Wimbledon tea at The Draycott

The Draycott Hotel treated me to truly the most relaxing afternoon tea I’ve had in London, with a beautiful tea based around a Wimbledon theme.

7806CCB7-5FBA-4308-B28C-5255934891EBLocated right in the heart of Chelsea, in Sloane Square, The Draycott is perfectly placed on a quiet street, a stones throw from the famous doughnuts of Bread Ahead and one of my favorite London cafes, Granger and Co. Close to the action, but somehow tucked away on a quiet street the way only Chelsea could do it!

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The hotel is elegant, the staff are superb, and the feeling of the hotel lounge is unlike any other London hotel I’ve been inside: it’s incredibly charming and relaxing. I felt right at home in the comfortable furnishings, and was immediately welcomed by kind staff, and swept away into the drawing room which overlooked a gorgeous and expansive garden. I wouldn’t have believed the busy streets of London were just a 1 minute walk away if I hadn’t just walked up myself.

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The tea was designed to celebrate Wimbledon, and the theme was carried throughout the tea. We were served all courses at once, seated on an incredibly comfortable sofa (where I could’ve had a cheeky nap if time allowed!) and my friend and I oogled and nibbled all the food and sipped our tea while in the most relaxing of settings. We felt like welcomed guests of The Draycott and absolutely loved every minute of the experience. The tea menu brought us finger sandwiches, scones, lemon macarons, cakes, and perfectly ripe British strawberries and cream with tea and pimms served on a cheeky swatch of green tennis turf – how perfectly cute!

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Thanks to The Draycott for having me, and for indulging us in a true afternoon retreat from busy London life.

You need a pink sofa (YNAPS)

Dear everyone,

It’s 2018 and if you don’t have a pink sofa, then what are we all even doing here? You’ve been thinking about it, haven’t you? It’s time. I can help. Let me be your pink sofa yogi.

This is what you need: a snuggle sofa/chair, perfect for a reading nook or snuggling up with your instagram machine (judgement-free zone) and I have SCOURED the internet for just the right shapes, sizes, fabrics for the pink reading chair of your dreams. The thing is, with pink furniture, you can end up in grandma territory quickly. If that’s what you want, then I am not here to squash your dreams: GO FOR IT. But I’m all about the clean and modern lines WITH the added bonus of being really comfortable. Style AND substance. I want it all.

Here’s the round-up:

DFS Zinc Velvet Cuddler Sofa – £799

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This has to be one of my favourites. I originally found it from the brilliant Gold is a Neutral and I cannot get over the perfect size, the squish, the snuggle factor, and that perfectly pink velvet. It’s everything you need, and it’s currently on sale for £799. Should I get it already?

IKEA Soderhamn – £195

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This cheap as chips cutie is hard to beat. Very modern, but still soft and squishable. I did lots of research on its comfort levels and have been assured it is, in fact, very lounge-worthy. I love the sweet pale pink and low impact, and the assurance that I can probably move it myself if the rearranging bug kicks in. It also comes as a corner piece or armchair for a hundred quid more.

Maison du Monde ICEBERG – £395

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I’ve had my eye on this one for months. It’s been in and out of the shopping cart for months, until I finally accepted that it’s slightly bigger than the space we have. It would be perfect for a small living room or a conservatory. I’ve read reviews of it being slightly firm, but I think that could be remedied with lots of pillows, as styled in the photo above.

Loaf Crumble Snuggler – £1449

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We have a loaf sofa and it is THE BEST sofa investment we’ve made (and we’ve made a lot, thanks to my past sins of indecisiveness and regret). It’s snuggly and perfect for curling up, and Loaf has amazing customer service, too. I would love to snuggle up in this cutie every single day. When I find that extra £1449 laying around, I will be first in line at Loaf!

Loaf Slim Jim Loveseat – £1249 – £1449 depending on fabric

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This Loaf loveseat is winning me over with the clean lines, and the squish factor. Also, I get a laugh seeing the slippers posed next to the chair. Yes, that is the life I want, please.

Swoon Kalmar Loveseat – £799

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This scandi-inspired loveseat has me going crazy. I love the elegant lines and tapered legs. Somehow they’ve made it squishy and modern all at once! WITCHCRAFT.

Swoon Kalmar Armchair – £649

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The smaller version of the above. Still big enough to snuggle up, still squishy, still a fan!

 

If you have a favorite to share, leave in the comments…

 

7 insta-worthy brunch spots

There is no shortage of brunch spots in London, but there are some that stand out for their special attention to fresh ingredients and beautiful interiors. In the instagram age, cafes are popping up everywhere, but they are not all created equal! These are some of my favorites, the ones I keep coming back to because they tick all my boxes of pretty, delicious, and great service.

Eggbreak

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Eggbreak, an Aussie-style cafe, serves their brunch menu all day long, and with good reason. They have my favorite pancake stack in London (the caramel syrup is TOO DIE FOR), the egg dishes are phenom – think Turkish eggs with dill yoghurt and a cheese toast for dipping and fluffy scrambled eggs on toast. Also the cornflake french toast is not to be missed!

Fresh juices, hot drinks, and an overall lovely spot to pass an hour with friends. Note: this place gets VERY crowded on weekends, we’ve waited over an hour for a table, so get there EARLY or go on a weekday if you can for no lines.

Darcie & May

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Not your average canal boat, Darcie & May has adorable interiors (those pink chairs all lined up do things to me) and a delicious menu to match. Definitely one of the most unique brunching experiences in the city! Just outside of Paddington Station, it’s in an easy to reach location but somehow being on a boat makes you feel far away from the city! Brilliant. I recommend the Shakshuka or the Bondi if you’re hungry.

NAC Mayfair

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Source: NAC Mayfair IG

This gorgeous French bistro is a great central London option serving up classic simple brunch (and lunch and dinner). My favorite: the merguez shakshuka with baked egg, feta, za’atar, and pita.

NAC Mayfair has a great range of healthy options like acai bowls and chia pudding or go for something slightly naughty like crushed milk chocolate cookies and frosties self serve or truffled mac and cheese. I’m sure you deserve it!

Dreamy interiors, well located (it’s a stones throw from the fab instagrammable shops of Bond Street), and delicious food, it’s hard to go wrong.

The Dayrooms Cafe

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You’ve probably seen these gorgeous interiors around the ‘gram, but I’m here to tell you the food is just as good, if not better! My favorites: the breakfast bowl with avocado, courgette fritters, sweet potato, and poached egg, and the bircher muesli bowl with lemon curd. The staff is friendly and accommodating and there is a breezy casual atmosphere that I just can’t get enough of. It’s never too crowded like some of the other Notting Hill spots (or maybe it’s because I pop in on weekday mornings!).

There’s a small cafe in Notting Hill, just off Portobello Road or a newer location in central London Holborn.

Bluebird Café White City

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Full disclosure: I have not eaten here yet, but Bluebird Chelsea has been around for years and the food is always on point. This new branch has insanely gorgeous interiors and I plan on heading there sometime this summer to try out the menu. I couldn’t leave it off this list, though, just look!

Palm Vaults

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An insta-darling,Palm Vaults has a bohemian, garden vibe that I can’t quit. The food is SO good, and I love the gold and pink and #plantproblems interiors. Their avocado toast is the best in London, IMHO, with the most insanely addictive chili sauce. I’ve also had their lovely homemade vegan cakes that are always brightly coloured and infused with floral and berry flavours. They also have a few alternative lattes, including my faves Turmeric and Rose. Who doesn’t love to drink a pink latte!?

Really, I wish they would open a West London location because it’s a quite a haul to East London, but for those of you on the East/Central side, count yourselves lucky!

Farm Girl

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No doubt you’ve seen the pink tables in the lovely courtyard of Farm Girl. This Aussie-style cafe has fresh juices, yummy egg dishes, and great lunch options. I can’t go here without getting the my fave – I love the pomegranate-studded feta-topped avo toast here. They also do french bull-dog latte art, truly the cutest latte you’ll ever have.

Dishoom

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Source: Dishoom

I can’t leave Dishoom off my list, solely based on one item: the egg and bacon naan. It’s only available in the mornings, so get there to try it! There are several locations across London, but my favorites are the Shoreditch location for its outdoor space and the newly opened Kensington location with its stunning art-deco interiors. I’m sure there are other good things on their brunch menu, but I’ve never tried them because I can’t say no to the bacon egg naan.

A weekend in Amsterdam

If you’re looking for a gorgeous city break to spend an Autumn weekend, you have to consider Amsterdam. But really, what’s to consider? The food is amazing, the architecture is beyond stunning, the canals and boats are so charming, and did I mention the food? Top tip: don’t miss the freshly made stroopwafel.

We loved walking over Amsterdam’s bridges and admiring the boats and flowers everywhere. Just look at these canals.
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So many of the houses are crooked because of the foundation sinking over the many years since being built. Charming, don’t you think?
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We stayed in Hotel the Exchange, a pretty little hotel with an incredible central location – just a quick walk from the train station, and right across from the canal boat tours.
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All the rooms are designed by recent graduates from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, and we loved the pink touches throughout this room. I brought my Tales of Thread pink pyjamas to match the room, and was quite the happy girl all weekend!

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Love the details on these pyjamas. That tangerine piping! Tales of Thread works with female-owned/managed factories paying above-market wages and provide training for vulnerable women. Ethical fashion is something I really made a priority for 2017, and plan to continue in 2018.

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We packed a lot into two short days (especially with two small children!), which meant a lot of walking and admiring the pretty Amsterdam houses in between eating. I even found a pink house!

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We stumbled upon this adorable floor-to-ceiling pink shop. I wanted one of everything. So I did the only thing that can be done in these situations: walk away slowly and regret not buying just one single item to remember this precious shop. Next time!

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We ate so many frites. So many waffles. So many stroopwafels. I don’t even remember much else, it’s all a haze of sugar and grease. I was SO happy.

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Until next time, Amsterdam! Thanks for treating us so well! And thank you to Hotel the Exchange for having us, it was the loveliest weekend.

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Whimsical afternoon tea at sketch

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I remember the first time I saw a photo of the perfect pink interiors of the sketch gallery room: the most posh and cool pink interiors I’ve ever seen. A few months ago – before they changed the gallery art! – I was lucky enough to have afternoon tea, sitting in those instafamous delightful puffy pink chairs and having the most whimsical and delicious experience.

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A self-playing pink piano welcomed us into the stunning gallery room, where we were quickly seated and introduced to our charming waiter, who introduced us to the menu and the most beautiful tea cart. I chose a hibiscus tea, and pretended like it was normal for me to sit in a pink paradise being completely spoiled. Totally normal.

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The David Shrigley drawings lining the walls broke up the sweetness of the pink and sparked great conversation.

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Moving right along to the other reason we came to sketch: the food!

We started with eggs and soldiers, a classic British treat. But this wasn’t eggs and soldiers like you know them. The egg “white” was actually a rich bechemel sauce with an in-tact egg yolk (HOW?) and cheesy crispy breadsticks were the soldiers. Ok, I was so excited to try this, but before I could start eating it, the Caviar Man came to our table.

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How can I explain the Caviar Man? I wish I’d snapped a better photo of him, but I was too shy! Wearing a straw boaters hat and donning a smart pink suit, he came to our table and convinced me to try my first caviar by explaining the superiority of Italian caviar to its Russian counterparts and how smooth it was. OK, CAVIAR MAN, I’LL DO ANYTHING YOU SAY.

I’m glad I gave it a whirl, I actually liked it! The whole time I was thinking of that scene from You’ve Got Mail where Meg Ryan admonishes Tom Hanks for eating caviar (“It’s a GARNISH!“).

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After our eggs and soldiers and posh Italian caviar, the afternoon tea tier arriiiiived! My favorite, coronation chicken, was on the sandwich tier and rich and beautifully presented desserts filled the top two tiers.

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Just look at these amazing desserts! That chocolate hazelnut cake and strawberry tart were TO DIE FOR, but I was pretty obsessed with the savory tea sandwiches, too. The marshmallow knots on top were so cute, too, and reminded us of a similar looking sculpture in Regents Park.

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Buzzing from the sugar high, our waiter came by again for our second round of tea – this time offering us tea-infused champagne over ice. I opted for the non-alcoholic version, and it was a perfect refresher to prepare us for the next course: scones. Fluffy scones with jam and clotted cream AKA the reason for living. We could hardly move at that point, but managed to eat an entire scone and even considered asking for a refresh (everything is refillable!).

Don’t you love the crockery at sketch? I need to save up my pennies for a piece or two!

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We obviously had to pop over to the ogle the famous spaceship loos and take our photos, because if you don’t get a photo of the sketch loo pod, did you even go? I snapped a sneaky photo of this girl and her amazing pink hair and consider it a missed opportunity I didn’t introduce myself to my potentially new best friend. Pink lovers have to stick together in this world, after all!

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Did you know the sketch gallery room hasn’t always been pink? Every few years, the gallery changes and hires a new artist and chef to design the concept for the interiors and menu, down to the clothing the staff wears. Look here for past gallery designs. So what I’m saying, is GO NOW before they change the pink interiors!

sketch has perfected the art of creating a whimsical immersive experience, and I was so impressed with the service and all the endless food. Everything was perfect and delightful. Thank you sketch for the unforgettable afternoon!

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A food-lovers guide to Londons most colorful streets

I can’t be the only one who plans my days around food, can I? I put this little guide together of London’s most famous colorful streets and my favorite bakeries and cafes to pop in when I’m in the neighborhood. Because you really need a reward for all that walking and photographing, right? If you have a favorite cafe, please pop it in the comments!

 

PORTOBELLO ROAD, NOTTING HILL

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The famous Portobello Road, basically every color-lovers dream!

EAT: Farm Girl, Fabrique, The Dayrooms Cafe, Gails

 

HILLGATE PLACE, NOTTING HILL

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The lesser known colorful houses on Hillgate and surrounding streets are a nice break from the crowds of Portobello Road, and home of my favorite brunch spot.

EAT: Eggbreak, Patty & Bun, Farina Pizza

BYWATER STREET, CHELSEA

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If you’ve been on instagram, you’ve probably seen this street! That bright pink house makes me smile every time I see it.

EAT: Amorino, Bread Ahead, Granger & Co.

CHALCOT CRESCENT, PRIMROSE HILL

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Another insta-famous curved street with pastel houses, featured in the cute movie, Paddington. Nearby Chalcot Square is equally colorful with a lovely little green space my kids adore.

EAT: Cowshed, Morgan & Melrose, Primrose Cupcakes