Soak it up: bathroom trends

Once the smallest and most overlooked room in our house, the bathroom is having a moment in the spotlight – with homeowners wanting to make their space a focal point in their house. Update yours by taking note of some of the latest trends on the horizon.

 

Layer on the texture

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Gold floor by Bisazza

One of the most exciting areas of development for bathrooms is surface design. Take tiling, for instance. Where once it was de rigeur to have a plain, pared-back look – perhaps with a contrasting border – it has now become all the rage to introduce pattern. Fashionable geometric designs give a retro feel – especially when teamed with claw-footed baths and traditional accessories. While dazzling, all encompassing patterns, such as those available at luxury Italian tile brand Bisazza (www.bisazza.com), are more akin to works of art.

Yeshen Venema Photography

Bert & May

Harriet Roberts, co-founder of Bert & May (020 3673 4264; www.bertandmay.com), a reclaimed tile specialist based in east London, comments: “The winning Alexis tile from our RIBA Design-a-Tile Competition is a beautiful geometric and so thoroughly modern with its three tones. It translates beautifully in monochrome, picking up on a key trend in interiors this year. I can imagine the tile in a top London hotel or in a West-End restaurant but it works equally well in a stylish home.”

Surface Tiles

Surface Tiles

 

Tiles that replicate a wood-effect are also creating a buzz in the design world. The ‘Selection Oak’ range from Surface Tiles (020 7354 7000; www.surfacetiles.com) consists of porcelain wood-effect tiles for walls and floors, available in a range of realistic natural colours. The brand’s Burlington range, meanwhile, faithfully replicates quarried stone – tapping into the leaning towards more matt tiles – and is available in wide, ‘planks’ to allow the creation of different laying patterns, such as herringbone or parquet-style floors.

 

Driftwood tile by the Stone and Ceramic Warehouse

Driftwood tile by the Stone and Ceramic Warehouse

The wood-effect fashion has also been identified at tiling specialists The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse (020 8993 5545; www.thestoneandceramicwarehouse.co.uk). “Textured finishes can now be applied to porcelain as seen in our Driftwood range,” says Stuart Wisbey, director at the company. “This has a fabulous wood-effect grain texture and often gets confused for the real thing! A fully waterproof, scratch and dent resistant bathroom floor is a must for families with small children and pets,” he adds.

 

At Carpet Mill (01223 316866; www.carpetmill.co.uk), manager Peter Day has noticed a rise in popularity of the luxury vinyl tile in stone and wood effect. “It’s definitely a rising trend – and we have two British companies that supply us with lots of different finishes. Practical and hardwearing, ranges, such as Colonia by Polyflor at Home, give an effortlessly stylish look to modern-day bathrooms.”

 

The use of more luxurious, architectural materials is also on the rise. Marble, due to its high price-point, is ideal for giving smaller spaces the wow factor and, when used on all surfaces – floors and walls – can give a small bathroom increased depth and added interest.

 

Fraask basin

Fraask basin

Fraser Lovell, founder of Frassk (0161 848 0246; www.frassk.com), which specializes in wonderful, tactile marble basins, comments: “We’re seeing the use of marble in bathroom design more and more. It’s a great material to use. As well as adding a sense of luxury and sophistication to the bathroom, it is very hardwearing and versatile. It is also a beautiful stone to work with and offers an abundance of heritage. At Frassk we have crafted our new washbasin collection, designed by Paul Crofts Studio, from solid Carrara marble. White marbles, Carrara in particular, are of the most popular due to their classic and timeless appeal.”

 

The Albion Bath Company

The Albion Bath Company

Promoting the return of copper to our bathrooms is the Albion Bath Company (01255 831605; www.albionbathco.com), which has developed a polished copper finish for its free-standing, non-footed baths, which doesn’t tarnish or flake. As well as being a stunning centre-piece to a room, the use of copper gives an industrial and textural feel that simultaneously harks back to the past while being very much of the moment.

 

Copper Mica Natural Wallpaper by

Copper Mica Natural Wallpaper by Urbane Living

Echoing this nod towards the use of layered textures are the new, non-toxic natural wallpapers from Urbane Living (020 7138 3838; www.urbaneliving.co.uk). Manufactured using low energy and renewable materials, they give a high-end look in harmony with the environment. The Natural Mica Wallpaper range is made from recycled polystyrene and gives a granite effect that is available in an opulent range of colours and densities. While the Natural Cork Wallpaper is available in a choice of textures and designs including an unusual cork and copper blend featuring luxurious flecks of naturally rich copper. As they are breathable, thus preventing mildew and mould, the wallpapers are ideal to use in a bathroom.

 

 

All shapes and sizes

Duravit bathroom

Duravit bathroom

The shapes in our bathrooms are changing. Furniture and sanitary-ware is becoming more curvaceous and feminine with a move away from straight lines and the typical boxy approach. The PuraVida range from German bathroom specialists Duravit (0845 500 7787; www.duravit.co.uk) is a case in point, and has won the Reddot Design award for its design aesthetics. Included in the range is a softly curving basin and a floating vanity unit available in black, red and white high gloss. Also available at Duravit, and designed by Sieger Design, is the X-Large range of bathrooms, which aims to be visually calming, using fine lines and elegant contours across the range.

 

La Belle range at By Design

La Belle range at By Design

Francis Lowman, managing director of By Design Bathrooms (01223 248 409; www.bydi.co.uk), luxury bathroom specialists based in Cambridge, gives his view on the new approach:  “There’s been a real shift in how people see their bathrooms. Once upon a time, the bathroom was an after-thought almost, the smallest room in the house, and very much a practical space. Nowadays, clients see their bathrooms as a place of respite, where they can go to escape for a while.

 

“In terms of style,” he continues, “people want us to create a dream-like space for them – somewhere that is comfortable and luxurious. This can be achieved fairly easily on a variety of budgets by choosing simple lines, paring back colour schemes and keeping the functional aspects hidden. Floating vanity units are very popular, as are frameless showers and wet rooms without any barriers. Clients are also using larger rooms for their bathrooms to give the feeling that this is more than a room to be hidden away. Wall-mounted toilets are also very popular. They are more hygienic and also create an illusion of space. Lighting is also a key factor when designing the bathrooms, for function, form, space and setting a mood.”

 

French-inspired twin basin at This Home

French-inspired twin basin at This Home

While floating furniture and frameless showers give the feeling of space, a growing penchant for elaborate, French-inspired vanities to house sinks in (as available at online boutique This Home; www.this-home.co.uk) gives an added layer of interest and work well against a modern backdrop. Try contrasting the two styles for impact and dramatic effect.

 

At The Bathroom Barn, based in St Ives, near Cambridge (01480 458900; www.bathroombarn.co.uk), managing director John Rush has seen the rise in a softer design ethos for bathrooms. “It’s more covetable now to go for curvier lines. Softer-shaped furniture is somehow more modern and appealing. The same goes for frameless showers, walk-in showers with no doors and wet rooms – we want our bathrooms to be appealing places, not just merely functional.”

 

Vintage appeal

In terms of colour, a monochrome palette is making a comeback, giving a nod to Art Deco masterpieces of old.

 

Art Deco inspired bathrooms at Fired Earth

Art Deco inspired bathrooms at Fired Earth

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Rob Whitaker, creative director of Fired Earth (01223 300941; www.firedearth.com), renowned for their wide range of beautifully-crafted tiles and bathrooms, agrees: “Monochrome is a key trend at the moment. The simple combination of black and white offers endless design possibilities, from the very contemporary to the Art Deco and the classic, and it has a fresh, clean look that’s perfect for bathrooms. Use eye-catching pattern and luxurious finishes such as polished marble, sparkling glass and gleaming chrome to ensure plenty of visual interest and to counter the absence of colour. For all-out drama and glamour, opt for a predominantly black scheme with accents of white, using lighting to enhance jewel-like details and to create a sense of warmth.”

 

The Alexis tile from Bert & May

The Alexis tile from Bert & May

Harriet Roberts, co-founder of tile experts Bert & May (020 3673 4264; www.bertandmay.com), lends her expertise: “Monochrome – black, grey and white lend gravitas to any floor, and can often be the most striking as they let the pattern speak for itself. In Mediterranean countries where the light is brighter, the colours tend to be brighter.”

 

Complementing this look is also a return to a 1930s’ simplicity – combine period fixtures and fittings, utilitarian accessories, minimalist details and chunky wooden accents for a modern take on the industrial style. If your bathroom is big enough, the ultimate endorsement of this trend is the addition of a fireplace.

 

Renaissance London

Renaissance London

Owner of fireplace specialist Renaissance London (020 7251 8844; www.renaissancelondon.com) and expert in architectural salvage Owen Pacey reveals the growing trend: “I think a fireplace brings drama and glamour to a room. I love seeing fireplaces in every room and I’m seeing a returning trend of installing a fireplace in kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. Fireplaces are the design focus for many rooms and people are seeing their power and potential.”

 

“It also makes sense to invest in a working fireplace this winter as you can ignite your property’s value by up to 5%, add an aesthetic glow of a real fire and save on heating bills too,” he adds. “With up to 20 per cent more people choosing a real fire over the past couple of years, there’s a definite trend towards investing in beautiful fireplaces.”

 

Cosy coastal

While not necessarily new – after all a beach theme works so well in a bathroom – the new take on the coastal look is a more pared back one. Choose accessories wisely and keep it simple – you don’t want your bathroom to look overly fussy.

 

The Holding Company

The Holding Company

Select rattan and wicker baskets for storage – there’s a wide range available at The Holding Company (www.theholdingcompany.co.uk). White-wood cladding and painted floorboards accented with blue tiles make for a beach-hut vibe. Frame windows with blinds made out of cheerful, striped fabrics in linen or cotton – Vanessa Arbuthnott (01285 831 437; www.vanessaarbuthnott.co.uk) has a wide range of styles to choose from – to continue the seaside theme.

Vanessa Arbuthnott

Vanessa Arbuthnott

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If you have room in your bathroom for a chair or even a sofa – upholster it in a subtle stripe, in grey and white rather than the more obvious blue palette. It will give a modern take on the nautical look.

For a cosy, soft feel choose rustic pots and containers for toiletries, chunky towels housed on wooden ladder ‘shelves’ and for a touch of glamour add in a glittering chandelier or antique mirror for personality.

 

Lounge lovers

Instead of a room to be forgotten about, we’re seeing our bathrooms’ potential as an added space in which we can relax. An increasing number of us want our bathrooms to be as large as possible and will often rehouse them, when renovating, in a spare, unused bedroom to maximize their potential. Rather than a practical space for merely functional purposes, our bathrooms are evolving into another living space – where we want to spend time in, to retreat from the world. Colourful cabinetry, soft rugs and statement lighting can add to the lounge-look and move the bathroom out of its clinical past. Large soaking tubs, wet areas and even reading corners are often incorporated by interior designers where space is possible.

 Catchpole & Rye The Niederbronn - www.catchpoleandrye.com 01233 840840 Catchpole & Rye Copper Bateau - www.catchpoleandrye.com 01233 840840 (2) - Copy

Endorsing this view is the increasing number of luxury companies, such as artisanal cast-iron bath specialists Catchpole and Rye (020 7351 0940; www.catchpoleandrye.com), who are helping to elevate the humble bathroom to a new level of luxury. Catchpole and Rye are the go-to company for stand-out antique baths, French-style washstands and characterful taps that will transform an ordinary washroom into a place of beauty.

 Eley Kishimoto Wallpaper 2014 Eley Kishimoto Wallpaper 2014

Meanwhile, endorsing the bathroom as our new living room even further is the current fashion for using wallpaper. For a talking point, choose a quirky bold design, such as the new papers by Japanese designer Eley Kishimoto (020 8674 7411; www.eleykishimoto.com), for alcoves or an accent wall.

 

Farrow & Ball

Farrow & Ball

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Sarah Cole, marketing director at Farrow and Ball (01223 367771; www.farrow-ball.com) comments on the change in our decorating patterns: “As more of us have en-suite bathrooms, the use of wallpaper in bathrooms has become to be popular again. There’s a new trend for connecting bedrooms and en-suites by continuing the background or pattern colour from pretty bedroom wallpaper into the en-suite bathroom. Try our Lotus pattern for a glamourous look.

 

“In recent years we’ve seen people become much bolder in their decorating choices to make bathrooms more interesting,” she continues. “We’re becoming more inventive when decorating, and even neutral bathrooms are becoming more colourful.  A great way to add colour into a bathroom is to paint the underside of a freestanding bath in stronger shades like Pelt or Rectory Red to contrast against white suites.

 

“Rich colours like Brassica and Hague Blue are being used increasingly; their intense, almost jewel-like quality can transform a bathroom into an enveloping cocoon.” What more could you ask for?

 

Tea therapy from Miami by way of Paris

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Known as one of the most glamourous hotels in Miami, The Setai, on Collins Avenue and 20th Street, and directly on Miami Beach, is renowned for its Asian-inspired decor and personalised service.

Last year it was voted “Best Hotel in Miami” by readers of Condé Nast Traveler (no mean feat to achieve) and this year it has continued to up its game with its new Ocean Suites. Offering ‘the best of the best’ to its stellar guest list, rooms boast authentic jade pieces collected from antique markets in China, hand-made Duxiana beds from Sweden with the finest Frette linens and exquisite Roja Dove Parfums toiletries curated specifically for the hotel.

Keeping its offering fresh and modern, the hotel has also turned its eye to its spa with the introduction of an innovative partnership with Parisian beauty brand Thémaé.

 

The Setai Spa

The Setai Spa

To sample the brand first-hand ahead of its launch, I was lucky enough to be whisked off to Paris for the day to its signature day spa in the city.

The Paris-based spa brand is inspired by the art of tea and named after the Japanese tea preparation ceremony. Its revitalising spa rituals and skincare products are created with extracts from four different kinds of teas: red (rooibos), white, green and black teas.

“Our  spa  is  known  for  bringing  the  traditions  of  the  Pacific  Rim  to  Miami Beach, so we are excited to incorporate treatments and products inspired by the Asian art  of  tea  into  our  spa  experience,”   said Laura De La Rosa, Spa Director, The Spa at The Setai by THÉMAÉ. “This  partnership   represents two Asian-inspired luxury lifestyle brands coming together to enhance  our  guests’ spa experience, while restoring and realigning both  body  and  spirit.”

Exploring the concept: a tea ceremony revealing the benefits of tea

Exploring the concept: a tea ceremony which revealed the true benefits of tea

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From indulgent massage rituals to rejuvenating facials, the Thémaé treatments at the Setai will use pampering products such as the signature creamy Body Massage Balm, enhanced with the rejuvenating properties of black tea, natural macadamia and hemp oils, and the Multi-Active Cream with 4 Teas Elixir, which blends antioxidant  green  tea,  regenerating  white  tea,  soothing  rooibos  or  “red”  tea,   and stimulating black tea with pure spring water sourced in France to maintain purity.

 

We were introduced to the whole selection of products as well as being pampered with a relaxing body treatment.

I also loved the Huile des 4 Thes Brume D’Or – a gorgeous dry shimmering oil for the body and the Tea Bag for the Bath, which releases relaxing aromas for a gentle detox. A wonderful day and a great beauty brand – giving a new meaning to ‘a nice cup of tea’.

Miami will go mad for it.

www.themae.fr

www.thesetaihotel.com

Money no object: my trip of a lifetime

 

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The ultimate way to see Indonesia: on Tiger Blue

TB Full Sails

I was recently approached by travel company Destinology (www.destinology.co.uk), which has created a unique £1,000,000 holiday itinerary, to come up with my own ‘money-no-object’ round the world trip. My wanderlust has truly kicked in during this process, here’s my ultimate journey of a lifetime:

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I’d kick off my trip in spring-time by travelling on the iconic Venice Simplon Orient Express (shown above). I’d go for the signature three -night journey which includes a night at the Ritz in London and ending with a night at the Cipriani in Venice. The journey itself harks back to the golden era of travel with amazing levels of service (www.belmond.com).

 

Scenes from the Aman Canal Grande, Venice

Scenes from the Aman Canal Grande, Venice

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As Venice is one of my favourite cities, I’d extend my stay there with a few nights shared between the recently renovated Hotel Danieli (www.danielihotelvenice.com) and the Aman Canal Grande (www.amanresorts.com). Both beautiful hotels. The latter offers a behind-the-scenes tour of Venice.

 

Monastero Santa Rosa

Monastero Santa Rosa

Making the most of my time in Italy, I’d then travel south for a sojourn at the dramatic cliff-top boutique hotel Monastero Santa Rosa on the beautiful Amalfi Coast (www.monasterosantarosa.com).

JK Place, Capri

JK Place, Capri (and below)

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A must is a visit to Capri with a few nights at JK Place (www.jkcapri.com) and then to Rome to stay at Rocco Forte’s Hotel de Russie (www.roccofortehotels.com).

Hotel de Russie

Hotel de Russie (and below)

Hotel de Russie Gardens - Low Res Hotel-de-Russie-Rome-–-Nijinsky-Suite-Living-Room-2020[1]

 

 

Aman Sveti Stefan

Aman Sveti Stefan

Then onwards to Montenegro, a wonderful historic and picturesque country, to stay at the Aman Stefi Stefan   (www.amanresorts.com) for a few nights.

 

Alpina Gstaad (and below)

Alpina Gstaad (and below)

The Alpina Gstaad 2

After all this travelling, I’d need a spa break for a few days respite so I’d head north to Switzerland to the Alpina Gstaad (www.thealpinagstaad.ch) to try their Five Elements Retreat – basically it’s a complete beauty overhaul. Then I’d head onwards to the mega luxurious Chedi Andermatt, two hours from Zurich, (shown below) for some serious pampering (www.ghmhotels.com/en/andermatt.)

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From Switzerland, I’d head to Paris for some stylish shopping, especially at Didier Ludot, which stocks the most exquisite range of vintage black dresses (www.didierludot.fr). I’d head south to San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country for some foodie indulgence, and stay at cool Hotel Astoria 7 (www.astoria7hotel.com).

 

 

Scenes from Santa Marina, Mykonos

Scenes from Santa Marina, Mykonos

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Late spring is a great time to visit places like Greece before it gets too hot. I’d go down to Mykonos and stay in the Santa Marina Resort (www.santa-marina.gr) and then head over to Marrakech for a touch of souk shopping. The Selman is one of the most stylish hotels in the world with every detail thought of (www.selman-marrakech.com/en/).

 

The Selman

The Selman

From here, I’d head to Tanzania for the ultimate safari experience at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the Serengeti (www.fourseasons.com).

 

Four Seasons Serengeti

Four Seasons Serengeti (and below)

Serengeti 5

Then onwards to South Africa to Cape Town and a tour of its famous wine country, based from the Cape Grace Hotel (www.capegrace.com).

 

I’d then visit Latin America to the sultry city of Buenos Aires for a touch of tango. I’d book into the Philippe Starck designed Faena Hotel (www.faena.com).

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Copacabana Palace (and below)

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Then it’s time for some beach-life and basing myself at the most amazing design and art-inspired hotel Estancia Vik, I’d discover the chi chi hotspot that is Punta del Este in Uruguay (www.vikretreats.com). From here, to Brazil and a must is a week or so in Rio at the famous Copacabana Palace (www.belmond.com) before heading north to the stunning Bahia region with a stay at the rustic-glam Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa (www.uxua.com).

 

Uxua

Uxua Casa Hotel (and below)

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I’d then go to Peru to discover ancient civilisation with a few nights at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (above) in Macchu Pichu (www.belmond.com).

 

Peter Island

Peter Island (and below)

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From here I would cross over to the Caribbean and see the islands by sailing around with little hops over to Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands (www.peterislandresort.com) the Viceroy Anguilla (www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) and Hotel Christopher in St Barts (www.hotelchristopher.com).

 

Viceroy Anguilla

Viceroy Anguilla (and below)

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The Lowell

The Lowell (and below)

Manhattan Suite Lounge

On to the mighty USA next with stopovers in New York at The Lowell Hotel (www.thelowellhotel.com) and then over to The Hamptons. I’d stay at the barefoot chic C/O The Maidstone (www.themaidstone.com). I’d also visit Boulders Hotel in Grand Canyon, Arizona (www.theboulders.com) and I’d also want to see the Big Sur so will stay at the Post Ranch Inn (www.postranch.inn).

 

Four Seasons Hualalai

Four Seasons Hualalai (and below)

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From San Francisco it’s to Hawaii and the Four Seasons Hualalai (www.fourseasons.com).

 

The Brando

The Brando (and below)

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I’d travel onwards to French Polynesia with stops off at Bora Bora and Tahiti but basing myself at the new eco The Brando , which is owned by Marlon Brando’s estate on Tetiaroa, a stunning private island (www.thebrando.com).

 

One & Only Hayman Island

One & Only Hayman Island (and below)

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From here, I’d travel on to Sydney, Australia and stay at the QT Sydney hotel (www.qtsydney.com.au). I’d also visit the Daintree Eco Lodge in the rainforest in Queensland (www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au) and a hop over to the new One&Only on Hayman Island (www.hayman.oneandonlyresorts.com) a luxurious bolthole from which to witness first hand the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Tiger Blue in Indonesia

Tiger Blue in Indonesia

Tiger Blue in Komodo

Australia is the gateway to Indonesia so I’d then breeze over to the just opened Jalakara in the Andaman Islands and sail around the remote and pristine region on Tiger Blue (www.tigerblue.info) a traditional red-sailed traditional timber phinisi yacht.

 

Nihiwatu

Nihiwatu (and below)

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Another island, Sumba is also an idyllic spot to stay a few nights especially at the magical, all-villa property Nihiwatu (www.nihiwatu.com). Time to ‘find myself’ so Bali is also a must. I’d book into the new Alila Seminyak (www.alilahotels.com) – known for its moody architecture.

 

Alila Seminyak

Alila Seminyak

Song Saa

Song Saa (and below)

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Next I’d head to Vietnam and see the sights by taking a luxury cruise with Aqua Expeditions (www.aquaexpeditions.com). Their Aqua Mekong cruises take in the best of Vietnam, The Mekong and Cambodia. Talking of which, putting the islands off the coast of Cambodia, in the Gulf of Thailand, on the map is Song Saa. It’s a new private island idyll with an amazing spa and holistic retreats on offer (www.songsaa.com).

 

Aqua Mekong

Aqua Mekong

Vietnam

Vietnam

Cambodia

Cambodia

 

Cape Weligama

Cape Weligama

Perfect for spectacular whale-watching is the new super-luxe Cape Weligama on the southern coast of Sri Lanka overlooking the Indian ocean (www.capeweligama.com) and then on to the innovative and stylish Lux Maldives (www.luxresorts.com). I adore all their little guest innovations – such as hidden treasures as you walk around the resort, ice cream carts and red phone boxes from which you can call home for free.

 

Lux Maldives

Lux Maldives (and below)

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From here, I’d venture into China and visit Shanghai, with a stay at Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund (www.banyantree.com) and a stop off at The Upper House in Hong Kong (www.upperhouse.com). On to India next and Taj’s Rampagh Palace in Jaipur (www.tajhotels.com).

 

Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund

Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund

 

The Upper House (and below)

The Upper House (and below)

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On the homeward leg, I’d stop off – for sheer indulgence – at Dubai’s Jumeirah Burj al Arab (www.jumeirah.com). By now it will be winter back in the UK so I’ll head from the sun of Dubai to the wilds of Norway to see the Northern Lights and a night at the Ice Hotel (www.ice-lodge.co.uk). From here, I’ll start winding up my trip with a stay at Ackergill Tower in the Highlands of Scotland, just in time for Christmas (www.celticcastles.com).

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Taking the Belmond Royal Scotsman (www.belmond.com) train back down to London (above). I’d finish the year off by celebrating New Year’s Eve at Claridges (www.claridges.co.uk).

 

 

It goes without saying that all flights would be in First Class and accommodation in hotels would be in suites or above!!

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient beauty: a beauty brand based on aged recipes

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New from one of my favourite beauty brands L’Occitane is Le Couvent des Minimes collection of products. The simple and natural products are based on the concoctions made by the Botanist Monks and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who lived in the Convent of Minims, in the village of Manc in Haute-Provence, France in the 1600s onwards.

Their knowledge of the curative properties of the herbs and flowers grown in the convent’s gardens were put to good use to make their own recipes which were used to care and nourish the local community.

In 2004 L’Occitane founder Olivier Baussan stumbled across the ruins of the Convent and vowed to rescue the building, restore it to its former glory and honour its long history. He created the “Le Couvent des Minimes” brand, which has – up to now – only been available in France. In 2008, the Convent opened to the public once again, this time as a Relais & Chateaux Hotel and Spa.

Now introduced in the UK, the brand offers a wide selection of evocative sounding products in wonderful apothecary-style packaging. The brand also donates 1% of its annual sales to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary which continue to carry out charitable work around the world.

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At the heart of the brand is a collection of colognes. Legend has it that in the the 14th century, an old queen regained her health and beauty after using ‘Eau Miraculeuse’ prepared in convents. The secret recipe combined citrus fruits, rosemary and eau de vie with other natural ingredients. The Eau Miraculeuse became known across Europe and became part of the daily morning ritual of many women. Heir to this tradition are Le Couvent des Minimes colognes.

There are four core scents to chose from, each with the signature fragrance and accompanying varying body range. Shown here is The Recipe of Love collection, which is based around orange blossom and is wonderfully uplifting. As well as the cologne in this range, there is a massage oil (shown top), a body butter, soap, hand cream and shower ‘pulp’. The other collections are The Recipe of the Cloister (cologne, shower cream and soap in a rose, peony and grapefruit scent); The Recipe of the Morning (cologne, shower ‘dew’, body moisturiser, hand cream and soap in an apple, orange, lemon, basil, pearl flower and fig scent); lastly The Recipe of the Minims is inspired by the original Eau Miraculeuse and is based on seven plants including lemon, orange and grapefruit, for an fresh, unisex scent (available in cologne, shower gel, toning body lotion, deodorant, hand cream and soap).

The brand also offers the Smile Recipe products for lips, the Relaxing Recipe to enhance sleep, Gardener’s Hand Healer products and Hiker’s Foot Healer range. Now available in Boots.

www.lecouventdeminimes.co.uk

Undercover secrets and magic layers

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Brrr! It’s getting chilly outside. Luckily I’ve discovered some under-cover (literally) secrets.

Firstly, I’ve come across JML’s Magic Layer, a lovely thin vest that is the antidote to bulky winter wardrobes and the ultimate in lightweight thermal wear. I can’t bear to be too overheated or ‘over-done’ in winter and what I love about The Magic Layer is that it is lovely and thin yet gives thermal qualities from its breathable fibres.

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The thermal vest remains completely invisible under your clothes and, while it keeps you warm, it doesn’t overheat you like many other thermals. It’s also plain and simple so works fine if part of the sleeves or neckline are on show when layering up.

It is also made from TACTEL, which means it is soft and light and stretches to fit the body. It fits the warmth of a woolly jumper into just 1mm of fabric, so you you won’t have the need for chunky knits. A true winter warmer.

Available from Boots and Debenhams.

ITEM m6 @ Task PR Shape_pants_caramel_front £49.90

While we’re on the subject of layering, another must-have in my base-wear are the Shape Pants Secret, £49.90, by ITEM M6 – an innovative brand I have blogged about before. Ideal for creating a slender and smooth silhouette, the seamless shape wear are wearable and truly comfortable.

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Their unique design features medically tested compression zones that shape the tummy, thighs and hips to create slender contours. Unlike many other shape wear brands, they can be machine washed and dried making them ideal for everyday wear. They are also extremely comfortable (again unlike many shape wear brands which feel unbearably restrictive). A must for any wardrobe!

www.shop.item-m6.co.uk

Burn, baby, burn: go on a fragrance journey

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One of my favourite things is a gorgeous scented candle. My latest discovery is the Baobab Collection of candles inspired by Africa and the concept of travel (think Russian steppes and Egyptian pyramids as starting points).

Not only does this Citrine Pearl version smell amazing (notes of gardenia and tuberose make it both fresh and floral), it also has one of the loveliest, speckled, hand-blown glass designs that I have seen – inspired by rare pearl colourings.

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The hand-made candles by the Belgium brand (named after the Baobab tree found in the African savannah) are all closely linked to travel and the concept of journey – so are right up my street.

With fragrances created by perfumers in Grasse, the luxury brand looks exquisite on a mantlepiece and is the perfect gift for Christmas (that is if you can bear to part from it, which I can’t!).

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The Baobab Collection is stocked in Harrods, Selfridges and online at www.amara.com.

 

 

Beating the ageing race

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Founded by James Greenwell, former GB athlete, my new beauty love is new British skincare range Proto-col. He formed the brand after he experienced the powerful effects of hydrolysed collagen on both his skin and body, when he took a course of medical-grade collagen to recover from a serious Achilles heel injury. His tendon healed in a record 21 days instead of the predicted 14 weeks and his skin was noticeably rejuvenated.

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Based on that discovery, Greenwell worked with skincare expert Dr Steffan Oesser to concoct a focused range of beauty products based around boosting collagen in the skin.

Central to the range is the pioneering Collagen Facemask, £39.95, that combines the regenerative benefits of collagen, alongside coral seaweed, jojoba oil, aloe vera and hydrolysed silk. Leave it on for 10-15 for a visible difference to your skin. I found my complexion was plumped up and satiny smooth from the deep moisturisation effect. Pores were lessened and it gave a smoothing effect with blemishes and lines ‘erased’. It also feels really luxurious and rich – so great for winter months, when skin needs extra hydration. The collagen, and ingredients such as orange oil and carrot root extract, work together to brighten, tighten and fight the effects of ageing.

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The Proto-col Collagen Skin Plus capsules, £31.95, work alongside the beauty products to boost the body’s own natural collagen production. The beauty supplement also includes Hyaluronic Acid for hydration, zinc for antioxidant properties and vitamins A, C, D and E. Collagen makes up 90% of skin proteins and women lose collagen at a faster rate than men during the ageing process, taking a simple supplement means you can maintain healthy levels of collagen in the skin and helps you to look and feel younger for longer. Count me in, then!

www.proto-col.com

On a clear day… my discovery of the best facial around

Yesterday I had my first experience of an ‘aesthetic beauty’ treatment. Despite reviewing countless spas and treatments over the years, I have to admit that I have avoided any interaction with the more hard-core approach to skincare. Readers, I’ve been converted! It’s good news for my complexion but probably bad, bad news for the wallet.

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The Jill Zander Skin Rejuvention Clinic in Esher (dangerously, it’s on my doorstep) is renowned for being at the forefront of new cutting-edge treatments. The fabulous open-day yesterday was an eye-opener. From non-invasive laser face lifts to the 3D Lipomed (an alternative to liposuction), I was amazed at the amount of truly advanced innovations on offer and was sorely tempted to try many of them in the quest for perfecting the face and body.

My eyes were opened (literally) further with a taster of the HydraFacial (£125). This radiance-boosting, deep cleansing treatment, also known as the Red Carpet Facial due to its celebrity devotees, was one of the best ever facials I have had.

Using the most recent facial technology such as Antiox+ and TonePerfect Complex, the treatment helps reduce the production of melanin, boosts collagen to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and deeply hydrates the skin. It also firms and tightens. It REALLY works to do all these things with visible, instant results.

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Famous in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, this hydradermabrasion treatment is the latest advancement in non-laser skin resurfacing, giving instant, visible skin refinement, hydration and radiant skin tone. The HydraFacial machine uses a vacuum based abrasive tip and combines a multitude of jobs on a skin-perfecting wish-list: cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration and antioxidant protection.

During the facial your skin is blasted with a combination of antioxidants, including Horse Chestnut Seed, Green Tea, and Arnica Flower Extracts that help to detoxify the skin and fight environmental free radical damage. The result is that you emerge with fresh, renewed skin (and a spring in your step!).

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First of all the skin is cleansed and exfoliated with the special Vortex-Cleansing system, a deeply penetrating skin cleansing process.

Then comes the Glycolic Rejuvenation. A light glycolic solution gently removes dead skin cells and helps loosen dirt and debris from pores leaving skin soft, fresh, clean and more youthful in appearance.

Then there is an extraction process using vortex suction to clean out pores.

Lastly, is the Tone & Firm Antiox+ – The even tone and firming ingredients are Vortex-Fused™ deep into the skin to nourish, repair and protect.

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I could go on about all of the advancements that are behind the treatment (there are many), the technology (cuttig-edge) and how this facial does a multitude of jobs – but the most effective thing here is the result. My skin feels super-clean – looking closely at it you can’t see any open pores or blackheads and instead the surface of my skin looks smooth and even. It’s a real plus for cleaning fanatics such as myself as you can never replicate this at home or with a more ‘holistic’ treatment. Minor imperfections seem to have been ‘blurred’ and overall my face feels polished and radiant. It may be £125, but this is something to which I will definitely return – even if it is a twice yearly overhaul for super-clean skin.

Try it, you’ll never want another facial again.

www.jillzander.co.uk

Body works: drench your skin for autumn

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These new pampering body products are just perfect for the colder weather that has descended upon us. Dove‘s new Caring Protection Body Wash, £2.50, is super hydrating (it contains sunflower seed oil to boost moisture levels) and leaves limbs feeling smooth and silky.

It has a mild formula, so doesn’t dry or strip skin, and gives a lovely, rich, creamy lather, which feels super-luxe and like it gives a good, deep clean. It’s a great budget buy and is on a par to other, much more expensive body washes.

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I’ve been following up by using the Resolute Hydrating Body Balm, £25, by super-cool beauty brand Aesop. It has a great, rich formula but instantly sinks into skin, leaving legs, arms and body supple and with a short sheen. It is formulated with wheat germ, sweet almond oils and shea butter and has a subtle spicy scent. Gorgeous.

www.aesop.com

Burn bright: candles for autumn

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Now that autumn has finally arrived, it’s time to unveil the scented candles. Ideal for creating a cosy, atmospheric feel in the home, a variety of scented candles dotted around is a heart-warming thing.

My latest obsession is Fornasetti’s most gorgeous Malachite candle, £110. First of all is the design. The ceramic pot and lid features graphic ripples of the semi-precious stone it is inspired by, and is one of the signature designs of Piero Fornasetti. The dramatic black and jade palette is interspersed with rich seams of gold that bring a rich, organic pattern. It is a wonderful talking point, sitting proud on a period fireplace and will no doubt be a collector’s piece in time.

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Then, of course, there’s the scent. The ‘Malachite’ fragrance is the fifth scent from Fornasetti, the Italian design house that is renowned for its dramatic wall coverings and home-wares, many of which are inspired by the surrealist movement. Taking its inspiration from the vibrant crystallized mineral, the black wax has rich green notes  – pine, clary sage and galbanum – blended with the smoky warmth and depth of cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood and amber.

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‘Malachite’ is heady and deep – a wonderful ‘evening’ scent, reminiscent of dark cloistered rooms with a nod to a ‘Byzantine’ past. Light it after dark and you’ll be transported to dark basilicas, lofty coffered ceilings and towering pillars suffused with smoke and incense. For those catholics out there, like me, it’s a guilty pleasure.

www.fornasetti.com

 

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Another new addition is from another heritage brand that I greatly admire. This time we are transported to Paris, France to the house of Cire Trudon. The Gabriel Candle, £65, is part of the brand’s Christmas Collection. To counterbalance Fornasetti’s deep, dark evening scent, this is a wonderful daytime fragrance and ideal for the festive season ahead.

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With notes of leather, cashmere wood and candied chestnuts – this brings a warmth to the home on chilly winter days, giving a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. Cire Trudon dates back to 1643 and has a rich history of candle making and fragrance. The label is evocative of bygone times with its products being synonymous with candle-lit palaces and chateau. Part of its rich history, for instance, is that it supplied the Palace of Versailles until the end of the monarchy.

Fast forward to modern-day times and its timeless design still has resonance today. I love the shimmering green of the glass the candle comes in and the gold inner that is slowly revealed as the candle burns. It also comes in a wonderful gift box (although this one is staying put in my own little palace).

www.ciretrudon.com