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19 Oct 2017

A Very British Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

On my birthday weekend, Jarv surprised me with a staycation at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Now, I'll admit that this post is a little delayed....my birthday's in June. 😳

I digress. The hotel was undergoing extensive renovations for the duration of our stay, meaning we had to utilise the ballroom entrance as the front was covered in scaffolding. So, I'm afraid I don't have any shots of the main entrance, though if you're curious, a quick Google search will reveal the beautiful, deep orange brick exterior and manicured hedges that are so traditionally British - it's very charming indeed.



Our room (a Mandarin room) overlooked Hyde Park. This was ideal: it meant we had all the privacy and peacefulness of the park outside our window, chirping birds being the only sound heard first thing in the morning, yet still had the convenience of all the shops of Knightsbridge at our fingertips, a mere few steps across the road on the opposite side of the hotel.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

Our stay being a birthday celebration, Jarv ensured that the hotel went above and beyond to make it a weekend to remember. They certainly came through - my favourite flowers (bird of paradise) were placed in a vase by the window, a highly devourable (if that's not a term then it should be), full-sized matcha cake awaited me. It should be noted that I waited all of 30 seconds after the photos were taken to dig into it, and it tasted divine. A bottle of 2015 Sancerre sat chilling in an ice bucket. 

Perfection.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

Jarv had one more treat in store for me later that evening: dinner at the hotel restaurant, Dinner by Heston. Having been lucky enough to enjoy some of his other renowned dishes in the past (snail porridge and Sound of the Sea), Meat Fruit was the one signature Heston dish I had yet to sample...and had been longing to!

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Dinner by Heston

So try it I did.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Dinner by Heston

Despite knowing exactly what was coming and what to expect, laying eyes on that dish was still a pure delight. Skin that looks so genuine, dimpled and textured; the perfect leaf handpicked by Heston's chefs to create a hyperrealistic looking fruit...then the joy of slowly cutting into it and revealing the soft, more-ish pate inside.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Dinner by Heston

Whilst the rest of the meal was perfectly delicious and there were no complaints, the other dishes weren't particularly memorable. I'd recommend Dinner for a nice meal one time, but it's not somewhere I'm desperate to return to (except, perhaps, just to have meat fruit again).

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Dinner by Heston
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

In conclusion: The Mandarin Hyde Park was a beautiful setting for a celebratory staycation and a park view room is a fitting choice if you're looking for a peaceful getaway whilst still being in the heart of the action (in terms of shopping, that is). Service throughout the hotel was fine, though there was nobody at the end of the stay to help us call a taxi or load bags into the back of a car - perhaps the hotel staff were a little out of form with the Mandarin being under renovation at the time. On the other hand, the birthday touches in the room - cake, wine, bird of paradise flowers - were fantastic.

The room itself was lovely and very spacious, though perhaps a little simple and in need of renovation in some areas (the bathroom door squeaked and the wall/locked door separating our room from the next one was a bit thin - further sound-proofing is necessary. The view was wonderful and we both loved enjoying a morning coffee on the balcony.

Would I go back? Sure - I'd be intrigued to see how another stay (perhaps in a different type of room) at the  Mandarin Hyde Park compares once the renovations are complete in early spring next year.

Have you been before? What were your thoughts?

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park


3 Oct 2017

5 TRAVEL BEAUTY MUST HAVES

Summer may be over here in the UK, but I love taking the opportunity during the colder months here to fly to warmer climates, meaning my warm weather beauty routine stays relevant year-round. I'm sure this is the case for many of you, too!

So today I'm sharing my current favourite beauty products that I rely on to keep my skin and hair looking and feeling fresh, clean and healthy whilst travelling. I know how easy it is to let your beauty routine slip when you're not at home. I used to pack nothing but makeup remover and cream by way of beauty products whenever I went on a trip, but would find my skin or hair suffering for it. 

Yet, as someone who travels on at least a monthly basis, I've come to realise how important it is not to slack when it comes to taking care of myself, both inside and out.

Now, you may notice a glaringly obviously product missing in the ones shared below - SPF lotion. I blather on about the importance of it all the time on social media and I always, always travel with both a face and body cream that has an SPF of at least 30 (and preferably 50). However I haven't yet found one that I truly adore, so switch these up fairly often. If you have any recommendations that don't make your face break out or take forever to rub into the skin, please share them with me!

Euriental | luxury travel & style | travel beauty products, Clinique take the day off balm, moisture surge

Having a non-greasy, oil-free makeup remover is vital to me. I not only have sensitive skin but also sensitive eyes, and believe me, having a blocked eye gland isn't fun, especially on holiday when I want to have my lenses in or wear makeup for a nice dinner. I was dubious when I first received Clinique's Take the Day Off balm to try, as I was quite happy using Avene's milk cleanser, however after just one use I was absolutely smitten. It removes even heavy mascara with little effort and leaves my face feeling utterly clean and not at all greasy.


CLEANSING BALMS UNDER £30:

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For hot destinations, thicker creams are too heavy and pore-clogging for my skin, especially considering I'm probably going to be sweating at some point. Instead I prefer to opt for something light and cool-feeling against the skin, which this Clinique Moisture Surge Intense gel cream absolutely is.


MOISTURISING GEL CREAMS UNDER £35:

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Euriental | luxury travel & style | travel beauty products, Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel

Though often our travels to hot countries take us to South East Asia or similarly humid environments, the fact is that being in the sun and out and about still often leaves my skin feeling a little dry and, in city environments, dirty. If I'm away for longer than a few days, I'll bring along an easy to use mask - such as this Elemis Papaya Enzyme one - that leaves my complexion rejuvenated and gently exfoliated.

FACIAL PEELS UNDER £35:

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Euriental | luxury travel & style | travel beauty products, GHD advanced split-end therapy

Hair often needs just as much attention as skin, especially in hotter climates where you're getting a lot of sun exposure or spending time in chlorinated pools or salt water! Though beach hair may look great, it's not particularly healthy for your hair and neither is using a hairdryer each time you wash it (which I often end up doing when away - who has time to sit around waiting for hair to air dry when there's a new island or city to enjoy?). Though I trim my ends fairly often to prevent split ends from forming, I also love using GHD split-end therapy before blowdrying my hair to prevent any further breakage.


SPLIT END HAIR CREAMS UNDER £20:
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Euriental | luxury travel & style | travel beauty products, Laneige water bank eye gel

Up until as little as a year ago I never even bothered to pack eye cream, opting simply to rely on a face cream. However with your under eye area being the thinnest skin on your face, you should be protecting it as early as possible on a daily basis. If there's one thing I won't skimp on now, it's an eye cream. I love this water-based gel formula by Laneige, the perfect soothing cream after a long day. 


EYE GELS UNDER £20:

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What beauty products do you rely on when you travel? Anything you would recommend?

Though one or two of the above items were gifted, all thoughts and opinions are my own and this post was not sponsored.

18 Sep 2017

How To Travel in Style and Comfort Wherever You Go // Ritz Carlton, Budapest

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest

The weekend after my birthday, we jetted off to Budapest for a 3 day break. After having just recently visited Prague for the first time before, I was looking forward to seeing how this Hungarian city compared (having often heard people speak about the two as though they were quite similar). 
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RITZ CARLTON BUDAPEST
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We entered our room to the sight of white rose petals scattered everywhere (these images were taken the next day as we originally arrived at night and it was too dark to take photos) and a tray of gorgeous chocolates laid out at the foot of the bed. "...Do they think it's our honeymoon again?" I asked Jarv (it's happened to us before in the Maldives 😂). Then I remembered my birthday had just passed; he had obviously mentioned it to the hotel beforehand. He's too good to me!

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest

No, I didn't gobble them all up (the giftbox was far too large...I ended up leaving most of it).

Before I continue, let's quickly delve into the title of this post: how to always travel in style and comfort wherever you go. I've had a number of people comment asking how I always seem to be 'put together' when I travel and how they always wind up in leggings and a hoodie. Truthfully, it doesn't take much effort in my opinion to travel in style - just a few key ingredients.

Obviously, staying at the Ritz is a privilege and if anything embodies 'travelling in style', surely the Ritz does. However, there's one way to ensure that no matter where you stay and however you're getting there, you're travelling in both style and comfort. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: the two don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Unsurprisingly, it's about you and what you choose to wear/carry. A loose-fitting dress for example is both comfortable and stylish (simply add a belt for nipped in shape and remove the belt when you're settled in your plane/train/car seat). Or casual trousers that taper in at the ankle, paired with a simple fitted t-shirt and loafers or espadrilles (depending on where you're going). 

Being stylish doesn't have to mean wearing a full face of makeup, either - keep your skin thoroughly moisturised, keep the eye makeup and foundation to a minimum and if you really don't like your eyes without makeup, a pair of sunglasses is a timeless trick that adds instant glam whilst hiding any unforgiving shadows/bags.

Most importantly - consider your luggage and travel accessories. Whether this means a stylish backpack, four wheeler or holdall like this classic Moshi Vacanza weekend bag, having gorgeous yet practical luggage is essential to my own travel style.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest, Moshi Vacanza bag
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest, Moshi vacanza bag
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest, Moshi Vacanza bag

Right, back to the Ritz: the room was beautiful. So were the public spaces, especially the breakfast room. The only minor issue during our stay was at breakfast, with the scrambled eggs. I'm not sure if it was something different perhaps in their milk or the powder they use but they smelled very unappealing. Jarv and I both couldn't eat them and when we mentioned it in passing to a waiter to ask him to maybe check with the kitchen if that was normal or not, he just nodded without seeming to understand. 

Still, there was plenty of buffet food to sate our hunger and the rest of the staff were excellent throughout our stay (as was the rest of the food). I loved that they had options such as chia pudding with fresh fruit on the breakfast menu - it can be difficult to eat healthily and still feel full when dining out, but this isn't an issue at the Ritz.

The location of the hotel is also fantastic - we walked literally everywhere, never once hopping into an Uber or on any public transport to get around. All the restaurants, bars, attractions and neighbourhoods we visited were within a 15 - 30 minute walk away, and the weather in July was perfectly comfortable.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ritz Carlton Budapest

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EXPLORING BUDAPEST
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I have to say, this was the first city trip I'd taken in quite a while where I felt completely and utterly relaxed. Often, we're taking long flights to far-flung destinations with packed itineraries in short amounts of time. Here, we didn't really bother researching too much ahead of time, opting instead to simply show up, walk around and use Foursquare or Google Maps to offer up suggestions on where to dine, grab coffee and visit.

It worked out wonderfully.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Boutiq'Bar Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Four Seasons Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Tokio Restaurant Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Costes Downtown Budapest

To Jarv's delight, our Budapest visit coincided with the 2017 Red Bull Air Race (a happy accident we weren't even aware of until our arrival), so a good portion of one afternoon was spent amongst the crowds gathered by the banks of the Danube, watching the jets speed by, performing impressive loops and patterns in the sky.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Red Bull Air Show Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Red Bull Air Show Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Red Bull Air Show Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Moshi Mythro Air in Budapest
In this photo: Moshi mythro air. My new favourite headphones for listening to music on the go without the hassle of long, tangled wires.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Red Bull Air Show Budapest
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Moshi Ionbank 3K, Budapest
In this photo: Moshi Ionbank 3K - a necessity for when you're out all day and need to keep your phone charged.


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BUDAPEST RECOMMENDATIONS:
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EAT


An utter treat, Costes Downtown is one of only a handful of restaurants in Budapest with a Michelin star. Months after visiting we still fondly refer to this as one of the most fun restaurant meals we'd had in a while - the food was fantastic, as were the cocktails and wines, and the atmosphere was buzzing yet simultaneously relaxing. We opted for the 6 course menu (Jarv's with a wine pairing, mine without) and were treated over the next couple of hours to a myriad of flavours that delighted our tastebuds - grilled quail with sorrel and red currant, pan fried John Dory with endives and grapefruit, honey glazed duck with radish and black sesame... oh, and a divine dessert called "Chocolate", with a description of "chocolate, chocolate, chocolate". Need I say more?


Rezkakas Bistro was our first dinner in Budapest - we opted to try something a little more traditional and sample some local dishes. We had - and recommend - the foie gras with sponge cake (a generous portion of foie), duck leg with carrot strudel and whole roasted pork tenderloin Bakony style with dumplings. Expect live music, too.

We stopped at Zona for a quick bite on our last afternoon, looking for somewhere convenient and casual. It's in the Michelin Guide and the food was indeed delicious - I had a fantastic cold cherry soup for a starter and a pork belly main for an absolute steal.


DRINK
Dark, moody and speakeasy style with extremely reasonably priced cocktails that taste good. Boutiq'Bar is small and intimate, great for an after dinner drink.


We swung by Espresso Embassy multiple times during our trip. Excellent coffee and the interiors are pretty cool, too, with beautiful vaulted, brick ceilings.



A lovely courtyard hideaway, Fekete serves all the usual forms of caffeine you'd expect from a modern coffee shop, including the unusual and interesting 'cascara', a slightly fizzy (in this instance, though not always) coffee cherry tea made from the dried skins of berries of the coffee plant. A drink that's about to become a real trend in coffee, perhaps? I enjoyed it.



Sit outside and enjoy people-watching or sit indoors and watch the expert barmen at work. I enjoyed one of the best aviations I've ever had at the Four Seasons, made with a decent amount of creme de Violette.

More great coffee at My Little Melbourne - they serve a decent bottled cold brew.



There was something uniquely charming about Budapest - I loved walking around both sides of the river, different as they were. There are so many great places to discover, from hole in the wall bars to Michelin starred cuisine to trendy coffee shops, I instantly felt comfortable there. It felt somewhat familiar yet also completely new... somehow like home but also an adventure.


Thanks to Moshi for the gorgeous travel accessories & bag - this post was not sponsored.