Eastern promise: results driven products inspired by Japanese’s finest

 

A ritualistic approach to beauty, inspired by Asian practices, is revamping our beauty regimes. Here are some of the new results-driven products inspired by age-old traditions

For many of us, cleansing the skin after a hard day’s work (or hard night’s play) is a chore to get out of the way fast. While British women are not shy when it comes to buying into the latest skincare innovations– just think how fast BB and then CC creams have taken off, for instance – our cleansing routines have remained strangely stuck in the past. With many of us still following a ‘cleanse, tone and moisturise’ mantra, first invented in the 1950s, it’s about time that our cleansing routines were revamped.

New products on the market – such as exfoliating powders – and a growing awareness of the benefits of double-cleansing, an essential part of a woman’s beauty regime in Japan but a new concept to the UK, call into mind an Asian approach to achieving tip-top skin. While we’re not advocating a 10-step approach, like many Korean women undertake, more accessible cleansing rituals, using hardworking, intelligent products, seem to be having a resonance.

 

IMG_4694

Cleansing powders are currently having their moment in the spotlight. “We’re seeing a big increase in demand for these,” says beauty expert Millie Kendall MBE, founder of concept store Beauty Mart (www.thisisbeautymart.com). “DHC’s Washing Powder is hugely popular and is excellent for a deep cleanse. Our customers like the fact that they are made of a fine powder, which is gentler than traditional exfoliators. They like the old fashioned process of the powder changing its texture on contact with water and how they buff and polish the skin.

“Cleansing powders originate in Japan where women take a real pride in having flawless skin,” she continues. “A translucent, smooth complexion is revered. Japanese women also have a hands-on approach to skincare – they like the process of rubbing in products, massaging the skin, prepping the face, going through repetitive steps to get results – it’s all part of their beauty rituals.”

IMG_4708

Annee de Mamiel, acupuncturist, aromatherapist, and founder of the De Mamiel beauty line, founded on the ancient principles of Chinese medicine, agrees: “Powder cleansers – such as our Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate – are gentle yet very effective. Many, including our version, are made without preservatives and do not contain any ‎harsh chemicals. That’s just part of their appeal. They can also double up as a masque for a deep cleanse.

 

xxxx

Perfect for double cleansing is Suqqu’s Muscular Cream and Mask (and below)

 

IMG_4706

“I’m an advocate of the Japanese approach of double cleansing, too,” she says. “It gives a unique radiance to the complexion. Step one is to take off the day’s make-up and grime, using a powder cleanser. Then, follow up with a balm or oil-based cleanser, massaging the face. This will deliver the nutrients the skin needs and take away the toxins via lymph drainage.”

 

This new thinking when it comes to the art of cleansing isn’t just skin-deep – it has also reached hair-care, too. Forget the traditional two-step shampoo and conditioner approach, there’s a new generation of gentle cleansing creams that also condition the hair. Brands such as Shu Uemura, Palmer’s and Macadamia Hair have all recently launched their own one-step ‘cleansing conditioners’ whose main benefits are not to strip hair of its natural oils.

 

Verity Douglas, content editor at Cult Beauty (www.cultbeauty.co.uk), which sources some of the world’s best beauty buys also identifies Asia, and in particular South Korea, as leading the way when it comes to these new beauty trends:

MIZ001_Mizon_AllInOneSnailRepairCream_780x980 MIZ007_Mizon_HoneyBlackSugarScrub_780x980 MIZ012_Mizon_EggWhiteBubbleCleanser

“South Korean women are renowned the world over for their flawlessly beautiful skin as well as their extensive, eight-to-ten step skin care rituals,” she says. “Pioneering the latest, most effective and often the most extraordinary ingredients in skin care (don’t be surprised to see starfish extract, snail secretion filtrate and egg white alongside other super-scientific sounding compounds), where South Korea leads, the rest of the beauty world swiftly follows. It’s why we’re über-excited to usher cult Korean skincare brand Mizon into our store.”

 

Brightening essences – huge across Asia – are also gaining momentum with a European clientele. Chanel’s Le Blanc range of products, for instance, contains extracts of Akoya pearl from Japan to give skin a luminosity and lustre – an attribute women all over the world lust after.

montecito blushers Nudeglow foundation

Also seeing a resurgence in popularity at Beauty Mart are a new generation of papier poudres by Korean brand Mai Couture. The pretty booklets are based on traditional French blotting papers but instead are impregnated with foundation and blush colours. “They are hygienic, portable and give a flawless finish,” Millie Kendall reveals. “They are the next step in make-up.”

hana-cha-2

The final stage in every woman’s beauty regime is that all-important spritz of perfume. Take further inspiration from the East by investing in a barely-there scent (strong fragrances are not popular in countries like Japan). Bath Colognes from Jo Loves, for instance, aim to linger on the skin long after you’ve dried off negating the need for an actual perfume, while Aroma M’s niche perfume oils are inspired by the world of the geisha and come wrapped in traditional Yuzen paper from Kyoto. Subtle but effective.

 

 

DIY rituals

Reinvent your beauty style with these Asian inspired products

IMG_4708

De Mamiel Botaniques Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate, £41, www.demamiel.com

A powder-to-paste exfoliating cleanser with Vitamin C, ginseng and pearl powders to brighten and smooth the complexion.

IMG_4710 IMG_4700 IMG_4702

One Love Organics Brand New Day, £34, and One Love The Cleansing Sponge, £11 www.oneloveorganics.eu

Sweet pea flour and fresh pineapple enzymes lightly buffs skin to perfection in this granule-style cleanser. Meanwhile, the Cleansing Sponge, made with pure konjac plant fibre, detoxifies pores and smooths skin while buffing away dirt and make-up. Ideal for even the most sensitive skin. This rose clay heart version is especially targeted for rosacea, mature and dry skin.

 

IMG_4694

DHC Washing Powder, £9, www.thisisbeautymart.com

Papaya extracts gently clean skin in this iconic powder product.

IMG_4706

Suqqu Musculate Massage & Mask Cream, £68, www.fenwick.co.uk

Products from this coveted Japanese brand are based around the practice of facial massage. This cream is ideal for effective double cleansing.

montecito blushers

Mai Couture Blush Papiers, £12.50, www.thisisbeautymart.com

Press on to skin for instant make-up. Perfect for travelling.

IMG_4712

Paul & Joe Blotting Papers, £10.50, www.beautybay.com

Achieve oil-free skin with these pretty, feminine papers.

chanel Le Blanc Illuminating Brightening Concentrate

Chanel Le Blanc Illuminating Brightening Concentrate, £98, www.chanel.com

Gives a luminous quality to the skin, correcting dark spots and evening out pigmentation.

IMG_4696

Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Conditioner, £32, www.shuuemuraartofhair.com

Cleans and conditions in one step, leaving hair silky and weightless.

IMG_4715

Macademia Natural Oil Flawless 6 in 1 Cleansing Conditioner, £7, www.macademiahair.co.uk

Contains chamomile and vitamin E and has a no suds formula meaning hair is cleansed but not dried out.

A Shot of Fresh Sweet Peas Bath Cologne 200ml £59.00

Jo Loves Green, Orange & Coriander Bath Cologne, £59, www.joloves.com

Jo Loves’ Bath Cologne are a new way of wearing scent – they have been designed to linger on the skin.

IMG_4717

Body Shop Japanese Cherry Blossom Eau de Toilette, £16, www.thebodyshop.co.uk

Light and airy, this scent has been inspired by a spring day in Kyoto.

hana-cha-2

Aroma M Geisha Roll On Perfume Oils, £36. www.aromamperfumes.com

Available in a range of Japanese inspired fragrances – such as the delightful Flower Tea (Hana-Cha) – and pretty packaging.

 

 

Clever clogs: intelligent footwear

 

Let’s face it, medical-wear (blue surgical smock anyone?) is not known for being at the top of its game fashion-wise. But new ‘intelligen’t sock wear brand ITEM m6 may just be about to change all that.

IMG_4749

Anyone unfortunate enough to have experienced having to wear compression socks after an op (or on a flight) may just have a little ray of light on the horizon. It’s a subject close to my heart as I recently had to wear the socks for at least 4-6 weeks after a minor op. Horror of horrors – as they were horrendous and didn’t do anything for my so-called wellbeing recovery! And I also frequently travel.

The socks and tights, from German intelligent legwear and shape wear brand ITEM m6, on the other hand, are brilliant alternatives to the usual compression socks. Such a genius idea.

IMG_4751

The brand, part of the high-tech manufacturer Medi, which is the world leader in compression technology, uses a state-of-the-art manufacturing process and high quality materials to create their leg and shapewear. Each style is made from skin-friendly, high-performance fibres that prevent slipping and cutting and is enriched with silver ions for an antibacterial effect. The result is a range of products that keep your legs feeling light and relaxed to give you more energy, enhance your performance and also manage moisture and heat.

IMG_4753

On first wearing them, the socks feel tight and fairly constricting, but then this eases off. They give a comfortable pressure just above the ankle, which decreases up the leg – but is just enough to shape it – and which promotes blood circulation and improves the overall oxygen supply from toe to head. Perfect for travellers.

Best of all is their nod to fashion with seasonal collections, colours and styles – a new range for AW14 has just been released. Next up from the brand is the new ITEM m6 shape wear – also just launched. The special shape and push-up zones on the base garments act like a second skin and give shape and definition. Definitely on my wish-list for the party season coming up. Clever clothing.

 

IMG_4756

www.theintelligentlegwear.com

 

Stretch out your summer: where to head to for September sun

Autumn may be creeping upon us here in the UK, but don’t give up on your summer just yet. Hop on a short flight to one of these balmy destinations and you can still have your day in the sun.

 

 

KOTOR BAY, MONTENEGRO, 28°C

Kotor Town

Kotor Town

Forget Portofino, Cannes and Capri, when it comes to chic European resorts Montenegro’s Kotor Bay is where to head to. While there is a hip scene shaping up around the mega-watt Porto Montenegro development – a swanky marina attracting super-yachts with its designer shops, glitzy restaurants and luxury residences – there’s more to the bay than just suntans and sequins. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kotor Bay is unfeasibly pretty with a stunning fjord of clear water surrounded by lush, forested mountains. Its old town is also a delight with its 12th century city walls, medieval piazzas and palazzos. The place to stay, if budget allows, is at one of the starry boutique hotels at Porto Montenegro. Check out the Operosa on 13 September, an operatic version of Romeo & Juliet, with sets by British designers Jamie Vartan and Simon Corder (www.portomontenegro.com). And make sure you have a wander around the ancient city of Kotor, with its 4km of city walls – particularly stunning lit up at night. From the bay you can take a sailing boat across to the iconic Our Lady of the Rocks, a small man-made islet with a preserved 17th-century church and charming museum. You’ll be moved.

 

STAY

RS918_Aman Sveti Stefan - DeluxeCottage_Bathrm2 RS1950_Aman Sveti Stefan - Poolside Dining RS2241_Aman Sveti Stefan - Indoor Swimming Pool_Lounge Area

Save your pennies for the exquisite Aman Sveti Stefan, which looks out across the Adriatic to the magical Sveti Stefan island, and which also boasts a new super-sized spa (from £754 per suite per night, www.amanresorts.com).

 

GET THERE

Montenegro Airlines flies to Tivat, from £234 return (www.montenegroairlines.com).

 

 

 

MYKONOS, GREEK ISLANDS, 25°C

IMG_4365 IMG_4364 IMG_4366 IMG_4370

 

September is the perfect month to hop across to the Greek Islands. The searing heat of high summer is on the wane, the sea is warm and inviting and the tourists have thinned out. Mykonos is one of the Cyclades’ most glamourous isles but it’s also one of the most laid-back places to zone out for a while. Sundrenched beaches, such as the notorious Paradise Beach with its resident DJs, boutique hotels and a charming old town pull in a jet-set crowd. The white-on-white town centre has a famously warren-like maze of streets. Deceptive at first, many of these narrow lanes have hidden gems, such as the dazzlingly cool Interni Restaurant (www.interni-restaurant.gr), tucked away in a hidden courtyard and which blends a Hoxton vibe with a laid-back Aegean attitude (the food is pretty stellar, too). A must is a cocktail or two at the waterfront lounge-bar that is Caprice, in Mykonos’ Little Venice area – worth it simply to have a drink in view of the town’s old windmills with the ocean at your feet (www.caprice.gr). For something a little more authentic, check out the Grape Harvest Festival held at the Agricultural Museum in Mykonos Town on 14 September. Traditional folk music and dancing is the backdrop to a communal wine treading in celebration of the harvest (www.simplymykonos.org). It’s a barefoot kind of place.

 

 

STAY

Bayview Beach Restaurnt Evening ???????????? ???????????????????????????? Deluxe Room

Take a room at the revamped Santa Marina Resort before it closes for the season in October. Expect contemporary décor with an Indonesian design ethos, a private beach and an exceptional Japanese restaurant (from £309 per room per night, www.santa-marina.gr)

 

GET THERE

Easyjet flies to Mykonos, from £300 return (www.easyjet.com).

 

 

 

AKAMAS PENINSULA, CYPRUS, 30°C

IMG_2893 IMG_2896 IMG_2909 IMG_2964

One of the Brits’ most popular destinations, Cyprus boasts an impressive average of 30°C for the duration of the month. The southern coast near Paphos is a good base for sun-worshippers with secluded beaches, quiet bays and luxury hotels. But for those who get itchy feet, there’s more to Cyprus than margaritas in the sun. Rent a car and head north-west to the Akamas Peninsula – here the landscape changes to an untamed, almost Middle Eastern panorama (from Cape Arnaoutis, the tip of the peninsula, the Turkish coast is just 60 miles away across the Mediterranean) and offers a quiet respite from the hectic south coast. Perfect for wildlife lovers, mountain bikers and walkers, the area is renowned for its dense flora, huge variety of birdlife and wild terrain. A must is a trip to Lara Bay, a beautiful beach off the beaten track and the nesting site of loggerhead turtles. Stop off for lunch at Viklari The Last Castle Taverna, near the village of Agios Georgios. Despite its fancy name, this remote open-air restaurant has some of the best views on the island. Be warned – it offers no menu as only one dish is cooked here – souvlaki (priced at £10). Simple but satisfying.

 

STAY

_1030219 pool1-2 _1030229
The rustic Paradisos Hills Hotel in the traditional mountain village of Lysos is on the edge of the Akamas forest, the ideal gateway for exploring Cyprus’ untapped northern region (from £80 per room per night, www.paradisoshills.com)

 

GET THERE

Cyprus Airways flies to Paphos, from £221 return (www.cyprusair.com).

 

 

 

PUGLIA, ITALIA, 27°C

Often overlooked for its more manicured neighbour of Tuscany, Puglia, the eastern region that stretches down to the heel of Italy’s boot, is the country’s most underplayed gem. Dotted with olive groves and ancient fortified towns, you can find many gems – such as the turquoise waters and quiet beach at Casalabate, the baroque beauty of the Chiesa di Santa Croce in Lecce and the enchanting seaside town of Polignano a Mare, which inspired everybody’s favourite sing-along tune Volare. Unlike Tuscany, this sunny corner doesn’t attract many Middle Englanders (a bonus) but rather this is where the Italians themselves come to holiday attracted by the temperate climate, fantastic seafood and an untouched landscape. White-washed villages, such as Ostuni, with their weird dome-roofed Trulli houses are a must-see, as are the Castellana Grotte – a series of spectacular caves with vast stretches of stalactites. Check out the website for one-off subterranean events in September (www.grottedicastelana.it).

 

 

STAY

NIK_8187NIK_720600353657_OMIC_9935

Set in 40 acres, Borgo Egnacia carved out of cream tufa stone is a family-friendly, yet effortlessly glamourous village-style resort. Choose to stay in quaint townhouses, slick villas or the lantern-lit hotel and make sure you visit the spectacular spa (from £247 per room per night, www.borgoegnazia.com)

 

GET THERE

Alitalia flies to Bari, from £137 return (www.alitalia.com).

 

 

 

GUIA DE ISORA, TENERIFE, CANARY ISLANDS, 25°C

Tenerife has been working hard to shake off its bucket holiday reputation of late. Reinventing itself for a more discerning traveller, it has upped its game with new boutique hotel openings and a push on its offerings away from the sunlounger. As well as a great place for hiking – it has 600 miles of trails – it is also one of the best locations in the world for stargazing, particularly in the Teide National Park, due to its clear, dark skies and proximity to the Equator. This month you’ll be in time to attend the Starmus Festival, 22-28 September, will sees Stephen Hawking and astronauts Walt Cunningham and Charlie Duke from the Apollo 7 and 16 missions celebrate the world of astronomy (www.starmus.com). The quiet Guia de Isora area, on the west coast of the island, has a sleepy, old-time feel. Untouched bays, palm-lined promenades and fishing villages give it an atmospheric, traditional feel. Mix with the locals and find some bargains at the Sunday market in Guia de Isora square.

 

STAY

1 Abama Spa & Golf Resort Imperial terrace-Pool and Sunbeds Spa Garden cabana

The Ritz-Carlton Abama is not only hosting the Starmus Festival but is also home to two of the island’s best restaurants. Martin Berasategui’s M.B. restaurant has two Michelin stars and the Japanese fusion Kabuki restaurant, sister to the original in Madrid, has one Michelin star (from £175 per room per night, www.ritzcarlton.com/abama).

 

GET THERE

British Airways flies to Tenerife, from £129 return (www.ba.com).

 

 

 

ALACATI, CESME PENINSULA, TURKEY, 26°C

Alacati 3 - credit Hakan Cetinkaya Alacati 6 - credit Hakan Cetinkaya Alacati 10 - credit Hakan Cetinkaya Alacati 15 - credit Hakan Cetinkaya

Sure to take the spotlight from Bodrum as Turkey’s most chi chi resort is Alacati, on Turkey’s Cesme peninsula. While a new batch of cool hotels, art galleries and boutiques are giving the coastal town a hip factor, it still retains – for the time being at least – a quaint, village-like feel. Whitewashed houses with blue shutters give a glimpse into the town’s Greek heritage, while the powder-white beaches and year-round breezes have long made this a popular spot for windsurfers. The food scene is especially vibrant and creative here, meaning lots of great restaurants to choose from – such as Asma Yapragi, which serves local dishes in an authentic traditional dining room (www.asmayapragi.com.tr), and Alancha, found inside a converted windmill and specializing in molecular gastronomy (www.alancha.com). For something truly memorable visit Noni’s House (www.cesmenonishouse.com), a hand’s on home-style experience where you can wander in the vineyards, collect organic produce, such as artichokes, from the fields, enjoy wine tasting and cooking. Sure to cement Alacati’s place on the culinary map is the town’s first foodie festival – Vanishing Tastes – due to take place 10-12 October (www.explorealacati.com). Worth stretching out your holiday out for.

 

 

STAY

tas han 2 Tas han

Rest your head at the wonderfully atmospheric boutique bolthole that is Tashan Hotel. The converted historic house has bare-brick walls, quirky original features and a gorgeous courtyard dining room, serving breakfast and dinner (from £67 B&B, per room for two per night, www.tashan-alacati.com).

 

GET THERE

Pegasus Airlines flies to Izmir, from £166 return (www.flypgs.com).

 

 

CALVIA, MALLORCA, BALAERIC ISLANDS, SPAIN, 25°C

With its proximity to the UK (flights are around two and a half hours) and its balmy temperatures, Mallorca is an obvious choice for a last-minute fix of sun. For a quiet escape base yourself in the smart province of Calvia, in the west of the island at the foot of the Tramuntana Mountains. The lush Mediterranean landscape dotted with ochre-coloured houses and historic churches is a world away from the busier coastal resorts. You can’t come to the island without having a dip in the sea so take a side trip to Pollensa, on the north coast, a characterful town buzzing with local artisans, stylish eateries and historic sites. If you’re here in the last week of September take in the madness that is Fiesta des Vermar (27-28th) in the wine-growing village of Binissalem (www.seemallorca.com). Events include a grape treading contest, a parade of giants, a super-sized paella, which is cooked al fresco and eaten communally in the town square, and an infamous grape fight (it’s compulsory to wear white).

 

 

 

STAY

A_4531057A_4531104 A_4531113

The recently-opened Castell Son Claret, in Calvia, is a converted 15th century castle set in lush, scented gardens. For something extra special stay in the Rapunzel Tower (originally a water tower) – just the place to let your hair down (from £251 per night B&B, www.castellsonclaret.com)

 

 

GET THERE

British Airways’ CityFlyer flies to Mallorca, from £49 return (www.ba.com/londoncity)

 

 

 

Dormy House Hotel: upping the ante in the country

Dormy House frontage

Idyllic scene

When it comes to finding an idyllic country-house hotel, there’s nowhere like the verdant hills of England to solve your problem. Up and down the length of the country – we’re awash with them. What were once manor houses for the idle rich are now cosy corners for weekending out-of-towners – Coworth Park, Luton Hoo, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, Stapleford Park… the list goes on. Each boast manicured grounds, lofty rooms filled with antiques and spruced-up restaurants, giving us all the opportunity to pretend we’re landed gentry for a night or two.

xxx

Lobby lounge

IMG_4493

Cotswolds creamy stone

On first approaching the latest property to hit the UK scene – Dormy House – I wasn’t surprised to find the essential country-house ingredients in place. Located in the dreamy village of Broadway in the Cotswolds, there was the satisfying crunch of gravel, a buttery, creamy stone façade and clipped box trees. But this is where the similarity to the majority of other country hotels stops. And I was delighted – a fresh approach to the concept has been long overdue.

Dormy Hotel/Worcestershire

Scandi influences (and below)

  Dormy Hotel/Worcestershire Dormy Hotel/Worcestershire

Smaller, and therefore more intimate than many of its competitors, the once 17th century Cotswold farmhouse – a traditional hotel for many years – underwent a multi-million pound renovation, opening late last year, which saw its rooms and spaces updated for a new era of country house guest. Nothing new there. But what stands Dormy House apart, are its funked-up and utterly gorgeous interiors by Todhunter Earle, the London-based interior design duo renowned for their cool, quirky, Scandi touch. The hotel having been owned by the Danish Philip-Søresen family since 1977, the collaboration is a match made in heaven, with their modern sensibility weirdly translating well against the 17th century backdrop.

IMG_4472

The lust-after-me details (and below)

  IMG_4473 IMG_4482 IMG_4486

While many original features have been kept – oak paneled beams, flagstone flooring and roaring fires – rooms and public spaces have been bought bang up to date with a laid-back glamourous approach and feature eclectic pieces made exclusively for the hotel by Emily Todhunter. A navy and cream pin-striped 1950s oyster chair, textural ceramic lamps and antique, wall chandeliers were already on my wish-list – and I hadn’t even made it to my room yet.

IMG_4500 IMG_4506 IMG_4508 IMG_4510

Talking of which, each of the 40 guest rooms and suites are all individually designed. My ‘cottage-style’ Splendid Room (there are four room categories to choose from) in the Danish Court area – a stand-alone wing of the hotel – was Scandi-design meets the Hamptons – in other words ‘I want to take all of this home with me now’. This is not the usual off-the-peg, chintzy country house interiors. My room, for instance, had a pale, jade Chinese sideboard, chic velvet armchairs and geometric rug contrasted against a retro-print wallpaper and a bold, upholstered bed all in shades of blue. Doors led out to a courtyard garden (nice bonus) and the all-white bathroom was small but was top-notch in its fixtures and finishing.

IMG_4550 IMG_4552

All the other rooms in the hotel follow suit – with varying gentle, colour schemes, unique pieces of furniture and welcoming touches – such as kilner jars filled with cookies, fresh meadow flowers and in-room iPads.

Dormy Hotel/Worcestershire

Dining options – The Potting Shed

Dormy Hotel/Worcestershire

Private dining room

Greenhouse3-Dormy_House_Spa-08.01.1424239

Spa lounge

 

As you’d expect, dining here is also an experience to savour and will no doubt be one of the pulls for guests decamping in the Cotswolds for a day or two. There’s the relaxed and rustic Potting Shed – for easy-breezy family lunches or unstuffy dinners. Hearty pies, traditional puddings and classic British comfort food is served in a cosy dining room – it’s a take on an upmarket gastro pub. Head chef Jon Ingram also oversees the much smarter The Garden Room – an elegant space overlooking the hotel’s gardens, with an emphasis on locally sourced produce. Dishes such as ‘Cauliflower’ (which turns out to be a surprisingly delicious cauliflower risotto) may be cryptic in their description but go with it – the simple menu style, which seems to inexplicably in-vogue at the moment, works as a ruse to hide the many complex and accomplished dishes on offer.

Pool-Dormy_House_Spa-08.01.1410777

Spa scenes (and below)

Treatment Room Pedicure station in Nail Parlour

Last, but definitely not least, is the final jewel in the crown at Dormy House – the new House Spa, which opened in February this year. Cementing its position as leader of the country house hotel pack, this is seriously impressive. It is based around a central glazed spa lounge – which serves fresh cake and hot drinks (my kind of spa) and has a wonderful, wood-burning stove and an adjoining roof terrace garden (straight out of Miami). The spa echoes the rest of the hotel in its eclectic styling – there are sweet hand-mirrors on the walls of the changing room, butterfly art and knowing, witty signage (“Please slip on these very attractive overshoes”), not to mention oversized terracotta pots filled with lavender by the outside hydrotherapy pool, large day beds throughout and contemporary nods, such as the wooden, chartreuse lighting. Highlights include a Veuve Clicquot Champagne Nail Bar, a 16m infinity pool (lit by candlelit after sundown) and the thermal area with its Lavender Infusion Sauna, Hot Juniper Finnish Cabin, Salt Steam Room and Ice Experience. Treatments are by the natural, botanical brand Temple Spa with an emphasis on massage. Therapists here are trained with London-based massage expert Beata Aleksandrowicz, who pioneered the Pure Massage method, which incorporates stretching of limbs – leaving you thoroughly relaxed.

IMG_4516

My favourite spa details (and below)

IMG_4518 IMG_4520 IMG_4524 IMG_4526 IMG_4528 IMG_4533 IMG_4534

For an indulgent treat, however, try the Champagne and Truffles radiance facial, which uses the Temple Spa’s award-winning Skin Truffle product (which contains an oligarch’s essentials of champagne, silk, diamonds, gold and black truffles). A warm, melting mask, a special face massage and a finishing iced blend works as an instant rescue remedy – leaving skin plumped-up and glowing. Much like the rest of you after a night here. Highly recommended.

Rates at Dormy House start from £230 per room, per night, based on two sharing and including breakfast. For more information visit: www.dormyhouse.co.uk; 01386 852711

 

Legendary Mykonos comes to life at the Santa Marina Resort

IMG_4351

View from the lounger

IMG_4357

Lobby

IMG_4347

Rooftop view

When Christiana Papageorgiou inherited her father’s hotel, The Santa Marina Resort in Mykonos, she knew she wanted to make some changes. So – after a three year revamp – out went the chintz and in came a cooler design sensibility.

IMG_4343

Indonesian design references

  IMG_4376

The new laid-back look is down to the expertise of Silvina Macipe Krontira, a renowned Athens-based interior designer, and (quite handily) a long-time Santa Marina regular. With a reported £10m investment, her touch has given the light-filled hotel an organic and earthy feel with a nod to Indonesia in much of its design ethos.

 

A breezy entrance beckons you in to the all-white hotel and you make your way up to the lounge-like reception area through a cavernous, cream stone staircase (at night this is lit by huge silver lanterns and is wonderfully evocative).

Deluxe Seaview Suite Room

Gorgeous east meets Greece theme – room and details  (and below)

 

 

  IMG_4330 IMG_4331 IMG_4333 IMG_4332

In the rooms – there are 100 to choose from – a neutral colour palette offset by jet-black accents is the perfect backdrop for the twinkling aquamarine ocean beyond. Bathrooms are a highlight with rough-hewn sinks carved out of tree trunks, shower walls of glossy ‘touch-me’ pebbles, and sleek limestone floors. Bedrooms feature sexy, black bamboo four-poster beds, artwork made of stark white coral and nice quirky touches, such as travellers’ trunks used as bedside tables. A real bonus – and perfect for sunseekers – is that all the rooms have large balconies to soak up the views and the sun. The Cyclades-meets-the-tropics vibe is further carried through in the 11 tucked-away villas, which all come complete with butler service and some with their own swimming pools and gardens.

????????????

Beach scene

IMG_4326 IMG_4324 IMG_4323 IMG_4325 IMG_4328

The hotel’s heartbeat, though, is the newly formed private beach area. Here, you can kick back, Apple Martini in hand, on oversized wicker-roofed daybeds, to a chilled-out soundtrack that wafts over from the bar on the breeze. When lunch-time waddles around, you can pad up to the new Bayview Beach Restaurant for salads and smoothies and, if that is too much effort, just simply raise a lethargic arm for service-with-a-smile at your lounger.

IMG_4336

Bayview Restaurant 

IMG_4338

Sushi platter

Bayview Beach Restaurnt Evening

Bayview Restaurant

????????????????????????????

Boardwalk Bayview

 

It has to be said that Bayview really comes into it’s own come sundown. The Mediterranean-fusion cuisine is inspired by locally-sourced seafood with Japanese influences – odd, but it works – think oysters and sashimi, traditional Aegean fish soups and spicy king crab tempura all served from a honeyed wood terrace with the ocean swooshing underneath. With the sea as a backdrop and the sound of the waves in your ears, most things taste eminently better than they would inside – but here, it’s exceptional. The restaurant’s buzz, already pulling in a stylish, just-stepped-off-a-yacht kind of crowd, means you could be in the hottest restaurant in the hippest city. But instead of a glittering skyline laid out before you, you see instead the beckoning Med and the faint outline of the island of Delos beyond. While the eyes feast on that, your taste-buds will be doing cartwheels for some of the many standout dishes served here. The Greek red saffron risotto in langoustine cappuccino, for instance, is meltingly delicious (it’s one of those dishes that gives you a vivid taste memory for a long-time after. Yes, I’m still salivating) and the black cod with white miso paste surely has Mr Nobu running for the hills.

Deluxe Seaview Suite

Deluxe Seaview Suite

Deluxe Seaview Room (2)

Deluxe Seaview Room

It’s hard to be pulled away from the lure of Santa Marina – there’s the food, of course, the chic and deeply relaxing surroundings and the cool (but thankfully not pretentious) shoreline scene that sucks you in like the mythical Greek sirens did to Odysseus, making you feel 21 again. It’s joyous. If you can bear to break free, and, frankly, why would you want to? But, if you must, then Mykonos town itself is pleasantly authentic and just a short drive away.

IMG_4364

Mykonos Town (and below)

IMG_4365 IMG_4370 IMG_4366 IMG_4367

 

Winding, narrow streets are lined with independent boutiques, tavernas and gift shops. White on white buildings jostle with each other for space and best of all is that there are hardly any tacky touristy spots that you usually find in most other holiday towns.

IMG_4354

Bar Menu at Interni Restaurant (below)

IMG_4353

One lovely gem to be shared is the Interni Restaurant (www.interni-restaurant.gr) found in a hidden courtyard. This dazzlingly pretty restaurant-come-bar not only looks the part (in a kind of Ibiza meets Hoxton way – nearly every man who worked here had a beard) but also delivers on its faultless menu – the signature beef tartare is meltingly good while the lobster burger with wasabi fresh cream and beetroot chips is inspired.

IMG_4340

The Lotus Spa (and below)

IMG_4339

Back at the resort, meanwhile, other tempting diversions include two swimming pools, a gym and the rather good in-house boutique – with its Chloe, Melissa Odabash and Antik Batik beachwear and accessories. Then (and you won’t be able to refuse) there’s the call of the Lotus Spa, with its exquisite treats on offer – such as the Lava Shells Tropical Massage (a Pacific Ocean-inspired treatment with exotic oils and massage with smooth shells) and the enchantingly-named Golden Veil Lifting – a toning facial which uses gold, myrrh and essence of flowers. It’s the stuff of legends.

IMG_4335 IMG_4361

www.santa-marinaresort.gr

Classic Collection Holidays (0800 294 9318; classic-collection.co.uk) offers seven nights from £1,699 per person. Price based on two adults sharing a superior twin/double on a bed & breakfast basis and includes return flights from London Gatwick to Mykonos and private transfers.

 

 

 

Oooh La La!

Perfect timing! Just as my summer tan is fading, the just-launched Madame La La Tan arrives on my desk.

IMG_4690

I’m not normally one for self-tans – they come out too obvious on my skin tone and I have never avoided having any streaks but winter is looming on the horizon and with it the threat of milk-bottle white limbs…

Something about this new Madame LA LA brand appeals. Inspired by a laid-back Malibu beach scene crossed with a sense of London’s street style – there’s something cool about it. What’s more, its USP is based around its skin perfecting ability, meaning that the developing colour adapts to your own skin tone – much like a BB or CC cream does (more on that in a mo).

I opt for the Light formula (there’s also a ‘tan’ option) and find that the mousse goes on like a dream – sinking into the skin easily. It develops fairly quickly so you have to work fast and within three hours it has given my limbs an even, sun-kissed colour. It’s unbelievably natural-looking and thankfully streak-free. It also smells gorgeous, thanks to its coco water, calling to mind tropical beaches and palm trees waving in the breeze.

Setting it aside from other self-tan brands is the fact that it has taken its science know-how from the intelligent thinking behind BB and CC creams – but for the body. Calling itself a DD (dynamic do-all), it is pitching itself as a successor to the BB and CC creams due to the fact that its formula colour-corrects as well as hydrates the skin and its anti-ageing properties blur imperfections and cellulite, giving a flawless glow.

Its key ingredient of coco water extract drenches skin with moisture and also firms and improves the appearance of skin tone – my legs and arms look dewy and radiant for a good few days after application. Other natural ingredients include Vitamins A and E, which provide a ‘blurring’ effect by plumping up and perfecting lines and wrinkles. Aloe Vera and Green Tea leaf extract work together to hydrate and minimise redness.

Madame LA LA is the first beauty brand to launch a DD self tan and also among the first to recognise the benefits of Coco Water within skincare. The combination of ingredients enables the quick-dry tan to instantly colour correct like a CC for the body, reducing the appearance of cellulite, lumps, bumps and uneven skin tones. It’s a modern-day self tanner that makes my skin look healthy and bronzed. I’m sold.

IMG_4692

£36, www.madamelala.com

New season, new travel: the hottest new travel trends

Just in time for travel for the new season ahead – here’s how we’ll all be travelling…

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

One Fine Stay: apartment on 1st Street, New York

One Fine Stay: apartment on 1st Street, New York

There’s no doubt that Airbnb – the vast home rental site – can be credited for turning the concept of housesitting on its head. What was once considered a tad suspect is now not only an entirely acceptable way to see a place but also one of the hippest. But taking the home-from-home idea one step further is a new kid on the block.

Apartment on Boulevard Saint-Germain

One Fine Stay: apartment on 1st Street, New York

 

Onefinestay has taken the ‘unhotel’ mantle and ramped up the luxe factor with a sharply edited collection of properties in London, Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Set to expand to other cities any day now, you can expect to find characterful, high-end homes – think art-filled lofts in Tribeca and all-white, elegant apartments in Montparnasse. Most of which wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of Architectural Digest. Factor in the maid service, fine linens, luxury toiletries and a pre-loaded iPhone with insider tips and we think you’ll live like a local so well that you’ll not want to return home (Onefinestay.com, rentals from £150 per night.)

 

 

CABIN FEVER

Tiny Wooden House

Tiny Wooden House

Those who love the thought of the great outdoors, but know only too well the pitfalls of sleeping under canvas, should book one of the new rural lodges pitching up across Europe. Cabins, such as Tiny Wooden House based on a working farm in Warwickshire (from £125 per night, pitchup.com), offer the benefits of a pretty rural location, modern luxuries, such as a hot tub, and quaint interiors (not to mention four solid walls and a roof).

THE ARC

The Arc (and below)

The Arc Lounge

Glamping pioneers Canopy & Stars also offer a range of wooden lodges across the UK and France, such as the romantic The Arc, on the River Nene in Cambridgeshire (from £90 per night, canopyandstars.co.uk) and the family-friendly The Woodland Retreat in Devon (from £80 per night). Rebecca Whewell, the company’s experience manager, agrees it’s a trend on the rise: “Lodges and cabins have the outdoorsy appeal of camping and many come with woodburners, so they can be booked all year round. Perfect for getting back to basics.”

Moda cabins in Italy

Moda cabins in Italy

Meanwhile, don’t be put off by Canvas Holidays’ name – it, too, is expanding its offering with new, timber Moda homes in Italy. Found on the banks of Lake Garda as well as in Verona and Venice (from £299 for seven nights, canvasholidays.co.uk). It’s camping in style.

 

 

ALL-EXCLUSIVES

Letoonia

Letoonia

The all-inclusive resort is having a moment with an increasing number of credible brands offering luxury surroundings, exceptional culinary offerings and personalised service. Turkey is at the forefront. Take Letoonia Resorts, for instance. It has just invested €15m to renovate both its all-inclusive properties in Belek and Fethiye and is upping the ante with design-savvy interiors, secluded, stylish bungalows and stunning vistas (from £980 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing, letooniaresorts.com).

xxx

Club Med Palmiye

Club Med Palmiye (clubmed.co.uk), meanwhile, is the perfect choice for activity fiends with a huge choice of sports – such as wakeboarding and even flying trapeze – included in the overall price.

Fusion Maia

Fusion Maia

Meanwhile, Fusion Maia Da Nang in Vietnam has taken the concept one step further. Their innovative ‘all-spa inclusive’ philosophy includes at least two spa treatments a day in the rate (from £257 per night, based on two sharing, maiadanang.fusion-resorts.com). What’s more, there’s not a plastic wristband in sight.

 

EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING

Four Seasons Ubud

Four Seasons Bali

Looking for more than a room with a view? Then try one of the new travel experiences that take you behind the scenes and to the heart of a destination. Four Seasons Extraordinary Experiences programme offers immersive, hands-on itineraries unique to the hotel’s location. From spending the day in the life of a farmer in Bali to experiencing a private opera party in Budapest, the idea is to give guests a different – and often top-end – perspective on their chosen destination (fourseasons.com).

Sao Paolo

Leading Culture Destinations in Sao Paolo

Leading Culture Destinations believes that unique cultural experience is the new luxury. Their new super-luxe packages may not be to everyone’s budget (they start at £10,000 for a group of 12) but they have been put together by noted tastemakers and include private access to the Inhotim Centre for Contemporary Art in Brazil and a week-long road trip from LA to Marfa with a leading photographer (leadingculturedestinations.com).

Vintage Ooh La La

Ooh La La Vintage

Paris-based Ooh La La Vintage, meanwhile, can take you back in time with retro weekends in the city of lights. Vintage lovers can tailor-make their own itinerary, with vintage clothing masterclasses, shopping trips, Citroen 2CV car tours and cabaret nights to choose from (from €50 per person for three hours, oohlalavintage.com).

 

HEALING HOLIDAYS

Savoy Maldives

Savoy Resort in the Maldives

The latest spa resorts are taking an all-immersive approach to the traditional, gentle wellness holiday to give guests second-to-none results. The new Savoy Resort & Spa in the Seychelles offers targeted slimming treatments and 13 different massages for a new streamlined body (from £485 per night, savoy.sc), while Mauritius-based Shanti Maurice’s Renewed You programme blends physical workouts with spiritual focus over seven nights (from £1,270, shantimaurice.com).

Shanti Maurice

Shanti Maurice

You can flex with the best at the Mandarin Oriental in Paris, which has just launched a new Oriental Wellness Programme that includes lessons in Hatha, Ashtanga Vinyasa and Lyengar yoga (€430 per person, package only, mandarinoriental.com).

xxx

Mandarin Oriental Paris

And sign up for expert healer Vivien Kay’s full-on five-night inch-loss detox at Simply Healing in Sussex (every beauty editors’ go-to retreat) and you’ll discover a new you (from £1,710 for five nights, simplyhealingcentre.com).

Simply

Simply Healing

 

APART-HOTELS

PGA Catalunya

PGA Catalunya

Perfect for those wishing for greater flexibility and a touch more privacy than many hotels can offer are the new crop of stylish villas and apartments hidden away within the grounds of swish resorts. Offering the best of both worlds – your own space and the use of top-end amenities – we’re lusting after the contemporary apartments and villas at PGA Catalunya Resort in Spain (from £799 for seven nights, pgacatalunya.com).

Montengro

Regent Porto Montenegro

Meanwhile, at the Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel, which overlooks a super-yacht marina, a range of private residences offers guests their own concierge, pools, catering and access to sports facilities (from €150 per night, portomontenegro.com).

The Forte

The Forte

While ideal for families, the idea is also fitting for couples who want to get away from it all but be looked after at the same time. Check out the windswept romance that is The Forte villa found at The Oitavos hotel in Portugal. With its breathtaking setting of natural pines and sand dunes, overlooking the Atlantic coast, the intimate retreat (it has just one bedroom) offers its own pool, sun-deck, state-of-the-art interiors and personal butler. That’s our kind of self-catering (from €1,500 per night, theoitavos.com/forte).

 

 

Going places: last minute ideas for a summer break

Maybe you are super-organised and maybe you are already thinking ahead to where you’ll be heading in your half-term break (or even, gasp, summer 2015). Or maybe you have left it all to the last minute, and are looking to get away this summer. However you book your holidays, put these family-friendly hotels in your Little Black Book for fail-safe options for all ages.

 

 

Canary Islands

SANTI_POOL_03 SANTI_POOL_10 SANTI_POOL_07 SANTI_VIEWS_37

The Spanish hotel group Barceló Hotels & Resorts are well regarded for their family-friendly properties, based all over the world. Their properties in the Canary Islands are currently offering 15% off bookings until October – perfect for half term or last-minute deals. Highlights include the recently refurbished Barceló Santiago found on the southwest of Tenerife. It has its own beach, sea views, three swimming pools and spa. Its kids club caters for 4-12 year olds and offers a range of activities and sports for all to partake in. www.barcelo.com

 

Switzerland

newExternal_view_2010 Outdoor pool (1)

Offering an authentic Swiss experience with a child-friendly focus is the luxurious Beau-Rivage Palace. Hidden away in 10 acres of private gardens with spectacular views of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps, it features three restaurants, two bars and terraces, two tennis courts, two swimming pools and special programmes for children (as well as a playground). The impressive hotel comes into its own in the summer months with its bicycles for hire and its own seven-seater electric boat that guests can hire to navigate Lake Leman. Furthermore, it offers a host of inspiring activities for children including the new pastry lessons and cooking classes with the hotel’s chef, flower arranging for both adults and young ones, treasure hunts and tennis camps. www.brp.ch

 

Vietnam

NAM-Kids-Activity Villa-Indoor_v-1 NAM-Overview-Main Pool01_v-1 NAM-Rooms-3Bedroom Pool Villa-Dusk01_v-1
It may not be an obvious choice for families, but for the adventurous few Vietnam has become a real option of late. Direct flights from the UK mean getting there is easier and new family-friendly hotel openings mean that a stress-free time can be had by all when you arrive. Take The Nam Hai in Hoi An, for instance. It has launched a ‘Kids Activity Villa’ and special summer activity schedule for ages up to 12 years. Lantern making, coconut leaf art, excursions and gardening lessons are just a few of the activities on offer. The villa-based property is situated on its own beach and is just a 15-minute drive outside the UNESCO town of Hoi An. It has its own cookery school, tennis courts and a nearby 18-hole golf course designed by Colin Montgomerie. www.thenamhaihoian.com

 

 

Devon

south_sands_040812 012 fp9a6282 fp9a0865
Ideal for those wanting to stay put in the UK this year, is the charming South Sands Hotel found on three-time Blue Flag winner South Sands Beach in South Devon. The perfect family summer holiday base, the hotel is surrounded by rolling hills, sandy beaches and a never-ending coastal playground. Delightful. In addition to the hotel’s 22 bedrooms, it also has five Beach Suites which are self-contained two-bedroom apartments – so ideal for those wanting a little more flexibility. New for this summer is its I-Spy children’s photography course. Teaming up with the innovative photographic venue in nearby Salcombe, the course gives kids up to the age of 12 an introduction to photography, allowing the children themselves to create and produce the images. The hotel also has a rolling roster of activities for all ages, including sand castle competitions, crabbing, sailing, hot air balloon riding and horse riding along the beach. www.southsands.com

Mauritius

img1 img2 img4

Taking the notion of keeping the children happy to a new level is the tropical resort Anahita in Mauritius. It has opened a dedicated Kids Adventure Park offering a host of activities for pre-schoolers through to teenagers. There are mini jet skis, quad bikes and zip wires as well as pedal karting, trampolines and a giant inflatable castle. There is even a mini town with specially designed traffic signals and mini electrical cars. The hotel also has specific age-related kids clubs while parents can kick back in the five-star surrounds in a choice of suites or villas. The resort is found on the secluded east coast and has spectacular views of the mountains and Indian Ocean. www.anahita.mu

 

The green, green grass of home: garden styling

There’s no better time than the height of summer to stylize your garden according to the latest trends. From making your green space a holiday destination in its own right to recreating a festival feel at home, the latest gardens have the fun-factor firmly at their heart.

 

Dining

Furniture at John Lewis

Furniture at John Lewis

When the sun is out and the weather is balmy, there’s nothing like eating al fresco for feeling that bonhomie that only summer can bring. One major trend that has gained momentum over the past few years, and which perhaps has encouraged us to dine outside continental-style, is the popularity of rattan furniture.

14c_02_ol_010_01

Furniture from John Lewis

Once only found in the confines of conservatories, the new weather-proofed rattan furniture has suddenly reinvigorated our garden dining rooms, transporting us from mundane to Miami. While, well-established homeware stores, such as John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com) and Neptune (www.neptune.com) sell an interesting array of styles, from traditional to modern, if you are after a cohesive garden look with matching sofas and loungers, it’s advisable to head to a rattan specialist, such as White Stores (www.whitestores.co.uk), which stocks a huge variety of styles and price points.

 

Pesaro Sofa Set from Neptune

Pesaro Sofa Set from Neptune

 

Maze Rattan at White Stores

Maze Rattan at White Stores

The rattan fashion also lends an organic, ethnic feel to our green spaces. It’s a trend that has been echoed from many of this season’s catwalks and can be boosted with tribal-print pillows, tablecloths and floor cushions. Choose a colour palette of burnt oranges, taupes, blacks and browns, animal prints and geometrics to bring a touch of the exotic into your garden.

 

Cane Line outdoor rugs at Go Modern

Cane Line outdoor rugs at Go Modern

It would not go unnoticed that many of these hotel-like tables and chairs would not look out of place in a chic dining room. It’s a marker of how the lines between garden and home have become blurred. To complete the homely feel outdoors, source garden rugs (available from Go Modern, www.gomodern.co.uk), footstools, large garden mirrors and even ornamental chandeliers to bring the indoor-look outside. Ornamental wooden dining tables, such as the Versailles teak dining set from Alison at Home (www.alisonathome.com) and the modernist, lava grey Core range at Go Modern (www.gomodern.co.uk) are alternatives to the rattan style but are also high in the style stakes and are poles apart from traditional patio furniture.

Versailles teak dining table at Alison at Home

Versailles teak dining table at Alison at Home

 

Cane Line Core furniture at Go Modern

Cane Line Core furniture at Go Modern

 

“Summer entertaining is no longer confined to one area of the home,” points out Nicola Gidlow, buyer for outdoor living at John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com). “It often involves using the kitchen, dining room and garden to host your guests. To add a sense of unity between the areas, harmonise your indoor and outdoor accessories by using complimentary cushions, plant pots and decorative accessories,” she advises.

 

Maze Rattan Texas at White Stores

Maze Rattan Texas at White Stores

Rob Mead, head of marketing at White Stores, agrees: “There has been a growing leaning towards the garden becoming a true extension of the home. Living-room style furniture – such as the large sofas and feature daybeds from 4 Seasons Outdoor – are really popular at the moment. The comfort factor is also high in importance – large cushioned recliners, cosy chairs and dining sets, such as the Valentine & Brighton range, all give a feel of relaxing and set a hotel-like scene. Style harks back to the 60s, with a pop-art feel.”

Acapulco Chair Magenta Acapulco Sofa Acapulco vert turquoise 1000

This 60s influence is indeed another key influence this summer. The brightly-coloured Acapulco Chair (shown above, available from www.boqa.com), for instance, made from woven, vinyl cord is in vogue again. First produced in the 1950s and gracing many homes and gardens come the early 1960s, the design classic comes in a huge choice of shades, from turquoise to popping pink, and their retro-modern aesthetic suddenly looks of the moment again.

 

Rattan at Out There Interiors

Rattan at Out There Interiors (and below)

lifestyle 3 retro rattan4

Jenny Hurren, director of home emporium Out There Interiors (www.outhereinteriors.com) has also noticed the ‘60s influence: “The trend for retro furniture has spread outdoors this year in a variety of ways. We’ve noticed a resurgence in popularity of intricate and open weave rattan in various colours. These lightweight and eye-catching chairs and tables are perfect for creating informal lounging and dining areas on your patio or lawn.”

Joules Garden Furniture at Garden Trading

Joules Garden Furniture at Garden Trading

Meanwhile, for smaller gardens, affordable bistro sets are good options for dining à deux. Choose candy-coloured metal, such as the Joules Garden Furniture Set from Garden Trading (£115, www.gardentrading.co.uk) and the Primrose Garden Furniture from Oliver Bonas (from £59, www.oliverbonas.com) for a young, vibrant look. Alternatively, choose an ornate wrought-iron style, such as the Chatsworth Bistro Set at Dunelm (£79.99, www.dunelm-mill.com), for a more traditional, French-inspired theme.

 

Primrose Garden Furniture at Oliver Bonas

Primrose Garden Furniture at Oliver Bonas

 

Chatsworth Bistro Set at Dunelm

Chatsworth Bistro Set at Dunelm

John Lewis’s Nicola Gidlow continues: “If you have a balcony or small urban garden, bistro sets make an ideal choice. They can fold away when not in use and are available in a wide range of colours and materials.”

 

Tuscany linen at Line Me

Tuscany linen at Line Me

Advising on creating the perfect dining space, Inga Lukauskiene, designer and owner at Linen Me (www.linenme.com), which sells fine linens for the home and garden, says: “Use vibrant, colourful tablecloths and napkins when eating outside and decorate tables with scented candles and seasonal flowers to create the perfect summer garden party. It’s also a great idea to have plenty of throws and cushions on hand to ensure friends and family feel warm and cosy when the temperature drops. Remember not to iron your table linens if you use them outside, the natural linen wrinkles make them unique and even more special.”

 

 

Lounging

Combining the best elements of your garden – a space to be at one with nature and your own private escape from the stresses of everyday life with a practical, social purpose – means that the garden has become our go-to space when we want to relax.

 

Marks and Spencer's

Marks and Spencer’s Navita Zigzag daybed

Enhance the comfort factor by investing in garden corner sofas, deep seated chairs and oversized day beds, such as Marks and Spencer’s Navita Zigzag Day Bed, which also channels the ethnic print theme already mentioned (£1,399, www.marksandspencer.com). Maximise the time spent outdoors with a feature patio heater or authentic clay chimnea. Hang hammocks in pretty prints between trees (a selection is available from www.outhereinteriors.com) and set up reading corners with piles of brightly-coloured pillows and cushions.

 

Chimnea at Dunelm

Chimnea at Dunelm

Chiminea at White Stores

Chimnea at White Stores

Hammock at Out There Interiors

Hammock at Out There Interiors

Janet Dixon, chief designer at fabric and homeware specialists Barker & Barker (www.barkerandbarker.co.uk), comments: “Use colourful, eye-catching fabrics in the garden with strong statement designs to create a bright focal point and bring the comforts of the inside outdoors. More and more of us are wanting to expand our living spaces to the garden, lazing by the pool sipping champagne seems the perfect way to spend an afternoon. How to recreate this can sometimes be a challenge as size and space can be an obstacle. Where possible try to create areas that are going to be used for different activities such as eating, sitting and relaxing.  Large comfy sofas, coffee tables and a fire pit will be the perfect place for friends to sit and chat over a drink, while dining tables can turn a summer BBQ into a more elegant, yet informal space.  Add mood lighting in the form of candles or solar lighting to create a cosy and intimate atmosphere.”

Landscape Landscape

Accessories by Barker and Barker

Accessories by Barker and Barker

You can also make a bold and dramatic statement in the garden by contrasting bright textiles and accessories with black fencing and dark wood decking. More commonly seen in Japanese-inspired gardens, the use of black provides a stunning backdrop for plants and gives a modern edge to a garden.

 

For those wanting to maximize relaxation time, it’s also essential to keep your garden low-maintenance, with easy-to-manage hardy plants and by using quality materials that don’t need a lot of upkeep when it comes to patio and decked areas.

Decking by Trex

Decking by Trex

Trex eco-friendly decking is low-maintenance and high performance making it ideal for creating stylish spaces with the bonus of being hassle-free (www.trex.com/uk). Bryan Fairbanks, executive director of International Business Development at Trex, explains more: If you want to spend more time enjoying your garden, then choose low-maintenance materials that only need soap and water cleaning.  As Trex is a wood-alternative decking, it resists fading, stains, scratches and mould growth. It is made from recycled materials so it doesn’t splinter, meaning you can go barefoot all summer long. It also comes a range of different colours. So if you fancy a Tuscan villa feel, then we can provide it with the Tiki-Torch shade. Trex can handle the outdoors for decades, so you can spend weekend after weekend relaxing in the comfort of your own home.”

 

Colours by Farrow & Ball

Colours by Farrow & Ball

279EXEG

Outdoor spaces can also be livened up with the clever use of colour. Sarah Cole, director of paint experts Farrow & Ball (www.farrow-ball.com) gives her advice: You don’t have to have acres of land or lots of garden furniture to create an inspiring outside area. Even repainting a window box in a bold colour, like Charlotte’s Locks, can upgrade the look and feel of an exterior space. Look at metal railings, wooden summer houses, and masonry walls as potential areas to freshen up with new shades of colour. For a stylish and considered look, try replicating the themes used in your interior rooms outside. Carry on a natural feel by adding shades of Cooking Apple Green or Dorset Cream to wooden benches, or celebrate a love of contemporary design by using cool greys such as Dimpse on exterior walls.”

 

She also advises: Accents of strong colours like St Giles Blue, Brassica and Babouche make outside areas look fun and exciting. Try painting garden furniture Arsenic for a dramatic look, or create art outside by painting garden stools in a strong pink like Nancy’s Blushes.”

 

Playing

Ramp up the fun-factor in your garden and you might begin to see it as an alternative mini holiday destination (if the sun shines that is!). Can’t get away this year? Then create a staycation in your garden and invite your friends around to share in the good times.

Picnic-ware at Sainsbury's

Picnic-ware at Sainsbury’s

 

Give a holiday-at-home feel by sourcing brightly-coloured picnic wares, floral prints and seaside-inspired accessories, such as those found at Sainsbury’s (www.sainsburys.com).

 

Pear Daybed at White Stores

Pear Daybed at White Stores

Lauren Bennett, Sainsbury’s outdoor buyer reveals her inspiration this season: “Striped picnic blankets, white wicker baskets and kitsch floral cushions are all at the heart of this summer’s collections. They can be paired with Memory Lane’s melamine outdoor dining range for the perfect outdoor dining experience with friends and family this summer. Practical and stylish, our new paper tableware ranges offer trend-led products, such as candy-striped straws, honeycomb pom poms and sundae bowls, along with napkins, plates and cutlery, making outdoor entertaining both easy and affordable.”

xx

Garden Glory hoses

GG_Hose_grey with grey nozzle_A GG_Reindeer Gold with Gold Digger Hose & Nozzle_A

Add a touch of humour into your outdoors with witty accessories, such as the Swedish brand Garden Glory’s garden hoses, which come in pink, black, grey, white and gold with reindeer wallmounts (www.gardenglory.se). While, giving fairytale connotations, are the fairy and fleur-de-lys garden spikes and handcrafted twig-like garden benches at Des Res Design (www.desresdesign.co.uk).

 

Items by Des Res Design

Items by Des Res Design

Wall Bracket 02 Garden Furniture

Adding interest and reflecting the changing landscape of a garden are the affordable, mirrored sculptures from In Spaces (from £290, www.in-spaces.com). Meanwhile, you’ll find a veritable feast of enlivening goodies at quirky homeware brand Cuckooland – from its fun weathervanes to rainbow-hued hammocks, hanging globe chairs to Aztec-inspired outdoor rugs.

Garden Flames Sculpture

Garden Flames Sculpture by In Spaces

 

Combining a retro feel with a nod to the good old seaside holiday is the return of the classic deckchair, albeit jazzed up with inspiring prints. Check out John Lewis for retro styles (www.johnlewis.com), Smart Deco for arty, contemporary versions (www.smartdeco-style.com) and Out There Interiors for pastel prints (www.outhereinteriors.com).

REL06_Get the look_Outdoor Living 2014_John Lewis Catalogue_

Deckchairs by John Lewis

deckchair-smartdeco-lifes-a-beach-jacqueline hammond (5)

Deckchair by Smart Deco

 

“Deckchairs are ideal for adding a sense of fun and injecting some colour into your garden,” says Nicola Gidlow, buyer for outdoor living at John Lewis. “This year we are selling frames and slings separately and have a range of eye-catching designs from Missprint.”

Cancun_Turquoise_and_Moss_Green_Lifestyle_4

Hammock by Cuckooland

Globo Chair by Cucooland

Globo Chair by Cucooland

 

Nautica Swing Chair by Go Modern

Nautica Swing Chair by Go Modern

Swings, hanging chairs, giant outdoor games, colourful tents and playhouses also add a sense of joy and playfulness to a garden. For something extra special, Master Wishmakers create luxury bespoke treehouses, gazebos and playhouses (www.masterwishmakers.com). Brand and marketing director Nino Rosella comments: “Families want to introduce the fun-factor into their gardens but this process is rarely a seamless and personal experience – especially if it revolves around off-the-shelf products. Before designing even commences we believe it’s so important to really delve into the detail; who will use the garden and for what purpose? Only with details like this can we bring a client’s imagination to life. It’s this journey that allows us to create a product or environment that someone can cherish for years to come.”

Adventurer's House at Master Wishmakers

Adventurer’s House at Master Wishmakers

 

If your budget doesn’t stretch to bespoke play-rooms, then don’t fret. Creating the ultimate summer garden is easy to do. String up pretty lights in trees, hang bunting, such as the practical Oily Rag bunting made of oil cloth (www.oilyragfabrics.com) which you can leave up all summer, and decorate tables with pretty linens and charming lanterns. It will give a festival feel and a hip glamping vibe.

Oily Rag

Oily Rag

Outdoor Garland Lighting by Out There Interiors

Outdoor Garland Lighting by Out There Interiors

 

Out There Interiors’ Jenny Hurren agrees: “Forget formality this year and create a fun festival feel in your garden with deck chairs, hammocks and swings hanging from trees. Think music, games, bottles of beer and kebabs barbequing on colourful bucket grills. Garland lighting adds to the festival feel and keeps your space inviting all evening long.”

Lantern by Pastel Lane

Lantern by Pastel Lane

 

Meanwhile, Hannah Browne, owner of Pastel Lane, an online emporium inspired by English country living (www.pastellane.co,uk), gives the last word on creating an evocative space: “With their flickering light, pretty lanterns look beautiful dotted around the garden and are an ideal way to enjoy those relaxed summer evenings for longer. Place free-standing lanterns on tables, walls and at the edge of pathways to create an inviting ambiance; lanterns also look great used as table centre-pieces, add flowers for a laid back festival style. Complete the cosy, party look with hanging lanterns; with their lovely warm glow they are perfect for nestling in trees.”

 

 

 

This feature also appears in the august issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine, as part of my monthly series of features on interiors and garden style.

Cheval Three Quays: review

IMG_4436 IMG_4432 IMG_4438

I’ve always dreamt of having my own pied-à-terre – a little city abode I can flit back to after moonlit walks along the River Thames. My wish list goes something like this: the dream pad’s location has to be in the center of London, on the river, of course. It has to have heart-swooning views over impressive sights and cool, modern interiors – the kind that wouldn’t look out of place in a design showroom – with a little flash of originality. Staff would be a bonus, but, hey, I’m not that demanding – I’d be satisfied with a little help now and then. A concierge to book the hottest restaurants and the latest shows would be the icing on the cake.

 IMG_4439 IMG_4442

Most of the time I’ve resigned myself to the fact that these cravings are the stuff of fantasy. And then I visited Cheval Three Quays, a new collection of luxury serviced apartments, next to the Tower of London and found myself – gasp! – within reach of the dream.

 

Available for short or long-term lets (from one night to even one year), the concept of serviced apartments means you can have a taste of urban luxury living without the eye-wateringly obscene property prices that would otherwise rule out everyone except Russian oligarchs. The idea is perfect for those who crave privacy but don’t want the formality of a hotel.

 

This collection of 159 residences includes a choice of one and two bedroom apartments as well as three-bedroom penthouses. Offering flexible living to families, business visitors and tourists, the sleek apartments give the style factor in spades and the bonus of having one of the most fantastic locations in London.

 IMG_4446 IMG_4448

First impressions are impressive. An ultra-modern lobby, complete with a contemporary, twinkling chandelier feature, deep-piled rugs and slick sofas, gives an air of exclusivity. Uniformed staff are on hand to check you in and help you to your apartment. And what an apartment you’ll find.

With interiors designed by Forme UK, it’s an utterly chic and contemporary concept. The living area brings the wow-factor with its floor to ceiling windows giving sweeping views over some of London’s most famous historic landmarks. A spacious balcony with dining table means you can make the most of the stunning setting and the never-ending movement and fascinating fracas of the river scene below. If you’re lucky your apartment may look directly out to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge – a scene that can never disappoint.

IMG_4434 IMG_4450

Inside, meanwhile, modern taupe linen sofas are contrasted with mustard velvet armchairs and highlighted with vibrant orange silk pillows. Silvery-aqua wallpaper is a subtle backdrop to the elegant space. Flat screen televisions, Bose iPod docks and air conditioning bring a satisfyingly high tech spec to the apartment as does the adjoining kitchen with its gleaming stone surfaces, sleek cabinetry, Krups coffee-maker and Siemans appliances.

 

The bedrooms continue the overall neutral colour palette and also have the same little flashes style and floor-to-ceiling windows. Padded headboards extend up the wall and the large, and extremely comfortable, beds, with their 1950s-style silk bolsters, are just what you’d expect from a five-star offering. There are also flat screen televisions in both bedrooms, contemporary dressing tables and spacious wardrobes.

 IMG_4451 IMG_4458

Unlike most London properties, and many London hotels, space has not been skimped on. Bathrooms – there was one en suite and one stand-alone – were huge with vast walk-in rainforest showers and state-of-the-art facilities. A nice touch was the fact that the amenities were not bland, corporate-style toiletries but rather the luxury ‘homemade-style’ products by Arran Aromatics’ Feel Good Formulas range. Practical considerations of modern-day living have also been taken into account, so there’s a little study area for those who need to keep an eye on work, as well as a nicely tucked-away, well-equipped utility room with washing machine and tumble dryer, making it ideal for families and businessmen/women alike.

 IMG_4456 IMG_4452

Then there’s the location. On the north bank of the Thames, Cheval Three Quays is situated in the heart of the true City of London, with its mix of quaint, cobbled streets juxtaposed against glittering modern architecture. You can saunter along the Sugar Quay walkway, taking in the views of Tower Bridge, The Shard and The Gherkin. It’s also just a hop, skip and a jump over Tower Bridge to The Tate Modern, the local galleries around Bankside, the Globe Theatre and buzzy Borough Market. While you might want to make the most of your swish kitchen, you are more likely to be tempted out to dine at one of the many restaurants on your doorstep – whether it be at Butlers Wharf or perhaps at one of Shoreditch’s inventive pop-ups. Having trouble deciding on what to do or where to go? Then consult the in-house concierge, on hand 24-hours a day, who can book the newest openings and source tickets for the latest shows and exhibitions.

 

You can’t stay in five-star surroundings without five-star services, and so each apartment also has a housekeeping service available as often or as little as you require. Cheval Three Quays is well-thought out, beautifully designed and completely seductive. A home-from-home for some, maybe, but it’s a little dream come true for others.

 

 

Prices start at £1,974 per week in a one bedroom urban view suite– which equates to £282 per suite per night. For further information and bookings please visit www.chevalresidences.com or telephone 0207 341 7052.

Please note that over the next three months guests who book room 7P, a Tower view one bedroom apartment, will find the total profit of their stay donated to the six service charities associated with the Tower of London ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ installation, marking the 100 year anniversary of the First World War.