lashesoflifestyle

Posts by this author:

Out & About|| Bannatyne spa & Why I’m booking more spa days…

A Bannatyne spa day was one of the Christmas presents I bought for Chris. Our first Christmas. He was at my parents for Christmas Day, and although we agreed to no gifts (as we’re on holiday this month), I just couldn’t let him not have anything to open. But to be honest, it’s  a pretty selfish gift isn’t it?! I mean, I wanted a massage. A day in the gym and relaxing in the hot tub. A chilled, pamper day just the two of us. But I knew he’d want it too. Maybe.

Bannatyne spa day

I booked the Simply Spa Day 241 at Hastings. A 25 minute Swedish Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage or a rejuvenating Bannatyne Energising Facial, plus access to the gym floor, classes and spa facilities. All for only £60. £30 each!

The gym floor at Hastings was pretty spacious with plenty of equipment. We had a fab session, getting back into fitness after the festive binge. It wasn’t overly busy and there was all manner of cardio and weight equipment. I did take a look at the class timetable too, and if my back was 100% I would have loved to join in with one of the classes – there are so many!

The relaxation room, where we waited for our massage slots, was filled with six heated stone beds. It was a little peaceful haven. Not quite Chris’ thing – he normally can’t stop talking. But it was nice to lie back, relax and have a little read before heading into our treatments.

Bannatyne spa dayChris twiddling his thumbs in the relaxation room.

The Swedish Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage was dreamy!

The therapist checked everything was ok, asked for preferred pressure and checked in again mid-way. She worked so well on my back – it really helped with the tension in my lower back too! I felt like a new woman after.

Bannatyne spa day

A lover of the hot tubs, we headed outdoors for a little while. It was very chilly (it was the end of December), but sitting in the hot tubs you’d never know. The tubs were almost full but it wasn’t overcrowded. The bubbles and pressure was heavenly, and it was so nice to sit and chat.  It was really nice to spend almost an hour just catching up.

The steam room was a good size too. Although I only lasted about 5 minutes or so, as it all gets a bit close in there for me. I try to like it.

Overall, we had one fantastic few hours, and I definitely want to go back!

I have only done one or two spa days. Ever. Crazy right?! But this is just the start. It’s so nice to work out and have a relaxing pamper session. Self-care is so high on my priorities this year, as it should be on yours too. A massage has so many benefits, as does really taking time to chill, unwind, relax and take care of yourself. I’ve already started discussing spa days with a couple of the girls, and I’ll definitely be doing more this year. Especially if they’re this kind of price!

Summary:

  • Price: Only £60 for two. That’s £30 per person, and includes a 25 minute treatment each. It’s SO affordable.
  • Facilities: A spa treatment area with a relaxation room, spa facilities, gym floor, studios for classes (including spin room), a swimming pool, and a cafe area for if you fancy a refreshment after.
  • Quality: Great quality fitness facilities and spa facilities. Therapists were fab – The massage was dreamy!
  • Atmosphere: welcoming. Spa areas were super relaxing!
  • Service: The team at the Hastings branch was helpful and friendly. The therapists we had for our massages were fab!

I can’t wait for my next spa day. Have you been to a Bannatyne? What’s your favourite spa day or treatment?

Chloe xx

Follow:

Travel|| New York – The Drinks Edit

This part of my New York adventure has been a bit of a long time coming. I know. But I had so much exciting stuff to tell you all about in the run up to Christmas. And so many events and happenings which had to come first.

Finally, to add to my list of all the things to do and see, and my New York food edit. The New York drinks edit. Covering my favourite three bars and three coffee shops from my five days away. These should be on everyone’s list for trips to New York.

Bars

Refinery Rooftop

Atop the Refinery hotel in central Manhattan, the Refinery rooftop bar has a classy industrial feel. It’s super cute with hanging strings of bulb lights and greenery. The main attraction to the bar is most definitely the views of the New York skyline including the Empire State Building. It seemed a popular spot for both tourists and professionals out for a cheeky beverage after work. It does get busy, so I’d recommend a afternoon visit if possible.

New York Drinks Edit - Refinery Rooftop

The drinks are great – we had a frosé and a Sangria (Rosé, Ketel One, peach, orange blossom, apple). Service is efficient, but not overly friendly. As for the cost, it’s probably about the same price as you’d pay for a cocktail in a fancy spot in Central London – with cocktails at $16-18, about £12-14.

New York Drinks Edit - Refinery Rooftop

Pod 39

Pod 39 is another rooftop bar on a hotel, in central Manhattan – not that far from Grand Central station. It’s a stunning old school rooftop, with mosaic tiled tables and beautiful arches. It has a lovely skyline view too, although not quite as impressive as Refinery.

New York Drinks Edit - Pod39New York Drinks Edit - Pod39

The drinks are about the same price as Refinery, with wine costing $11 a glass, cocktails $14 and Aperol Spritz $14. I bet you can tell what I couldn’t resist!

New York food

We tried a mushroom taco each too from Salvation Taco which cater the bar snacks – there’s a full restaurant downstairs. The tacos were dreamy! Definitely a good spot for a taco or two and a couple of drinks over a catch-up.

City Vineyard at Pier 26

City Vineyard is a spot right on the waterfront along West Street of Manhattan. It’s a winery which uses local ingredients and wine made in the heart of NYC using grapes from vineyards in the USA. The views are second to none – truly stunning sights of New Jersey. Service was super friendly and helpful. I feel like I could have sat in City Vineyard all day!

New York Drinks Edit - City Vineyard New York Drinks Edit - City Vineyard

Wine on tap starts at $12, which appears to be the norm for a nice bar in New York. It’s well worth it here. Grab a glass, sit back and watch the world go by.

New York Drinks Edit - City Vineyard

Coffee

Urban Backyard

Urban Backyard is one of the cutest coffee spots I’ve ever seen. A plant lovers/Instagrammers heaven, it’s filled with green leaves, cute tiles, natural woods and low hanging strings of bulbs. They’re all about sustainability and encouraging green living, to bring the change to the community and the impact on the environment – SO GOOD! Service was super friendly and chatty too.

New York Drinks Edit New York Drinks Edit - Urban Backyard

The coffee itself doesn’t just look good, it tastes smooth, yet rich and delicious. The menu features plenty of specialty lattes, teas, and matcha options too, as well as pastries and desserts. A cappuccino is $3.75 (roughly £3), which is what we’d usually pay over here for artisan spots.

New York Drinks Edit - Urban Backyard

Based in Lower Manhattan, it’s a cute spot for enjoying a leisurely cuppa before heading out exploring!

Birch Coffee

Birch Coffee is an NYC based coffee roaster and coffee shop with branches across the city. One of the locations was super close to where we stayed, so we stopped here a couple of times to grab a morning brew before heading out on a mission of a walk to the next brunch spot on our list. Service was friendly and coffee was really tasty.

New York Drinks Edit - Birch Coffee

Flat white is priced at $4 (roughly £3.17), which is about what I pay here in London. Tea was $2.75 (roughly £2.18) and wasn’t too bad for a cuppa in the US.

A great spot for a takeaway!

Brooklyn Roasting Company

Brooklyn Roasting Company is a roastery and espresso lab, with several branches in NYC, including one just the other side of Brooklyn Bridge. They’re another championing sustainability – serving coffees from the world’s most renowned growing regions. They claim to favor third-party-certified coffees in order to help guarantee a living wage for historically impoverished farmers.

The coffee shops have a converted warehouse feel, radiating that Shoreditch vibe. They’re cool, edgy and minimalist. When we visited there were a number of groups of people catching up, working on laptops or drinking a coffee over a book they were currently stuck in.

New York Drinks Edit - Brooklyn Roasting Company

I had a cold brew, which was actually pretty tasty – I was keen to see what the fuss was about. Katy had a fruit iced tea which was delish. With cold brew at $3.50 (roughly £2.80) cappuccinos priced at $3 (roughly £2.40) it’s a little cheaper than the cute spots.

New York Drinks Edit - Brooklyn Roasting Company

A fab, edgy spot for a chilled drink after walking Brooklyn bridge. Or even a quick caffeine stop to grab one for on the go whilst heading back over to Manhattan/up to Williamsburg.

And there you have my top pick for bars and coffee shops from my first ever visit to New York. If you’re heading off for a short break, I’d highly recommend popping these on your list!

Have you been to any of the above? Where are your fave NYC spots?

Chloe xx

Follow:

Eating Out|| Le Garrick, Covent Garden

I’ve walked past Le Garrick hundreds of times. It’s on Garrick street, literally two minutes from Covent Garden station – en route to the piazza. Yet I never quite realised how awesome it would be/was inside. The exterior, a dark green parisian bistro look, doesn’t catch the eye as much as it should among all the bustle in West Central. It really doesn’t do Le Garrick justice.

The interior is pretty cute, super romantic, with a stripped back, minimalist feel. Think Brick walls, dark wood tables, candles donning each and every table setting.  More than half of the restaurant is downstairs in the basement and I couldn’t believe how big it was!

The service was next level too which really added to the experience. We were given a warm welcome on arrival and we were seated armed with the daily specials. Our waitress smiled at my feeble attempt at naming some of the menu items, and she regularly checked in throughout our meal. She was like this with every table in close proximity which is always a great sign!

On to the most important part. The food.

The menu is traditional french. Think Escargots de Bourgogne, Boeuf Bourguignon, and Confit de canard et ses haricots lingots (Classic honey glazed duck ‘confit’ with green beans). Th choice isn’t overly extensive, but there’s more than enough to get you hung up on what to pick. The dishes sounded delicious, so much so that Chris and I both had about four dishes in our shortlist for which we wanted to try.

Le Garrick, restaurant in Covent Garden

Le Garrick, restaurant in Covent Garden

The Pâté de campagne maison was our favourite starter however. Smooth, rich, delicious the pate was served with freshly baked crunchy bread. Although the bread was a little overdone, we would definitely recommend this one.

On to the mains, and we soon realised that the portions were more than generous.

Le Garrick, restaurant in Covent Garden

The Coquelet au citron, a whole free range baby chicken, roasted with lemon & tomato rosemary sauce, was served with more fries than I’ve ever seen accompany a dish. The chicken could be pulled form the bone it was that tender. Served with the light, chunky tomato sauce which topped it, it was fantastic. The fries were a good accompaniment, but I couldn’t help eyeing up the mash across the table…

Le Garrick, restaurant in Covent Garden

The dish of the day was a duck breast with mash and greens. The duck, ordered medium rare, was beautiful in flavour and just as tender as the chicken. It had a fantastic rich sauce. The mash was creamy and the greens just wilted, making one fab dish. It’s safe to say I had the biggest food envy!

Le Garrick, restaurant in Covent Garden

Knowing french cuisine doesn’t have as much green as I’d like, we also ordered the petit pois Grand-Mère. A big dish of petit pois with bacon and onions, it was just what was needed to make our dinner complete. They were cooked beautifully, and the bacon and onions added a fab flavour.

Obviously we had to try and save space for dessert though…

The dessert menu is small and concise, yet there are some really tasty options.

The Crème brulée was creamy and indulgent with a superb crispy top. A fab one if I do say so myself. It was the perfect portion too to finish our french feast.

Le Garrick, restaurant in Covent Garden

The Petit pot au chocolat (Chris nearly ordered chocolate peas haha), was a rich, thick mousse style dessert. It was mouth-wateringly good. Both fantastic choices.

Le Garrick, restaurant in Covent Garden

And to accompany our dishes…wine of course.

We couldn’t resist a bottle of the house red. Deep, rich and beautiful, it was medium-bodied and pretty smooth. White might have suited some of our dishes a little better, but this was a great wine to drink alongside. We do love a red!

Le Garrick, restaurant in Covent Garden

We had such a good meal in this cute, romantic spot. The wine might have fuelled the giggles, but it was one truly lovely evening. A fab little spot if you’re thinking about heading out for dinner this Valentine’s Day, or for an upcoming date night.

SUMMARY:

  • Price: Starters between £6 and £9, mains between £12.95 and £27.95 (rib eye). Pretty reasonable for Covent Garden.
  • Food: Delicious french cuisine. Not an overly extensive menu, but you still get stumped. Go for the pate and the duck. You can’t go wrong with the desserts!
  • Drinks: There are plenty of options. The house red is a beautiful accompaniment to dinner.
  • Atmosphere: Romantic, quiet spot.
  • Wait: Do book, especially if you’re thinking about heading there this Valentine’s Day.

What romantic spots have you been to?

Chloe xx

I was invited along to review Le Garrick. All views my own.

Follow:

Lifestyle|| Combatting Blue Monday

Tomorrow is D-day. It’s Blue Monday. We all know it was created by marketing. A day designed for PRs to outreach with everything and anything to help you feel better about yourself and life this January. To get you feeling more sunshine yellow than blue.

It was actually invented in 2014 by the PRs behind Sky Travel, and there IS a formula behind it. It apparently takes into account many factors including weather, money, Christmas blues, failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling like we need to do something about it all. It might be pseudoscience, i.e something based on fluff, but either way we know this time of year can be tough.

With tomorrow marking the day, here’s a list of my top tips for getting through. Not just tomorrow, but the rest of January and February. Because let’s face it, this cold winter weather, the dark evenings, being thrown back into reality after Christmas and any stresses about everyday life, can really affect happiness and fulfillment. The year goes by too fast to have two whole months of blue, so why not see what making a few small changes/things could do.

Plan ‘me’ days with all of your favourite things

What are your favourite little things to do when you’re on your own? You know the things I mean. Reading? Bath? Baking? Make a list of all the small things you love and plan a day on one of the closest weekends to do some of those things. As many as you want/can fit in. Again it’s something to look forward to, but thinking of these little things, and doing these things can really help with happiness and how much you love your life right now.

Book trips

All the trips. Whether it’s a day trip to Brighton for as soon as the weather is warmer, a city break to Madrid or even a day out exploring a new part of the city or a nearby town. They all count and give that extra little motivation and happiness looking at the year ahead. Plan to go to places you’ve always wanted to. You don’t need to book the big dream trips if you’re a bit strapped, as many are at this time of year. The smaller trips can make such a difference too. Planning with friends is fun, but even if you go solo, you can have a great time.

Day trip to Paris

Plan trips home

For some this is easier to do than others and I do appreciate that. But even planning one family holiday for the year ahead can give you something to look forward to – and with some of the most important people. Family can make such a difference. So having those who know you best, within your near future plans can give you that drive to get through.

Fitness

Fitness helps so many things in the fight to feel better. It releases ‘feel good hormones’, gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, and can help take your mind off stressful situations or things. But the thing which is key when it comes to working out is finding the thing which suits you – you might be more of a yoga person, more of a running or swimming individual, or perhaps someone who likes a more dance style class. Do the things you find fun, that always helps in keeping it up! If you’re worried about money, there’s so many free ways you can exercise. Youtube is the best!

Health & Fitness at O2 Centre Finchley Road

Mindfulness

OK, this one doesn’t work for everyone, and being mindful does really take practice! But meditation or practicing mindfulness can work wonders on your mental state and mood. It can really help you switch off from work and any other things playing on your mind too. This can take the form of meditation, colouring or even yoga – anything where you have to focus on something other than your phone and what you need to deal with. Try put aside 20 minutes or so to just do you.

Cooking wholesome meals

Good mood food. Food has a big impact on mood too, but not just that. Cooking can be a great way to relax and unwind. Taking your mind off the day. So why not whip out a new recipe this January/February and try something different? You might even surprise yourself – and that just leads to more pride and happiness! Plus food always tastes better when you’d put in so much effort!

Roasted Vegetable & Turkey Meatball Salad

Social switch off

This is very much in line with the above, and living in the moment. I.e. really taking in everything you’re doing right now. Social media has been found to negatively affect your mental health. I’m sure you can see why. Constantly being switched on, the feeling of FOMO when you’re sat doing nothing, or the comparison of your life to someone else’s ‘social media life’. I can have a huge effect on the way you feel about your own life. So why not switch off? Even for half a day? Turn off your notifications, put your phone on loud so you only hear if you get a call or message and completely ignore your phone. Do your own thing. Focus on the now. I love having an day off social, it really does help.

Laugh

Laughter is another thing which affects mood positively. So why not plan an evening with those friends who make you giggle, an activity with your partner which is bound to set off a chuckle, or a night of stand-up to release those belly laughs. Laughing is contagious. So not only will you help yourself but you’ll help others too! But even if everyone is busy, get out Netflix, pick a comedy and let your hair down. It’ll feel great!

Edinburgh festive weekend break

Listen to your body

This is so key through all of these things. Only you know what you need. Listen to your body. Do you crave a night in? Do you feel sluggish and need a detox weekend? Or do you actually need a weekend indulging in takeaway and letting go? Now plan those things. The more you listen to what your body tells you that you need, and give it those things, the more you’ll feel good about it and yourself.

These won’t all fit everyone. You have to listen to your own body and mind and select the ones which work for you. After all, it’s you that you need to look after. But I hope some of these help!

If you can’t seem t shift the blue feeling, it’s also super helpful to talk to someone – whether that’s friends or family. Talking it through can help. They know you pretty well too and might be able to suggest something different to the above.

Look after yourself and show yourself some love this January and February. What do you have planned over the next few months?

Chloe xx

Follow:

Eating Out|| Panzo, Exmouth Market

I’m a huge fan of pizza. A good thin and crisp base. Super cheesy. Plenty of veggie toppings. Perhaps a little meat too. Or anchovies. Mmmm. There I go again day dreaming about pizza. But I don’t always opt for pizza because, well basically, one there’s so much choice that I end up going for something else when out. But two, it doesn’t make me feel the best after I’ve eaten it. Because when you’re somewhere like Franco Manca or Pizza Pilgrims, you’re going to eat a whole pizza. And all that dough is never going to make you feel amazing. Sometimes you just have to give in, wear the stretchy waistband, but now there’s another option too.

Panzo.

Panzo ‘pizzas’ are created on sourdough bases, made with a combination of rice, soy and wheat flour too, and left to prove for up to 72 hours. They claim to be low in saturated fat and are meant to be easier to digest too! (I mean eating doughy foods are always going to make you a little bloated, but I felt pretty good the next morning).

Panzo pizza, exmouth market

They’re double cooked, are the teeniest bit oily (think sourdough cross with foccacia) and are super delicious! In fact, I’ll go as far as saying I prefer this to a normal base! They’re really that good.

Panzo is actually the name of the restaurant too.

Panzo is a super cute little spot on Exmouth Market, amongst the twinkly lights. The interior, tables and seats are pretty beige, but the walls are filled with small prints, mini shelves, plenty of plants and there are hanging lights too. It’s a lovely little spot. Service was friendly also, which always makes a difference.

Panzo pizza, exmouth market

The menu features ten panzos (with options to modify) – obviously the main attraction. There’s also a few salads, arancini and pasta dishes, bread and olives too.

All the breads went down a treat with 15 of us foodies.

They were slightly crisp on the edges, with the same dough as the pizza. The Garlic & Rosemary had a beautifully subtle flavour. A classic.

Panzo pizza, exmouth market

The Green Pesto & Tomato bread was a sure fire fave amongst many.  It had plenty of rich tomato and nutty pesto. Absolutely fantastic.

Panzo pizza, exmouth market

Continuing with the carbs feast…

The panzo ‘pizzas’ were a big hit with us all too. Some obviously taking the spotlight a little more.

The Quattro Formaggi, a mix of Goat’s Cheese, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Grana Padano, was SO cheesy! I loved the fact that it was served with a balsamic glaze – it gave it an extra depth to the flavour. So indulgent.

The Triple P got a lot of buzz around the table. A combination of Roasted Pumpkin Cream, Mozzarella, Tuscan Pancetta, Salt Cured Sicilian Ricotta Cheese and Parsley, it was nicknamed the ‘carbonara’ pizza, and enjoyed by many!

Panzo pizza, exmouth market

I had to try the vegan number. Called the Popeye, it was topped with homemade zucchini mint cream, spinach, garlic, red onions and black olives. To me, it was more like an open top sandwich than a pizza (or Panzo), but was still really tasty! I still don’t think I’d choose this instead of a cheesy option, as I’m not vegan, but for anyone doing Veganuary, or who’s gone totally vegan, it’s pretty good.

Panzo pizza, exmouth market

Panzo pizza, exmouth market
A pizza crossed with curry, I never thought would work. But the Curry panzo, with slightly Spicy Chicken Curry made with Bell Peppers, Onions, balanced mix of Spices, was actually pretty creamy and made a fab pizza topping. One I really enjoyed.
The panzo which topped my favourites however, was the St. Paolo. Gorgonzola Cream, Roasted Mushrooms, Truffle Oil and Parsley, it was rich, indulgent, and packed with truffle flavour. It was seriously dreamy. I would go for this time and time again!
Panzo pizza, exmouth market

As for the drinks, Panzo has just launched a new gin menu!

The new menu features 11 gin options, from Brockmans to Gin Mare and Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin. They’re all served in huge copa style glasses, with their own garnish. Gin makes such a refreshing accompaniment for panzo – such a better combo than with beer! The Rhubarb & Ginger Gin was delicious.
Panzo pizza, exmouth market
I had such a fab evening at the event organised by East London Girl. It’s always lovely to catch-up with and meet fellow foodies. But especially when it’s at such a good spot. This is definitely somewhere I’ll be heading back to.

SUMMARY:

  • Price: The panzos are all priced at £8.95 which I think is fantastic. The breads start at £3.95 (but are huge) and the gin £7.95. All in all, great value for money!
  • Food: This panzo crust is the one. There are some fantastic toppings choices too.
  • Drinks: Plenty to choose from, including a new gin menu with some great options.
  • Atmosphere: Super cute, relaxed, quiet and friendly.
  • Wait: It was pretty quiet in the week so you should be able to just walk in, weekends may get busier.

If you’re a sourdough pizza fan, I highly recommend getting yourself down to Panzo! Let me know what you think. Where’s your favourite pizza place right now?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to an event organised by East London Girl. All views my own. 

Follow: