Luxury hotel toiletries worth stealing (or my favourite hotel toiletries!)

Many people bring home every little bottle of shampoo they find. In all honesty, I actually don’t – because at home I do not have 1.5 showers and don’t want my shower filled with mini bottles. But I am not judging – why? Because very very rarely, I do bring some of those babies home. And only when these luxury hotel toiletries are really worth ‘stealing’.

I have discovered many a brand through hotel stays (and airlines too) and if I love them, I will purchase them at a later date – and I stay true to my word: 8 of these have a regular place at the Os. One of them, you really can’t buy (but there are always ways!).

This is a very personal choice – there are better known brands out there, but I found that with those brands, I tend not to like the shampoo and in 99% of times, the conditioner. That said, I still travel with mine at all times, because you just never know.

Here are my Top Luxury Hotel Toiletries worth stealing:

Agua de Loewe

best hotel toiletries agua de loewe 2

I grew up with this smell (and my mother’s love for this brand) – it just reminds me of Spain. Now part of the LVMH empire, it has a lovely surprise to become re-acquainted with this Spanish classic. We loved it so much, we each bought the his and hers perfume versions before we even finished our recent trip to San Sebastian.

Find it at: Hotel Maria Cristina – a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian, Spain

Lux Resorts

best hotel toiletries lux island resorts maldives mauritius

These are the ones you cannot buy. Which of course makes me want them even more. Developed exclusively by Lux Resorts using local ingredients and scents from where they have hotels, these products are amazing. I have had some ‘shipments’ from friends who have stayed over the past couple of years (since the day I discovered) and was delighted to receive a MASSIVE stock from their Maldives hotel when I recently visited this part of the world. And they are big sizes. (So if you go to Lux Maldives under my recommendation, be nice and ‘get some for me’).

Find it at: Lux South Ari, Maldives (read my review here)

L’Occitane Mer & Mistral

best hotel toiletries loccitane mer and mistral

As much as I love L’Occitane products, I always found it a little bit weird to see products from Provence in NYC or in beach properties. I discovered this range in Mexico recently and absolutely adored it. Same L’Occitane quality we are used to but with a better sense of place. The scent is divine and you don’t have to unscrew the tops like many others (which is one of my pet peeves) – the top just clicks open. Voila!

Find it at: Nizuc Resort & Spa, Punta Nizuc, Mexico

Asprey Purple Water

best hotel toiletries asprey purple water

These products just make you want to shower 1000 times a day. I find them very hard to find nowadays, so it does bring me great joy when I see them at a hotel. I think it is the only occasion when I bring hand lotion home, as it comes in a squeeze tube and it simply smells divine.

Find it at: Hotel Villamagna, Madrid, Spain (read my review here)

Aromatherapy Associates

best hotel toiletries aromatherapy associates

This may be my favourite range of all – and very popular with our guests at Maison O’Reilly. The conditioner is one of the best I have ever had, and I buy various products from Aromatherapy Associates very often. I really cannot recommend them enough.

Find it at: The Kensington Hotel and The Marylebone Hotel (read my reviews here and here).

Laboratoire Remède 

best hotel toiletries remede st regis

I discovered this brand on various stays at St. Regis hotels from around the world and my most favourite item is actually missing from this photo – it is the face wash (called something ‘souflee’). I love it perhaps a bit too much – and I always find that a few bottles surprisingly make their way to my suitcase. The reason is because they are a very handy size (and my usual Clarins is quite big) and would last for a week’s trip, for example. I am also quite partial to its shower gel which has some little spheres in it.

Find it at: St. Regis Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi

ESPA

best hotel toiletries espa corinthia london

Mr. O voted this as his favourite range as, in his own words, ‘is not very girly’. I find Espa’s scents very soothing and long lasting and this is also one of our go-t0 brands at home.

Find it at: The Corinthia London (read my review here).

Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet

best hotel toiletries penhaligons blenheim bouquet finca cortesin reids palace 1

Another great British gift to the world, which in recent year really came back to life. From all of Penhaligon’s scents, this is my absolute favourite – and I must confess I love their ‘really quite large’ bottles.

Find it at: Finca Cortesin (read my review here) and Belmond Reids Palace (read my review here).

And now, time for you to spill the beans… which were the best hotel toiletries that happened to make their way home with you? I won’t tell a soul, promise!

xo

Mrs. O

Wine Tasting in Portugal – a visit to Herdade do Esporao in Alentejo

Although I visit Portugal a good 4-5 times a year, very rarely I get to be a tourist – except when we go to the Algarve for a week each Summer. This year, as my mother’s birthday actually fell on a weekend, we thought we would get together and head to one of our favourite places in the country: Alentejo, which is one of Portugal’s leading wine making regions and I still believe, one of Europe’s best kept secrets.

The key word here is, of course, wine. And the lovely Herdade do Esporao produces some of the best wines in the country – I am no stranger to their delightful grape juices nor the venue. I believe I have visited a good 4-5 times before.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting tour lunch view

So with the help of Wine Tourism in Portugal, a company that organises bespoke wine-related experiences around the country, we visited the winery and did more than just taste some wine. And this may be the reason why I love going back.

We arrived at 10am sharp (a tad early for wine, but our ‘Biodiversity Tour’ had a few activities that kept us busy before it was wine o’clock). We were met by our guide (we had requested an English-speaking tour as Mr. O was with us and his Portuguese was a bit rusty) and taken to see the estate – and obviously where the wine was made.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting tour cellar 1

This building was new to me (I don’t recall having visited it before) and it was interesting to see how things have evolved – and how the winemakers at Esporao continue to be innovative and keep on trying new things. There were some interesting wine containers (different from the oak barrels and stainless steel vats) and I must confess, I really enjoyed the commentary.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting tour cellar 2

I love the underground cellar – which holds most of the wine and I always think that it would be a fabulous place for an event. I just imagine it with lots of candles and that gorgeous smell – I think one day I will just host a party there with friends from all around the world (maybe when the much awaited Esporao hotel is built!).

After a little walk around, it was time for the tasting. And for that, we headed to the wine shop, where one can find a *lot* of inspiration. I love the minimalist design of Esporao – the main building is only a few years old and a far cry from the traditional experience it used to offer. It is sleek, modern and I love how comfortable it feels – and how they really give you a sense of place by using only local artists and craftsmen’s works.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting tour wine shop and olive oil

There are various types of wine tasting sessions you can pre-book, and we chose the premium one, as it is a chance to taste wines that really aren’t available by the glass anywhere else, and some quite difficult to find. One thing worth noting: Esporao produces excellent olive oil (a staple at our house back in the UK) and obviously this is the place to get some.

After the tasting, we were driven around the estate in a van – which was really interesting. I had visited the main cluster before but have never really explored around (obviously one cannot do that unescorted) and we had the chance to visit the Tower (which is the base of Esporao’s logo), which hosts a little museum and the family’s private chapel. We also drove around the vineyards and were surprised with how many types of grapes they are actually planting – over 100 varieties, and most of them as tests. The terroir changes, the weather changes, who knows what the future will bring?

And before we knew it, it was past 1pm and we were, let’s put it politely, ‘starving’. So we headed to the restaurant where a delightful meal awaited.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting

For the first time ever, we ate inside – we visited in February and let’s say that it was quite cold outside. The restaurant is gorgeous – but I still have to say: if you go and it is warm outside, you are in for one of the most special ‘lunches with a view’ ever.

We had a pre-set menu, which began with something I was really looking forward to: local bread (which I think is the best in the world. I know I am being biased – and I can be, because it is my blog, so do not be offended). It also gave us a chance to try the various olive oils that Esporao produces, which really were excellent.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting tour lunch bread

Obviously the challenge here was to balance the amount of bread eaten while perusing the menu, which was going to be of 3 courses with wine pairings and dessert.

Our meal was exceptional – and this is where I tell you why we go back so often. Because we love it. And as ingredients are seasonal, it is never the same – so it is an experience I look forward to regularly.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting tour lunch at restaurant 1

We started with mackerel, followed by ‘black pork’, which is a very special type of pig which is very local to Alentejo, and ended with citrus fruits (and the best merengue ever). We tasted each wine (not much left, I will not lie) and the sommelier was so great, he brought over something quite special for us to try – which was some of Esporao’s test wines – which you can buy only there.

I just want to draw your attention to Test 4 and Test 5 – which is made of Alicante Bouchet, a grape which is very popular in this part of the world, produce in 2 different vineyards – at different altitude and location. Couldn’t be more different.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting tour lunch at restaurant 2

One thing also worth mentioning – the quality of service. I am Portugal’s biggest fan, but also one its most vocal’s critics – things do not always go well in this part of the world. At Esporao? Exceptional, world-class. The level of English spoken was outstanding – and this is not new. It has always been like this at Esporao, and hence why we always return.

wine tourism portugal herdade do esporao wine tasting tour lunch view wine glass

We ended up leaving at around 4.30pm – but not before we really stocked up at the wine store. Because I really need a fair bit of Esporao in my life back home.

And so will you, if you visit.

xo

Mrs. O

Disclaimer and Fact Box: I was a guest of Wine Tourism in Portugal who organised this experience at Herdade do Esporao. Lunch costs 40 Euros per person (for real) and 65 Euros wine with wine pairings. The guided estate tour, including all mentioned activities (and the wine tasting) costs 26 Euros per person. Opinions are, as always my own, but I am pretty sure you can see how great this place is. Go there now!

Top 5 Destinations for Spring 2016

Winter has come and gone (almost!), so I am ready to explorer warmer climates. Without further ado, here are my Top 5 Destinations for Spring 2016.

Maldives

baros maldives small luxury hotels of the world

Ahhhh the Maldives! What a surprise, huh? It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful place I have ever visited and Mr. O and yours truly were delighted to kickstart Spring in style. We stayed for 10 days to celebrate my birthday (because, of course!) and chose to return to Velassaru (which we adored) and tried somewhere new which was absolutely gorgeous: Baros Maldives. Both resorts were a speedboat ride away from Male airport – nice and simple to get to, all organised by Sovereign.

I shared this trip live on social media and by the number of likes, it is fair to say that you all loved it as much as I did. I stayed on beach villas only during this stay – because they are fabulous and I believe I was able to showcase a very special type of accommodation. If you are curious, just search for #MrsOSovereign across Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

velassaru maldives small luxury hotels of the world sovereign

Marbella, Spain

An old favourite of the Silva family – and I am looking forward to 5 days with my mother and sister. Because it is just us girls, we thought that getting a villa would be perfect for us. So with the help of The Luxury Villa Collection, we found the gorgeous Villa Malibu which is very close to the beach. Now I am just hoping for some sun. And gambas, of course. You will be able to follow this trip live.

villa malibu marbella the luxury villa collection

Budapest, Hungary

Corinthia Budapest

I had never visited Budapest and I am super excited about my upcoming trip with Corinthia Hotels. We are staying at its gorgeous Corinthia Budapest and have the most exquisite itinerary planned – that includes going to the opera, a gala dinner and some serious exploring. Let’s just say I won’t be packing light for this trip!

Bali, Indonesia

bali ubud ritz carlton mandapa

Also a first for the Os and booked a little bit last minute (because why not?). I am dying to see the rice fields and also the sea in Bali. And maybe some shopping?

We will be staying at the beautiful Mandapa, a Ritz Carlton Reserve and cannot wait! Any tips you have for me for this part of the world, let me know as I am still planning this trip.

New York, USA

the carlyle new york rosewood luxury hotel

Exactly. How could I not go to the USA for a whole season? A lovely friend is getting married in nearby Greenwich, Connecticut, which is a gorgeous part of the world, which I got to know a bit better over the last year thanks to my friend and business partner Kim-Marie Evans of Luxury Travel Mom. So I am heading to the city for 3 days and stay at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, a hotel I have stayed in the past (almost 10 years ago). Also looking forward to a shopping spree with Ali, my fab NYC stylist!

So there is a bit of variety this Spring for sure – and obviously hoping to work on my tan a little bit in each place we visit. Have you been to any of these places? What did you love the most? And which are your Top 5 Destinations for Spring 2016?

xo

Mrs. O

Unforgettable travel moments – my favourite customer service experiences

A friend asked me recently, over dinner, about some specific hotels and what I loved about them. As the conversation got going, we all ended up sharing our own favourite moments. Which then turned to examples of exceptional service, and the ever so familiar discussion about ‘what luxury meant’ to each of us.

So I decided to ask my readers, from all over the world, to share their most memorable customer service experiences. And they were so varied – and oh so good. But they are all very similar – and what I mean by this, is that they are not about the decor of the hotel or the size of the airplane seat. They are about people – people who went out of their way to help them, surprise them, make things easier for them. All in all, things that do not cost money. But those are the things that we all remember.

I asked Mr. O about his top customer service moments and it took us a whole dinner to pick these! Here they are in no particular order:

Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam

The gorgeous new rooms at the Pulitzer – I think I need to go back!

  • Room-service breakfast at the Pulitzer Hotel in Amsterdam. What was so special about it? It wasn’t the food. It was the fact that they called us as the food was leaving the kitchen so we could be awake and property dressed. We have stayed there a good 4 times and each time, the same thing happened. Costs the hotel nothing, but made such a difference – and no other hotel in the world ever did this.
  • When we arrived in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, we had a dental emergency. Mr. O was in pain and had an abscess. We realised this when we were having lunch at Mourne Seafood and the waiter overheard our conversation and saw me trying to call 5 dentists (based on Google searches) and no luck. He then called his own dentist and managed to get us an appointment. When we made it to the Culloden Estate, where we stayed, we told the story at reception (as we were so grateful) and the manager said: ‘I think I know what you need now to relax’. After we got to the room, a hot toddy was delivered for Mr. O, and a glass of champagne for me. It was so kind.
  • At Velassaru, in the Maldives, one night we were surprised by Ali Rasheed who greated us like long-lost friends as he remembered us from a previous visit to the hotel. I told him I really wanted some Maldivian curry for dinner one night and he said he would sort it. I was going to call the concierge to see if I could organise it, but was surprised at breakfast the next day by the F&B supervisor, with whom Ali had followed up, to set the venue and time. It was something tiny, but we thought it was so kind of him to actually do this. Needless to say that the dinner was excellent and if you go there, just ask for the same. They will totally go off menu for any guest.
A decent amount of luggage for 2 weeks, non??

A decent amount of luggage for 2 weeks, non??

  • My flights from Lisbon to London with British Airways are always quite epic. Why? Because of luggage. If I told you the things we have brought over from the motherland to our home in the UK, you would not believe it (curtains, fabric, flowers, a wash basin once). It is always a lot – just because. One day, I wanted to bring a painting and decided to check in way before our flight and go for lunch (outside the airport) and just go straight to the gate. The other reason why I did this was also because of the painting. It was odd-sized and the lady, whose name I will never forget (Sao Godinho) said she was going to look into it. I knew that if it didn’t fit, my mother or sister would just take it and have it sent by courier. I wasn’t particularly worried. I was surprised to get a call when I was at lunch from her saying that it wasn’t going to work. Then an hour later she called again saying that Rui (one of BA’s airport managers) was coming on shift and was going to see what could be done and that I shouldn’t worry. The problem was the scanner – we were off by 1.5cm. When I got to the airport, I suggested opening the box, remove the painting and just get it on the scanner – we gained 3 cm and it went through. Then someone got some tape, we packed it up again and it was hand carried to the plane. Every time I look at the painting on our living room I remember this story. They really went out of their way – and don’t forget one thing, this team has been the same for years. They have always known me as Sra. Silva – sadly BA now has subcontracted their ground operations in Lisbon and it is a different team. Good old days!
  • We were in Canada for a friend’s 50th birthday party recently and were driving back to Toronto and were supposed to have to drop the car at the airport, then get a taxi to the city centre. I decided it wasn’t the best idea, so I tweeted Avis and mentioned Trump Toronto on the tweet. I asked Avis where the closest downtown location to the hotel would be and what time would it close. Avis did not respond, but the hotel’s concierge team did, telling me they would sort the car out on arrival and drop it off to Avis which was a block away. I was really impressed.
st regis saadiyat

The gorgeous Turquoiz at the St. Regis Saadiyat

  • On a recent stay at the St. Regis Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, we received the standard pre-arrival concierge email asking if we needed any reservations. As I had made no plans at all (for once!), I decided to ask for some very specific restaurant reservations and was surprised to see the conversation going through the night (Abu Dhabi is 2 hours ahead of London and it was like 11pm when I responded to the email). The next morning, everything was booked and sorted. Nothing crazy special here but what happened during our stay, over 5 days was exceptional. I asked for some changes to be made, they came within 10 minutes. I then decided to see if it was possible to make a spa appointment, and within minutes I had an email from the spa. All this took place whilst I was at the beach, in between dips. I think I asked for more things than I normally would just to test the service (by the way, I was incognito at the hotel, no one knew Mrs. O was there). This is an example for hotels to follow for sure.
  • At the same hotel, we had lunch at its beach side restaurant on the first day, and really thought the Maitre d’, Joshy Antony was excellent. And so was the menu – lots of variety but particularly good fish which is something we love. Then on the second day, I went in during the morning to book a table – when we arrived at the agreed time, it felt like we were totally home. On the third day, I forgot to book and we just walked in (more or less at the same time) and there were two couples ahead of us waiting for a table. But a table (and a very specific table had been booked for us). He said he thought we would come that day too. And we did every day.
Madeira Island Belmond Reids Palace

Impeccable service at the Belmond Reids Palace and Sovereign in Madeira.

  • You probably know by now that I like to indulge in a bit of shopping when I am away – taking 6 or 8 bags is not an issue and I will not even apologise. That is what premium ticket baggage allowances are for. When we were in Madeira (which we are dying to go back to), I bought 2 dresses at Lanidor (which is a nice Portuguese high street chain) and they needed alterations. This was Saturday and we were leaving on Monday. And it was Easter. The lady there said she was going to call her aunt and see if she could help – and very kindly she agreed to have them ready the following Monday at 1pm. Our transfer with Sovereign to the airport was supposed to be at 1pm, and we did not have much wiggle room. So I texted Sovereign’s 24 hour concierge service and asked for ideas. With time at a premium, they coordinated with the hotel so our bags could be ready (we were out for the day, by the way, just to make it easier), organised for us to go to the shop, had the car waiting for us outside, then got to the hotel where bags were literally at the door ready to go and off we went. Having this extra help from Sovereign was excellent and I really appreciated the effort.
  • My husband arrived at Heathrow Terminal 5 early for a flight to Paris and dropped of his car at the meet and great area with Perfect Parking, a company we have been using for over 7 years and cannot be happier. He had checked in online, so went to the lounge, and when he got some money from the BA Travelex Counter at the South Lounges, he realised he did not have his passport with him. He checked everywhere and did not have it, so he asked a BA staff member at the lounge if she could check at security if any passports had been found. She also helped him go through his carry-on case and briefcase in case he was being blind and nothing. At some point, he had a brainwave and called the valet parking company to see, if by any chance, the car was still there and if the passport could potentially be there. A miracle happened and the car was still at the airport terminal and the passport was sitting in the boot of the car! So the BA lady went through security to meet the driver and get the passport. At this point, the flight was boarding, so all he had to do was thank her a 1000 times, call back Perfect Parking to thank them and dash to the gate, where he made it just before the flight closed.

These are all super simple – it is not the caviar or foie gras meals that I remember. What I remember are people who went out of their way to make life easier for me (and 99% of these are all non Mrs. O stories) and my husband. It is people that we remember, isn’t it?

I am compiling your favourite stories too – so don’t be shy and send them over to me. Feel free to leave a comment on this Facebook post, leave a comment below or just email me through this page.

xo

Mrs. O

Introducing the RueBaRue App – city travel planning made easy

This post has been brought to you in association with RueBaRue.

We all know that there is an app for everything – but the goal, at least for me, is to discover *really* useful apps, which really make my travelling time easier, amongst other things. Cue RueBaRue, which is a new app which promises two things: to help you plan an upcoming visit to a city in a much easier way and really help you with something: adjust your interests to your pace.

What do I mean ‘pace’? Well, not all of us want to see 48 attractions in one day. Sometimes, less is more. And a girl has to find a place to rest her legs in between the shopping and museum-hopping.

ruebarue travel app review1

To plan a visit to a city, need to select it from a choice of 17, including major US cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC and Chicago, and of course, some of the greatest cities in the world like London, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Rome, Singapore, Dubai, Vancouver and Tokyo. More cities are coming soon, so worry not.

ruebarue travel app 6

For the purposes of this review, I picked Barcelona as ‘my city’. Why? Because I know it well and I know what I would want to see in a day, ‘Mrs. O-style’, aka a relatively slow pace.

We all have different travel styles – and different times to explore a city, and this is what I found quite intriguing about the app. Because it calculates the time between each activity, and, more importantly, it allows for travel time in between locations, so it is VERY handy.

When you start planning your trip, you can do so from an itinerary from scratch, or if you are curious, select a pre-planned itinerary (where again you are given the opportunity to choose your interests and pace). Everything is editable, so if you don’t want to go to place A or B, you can just delete it.

ruebarue travel app review 2

One feature that I also quite liked (having been disappointed a few times in real trips before), is the fact that if you add your dates (you can make them up, of course), it will actually tell you if where you chose to visit is open or not. I don’t know about you,  but I have before made my way to a museum or an attraction and find it closed. It happens to shops quite a bit in Europe (not just Sundays, in some places it is also Monday morning) – my most recent one was the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur which close on a Monday. Or a restaurant. So it is a handy feature.

ruebarue travel app review 3

Adding and removing ‘attractions’ is super easy, and you can also add (and should add) your accommodation details (I picked a random hotel) and restaurants. The reason why this is important is because it gives you an idea of how much time you will need between place A and B, and it does so ‘Google Map’ style where it tells you how long it will take to walk, by taxi/car and public transportation.  It actually connects you to Apple or Google Maps so you can know for sure how to get there.

ruebarue travel app review 3

As you start building your itinerary, a map starts being built – it will be available offline at all times (which is also a plus).

ruebarue travel app review 5

I have been testing this app for a couple of weeks now, and found it most useful – it is super easy to use, and actually adds value as it lets you REALLY select what you would want to see, but does it in a clever way: you can actually not know what you should see in a new city, and it does the homework for you. With a plus – if you are not interested at all in place A or B, then it just magically disappears.

I like the look and feel of the app (in other words, it does look pretty), and I have no problems recommend my readers to download it – it is free and available from the App Store (other versions will be available soon). Any feedback you have once you download will be very useful to its developers, so please let me know of any thoughts and ideas.

RueBaRue App Logo-1

xo

Mrs. O

Disclaimer and Fact Box: I was compensated by RueBaRue for my time in reviewing this app. The company has not seen my review prior to publishing and opinions are, as always, my own. The app really is very good. You can also visit RueBaRue’s website for additional trip ideas, including some of my own (for example, a NYC shopping guide or my secret places in London).

Discovering cities one bite at a time: the magic of food tours

One thing I almost always do when I visit a city is book a food tour. When I say this to some friends, they seem surprised: food tours? What is that? Well, it is not a new concept, so to speak, but I find it a great way to discover a city.

I did my first one almost 4 years ago when I visited Rome with my sister. The result? A great day out, negative calories (because you walk – trust me on this!), and a great way to get to know little hidden gems. And, I will not lie – a great way to find some things to buy. When you travel within Europe, you can of course bring home any produce.

Food tours take on average 4 hours – and my advice is to skip the meal before it begins. The times I did not follow my own advice, I deeply regretted it. It is also a great way to do some sightseeing and earmarking places to return to.

Here are 6 food tour options I absolutely loved – they all happen to be in Europe, but worry not, I plan to continue to eat my way around the world.

Lisbon, Portugal

lisbon portugal eat portugal food tours europe luxury travel

I chose this one first because it is ever so slightly ironic that I went on a food tour in my hometown. And besides Mr. O, I invited my sister to join us. Why ironic? Because one would think one would know the main places to try x and y. Turns out one is very wrong. We joined a group organised by Eat Portugal – they run tours of up to 8 people and we loved every minute of it. Of course I knew the food, but I loved finding so many old fashioned places I did not know they still existed – and discovering new ones. Also, we loved having other people join us – it is not that you make friends, but watching other people discover new foods and flavours can be very rewarding. Tours from 75 Euros per person.

Malaga & Marbella, Spain

toma and coe tours andalucia spain marbella food tour

A fabulous experience around Marbella

On a recent trip to the South of Spain, a part of the world I know very well, as we spent many Summers there during my childhood, we spent two fantastic half days with Manni from Toma Tours. The concept behind this company, which offers really bespoke experiences, is to help you discover ‘the real Spain’. No tourist traps here. We spent an evening getting reacquainted with the old town of Marbella (which still retains its charm) and stopped at over 6 places for a bit of this and a bit of that. Highlights included The Farm, a local pioneer of the Slow Food movement – “Grandma’s food”, locally sourced, seasonal fayre, using organic produce from the Guadalhorce Valley farmer’s cooperatives, just 30 minutes down the road and also D’oliva, a fantastic olive oil (and salt and wine) boutique which only sells organic and bio olive oil and its 10-type-of-olive-oil tasting really blew us away.

toma and coe tours andalucia spain malaga food tour

Oh Malaga, you were such a nice surprise!

The following day, we discovered Malaga – and Oh. My. God. We had been many times but for quick shopping trips and here’s a city waiting to be discovered as a destination in itself. Manni took us everywhere – from the top of the Cathedral to the Museum Picasso, with plenty of nourishing stops along the way. I won’t spoil the surprise with regards to the food – it really was phenomenal, so I am sharing one of my favourite simple local delights: cogollos (which is a type of lettuce which the Spanish adore).

A Marbella Old Town Tapas Tour  can be booked from €136 per person including tapas and the Picasso’s Malaga tour from €143 per person without lunch, based on 4 people on the tour with a private guide.

Prague, Czech Republic

eating europe prague food tours europe luxury travel

What do you mean? A food tour in Prague? Well, we visited recently and this tour with Eating Prague (who I had tried before in Rome) made our weekend. Literally. That and a Flytographer session. With both, we walked around the city, met some lovely residents and really discovered some real culinary delights. Our tour average 4 and a bit hours and it really was a journey. My favourite? The sweets. Tours from 75 Euros per person, ours was a private tour.

Seville, Spain

sevilla tapas food tours europe luxury travel

I recently visited Seville and obviously we wanted to explore some tapas bars. But where to begin? Well, we would follow Shawn from Sevilla Tapas Tours around town. It was supposed to be for 4 hours (at night), but let’s say we just hit it off and went to bed slightly later. This tour was also quite special because it was private (us and some friends) and we also got recommendations for the rest of our stay. And believe me, we went to places we would never ever find. Group tours (of up to 6) starting at 60 Euros, private tours from 80 Euros.

Madrid, Spain

madrid spain food tours europe luxury travel

The company we used in Madrid was aptly called Devour Madrid, and boy, did we! I must confess I wasn’t expecting to hit the vermouth at 11am, but apparently one does, and no complaints for me. It was a particularly interesting tour as I lived on and off in Madrid for 4 years and again, I really discovered some new places. We had 3 couples (all our friends) with us on the tour, and a blast. And let’s say that we could not honour our dinner reservation at 9.30pm as planned – yes, we of course had to have dinner at 11pm (and were not that hungry). Private tours from 95 Euros per person.

Rome, Italy

eating italy rome testaccio food tours europe luxury travel

I blame Eating Italy for my love for food tours – they helped me discover Rome in a whole new light and as you can see, life was never the same anymore. My sister and I went on its Testaccio tour (a whole new neighbourhood for us) and adored each minute. It rained for the whole morning, but we couldn’t care less as we had carbonara and gelato – and I had the chance to buy dinner to enjoy a few hours later back in the UK. Group tours from 75 Euros per person.

San Sebastian, Spain

san sebastian spain food tours europe luxury travel

I am starting to think that Spain invented food tours, as there is a trend here for sure. This tour was very special for one reason – because Mr. O recently took me on a secret weekend away (to San Sebastian, as it turned out), and he organised everything himself (with a bit of help from the hotel concierge team). The first thing on his list? A San Sebastian Tapas Tour with San Sebastian Food  – which was phenomenal. Lurdes was incredible and let’s just say we did not take the scheduled 4 hours… this is true testament that the concept works, I think! Private tours from 150 Euros per person.

Paris, France

paris france food tours wonderful time europe luxury travel

And to finish it off, something quite special. What should one try in Paris after breakfast? Obviously chocolate, sweets and desserts. We loved the almost 3 hours we spent with Wonderful Time in Paris on its Chocolate and Sweets tour – we learned a lot and discovered some beautiful places in town too. Private Tours from 170 Euros per person.

So next time you head somewhere, I challenge you to try a food tour. You get what you pay for by the way – incredibly high quality food and drink, and someone’s valuable time and knowledge.

Have you ever been on a food tour? What did you think?

xo

Mrs. O

My Flight: American Airlines Business Class review from London to Miami B777-300

I have recently travelled to Mexico and chose to fly with American Airlines from London Heathrow to Miami as it offered the best connection times, good value and I was keen to try its long haul business class product (having been quite impressed with its ‘transcontinental’ service between New York and San Francisco a couple of years ago). Here is how my flight went.

Check-in 

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777 check in london heathrow

Check in area at London Heathrow, Terminal 3.

The flight departed from Heathrow Terminal 3 (and interestingly, there was never a mention of the terminal on American’s pre-flight emails). I had seen this ‘flagship check-in’ area a few times and knew where to go. On arrival, there were 3 passengers waiting to be checked in and 3 agents on duty. I waited a good 10 minutes before my turn came and had what could be described as the most bizarre check in ever.

Instead of what would be a normal ‘Hello, where you are flying to today? How many bags? Can I have your passport?’, I was subjected to one the rudest interrogations ever – along the lines of ‘what do you do’, ‘why are you going to the USA?’, ‘can you repeat your company name?’, ‘please name 3 of the last clients you have issued an invoice to’ (for real!), ‘what does client x do?’, ‘how long have you been working for them?’, ‘who are you meeting in the USA?’. It was quite weird and after 5 minutes of this, I understood why the previous passengers were taking so long. I actually asked why the agent that was checking me in was being so rude (he really was, the tone of voice was quite something), and he told me he was carrying checks on behalf of the TSA. I fly to the USA a good 6-7 times a year (always with British Airways), and never ever this has happened before. Apparently it is standard procedure for US-based carriers, which I respect, but the way it was done was very poor. I have flown with American many times before (for example, on an international flight from Mexico to Miami on my return leg), and absolutely no questions at all. Not off to a great start…

Security

I used the fast track and was done in 5 minutes or so.

 

The Lounge

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777 AA lounge london heathrow

The not so modern lounge at Heathrow T3

My expectations for the lounge weren’t high – Mr. O had been on a flight recently and told me very politely I would be better off at ‘our usual’ lounge, but I insisted on having a look. Hello 1992! The lounge really was tired – and so busy (and loud) that it was almost impossible to find a seat.

I found a tiny table and after a while was able to order pancakes. I went to grab a coffee and looked at what else was on offer and wasn’t very inspired. I got my pancakes and they were so plastic I left them after the first bite.

I went to the loos (which were really quite good and modern, so a point there), and decided to cut my losses and made my way to the BA lounge next door (which I can use as a Oneworld Emerald) and had a made to order egg and bacon sandwich and a glass of Vintage Taittinger to make up for what just happened.

The Airport Experience

Heathrow Terminal 3 is a decent terminal (one of the oldies now) but has a good mix of shops, options to eat and a great Duty Free shop. I purchased some cosmetics and picked up an item I had pre-ordered at of the stores. It is no Terminal 5, don’t get me wrong. It took me 10 minutes to walk to the boarding gate.

The Flight

–          Welcome & Service

I had a very nice welcome onboard and was directed to the aisle where my seat would be. I have to say that throughout the flight, service was very efficient and pleasant, so no complaints from me.

–          The Cabin

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777-300 cabin

The very smart business class cabin on AA’s 777-300

The cabin was gorgeous and each business class seat seemed to offer a lot of personal space and privacy. It was similar to the flight I had been on before and it is one of the best business class cabins I have seen. It had a 1-2-1 configuration so every passenger has aisle access and I had a seat on the right side of the plane facing a window, which I had pre-booked.

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777-300 cabin 3

Cabin details

There are 2 business class cabins (one at the front, which just 2 rows, which I experienced on the return flight) and the main cabin, which is quite large with over 10 rows. Despite being a day flight, it was very quiet.

–          The seat

Seats are angled to one side and offer a lot of personal space – and privacy – and there are lots of well-thought details in terms of storage for personal items that you can use throughout the flight.

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777-300 seat

The AA Business Class seat

On your side, you have the seat controls and panels, which let you adjust your set, connect any devices and where you will also find the Bose earphones with American provides for in-flight use. I knew about this and that saved me having to take mine with me – and they were excellent.

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777 cabin details bose headphones

Details

The seat lies flat but I found it quite uncomfortable when I tried to sleep – there is something quite hard just behind your back, which I hadn’t noticed on other carriers before. I found that the best way to sleep was to have my head up a fair bit so that the back would go down a bit (kind of curved) and would be more comfortable.

–          Amenities

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777-300 red flower amenity kit

The amenity kit including Red Flower products

I wasn’t terribly impressed with the toiletry kit – the bag itself is OK but nothing I would want to bring home with me, and I couldn’t quite understand the colour scheme of the items inside? Red and orange socks? Wow. I wasn’t familiar with the brand chosen – Red Flower – which is an American organic beauty brand and it included some lotion, lipstick and a face towelette (which I used). Additionally, it had a pack of tissues (very handy) and toothbrush and toothpaste.

–          Drinks  

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777-300 cabin details

Champagne in a plastic glass…

I must confess I was not expecting to be served a glass of champagne (which was prosecco actually) in a plastic glass when I boarded – it really surprised me as to why this would have been done. Once we had taken off, I was offered a pre-lunch meal – and I decided to pick champagne (Castelnau was being served – really not my favourite) just to see what would happen. I was surprised to see it being served in a wine stemless glass – and baby, what a pour! The glass was quite large and so was the amount of champagne.

I ordered a Gin & Tonic (Bombay Sapphire and Canada Dry Tonic which tastes so different, but I will put that down to cultural differences), which was served in a similar glass. With regards to the other options being served, please see photo below from the menu. Drinks were served with American’s signature warm nuts, which were nice.

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777-300 main meal

The epic glass of champagne (which got warm quickly) and the meal served onboard.

I did a little research on the wines served as I did not know any of them – they ranged from $9 for the white and $17 for the red, which kind of tells you something about the selection. See more details on the photo below.
–          Inflight Meal 

I had pre-ordered my main course (the peri peri chicken) and the only available starter – herbed chicken with tzaziki. There were other main course options and I was told by the purser (who was very nice and came to introduce herself to everyone in the cabin when the menus were handed out) that my pre-order was confirmed.

In terms of mains, the options besides the chicken were kale lasagna and beef filet. There was also an option for an express meal with all 3 courses delivered at once.

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777-300 meal and drinks

Dessert and pre-arrival meal.

For dessert, I chose the tradicional ice cream sundae which was lovely. I had a peek at the ‘gourmet cheese plate’ which did not look very gourmet. I paired my meal with a glass of the Portuguese red wine which was OK.

Pre-arrival, we were served another meal and I chose the croque monsieur – it was a bit stale but it wasn’t bad.

Overall the food was OK, I wouldn’t call it great. Service was efficient.

–          Inflight Entertainment 

I had a large screen and everything worked perfectly. The choices in terms of movies and TV were very good and I really was spoiled for choice. I watched Burnt, Steve Jobs and also caught up on some episodes of ‘Ballers’ which I have started watching on BA.

flight review american airlines business class london to miami B777-300 cabin 4

I have to award top marks to the loos as they were very spacious, spotless and way more modern than usual. Decent lighting too.

Bose noise cancelling headphones were also provided and they were excellent. I had a power socket and a USB charger which worked well too.

Final thoughts

I had a good flight – I thought the service was excellent (John was my flight attendant and really was on the ball with everything. He was also quite chatty and funny and helpful). On my return flight it really wasn’t quite the same.

The food and drinks choices could do with an upgrade – I did not feel they were business class level compared to other airlines.

The Heathrow airport experience provided by American Airlines could be vastly improved – the lounge really was sub par, I am afraid and the check-in process has to be updated – maybe have a chat with the TSA agent after checking in? It really taints the experience having it as a ‘2 in 1’, in my opinion.

The cabin? Well, it is one of the best hard-products I have experienced – the business class seats are excellent (even with that hardness at the back when you lie flat), offering a lot of privacy and personal space. I was able to keep everything with me that I would need during the flight without having to get up and I appreciated it.

I would score it a solid 7/10.

Until the next flight…

xo

Mrs. O

Fact Box: My flight from London to Cancun via Heathrow cost £1800 and I found this flight with Google Flights, which may be the best website in the world. I am pretty addicted to it as you really can find fares you wouldn’t normally. A normal return to Miami from London would start from £2200.

A beginners guide to Scotch Whisky

This post is brought to you by William Grant & Sons.

by Andre de Almeida, former Europe Travel Retail Director

There are hundreds of brands and styles of Scotch whisky available these days, from The Balvenie to Glenfiddich and Johnnie Walker. This alcoholic spirit sells more in its top two markets (France and the USA) than in the UK and it is a drink enjoyed all over the world.

The word whisky actually comes from Aqua Vitae which is the latin for “water of life,” which is how early European distillers referred to distilled spirits. The phrase was adopted by the Scotch and Irish, who used the Gaelic equivalent “uisge beatha,” which later evolved into “whisky.”

Knowing how much Mrs. O enjoys whisky – it is almost a secret, but I know she does and she is picky (she likes it neat but sometimes she can mix it up a bit with a splash of water or ice or even soda water if she is back in Portugal), and that is besides gin, of course (a whole different love affair) – I am delighted to share with her readers my beginners guide to Scotch whisky.

So if you were a newcomer to Scotch Whisky, where to start?

The following video would be a good place…


1. So what is Scotch Whisky?

Scotch whisky is a distilled spirit or liquor made from only three ingredients: water, yeast and cereal (such as malted barley). The whisky must be bottled at a minimum alcohol content of 40% abv or 80% proof.  All Scotch whisky must be distilled and matured/ aged in oak barrels for at least three years in Scotland.

2. What are the different types of whisky made in Scotland?

There are 5 different types of whisky produced in Scotland. All blended whisky are made from two types of Scotch Whisky:

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons single malt single grain

a) Single Malt Whisky (single distillery, 100% malted barley, copper pot stills for distillation) and

b) Single Grain Whisky (single distillery, malted barley and other cereals such as maize and wheat, continuous column still for distillation).

Note that the term ‘single’ means only the production at a single distillery.

The illustration below is a graphical explanation of the 5 types of whisky produced in Scotland.

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons 5 types of whisky produced in scotland

Single Malt Whisky is produced across distinct regions of Scotland (Speyside, Islands, Highlands, Islay, Lowlands, Campbeltown) with more than 60% of production in the north of the country, in Speyside.

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons scotland

3. How is Single Malt Whisky made?

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons how is malt whisky made

Malt: The germinated barley used to make malt whisky.

Malting floor: A large concrete floor on which barley is germinated for making whisky.

Kiln: The oven used in whiskey making for drying the germinated barley.

Mash: The liquid in which starch has been converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The mash is what is distilled to create alcoholic spirits.

Mash tun: A vessel in which fermentable sugars are dissolved in water. Mash tuns are usually made of copper or stainless steel.

Fermentation: The process by which alcohol is made. Sugar-rich liquid (the sugars coming from grains, fruits, honey, etc.) is mixed with yeast, which consumes the sugar. The waste product that results is alcohol and carbon dioxide. All fermented beverages are either beer or wine, which is the starting point for all alcoholic spirits.

Distillation: When making spirits, distillation refers to separating and purifying the alcohol in a fermented liquid (mash) by heating it; alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, which allows for its separation. Each distillation creates a purer spirit with a higher alcohol content.

Maturation: Denotes the process of aging a spirit in wood.

4. What does the number of years on a bottle of Scotch whisky mean?

Basically any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product.

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons grants whisky

5. What factors influence the flavours of whisky?

In general, whisky flavours vary between sweet, rich, fruity and smokey.

There are many factors that influence the actual taste of whisky, but the oak cask in which the spirit matures is by far the most influential. Some say that this accounts for 60% or more of the flavour of the whisky and thus it is hugely important.

Another distinctive factor is the use of Peat. This is found all over the UK and it is the use of peat in the Scottish whisky industry that helps to produce a drink that has a unique flavour within the world of spirits. Peat is earth that consists of grasses, moss, tree roots, dead animals and soil that has become tightly compacted over thousands of years. Peat is cut by hand (picture below) and used to burn underneath the malted barley to stop its germination, thus giving the spirit a smokey flavour as the phenols in the smoke produced are absorbed by the malted barley.

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons andre almeida

6. What is the Angel’s Share?

It is a colloquial term used for the spirit that evaporates during the process of maturation in oak casks.

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons the balvenie whisky

7. What is a Dram?

A small portion (usually a fraction of an ounce) of an alcoholic spirit meant for sipping. Usually refers to Scotch whisky.

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons whisky cocktails

8. What is the best way to drink your Scotch Whisky?

There is no right or wrong way to drink Scotch whisky, so you should drink it however you like it, whether neat, with ice, as part of a cocktail, or mixed with green tea or fresh coconut water! Just make sure you enjoy it…

However, for whisky tasting and to better appreciate the flavours in your glass, it is recommended to drink it neat or just with a small dash of water to reduce the alcohol strength.

beginers guide to scotch whisky house of hazelwood launch cgd paris airport duty free exclusive

The new House of Hazelwood, available exclusively at Charles de Galle Airport in Paris.

9. What type of glassware and ice would work well with your Scotch Whisky?

The traditional whisky glass used is a whisky tumbler, which works well when drinking a whisky you already know or mixing it into a long drink. However if you are looking to drink a Scotch Whisky for the first time or in order to better appreciate the flavours, then a tulip shaped glass would help to concentrate the aromas around the neck of the glass.

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons glass tulip

Example of a tulip shaped glass

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons glass tumbler with iceball

Example of a whisky tumbler glass with ice ball

In terms of ice, I would always recommend using a single ice ball rather than ice cubes, as otherwise the ice will melt more quickly and dilute the flavour of your Scotch Whisky. A single ice ball melts at a slower rate, whilst chilling the drink and diluting it less in comparison to ice cubes (due to having a smaller surface area for a comparable volume of ice). One company producing the ice ball press at more affordable prices are ICEBIRG based in the US.

10. Where can I find out more about Scotch Whisky?

There is information on Scotch Whisky (and whiskey in general) all over the internet and you just need to google it. Here are some good places to start:

Also look out for unique Scotch Whisky offerings at the Glenfiddich Gallery.

begginers guide to scotch whisky glenfiddich

Also worth a read: William Grant, a Whisky Hero

beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons william grant story

Slàinte mhath!

 beginners guide to scotch whiskey william grant sons andre de almeida director travel retail

By Andre de Almeida, former Europe Travel Retail Director at William Grant & Sons

See Andre’s profile on LinkedIn and visit his personal blog.

Luxury Hotels in London – 10 hotels to try on your next visit

Coming to London and looking for a luxury hotel? Well, you are spoiled for choice. To make it easier, I prepared a little selection of some of my favourite hotels in the city. Here are 10 luxury hotels to try in London.

I have linked each hotel to a review of each property to make it easier.

The Corinthia London

Not too shabby for Mrs. O.... at all.

Corinthia London

One of London’s sexiest hotels, it also has the highest number of penthouse suites.. with views. I loved our stay at the Corinthia London, and highly recommend it. Rooms from £300/night.

Rosewood London

My stunning suite at the Rosewood London

Rosewood London

Also high on the sexy stakes – the decor of this hotel is a dream. But also gets top marks for the best dressed staff, starting with the doormen. Rooms at the Rosewood London start from £360/night.

The Langham London

The langham london boutique hotel regent wing

The Langham London

I have recently stayed at the newly renovated Regent Wing at the Langham London and absolutely loved the style of the rooms. Fabulous location too. Review to follow. Rooms starting at £345 a night.

The Kensington Hotel

Our very comfortable bedroom

The Kensington Hotel

I still stand by the ‘regal yet ravishing’ description of The Kensington Hotel, which may be one of London’s most special hotels. The Irish accent highly contributes to the experience, in my opinion. Rooms starting at £275 a night.

Four Seasons London at Park Lane

four seasons london conservatory suites

The Four Seasons London at Park Lane

Probably one of my favourite hotels in the world – I have used the Four Seasons London as my office for years. Lovely rooms and probably one of the best cocktail lists in town. Ask for a rose petal affair next time. Rooms from £425 a night.

The London Edition

london edition luxury hotel suite

The London Edition

The London Edition is quite alpine, yet so modern – the perfect combination for this very sleek hotel. With one of the best lobbies in London and a very decent gin & tonic selection (they know me well), its almost secret Punch Room is also worth a visit. Rooms from £250 a night.

The Arch London

the arch london boutique hotel

The Arch

Probably one of London’s best kept secrets. The Arch London not only is beautiful, but it is one of the very few hotels located in Marylebone which is one of my favourite London neighbourhoods. Rooms from £200.

The Stafford

The stafford london luxury hotel st james

The Stafford

An oldie but a real goodie. We stayed at the ‘new rooms’ at The Stafford and they did not disappoint. And one of my favourite places in London in the Summer? Its fab American bar, complete with outdoor seating. Rooms from £295.

Belgraves London, a Thompson hotel

thompson belgraves london hotel king size bedroom luxury travel blogger

Thompson Belgraves

We absolutely adored Thompson Belgraves – the decor was fantastic, staff were gorgeous and the little cigar bar is one of London’s best kept secrets (and liveliest places). Worth a try! Rooms from £275.

Eccleston Square Hotel

eccleston square hotel london bedroom

Eccleston Square

Probably one of the world’s most technologically advanced hotels – but made for real people, so you can actually operate the controls! And one of the best things about Eccleston Square Hotel? You have keys to the garden. Exactly. Rooms from £225.

What London hotels have you tried and loved? Let me know!

xo

Mrs. O

Top 5 Beauty Essentials for Spring 2016 – French Pharmacy Edition

Some things are better in France, as they say. Or tres tres tres good. One of France’s not-so-well kept secrets are indeed their beauty products – but not those brands you see at every department store and airport around the world. Nothing wrong with them – on the contrary. However, there is a whole new world awaiting to be discovered the moment you set foot in a French Pharmacy and enter the world of French pharmacy beauty products.

Living most of my life in Portugal (and a bit in Spain), these brands have always been part of my life. But now living in the UK, for some reason, they aren’t easy to find. So each time we hop over to the Continent, we stock up. As in really stock up. Without further ado, here are my Top 5 Spring 2016 Essentials – French Pharmacy Edition.

Bioderma Sebum Global – Intensive Purifying Care

I am late to the Bioderma craze (literally). I have recently discovered it in a French beauty showcase organised by Do it in London, and I have converted to not 1, but 3 products in one go – the make up remover, this magic cream and its serum. They are very light to the touch and not greasy – I love them. This cream costs £15 from Amazon and the rest of the range starts at £7.50 for the make-up remover (sold in a pack of 2).

Furterer Solaire Range

french pharmacy beauty products rene furterer solaire masque shampoo spf spray new packaging 2016

Furtherer is, without a doubt, my sun hair car range of choice for over 10 years now. In the meantime, I have tried other options, but in my opinion, there is nothing quite like this range. With new packaging for 2016 (I almost couldn’t find it in a recent trip to Portugal as I was looking for the distinct yellow bottles), I have 3 products of this range – the shampoo, the conditioning mask and the protective lotion (with a SPF of 90, which helps me keep my colour whilst in the sun. A girl needs to do what a girl needs to do – and you ladies know what I mean). Very difficult to find in the UK, but the best bet is, without a doubt, Amazon. Range starts from £14. Mr. O is also very partial to the normal shampoo ranges and I can’t help but smile when we are somewhere in Europe and he says ‘I need to buy my shampoo’.

Elancyl Cellu Slim

french pharmacy beauty products elancyl cellu slim cellulite cream

Well, sometimes we girls need a bit of extra help. I have tried every cream in the market (most costing 2-5 times more than this one) and have always gone back to Elancyl. Very good results in 2 weeks, every time. There is a night version I have not tried yet (I am as lazy as it gets) and can only commit to one product. This is the one. Available from Amazon for £19.95.

Uriage Xemose Emollient Cream

french pharmacy beauty products uriage xemose body cream dry skin

Hands down, one of the best products my sister introduced me to – and one of the best body moisturisers I have tried. We are now on our second bottle (and I mean ‘we’ as someone else who lives with me has also been using it and said, in a very manly fashion: ‘I like that new cream’). It is quite light and not sticky – but incredibly moisturising. Available from Amazon for £20.

Orlane B21 Extraordinaire Set

french pharmacy beauty products orlane B21 extraordinaire set

Ironically, we discovered this brand and its products at Neiman Marcus in the USA and have been buying them over and over again on each trip. Sourcing them in the UK is incredibly difficult – and on a recent trip to Paris I did find the whole range at a pharmacy (admittedly a pharmacy around Avenue George V). We were sold when we tried the serum + face cream combo 1 hour after landing from London (yes, I went to Neiman Marcus directly as I had to pick up some online shopping). The difference was quite incredible and it seemed like we were completely fresh. Also doing wonders on ‘our’ wrinkles. I found this starter set (which is what we bought originally) directly from Orlane’s European website for 180 Euros.

Have you tried any of these French pharmacy beauty products? What were your thoughts about them? Would really love your feedback. And as always, any suggestions for new things for me to try are very welcome.

Here’s to a fab Spring!

xo

Mrs. O