Sunday, September 24, 2017

A food lovers guide to Dubai

   People who love to eat are always the best people

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know I have just had Sarah and Aimee stay with me for the last 10 days and we have had an epic eating journey.  Today I'm sharing where we went and what we ate in one big post and giving you my personal recommendations.  If you love food as much as I do and are visiting Dubai I hope this will be helpful!

The top 3:

Gaucho, Dubai International Financial Centre, 04 422 7898, website

Argentinian Steakhouse // Fine Dining // Reservation required // Good for vegetarians // Amazing service // £££ // Serves alcohol // Valet on site

Gaucho has a really special place in my heart-I love the brand and have been to their restaurants in London, Manchester and I swear my heart skipped a beat when I found out they were opening in Dubai a few years ago-next to my office!

We went to Gaucho to celebrate my third anniversary of being in remission from cervical cancer and we had the warmest welcome, the most amazing food and the best service.  I do visit Gaucho in DIFC quite a lot and every single time I am blown away.  Danny the General Manager is an incredible ambassador for the brand and has such a passion for his role-every time I go he always takes time to say hello, recommend new dishes, cater for my vegetarian friend and ensure our experience is flawless.

Gaucho has a consistent theme across all their restaurants-I love the sleek monochrome and cowhide and that no matter which Gaucho I am in (my favourite in London is Swallow Street), it always feels lavish yet intimate.

We went to the new #MeatMeMondays where you get 100g each of their rump, sirloin, fillet and rib eye steaks with a variety of marinades and sauces, their amazing thin cut chips, salad and signature Humita for AED250 or AED395 inclusive of half a bottle of grape.  Sarah is pescatarian and she was really well catered for with the seafood and vegetarian options.  The food was exceptional again and I enjoyed every second!
Gaucho do a variety of special offers- including a fabulous Friday brunch, an excellent quality roast dinner on a Saturday and a hugely popular business lunch from Sunday-Thursday

My tips:

Eat-the lobster tacos, any of the steaks (they are fabulous cuts), the thin chips with chimichurri sauce, the blue cheese mac and cheese, the Dulce De Leche cheesecake (save room for cheesecake whatever you do)

Drink-The Passion Canela cocktail, the Earl Gray martini, or the Curacao mocktail for non drinkers

Do-Say hi to Danny! And if you're in the mood to party book a table at 9pm and then head to Indie which is upstairs after dinner

And did I mention the cheesecake is insane?!

Coya, Four Seasons restaurant village, Jumeirah Beach Road, 04 316 9600, website

South American // Fine Dining // Reservation required // Good for vegetarians // £££ // Serves alcohol // Valet on site

I spoke about Coya in my July monthly round up post and this was my 4th visit to the very popular South American restaurant at the Four Seasons restaurant village.  This is an excellent choice for vegetarians, the menu is plentiful and there is even a vegetarian tasting menu.  The tasting menus they offer are an excellent way to explore a variety of their food for a fixed price.

The menu is vast and actually quite confusing but get a good server and they'll help you navigate round the options.  That's one problem I have found with Coya-the first time I went the service was incredible and we were blown away, the second and third times the service was pretty patchy and this time the service was a bit mixed-we had about 5 different people at the table throughout the night, two were excellent (one told Aimee he loved her accent lol) but the others were a bit dismissive.

This restaurant is always very busy and very lively-it has a terrace and a bar and in the winter you can dine al fresco.  Coya offers a Friday brunch which I am dying to's definitely on my list.

I never get bored of Coya, they switch up the menu quite a lot and every time I have been I've tried new dishes as well as some of my favourite staples.

My tips:

Eat-Crema de Calabasa (v)-an amazing pumpkin dish, the Agucate tacos (v)-amazing avocado tacos, the Cazuela Vegetariana (v), potatas bravas, Langostinos Tigre-prawn skewers, Bife Ancho if you're a meat eater

Do-Save room to try the insane sharing dessert platter-definitely one for instagram

Marina Social, Intercontinental Dubai Marina, 04 446 6664, website

Modern British // Fine Dining // Reservation required // Good for vegetarians // £££ //  
Serves alcohol // Valet on site

This was the second time Sarah and Aimee have been to Marina Social, we all loved it the first time we went and were eager for a rematch!  It did not disappoint in any way-amazing food, great service and a prosecco cocktail that was to die for.

Marina Social has an incredible setting-from the candlelit bridge leading to the restaurant to the sweeping marina views on the terrace, this is a restaurant that is great for any occasion and they have many offers throughout the week which I would highly recommend you check out.  

We starved all day and had 5 courses-a 'snack' course, a starter, a pasta course, a main and then dessert.  And the dinner was finished off with a traditional sweet trolley where we were served a mini macaroon, mini chocolate brownie, mini bakewell tart, mandarin jelly and a raspberry marshmallow which is a really cute little touch but a bit inconsistent-I've been to Marina Social around 10 times this year and only twice have I been served the dessert trolley at the end.

Marina Social does a lovely Friday brunch-it's not as full on as the buffet style brunches but a great place to go with close friends and visiting parents-it's still quite dressy but has a more casual feel.  They also offer various tasting menus-it's worth asking in the restaurant about the options.

Their Social Club on Monday and Tuesday was an amazing offer of unlimited starters and desserts and one main and they had alcoholic and non alcohol inclusive packages-but I haven't noticed that they have changed the format and it's now a three course fixed price menu, again with alcoholic and non alcohol inclusive packages.  They also do 'Wellington Wednesdays' and a Saturday Roast.

My tips:

Eat-Goats cheese churros, Chicken leg agnolotti, Pulled Lamb pizza, Cod with beurre noisette, whatever souffle they're serving (although if it's the rhubarb and custard you're going to die happy)

Drink-The Sptitzumber-prosecco, cucumber, elderflower syrup and sweet vermouth-so so good!

Do-Take a photo on the bridge and check out the views from the terrace.

The breakfasts:

Cocoa Room, Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road
                                               Breakfast // Casual // No reservations // ££
No alcohol // Parking on site

I've spoken about Cocoa Room before on my blog-I actually really like the food but the service is shocking and it's a very strange concept-it only operates as Cocoa Room until 11.30 before turning into Slider Station.  They have a huge menu of sweet and savoury dishes so something for everyone.  I've done a full review on my blog here.

My tips:

Eat-Lotus pancakes, nutella french toast

Avoid-Marshmallow hot chocolate-you won't be able to eat anything else-for instagram only

Do-Get there before 9am otherwise the wait is long.  Expect rude service and expect your food to arrive at different times and in no logical order

Azkadanya, Mall of the Emirates, 3rd floor

Arabic // Casual // No reservation needed // Good for vegetarians // £ //  
No alcohol // Parking on site

Sarah and Aimee went here whilst I being very busy, doing very important things in the office.  They were going to go to Common Grounds in MOE but they found the menu had changed significantly and it no longer floated their boat.

Azkadanya was a couple of doors down and they took advantage of their 'breakfast for two' offer which was a tasting platter of dishes where you choose one egg dish, one flatbread and four cold appetisers.  They feasted on shakshuka, Arabic bread, nutella and banana flatbread, feta and zataar and foul.  They thought it was great value and a bit of a hidden gem

My tips:
Eat-The breakfast offer allows you to try things you wouldn't normally

Parkers, Dubai Mall, 3rd floor-next to the Apple store
                              International // Casual // Doesn't take reservations // Good for vegetarians // ££ //  
No alcohol // Parking on site

Our final breakfast of the trip was at Parkers in Dubai Mall, a really light and airy space with excellent attention to detail.  From the same people who brought Find Salt, Parkers is quite quirky but with a homely, welcoming feel.

We went for breakfast but Parkers is open all day-I need to go and try their dinner options.   The food is similar in style to Cocoa Room-plenty of egg dishes and the pancakes and waffles are insane.

The staff are pretty friendly and accommodating of changes to dishes-I really wanted the grilled mac and cheese (because mac and cheese mmmmmm) but without the poached egg and the sirancha sauce-this was no problem at all.  I'll definitely be back!

My tips:

Eat-Sarah and Aimee said the shakshuka was one of the best they'd ever had, Mrs Parkers Babkha was insane.

Drink-I'm not a coffee drinker but Sarah and Aimee say the Lotus Coffee Shake is incredible-the Lotus cappuccino is also very insta-worthy

Do-get in early on weekends, this is a popular place by mid morning

The rest:

Sunday night: Reem al Bawadi, Jumeirah 3, Jumeirah Beach Road

Lebanese // Casual // No reservation required // Good for vegetarians // £ //  
 No alcohol // Valet and parking on site

Reem Al Bawadi is one of the places I love to take visitors-it's not a tourist place, it's where residents go and is hugely popular.  Although Reem now have restaurants across Dubai, the beach road one is the original and the best and it's actually situated on the site where I had my first job in Dubai so has been somewhere I have been going for 12 years!

Service can be a bit hit and miss, you either get someone really good or really bad-we were lucky and got someone really good.  The restaurant is absolutely huge and I recommend sitting in the 'smoking' area even if you don't smoke as it's busier and has a better atmosphere.

My tips:

Eat-grilled halloumi, lamb chops, babaganoush, fried kebbeh

Drink-fresh juices

Do-this is the place to get your shisha fix 

Home Bakery, Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road

Bakery // Casual // Does not take reservations // ££ //  
 No alcohol // Parking on site

Home Bakery has supplied numerous birthday cakes to my office, they do the most amazing, decadent celebration cakes which can be collected from the store or delivered.  But they also have a small, busy bakery in Galleria Mall where you can try not only their cakes but their dessert menu also.

We went at 9pm and managed to grab a table outside but the wait times can be long here and the service chaotic. The desserts are generally all on the heavier side-we had the sizzling brownie, the sizzling chocolate chip cookie and the brioche 'burger' and then rolled back to the car in a sugar coma.

My tips:

Eat-The chewy melt cookies are insanely addictive.  The warm sizzling brownie is also amazing.

Roberto's, DIFC, 04 386 0066

                             Italian // Fine Dining // Reservation required // Good for vegetarians // £££ // Serves alcohol // Valet on site
Another amazing restaurant right outside the front door of my office-Roberto's is perfect for lunch and dinner.  Inside there's a restaurant, a lounge and a terrace with beautiful views of the Burj Khalifa.  Definitely one of the classiest restaurants in Dubai and always busy which is testament to it's great reputation.  It's light and airy inside with starched white tableclothes and beautiful floral displays.  It has an excellent business lunch and a smart but not formal vibe.  I've also heard amazing things about their Friday brunch and it's definitely another on my 'to do' list.  My one criticism of the restaurant is that the tables for two are very close together-if you need to have a discreet conversation then choose your table wisely.  If you work in the DIFC as I do, you're bound to see someone in there you know at lunchtime!

My tips:

Eat-Caprino for starter-goats cheese with beetroot and caramalised walnuts, the burrata ravioli for main and La Mela-the warm fresh apple tart for dessert.

Drink-Primavera mocktail or the Pavarotti Punch

Do-Admire the twinkling Burj Khalifa through the floor to ceiling windows in the restaurant, try the business lunch for a more cost effective way to sample the menu.

Al Reef Bakery, Al Wasl Road

Open 24 hours // Casual // Takeaway only // £ //  
 No alcohol // Parking on site

Not somewhere you're likely to see recommended on trip advisor but if you want cheese manakish (essentially a piping hot spongy flatbread filled with gooey melted halloumi) this is the best in town and I've been going for 12 years.  Everyone who visits me gets taken to this 24 hour takeaway place-usually as soon as they land as it's the perfect post-flight meal.  Over the last 12 years I've eaten their manakish for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it's only been a good night out if you end up in Al Reef!  I like to think of it as the Dubai equivalent of the UK kebab shop post a night out on the town.  They offer all kinds of fillings in their manakish but the plain cheese and the cheese and zataar are by far their best sellers.

Friday Brunches-Bubbalicious at The Westin hotel and Friday Brunch at Al Qasr

The concept of Friday brunch in Dubai is really difficult to explain to someone who has never been before and in all honesty they take several different guises in Dubai.  The basic concept is that for a fixed price you can, over a set period eat and drink as much as you like-most brunches will offer a package including soft drinks and a package including alcohol plus a package including free flowing champagne-you can check the brand with the hotel but LP and Moet are common.  What varies is the size of the brunch-the two we went to are two of the largest brunches in Dubai-both are spread over three restaurants (all in walking distance don't worry) giving you an infinite array of options.  It's definitely something I would highly recommend if you love food and have the budget for it and it needs to be seen to be believed!  You can expect fresh seafood, sushi, live cooking stations, every cuisine you can think of, salads, cheese tables, a crazy amount of desserts, roasted meats, dim sum, drinks stations and live entertainment.

Bubbalicious, 1-4pm Fridays only, The Westin Hotel
                                          All you can eat // Smart casual // Reservation essential // £££ //  
 Alcohol available // Valet on site

Spread across Blue Orange, Hunters Room and Grill and Spice Emporium
Packages-With champagne AED680, with prosecco AED 550, with soft drinks AED450, kids 6-12 AED225

The alcohol packages also include beer, wine, cocktails and soft drinks.

Friday Brunch at Al Qasr, 12.30-4, Al Qasr Hotel

                                      All you can eat // Smart casual // Reservation essential // £££ //  
 Alcohol available // Valet on site

My personal favourite-just look at the setting!
Spread across Aboretum, Al Hambra and The Hide-I prefer to sit in The Hide or on the terrace in winter
Packages-With champagne AED595, with soft drinks AED495, kids 4-11 AED250

The alcohol package also includes beer, wine, cocktails and soft drinks. 

Afternoon Tea-Al Bayt, The Palace Hotel

Absolutely one of the best afternoon tea's in Dubai-this was Sarah and Aimee's second visit to Al Bayt and my umpteenth!  I've reviewed this on my blog twice before-you can read detailed reviews here and here.  Each month they change the theme slightly and Septembers theme was distinctly autumnal.  

Afternoon tea is served in the tea lounge and pretty dresses are the order of the day.  The terrace has an incredible view of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Opera and there is usually a harpist.

My tips:

Do-go on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday as they are the days they do the 'buffet' style afternoon tea which is unlimited.  The other days they do a traditional tea stand (I have reviewed both)

Check out Aimee's blog here and her instagram here.

I hope this post provides some motivation if you're visiting Dubai-I know I have enjoyed Sarah and Aimee's visit immensely and we're already planning their third trip!  But now you'll need to excuse me whilst I detox and check myself into rehab to recover!

PS the last line is a lie, I already have 5 meals planned out for the coming week


Friday, September 8, 2017

August empties

It's been an absolute age since I have done an empties post!  The last two months empties I did on my instastories and the feedback was so so good, so I would love to know how you prefer for me to do them-through a blog post or through instastories?

I don't have too many empties this month so here's a quick run down on what I finished up.

Pixi X Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse

I finished up one at the start of the month and one at the end-I go through this stuff at lightening speed-I wish she sold bigger tubs of both halves of the cleanser so I could buy both.  This cleanser is relatively bland (in the nicest possible way) and it stops my skin from misbehaving.  I've written a full blog post on it here and I recently ordered 4 more from ASOS.

Origins Eye Doctor

I personally didn't rate this eye cream and it was definitely one for the 'I'm not in love but I'll use you up' category.  I didn't find it hydrating enough and I think it would suit a 20's undereye far better than a getting towards late 30's undereye.  I didn't see any difference when using it and I wouldn't repurchase.  That being said, I'm now using the Origins Starting Over eye cream (I was on an Origins binge earlier in the year) and it's much thicker, creamier and more hydrating and I definitely prefer it to the Eye Doctor.

Clarins 'Relax' Oil

This is a multi purpose oil from Clarins and I have to say I really do love Clarins skincare and body care ranges.  This relaxing body treatment oil has Geranium, Petit Grain, Camomile and Basil and is designed to help relieve stress and fatigue and it also helps soothe tired muscles after exercise.  You can use it in the bath and as it's not a heavy oil in texture I also use it sometimes mixed into my moisturiser on my surgery scars on my tummy to help fade them.  I really want to pick some more up and might ask Sarah and Aimee to get me some at duty-free later this month!

Bliss Fabulips

I've realised this is now discontinued so I won't spend too much time on it but this was a lip plumping serum for lips and it was really moisturising as well as plumping.  I have a Dior lip plumper which I love that does a similar job if you're looking for something similar.

L'Oreal Magic Lumi

This is a drugstore dupe for Mac Strobe Cream and is also similar to the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl.  It has a really light texture and I use it as a primer before foundation-it doesn't really keep makeup in place-its just about the additional glow.  It has a pearlescent finish to it without being too in your face and is a great dupe for MAC strobe cream.

Tom Ford lipstick in Pink Dusk

Love this shade from Tom Ford but this is the second one that has snapped on me (cry face).  You can see me wearing it in my Tom Ford lipstick post here.

Clarins Instant Light Complexion Perfector 

Another discontinued product which shows how long I had it for!  This was really good for adding a more bronzed tone to my foundation when I had a tan without changing the consistency of the foundation.  But it's no longer available so that information is not particularly useful to you!

MAC Studio Fix foundation

Although this is, in theory, a powder foundation it's really light in texture and I use it to mattify my skin during the day.  I have lost count how many of these I have gone through but I have to say they last forever.  I must touch up my combination skin 3-4 times a day and these will last a good 6-9 months.  Non-cakey and very finely milled I don't see myself ever being without one.

Kat Von D Lock It Setting Powder

I really enjoyed this setting powder from Kat Von D-it comes in 'translucent' but it doesn't add any colour to the skin-it's purely just to mattify and lock down the products you have applied before it.  It's not cakey and doesn't leave a white cast and I would buy it again.  In the marketing blurb, it states that it has 'micro blurring technology' but I didn't honestly feel that my skin looked perfected from that aspect.  It's not too matte and leaves skin with a velvety satin finish.  I do have to touch up throughout the day (with the MAC Studio Fix powder) but my skin naturally produces oils that no powder can control for a whole day no matter what I do.

My final empty is the perfume I wore obsessively throughout August-mainly because I felt like I had had it a while and I wanted to use it before it expired!  Stella McCartney 'Summer' is a light, fruity, non-offensive, clean scent with top notes of lemon, apple, peony and rose.  I feel like I say this all the time so apologies if this is old news but I have a very very very weak sense of smell (it's pretty much none existent) and I can't smell this on me.  But I finished the bottle lol so I am high fiving myself!

Have you tried any of these products?  Please let me know as well if you prefer this format or the instastory format for empties going forward.  Thanks for reading!


Monday, September 4, 2017

August twenty seventeen

I loved writing my round up of July post-it was an excellent way to reflect on the month and reflect on how amazing living in Dubai really can be.  I've decided to continue and I'm realising that what I thought was a pretty uneventful August was actually a pretty amazing one!

So without further ado, here's my round up of an awesome August!

I went:

I'm starting with the best thing I did this month-I went on another road trip.  I loved going to Hatta last month but I decided to make this one just that little bit more special and hired an Audi R8 for the day as a surprise for my friend and we headed out to Jebel Hafeet which is about 2 hours drive from Dubai.  We had the most amazing day ever-what you may not know about me is that I have a motorsports background and I absolutely love driving.  I've been to Jebel Hafeet many times but this was, without a doubt my very favourite time there.

It was a beautiful day, albeit it's still in the 40-degree temperature range in the UAE but once we got to Jebel Hafeet we put the roof down, braved the heat and sped up the mountain.  The feeling of the wind in my hair and the roar of the engine was something I will never forget.  And check out the vistas.  Jebel Hafeet stands at almost 1300 metres with panoramic views across the UAE and over to Oman.

The car is AMAZING.  The R8 wasn't my dream car-it was my friends.  But it's mine now too, I absolutely loved every second driving it.  I'm a really good driver as well-I did the 11.7km mountain road (which as you can see twists and turns like a snake all the way up) in 7.09.  I want to go again so badly-it was my favourite day of the year so far.

I ate:

Gaucho, DIFC

I didn't eat out as much as in July but I had some pretty good dinners.  The first highlight is dinner at Gaucho in DIFC.  I have so much love for Gaucho, I could go there every night of the week.  They serve my favourite dessert in Dubai-the Dulce De Leche cheesecake which comes with hot salted caramel sauce and toasted marshmallow.  I cannot wait for my next visit and I would highly recommend a visit.  Danny and his team will definitely ensure you have an awesome night.

Zuma, DIFC
I also went for the business lunch at Zuma.  It's very dangerous working where I work because there are so many amazing restaurants on my doorstep-Gaucho and Zuma are literally 20 steps from my office, my office is positioned between La Petite Maison and Cipriani and I am literally spoiled for choice.  This was actually my first time at Zuma which has won award after award for its food.  They do an excellent business lunch with a really good variety of dishes.  You can choose two starters and a main and then add a dessert for a reduced price.  I had the gyoza and the beef sashimi to start and black cod for my main.  Chloe and I then shared the signature Zuma chocolate dessert but I could have easily eaten one to myself, it was amazing!

Highly highly recommended but this place is packed every day for lunch and dinner so book ahead if you want to go!

Shake Shack

Ok so if you know me at all you know I love a fancy dining experience but I also love a Shake Shack as well!  You know those places that you always go to with the same person and sit at the same table and have an amazing time?  Well, that's Shake Shack for me.  Hence why, after long days in the office we went twice in August!  

My tip? Always get the cheese fries!

Buddha Bar, Grosvenor House
Another recently rediscovered favourite of mine, I went for dinner at Buddha Bar where the food is consistently good and the cocktails are epic.  I mean who doesn't love an inflatable flamingo?  The food is Pan Asian and it's best to go on a Wed/Thurs or Friday night but you'll need to book-I could only get a 10 pm table on a Thursday night.  But we left at 3 am so we got our money's worth.  I definitely recommend checking out the bar upstairs-it's quite small and intimate but has a really nice vibe and excellent service.  I think we were the last to leave!

I relaxed:

I was lucky enough to spend time at 4 spas in Dubai in August-The Talise spa at the Burj Al Arab, The Talise Ottoman spa at The Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, the Armani spa and The Ritz Carlton spa at the Ritz Carlton DIFC.  They all cost around the same and I had a 90-minute massage at all of them.  It's worth noting if you want to book a spa treatment in Dubai that although many places offer a 'couples' massage, there is a gender policy in the hotels where a female therapist treats female guests and a male therapist will treat male guests.  What this also means is that a lot of spas have separate facilities for men and women-different saunas, pools, steam rooms and relaxation areas.

The Burj Al Arab, as you would expect, is opulent.  It's rich blues, emeralds and golds everywhere and the treatment rooms were absolutely beautiful with views across the Marina and JLT for the ladies spa and across Downtown Dubai in the male spa.  The massage I had here was nice but it wasn't mindblowing in all honesty.  I loved the indoor infinity pool (available for men and women) and the views over the Jumeirah Beach Hotel are always breathtaking.

We both agreed the massage at the Armani spa was the best, hands down.  We combined the massage with a scrub and honestly, my skin has never ever ever felt as soft as when I rinsed it off in the shower.  The spa was very cool and contemporary as you would expect from Armani, there are no mixed facilities apart from the pool but as the pool was outdoors we didn't use it in the searing August heat.  Armani does not have a jacuzzi either.

The massage I had was incredible.  I wasn't offered a choice of oil although my friend was.  I also wasn't asked about the pressure I wanted but Alice, my therapist nailed it.  I felt like I was walking on air afterwards.

This is a spa I will definitely return to in the cooler months so I can enjoy the pool-it's worth noting that if you have the Entertainer spa book/app then Armani is included in there.

We had dinner at Armani Deli afterwards which has amazing views of the Dubai fountains.  They serve mainly Meditteranean/Italian food and do an amazing Burrata salad.
We also went to the spa at the Ritz Carlton in DIFC and here the staff were the most friendly and helpful.  I was advised what type of massage to have and combined it again with a body scrub and I was given a choice of 3 oils depending on how I wanted to feel after the treatment-I chose the invigorating one given I was going out for dinner afterwards.  The scrub here wasn't as nice as Armani-it felt much drier on the skin on application but my skin was soft afterwards.  The therapist was very attentive and offered advice and frequently checked everything was ok.  I was also given Natura Bissé skincare samples to take away.  Given this one is right on my doorstep I would definitely go again.

The final spa was the Talise Ottoman spa in the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.  This was, without doubt, the largest spa with the most facilities but unfortunately, because we were running 5/10 minutes late I felt that I had the worst experience here.  The treatment was at 7 pm and we arrived at 7.05pm.  Ideally we would have got there earlier but unfortunately, workload meant that wasn't possible.  I was rushed to the changing room and into the treatment room and even though I was the last client of the day, because we started at 7.10pm the therapist knocked 10 minutes off the 90 minutes I had paid for.

We both had a hot stone massage for 90 minutes (or 80 in my case) but my friend said that the stones used on them were not as hot as they would have liked and the treatment room was really cold even though the therapist turned off the air conditioning.  I wasn't given a tour of any of the facilities-after the massage I was shown to the female relaxation area and I asked for a peppermint tea but they were out of stock.  My friend was shown round though and saw the Hamman and the 'snow rooms'-I'm so disappointed I didn't.

This is, without doubt, the most beautiful spa and it's beautifully decorated with a Turkish theme-I just wish I had seen more of it.  It's worth noting that Kirsty went there this weekend for the couples treatment and absolutely loved it-she put an Instagram post up about her experience and if she blogs about it I will link it into this post.

I bought:

Nothing!  I've had a few spendy months and there just wasn't a real desire to buy something.  Prices in Dubai are so expensive compared to the UK and although I do love an online splurge I also really enjoyed actual shopping in London and France.  However I have two things on my wishlist currently that are seriously tempting me-the first is a larger YSL bag.  I've narrowed it down to the large Lulu or the large College-but I think I am leaning towards the Lulu (the bag on the left).  I want to go and look at them instore but it's likely I will buy from London in December.
The second item on my radar is a pair of Malone Soulier 'Maureen' heels-I love the look of these burgundy velvet and gold ones-they seem so perfect for Autumn and Winter.  I need to try them on to see if they look too weird on me but I think they're stunning.  If you have tried these I would love to know if they're comfortable?  The do sell Malone Soulier here so I can try them on in the Mall and then order from Net a Porter.  I just need someone to tell me to buy them lol!

I watched:
Not sure how I had time for TV but I binge watched 'Big Little Lies' which was epic and has an amazing soundtrack-it was very gripping and I devoured it over a weekend after discovering it on a flight home from Cairo.  I also started watching Line Of Duty on Netflix and am now season 3-I love crime drama the most so this is right up my street even if I am late to the party!

I hated:

I hated my skin and it hated me right back!  I got a horrendous hormonal breakout that took ages to clear but I found 4 products really helped.  1) Lancome Hydrazen moisturisor-I know this doesn't irriate my skin and it's lovely and soothing 2) Using the Marc Jacobs coconut face primer-again I know it doesn't irritate so it's a safe bet 3) (pictured) The Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective which is a very watery serum-I apply 3-5 drops a night to my fingertips and press over my chin and 4) (pictured) Dr Sebagh Supreme Maintenance Youth Serum which I use in the morning which is helping to fade the scars left from those horrible spots.

August was pretty awesome and September is going to be incredible.  Stay tuned to my instastories because I have so much planned and some special visitors from the UK.  It's going to be epic.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Loves and regrets: Shoes I've bought recently

The fact is, it's really hard to walk in a single woman's shoes.  That's why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun-Carrie Bradshaw

I've gotten back into shoes recently.  Like in a big way.  Today I'm going to share with you some of my recent purchases in one condensed post and give you my honest thoughts on whether I think they've been a good buy-or not.

The Loves

Saint Laurent Lulu 70 Mules

I debated over these shoes for a long time.  I first saw them on Net A Porter but they were already sold out in the 70mm heel and then I saw them in Bloomingdales in Dubai but again they were out of stock.  But there is a lovely SA in Bloomingdales who sourced them for me from another store.  I needed to size up in these-I am usually a 38.5 but I went a full size up as they are quite short.  At first I was worried they were a bit chunky but I consulted my personal fashion stylist (ie Lis from Elisabeth Rilatt) and she told me to buy them-actually she never tells me not to buy anything!  My favourite thing about these shoes is the detailing on the heel-I veer more towards gold detailing over silver detailing these days and I love the Saint Laurent logo on each heel.

These shoes are immensely comfy and I wear mine mostly with jeans or a denim dress.  For me they fall into my casual wardrobe rather than something I would wear on a night out.

Saint Laurent have embedded this style into their permanent range but bring out new colour ways each season-this season there is a red and burgundy and a powder pink but I've also seen a metallic gold pair which are amazing.

Bottom line, these are the easiest and comfiest heel I have and I'm super pleased I took Lis's advice and purchased them.

Gianvito Rossi Plexi heel in 85mm

The Gianvito Rossi Plexi heel was a real impulse buy-one minute you're talking to your assistant about them in the office, the next you're in Harvey Nichols in Dubai buying not one but two pairs!  I went for the 85mm heel in black leather and nude suede and both are brilliant shoes for the office and don't break any pain barriers.  The way the shoe is cut makes your legs look longer and they're really flattering.  I'd love a pair in red matte leather and the metallic ones are also lovely.  The only slightly annoying thing is that you have to keep the plastic clean-I usually just wipe mine with a wet wipe
after wearing them.  I can definitely see me buying more of these in the future.

When I posted these on instagram people asked if the plastic was hard and cut into you but I can categorically say that it absolutely doesn't and it feels like any normal shoe.  They're also true to size but the SA recommended trying them because he said that there is a slight difference between the leather, patent and suede ones in sizing but I found 38.5 fit me in the leather and suede.

I also have to say I love shopping in the Bloomingdales and Harvey Nichols shoe halls in Dubai-the staff are always really really helpful.

Louboutin Baila 85mm heels in Rosa/Light Gold (limited edition)

Be still my beating heart, I fricking adore these shoes.  Danielle my best friend hates them!  I was actually considering putting them into the 'regret' purchases purely because I was too scared to wear them because the ankle strap is quite delicate but I wore them to dinner with my friend last weekend and I absolutely loved them!  They're very statement with the fuchsia pink suede studded with gold spikes and the cork graffiti heel and gold ankle strap but I seriously love them.  And by some miracle, they're easy to walk in and dare I say comfortable??  I felt so confident and swanky in them and they pair perfectly with a simple black dress.  I don't think ankle straps are the most flattering on bigger girls like me but because the strap is gold it's less obvious on the skin than a darker coloured one would be.  These were a limited edition design and I picked mine up in Harrods (which has an amazing Louboutin boutique) in June.  I'm so so happy I did!

Chanel Escarpin heels

I'm utterly in love with these Chanel Escarpin heels with the pearl embedded into the heel and wear them for 'posh' days in the office.  The leather is so soft that it moulds to your feet and even at 85mm these shoes don't hurt by the end of the day.  I do have an office job so unless I am on a business trip my movement in the office is limited to walking to the printer, the bathroom or the kitchen but they were comfortable right from the first wear.  These shoes were purchased at Chanel in Cannes and I had wonderful service there.  I loved Cannes and so these are a fantastic reminder of that holiday.  Again these are true to my normal size.

Gucci Ace sneakers

I feel like I am gushing about all these shoes but I genuinely love them all!!  These Gucci trainers are just amazing-I love the pearl and spike detailing and the classic red/green Gucci stripe.  These were my favourite of all the various variations of the Ace sneaker line and they feel like clouds on your feet.  I bought mine from Selfridges in London in June and these are still available. I'm guessing these won't be to everyones taste but I am a sucker for spike or stud detailing on anything.

The Regrets

Louboutin Neoalto in Lame Sirene (limited edition)
Ok so I can't really comment on these shoes from a comfort point of view because I'm too scared to wear them lol and that is what is driving the feelings of regret!  These shoes are so so beautiful and I bought them to celebrate my 12th anniversary in Dubai.  They have a rose gold metallic diamond print embossed heel and the shoe itself is made of patterned mesh with pink gold accents, trimmed with metallic rose gold.  But they are so incredibly delicate and I'm worried my toes are going to burst right through the fragile mesh.  But I love them even though I do regret buying them.  I just need to build up the courage to wear them!  The Neoalto style is still available but this was a limited edition colour way.

Louboutin Decolette in black patent

My second regret purchase is another pair from Louboutin-because they're so god damn uncomfortable.  I also own the Pigalle style and they're pretty much the same!  And these are the lower heel height than the standard 100mm.  The Decolette are cut lower on the toe box than the Pigalle to show toe 'cleavage' but the toe box is also really narrow so they're not particularly comfortable.  The Decolette also has the narrowest heel across the range which I really like.  All my Louboutins are true to my normal 38.5 size.

I am sure I'll continue to wear these but probably only when I know I won't need to stand up for any length of time!  There is one pair of Louboutin pointy heels that are comfortable-the Iriza pump-they're the ones I can wear quite comfortably in the office all day and would be my recommendation if you do have slightly wider feet because of the cut out vamp on the inner size.

I'd love to know which shoes are your favourite?

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