Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Blog

#CoconutEscape: Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Range

*pours coconut oil over entire life*

As a self-confessed coconut oil addict, I was ecstatic when I was invited to the Palmer's #CoconutEscape event for the launch of their new beauty products that have been added to their award-winning coconut oil formula range. Palmer's transformed the rooftop of the Ham Yard Hotel in London into a tropical paradise lovingly decorated with coconuts, where I sipped rum punch, tasted the delicious coconut-inspired canap├ęs and of course, slathered myself in the new products from the range. 

Palmer's coconut oil formula is made with a nourishing combination of raw coconut oil, monoi oil and sweet almond oil. Using products infused with coconut oil means that they contain naturally high levels of fatty acids and proteins that are essential for keeping skin radiant and healthy. Basically, if you didn't already know, coconut oil has superpowers. It's naturally anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and penetrates skin better than most oils - AND - it smells like heaven. 

So, if you're looking to add a few more coconutty products to your daily beauty regime - 
have a read below :)

Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Body Cream - £5.00

With thanks to their wonderful formula of coconut oil, monoi oil and sweet almond oil, Palmer's Body Cream deeply softens, hydrates and pampers dry skin. As well as smelling absolutely divine, the formula is rich and creamy but easily absorbed by the skin - so there's no waiting around for hours before you can get dressed.

My favourite thing about this product is that your body remains streak-free from white lotion marks after application, which means you can apply it quickly and daily moisturising isn't a chore. As this product is full of tropical goodness, it makes a perfect aftersun cream which gently soothes the skin, so make sure you pack some in your suitcase before you jet off to warmer climes.

Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Body Oil - £7.00

Oils can work wonders for our skin (and hair and nails and everywhere else you want to put it!) and the Palmer's Body Oil is the perfect tropical indulgence for soft, hydrated skin. Lightweight, nourishing and heavenly scented, this body oil allows you to feel pampered all day long.

This is my favourite product in the range as it leaves your skin feeling silky soft without any stickiness. It can be used directly on the skin for ultimate absorption or in the bath / shower for a luxurious bathing experience. I like to use it directly on my skin as it gives a gorgeous dewy glow that makes skin look beautiful and healthy. But be careful of the pump; it can become a little over-excited!

Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Body Lotion - £4.00

When skin is in need of a little bit of TLC, bring it back to life with a squirt of body lotion. This milky and creamy formula is ideal for those who prefer a lighter moisturiser that still provides enough hydration for the skin to feel soft and smooth.

I prefer a cream so this is my least favourite product in the range. It moisturises well and makes skin feel beautifully soft but it just doesn't feel as rich and luxurious as the body cream. However, the fact that it smells so wonderful is enough to keep you using it!

Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Hand Cream - £2.40

We use our hands all the time, so a good hand cream is essential for keeping them soft and supple. Palmer's Hand Cream offers 24hr protection to prevent dry, cracked hands with a creamy, fast-absorbing formula that locks in moisture.

I love the texture of this product as it is thick, moisturising and doesn't leave a sticky residue on your hands, meaning you can go about your daily business without your hands feeling 'unclean'. As it is jam-packed with organic oils, skin instantly feels replenished and soft and smells gorgeous! When applying it, make sure you pay particular attention to your nails as massaging them with a nourishing oil-based formula stimulates growth and keeps them strong.

Are you a fan of coconut oil?

A Weekend Of Luxury: Stoke Park Country Club, Spa And Hotel

Luxury is in each detail - Hubert de Givenchy

Life can be pretty exhausting sometimes and when it is, there's nothing more satisfying than putting real life on hold, pretending you're a princess and spending the evening in a luxury country mansion with a spa.

Driving up the lavish mile-long driveway to the Stoke Park Mansion, meandering through a picturesque golf course and 300 acres of beautiful grounds with the sun beaming above us, I could only envisage that I was a Hollywood actress en route to a gloriously British film location, being chauffeured by my body guard (who also plays the role of my boyfriend).

As we reached the Mansion, it appeared that my dreams had come true. A substantial film crew with directors, runners, cameras, boom microphones and security guards - all talking secretly into their ear pieces - were awaiting my arrival near the entrance to the mansion. It seemed that I was destined to follow in the footsteps of Sienna Miller in Layer Cake, Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary and Cameron Diaz in The Counselor, which were all filmed at this exact location.

We parked our beloved Corsa in a car park where Ferraris and Lamborghinis were frequent and I made my way towards the film crew, ready to start shooting. Except - I'd been upstaged. It appeared that they weren't waiting for me; they were waiting for a well-known global courier van, which seemed to have bagged the lead role (and it wasn't even that pretty).

With my debut film appearance yet to become reality, we ascended the stairs to the Mansion to check into this impressive establishment. Having been warmly greeted by the receptionists, we were given our room key (an actual key and not a swipe card!) and shown to our room by a butler, who generously carried my sizeable suitcase up three flights of stairs.

Developed in 1790 by English architect James Wyatt, each room in the Mansion is adorned with timeless opulence and grandeur. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings, beautiful ornate mirrors line the walls, priceless antique furniture is perfectly placed and a large intricate tapestry takes pride of place at the top of the sweeping staircase.

The Mansion has 21 bedrooms in total and our room, the William and Mary suite, was on the top floor with blissful panoramic views of the estate. With a plush king-sized bed, matching armchairs, a marble bathroom with roll top bath, underfloor heating, his 'n' hers sinks and an open fire, we couldn't help but marvel at the interior. We've stayed in luxurious rooms before, but this one appealed to me personally.

After we'd settled in, it was time to visit the spa, which is located in a separated building called the Pavilion. The Pavilion hosts a modern, inviting spa area with an indoor heated swimming pool with two hydro seats, Italian marble single sex steam rooms, a Scandinavian sauna, a relaxation room, an outdoor spa garden and a beautiful tropical aquarium. I lazily lounged in the hydro seats and admired how light and welcoming the space was, while my boyfriend challenged the hydro jets to a swimming competition (and lost).

Feeling calm and tranquil, I left my boyfriend to check out the steam room and sauna, then headed into the relaxation room to be called in for my treatment. While I was waiting, I helped myself to a cup of beautiful skin herbal tea and made myself comfortable. Within moments, my therapist Ginny, introduced herself to me and I was shown to a serene treatment room, which smelt absolutely divine!

I was booked in for a THALGO Ultimate Body Exfoliation treatment and after an informative consultation, I lay face down on the heated couch and let the relaxing music lull me into an even calmer state. Using a Polynesian-inspired Exotic Island body scrub of sand, salt and coconut shells, my treatment started with a full body exfoliation. The scrub was course enough to do its job without being abrasive, which made the exfoliation process really enjoyable. During my consultation, I let Ginny know that my shoulders and back were particularly tense (from endless days spent hunched over a laptop), so she tailored my treatment to ensure that these areas were worked well. My tension melted away with each second as my skin was polished to perfection.

After a quick shower to wash away the body scrub, I was massaged with Mahana body oil and my d├ęcolletage was massaged with a Polynesian sacred oil to lock in moisture after . As an oil-obsessive, I was keen to see how this particular oil made my skin feel but I was already hooked by its gorgeous scent. I was informed to wait at least 30 minutes to allow the oil to penetrate my skin deeply, so I changed into some loose clothing and headed back to my room in the Mansion.  

After the oil had worked its magic, I showered in the marble waterfall shower and began to get ready for dinner. My skin felt beautifully soft, my body and mind were calm and my overall spa experience was truly blissful. With my stomach rumbling softly, I couldn't wait to sample to menu.

We were booked into Humphry's for dinner, Stoke Park's award-winning fine dining restaurant that serves a selection modern British food with a twist. We were shown to our table, which was lined with a pressed white tablecloth and decorated with fresh flowers.

We were handed two menus - one a la carte and one tasting menu - and were left to peruse the offerings on each. While we were deciding, we were served drinks (Sauvignon Blanc for me and beer for the Mr) and offered bread. We both chose the walnut and raisin rolls, which were so delicious that we had a second, and ordered the 7-course tasting menu as this meant we could sample a variety of different dishes.

Firstly, we delved into two different amuse bouches. The first was truffle houmous and nachos with two toastie bites and a side of caviar. This was the first time that I've eaten caviar and it was very pleasant - I love trying new things! The presentation was immaculate and truffle houmous was utterly incredible, my favourite part of the dish by far. The next amuse bouche was a parmesan panacotta with a berry compote, which had a very interesting texture and a soft flavour.

Amuse bouche
Amuse bouche

The next course on the menu was scallops with cipollini onion, pickled mushrooms and sorrel. Scallops are one of my favourite dishes and I was pleased to see that chef had created an earthy dish using flavours that were contemporary and engaging. 

Following the scallops, we were served wood pigeon with pancetta-infused lentils, beetroot and red wine jus. Again, this dish looked perfect but I am not a fan of wood pigeon. For me, the meat is very rich with a distinct earthy taste that doesn't sit well on my tastebuds.

Next on the menu was sea bass escabeche with carrots, peppers, saffron and a spicy tomato sauce. I love all kinds of fish, especially sea bass, and I particularly liked the freshness of this dish. The texture of the fish was lovely and the Mediterranean-style accompaniment made it light and modern.

The final meat course was a pancetta roasted loin of venison with red cabbage, chocolate and heritage potato. I was blown away by this dish. The flavours, textures and presentation were all fantastic - I could've eaten 7 courses of this!
Sea bass
It was now time for desserts! We were served a pre-dessert of passion fruit mousse with meringue, which was delicious and airy and for the finale, we were treated to a melting chocolate sphere with passion fruit and banana ice cream, lime and coconut marshmallow. I can only describe this course as art on a plate; it was extremely creative with elements that accentuated the rich chocolate sphere. Pleasantly full and having tasted some delicious creations, we headed back to our room to enjoy the rest of the evening in ultimate comfort.

Passion fruit mousse
Melting chocolate sphere
After a blissful night's sleep, we headed down the grand staircase for breakfast in the Orangery. The sun was shining and we sat in a lovely relaxed atmosphere next to the enormous windows, overlooking the estate. With a fresh continental breakfast and hot breakfast on offer, I helped myself to a bowl of fresh fruit and greek yoghurt, topped with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, then ordered smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. After a breakfast fit for a Queen, we headed back to our room to gather our belongings and check out.

Overall, our stay at Stoke Park was truly stunning. From the immaculate rooms and the outstanding staff, to the tranquil spa area, the striking surroundings and the delicious menu, the hotel offers everything you could possibly need to make your stay unforgettable. Unfortunately, we didn't play golf (we are both awful) but judging by the amount of keen golfers ambling across the course, it must be up there with the best. With an effortless level of luxurious underlining every possible element, I would highly recommend Stoke Park and I look forward to my next stay!

Stoke Park
Park Road
Stoke Poges

At One With Nature: Buff & Butter Essential Oils

Essential oils have played a role in my life ever since I can remember. As well as having many other enviable talents, my mother is a trained aromatherapist, so it was common practice for her to have essential oils stored around the family home. As a child, I always enjoyed smelling the different scents but was naive to what the benefits were of using a particular oil (and always wondered why there were essential oils in my mother's box that didn't smell so good).

I now know that this is because essential oils are way more than just their smell. For thousands of years, essential oils - which are actually highly concentrated plant extracts - have been used for physical, emotional and spiritual healing. They are renowned for their natural ability to heal the body and mind, and can be used in a variety of ways, including direct application, air diffusion and inhalation.

In today's fast-paced world, it is easy for us to become consumed by our hectic lifestyles and not take any quality time for ourselves. Amongst many other things, we can become tired, run down and stressed but essential oils provide us with an easy and largely inexpensive means of rehabilitation. 

With an interest in aromatherapy and natural healing, I was recently given the opportunity to sample some of the essential oils from Buff & Butter. My personalised selection included Organic Cedarwood, Organic Patchouli, Organic Lavender, Organic Ylang Ylang and Vetiver. I chose these based on their relaxing and stress-relieving properties, as I can become quite tense at times.

So below, I've listed the ways in which I prefer to enjoy my essential oils and how they benefit me.

1. A Nice Bath
Even though I am a self-confessed shower girl, I do like the occasional soak in the bath. But when I do, it has to be perfect: luxurious bubble bath, scented candles, gentle music and an essential oil. When adding the oil to my bath, I always mix it with a carrier oil (I tend to use coconut oil) to prevent it from causing irritation. My favourite bath time oil is Organic Ylang Ylang as it has a gorgeous sweet, floral scent that helps me to truly relax. It also soothes and repairs damaged skin, so is a great essential oil to soak in. It's also often used as an aphrodisiac, so who knows where your bath may take you...

2. A Sensual Massage
I'm a firm believer that the human touch is therapeutic. We're a species that experiences many different forms of physical contact: we hug, we hold hands, we congratulatory pat each other on the back. All of these moments evoke emotions that build trust, strengthens bonds and makes us feel safe. And when we feel safe, we are relaxed. So, when we combine massage and essential oils, something magical happens. My boyfriend often gets very tense in his shoulders and back, so I like to put my hands and my essential oils to good use and give him a massage. I make a massage oil using coconut oil as my base, then add 4 drops of Organic Lavender, 4 drops of Organic Cedarwood and 4 drops of Organic Patchouli. I like this combination because it's very sensual: the Cedarwood has a lovely masculine scent, the Patchouli is warming and musky and Lavender is herby with just the right hint of spice. All of the oils relieve stress and promote relaxation, which enhances the massage. 

3. In An Oil Burner
Diffusing essential oils is the best way to create a beautifully smelling environment, while being able to benefit from the oil's remedial properties. I enjoy scented candles and incense sticks but when I'm looking for a more natural, healing scent, I burn essential oils in an oil burner as they burn clean. To use an oil burner, fill the bowl up with water, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil and place a lighted unscented tea light underneath. I like to burn Vetiver and Organic Ylang Ylang together before I go to sleep, as they both promote peace and tranquility, allowing me to have a blissful night's sleep. 

What are your favourite essential oils?

Sophisticated Street Food: Suvlaki, London

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. - Virginia Woolf 

Last week, my boyfriend and I visited Suvlaki, an authentic Athenian restaurant located in the heart of Soho. A very intimate restaurant setting with just 34 covers, Suvlaki prides itself on offering a traditional taste of Greece, serving a delicious selection of popular Greek street food with a sophisticated twist.

'Souvlaki', meaning little skewer or stick, has been a popular street food in Greece for centuries. Meat is grilled on a skewer and traditionally served with pitta, salad and tzatziki. Keen to introduce this much-loved Greek cuisine to the British public, Suvlaki opened its doors in 2015 drawing on the street food as inspiration for their current menu. 

On arrival, we were greeted by the manager and shown to our seats (7pm on an unassuming Tuesday night and the restaurant was already full). With soft jazz playing, graffiti-covered the walls, marble table tops and snazzy low-level lighting, Suvlaki oozes cool.

While perusing the menu, we chose our drinks: a Fix lager for the Mr and a lovely glass of the Alpha Estate Malagouzia, a Greek wine, for myself. After getting the down-low of the menu from our waiter, we placed our order. We knew we were in for a right Greek treat!

With a selection of interesting small plates for starters, we eased ourselves in gently with a portion of Kalamata olives served with pitta and olive oil and pulled pork crostini, made with succulent pork collar and red wine, served on a toasted pitta, topped with chilli flakes and feta.

Simple yet so tasty, the pulled pork crostini awakened our taste buds. The meat was lovely and tender, while the hint of chilli made sure that was a dish that you wouldn't forget. We happily nibbled away, enjoying the fresh taste of the Mediterranean and eyeing up the other dishes as they left the kitchen.

A few moments later, our impressive main arrived. We had decided to share the Suvlaki Exuberance, a tasting platter of skewers, burgers, wraps and sides, as this meant we could sample a large part of the menu in one sitting. Our platter included:

1 Wild Boar sausage skewer
1 Chicken Thigh skewer
2 Greek Burgers stuffed with feta
1 Vegetarian Wrap
1 Pork Wrap
Baked feta
Lentil salad
Greek salad

Wild Boar Sausage and Chicken Thigh Skewers with Greek Burgers
Lentil Salad
Baked Feta topped with Red Onion, Cherry Tomatoes and Parsley
Greek Salad
Fresh Chips sprinkled with Oregano
All elements of the platter were delicious. Our whole table was bursting with fresh, tasty, honest food. We started off with the skewers, which were cooked and seasoned to perfection. Next, we tucked into the wraps, while sampling the salads and sides. The lentil salad, made with florina pepper, spring onion, crumbled feta and balsamic vinegar, was simply divine and the texture of the baked feta was lovely.

Last but not least, we devoured the Greek burgers, which were stuffed with feta. Feta overload, you may be thinking? Definitely not! The different ways the cheese was used throughout this meal meant that each dish was accentuated by the feta and appreciated in the context of its own plate. We loved every mouthful! The thought behind each dish is evident and the composition of the Suvlaki Exuberance platter is extremely satisfying and creates a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

"Samos To Soho" Cheesecake and Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Even though we were both bursting at the seams after such a delicious main course, I am not one to resist a dessert. With my boyfriend not really being a dessert man, I chose two for us to share (meaning, I chose the two that I wanted most). I opted for the "Samos To Soho" Cheesecake, a new addition to the menu, and the Chocolate Biscuit Cake.

Being a bit of a cheesecake connoisseur, I naturally dived into this first. With wild Greek honey, candied ginger, citrus and meringue, it was fresh and luxuriously thick without being too heavy. After devouring most of the cheesecake (it was simply too good to share), my spoon made its way over to the Chocolate Biscuit Cake.

Paired with homemade Greek coffee ice-cream, this dessert is ideal for those who want something a little lighter. Although it is made with chocolate, it has a good ratio of biscuit to chocolate, leaving you feeling sweetly satisfied without the stodge. They were both utterly delicious but for me, the cheesecake hit a few more of the right notes.

Overall, our experience at Suvlaki was superb. The waiting staff were friendly, informative and efficient. The restaurant ambience was buzzing without being overpowering and the star of the show - the food - was a delicious change to the cuisines we usually eat.

Greek of the Week   :)

Starters from £2.50
Mains from £8
Suvlaki Exuberance £34

Opening Times:
Monday - Thursday 12pm - 11.30pm
Friday - Saturday 12pm - 12am
Sunday 12pm - 10.30pm

21 Bateman St, London, W1D 3AL

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