Home on the Grange – The Grange Hotel Review

Heyyyyy…Today I bring you a hotel review I’ve been meaning to do forever! I love visiting hotels in London, (even if it’s not to stay in, just for a nose around!), and this one was one of my favourites, so much so that we extended our one night stay to two nights, completely on a whim!

The bf and I visited the 5* Grange Hotel Tower Bridge in London on Valentines Day after getting such a good promotional rate, and we couldn’t have asked for more. The room came complete with robes and slippers, a super comfy bed (and it was huge), a plush bathroom, and a well stocked mini bar! We took a little video of our room here!

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We took advantage of the spa facilities, which included a large pool with surrounding lounge beds, foot baths, a sauna and steam room, and a large jacuzzi. Being Valentines Day it was quite busy, but definitely not as bad as we were expecting!

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We ordered room service during the night, to fully exploit the 24 hour service, and the food was amazing! We ordered a bread selection, which came warm and fresh with a selection of butters, a burger and fries (delicious!), and at some point during the stay, my boyfriend ordered himself a club sandwich, which I’m told was delightful, I just wasn’t there to taste it! (I was still en route from work at this point! Talk about liberties!). Condiments were served in those tiny individual jars by Heinz and Helmans, which basically sells any hotel to me – I’m absolutely obsessed with minis! Oh, we also ordered some cheeky nachos at some ungodly hour! (Yeah, we like food okay!)

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 We had breakfast included, and it was definitely worth it! If you don’t have it included in your rate, I would most certainly recommend you add it on. I always say breakfast is a real deal breaker in hotels, and can really draw the line between star ratings. Particularly for a London hotel breakfast, this one was excellent. A wide range of hot and cold options, including cereals, fruit, an extensive pastry range (which I fuelled up on and dipped in the individual nutella portions, inviting severe judgemental looks from the couple next to us!), and best of all, HASH BROWNS. Sorry, but anywhere serving hash browns, particularly on a buffet so I can devour them until I’m neck deep, really gets an instant thumbs up from me! But seriously, hash browns aside, the offering really was great. When there’s brie available for consumption before 11am, who can complain!

The location is really good too. Just a few minutes walk and you’re at Tower Bridge – great photo opportunity. I really love going to touristy spots in London, even though I live here. Its one of those things you always say you’ll do, but things always get in the way, and when its right on your doorstep, you take it for granted. But the Grange Hotel Tower Bridge is positioned in the perfect spot to soak up the amazing city that London really is. There’s truly no place like it. From the hotel you can take easy transport links via the District Line, or various bus routes to get to anywhere you want to go. You can walk to The Shard and London Dungeons, explore the area around London Bridge (lots of good places to eat), and most importantly, shop! There is no better place to collapse after a marathon round Selfridges than the Grange Hotel beds!!! Perfect squish to firmness ratio in my opinion!

The Grange group actually has 16 hotels in London, all four and five star, and all in amazing locations to see the best of London – St Pauls, City, Holborn (great access to Oxford Street, and the Ajala Spa here looks amazing!), Fitzrovia, and tons more. I am desperate to visit the St Paul’s hotel. It looks amazing! There’s a Sky Bar which I think can only be hired for meetings and events *CRYS*, but I’m dying to get up there and see it! The bf is flying back from Aus in July (incase I hadn’t already mentioned 200000 times – sorry!), so we’ll hopefully take a visit there, maybe to celebrate my imminent pensioner status (yes, I’m TWENTY THREE on Monday). I’m keen to see Holborn too. Reviews will definitely follow! (Just not three months later this time, and with much better photos!)

So. Yeah. If you’re looking to visit the divine city of London, or you live here and fancy a night of luxury, Grange Hotels definitely get the Coco seal of approval! Follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@grangehotels) too! They post great updates and photos!

Night all

Coco xx

 

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Chinese Dumplings Cook Off From One Side of the World to the Other

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely obsessed with oriental food. Moving from my small home town to the bright lights of London, one of the first things I learned was, there’s more to life than Wagamama. London is packed with loads of authentic chinese and japanese restaurants that are much better than main stream chains, and my go-to choice of entrees are ALWAYS dumplings. Or gyoza, for the intellectual linguists amongst us. When I was in Australia, the suburbs are actually packed with restaurants specialising in dumplings, so I was in food heaven! Only problem is, I’ve been harbouring a severe allergy to shellfish, which eliminates a high proportion of restaurants, as they don’t offer plain chicken, beef or pork on their own. After finally tracking down some plainer ones, my boyfriend and I vowed that we would learn to master them at home ourselves. We decided we would make them together over Skype, in the evening his time (which was sadly 10.30am for me, but by the time we had finished it was like an early lunch). They actually turned out really well, and they’re super easy to make, really cheap, and actually pretty healthy (about 30-40 calories per dumpling, depending on fillings). A great treat for a down day!

Anyway, I snapped some pics of our progress, and how they turned out! Thought I would share it with everyone! I based mine on an online recipe for help with the dough, but the filling and cooking was all our own!

1. Create the dough (yes, we made this from scratch!). Its simply plain flour and water. I used 140g of flour and 150ml of very very hot water. This dough makes enough for about 15 dumplings. Mix the two together in a bowl until it makes a ball of dough.

2. Kneed the dough for about 6-8 minutes until its smooth and stretchy.

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3. Put in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth and leave while you make your fillings. (I’m unsure exactly what this is for, but a few recipes I had looked at online told me to do it, so I did.)

4. Chop up chives, four spring onions, two chilli peppers, two cloves of garlic, and one chicken breast into the smallest pieces you can. If you have a food processor, mince it and mix it together. I pre-cooked my chicken, but the bf used his raw. Neither of us died so its up to you. I’m just a serious raw chicken germophobe, so I pre-cooked mine. Just remember to make sure its cooked through at the final stage, particularly if you’ve used raw chicken. You’ll need to cook them a little longer if you have.

5. With your mixed up filling, add a bit of soy sauce (as much as you feel you need to get the ingredients to stick together), and some chilli oil if you like it spicy.

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6. Take out your dough, and roll it into a long, thin sausage shape, about the circumference or your thumb and forefinger when you make a circle. Cut the sausage shape into equal pieces. Usually about 15.

7. Roll each one into a circle shape, put a bit of filling in the middle (only a little bit – you don’t want to over stuff them), and fold the dough over like a pasty. Dab water onto the edges to make them stick, and press together with your fingers to make the edges flat. It looks a bit like the back of a stegosaurus.

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8. Once you’ve used all your dough and filling (the above proportions should make it just about exact), you can either fry or steam your dumplings. For frying, use a shallow pan, heat some oil until its hot, and place the dumpling in. Let it sizzle in the oil (use more chilli oil for more flavour if you like), and flip it onto both sides until they brown off. (Leave them for longer if you’re waiting for the chicken inside to cook). Also try and get the base side to flatten and let it stand up like that for a while too. For steaming, I tried various options as I didn’t have my steamer here with me, but the easiest and most effective method was just plop the dumplings into a pan of boiling water and leave for a few minutes until the dough becomes, somewhat, chewy. You’ll be able to tell by watching the colour and texture change. Remove with a draining spoon and serve!

9. For dipping sauce, use either soy sauce on its own, or add chilli oil or fresh chillies, and some chinese rice wine/vinegar. Serve as an entree, or on a bed of egg/chicken fried rice as a main course!

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Easy and SO delicious!

Have a great bank holiday weekend, all!

Love always

Coco xx

Bond Girl

Hey guys, hope everybody is enjoying the sunshine as much as I am! Life is just that little bit brighter when the sun is shining. The endless summer evenings make the days seem far longer, rather than waking up in darkness and leaving work in darkness, trudging home losing yourself in the sofa cushions until the end of time, aka the British winter.

Today I am hounding you with yet another plug of an Aussie brand that I fell in love with, called BONDS (and I expect you’re now nodding your head as you now understand the pun embedded in the title of this post). I was introduced to it for the first time when I saw the name sprawled across the waistline of my boyfriend’s boxers, and concluded that it was the laid back, Aussie surfer equivalent of having Calvin Klein peeping out the back of your jeans, rather than an advert for Australia’s investment yield prospects (the finance geeks reading this will appreciate). This was until my visit to Australia, when I spotted an entire store filled with underwear, sleepwear and sportswear, for men AND women. It has a Nike/Sweaty Betty/Victoria’s Secret Sports feel to it, and has uplifting summer prints and bright colours available, as well as more plain options. Cool workout gear is hot for 2014, and this brand is packed with ideas. I grabbed a bra (with the bonds logo not-so-subtly plastered around the underbust, an adorable palm print bandeau also sporting the logo, and some grey sweatpants that are so comfy I have had to actually talk myself into letting them go in the wash as I’ve been living in them. I’m already having withdrawals.

Anyway, as always, I’ve chosen some of my favourite bits from the site, and even better, they now deliver to the UK, AND its free deliver over $100AUD (thats only about £50, so go nuts!).

1. Wide waistband jungle line print briefs, $17.95AUD

2. Low rise shorts, $16.95AUD

3. Logo Sweatpants, $49.95AUD

4. Active leggings, $49.95AUD (I wanted these SO badly to wear with my pink Nike Free Runs…cry!)

5. Tube Bra, $39.95AUD

6. Neon print g-string, $14.95AUD

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Enjoy, Bond Girls!

As always,

Coco xx

 

Sabo Skirt

Hey all,

For those who read my recent post, you’ll know I recently returned from Australia. (Yes I still have post holiday blues, so I’m using this time to blog about it!) Now, as a true Brit, as much as I love travelling and seeing other countries, there are very few places in the world that can keep up with us in the fashion stakes. Even my favourite cities in the world, Barcelona and New York, just, to me, don’t quite do fashion the same as us. It always seems a bit dated or under staged, so visiting the land downunder, I had very low expectations in terms of what I would find in terms of new threads.

Now, in fairness, with their season being opposite to ours, it was coming into Autumn when I arrived, so their stores were laden with chunky scarves, boots and parkas (for the weather that they supposedly classify as ‘cold’. *laughs*). It was hardly the right thing I was looking for since I was returning to the UK in May, and looking at the prospect of lighter evenings, summer BBQs, beach days, flip flops and shorts. However, I was introduced to a site called Sabo Skirt << follow the link. At first I was sceptical, but I have fallen in love with just about every item on there. To be totally fair, the Aussies know their summers, and I think had I visited at peak season, I might have been woo’d more by their styles. Sabo Skirt has the most gorgeous range of summer clothes you’ve ever seen, and its all a bit different and unique – quite different to what you’d come across here in the UK. They do offer international shipping, so I’m torn between forking out for that or ordering it to my boyfriend’s house and having him bring it over to me when he visits in the summer!

I’ve selected a few of my real favourite pieces, but definitely check the site out yourself, or follow them on Instagram – their stuff is to die for! I think its actually quite reasonably priced too, once you calculate the AUD exchange rate, which I have kindly done for you, for a bit of perspective 😉 Happy drooling!

1. Floral shorts, $42 AUD (about £21)

2. Bubblegum shorts, $45 AUD (about £22.50)

3. Crochet Dress, $68 AUD (about £34)

4. Sunflower Waistcoat, $29 AUD (about £14.50 – bargain!)

5. Pastel Bralet, $21 AUD (about £10.50)

6. Denim Dungarees, $62 (about £31)

7. White Maxi, $62 AUD (about £31)

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Its $10 for international shipping that takes 5-15 business days, which equates to about £5, so its really quite decent compared to UK shipping costs, but in my experience, give the Australian post extra time. If you thought Royal Mail was bad, you aint seen nothing, so don’t hold your breath for your parcel to arrive in an instant!

Hope you love the site as much as I do! Let me know if you snap anything up!

Love always,

Coco

 

 

All I Know Since Yesterday, is, Everything Has Changed

Okay, so I have returned to my blog after months on end, and, yes, I know I say this every time I return, but I am actually back this time! The oddest part of my return is actually reading my last post back to myself, which I posted two days after we all clinked our glasses to ring in the New Year and say a big hello to 2014. In said post, I declared to change absolutely nothing about my life, make no resolutions, plans or promises, and to try and keep everything exactly the same. Well. Pretty much the second I posted that blog entry, the universe must have laughed, because suddenly everything changed!

I got into a long distance relationship, and by long distance, mean LONG distance. 11,000 miles to be exact. Yes, you guessed it. Australia. Not only Australia, bloody Melbourne. So basically the furthest away he could possibly be! I know what you’re thinking, and yes it sounds ridiculous, but I can tell you that the stigma surrounding long distance is certainly outdated. How much time do we actually find in our busy lives to sit down and talk face to face with our friends and family that live minutes away from us? Hardly any. They’re always there, and life gets busy. But how long do I spend talking to my boyfriend face to face, all be it on Skype? About 15 hours a week. Its actually surprisingly fabulous. Anyway, this crazy roller coaster, while expensive, has allowed me to spend 3 weeks in Australia, and it was the absolute trip of a lifetime. Yes I’ve come back hideously poor and struggling to make rent, but I don’t even care!

We roadtripped the Great Ocean Road, spent 4 nights in Lorne (the most adorable beachside haven), 2 nights in Sorrento, went to watch the tiny penguins at Phillip Island, explored Melbourne, and visited Sydney. If you’ve never been, its something you really really must do. Here are some snaps!

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Love always

Coco

The coolest thing I’ve seen in ages…One Fine Stay: The Unhotel

Today, I came across one of the coolest things I have ever seen in all my years as a hotel obsessive – One Fine Stay. Basically, in a nut shell, it is the real life, living embodiment of the Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet house-swap-come-romantic-comedy that captured our hearts in the film, The Holiday, in 2006. Okay, so it was kiiiind of Jude Law that stole our hearts, but the scene that brought us Kate Winslet’s oh so British arrival in the LA mansion was complete gold.

So, as I was saying. People let out their homes and you can book to stay in them for a few days, just as you would a hotel. You can even book online, just as you would do for a hotel. Its super easy! The best part is, as if you weren’t sold already, is you even get the hotel treatment, even though you’re staying in someone’s home. The guys at One Fine Stay are on hand for anything you need 24/7. They’ll either sort it for you over the phone, or pop on over like a handy, constant beck and call, neighbour! You also don’t have to sacrifice your haul of mini toiletries! They even sort all of this for you too, and there’s optional maid service, so you still don’t have to make your bed! It really is a home away from home, with a sprinkling of the glitter and glamour that you get with a hotel stay. Basically, you get total control of the sundae (your holiday), and One Fine Stay are the cherry on top! They even have a ‘home truths’ section on each property, giving you the black and white downsides or limitations, i.e. lack of TV.

Obviously, the downside would be that you do have to be super duper careful. No crazy parties and a smashing spree of the mantlepiece’s resident ornaments! These properties are owned by the world’s elite. Treat their home as if it were yours.

So, having been completely stunned and elated by the entire idea, I gave the website a good old scour, and picked out some of my favourite properties, to show you what sort of thing is available! These beauties will certainly make you reconsider your next visit to Late Rooms 😉

MAYFAIR – LONDON, UK

One Fine Stay have branded this property the bricks and mortar embodiment of George Clooney or Marilyn Monroe, and take a peep inside and you’ll see exactly why. Boasting two original fireplaces, an all round opulent feel, and artistic furnishings, this two bed two bath 17th century property is the ideal spot for a luxury stay in the British capital. Nightly rates around £400.

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CHELSEA – LONDON, UK

If, like me, you’ve been embarrassingly transfixed by the likes of Marc Francis, Spencer Matthews and Millie Macintosh on Made in Chelsea, then a couple of nights pretending you’re part of the glittering wonderland that is Chelsea life, would be an absolute dream.  With One Fine Stay, you most certainly can. This property on Cheyne Walk comes complete with amazing views from the chic balcony overlooking the harbour, vintage style interiors and an all over air of purity, evident from the abundance of white hues. Also with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, you and three friends can make like the MIC cast from £280 per night. All of the upper class amenities of the Royal Borough are all close by too.

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NEW YORK, USA

This New York Soho loft looks like the set of so many American sitcoms, namely New Girl. The exposed brick and high ceilings just exude the coolness of your average New Yorker, and you can get a slice of the action from $299 per night. The owner is an architecture and design connoisseur, with a love of photography and contemporary art, which is evident across the decor of the open plan living room of the apartment. The stylish bed (photographed) is a unique touch to the classic white themed bedroom, with a door-less three step decent to the artistic bathroom. Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 15.45.10 Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 15.45.20 Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 15.45.39

PARIS, FRANCE

This Parisian apartment is owned by the coolest Grandmother I’ve ever heard of. The site states that when she’s not sipping on a café crème, she’s chatting on Instagram and Facebook. Now she sounds like my kind of temporary landlady to me! Her hip-ness is reflected in her elegant, classic styled apartment, featuring original parquet floors. Vintage, antique furniture graces the living space, while a contrastingly modern kitchen depicts the fun and wild character of its owner. Located on the Rue Raynouard, this apartment is nestled in a quiet and secluded spot, close to the River Seine.

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I really could blog all day about these properties, but I’ll let you explore the rest for yourselves. Its giving me inspiration for my next birthday, actually. I’ll be 23 next June (scary!), and perhaps whisking myself and my closest girls off somewhere to pretend we’re rich and famous for a few nights would be so much fun. Pamper nights on the leather corner sofa, living it up like locals on the streets of some of the best cities in the world, and dinner parties on the glass dining tables?! Perfection!

Have a good week, all! Only two days til Friday!

All my love

Coco xx

All photographs remain owned by One Fine Stay.

A Secluded Sanctuary: Limewood Hotel, New Forest

Today’s post is one I have been meaning to do for a couple of weeks now. Its a gorgeous spot in the New Forest that I just have to tell you about. While I constantly plug the bright lights and the big city of London, and am not usually a countryside, middle of nowhere type of girl (despite having grown up there), this spot is a haven for relaxation and luxury, and one of the few exceptions to my rule.

Limewood Hotel, based in Lyndhurst in Hampshire, surrounded by green forests and neighbours to a whole host of wildlife, is a Regency county manor house. On site is a luxury spa, Max’s Bar (home to the best Martini in Hampshire) and15 boutique bedrooms and 14 delectable suites, many boasting private gardens, open fires, and glamourous bathing facilities.

My recent visit was for Afternoon Tea for my 22nd birthday, and I can tell you, it was certainly better than a lot of teas you will find in London (yes, you heard it here, I badmouthed London. Don’t tell anyone!). At £23.00 per stand (which includes four finger sandwiches, two scones and four cakes), you can share one between two people, and its just the perfect amount. The scones were fresh and warm, and the cake selection was one of the best I have ever tasted. The best part has got to be between the tiny plant pot (yes, plant pot) of rich chocolate mousse, and the smooth, moist carrot cake cubes, so definitely save those ’til last! They also offer huge range of loose leaf teas to choose from (though I admit I was boring and stuck to English Breakfast), and we also sampled their lattes. As self confessed coffee addicts, we can be hard to please, but the sleek glass tumbler of rich, smoothly blended beans really did impress.

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Picture: My own

The service is faultless, and I don’t think the words ‘short staffed’ and Limewood have ever been used in the same sentence. There are elegant, waistcoat wearing barmen on every corner, and a blonde haired young chap donning a tan leather greeted us at our car (which we were able to park on the lawn, might we add) and showed us through to the Hartnett and Holder Co. restaurant.

The hand lotion in the bathrooms is to die for, and you’d be missing out if you didn’t explore the grounds during your visit. Open plan and natural without being overwhelming, the grounds of the hotel boast two tree swings (oh yes!), floral trellises, quiet seating areas, patio terrace and sculptures.

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Pictures: My own

I am yet to sample the Herb House Spa, which opened in late 2010, so is still brand spanking new. Amidst peaceful treatment rooms and sun beds surrounding the outdoor steaming hot bubble pool, the spa offers a Mud House, Hydropool, Caldariam, Massive Forest Sauna, and an indoor swimming pool.

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Picture from: Limewood Hotel Website

For £195 per person, the retreat for two includes a choice of various massage or facial treatments, Mud House, set lunch in Raw and Cured (spa restaurant) and full use of the spa facilities all day.

This place is a real treat. Even if you’re next pay cheque is going on car repairs or rent, pop in for a coffee or a cocktail. The grounds sell themselves and you’ll get to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere before booking in your spa day or mini break 😉

Oh, and follow Limewood Hotel on Twitter @LimewoodHotel, and Instagram @limewoodhotel! (And meeee, if you want to! @Scrambled_Emma!)

Toodles

Coco

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Picture: My own

Im wearing: Baroque cigarette trousers, Next; nude peep toes, New Look; chiffon camisole, Primark (whoops); white blazer, Next; cube necklace, Accessorise.

Dullberry

Hi all

Posting today from the gorgeous heat of the Canaries, while enjoying a little winter sun jaunt with my dear mumma.

So naturally, being in the canaries I’m taking advantage of snooping out some cheap, though admittedly poor, replica fashion items. Picked up a cracking Louis Vuitton style travel holdall yesterday for €15 so not complaining one bit.

As always, the fakes get me thinking of how much I want the real thing, and how far in the future it will be that i can actually afford one!

While fantasising about the Mulberry Alexas, Bayswaters, and the one that got away last season (cry), the Effie, I came to realise that I’ve been caught up in the Mulberry hype, when I don’t actually really want one anymore.

My attentions have turned to the, more expensive yet much more classic, Chanel shopper. (Lauren Conrad style obvs).

Coming in at over £2500 it’s far far far out of my price range and likely to never happen, but you never know!

I definitely think that Mulberry has become really quite over rated in recent years, and it seems everywhere you turn someone has one! Beautiful as you are, Mulbs, I think it’s time I lay that dream to rest, and move on to greater loves!

Back to England tomorrow, 7am flight, which means a 4.15am wake up call! Made in Chelsea ep downloaded in preparation for the plane, so now alls left to do is have one last cocktail and wave the sun and sea farewell!

On that note, Toodles!

All my love

Coco