple of parties really well.

There are three things that have been instrumental in ensuring my kitchen is durable, hardwearing and has stood the test of time. And just so you know, this post is not an ad or collaboration with any of these brand/products – I just think they are great and want to share them with you.

The three best decisions I made when planning my kitchen


The 3 best decisions I made when planning my kitchen


Quartz worktop

I was originally torn between an oak worktop or marble…but after a bit of research I realised that despite both looking all sorts of beautiful, I would have to tread very carefully with them.

Enter quartz.

Quartz worktops are made from natural quartz, which is one of the hardest minerals out there. There are a couple of brands available, but we went for Silestone as they had the look we wanted.

It is stain resistant and after four years of hard testing I can confidently say that I have spilled red wine, coffee, beetroot, turmeric and a whole host of other baddies on it (and left some of them to unintentionally soak in for long periods of time) and nothing stays put.

Also because it is such a hard material, I can chop stuff right on it. I put hot pans out the oven straight on to the work top. No searching for worktop savers, no fighting for hob space. Straight on to the worktop.   That to me is the dream!

We chose the colour Lagoon which I still love, but if I was doing my kitchen now there would be no doubt about it that I would chose Calacatta Gold. All of the beauty of marble, none of the stress!

I do realise this does sound like an advert but I just genuinely love it!

The three best decisions I made when planning my kitchen

Little Greene paint

One of the things I knew I wanted straight away when in the planning stage was a painted kitchen. My husband Will was a little unsure to begin with, preferring a more modern gloss-look cabinet. His hesitance with painted was mainly because he thought it would wear badly, chip and not be able to be wiped clean.

I managed to bring him round to my way of thinking but to be fair to him he did a lot of research to see what was going to work for us. Hilariously he spent a lot of time on Mumsnet (!!) reading the kitchen threads and he got a really great recommendation.

Little Greene, a very lovely British paint and wallpaper company has a paint finish called Flat Oil Eggshell (Interior). They say it is “A hard yet flexible, durable and water resistant oil based paint designed for interior application to suitably prepared surfaces.”

I say it is pretty damn tough, washable and very suited to a busy kitchen.

We painted our cabinets very pale colours (Dash of Soot on the island and Tusk on all other cupboards if you are interested) and have never had to touch up yet. As you already know, they have been splattered with all manner of cooking goods and foodstuffs and taken a battering from pets and visiting kids. Oh – and drunken humans.

It is brilliant and I would never paint a surface that was going to get a good amount of traffic with anything else.

The three best decisions I made when planning my kitchen

A mottled floor

This one is less specific but no less important if you want a kitchen that is going to let you actually live in it and still look good. I have seen beautiful tiles that are all one solid colour or shiny gloss and ooh-ed at their prettiness. But so much look at them and you will see every footprint, speck of dust or bad mop-job. Even if your home was barely touched, I can guarantee you that there would be marks on the floor that would shout and scream at you LOOK AT ME!

Now if you have one of these floors, please do not take offence. I fully agree that they look great – but I simply would never be able to keep them looking clean.

I am not suggesting I drop a load of rubbish on my floor and just leave it there, I am talking about every day living. I don’t have time to sweep, hoover or mop my floor every day.

I need something that has a variety of colour on it to disguise any little particles that invariable find their way there.

In the end, we went with the Botticino tumbled marble from Floors of Stone  – it is pale and neutral, but has a slight variety in its colour. There are veins, mineral clumps and subtle patches of different colours and hues. All of this means it hides the day-to-day dust and footprints, helping it look fine between its weekly mops.

It is especially perfect if you have pets, children or are a little prone to spills like me!

The three best decisions I made when planning my kitchen

So there you have it. Without a doubt our three best decisions in keeping this kitchen looking great and wearing well.


What’s your thoughts? Do you have any recommendations for a durable, hard-wearing kitchen?


 

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Meet the blogger – 33 things about me

Happy Sunday lovely people!

I thought I would do something a little different today… as I have a number of new readers (*waves*) and have just celebrated my 33rd birthday, I thought I would share 33 things about me that you probably don’t already know (and that you certainly won’t find in my ‘about me’ page).

I would love to know a little more about you too so please do reply in the comments (you have to scroll way down after the end of the post) and let me know a few things about you too.

So here goes, let’s become friends:

1. I was born in the North East of Scotland. My mum and step dad live there now in a town called Macduff. It is a real place, honest!

2. I grew up in North Wales, lived in Swansea for two years and consider Cardiff my real home. I call myself Scwelsh (Scottish and Welsh).

3. I now live in Birmingham, England.

4. I left home at 16 and whilst it was hard, it has had the most positive impact on my life. If I managed that, I can manage anything, right?!

5. I love animals and I’ve rescued countless cats and kittens (homeless cats seem to be drawn to me). I currently have a cat called Pushka (who turned up on my doorstep with her three kittens one winter night) and a rabbit called Honey. Honey had her own bedroom for three years and slept on a king size bed.

6. When I left school I started to train as a veterinary nurse and quickly learnt that I hated blood and guts. Cue a re-think about my life plan!


Outfit details: Top & jeans both Donna Ida from Hero Stockbridge


7. I trained as a journalist instead. The sole reason was pretty much because I loved reading and wanted to write a book.

8. I learnt more about the media than I cared to know and decided I didn’t want to do that either!

9. But I still dream about writing a book one day.

10. I once got sacked and thought my life was over. Following that I got one of the best jobs I’ve ever had working at the Welsh Government. It goes to show when one door closes, another opens.

11. I was first inspired to start a blog after reading Poppy Dinsey’s What I Wore Today, and my first blog was my ‘Leaving Cardiff Bucket List’.

12. My greatest hobby is eating.

13. Italian, Thai and Mexican are my favourite cuisines.

14. Spaghetti Arrabiata is my go-to dinner. Me and my best friend affectionately call it STP (spicy tomato pasta) and we lived on it for years.

15. When said friend and I lived together we used to have cleaning hour on a Thursday evening. The rules were: You had to have a strong gin and tonic in hand. Music had to be on, loud. You had one hour to clean (and dance) as much as you could.

16. It is one of the best cleaning strategies I have ever come across and I am tempted to write a book called the The Magic of Gin-Infused Cleaning Hour. Please tell me if you would be interested in buying this, which possibly may help a dream come true (refer back to points 7 and 9).

17. I have A LOT of cook books but I rarely follow a recipe. I love them for their stunning pictures and inspiration.

18. Breakfast is my least favourite meal of the day. If I have to have it, it needs to be several hours after I have woken up. When I do have it, I prefer cake, or eggs. I love this recipe that I shared here.

19. Without a cup of tea in the morning I am basically useless. Three a day is my peak intake!

20. When I was growing up I was obsessed with horse riding. I have an NVQ in horse care management which I did in the evenings whilst at school.

21. Now I am obsessed with interiors. I was lucky enough to get a job in this dream industry last year and I have to pinch myself every day. You can get my interior-insider styling tips here.

22. I keep myself awake planning the interiors of my current and future homes. I think I need at least three homes to design in the different styles I love. I am hoping for a lottery win!

23. I’m a Pescetarian – which means I don’t eat meat but I do eat fish.

24. If I am truly honest, fish get it because they are ugly (sorry fish lovers). One of my favourite fish dishes is this. Or prawns. Or calamari. Or clams. I told you I loved food.

25. I sneeze every day and have done since I went on a trip to Canada when I was 19. I don’t know why that is. And I sneeze very loudly!

26. Ever since I was a teenager I dreamed of having a big old period home and renovating it.

27. That dream came true when I was 28 and bought my first and current home with my husband.

28. Every day I can’t believe I actually get to live here – I am truly grateful. My favourite rooms so far are our kitchen and our bathroom. The rest is work in progress which you can keep up to date with on my Instagram.

29. I love to travel – anywhere, everywhere. Some of my favourite trips have included Chicago, Greece (Santorini, Skiathos and Kefalonia are favourites), Bali, Morocco and New York.

30. About 18 months ago I attended a blogging workshop at a beautiful little boutique called Hero in Stockbridge. It opened my eyes to what you can do when you put your mind to it. I launched my Career Profile series as a result of feeling inspired and empowered.

31. Laura, the founder of Hero teamed up with one of my all time favourite bloggers Monica from The Elgin Avenue to create Big Small Business – a conference for creatives. It was incredible. Here are a few things that I learned.

32. My blog is my passion and I love doing it. It helps me keep up to date in online marketing, social media as well as interiors. I have met fabulous people through it and it pushes me to learn new things. I can’t imagine my life that doesn’t involve this little space of the internet that I call mine.

33. Oh, and I never mentioned that I love wine, cocktails and gin and tonic, dancing in the kitchen, terrible pop music, sleeping in, carbs, and reading cheesy rom-coms.

So, that’s it!  Your turn…..

Photography: Marlene Lee

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9 simple ways to boost your confidence (and why it is SO important)

9 ways to boost your confidence

They say there are few things in life that makes you happier and more beautiful than having confidence, and it is so true! Confident people draw others to them like a magnet – they are great to be around and captivating to watch. Why? Because we all want a piece of it.

Confidence isn’t always easy to have though, and as women we are definitely more susceptible to a lack of it.

9 ways to boost your confidence

There are times when we doubt what we are doing, how we do it and even sometimes who we are. For example, have you ever:

*Not only brushed off a compliment given to you, but followed it up with a negative to the positive?

*Thought or said you couldn’t do something, but then had a go and not only done it, but done it well?

*Achieved something you were proud of but said out loud that it wasn’t very good or played it massively down?

*Thought you were not doing well enough in life, work, at parenting, at dressing, at social media etc?

*Compared yourself to others and thought they were doing better?

Yes? I thought as much!  Don’t worry you are not alone but the question is WHY on earth are we feeling this way?

Is it not wanting to sound cocky or like a brag? Or is it a genuine lack of self value? I worry it is the latter, especially when we are each incredible, valuable people with our own strengths and weaknesses that we should be confident about.

So how about it? Shall we try to inject a little confidence in to our every day?


“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you fail by default.”     J. K. Rowling


 

9 ways to boost your confidence


9 simple ways to boost your confidence


Say thank you to compliments

Next time someone gives you a compliment, look them in the eye, smile and say thank you. No buts, no put downs, no brushing it off. Simply acknowledge the fact that you received a compliment and that you deserved it!

Compliment other people

Sometimes feeling confident in yourself is as simple as knowing you are a good person. A person that people like to know and have part of their lives. One thing that makes me feel good is voicing the compliments about other people that I have in my head. It is so easy to think someone looks great or that they handled a situation well but then to just keep it to yourself. Try giving three people honest compliments every day…and make one of those to a complete stranger – it will boost your confidence as well as theirs.

9 ways to boost your confidence

Don’t fall in to the comparison trap

Do you ever find yourself looking sideways and thinking the girl next to you is doing better? I bet she is thinking the very same thing about you. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and people are naturally better in some areas of life than others. That is OK! Show me one person who has it all figured out? They don’t exist. So don’t compare yourself to someone else – they will be having struggles of their own, it might just be different struggles to you.

Be the person you wish you were

A lack of self confidence often comes from feeling that you are not the version of yourself that you would like to be, or thought you would be. The antidote to this is to fake it until you make it.

I have heard countless super successful people say that to get their success, they first had to pretend they already had it.

Act like it, dress like it, and believe that you deserve it. It will come to you.

9 ways to boost your confidence

Believe in yourself

And I mean really, truly believe in your own abilities because if you don’t who else is going to? You don’t need to have done something before to have confidence in your abilities. Think back to all the times you did something for the first time – you may not have got it spot on the first time, but you learnt and improved and if you can believe in your ability to give things a go, to learn and improve then you will be unstoppable.

Let’s face it, just look at how far you have come already, what you have already achieved. You should be skipping with confidence because you are AMAZING!

9 ways to boost your confidence

Start a journal of your achievements

Struggling to think what you have done that is worth feeling confident about, and find it even harder to voice these aloud for fear of being thought of as bragging? Try writing down what you have achieved every day, from the small tasks such as washing your hair to making a delicious dinner or doing the ironing, you will soon start to see just how much you achieve every day!

It also helps to be grateful for the things you have. Read how I approach gratitude and living life to the full every day.

Break your big goals down in to smaller tasks

Do you feel like you have to achieve something big in order to believe in yourself? But that big thing just seems SO far away? Break down all the small tasks to get there and then celebrate achieving each of those.

Wear clothes that make you feel confident

I think everyone has an outfit that they feel good in. It might be something special, or it could be more of an everyday item that always ignites a feeling of ‘yeh, I’ve got it today’! When you feel like you need something to boost your confidence, pull out that item. For me it tends to be bolder, brighter colours and patterns (it is always these things than get me a load of unexpected compliments) and this H&M dress pictured is a perfect example.

Do a little of what you are afraid of

And finally, confidence comes when you know that whatever life throws at you, you can deal with it. To help you feel that from day to day, do a little of what you are afraid of. Scared of public speaking? Offer to chair the next team meeting. Scared of heights? Climb to the highest point you can. Scared you are falling behind the household duties? Schedule in half an hour every day for a week and get back on top of it! Facing your fear will undoubtedly boost your confidence!

9 ways to boost your confidence

All photography by Marlene Lee 



Whats your view?

Do you suffer with a lack of self confidence from time to time?

Do you already do any of these tricks to boost your confidence?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


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My bathroom tour and 5 ways to create the hotel bathroom look at home

How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home - freestanding bath Today I am sharing my bathroom, which much like my kitchen was ‘finished’ years ago but I never shared it because it wasn’t quite ‘done.’  We went for a hotel bathroom look with free standing bath and big walk in shower, and I love how this room is a really luxurious space and a great retreat from the rest of the world.

When we moved in to our Edwardian house there were two bathrooms next to each other. One had a corner bath, toilet and sink and the other a shower, toilet and sink. Both had lowered ceilings and really the most hideous windows I think I have ever seen. Oh, and carpet. in. the. bathroom. Yuk!

Immediately I knew we needed to knock out the dividing all between the two rooms and create one gloriously large family bathroom, taking inspiration from the many hotel bathroom styles I had seen.

So before I show you the rest of the after pictures, I’ll give you a glimpse of the before…

Brace yourself…

How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home - before pictures

For reasons I am sure you now understand, we made the bathroom the top of our list and quickly got to work!

How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home - sink

How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home - walk in shower

How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home - freestanding bath

How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home

The first task was to pull the wall down between them. Once we created the new space, we had new windows fitted in. We went for a sash window style even though the property is Edwardian (and not Victorian) but because the size, they were perfect for it. We also had the lower half sand blasted to make it opaque. This wasn’t cheap and if we were doing it again I think we’d use Purlfrost instead which does exactly the same job but it is MUCH cheaper.

I had seen a sink in a hotel bathroom in Milan when on a trip with a friend and spent quite a bit of time looking for something similar back home. We managed to find one not too dissimilar and the tap was from Porcelanosa.

The freestanding bath was a must have for me and I struggled to decide whether to go for a roll top or a more modern pebble style bath. The period style won out (although I do still really love the pebble ones) and we went for slightly more modern taps to stop it becoming too old fashioned looking.

We wanted a huge hotel bathroom style walk in shower and bought the tray from the discount corner in Porcelanosa. The glass screen in the shower caused a lot of head scratching as it was too big to come up the stairs which have a turn in them. Eventually we managed to get it up by taking out the bannisters!

The flooring. Ah, the flooring! This caused quite a lot of debate in the house (renovation really does test a relationship!) as I was dead set on having a wooden floor and Mr Practical just kept saying it wouldn’t work. Something about wood getting wet and swelling. Anyway we reached a compromise and went for wood effect porcelain tiles which have worked out rather nicely as we installed under floor heating under them and it it lovely to step out of the bath on to a warm floor.

How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home

And there you have it! Our hotel bathroom in our very own home!


5 ways to create a hotel luxe bathroom at home


Add a chandelier

Using a chandelier or dramatic light fixture in a bathroom is a sure fire way to add instant glamour.

Go for a statement mirror

The bigger the better especially if the room is a bit dark.

Include plants

I love the way plants transform a space and a bathroom is no different. Plants such as ivy, fern and snake plants like a warm, damp environments and so are perfectly suited to bathroom life.

Add interest

If you have the space, you can add interest with a stool, a chair, a bath shelf or wall shelving. Use this space to curate a selection of your favourite bathroom products much like you would see in a hotel.

Keep products tidied away

My biggest tip is to add storage for you to hide away your everyday bathroom products. It leaves the space looking much tidier and so much more glamorous when the floss and nail scissors are hidden away!

How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home How to achieve the hotel bathroom look in your own home

Photography: Marlene Lee


Shop my hotel bathroom style here


Sink – similar here and here.
Bath – from Victoria Plumbing, I also love this one in grey and this one
Floor tiles: Here
Hammam towel: The White Company
Handwash and shower gel:  Aesop at Cult Beauty
Chandelier: I can’t find it anymore but this one is similar, this one from Graham and Green is amazing and this The White Company one would look great in a bathroom
Storage unit: Ikea, similar here
Plant stand on legs: Westelm
Paint: Dulux Perfectly Taupe
Mirror: Maisons Du Monde


What do you think?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.



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Career Profile: Teigan from Olive et Oriel

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et OrielI first came across Olive et Oriel thanks to interior design blog Lust Living and I was instantly hooked. I ordered my first print and was really impressed with the speed it arrived and the quality (hello free international shipping!). But what had me more hooked than anything else was the oh-so beautiful Instagram feed that shows Olive et Oriel art styled to perfection in people’s homes across the world and the little snippets from behind the scenes of the business and the incredibly talented and hard-working founder, Teigan. 

Successful career woman and beautiful interiors, well I didn’t stand a chance did I?

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel

In no time at all I created a whole gallery wall using Olive et Oriel pieces in my home and I have had to stop myself looking on the website too often as Teigan is forever launching new artwork.

Not only does Teigan have two young children, a stunning home, design her own prints and run the business but she somehow manages to fit time in to her busy schedule to nurture her brand on Instagram and reply to every comment, message and Insta-story. With 142, 000 followers (today, there will be more tomorrow) that is no mean feat!

I am incredibly proud and excited to be sharing her story here to inspire you. I am in no doubt that by the end, you’ll be more than inspired!

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel

So grab a cuppa and settle in:

What is Olive et Oriel? 

Curated by Teigan, Olive et Oriel is a fashion-forward wall art brand with enviable art prints and posters for every room of your home, and starting at only $12.95 with free shipping – they’re affordable too! The thoughtful mix of styles range from bohemian, Scandinavian, coastal, minimalist and contemporary with our vision being that anyone can create a unique and beautiful gallery wall in their home all from the one location, OliveEtOriel.com.

I pride myself on our high quality art prints and posters. All wall art is professionally printed using superior quality inks and beautiful matte stock – with our ever growing Instagram following, it’s easy to see why we stand out from the rest.

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel

Where did the idea come from? 

Well, as a little back-story – I studied Interior Design straight after finishing school, however never went down that career path initially. After having our first baby, I couldn’t bear to return to work full-time away from our little man, so I began to explore the designer in me, Olive et Oriel quickly evolved into the incredible business it is today.

What were you doing before hand? 

I was an executive assistant to the Global CEO of a really cool women’s fashion accessories label, and then an EA in the finance industry.

What made you want to take a career change/ set up your own business?

I couldn’t bear leaving our little man after the first six months, so I decided to engage my creative side again and do everything I could to ensure I could create a business from home to be there for him. I needed something more, for me too – I had seen so many wall art designs around, but I just felt it all lack-lustre, I knew I could do something a lot more fun! 

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel

How did you take the plunge? 

Like anything I do… Head first and 100 miles an hour! I’m not really good at ‘thinking things over’ – the day I decided to give it a go, I built the website, launched several designs and began the marketing journey (all on that same day). Our first sales started rolling in after 48 hours! I am a firm believer that life is about taking risks, getting outside your comfort zone and just going for it. In my opinion, life is far too short to not be doing something you love with your all. I have not regret a single moment since! 

Were your family and friends on board? If not, how did you bring them round?

I think my friends had more confidence in my ability than I did myself – I knew I could ‘build a small business’ easy enough, but the question was “would people like my style enough to buy it?” – it’s such a personal thing… art. People are either going to love it and it hits a spot with them, or they’ll walk on by. My family didn’t really understand the vision, but they were happy to roll with whatever made me happy (they know even if they said ‘don’t do it’ – that I would anyway!) and my hubby thought it was a brilliant idea and as always, backed me all the way! He’s the best!

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel

What has been the greatest challenge so far? 

Learning how to do things the right way… Starting a business from scratch and continually striving to be better than I was yesterday. That takes a lot of mental time, and due to that – I don’t really get any me time… I’m always ‘online’ if that makes sense? Not overly a challenge, just a learning process… After two and a half years of Olive et Oriel, I’m only just now starting to allow myself some time for me (and trying not to feel guilty about it!)

And the greatest success? 

Every day is a success. I feel incredibly blessed to have started a business that continues to grow and allows me to spend my days with our boys. Every day that I wake up at home with our two boys and see more website visits/sales/comments/likes/overall interaction with my brand than the day before – it’s all a success and every day blows my mind.

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel

What’s a normal day for you? 

I wake up, give little guys kisses and cuddles and sneakily check my phone straight away; yesterday’s website stats, social media engagement and emails – it doesn’t take too long, but I have to know what’s happened in the few hours sleep i’ve had. I race downstairs and get breakfast ready for the boys and begin processing all orders. My entire process is streamlined and very efficient now, so nothing really takes up too much time (not like the ball breaking two years I’ve already put in to get it to this stage). Once all the orders are ready to go, the boys and I head out to do something fun. Through-out the day I’m on and off social media and emails, making sure I’m aware of what’s going on ‘in the www’ at all times. As soon as Michael is home, he takes over with the boys and I jump into creative mode and email replies. I then prep for the next day and get ready to hit it again! Phew!

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et OrielWhat’s your favourite part of your job? 

Everything… I couldn’t possibly pick one element. I love the product designing, the marketing, website maintenance and redesigning – it all just really thrills me, genuinely – I just love it! 

You’ve got a new baby – how do you manage life as a mum alongside a successful business? 

Haha, Well, I initially thought it would be a hell of a lot easier than it is. Since having little Cruise it’s been a massive learning curve for me, and I’ve had to restructure days in a big, big way. The boys are no 1 –  but the restructuring has helped streamline the ‘modern mum’ life. I now work very late into the night, so days are for our gorgeous little guys.

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel

Do you have any future plans for Olive et Oriel? 

There are LOTS of amazing new designs and business plans in the works but I can’t share them at the moment! It’s an exciting industry to be involved in.

Do you have any tips for my readers who are thinking of setting up their own business? 

Just go for it!! Do not let anyone put you off.  Do  your research on what you like/don’t like about the current industry you’re looking at getting into – but then, just jump in! Don’t look back. There’s no time for regrets – go for it with everything you’ve got and believe in yourself and your ability to nail it! 

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel


AND JUST FOR FUN


What are your favourite flowers? Hmmm, white roses are generally a staple in our home, and although not a ‘flower’ I absolutely love the modern simplicity of a silver dollar/baby gum.

Favourite thing to do on a Sunday? Sleep in followed by breakfast in bed with a hot organic tea and an espresso… my boys are amazing at room service. Then, I’m all work – Sunday is my day to plan the entire week ahead.

Favourite travel destination? Paris! And Byron Bay! Both those locations I feel at home… My first time in Paris was amazing, I was immediately mind-blown… I just felt I had been there before, it’s an incredible city.

Favourite way to relax? Relax??!

Favourite blog or Instagram account? I absolutely love Lust Living and Only Deco Love. Also Brooke Testoni, her style is really unique and very sophisticated in a modern, parisian way.

What are your favourite prints of yours at the moment? I’ve got three firm favourites at the moment that I have in all different sizes around our home; Sunday Morning, Le Gris and To Do List. I literally have those designs running in multiple rooms in our home at the moment!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given? “Just give it a go” – Michael said that to me, and it really resonates with me. What are you going to lose by giving something a shot? And for everyone else, I can give you these three hot tips; 1. Back yourself 2. F#ck the haters 3. Don’t stop.

Career interview with Teigan, founder of Olive et Oriel
Pictures all Olive et Oriel


I am blown away with Teigan’s incredible just-do-it attitude! What a brilliant way to live and looking at Olive et Oriel, it certainly works in business too!

So, I know you are dying to find out more so head over to the website here.

And if you haven’t already, you need to take a look at her Instagram account for all of the pretty here.

You can also keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.


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Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party for friends and family – and a delicious and easy salad recipe

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner partyThere is something so lovely about creating a get together in your own home for your closest friends and family. I love having people over, and whilst it is a lot more effort than just going out for a meal I get a lot more satisfaction out of it.

However, being a good host or hostess takes experience and practice and it is something that I hope I will keep developing as I get older.

I am lucky to know a number of people who are excellent hosts, who manage to find the perfect balance between looking after their guests and supplying them with the means to look after themselves. I mean, there is nothing that makes you feel really welcome in someone’s home than if they treat you like you belong there! I have watched how they do it and in doing so created a formula for the perfect lunch or dinner party.

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party


My tips for creating a perfect lunch party


In the summer I prefer a lunch party to maximise the sunny days and it allows you to have more time with friends, avoiding the early hours of the morning creeping up on you (like what sometimes happens at dinner parties)! However, of course these tips will work for any type of gathering at your home!

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

Greet your guests with drinks and appetisers

I always make sure that I have nibbles and drinks ready and waiting for when guests arrive for a lunch or dinner party. Not only does it create a great first impression by showing your guests how prepared you are, but it also buys you a little time to finish the meal preparations. Also I know I always turn up hungry for a dinner party and can’t wait to start eating!

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

Create a menu that requires as little last-minute attention as possible

Nigella is the queen of creating dishes for dinner parties that can prepared in advance and have the finishing touches added last minute. In the summer this means large salads and cheese boards for me, and additional dishes that can be made either the day before or the morning before guests arrive. That means you can spend time with your guests enjoying yourself and not slaving over a hot stove. For this spread I only had to spend about half an hour in advance prepping the food and as little as five minutes when guests had arrived to get everything ready. Less time prepping = more time having fun!

Serve dishes that people can help themselves to

I love serving a number of big bowls that people can help themselves to, or a build your own bar (read my build your own burger bar here). It allows everyone to tailor their meal to best suit them and has a more informal feel to it, helping your guests feel at ease. It also helps guests feel really at home in your home. I love seeing friends and family reach over to grab bowls, passing dishes to each other and hearing ‘mmmm have you tried this yet’! It makes things a bit easier for the host/ess too which is key to guests enjoying themselves too.

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

Cater equally for people with dietary requirements

If you have someone attending that has a specific dietary requirement make sure you cater as well for them as you do for the others. This means creating something that isn’t a lesser meal minus what they can’t have, or creating something especially for them. Being a vegetarian I know what it is like to look at a menu in a restaurant to find the one vegetarian option at the bottom as an afterthought. Don’t let this happen in your own home!

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

Serve something new or unusual

People will always remember something new or unusual so it is a great way to give your dinner party an edge. It will also create a talking point at the table and spur interesting conversation. Hopefully it’ll end up with people loving what you have introduced to them! Here I served a chilled home made Gazpacho as it is one of my most favourite lunch choices when I am in a hot country (or hello UK heatwave!) – it went down a treat and sparked a great debate about hot vs cold soup.

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

A beautiful table setting

Noting creates a sense of occasion as a beautiful table setting. It doesn’t need to be formal, but beautiful crockery such as this really simple but oh-so-gorgeous dinner ware from The White Company, some flowers, a candle or two and some lovely linen napkins will create the perfect setting for a meal. Again it is lovely to have a talking point – picking up pieces from your travels does this beautifully. For example, our place mats were from Bali, our salad servers from Greece and our sugar dish from Morocco!

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

And of course, good wine!

Need I say it! Any self respecting lunch or dinner party needs some good drinks to go along with it. Always have a selection of drinks on hand to cater for guests with different likes and dislikes. That means non alcoholic as well as alcoholic, as well of course beers. For wine, I like to try and offer something new or different. The lovely people from La petit Ballon recently sent me some wine to try and they are perfect accompaniment to a lunch party. It is a brilliant wine club to be part of if you never know what kind of wine to buy – Jean-Michel Deluc, only the former sommelier at The Ritz (!) selects his favourite wine each month and sends them direct to you home! Boom!

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party


Salad recipe


I made this salad a few weeks ago for a friend who is getting married soon. I knew she would want something light and healthy, but I still wanted it to be interesting and delicious. I have made it a few more times now and it is fast becoming my go-to summer salad dish. I am excited to share it with you and hope you like it too.

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

For the salad you’ll need:

Salad leaves – I like a mix of watercress, rocket and baby spinach leaves
Green vegetables – I have used petit pois, green beans and soya beans but asparagus, mange tout and other green veggies will work just as well.
A red pepper
Cherry tomatoes, halved
A good mozzarella, torn into chunks
A large handful of mixed herbs finely chopped – I like parsley, basil and mint

For the dressing:

The juice of half a lemon
Five tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
One tablespoon of tahini
Several glugs of olive oil

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

To make

Start by slicing the peppers, drizzling in olive oil and roasting until they start to brown. This usually takes about 30-40 minutes. When ready, set aside. Whilst they are roasting,  cook the green veg  by steaming or boiling just enough to soften them but leave a little bite.

Once they are cooked plunge them in to cold water to stop the cooking process and to cool them down. Chill in the fridge for at least thirty minutes before serving.

To assemble, place your salad leaves in a big bowl and mix in the herbs. Layer on your veggies, tomatoes, peppers and then scatter over the mozzarella.

To make the salad dressing, simple mix all the ingredients together  and stir – have a little taste to see if you need to add a little more of any of the ingredients to suit your taste.

Drizzle over your salad, and serve!

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party

Creating the perfect lunch or dinner party


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What’s your best dinner party tips?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.


Photography: Marlene Lee

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How I approach gratitude and living life to the full every day

How I approach gratitude and living life to the fullIt has been a really, really upsetting world in recent months. In the UK alone there has been a number of terror attacks, tragedies and happenings that simply cannot be explained or understood.

Whilst I have not been caught up in any of these happenings, I know I am not alone when I say it has affected me deeply. I have watched the news in horror; a sick feeling sweeping over me; a deep compassion for those who have been affected and a guilt for then carrying on with my day to day life as if nothing has happened.

Posting cheery Instagram pictures of flowers or my renovation have seemed somewhat ghastly, but the truth is I want to see those cheery images more than ever when bad things are going on all around. And rightly or wrongly, when these bad things are happening I feel more than ever the need to live each and every day to the full and to remind myself just how lucky I am to not only be living, but to be living unharmed and unscathed and to be living the life I am.

I know this is a bit more of a serious post to normal, but it is something I have felt so strongly since my Grandma passed away (from a freak accident aged 80, healthy, strong and full life) and I really came to understand that you never know what is around the corner.

How I approach gratitude and living life to the full

So today I am sharing how I approach living life to the full and feeling grateful for what I have. I hope this will help you push away the insignificant challenges of life and grasp your own life and happiness by the horns!


How I approach gratitude and living life to the full


She built the life she dreamed of

When I was 16 things weren’t going so well for me. I realised I was at a crossroads…..and only I could chose what direction my life went in. I thought long and hard about the life I wanted for myself. I didn’t know quite how I would get there and I certainly didn’t get it right the whole way, but I understood at the time that largely I had control over how it was going to turn out. Although it sounds cheesy to say out loud, I chose happiness and every decision I have made along the way has supported that. A boyfriend that made me unhappy – see ya! A job that made me cry – bye bye! A hobby that I love – Hi there blogging *waves*! A beautiful house to live in – working my ass off every single day to create it.

It wasn’t always easy to make the right decision and they certainly weren’t made straight away, but within time I realised what needed to be done to achieve the bigger picture.

If you aren’t happy with something in your life, can you change it? Do you complain about it but do nothing to resolve it? Take action!

How I approach gratitude and living life to the full


I chose happiness and every decision along the way supports that

Be positive

I find that being positive automatically brings about gratitude. I have always had a positive outlook in life and been someone who believes that life is what you make of it. I know that sometimes the challenge is way too hard to be positive about, but often we let the minutiae of life drag us down. Life isn’t easy, but sometimes it is too easy to see only the negative and not the massive positives in every day situations. When something starts to bother me I try to rationalise it – is it really a problem? Do more good things outweigh this bad thing? The answer is almost always yes.

How I approach gratitude and living life to the full

Don’t put things off

It is so easy to say ‘one day I’ll do this’….or ‘one day i’ll do that’ and never get round to doing it. I am guilty of this in many ways but on the whole I try not to put things off to a day that never comes. Travel is important to me as is living in a home I feel proud of (and my husband feels the same) so we work hard to make these things happen.

How I approach gratitude and living life to the full

Be grateful every day

Every day I think of the things I am grateful for. I do it quietly in my own thoughts, often when I am driving or just before I fall asleep. Many people keep a gratitude journal and jot down their thoughts. Either way, the thing is to actively spend time thinking of the good things you have in life. It can be as serious as living in a world where there is plenty when people are facing starvation or as trivial as not getting stuck in traffic on the way home.

How I approach gratitude and living life to the full

Enjoy life’s little luxuries

On one hand, when you realise how lucky you are to have running water and an NHS free at the point of contact it seems trivial to want to spend £40 on a fancy-pants candle, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t love the little luxuries in life. Whatever your luxury is, don’t feel guilty about it but relish it. If a gorgeous perfume cheers your day whenever you spritz it on, get spritzing. It if is a daily bubble bath, then get that baby running. If it chain-buying all of the peonies whilst they are in season – get buying! Your life is yours and you shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying it…which brings me to my final point…

How I approach gratitude and living life to the full

Don’t feel guilty

This is possibly the hardest one. I realised one day that I can’t feel guilty for pursuing my own happiness. I would never put my own happiness at the expense of someone else’s, but I know that no one else will put my happiness first. We each have to follow our own paths and not feel guilty for occasionally saying no to doing something you don’t want to to, to choosing to surround yourself with people that lift you up (not drag you down) and asking for help when you need it.

How I approach gratitude and living life to the full


What’s your thoughts on gratitude? Do you have any different practises on how to be thankful and live your life to the full? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.


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Gratitude Journal form Kikki. K (read my post 11 life rules I learned from Kristina Karlsson, founder of Kikki. K)

Gorgeous scent Sens (which reminds me of my wedding) from Diptyqye

Devine Sevin soap from my favourite boutique Hero 


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7 dream hotels that are on my wish list and tips to get the best deals

Villa Honig - 7 dream hotels and how to get the best deals when bookingHolidays are my achilles heel. My friends and family roll their eyes when they hear that we are off on another one of our adventures, saying that we are in a constant state of either on holiday or planning one. The best way to be in my mind!

Getting away from daily life is great for so many reasons – it reminds us to slow down, to savour the day and turn off. We learn so much from being out of our familiar zone, seeing how other people live, what other countries are like, and what we are like ourselves whilst there. It allows us to reflect on our own circumstances. It widens our horizons, educates us and refreshes us all at once. And without fail, no matter how good the trip, returning home is the best.

However, in my mind there is no reason why all of the above can’t be achieved whilst staying in delicious surroundings! And a girl can dream right? So with that in mind, I’m sharing the hotels that are on my dream wish list…. keep scrolling to read my tips on how you can get the best deals to make that dream in to reality.


7 dream hotels that are on my wish list


1Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, New York

1Hotel Brooklyn Bridge - 7 dream hotels and how to get the best deals when booking

When we visited New York earlier this year we stayed at the gorgeous 1Hotel Central Park (read more about that here) and fell in love with its cosy industrial style and mass of greenery. Our super friendly and helpful concierge told us about the just opened sister hotel across the bridge and we promised to head over and take a look. Alas, we didn’t get a chance but I know enough to say that my next trip to NYC will involve a stay at this hotel. With views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the bridge FROM YOUR BED….a rooftop pool and hammocks, this place is interior-lovers heaven and the place to stay!

Belmond Caruso Ravello, Italy

Belmond Caruso - 7 dream hotels and how to get the best deals when booking

It is the setting of this hotel that makes it so spectacular. Perched on the top of the dramatic Amalfi coast, the little town of Ravello is an otherworldly place. We stumbled across this hotel whilst exploring and stopped for cake and coffee – cue day dreams of staying here and floating on that pool for days!

Villa Honig, Switzerland

Villa Honig - 7 dream hotels and how to get the best deals when booking

I stumbled across this hotel thanks to Pinterest and it is the mountain location that caught my eye. Situated high above Lake Lucerne, the clouds are below you and the terrace and pool have views to die for. This looks like one of the most relaxing places on earth.

Giraffe Manor, Kenya

Giraffe Manor - 7 dream hotels and how to get the best deals when booking

Want to feed a giraffe through a window at breakfast. I do! I really, really do! So many things about this hotel have captured my imagination, from the colonial interiors, the safari lodge and family run ethos … but it is without a doubt the giraffes that are the main pull.

Lime Wood, New Forest

Lime Wood - 7 dream hotels and how to get the best deals when bookingI’ve wanted to stay at Limewood for years. It is the big sister of The Pig hotels and friends who have stayed have raved about it. As they say, it is laid-back luxury at its best…and they have a cookery school which means I am sold!

Soho House Barcelona

Soho House - 7 dream hotels and how to get the best deals when booking

Ever since stumbling across Soho House’s Chicago offering (read about that here), I have been a little obsessed with this hotel group. The Barcelona house has only recently opened and with a rooftop pool and a cocktail cart that comes to your room every evening to make you a little tipple, I can’t imagine a better way to explore one of my favourite cities.

La Mamounia, Marrakech

La Mamounia - 7 dream hotels and how to get the best deals when booking

Self described as a palace-hotel, just looking at the pictures tells you why. Moroccan tiles, pillared halls, a ice cream parlour in the grounds – it sounds like the perfect antidote after a long day in the bustling Medina.


My tips on how to get the best deals


Stay mid week

Often times hotels have a much reduced rate during the week than they do on the weekend so if you can be flexible about when you are visiting, you can get around 1/3 off the price.

Consider how long you can stay 

Depending on the hotel the length of time you stay can have an impact on the cost. Some hotels have a reduced rate if you are staying over two nights long, it also gives you bargaining power for a better room. However, if you simply can’t afford a full trips worth stay at your dream hotel, consider breaking your trip up across two places. Perhaps you can stay in your dream hotel for one or two nights and the move to a more affordable Air BNB for the rest of the trip. We did this when staying in Santorini and it made the trip feel longer than a week.

Be flexible on timings

If you have your heart set on visiting a specific hotel but can be flexible at the time of year then spend a bit of time testing how the timings affect the cost. We have found January to be an amazing time to travel and get good deals – it is a time when most people are hibernating after the busy festive season and hotels are crying out for some business! Plus, I can’t tell you how nice a trip in January is to give you something to look forward to and lift your spirits.

Compare the deals on different booking sites

When we are looking at booking somewhere to stay, our first port of call is of course Booking.com. We also check Mr & Mrs Smith and other booking websites. Whilst the prices may not always vary, what you will find is the different sites might offer different incentives. For example for our honeymoon we stayed at the breath-taking Monstera Santa Rosa (read al about that here) and booked through Mr & Mrs Smith. They offered a voucher for the spa – which we knew we wanted to use – and a bottle of wine so we saved about £100 in total on things we would have bought anyway.

Always check the hotel’s own website

Whilst the above sometimes works out best, don’t forget to check out the hotel’s own website. They probably won’t be cheaper per se than the booking sites (I think they are bound to sell at the same price) but you may find incentives or deals – such as three nights for the price of two, a better room or breakfast thrown in.

Let them know it is for a special occasion

Are you celebrating? Call and let them know! Good hotels tend to love making a fuss of their guests and if they know it is a birthday/anniversary/honeymoon etc they will tend to do something to mark it. Be it chocolates and a card on arrival, an upgraded room or a free cocktail at the bar.

Book separately or in a package

It is best to explore both options as sometimes one can be better value than the other.


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What are your tips to get the best deals?


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