Luckily for us London is only a hop, skip and a jump away (*ahem* a twenty minute train ride), but if you’re not within easy reach of the city then it can seem pretty daunting trying to plan a trip that won’t break your budget. The capital isn’t renowned for affordable hotels, especially if you’re after something rather more style-conscious than a Travelodge and with a lot more luxe for your bucks. That’s where CitizenM comes in. They are all about affordable luxury with clever modern touches, and design that fuses technology and beauty. This summer, Callum and I checked in to their Bankside location for a little one-night getaway of our own …
The beauty of CitizenM Bankside is that it manages to feel like both a modern design museum and private little hideaway nestled at the centre of a bustling metropolis. For two tech junkies, one of the best things about the hotel is the clever use of technology – super easy computer check-in when you arrive that barely takes a minute, tablets to control the lighting in your room (there’s a range of pre-set themes catering for any mood you might be in), a huge catalogue of music, tv and films all from the comfort of your hotel bed. Everything is sleek and intuitive. It’s little details like this that make the hotel feel ahead of the game when it comes to functionality and affordability: they’ve used technology to keep interaction with staff at a minimum but without sacrificing your experience. The bright, fluro decor and playful touches – my favourite is the giant bookcase in the shape of a book – add a great deal of personality and give the hotel a unique, iconic feel.
And yet you somehow feel utterly at home at the same time. You’ll be so cosy in the uber comfy XL king-size beds you’ll never want to leave your room (thankfully late check out is an option at a small added cost!) and when you do you can lose track of time enjoying the hidden courtyards, chill-out areas and bar. There are so many areas to discover, each with their own individual style. Even in the height of summer on a busy weekend the hotel felt calm and spacious – no doubt the other guests had the same struggle we did leaving our bed! After check out, Callum and I even got a spot of blogging done in the cool dining room-come-workstation over coffee and a few naughty morning pastries. Ah, if only all working days could be like this … x
In this world there are two kinds of acne: the bad kind, located on our faces, and the good kind, with a capital ‘A’. Acne is any style-obsessed girl’s go-to for super cool sweaters and kits with the brand’s trademark boyish cuts and Swedish minimalism. As soon as I put my ice-blue sweatshirt on I feel transformed into a much cooler version of myself, and just want to keep my style ultra clean and simple with a leather miniskirt, boots and sunnies. Even my hair feels the need to be paired back into the easiest of ponies!
A big thank you goes to the lovely Matches Fashion and Shop Sense for sending me my new boyfriend *cough* sorry I meant sweater as an early Christmas present. You guys are the best! I know it’s early, but I’ve already been thinking about the Christmas treats I need to buy too – you can never be too prepared! The moment the leaves turn golden and the sun slides lower across the sky, my thoughts instantly turn to the upcoming winter and all the exciting Christmas festivities to come. I love to shop around, take my time and really find the perfect gifts for each of my friends and family, but when it comes to fashion goodies I’ll always look online. It’s much quicker and there is just so much variety – you’ll always stumble upon something new and it’ll be just what you were looking for.
One of my favourite online stores is Matches Fashion, and this season I’ve teamed up with them to create my ultimate gift guide, featuring the most styling gifts for the most stylish girls. Their boutique is full of the latest clothes and accessories from the best designers. A word of warning: shopping for gifts at their store will make you want to buy everything for yourself. Oops! But if you can practice a little restraint (or why not treat yourself? It’s only fair you get yourself a Christmas present too!) then there are so many little treasures to discover. For example, this gorgeous Isabel Marant necklace is only £140, perfect for a girl with a touch of boho to her style, or for a timeless piece go for something like this beautiful Michael Kors watch. I’d be super happy to receive either of those at Christmas myself!
Some days the style just isn’t coming to you, and you’re running late but still haven’t figured out what you want to wear and have left a trail of clothes-shaped debris in your wake. You know exactly what I’m talking about girls! Well, on these days I have a back-up outfit – my uniform, if you like – I can rely on. Yup, you’ve guessed it: it’s double denim. Somehow throwing on a loose denim shirt over jeans or shorts (depending on the season) always seems to work. It’s a look that crosses moods, weather and trends, and if you want something a little more dressy you can just swap the boots or sneakers for heels! Easy peasy. Like skinny jeans and a tee, double denim is an undisputed formula for fashion success – and unlike maths, this is the kind of equation I can do! x
This time last week, the beautiful Trafalgar Square in London was transformed for its yearly Malaysia Night in association with Malaysia Kitchen, a celebration of all things Malaysian – which basically means FOOD. I can’t explain just how excited I was to go. As most of you know, I am half Chinese, and so much of my childhood was spent overseas in Malaysia, my mum’s home country. It’s such an important place to me. After a really horrible, tough year for us both press wise and with the great losses of life in two major plane crashes, it was so wonderful to see Malaysian culture being celebrated again. Throughout the night, Trafalgar Square was packed with those both familiar with and new to Malaysian cuisine enjoying highlights from our huge foodie culture.
As part of the celebrations, Malaysian chef Norman Musa was offering the crowd free cookery classes. Along with my beautiful food-blogger friend Rachel Phipps, Callum and I went along to a press preview class to learn how to make a few traditional dishes from the UK’s top Malaysian chef.
Above: roti canai, one of my favourite dishes. It’s the first thing I ask for when we land in Malaysia! A light, fluffy savoury pancake-type bread, we eat it dipped in curry for breakfast and as a late evening snack. Yum! And below is another roti variant, roti jala.
After the cooking (and eating – we couldn’t make all that beautiful food and just leave it now, could we?) – we were free to explore the rest of the festival. Unfortunately we didn’t get that many pictures of what was going on (Callum and I were a bit too busy, um … eating … again), but that just means you’ll have to try and make it next year to see it in action for yourself! Just make sure to come in something loose and maybe don’t eat for a few days before, because you’ll want to have space to have at least one try of everything
It was so, so good to see everyone’s enthusiasm for our Malaysian food and culture, and I hope that the event encouraged each person who attended it just to think about Malaysia the next time they’re planning a trip. Because of work it’s been a while since I’ve been back. The celebrations last week reminded me just how much I love it out there, and I’m hoping I can make time for a visit next year. My roti canai was pretty good, but there’s nothing like having it freshly made at the roadside by one of the skilled food-stall owners with a nice hot glass of teh tarik. Ahh … x
Clarks are a brand I always used to associate with school shoes. Remember when you’d get your feet measured with that weird plastic ruler gadget and wait for the assistant to bring you tens of boxes of almost identical black slip-ons? Well, just like its customers Clarks has now grown up and matured into a brand for super on-trend styles. They’re growing from strength to strength, and this month us Take 10 blogger girlies were challenged to style our favourite designs from the AW collection. How do you like my sleek, black wedge booties? I’d have definitely been sent home from school if I’d turned up in these! x
Check out all the Take 10 girls’ looks below! It’ll be my last challenge with them, so if you’re a UK fashion blogger why not get in touch with them about joining?