Despite all of its glorious must-sees, it’s very easy to overlook your own capital city in favour of different, undiscovered destinations. But, ironically, it took an exotic hotel brand – namely the Taj Group – to tempt me and my family to experience London anew – through the eyes of a tourist.

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Better known for its sumptuous hotels across India – many of which are carved out of palaces – the Taj Group’s presence in London, at the flagship Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences, is equally as impressive as its home-grown properties. It turns out, surprisingly perhaps, that this gem, hidden away behind ornate, wrought-iron gates close to Buckingham Palace, is also eminently family-friendly. Luxury can often mean exclusivity but the group is keeping abreast with a new way that modern hoteliers are approaching five-star luxury these days (currently emerging at top-end, independent hotel brands) by introducing its Kids at Taj program. Offered at 51 Buckingham Gate and its second London property – St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel –this incentive actively welcomes little ones with a bespoke programme of child-friendly treats, custom-made activities and practical offerings. Taj, it seems, is savvy enough to know that if the young ‘uns are kept happy, then parents will keep returning.

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Consequently, despite the opulent interiors, your welcome is less of the formal and more of the friendly. The property is made up of a series of three impressive Victorian townhouses and situated around a pretty courtyard complete with tinkling fountain and the world’s longest sylvan Shakespearean frieze. Liveried doorman swing open doors before you’ve reached them and whisk away your bags before you’ve given them much thought. Check-in is pleasingly casual, quick and the right side of personable. Impressive still are the suites and residences (85 in total).

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Each are designed like exclusive private apartments – with separate kitchen and living areas (there’s also a butler service for those who want to leave the kitchen work behind), making for a practical, not to mention beautiful, place to stay for families. Our three-bedroom version was expansive and elegantly decorated. A palette of ochres, taupes and magentas gave a pared-back regal feel, heightened by the deep carpets, fine linens and glossy bathrooms. After a few moments of haring around, the kids were of course nonplussed about all of this. As I continued to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’, and take mental notes on home improvements to do on my return, their enthusiasm lay instead with their welcome bag, stuffed with goodies, such as a guardsman teddy bear, a ‘Taj passport’, stamped by the hotel with your dates of stay, a hotel registration card and key card holder, sketchbook and journal with crayons and postcards. Meanwhile, in their bedrooms bathrobes and slippers (impressively in the correct sizes) were discovered. The home-away-from-home feel continues with the special Kids’ Dining Menu, available for room service or in the in-house restaurants, as well as bedtime cookies and hot chocolate. The attention to detail was impressive.

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Being so central, it was easy to wander around places of interest. Our children are no strangers to London so taking an easy approach, we decided to simply meander around, taking in the sights and sounds. China Town for dim sum (parents’ choice), a trip along Regent Street to visit M&M World (childrens’ choice) and a river-boat trip down to the Tower of London (unanimous), meant our first day was delightfully full.

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We later dined at Kona, the hotel’s contemporary dining room (there are three restaurants to choose from), which boasts a fresh Mediterranean menu. Very much a grown-up space, we wondered beforehand if this was the best choice but I’m glad to say it worked out wonderfully. The children were brilliantly looked after and put at ease – even being allowed to order off menu, which pleased them no end. We were all delighted with the exceptional cuisine. The simple names of the dishes – Lobster Bisque, Seabass and King Oyster Mushroom, for example – belied the layered, complexity behind them. Reasonable prices (mains were around £15) were a surprising bonus.

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The next morning, after an indulgent breakfast, we set out again for a day of sightseeing, starting off by catching the Changing of the Guard at the Palace, just a few minutes walk away, and finishing with a stop-off at St Paul’s Cathedral. The day was rounded off by a Taj cookie lesson taken by two of the hotel’s chefs in our own kitchen. Donning their aprons with personalised name badges, the kids were in their element and were soon whipping up a batch of sweet-smelling biscuits. Meanwhile, us parents were left to put our feet up and plan when we were returning.

Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences, 51 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AF. A Two Bedroom Suite at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences (suitable for a family of four) is £600 per room per night. For further information visit or call 020 7769 7766.

This article also features on The Arbuturian 

Smells like summer


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I love Baylis & Harding‘s latest limited collection of products based around Rhubarb & Vanilla Cream notes. Like summer has come early, this trio, £6 available from Sainsbury’s and Asda, is made up of mini versions of the brand’s body wash, body lotion and soap. The zesty fragrance also includes cassis, apple and orange which uplift and revitalise while the heart notes of spiced jasmine and gardenia and base notes of caramel, vanilla and peach give a sweet, fresh aroma conjuring up the fragrance of fresh flowers. 

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For the wow-factor, the signature product in the collection is this gorgeous heart box filled with sweet-smelling bounty, £25 from Tesco. Perfect for a gift, it contains full size Shower Creme, Body Lotion, Body Wash and little tubs of body butter and bath salts, all wrapped up in a retro 1950s pink heart-shaped box. Gorgeous.

How we live right now

Kensington and Chelsea are buzzing right now with some of the capital’s most exciting and creative new restaurant and hotel openings. I go behind the scenes and am inspired by a new wave of design innovation

Who hasn’t checked into a gorgeous, boutique hotel and eyed the gleaming furniture, statement wallpapers and fine bed-linen with an envious eye? Let’s face it, if you haven’t mentally redesigned your own home by the time you check out these days, you probably won’t be returning. When it comes to the hospitality industry, bland is blasphemy. Instead, it’s all about having a ‘personality’ for us all to be inspired by and the latest ventures are employing the finest interior designers to do just that.

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The Exhibitionist Hotel

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One prime example is The Exhibitionist Hotel, which has recently opened in South Kensington ( From the outside the original 18th century townhouse may look sedate with its classical façade, but inside it’s a different story. The hotel has a bold USP conceived by designer Steve Crummack. As well as being a five-star hotel with an emphasis on personalised service, it is a working contemporary art gallery with constantly evolving exhibitions, room ‘stylists’ and dramatic interiors.

Steve Crummack explains: “The Exhibitionist Hotel is one of a kind. The art will change every few months and it is this transformation that is important to us. Each time a guest stays, they’ll have a different experience.”

This idea of evolvement is also played out in features such as the ‘living’ chandelier found in the lounge, which changes according to the seasons. “I have commissioned florists to come in and adapt the core structure,” Steve says. “At the moment it is just about to burst into bud and by the summer it will be a beautiful canopy over the furniture.”

In addition, the rooms themselves will also be subject to change with the hotel collaborating with renowned international artists, such as Angelo Valentino, and the hottest new street artists, such as Dotmasters, who will come in and style chosen rooms. While these very rooms at The Exhibitionist are utterly glamourous already with their jewel colour schemes – think emerald, amber and sapphire palettes – funky furniture and striking contemporary lighting, it is the four suites that are the real piece de resistance. Butler service, private plunge pools and outdoor cinemas add up to a decadent offering. But, it will no doubt be the signature patchwork furniture supplied by hip London design house Squint Limited ( and edgy pop art that guests will be lusting after for their own homes.

It’s no coincidence, says Steve, that his design ethos may provoke guests to think about their own environments. “We set out to create the feeling of a home from home,” he comments. “We resolved to dispense with the sterility and seriousness of the hotel business and create a space that we would like to live in. It seems to have worked. I have been commissioned numerous times already by international clients to recreate the hotel in their home! It’s all to do with getting the fundamental elements right.”

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The Ivy Chelsea Garden


Also getting the fundamentals right are the power-house designers behind the new The Ivy Chelsea Garden recently opened on the King’s Road ( Housed in an iconic Grade II listed building, which was formerly the Six Bells pub dating back to 1722, The Ivy’s third London outpost will offer all-day British dining via a series of different areas – a lounge, bar, café, restaurant and terrace. While the food will no doubt impress, it could very well be overshadowed by the seductive surroundings. Designed by the Martin Brudnizki Design Studio – famous for countless glitzy restaurants (think Le Caprice, Wild Honey, Dean Street Townhouse) – the new venture references vintage luxury. Earthy colours – burnt orange, pewter, forest green – are set against reclaimed parquet flooring and black and white mosaics, bronzed wall lights and antique mirrors. The overall look is successfully executed to appear relaxed yet sumptuous.

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Meanwhile, sure to set keen gardeners running home secateurs in hand, are the extensive gardens – home to a charming orangery and terrace. Designed by renowned Ginkgo Gardens, the large space is surprisingly serene despite being in the midst of SW3, and is steeped in British tradition, featuring trailing wisteria and climbing roses, fountains and lush planting.

World's End Market

World’s End Market

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Also taking up residence in a historic building on the King’s Road is the new The World’s End Market ( The restaurant, featuring ‘market fresh’ produce for all day dining, is located in the former World’s End pub, originally a tavern during the times of Charles II. Nowadays it has been given a new lease of life and is the ideal spot for lovers of stripped-back design. Reclaimed wooden crates have been re-worked to create the woodwork on the bar, subway tiles line the walls and oversized industrial lighting hang above scrubbed tables. Flooded with natural light, the high ceilinged dining room is evocative of a 1930s canteen except it’s been bought bang up to date with artworks dotted around from street artist Ninth Seal.

Identifying a blurring of boundaries between private and public design is Chelsea-based designer Katharine Pooley ( She has experienced many clients coming to her armed with ideas from favourite restaurants and hotels: “My clients tend to be well travelled and have been fortunate to experience top hotels and restaurants around the world. These experiences often provide a natural starting point for our initial discussions about the design of their homes. It is also true that residential design is becoming increasingly influential in hotel design as hoteliers seek more homely, comfortable styles for their super-luxurious boutique hotels.”

Offering his advice on the subject is renowned designer Martin Hulbert, best known for the interiors at the Dorchester’s Coworth Park Hotel: “The luxe look is now very accessible,” he says. “I see many residential interiors that aspire to look like hotels. For it to work successfully, however, you need to go beyond a cursory look at any design for the home and do what good hotels do well – spend money to create real comfort. This is particularly true of the bedroom, where high quality and extra comfortable beds and bed-linen can add enormously to an owners’ satisfaction with the finished product.”

Scenes from The Goring

Scenes from The Goring

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Beautifully demonstrating the point is The Goring Hotel, which has recently completed a major renovation in time for its 105th birthday ( The Royal favourite, which was first opened in 1910, has called upon four major British designers to overhaul its décor over the past three years, making it the perfect destination for interior buffs.

Here style notes can be taken from Nina Campbell’s ultra-elegant style, seen in the hotel’s suites with their pretty wallpapers and bespoke furniture. While Tim Gosling’s remake of The Bar & Lounge features a crimson and gold colour-scheme and is wonderfully cocooning. For a chic, pared-back look, book dinner in the Relais & Chateaux Dining Room and be enchanted by David Linley’s light and airy scheme illuminated at night by the stand-out Swarovski chandeliers. But it’s designer Russell Sage, responsible for the Front Hall, as well as the Royal Suite where the Princess of Cambridge stayed the night before her wedding, who will take the limelight here. Featuring Georgian Chippendale furniture, Gainsborough Silk window treatments and exquisite hand-painted wallpaper by Fromental, his designs make for the ultimate in glamourous welcomes. It’s also the perfect starting point for inspiration.

Kitchen design watch 2015

Looking to refresh your kitchen for spring? Then take inspiration from the latest architectural and interior trends. From new furniture to the best decorative accessories, here I reveal what’s hot right now.

As the hub of every home, the ideal kitchen has evolved over the past decade to become more than just a practical, cooking space. The most aspirational model many of us lust after is of course the open-plan kitchen-diner. This blueprint is able to incorporate the differing needs of a modern family with the latest kitchen designs fitting in with the way we live now.

New cabinetry

Giving a warmth and individual style to the kitchen is the return to furniture-style cabinets. Mix-and-match dressers, stand-alone units and showpiece islands are among the new wave of designs gaining popularity.

Kitchens by Tomas

Kitchens by Tomas Kitchen Living (and below)

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Tom Hinton, owner of Cambridge-based Tomas Kitchen Living (0800 772 0640;, agrees that the ‘unfitted’ look is currently on trend: “Tomas kitchens have always had a sense of ‘furniture’ about them, particularly the Modbox Creations. These can be incorporated into the fitted element of the kitchen or used as free-standing pieces. The Tomas solid oak drawers (and when requested solid oak carcasses) can add to the overall sense of ‘furniture’ and bring a timeless quality to a kitchen,” he says.

Advising on how to make the look a practical one, Tom continues: “The unfitted feel can also be translated to wall elements – which look great when cut back and not crammed into every available corner. Having said that, it’s important not to lose sight of the functionality of your kitchen and you must ensure there is adequate storage space. For the ultimate kitchen, mix and match pieces with beautifully-designed, fully-fitted cabinetry. Wherever possible use built in appliances and minimize on the gaps and joints as much as possible. With the right design and the right products – you can have your cake and eat it!”

Loft Kitchen by Team 7 at Wharfside (and below)

Loft Kitchen by Team 7 at Wharfside (and below)

Loft Kitchen by (10)

The Loft Kitchen by Wharfside’s Team 7 Kitchens (020 7253 3206; offers a flexible approach to kitchen design with its range of stand-alone pieces. Wharfside’s kitchen expert David Golding comments: “Stand alone furniture gives you an option to change the layout of the kitchen as the needs of the family change. You can keep up with current trends by changing it around. You can even take the stand-alone pieces with you when you move house.”

The ‘looser’ approach to cabinetry is an indicator of how the kitchen has evolved to be more than just a practical space. Investing in showpiece furniture – such as larders and feature islands – celebrates how the kitchen is truly the heart of the home.

Harveys - Hartham kitchen larder in cream £1,299

Harveys’ Hartham Larder available at


Kitchens by Harvey Jones (and below)


Having offered understated, premium-quality cabinetry from a Cambridgeshire workshop for more than thirty years Harvey Jones is a leading expert in kitchen design (0800 389 6938; Chris Mossop, designer at the company, gives his take:

“Investing in an island will play an essential part in creating a sociable hub for family and friends. When preparing food for a party, for instance, a centrally located island allows you to mingle with guests while you work. It can also be used as a breakfast bar so families can eat together in an informal and relaxed setting. Add in comfy bar stools and you’ll also be providing a space for kids to do their homework while grown-ups prepare meals. Consider the height and design of your bar stools, as flatter stools can be hidden under your kitchen island creating a streamlined kitchen space.”



Jennifer Shaw, design director at Cambridge’s Kitchenology (01284 724723; agrees: “The feature island is indeed very popular. Not only does it give a focal point to a kitchen but it is also very practical – giving an additional eating area, work space and storage. We find that the combination of handle-less units with quartz worktops is a popular choice.”

Let the light in

An airy, light-filled space feels modern, fresh and appealing. A seamless look is best achieved in open-plan designs (where smaller rooms have been knocked into one large living, eating and cooking space). There is also a growing preference for bi-fold doors to connect the house and garden, bringing the outside in.

David Hall kitchens

David Hall kitchens (and below)


Frances Hall, commercial director at Cambridgeshire-based David Hall Kitchen and Furniture Makers (01763 261010; has witnessed the trend: “For bespoke designers it is all about materials, simplicity of form, layering and contrast and at David Hall Kitchen and Furniture Makers, we are exploring a trend towards looser composition.  We like to group elements together and build up layers with these groups to create junctions, spaces and detail.  This gives depth and perspective, draws the eye and creates ‘moments’.  In all our kitchens, we like to create these ‘moments’ where something unexpected or unique is allowed to happen.  It may be a cantilevered bank, a contrasting finish or a feature such stained glass glazed windows in wall cabinets, which create focal points in the design.”

The trend towards open shelving is another element that can lift a kitchen. While they are practical and easy to use, open shelves also work to personalize a kitchen, making it feel warm and lived-in. Make sure you edit what’s on show so that clutter doesn’t build up, and remember that less is more. Combine open shelf cabinets with conventional ones so that you have enough room to hide away the less attractive necessities. Talking of which, minimal wall cabinets also help to lighten a space. Having less on a wall allows a room to breathe and gives focus to other areas – such as the windows – especially if they look out on a pretty view – or a piece of eye-catching art.

Jennifer Shaw, design director at Cambridge’s Kitchenology (01284 724723; reveals how to achieve the look: “One of the main requisites when planning a kitchen these days is for it to be light-filled and airy. White, streamlined kitchens, such as the glass-fronted AlnoStar Vetrina range, are really popular. They are sleek and unfussy and work even in smaller rooms to give the feeling of space. Adding in statement lights complete this look and can really add personality.”

David Hunt Lighting

David Hunt Lighting


Indeed, gone are the days when the humble spotlight was as adventurous as it got for kitchens. From David Hunt’s pastel-coloured metal pendants (01608 661 590; to contemporary chandeliers from Flos (, feature lighting has become a must-have in the modern kitchen.

Aim Lights by R&E Bouroullec for Flos Lighting

Aim Lights by R&E Bouroullec for Flos Lighting

Can Can by Marcel Wanders for Flos Lighting

Can Can by Marcel Wanders for Flos Lighting

Chris Jordan, managing director of London lighting experts Christopher Wray (020 7013 0187;, comments: “Grand and decorative lighting, both classical and contemporary, not only provides illumination but can also be used to partition off areas within an open-plan space. Through the installation of statement pendant lighting, it can clearly define each space such as a kitchen or dining area. An intricate chandelier can become a jewel above a dining table, perfect for glorifying any expectant feast.”

Caboche Suspension Light at Christopher Wray

Caboche Suspension Light at Christopher Wray

Lighting is a unique way of letting your imagination run riot in the practical confines of a kitchen. Whether you choose from Dar Lighting’s Scroll Pendant ( or the pretty glass drop shades at Fritz Fryer (01989 567416;, the choice is endless.

Dar Lighting's Scroll Pendant

Dar Lighting’s Scroll Pendant

Upton Clear Glass Pendant at Fritz Fryer

Upton Clear Glass Pendant at Fritz Fryer

Supplying a range of innovative lighting, Storm Furniture’s (01986 784439; founder Terry Croucher adds: “Statement lighting can add some interesting colour or texture to a room whilst also providing a great focal point.  Designers and craftspeople will often be able to customise their designs for you, changing the scale, shape or colour to your requirements so you end up with a truly unique piece.”

Shades from Storm Furniture

Shades from Storm Furniture

Wall art

Palazzo range of wallpaper from Urbane Living

Palazzo range of wallpaper from Urbane Living

Shift your focus to the walls of the kitchen and introduce decorative tiling and unusual wallpapers to bring an individuality and visual impact to your space. Bold statement papers, such as the ornate Palazzo range from Urbane Living (020 7138 3838; or kitchen-themed designs, such as English Dinner and Airfix Kitchen from Graduate Collection (0845 872 4919; can give an injection of interest to what is often seen as a functional room.

Airfix Kitchen wallpaper

Airfix Kitchen wallpaper at Graduate Collection

Sharon Forsyth, founder of Graduate Collection, a lifestyle company that works with new designers, says: “You can add real character to a kitchen with wallpaper – there‘s a wealth of designs out there with many new designers creating highly original and quirky wallpapers that will add a real touch of individuality.  With the kitchen now part of the main living space in the house you can choose to blend it in with the rest of the room by papering throughout or make it stand out by choosing a wallpaper that highlights the area.”

Casbah 04

Casbah by SACW

Guns & Roses by SACW

Guns & Roses by SACW

Pick out small areas, such as around the range, behind shelving or in an alcove, with unusual tiling to add an element of surprise and to beautifully contrast against a simple colour scheme. The geometric Casbah and the black Guns & Roses tiles from The Stone and Ceramic Warehouse (020 8993 5545; are bold and dramatic and ideal for smaller areas.

Fired Earth

Fired Earth

Fired Earth’s Cambridge showroom is a one stop-shop for unusual, premium tiles. Caroline Gow, tile category manager (01223 300 941; lends her expertise: “As well as being a practical choice for kitchens, tiles offer endless potential to create show-stopping impact. For example, a dramatically veined marble such as Fired Earth’s Nantucket polished marble would be an eye-catching addition to a contemporary or traditional kitchen. Each tile will be unique, so the overall effect will be completely individual and particularly spectacular. Marble also has an undeniable sense of glamour and luxury, and yet it can be surprisingly affordable.

She continues: “For a very different, yet striking finish, opt for shaped tiles in a variety of colours, mixing them to create bold geometric effects that really make a statement. Fired Earth’s curved Arabesque tiles are ideal. They’re available in a versatile palette of seven colours which can be used in bold blocks or combined to make countless patterns. You could even use them across walls and floors to give your kitchen a seamless look.”

Tempting textures

From ‘new’ metallics, such as copper. bronze and pewter, to woods, granite and marble – mixing rich, luxe textures is a sumptuous way of delivering a warm, earthy feel to your cooking zone. Tactile finishes – such as marble and granite – gives a raw elegance that feels very now.

By Design kitchen

By Design kitchen

Francis Lowman, managing director at luxury kitchen specialist By Design Kitchens in Cambridge (01223 248409; comments: “By mixing up textures you can achieve a rich, luxe look. Metallics are big news right now. Gold, pewter and silver give a premium feel. Sometimes a pared-back kitchen – white gloss with minimal fuss – works really well with a mosaic or goemetic-patterned floor. It works to bring life to the room. Mix up woods, marble, granite and glittering tiles for a sophisticated modern-day kitchen.”

David Hall

David Hall

Meanwhile, Frances Hall, commercial director at Cambridgeshire-based David Hall Kitchen and Furniture Makers (01763 261010; identifies the modern taste for unusual finishes:

“The contemporary palette is now embracing finishes such as brass, which can be used to accentuate and complement other colours in the kitchen.  We are seeing brass and copper light fittings, and have a beautiful range of bronze handles hand-made by Italian craftsmen.  We are also designing our own range of bespoke brass handles that can be bronze or other metal plated in a wide range of colours, these create accents within the kitchen.

“Hand polished concrete is another stunningly beautiful finish,” he continues. “While faux suede is a luxurious material that can be used on the back of cabinets, such as those used for glasses.  The softness introduces another texture into the kitchen and internal lights create soft pools of illumination.”

Trend GB at Granite Transformations

Trend GB at Granite Transformations


Offering the ultimate in finishes is the new custom mosaic service by Trend GB (, available at Granite Transformations (01223 84333; It’s a modern take on classic mosaic art and draws upon more than 300 colours of tiles so you can achieve your own bespoke design.

Peter Morrison at Granite Transformations Cambridge comments: “Employing advanced CAD software, Trend’s Italian studio is able to create a precise digital interpretation of any source design. The Italian tilemaker is marrying modern technology with an age-old decorative form, creating limitless opportunities for customised mosaics, from feature panels to complete interior and exterior installations.”

Tone and accents

With Pantone declaring ‘Marsala’– a deep, earth-wine red ­– its colour of 2015, it’s no surprise that a deep, rich palette is gaining momentum in the home. Reflecting catwalk trends, this marries with a tribal influence coming through in décor – think mustard accent walls, mosaic floors and splashes of dark red for a layered, rich look.



Coming to the fore is a move from the monochrome schemes popular of late to a shift towards bold Moroccan and African hues. If you’re not keen on opting for the permanency of coloured cabinets, instead simply update your kitchen with an accent wall or by adding in accessories, such as those available from Sainsbury’s homeware range ( Chunky wooden boards, woven baskets and geometric prints set against exposed brick, concrete surfaces and rustic colours will look thoroughly modern.

Cambridge Kitchens

Cambridge Kitchens

Sarah Wade-Gledhill, director at Cambridge Kitchens & Bathrooms (01223 213266; sums up the trend:

“Kitchens are the heart of every home and have increasingly become more of a living space over the past few years. We’ve seen more people wanting their kitchens to have a multi-functional aspect: from cooking and dining to lounging. At the moment, modern kitchens are warmed up by statement colours. Many people opt for islands in a different, bolder colour to the rest of the kitchen or splash-backs, in deep reds and mustards, for instance, against neutralcoloured cabinets. The glam factor is also important and can be added with glitzy lighting or shimmering tiles. One element like this is just enough for an elegant look.”

A few of my favourite things: this week’s beauty finds



I’ve recently discovered Activbod, a unique brand which offers a range of six products specifically targeted to after exercising. The choice (soon-to-be expanding) are aimed at men and women and all use special formulations to help the body post-exercise (think skin coolers and anti-redness formulas).

It’s a great concept and has been developed in conjunction with skin and sports experts so has some clout behind it. I’ve tried out the Pick Me Up Scrub, £8, which is a hard-working deep cleanser to rid the body of perspiration which can cause pores to clog. It’s meant for use after sports and exercise to deep clean, stimulate the circulation and to leave you feeling fresh. It has a nice, ‘pick-me-up’ scent, too, from the green tea ingredients. Perfect incentive to get moving! Available at Boots Nationwide and at

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Talking of ‘pick-me-ups’, this range of goodies from The Breath Company, new to the UK but huge in the States, will leave your mouth fresh, clean and perky in no time. Founded by US celeb dentist Dr Harold Katz, the range of toothpaste, mouthwash and lozenges targets the bacteria in the mouth and works to eliminate rather than mask the problem. Powerful stuff! From £8.99, available at Boots Nationwide and at

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Targeting blemished skin, is the new skincare range Proactive. I’ve been using it to clear up my skin, which is not looking its best at the moment, and it has really made a difference. The Skin Smoothing Exfoliator, £25.99, uses gentle beads to get rid of impurities but it also contains moisturisers so skin is left smooth and not irritated. The next step in the regime is The Pore Targeting Treatment, £26.99. The hero product of the range, it uses smart technology to target pores where bacteria can reside. Using salicylic acid, it works deep down to eliminate any baddies. After using this, skin texture looks much improved – with pores reduced and skin toned.

The next step is the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator, £27.99. It moisturises beautifully but also addresses redness, patches of dryness and lacklustre skin. Its also packed with antioxidants and botanical extracts so you feel you are using something pure and clean. Lastly, the Skin Purifying Mask, meant for weekly use, reduces existing blemishes. It contains deep-cleansing sulphur and cooling kaolin clay to draw out excess oils. Skin is left nourished and clear. It can also be used as an overnight emergency spot-treatment, which is really handy. A great, focused range that really works – nice sleek packaging, too.

Available at

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Lastly, I had to give a mention to this little find. Who would have thought that the humble nail brush needed updating? Beauty therapist Emma Myers did and she’s come up trumps with Bruzz, her new and improved version of a nail brush, £9.99.

The brush cleans the top, underside and tip of the nail in one action – and also massages while it cleans. It has special antibacterial bristles which have been impregnated with softening vanilla extract so your nails smell gorge after cleaning. As a previous BA cabin crew member and a subsequent nail technician, Emma was meticulous about clean nails and wanted to solve the problem of how normal nail brushes harbour bacteria and are difficult to sanitise.

The Bruzz brush has a fab, modern design and is available in pink, blue and white. It’s not all just good looks either as its ergonomic ball shape means soap and water do not splatter everywhere (one of the things I hate about cleaning nails with a brush) but instead are contained inside. The other ingenious concept is that the bristles are  removable so the whole thing can be cleaned properly (it is also dishwasher safe).

Available at Boots Nationwide and at

Hola to Casmara: putting on a new face


Ooh! I’m going crazy over these new face masks by Spanish skin care brand CASMARA.

Despite them morphing you into an alien-like force, these little beauties are packed with vitamins, minerals and marine algae and will leave you glowing. The three-step mix up, smooth on, peel-off masks aim to be the DIY equivalent of a salon professional mask.


There are four kits to choose from, each priced at £9.99, which is exceptional value considering the high-end ingredients, not to mention the results you get. Each mask tackles different skin conditions: REJUVENATING with revitalising Gold, PURIFYING refreshing with Oxygen, BALANCING with calming properties and HYDRA anti-ageing and firming benefits.


I tried out the Purifying version which refreshes and detoxifies skin due to its double oxygenating action. All the masks also help to restore, rejuvenate and illuminate the skin, due to the Marine Algae (seaweed) that they contain.


Perfect for those of us who like to ‘get involved’ in beauty prep, the DIY action means that some mixing and fiddling around (which I love) is needed, as if you were in a salon.

First of all, you smooth on to face, neck and eyelids a third of the ‘conditioner’ cream, which helps the skin absorb all the ingredients in the mask. Then you mix the powder and gel parts of the kits in the lid provided and mix it up so you end with a cream-like formula. You simply apply the mask mixture using the spatula to the entire face, including over closed eyes. (Note to self: get settled somewhere comfy before doing this next time to avoid crashing into walls.)


The mask then begins to tighten and solidify. It eventually turns into a rubbery second skin that can be peeled off in one complete piece (definitely the best bit!). During your 20 minutes relaxation time, its high dose anti-ageing ingredients sink into the skin layers to tone, hydrate and brighten the complexion. The mask also has a cooling action so puffiness is reduced. After removing, you then apply the remaining third of the conditioner over the face and neck and massage in until absorbed.

And the results? My skin was left visibly rejuvenated and radiant. It also looked good for days afterwards: clear and blemish free. Outta this world!

Casmara Face Masks are now available at Boots Nationwide and at

The George in Rye: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside



Potter along the cobbled high street of Rye, one of the UK’s prettiest coastal towns, and you may at first fail to notice the discreet exterior that is The George. Once inside, it’s a different matter.

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The East Sussex coaching inn may date back to the 16th century, but the interiors – particularly the bedrooms – are a veritable showcase for contemporary British design. Putting the chic into boutique, co-owner Katie Clarke and her design partner Maria Speake (of Retrouvious, a renowned architectural design company) have given each of the 34 rooms and suites a different signature look.

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From a seaside room to one inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement (complete with William Morris wallpaper and Edwardian cloth-bound books), the effect is light-hearted and supremely stylish rather than ‘over-done’ as many themed hotels can be. Clarke’s background as set designer comes to the fore in these imaginative schemes, which make the most of the building’s history as well as offering an interesting place to stay. There’s also a nod to local history with two rooms inspired by EF Benson’s Mapp & Lucia stories (Rye was the template for the writer’s imaginary town of Tilling).

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Our Room 41 – one of ten new rooms located across a courtyard – was one of the more extravagant. A white and lime green palette, complete with palm tree motifs, a skylight and a round bed, may be a bit ‘Boogie Nights’ for some, but the huge downstairs bathroom, with its gorgeous nickel double roll-top bath, added a certain British romance to the overall va va voom.

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While it’s tempting to waft around in your room for hours, there’s much to be explored – not least the charm and history of Rye itself. First recharge at the characterful George Grill – a cocooning restaurant offering locally-caught fish and British classics, such as Ham Hock and Salt Marsh lamb rump.

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Here, again, there’s much to entertain the eye: a buzzy open kitchen with Josper grill, a reclaimed school gym floor with original court markings intact, and an impressive mosaic fish sculpture originally commissioned for Barclays Bank in the 1950s. It’s not to be missed.

I loved the impeccable fusing of The George’s characterful history with the best of modern-day facilities: think Vi-Spring beds, Frette linens, Ren toiletries and bike hire. The Shop Next Door is also another gem – a unique retail space offering a sharply edited collection of homewares curated by Katie Clarke.

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The first floor Ball Room, built in 1818 as an assembly room, is also a highlight, making this a charming base to stay by the sea, with top-notch food, at surprisingly affordable prices.

Book it:

Rooms at The George in Rye start from £125 per night staying in a Queen Room inclusive of breakfast.  For more information or to make a booking call The George in Rye on 01797 222114 or visit