Miami is one of the most well known cities in America. Famed for its Cuban communities, its night life and of course its beaches. Its an incredibly popular holiday destination, which can often leave you wondering, which hotel should I stay at? Whilst I haven’t stayed in them all! I can tell you about the one I did in Downtown Miami and absolutely loved. Let’s explore the Mandarin Oriental, Miami.
Located in the heart of Downtown Miami in the financial district, it's luxury hotel that really pulls out the stops. As soon as you walk into the entrance hall, it's an impressive sight. Huge 3 story high lobby with a water feature, reeds and beautiful gold and jade fabrics- an ode to its heritage.
After a whole day exploring little Havana, I was eager to head up to the room The rooms are fantastic in size (A plus of America, is that everything is big in comparison!)
I stayed in the Deluxe Skyline Room. There was a huge double bed, an arm chair, and just out of shot was a big executive desk. The skyline of course is amazing, but I'll show you that later on. But it's the bathroom that will really sell it to you.
As well as again being an impressive size, oh and that tub really was huge, practically swimming pool-esque, it was the open wall into the bedroom that will catch you attention. It opened up the whole room, and gave it a rather romantic feeling. You can imagine, being with your partner, you relaxing in the bath, them having a lie down on the bed, yet you can idly chat to each other... I on the other hand was on my own, but hey, we can't have it all.
Back out of the rooms and outside, if you were worried that being in Downtown would loose that Miami vibe, fear not, for the hotel is actually on the waterfront and does in fact have its own small private beach, complete with cabanas.
My favourite thing though that I learned was that the hotel employees birds of prey and their handlers to walk around the complex to scare off pigeons so they don't poo on hotel guests! If thats not service then I don't know what is.
Years ago I stayed in the Mandarin Oriental in Paris, and visited their newly opened at the time, spa. Mandarin Oriental hotels are famed for their spas, and it's an iconic part of the brand. Their spas are based around restorative treatments inspired by the elements, and the ancient traditions such as Chinese, Ayurvedic and Thai cultures.
There are 11 treatment rooms and 6 treatment suites, as well as steam room, sauna and beauty stations with every type of product a girl would need.
I went for a 60 minute full body massage with the pressure as firm. I'm one of those people who want to feel like their muscles are really being worked, rather than just a gentle rub. As much as the type of massage I love isn't always super relaxing, although highly effective at working my post gym tight muscles, the treatment rooms here are filled with the scented oil of your choice, the beds are heated and their is relaxing, but not cheesy. Afterwards I found myself in a post massage bliss, and feeling lighter and less tense.
But, didn't I tell you to wait for the views? Well take a look at this.
Every stage of light captured.
I'm a city girl, and whilst I do love a scenic countryside view, I always feel at home in a noisy, bustling city. Downtown Miami really is alive at all hours and it's fascinating to watch.
Whilst Miami has hundreds of amazing restaurants, you really must check out La Mar by Gastón Acurio. It is their signature restaurant, that also has an outdoor terrace with waterside views.
La Mar is a high end Peruvian restaurant, as Miami as strong influences from Peru. Never having eaten Peruvian food (although now have been to several in London) I can tell you it's a cuisine you really must try. There's a lot of fish and sea food, although plenty of meats too. Ceviche, sashimi and amazing fried parcels are all on offer. The flavour combinations really are extraordinary and not really flavours we fine in European cuisine. Thing tang, and citrus types.
Mandarin Oriental Miami really is a gorgeous hotel. The service is impeccable, and one thing to note is how good the customer service from the staff was. You know its good when I tweeted about it. Everyone asks how your day is, is there anything they can do for you, and when you call room service for a tooth brush, it appears within 5 minutes, unlike some UK hotels where you find yourself waiting for half an hour...
If you are thinking about heading to Miami, I'd highly recommend the Mandarin Oriental for your stay.
If you hadn't already guessed from the number of posts I do on the brand, Four Seasons are one of, if not my number one, favourite hotel brand. There is something just so incredibly welcoming about this luxury brand. Everything is done to perfection from the amenities, the staff and services they provide. But of course another area they do perfection is food.
Last time I wrote about the Four Seasons Hampshire's new unbelievable brunch, but now I need to tell you about their newly opened Wild Carrot restaurant and their new quarterly event called Seasonal Socials.
The Seasonal Socials take place in the private dinning room called Fox Hollow and is an occasion that head chef Adam Fargin and his team can create a menu around seasonal produce. For winter it is currently Pear and Venison.
Another of the Four Seasons Hampshire's aims is the showcase local brands too. This season they have partnered with Hampshire Gin distillery Twisted Nose. The story of Twisted Nose is fascinating- it started out as a project literally on the owners kitchen table, using his house tap water to distil it. Luckily things have progressed from there now, and they are successful enough to have their own large warehouse and offices. It is actually a really beautiful gin; light, fresh and very smooth. One you could easily sip away a few glasses without noticing too much .
After chatting with the new faces around the table, it was time for the first of four courses. Watercress mousse amuse bouche with smoked river test trout, a saffron mayonnaise and pickled kohlrabi. watercress is grown in abundance in Hampshire and is one of their key exports. It's not a flavour I've every really thought to buy, but the peppery taste got me thinking that it might be good to use in my cooking instead of sprinkling on the black pepper.
The next course was a dream for me.Fried goat’s cheese with a potato pressing and smoked duck breast. Doesn't that just sound divine? This was also the course that chef introduced the pears, as he topped with with pear and roasted beetroot.
For mains we had the venison with potato terrine and apple and red cabbage sauce. I love venison as it's one of the more tender yet richer red meats which makes it just a fantastic flavour and texture to eat.
Finally we ate caramelised pear tart with clotted cream ice cream. Typical me, but I think this is might have been my favourite. I can't help it, I have such a sweet tooth. I saw someone leave about three quarters of theirs and I had to really hold myself back from taking it.
The seasonal socials are such a gorgeous dinner. It's like a dinner party except you don't have to worry about the cooking, or the cleaning up, or the decorations, or well anything! With Four Seasons Hampshire only 45 minutes away from London, it's a great local escape and makes a change from the very hectic London restaurants.
If you are like me, and after a big meal feel very sleepy, take a look at the room I stayed in, as you might want to book yourself in!
What a title to have eh? You are probably thinking, isn’t the answer obvious? But you may actually be surprised. So let me start this post by laying all my cards out on the table. I hate beer, I hate larger, I even hate cider. I know nothing about the stuff and to be quite honest was happy to continue along that road. However I found myself heading to Dublin a few weeks ago and spending the day at the Guinness Storehouse. I’ll admit my first thought was oh no. However I am someone who does like to learn, and so I thought, could this still be an interesting day out for those not actually into Guinness? After all Guinness is integral to Dublin culture, and your really cant visit Dublin without the Guinness Storehouse.
Guinness is an Irish dry stout that was started by Arthur Guinness at St. James's Gate brewery in Dublin in 1759. Guiness accounts for 1/3 of all beer drunk in Ireland and in the United States they drunk more than 950,000 hectolitres of Guinness in 2010. At it’s height it had over 5000 employees (this is now around 900 thanks to automation and machines) and was the largest employer in Ireland. Today the storehouse is the number one tourist destination in Ireland and one of it's biggest revenue sources.
Now as someone who doesn’t enjoy beer, what is the value in going to the storehouse? Well that was the question at the back of my mind. However it is a well rounded experience. We booked a tour guide to take us through the 7 story building and whilst she obviously explained the process of making Guinness and the history behind it, she gave us facts about Ireland and other information about the Guinness family. Did you know that Arthur Guinness has 20 children all with his wife! And all single births! That poor woman!
The whole experience is very interactive, with lots of to see, touch and of course, taste. Theres videos, a flowing waterfall and lots of quirky fun exhibitions.
We spent about an hour and a half going round on the tour and actually it is really interesting. A big section that might appeal to non Guinness drinkers is the marketing and advertising floor. Guinness adverts are a huge part of their history and brand image, and have often been creative and ahead of their time.
Of course, no visit to the Storehouse would be complete without tasting. They have 3 different bars but theres a tasting experience room if you are feeling more fancy.
However for someone like me, I always have to know if there is going to be food there. Well don't you worry, the storehouse has 3 restaurants racing in price and style. We went to 1837, the more upscale restaurant out of the three.
The menu is filled with Irish classics, from pies, to fish and meats.
However an Irish delicacy is oysters paired with Guinness, which whilst did have rave reviews from around the table, I couldn't quite see the appeal.
I could see the appeal though in the pork belly. I do love my hearty food.
Now if you are really a non beer drinker you might not go for the Connoisseur Experience, however if you are with some others who do really love the black stuff then the Connoisseur Experience is really a treat for them.
It's a book ahead experience when you and a handful of others are taken to your own private pub for an hour and a half tasting with Guinness' master connoisseur who will teach you how to identify flavour, the differences in blends and what makes a good and a bad Guinness at your local.
It was very interesting, even if I didn't actually drink any of the drinks.
Overall, if you are heading to Dublin, I do think you should visit the Storehouse. It's such an integral part of Irish history, I feel like you can't really not go. However I would say if you are a non Guinness drinker, just go for the morning, as an all day experience with the bolt ons might be a bit too much.
So with St Patricks Day tomorrow, will you be celebrating with a pint of Guinness?
The word staycation has been batting around for some years gathering pace. But I really feel like last year was the year that people actually took lots of little mini breaks closer to home, I know I certainly did. With work and limited annual leave, you really can’t be jetting off to some far flung destination every month, and so I’ve started doing a few one nighters in places close to London.
A couple of weeks ago I headed to leafy Hampshire, just 40 minutes outside of London. There is the stunning Four Seasons Hampshire hotel set in acres of grounds.
The hotel rooms are newly refurbished, and have been done to a very high standard indeed.
I mean, just look at that bathroom with it's huge freestanding bath. If that doesn't make you feel more relaxed then I don't know what will.
The rooms have a lady of the manor type feel with plush fabrics, warm tones and touches of gold and wood to lift it up and give it a luxury feel. After all this is no rambling manor pile, the Four Seasons is a top luxury hotel brand.
My room was hugely spacious and what you can't see from the photos is that I actually had a small walk in wardrobe! I've been watching The Crown lately, and I felt a little like Margaret (not the Queen, too much responsibility and not enough fun).
With the Four Seasons its always been about the little touches. Fresh flowers in the room, some chocolate strawberries on arrival and as soon as I walked in the door, a porter asked my name. I only said Laura but he replied, ah yes, welcome Miss Hyatt. I'm presuming they learn each days guest list which I foundry impressive.
If you've ever dreamed of escaping to the country then this is the place for you. The rest of the hotel is absolutely stunning.
From the multiple lounge areas where you can sit back with a tea and some cake.
To the impressive looking bar where I'm pleased to say, they serve a very good espresso martini.
But what about food there, I hear you cry? Fear not, as they have just launched a weekend brunch menu which is fit for any lord or lady of the manor.
Set in their Wild Carrot restaurant which is a nice balance of refined for relaxed atmosphere.
I started with a raspberry fizz, but whilst restrained on the drink, might not have been on the food...
Wow does it not look impressive!
The menu uses seasonal produce from organic and local producers.
There is smoked salmon on spinach pancakes
Traditional pancakes with clotted cream, strawberry compote and maple syrup.
The most insane Oreo waffles!
Ah the classic Avo on Toast with poached eggs.
Strawberrys and syrup French Toast.
And finally the prettiest granola and natural yogurt bowl I think I've ever seen.
Me and my friends did our very best to clean up every plate. Every single dish was delicious, although I think I might like the pancakes the best.
After a long lazy brunch, we noticed the clouds started to part and the sun peak through. So we got up and headed out into the grounds to walk off some of that food. Don't worry, you can actually borrow Barbour jackets and wellies so you don't even need to fill precious room in your suitcase.
If the weather does happen to turn though, there is a spa that I have to say is incredible. I've been before so check out my review.
But don't worry, there's also more foodie adventures to come in the next post all about the amazing new dinner concept the Four Season's Hampshire is doing.
Now let's be honest here, if you use Instagram frequently you've probably googled at least once, "Most Instagrammable places in...". We're all guilty of doing it. Well if you are in London, and you love a pretty Instagram feed, then do I have the place for you.
Saint Aymes in Connaught Village is a luxury chocolate shop and cafe. When I went on Saturday it was only 12 days old and so currently is something of a hidden gem, but by the looks at the way their own Instagram follower count is rising fast, I suspect it's soon going to get a whole lot busier.
From the outside you know it's going to be something special, as the window is framed by gorgeous wisteria, and stepping inside, the flower theme continues. It's a girlie dream.
But of course, it's not just all show and no substance. Saint Aymes is a luxury chocolatier which is stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, and this cafe is their first venture out on their own.
Each of their chocolates are hand painted with 23ct Gold, making it for a delicious and luxurious treat. I took a bar of dark chocolate, pistachio and sea salt home and wow is it good. It's rich, but has a gorgeous deep flavour to it.
There's all sorts of cute and perfectly presented sweet treats available, actually you should be aware, it is all sweet treats so just make sure you don't come expecting a sandwich.
But of course, what would an Instagram cafe be without a flower wall, the it thing to have on your feed.
Although if you bring a dog, I think you'll have gain bonus points! This little fluff ball joined us for cake, just look at her! Pepi's human is Katie Heath, and sadly I had to invite Katie just so I could see Pepi... I joke!
The cafe is dog friendly and they even have a bed and water bowls for dogs, which in my eyes just makes this the best cafe ever. Lot's of dogs, cute flower walls and pretty cakes? I'm in love!
Me and Katie both went for a 23ct hot chocolate which was so pretty. In fact the whole table setting is just dreamy.
I honestly can't get over how cute everything was, and add Pepi into our date and well, I'm one happy blogger!
Don't worry if it seems quite full upstairs, there is a downstairs area too, complete with it's own flower wall for all your selfies and insta shots.
Saint Aymes is honestly just one of the sweetest cafe's I've been to in ages. Hurry down quickly now, because it's certainly not going to stay secret for long.
After Christmas, what do you think the next big event is? New Year? Valentines day? No no, it's Cadbury Creme Egg season of course!
Here in Britain we go crazy for Creme Eggs. As soon as they are in the shops we are immediately out our doors and off to hunt them down.
But there is even more reason to rejoice as Creme Egg have only gone and opened a pop up in London called the Creme Egg Camp!
It's an immersive camp between Old Street and Shoreditch where you can enter the woods and hunt down some Creme Eggs amongst the trees, camp fires and even canoes. But let me show you round.
There's a campfire for you explorers to sit round and share camp fire ghost stories.
There's even a slide! A slide I tell you! The kid in me just jumped for joy at this.
But don't worry you can always retreat to base camp, where you'll find supplies to recoup and relax.
I'm sure one or two Creme Eggs will bring the colour back to your face after those ghost stories.
And campers, you'll need all your strength as your mission here is to find the elusive White Creme Egg. Could there be one hidden in this camp? Is it under the logs, behind the tents, or maybe at the bottom of the slide? You won't know unless you go hunting.
Theres also a campfire kitchen for all you hungry campers. Of course every thing is Creme Egg related, which is just the best, trust me. Theres Creme Egg cookies, Creme Egg waffles and even Creme Egg toasties. Now, hold on. I know it sounds weird as hell, but just trust me on this one, they were so delicious!
There's also the opportunity to try this years Creme Egg cake collaboration which has been created by Georgia's Cakes. I actually had the opportunity to try my hand at her recipe whilst I was there. She's baked for Cara Delevingne, I've baked for... my mum?
It's a 4 tier cake, with chocolate butter creme covering the entire cake. Let me tell you, trying to get that beautiful smooth finish is so hard!
But after many attempts and one cut finger later, I'd done it.
Here's my interpretation of a Creme Egg chocolate cake.
Ta da! I don't think it looks too bad. Do I get star baker this week?
But if you do fancy seeing the real thing and how it's made, you can check out Georgia's Cadbury step by step video.
Hurry now egg lovers, the camp finishes the end of this weekend. Tickets are £5 from Eventbrite page but you can also turn up on the day. Tickets include a treat from the campfire kitchen too and all the Creme Egg's you can find!
This post was sponsored by Cadbury's Creme Egg, but as always, all words, photos and views are my own.
It feels like I've been working on this forever, but finally it's here! The project I've rattled on about on Instagram, Twitter and to anyone I meet in person.
So big drum roll please...
I'm pleased to announce The Fashion Bureau, my workwear fashion blog.
It all came about on evening long ago when I was searching Google for workwear inspiration. I Googled and searched for workwear blogs, but you know what? There's a distinct lack of workwear blogs. And out of the ones that do exist, they are mostly in the USA and mostly wear designer clothing, which let me tell you, I am in no position to be dressing in Gucci to work.
So whats a girl to do if she can't find what she's looking for? Start her own.
The Fashion Bureau has two aims really. To be a niche blog that will wholly focus on workwear inspiration and outfits. And to be a place of high quality, inspirational photography, something which is my passion and I want to be able to share with you.
Secondary to that, it aims to be all inclusive in that you can filter by office type, such as corporate, smart, or smart casual. And that you can filter by budget, so from purse friendly outfits to the more expensive treat yourself styles.
I work 9-5 in The City of London and sometimes feel like I live in workwear, and so it shouldn't be dull and boring. Workwear should be fun, confident inducing and an extension of your personality.
I will of course be continuing this blog as usual for all the lifestyle/ travel content. Yes I know, 2 blogs and a full time job, what on earth am I thinking?
Please do head on over to The Fashion Bureau and take a look around, it's been my aim for so long now, it means a lot for you to visit. And of course, I have an Instagram which will be a curated workwear account, so head on over to the Instagram.
Please leave your comments about The Fashion Bureau below, or on my new site, or even email me... ooh look I have a fancy new email address firstname.lastname@example.org
And one final thing; to all of you inspirational working women, you are amazing.
My Topshop favs at the moment
Springs almost here everyone. Finally we'll be able to put away those million and one layers and actually wear something a little bit more colourful and fun.
I've been really loving fashion again lately, investing in new key pieces, experimenting with different patterns and textures, and it's been so much fun. So I want to share a little bit of that fun with you, as that's what fashion should be about.
I'm giving you the chance to win £100 Topshop voucher so you can update your spring wardrobe too.
To enter just follow to below instructions; there is a mandatory step to enter and then after that there are some new ones which will give you extra entries.
Thanks for continuing to read and support my blog everyone, it's been a wonderful journey.
Before I went to Miami, I’d got it in my head that everyone drank green juices, did yoga and wore booty shorts. I was slightly terrified, as someone who loves cocktails and fried food. Yet I couldn't have been more wrong. I actually think I might have got Miami slightly confused with LA, but one thing I’ve learnt is not to form preconceptions of places I know nothing about.
I arrived in South Beach at around 9:30pm after flying with WOW air which let me tell you, is the cheapest long haul airline I think you’ll ever fly with! You can fly to Miami £139 one way! I’d go every month if I could get the time off work.
The first thing I noticed was the palm trees. Everywhere. They lined every pavement, every road and sprung out from the most random places. Second thing I noticed was how wide the roads are. I’ve only been to America once before years ago, so forgot just how big everything and on a large scale. The buildings, the roads, the cars. You naturally look up and twist your head around to take it all in.
For my time at South Beach I was staying at Loews Hotel which is right on the beach front. In fact my balcony had the beach to the left and the city to the right.
The Loews Hotel was a beautiful art deco style hotel, in keeping with South beach style. It had a £50m renovation which really shows in all the details. The lobby is huge (by UK standards) and has 4 sold marble check in desks to once side, and in the centre, a bank of gold lifts- or should I say elevators now.
Now I do love good service and boy do the US know how to do it right. On arrival they’d left me a towel to take home that had my name monogrammed in it, which after that I was sold for life. But then I realised I didn’t have my toothpaste with me, so I rang down and immediately someone came up and holding a tray, had a Colgate tooth brush, tooth paste and mouth wash for me. It’s the little things that just really make it. Oh and talking of little things, the bed is one of the comfiest bed’s I’ve ever slept in.
Breakfast is a real treat too, and they really go all out with it, which when in America, you couldn't expect anything less right? You can either order the buffet or go A La Carte which I decided to as I was craving French Toast (with a side portion of crispy bacon). I shouldn’t have been shocked when it arrived, but I still was. It was huge. But it was delicious. Soft, fluffy and oh so sweet, I had to force myself to only eat half otherwise I’d be bursting all round my walking tour later.
So is South Beach a fitness crazed place full of blonde beauties? Not at all. In fact, South Beach has a more grungy, cool vibe to it.
Let me start by explaining a little about the famous South Beach and it's Ocean Drive. Before the 1920s, South Beach was farmland, and not too important farmland at that. It wasn’t until 1909 that it was sold off as property land. In the 1920s and 30s Miami started to boom. The land was cheap, so architects flooded to the area to design and put their stamp on the area. Art Deco was in full swing and so the buildings were in these designs.
Now in the 1960’s the South Beach preservation society lobbied for these building to be preserved, and still today they cannot be modified. This means that South Beach as a very retro feel as all the buildings are pastel colours with art deco motifs and signage. Little fact for you, hotel signs cant even be changed, so if a hotel wants to change its name, it can’t actually remove the original sign. Bet that causes some confusion.
After a morning of exploring Ocean Drive, it was time for some lunch, and why not do it in classic Miami style, with Nikki Beach. Now I’ll be honest I’d never heard of Nikki Beach before, but apparently it's famous in Ibiza and Marbella for their wild pool parties. You know the ones where people spray each other in champagne rather than drink it? Total waste of a good drink if you ask me...
However this Nikki Beach doesn't actually have a pool! But what it does have is a an actual beach. Granted we went for Lunch on a Friday so I can't tell you the extent of the Saturday night party scene, but I was tolled by someone who worked there that its "much more classier than the Marbella one" Straight talking.
And to be fair, it felt very classy to me. All white tables, billowing white curtains around the bar, and even a sax player, playing along to the DJ. I have to say I loved it a lot.
But of course I'd gone for lunch, so what was the food like? Well it was my first taste of Miami food and it wasn't what I expected. Instead of greasy burgers and chicken wings in buffalo sauce, it was the most incredible flavours. Miami has a huge Cuban, Spanish and general Latino population, so all their cuisines heavily make up the Miami food scene. There is a lot of fish and seafood on the menu like ceviche, fish taco's and also lots of raw fish like sashimi. Sweet flavours occur too like limes and pineapple with very mild chillis to give it depth.
But what of South Beach itself? Well it's quite famous for it's brightly coloured lifeguard huts dotted across the beach. As a 2000s teenager it was giving me plenty of OC vibes (Yes I know that was California but still)
Of course I went mid January so it wasn't hot, and might not have even optimal sunbathing weather but give me 22c for January and I'll take it.
Oh go on then, I'll leave you with one bikini shot...
My first impressions of Miami were pretty spectacular. It's a city that I certainly got wrong preconception wise. But instead it's one that really has a unique vibe to it. From the amazing Art Deco Ocean Drive, to the fun art dotted about. In my next post I'll show you some of South Beach's nightlife and then after that we'll be heading to Dowtown Miami.
Thanks to WOW air for taking me to Miami on your press trip.
WOW air flies from London Gatwick to Reykjavik twice daily. Prices start from just £29.99 one way including taxes (WOW Basic package) As of winter 2018, the airline will service 38 destinations across Europe, North America and Canada including Los Angeles, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, Miami, Pittsburgh, New York and Chicago. WOW air also recently launched routes to Cleveland (inaugural flight 3 May 2018), Cincinnati (inaugural flight 9 May 2018), Detroit (inaugural flight 25 April 2018), St. Louis (inaugural flight 17 May 2018) and Dallas (inaugural flight 23 May 2018).
Flights to Miami started in April 2017 and operate 2x a week via KEF. Lead in fares LGW-MIA are £139.99 (one-way, WOW Basic package).
For more information or to book please visit www.wowair.co.uk or call 0118 321 8384.
Less than a week ago I landed back in the UK after spending 5 days in beautiful Miami. It was only my second time to the USA and this time it was very different, being by beaches and palm trees. Who would have thought I could wear a bikini in January eh?
Miami completely blew my expectations out of the water. I think partly because I got it mixed up with LA in my head, thinking it would be all green juices and yoga. Oh boy was I wrong on that front. It might be by the beach, but Miami loves a good party!
I have a number of blog posts going up this week, but because this video took me 6 hours to edit, it's the first thing I have for you. It's part 1 of two, with the first being all about South Beach. So grab yourself a Mojito if possible and settle down to watch.
Also if you like my content, don't forget to subscribe
Miami South Beach Travel Vlog - YouTube
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.