We have been lucky enough to enjoy Afternoon Tea at Claridge's before, but not for Festive afternoon tea. So, When it came to deciding on which festive Afternoon Tea to do next as is our annual tradition, we decided on the world famous and oh so gorgeous Claridge's.
There is nothing like seeing London's best hotels decked out in all of their Christmas finest twinkly splendour and Claridges (with its inverted Christmas tree) really brings it to the party.
Designed by Karl Lagerfeld, this is certainly the showstopper you'd expect from the creative genius himself. In fact, people flocked from far and wide just to see this incredible creation which was hand crafted in Germany.
We were shown to our table in the beautiful Foyer and Reading room, right under a second inverted candlelit tree in place of Claridge’s famous central chandelier. It was hard not to be distracted by how twinkly everything was.
We ordered a suitably festive cocktail while we made our selections from the beautiful menu... there are over 24 teas to choose from. Then we chatted away while the treats rolled in.
Plates of festive themed finger sandwiches arrived. So delicious it would be easy not to leave room for the other elements of Afternoon Tea. This is why the art of a good Afternoon Tea is to pace yourself, don't rush and savour the moments
Claridge's serve a Christmas pudding course with their festive Afternoon Tea, and in the past iv never really been a fan of this festive dish. However, one taste and I was completely converted. It was exquisite, and I absolutely ate the whole thing
Next, we were served warm scones with Marco Polo gelée and Cornish clotted cream (the hubb's favourite) along with mini patisserie (my favourite).
We drank delicious tea from signature Claridge's china, and ate cakes too beautiful to be eaten... however we did indeed eat them.
Have you tried any of the festive afternoon teas in London? Id love to hear about them...
For more festive afternoon teas see here
On our last day in New York, we decided to have fun with all the balloons I ordered for my sisters Birthday. I mean they were totally crying out for a photo opp... am I right? Mix in the fact that the hotel was super cute too and it was too good an opportunity to miss. Plus I thought it would be nice to get some cute snaps of my sister to frame for her to remember such a fun trip
It was actually so much fun playing with all these balloons, and we made some hilarious boomerangs
After our little photo shoot, we headed to Augustine for breakfast. Its a super cute and parisienne inspired restaurant which serves an fabulous Sunday Brunch. I'm a really big fan of both Pastis and Balthazar (you have to try their french onion soup) and Augustine is the new kid on the block by the same owner.
The decor is just gorgeous, and actually quite authentic looking! If you didn't know any better you would really believe your in Parieee....
We decided to go big before we went home (get it) and ordered the biggest breakfasts, which we shared between the three of us. Travelling with friend is so perfect for trying thing's you wouldn't normally order and discovering new foods.
We ordered ricotta pancakes, eggs in a hole and fried eggs over medium along with bloody Mary's and bottomless coffee. Absolutely delicious
I had one final surprise up my sleeve to end the Birthday celebrations. We headed to Brooklyn bridge so that my sister could let the balloons go (I made sure they were Eco friendly) and make a 40th birthday wish.
Now this was in theory much easier than in practice as the bridge was absolutely packed. Thankfully most people love a balloon bouquet and some even tried to capture their own photos.
As busy as it was, we managed to capture some cute shots of the balloons with bridge in the background. And when we'd had our fun my sister set them free and made her birthday wish.
We decided to check out a small bit of Brooklyn before heading to the airport to return home. It was delightful to see the locals taking the Halloween festivities so seriously. It made me wish we celebrated Halloween more in the UK
I found the perfect doorstep to pose on before we headed back over the bridge... isn't it too cute?
I hope you enjoyed reading about what was such a special trip for my Sister and I!? Isn’t it wonderful to celebrate the special moments :-)
For some great road trip info check out: "New York to Miami Road Trip".
If you have recently become engaged, congratulations. You might already be jumping for joy at the thought of planning your wedding, but before you do this, there is the exciting engagement party to plan. There are a whole range of things that you need to consider ahead of your party, ranging from the guest list, the date, and who's (if not yourself) hosting it. But, there are other things that you also need to have the best engagement party possible, and we are going to discuss these below.
The first thing you should do after you have made a guest list is to decide on a venue. The venue that you choose is where you and all your guests are going to have an amazing night of fun, so you need to make sure that it is big enough for everyone, and this is why you should make your guest list first.
Its a good idea to choose a venue where there is enough to room to sit down and perhaps share a meal with your nearest and dearest , but also space for everyone to get up and dance. Having some people sitting while everyone else is busting a move is not going to be a cohesive vibe for your celebrations. It need to fit all of your criteria, so make sure you go and view the venue before you make a final decision.It will also help you to form the creative direction you want your party to go down
You are going to want to remember these moments, so this is why I recommend that you think about hiring a photographer. Your friend with their iPhone isn’t quite going to capture the entire vibe of your party. So, look into hiring an engagement photographer to attend your party and capture the precious moments for you.
This is going to be invaluable to you because you aren’t going to be able to see everything that is going on. By hiring a photographer, they are going to be able to make you feel like you didn’t miss a thing when you look at your photos and you will have the photos to trigger the memories to treasure forever
An Awesome Playlist
Its a great idea to have an awesome soundtrack ready to go for your party. There needs to be a variety of music styles on here so that there is something for everyone. You want music that people can dance to, slow dance, organized dance (cha cha slide if your so inclined) so that everyone can join in at some point.
Without a cool playlist, your guests could be left be sitting on the sidelines with no music to carry the party.
It really helps to have a menu available so your guests can see what the options are. There should be a vegetarian/vegan option, as well as a meat option so that everybody can have something.
Its a great idea to sample the meal before the date of the party to make sure that it is what you wanted, and this is the best way to avoid disappointment when it comes to what is served. Perhaps take some close friends or family who's opinion you value for a second opinion.
We hope that after reading this post, it helps some of the essential things that are going to help you create a fun and well planned engagement party. Wishing you the very best for the many years of marriage that lie ahead of you.
We started our perfect day in NYC just near the high line which I was so excited to show my sister (Its one of my favorite things in NYC) at bubby's diner. A friend of mine had been here the previous week and raved about the Pancake Flight...(three pancakes, caramelized banana & toasted walnuts, blueberry, Nutella with mixed berries & whipped cream)
If these aren't incentive enough to visit I don't know what is!
And those free coffee refills are so necessary!
After the perfect NYC breakfast, we headed off to the High Line. I was super excited to take the girls here as its one of my favorite spaces in NYC.
Its such a calm and creative use of space, and I love to see all of the flowers that are planted along it. Its also a great way to see New York from a different perspective and skip some of the street traffic. It also hosts public programs in all kinds of forms which makes such great and innovative use of the space
It had changed so much since I was last here, with new architecture popping up everywhere.
From the high line we made our way to Bryant park, which is another heavenly oasis among the hustle and bustle of New York. You'll probably recognize it as its used frequently in Movies and TV shows
I really love how in one of the most populated City's in the world, you can find these amazingly tranquil spots, where you can immerse yourself in a little bit of nature.
Nest stop was The Campbell apartments. The former office/party room of financier John W. Campbell is now a secret cocktail bar next to Grande central station and a must for early evening cocktails.
We took a seat across from the utterly decant stained glass bar and watched the (i'm told famous french bar man) shake us up some cocktails.
If you have been dreaming of your wedding day sine you were a little girl, you may already have a few ideas about what kind of wedding you want, even if you’re nowhere near to getting married. You are not alone, iv had lots of friends who have been planning this special day since they can remember. On the other hand, some people may think that you’re a little crazy if you’re already thinking about the wedding when you’re single or you’re only in the early stages of a relationship. However, we all know how stressful wedding planning can be. And we’ve all seen our nearest and dearest turn into bridezillas. So really its just common sense for you to be able to get a jump on your ideas. I held out out for a year of being engaged before I would even consider starting the planning process as I really wanted to enjoy being a fiance...something which I later regretted when the stress and timeline began to set in. For you know what kind of wedding you want, to look into options, and to start thinking about the cost. So let’s look at things you can preplan.
First of all, you might want to think about where you want to get married. And this can work in a few ways. You might not be able to identify who you want at your wedding just yet, but you can get in mind whether you want it to be locally or destination. At home or abroad. And look at some possible wedding locations. These places can get booked months in advance. So if you know where you want to get married, it can save you the stress of searching around venues when the time comes. I also feel that its from the location that many of the details follow
The theme can determine a lot of difficult wedding decisions for you, such as flowers, decor, and even main theme colors. So you can work this out well in advance if you want. Take a look at different wedding guide options and consider trends. Then think about what you might like. Because it can mean that many options are all worked out for you.
And if you love food, then why not work out what you want now. Sure, at the time, you will have to do tastings and find the right people. But it doesn’t hurt to have an idea now and maybe even a list of chefs or caterers that you’d like to consider at the time.
The Bridal Party
If you want to get an idea of the bridesmaids you’d like to go with in your mind too, then this is also a great idea. Choosing your bridesmaids may seem hard, but if you keep this in mind early, then it will be much easier than you think. You can also use this time to really consider which of your friends/ Family will be a good fit and help out at a time when you really need it
And finally, we have the dress! Now, you may not want to actually go and try on wedding dresses just yet - that could be a little extreme. But, it doesn’t hurt to have an idea of what you might like. Do you know what color you’d like to go with? And the shape? It can be fun to work out what sort of style might suit you so that you know what you want to try on when it is time for you to go wedding dress shopping for real. When it comes to the real thing you may be surprised be how particular you actually are... and beware of the dreaded white dress blur (when they all begin to look the same)
Hope you enjoyed these tips
Its great getting ready for a night on the town with your besties. Its even better when the town is NYC. We may have been worn out from walking shopping in eating around the city but that was not stopping us going for drinks in the city. Not even the rain...
We headed to the peninsula Salon de Ning roof bar to watch the New York night turn pink.
There is no better way to celebrate a successful days shopping and sight seeing than over a crisp white glass of wine (of which turns into a few) in a cosy but fabulous roof bar.
It also one of the best ways to view the city and the famous 5th avenue.
It was one of those nights that drift without a care in the world. We had no idea or care for the time passing, partly due to the super funny and attentive staff (who ensured we were served fresh fruit in cocktail glasses when he learned we hadn't eaten dinner yet) and partly due to cosy little spot we found while the city buzzed around us.
Cheers to what was becoming the funnest girls weekend iv had
After exploring our gorgeous hotel for the long weekend, we hit the streets on New York. We had blow drys booked at The dry bar to start to day so we took a walk through the nearby financial district on the way to our appointments.
It was incredible to see how much its changed since I was last here. The new world trade center train station is absolutely stunning and definitely worth a stop if you like architecture.
I do think that a blow dry is the prefect start to the weekend, and the dry bar is my go to blow dry bar when im in NYC. Its so simple and easy and the staff are always so fun and easy to chat to.
After some very fabulous blow drys we walked up through to Soho to Dominique Ansel bakery to introduce the girls to blossoming hot chocolates and cronuts. I wrote about the London Dominique Ansel here if you fancy taking a look.
Iv decided that Autumn might just be my favorite season to visit NYC as its the perfect temperature and everywhere is decorated for the holidays. I just loved all the different types of pumpkins and squashes everwhere.
The cronuts really are worth the visit. I had the October (monthly special) Cranberry Pistachio Cronut filled with homemade cranberry jam and pistachio ganache. It was absolutely incredible
After a little more exploring we headed to lunch at Balthazar. Iv been visiting Balthazar for around 8 years now and am a massive fan of the french onion soup (you can thank me later). As the girls hadn't been before it was the perfect Saturday afternoon spot for a bottle of wine and lunch.
I was actually amazed at how incredibly busy Balthazar still is after all these years. I'm clearly not the only one which french onion soup cravings.
On a serious note I definitely recommend making a reservation if your time precious. If not pull up a seat by the bar, order a bottle of your favorite and people watch until a table becomes available.
Trust us to fall upon an English specialty shop, and naturally we HAD to get a shot. I have it on good authority they sell the absolute best homemade pork pies BTW.
After lunch we walked through the meat packing district down to Chelsea market. If you haven't been and are in any way a foodie, I absolutely recommend adding it to you to visit list next time you’re in NYC. It is just the loveliest indoor market in such a cool part of New York.
I hope you enjoyed day one of our girls trip to NYC, check back later this week for more
We woke up as early as humanly possible the next day after a fabulous first night in NYC, and decided to check out the hotel and head down for breakfast.
Beautifully styled, the most impressive part of the hotel for me (apart from the pink velvet sofa of dreams) was the 9 story atrium which is a true show stopper. With Victorian ironwork and flourishes throughout, its definitely a hotel with personality.
With beautiful jewel toned velvet furniture and bohemian Esq floral arrangements I kept finding things to love
I have to say, from a design point of view The Beekman Hotel is the prefect place to stay for a girl weekend. Its fun, stylish and totally Instagram friendly. Not far from Brooklyn bridge, its great for exploring downtown Manhattan.
We headed for breakfast at the rather fancy and decadent temple court, which was perfect for planning our next few days in the city.
Its all stained glass windows and chandeliers fabulousity
I ordered the banana bread french toast which was absolutely incredible, and the prefect (but a bit naughty) start to the day. Along with about 20 coffees to help with my extreme tiredness
Every detail of the interiors was total goals, and felt sumptuous and decadent with impeccable attention to deal. The Beekman has fast become one of my favorite places to stay when in New York City.
See, I wasn't joking about that pink sofa of dreams (is it wrong that this was a big influence in the "where should we stay talks" ...
Christmas movie night is a time-honored tradition in our home. We take it very seriously... I'm talking movies scheduled by day, festive snack bars, hot chocolate and roaring fireplaces. There's nothing like switching the world off, cosying up in your own family bubble and getting lost in the magic of a movie. And movies don't come more magical than festive ones.
Whats even better is, with technology where it is today you don't even need to leave your own home. You can turn your own space into a luxury cinema with all the trimming. Panasonic has some amazing high definition televisions, with the most beautifully bright, colorful display.
Please Santa...all I want for Christmas is a 4k led TV Panasonic under my tree!
So here they are ... My top 10 must-see Christmas movies
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is just a quintessential Christmas movie in Casa Belle. A perfect Christmas morning film with all of its colour, sparkle and the underlying message about what's important in life along with the fact that the toddler version of the Grinch is the cutest thing ever and I totally identify with Martha may who in the Christmas light scene...
Here a different take on the absolute classic "A Christmas carol". We have watched this movie religiously every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. A little bit of a darker Christmas movie, but every year it never fails to amuse us, and Bill Murray is absolute perfection in this role
Firstly id watch the holiday just to swoon at Cameron Diaz winter wardrobe and perfectly highlighted blonde hair. And then id watch it to swoon at the snow-draped cottage in the cots wolds. Throw in all the festivities and I'm jiggling all the way
National lampoons Christmas vacation
This is our boxing day go to and It was actually my husband that introduced me to this movie. In my book, its the finest Christmas comedy of them all! Chevy’s madcap speech at the dinner table is an all-time classic.
Miracle on 34th street
Whilst I do love both versions of this movie, I actually only watched the original version last year at The Berkeley hotel winter cinema and now its just one of my favourite movies ever. If your looking for something cuddly, timeless and absolutely wholesome miracle on 34th street is the one
Yet another absolute favorite. Will Ferrell’s (we are big will Ferrell fans in our home) overgrown-child persona hilariously complements this comedy about a guileless giant elf searching for his dad in NYC. Its such a creative take on a Christmas movie and has something for every age... Adorable
An absolute classic and another that we watch every year without fail. There really is something about movies set in New York City that really add something extra festive for me. I guess a trip to New York for Christmas has to be added to my travel bucket list. Anyway, if you haven't seen this oldie but goodie watch it now and thank me later
I can't decide which of the home alone movies that I love most, so I say watch them both. Home alone is set in the most festive of Christmas homes while home alone 2 is set against the oh so festive backdrop of NYC. I just love the part where Kevin orders the giant ice cream at the Plaza hotel. Did you know you can actually order the Home Alone at the plaza hotel and Fulfill your Kevin McAllister
Michelle Pfeiffer is absolute perfection as cat woman (I was totally obsessed with cat woman g from the TV series while growing up) so when Pfeiffer played the character in the movie I was delighted). Set in a super Christmassy and magical Gotham this is a perfect festive movie to get you feeling jolly.
A Christmas Carol
The ultimate Christmas movie. The one that Christmas just wouldn't be the same without, needs no introduction. Just a little reminder of its sheer festive power. There’s something oddly comforting about watching the snow fall in black and white.
What's on you're must-watch list this Christmas? Id love to hear all about your festive picks
For my Sisters 4Oth Birthday Celebrations we took a girls trip to NYC. Iv visited New York quite a few times now but never on a girls trip and knew it would be an entirely new experience.
As it was to celebrate quite an important Birthday, I wanted to pull out all the stops to surprise her! I arranged for 40 balloons to be placed in the room for her arrival, along with a Birthday cake, chocolate covered strawberry's, cake pops and a whole lots more birthday treats. The look on her face was priceless when we arrived.
We chose the Beekman Hotel for the weekend (more details about our stay here) and it was every bit as lovely as we had hoped.
As lovely as our home for the weekend was, we were keen to make it out into the New York night and see what NYC had i store for us. We headed to Palma in Greenwich village for much needed dinner and cocktails.
So, I have to say I think iv found my new favorite NYC restaurant. Palma had been on my to eat at list for quite some time and i'm delighted that I saved it for a girls trip.
This place literally has my name written all over it. Its Italian (my favourite), super pretty, full of flowers and as cosy and quaint as an be. And its in one of my favourite areas of New York, Greenwich village
We ordered the most delicious antipasto serving platter, laden with prosciutto di parma, culatello arrosto, finocchiona, mozzarella di bufala, olives and our focaccia. We nearly fought over it...
Along with aranchini bites, which are a personal favorite of mine.
And for my main I ordered the Agnolotti Ricotta e Spinaci (homemade pasta filled with spinach and imported buffalo ricotta, served in a tomato and basil sauce. It was so delicious I totally forgot to see what the other ladies ordered.
We stayed chatting over a couple of glasses of wine and making our plans for the weekend until jet lag won and we could keep our eyes open no more.
The perfect start to our girls weekend in New York
A Travel, beauty and lifestyle blog with the occasional afternoon tea by Angelina Belle
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