Beach New Travel

Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay

Taghazout Bay sunset

Selfie in MoroccoHyatt Place Taghazout Bay double room
Food at Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
Burger at Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
Last month I was lucky enough to travel to Morocco with work, alongside some amazing travel bloggers and competition winners from the UK and France. With a weekend of sun, tagines and souk visits ahead of us, we flew out to Agadir and travelled onto Taghazout Bay, a small town on the south-western coast of Morocco.

Within easy reach of Marrakech and a drive along the coast from the resort of Essaouira the area attracts surfers and sun seekers alike, and was the perfect spot to unwind. The weather was incredible whilst we were there, and I genuinely couldn’t believe we were only a 3.5 hour flight away from the grey and miserable London we’d left behind. I can’t stress enough what a novelty it was to drag my shorts and sandals out from the depths of my wardrobe and forget about thick winter tights for a few days. For anyone desperate for a bit of winter sun (as I so often am at this time of year) Morocco is absolutely the place to visit, with temperatures often in the mid 20s into November.

Palm treesPoolside at Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
Taghazout Morocco
Our hotel for the weekend, the Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay, was beautiful and genuinely one of the most instagrammable places I’ve ever been. Every area was beautifully decorated, from the palms and pillows by the pool to the details in the bedroom or unexpected touches in the lobby areas. Needless to say I took an alarming amount of photos in the time we were there, and I won’t mention how long it took to reduce them down for this post.

The hotel has free wifi (priorities), a gym, sauna, restaurant, free breakfast for all guests and an outdoor cafe and cocktail bar. Each evening we sat out by the pool watching the most incredible sunsets whilst sipping on pina coladas and enjoyed working our way through the menu – the meat tagine was amazing and nice to tick off the list. It may not surprise you to hear we never made it to the gym but it seemed a good size and well equipped, although you could make like our more active travel companions and head off into the mountains for a hike in the sunshine instead.

Pool reflection
SplashPoolside BBQ Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
From a warm welcome and Moroccan tea on arrival to arranging poolside BBQs and tips on the local area, every single member of staff went out of their way to accommodate and make the trip special. I got the sense that everyone was genuinely happy to be there and happy to help – which doesn’t come across in every hotel you visit – and I had some lovely conversations with members of the team who told me how much they loved working in such a beautiful place.

Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay restaurant
Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay interior design
Hammam Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
Looking at these photos on a cold and rainy December evening I literally cannot wait to go back and explore more of Morocco next year. I’ve always wanted to visit Marrakech so would love to combine a city break there followed by a few days relaxing by the sea here in Taghazout Bay. I couldn’t fit all of my many (many) photos into this post so will post again with an update on the excursions the hotel can arrange in the area, including a trip to the local souk in Agadir and an amazing trip through the mountains on quad bikes!

You can see reviews from some of the other guests here:
The lovely Solli from Solli’s Lifestyle gives her take on the trip here
Anna Cossack took some beautiful pictures for her blog here
See how Emilie from Lovaine.co.uk took advantage of the great surfing in the area here

Emma

We stayed at the Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay on a comp basis so another massive thank you to the team for having us and making our stay so special. All opinions expressed are an honest review of the hotel and entirely my own.

New Style Travel

Travel inspiration with Meriko London

Meriko London Colorado collection

Meriko London was founded by jewellery designer Meri Hovsepyan in 2013. Originally from Armenia, Meri’s work is inspired by her travels and her love of nature, with each collection named after destinations that reflect her pieces. I caught up with Meri to talk travel inspiration, jewellery design and business advice – and left with a serious case of wanderlust!

You left Armenia when you were 13 years old. What are your fondest memories of being there?
My fondest memories are the people. Armenians are so warm and hospitable; even if you go to the home of someone with little money they will lay a table for you with the last of their food! In general, my childhood spent in Armenia was special. I was there until I was 13 and I always look back at my memories of playing with my friends in kindergarten and school with fondest memories and nostalgia.

What recommendations would you have for anyone looking to travel to Armenia? What about the area do you love the most?
Armenia is known as an ‘open air museum’. There is so much to see, including many historical monuments and churches. Armenia adopted Christianity formally in 301 so you are never short of an ancient church or ten to see each day – they really are works of art.

My favourite place is Lake Sevan, about one and a half hour’s drive from the capital Yerevan. The colour of the lake is just stunning; it’s light turquoise in colour and later on became the inspiration for my jewellery designs. I remember as a child every time going there with my family, and how as soon as I could see the lake my heart would beat so fast from the excitement.

You’ve lived in a lot of places over the years – from Armenia and Moscow to London and Spain! Which place has had the most influence on who you are today?
It’s hard to choose between London and Spain. You can’t beat the thrill and fast paced excitement of life in London; the energy and pulse of life there never leaves you. London has it all – from history and culture, to the latest in art and design… it’s a jewellery designer’s dream as inspiration is on every street corner. As for Spain, or at least the South of Spain where we have a home and I spend a lot of time, that’s the very opposite and it truly nourishes my soul. Where London wakes me up, Spain chills me out. From my bedroom window I can see mountains on one side and the sparkling Med on the other. I can take my son to the old town in the morning, the beach in the afternoon and in the evening go to the huge array of fiestas and parties that seem to go on every night in the summer. I wake up each morning smiling because the sun is always shining and the air is always clear.

You’ve mentioned that travel and nature are your biggest inspirations. What impact have these had on the pieces you produce for Meriko London and which destination has been your greatest inspiration to date?
Other than Spain, which as you can tell brought me closer to nature and inspired my Gold Coast collection, I would say that California holds a special place in my heart too. It’s such a visually beautiful place… in fact it is quite Mediterranean in places. The surrounding areas of LA such as Orange County (Laguna Beach, Long Beach) and Santa Barbara are so, so pretty.

Where in the world would you love to travel to next and why?
I love all things Latin and I am dying to go to Cuba and Mexico. I love colour! And these places seem to be teeming with it. I love countries where the people are warm and the weather even warmer; where the food is delicious and art and culture is all around you. I can’t wait to get to Salsa and Samba in the streets of Cuba one day, and hopefully come away with some inspiration for a new collection.

Meriko London
At what point did you know you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
I can’t remember wanting to be anything else! As a small child I could watch my father make fine jewellery all day. Precious stones and gems were like toys to me, instead of learning colours out of a book I was introduced to the colour blue by being taught the difference between turquoise, lapis and aquamarine stones.  I specifically got my degree in Art History to understand the evolution of design, and then went on to study accountancy and business… the perfect stepping stones toward my vocational nirvana. Which is where I am now.

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
Do your research, because it takes a lot of investment – both time and money, so you need to know exactly the direction you are going in. Know your competitors as well as you know yourself, and get to grips with the changing face of technology and social media, because without it no one will know who you are. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right team – you don’t know everything, so make sure you work with people that are knowledgeable, trustworthy and as passionate about your brand as you are. It’s not easy, and even when it looks like it’s all for nothing keep soldiering on as you never know if your big break will be tomorrow.

And for someone who’d love to work in jewellery design?

Remember, everyone out there is already bigger and more successful than you… so make sure you really have a passion for what you do or it will show in your work. Stay on top of the game – be creative, innovative and unique in everything you do. I truly believe that when you love your work, never give up and stay hopeful…good things happen. Well I hope they will!

Your top tip for travel:
Insider knowledge. I believe you won’t ever truly experience a place if you don’t live it like a local. So immerse yourself in the culture, language, food and customs. Make friends with local people who will show you the unseen parts of where you are. That’s when you go from being a tourist to being a true adventurer.

Meri’s newest collection, Colorado Escape, is now available online at www.merikolondon.com and through stockists in London, Madrid, Malaga and New York.

Art & Design London New

The House of Peroni | Vita all’Interno

houseofperonimain

The House of Peroni returns to Brick Lane this month with the brand’s latest residency, this autumn entitled ‘Vita all’Interno’ and open to explore throughout November. As something of a super-fan (I’ve made it to every residency so far, it’s becoming tradition) I’m looking forward to experiencing the ‘most immersive and multi-sensory residency to date’ and, of course, the cocktails.

The month-long event aims to bring the heart of the Italian home to London, welcoming guests to explore Michelin-starred food and Peroni Nastro Azzurro infused cocktails in surroundings inspired by the Italian home.

House of Peroni 2015

From ‘passionate nonna’s’ running the home to a never ending dining table, a laundry room inspired by Italian couture, and keys which open the doors to experiences hidden with the event, I’m intrigued to see what’s in store!

Look out for a few sneak peaks from tomorrow’s launch on instagram @acidbrights – close ups of cocktails likely.

The House of Peroni takes up residence at 
152 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU 
from 29th October, closing 25th November. Free entry, 18+ only. For more information about The House of Peroni visit: www.thehouseofperoni.com You can read my reviews of the previous residencies here, and see what happened at the launch of the original House of Peroni in July 2013 here.

House of Peroni Brick Lane

City New Travel

Hotel Saint-Louis Marais, Paris

Place des Vosges

Area around Hotel Saint-Louis Marais
Exploring Paris
Le Marais
I really, really love Paris. Whenever I visit I come over all ‘Amélie’ and get carried away with the romantics of it all – the red lipstick comes out, I instantly wish I had a chic brown bob, and extra thought goes into my somewhat scruffy London uniform. Much the same occurred this August when I travelled to the city with my mum and my sister for a long weekend. It was so lovely to get away for a few days and explore in the sunshine, and even more so as we were staying in a really beautiful part of the Marais.

Some visitor guides will tell you to avoid the Marais at certain times, warning how packed it can be on a Sunday when the rest of Paris is typically having a rest. Whilst this may be true, I absolutely love the busyness of the area – the buzz of the crooked medieval streets, the vintage shops, the galleries and the beautiful architecture. Living in East London, it felt almost like a home-from-home when I arrived (albeit a far chicer, prettier one) and I instantly wanted to explore.

View from Hotel Saint Louis Marais
Hotel Saint-Louis Marais
Hotel Saint-Louis
We stayed in the most beautiful hotel whilst we were there, just off of the river and a ten minute walk from Notre Dame. The Hotel Saint-Louis Marais on Rue Charles V is perfectly placed between the buzz of the Marais cafe culture and the equally lovely Ile Saint Louis, another of my favourite spots. We spent a lot of time exploring the local area, trying out the coffee shops and wandering aimlessly through the pretty streets.

I’d highly recommend the hotel as a base to explore the city, and can vouch for the third floor bedrooms being worth the extra 20 euros! Throwing open the windows from the top floor and peering out across the rooftops certainly lived up to my ‘pretending to be Parisian’ fantasy… and yes, red lipstick was involved.

Doorway in le Marais
Fresh fruit le Marais
Street art in the Marais
If you’re looking for things to do in the neighbourhood once you’ve finished your café glacé (I had a lot of these), the Place des Vosges is around a ten minute walk away from the hotel and is said to be one of the prettiest squares in the whole of Paris. It really is beautiful, and although busy in the late summer sunshine, it also felt incredibly peaceful.

Food-wise you’re spoilt for choice, but L’As du Falafel is a must-see on rue des Rosiers, and Miss Manon on rue St-Antoine was our favourite spot for breakfast.

View from the hotel
Fruit stall in le Marais
A street in le Marais
You can read more about Hotel Saint-Louis Marais and the local area on the hotel’s website, which also has a great list of recommended restaurants and bars.

Photo credit: images six and seven credited to the Hotel Saint-Louis Marais

Emma

London New Style

LCCA Four Seasons Fashion Show

LCCA Four Seasons Fashion Show

LCCA fashion course
Four Seasons Fashion Show
Other than scanning through the usual flurry of excitement on twitter, I have to admit that LFW passed by almost unregistered for me this season.  A busy work schedule has meant little time for swotting up on SS16 trends (I will regret this come March), but I did get in on a little piece of the action this Monday evening at the LCCA Four Seasons Fashion Show. Held by the London College of Contemporary Arts, this year’s graduates showcased an impressive collection on the catwalk, centering around the theme of constant change and up-cycling within the fashion industry today.

LCCA designer
LCCA Fashion
Fashion at LCCA
London College of Contemporary Arts fashion show
I particularly loved the collection from Vilma Indrisiunaite for it’s simple lines and crisp white palette, the raw edges of Sally Spencer’s dresses, and special mention to Bryony Sansome for naming her luxury streetwear collection ‘Heavy Metal Peacock’. Perfectly fitting and very, very cool.

We had a brilliant, prosecco-filled evening, met some lovely designers – including one who asked for a selfie – and left genuinely impressed with what the graduates had to offer. Looking forward to seeing their names pop up over the next few years.

Emma

London

Exmouth Coffee Co | Aldgate East

Exmouth coffee Aldgate East

Good coffee East London
cakes in East London

I find it really hard to pass through Aldgate in the morning without paying a trip to Exmouth – and I’m not the only one. Oliver was visiting the East London coffee shop so often he bought an espresso machine to try to kerb the habit – only to find himself sneaking in ‘for a treat’ a few times a week.

Knowing full well my own willpower is no match for the inevitable brownie and chai latte combo, I try to avoid this particular part of Whitechapel Road most days on my commute. When the craving for a chewy, chocolatey brownie gets too much though, this is my first port of call.

Sat immediately to the right of Aldgate East tube (if you take the Whitechapel Gallery exit) this is the slightly smaller, older brother of Grounded, a coffee shop that popped up further along the road earlier in the year. Here you’ll find one of the best selections of cakes and flatbreads anywhere in East London – need I mention the chocolate brownie again? It’s chewy, people – along with really good coffee and a cosy interior.

The staff are so popular there’s even an entire wall dedicated to fan mail – complete with poetry, illustrations and love letters for the baristas. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Exmouth Coffee Co
83 Whitechapel High Street
E1 7QX
London

Monday to Sunday: 7am to 8pm

Beach Travel

Agios Nikolaos, Peloponnese

Agios Nikolaos harbour

Agios Nikolaos Peloponnese
Architecture in Agios Nikolaos
View from Lithos cafe
Greece has always been my favourite place to explore – from treks up volcanoes in Santorini with only flip flops between my feet and the burning sand (bad choice of footwear here), to BBQs on pirate ships and quad biking across Corfu. Inappropriate shoes aside, there is no culture I love more, no food that comes close to my love of tzatziki, and no other place I’d rather spend a relaxing week in the sun. And luckily for us, in the tiny fishing village of Agios Nikolaos you’d be hard pressed to do anything but.

This was my first trip to the mainland, and I can genuinely say it was the most beautiful part of the country I’ve visited yet. Whilst the likes of Santorini and Mykonos might be the headliners when it comes to picturesque settings and whitewashed walls, the undiscovered beauty of this quiet, traditional village was unlike anywhere else I’ve been. So I’m sharing the love for my new favourite hideaway with my top reasons to visit the beautiful Agios Nikolaos.

You can really, really get away from it all
No, really – we quickly learnt that there was only one place in the village with wifi that actually worked. At first it feels impossible to wind down from the stress of the office and the constant buzz of London, but when your nearest neighbouring village is an hour’s walk along the coast and your biggest worry is which taverna to drink your next Mythos in, life gets simpler.

Almost two hours drive from the airport through mountains that resemble Jurassic Park, when you reach this sleepy village you’ll realise things run at a much slower pace, and quite frankly it’s better that way. You also can’t help but notice how untouched the area seems. Sure, there’s tourists in the tavernas and Brits drinking the odd beer on the marina after dinner, but Kavos this is not.

Pack a pile of books, pick a favourite cafe, and forget the rest of the world even exists.

Stoupa beachPantazi Beach
You can watch your dinner being caught each morning
Okay, so you might need to wake up a little earlier than your average holiday brunch (how does sunrise sound?), but if you make it out on time you can see the local fisherman leaving the harbour to catch the evening’s meal. From what we could tell most of the restaurants serve whatever has come straight from the sea hours earlier, and it genuinely doesn’t get fresher than that. With most fish dishes served simply grilled and covered in lemon juice, it’s an authentic experience you’ll want to repeat every night.

You’ll eat incredible food
I’ve been to a fair few Greek resorts, and as much as I’ve always found beautiful places to eat at in each, there’s also usually a few spots that miss the mark. We tried almost every taverna whilst here, and every evening dinner was incredible. Try Hidden Garden on the harbour for sardines and souvlaki, Veusuvious for stuffed peppers and mounds of taztiki, or Gregg’s for an authentic home-made buffet – serving traditional dishes including meatballs, fried fish and greek salad. Even better, you’d struggle to spend more than 25 euros on dinner for two, including wine and beer.

Tip: If you’re on a budget, try the two euro gyros at the cafe next to Medusa – they’re really good. In fact, even if you’re feeling flush I’d still give these a go.

Beautiful alley in the village
Agios Nikolaos village
Church, Agios Nikolaos villageLithos bar, Agios Nikolaos
You can look at the view above whilst lying in a hammock
If you ask nicely, the waitress at Cafe Lithos will even bring you a frappé to sip on as you wonder whether life has ever been this good. I got a bit carried away here, and spent hours sitting on the harbourside daydreaming and instagramming the view (yes, this is the one place in the village with decent wifi). If there was a single place in the world I had to name as my favourite, it would be this very spot.

Where in Greece would you most recommend? I’m already planning next year’s trip!

Emma