SWITCHING OFF IN PARIS

So, Paris. If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll no doubt know - from the completely shameless macaron and tourist spot spam - that I returned to Paris a couple of weeks back. It had only been just over two weeks since my last visit and I’d somehow managed to squeeze a 5 day trip to Copenhagen in in between… but oh my god was it worth the stupidly early starts and late finishes to get everything done because GUESS WHAT GUESS WHAT GUESS WHAT… I actually managed to take nearly 3 whole days off of work.

[insert party popper emoji here].

I am notoriously bad at switching off and nearly always manage to squeeze in a “quick blog post” in  my travel time - case in point, I’m writing this on a plane back from a 2 day press trip in Rome, I’ve had 5 hours sleep over the last 2 days and am probably making no sense and everyone else is asleep but still… gotta get that content in right? - but this trip to Paris was different. Yes I spent a long time getting those shots for the gram - BRB whilst I shoot myself in the face for using the phrase gram - but mainly, mainly I chilled out with Jess, discussed life, discussed shitty people that like to make our lives hell, laughed (so, so, so much), watched a lot of New Girl, slept a lot (omg who knew sleep could be so good? bye 6am starts and hello lie-ins more often) ate a lot of carbs and generally just had the best frickin time. 

We also stayed in a hotel that I fell in love with so hard that I almost convinced myself it could be my new boyfriend.

Desperate times people, desperate times….
So we arrived in Paris, headed straight for the Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal, downed a coffee (because 7am eurostar = all of the vom) checked in and headed to the palais royal suite and then just squealed (and insta storied/vlogged/snapchatted everything) because that suite was pretty much the best place I’ve ever stayed in my entire life. Any hotel room/suite that has stairs is always gonna be a goodun (well, this is my uneducated motto anyway) and I can genuinely say that I was blown away at every corner. The bathroom was drop dead gorgeous; light, airy, marble, extremely spacious, incredible bath, a shower that could house a lot of people (it wasn’t that kinda trip, creep), heated towel rails - so simple but omg how great are they) and basically just everything we could possibly have needed. 

Our bed was one of the most comfortable that I’ve ever slept in. Jess and I shared the gigantic, king size bed and I honestly felt like she was a million miles away, I’m pretty sure we could’ve both starfished and still not touched each other. Anyway, it made for the perfect face mask and New Girl location (Sephora sheet masks and easy TV has become my new Paris tradition that I’ve definitely taken home with me).

Our lounge area - lol at sounding so posh and snazzy - was basically everything that I expect from my dream home. Flowers, marble tables, gorgeous cosy furniture, light, airy, minimalistic and just beyond serene. I wish we’d had more time to just sit and chill there with a coffee but cliche blogger tourist shots were to be taken so after a quick peek at the balcony view (which was insaaaaane) we headed out to explore Paris.
On our second day after a dreamy hotel breakfast - coeliacs, they have gluten free croissants/pan au chocolate and bread… no you have totally lost your sh*t - we headed out to explore one of the most beautiful cities in the world before meeting Josie at The Peninsula for Afternoon tea. It always makes me laugh that we all lead such busy lives that we never ever get to catch up with each other in London… but somehow we managed to take an hour to demolish cakes and sarnies and put the world to rights in a totally different country. If you haven’t seen the Peninsula scattered around Instagram then oh my goodness check it out now! It is one of the most stunningly opulent and luxurious hotels that I’ve ever been in and even just to sit and enjoy tea was such a treat. It was also amazing for gluten free afternoon tea - always quite tough to find when visiting other countries - so a huge pat on the back to the Peninsula for making a ridiculously tasty - and beautiful - tea. And a huge pat on the back for me for being such a pig and demolishing the vast majority of it [insert upside down smile/pig emoji here].
We did more exploring, we did more eating, we did more New girl. I’m not sure there’s anything major to note other than the fact that this trip was just really different for me. Despite everything still not being totally wonderful (I am 1000x happier, better, less sad than I was... but breakups are still shit and linger for a while), I chilled, I relaxed, I let go of some anger and resentment I’d been holding on to, I accepted situations, I began to move on. I began to start enjoying life again, to start being excited for things to come and omg that is pretty much the best feeling in the world.

So thank you Paris - even if you did bless us with a machete wielding terrorist that got shot down by a soldier a stone’s throw from where we were - for being such a mega babe, and thank you Jess for making the trip one that I’ll never forget.

xx

THE AFFORDABLE WAY TO EXPLORE LONDON AND NAIL FASHION WEEK

I love London. If you follow me on Instagram then you'll know that exploring London is something I put very high up on my list of priorities (not quite as high as Harry Potter marathon days but very, very close). But the thing is, being a Londoner, and working in London means that any exploring for me is quick minutes here and there, running to and from places and stopping - more often than not, bang in front of people #mostannoyingpersoninexistence - for a quick iPhone snap before moving onto the next.

This, if I'm honest, is part of the reason I decided to do a little bit of LFW this season, because I always get to discover more of my favourite areas of London (plus there's usually some kind of free burger/champagne kinda situation at a LFW suite somewhere #sorrynotsorry). The other reason that made me all "yes to LFW, exploring London, obsessing over clothes and burgers" was the chance to stay at hub by Premier Inn in Westminster, one of my favourite hotels, bang in the centre of all of the action, extremely affordable, very stylish and the perfect place to hide out/recuperate before and after shows/jaunts around London Town.
Whenever anyone asked me to describe the hotel or asked what it was like, my immediate answer was "techy". I just absolutely loved how forward thinking this place was, from checking in on a screen when you enter (which honestly just cuts down so much time), to downloading the app and being able to control your lighting/heating/do not disturb signs/breakfast order (I know, how frickin insane is that?) from your phone, everything just felt... advanced. You also get complimentary tea and coffee all day which let me just tell you, was an absolute dream after pounding the freezing cold pavements all day. I actually remember sitting down in the lounge area (which is an instagram dream fyi) with a coffee, and physically saying out loud, "this is the life". It's the simple things guys, it's the simple things [insert old granny/embarrassed emoji here]. The rooms are cosy and compact, they're definitely not brimming with spare room but to be totally honest, I didn't need it to be. There's enough room to do everything you need it for. The bathroom's lovely, brilliant shower and lots of what I like to call "getting ready space" [insert eye roll emoji here]. Overall, I just genuinely can't recommend it enough, the perfect spot for a city break/LFW jaunt.

As I've done many, many seasons of LFW in the past, I decided to spend my weekend splitting my time between checking out a couple of shows, making full use of the LFW suites and taking the chance to be a tourist for a day and explore London a little further, and being based in hub by Premier Inn, Westminster, was an absolute dream for this. My first stop was Covent Garden, a 15 minute journey away from the hotel (can we get a Hell Yeah for the fact that I managed to have a lie in over fashion week?), and in all honesty, it just made such a difference to my weekend/stress levels knowing that I was so close by and I could just pop back to my base in no time at all if I needed a little break.
After a full on day in London, nothing beats falling back into a dreamy hotel bed. I watched Grey's anatomy, I took a tea back to my room because I'm secretly 84 years old and I had one of the best nights sleep. Breakfast at hub is a ridiculously affordable £4 (FOUR FRICKIN QUID) for a buffet of pastries, porridge, yogurt, fruit, toast and chilling in the lounge with a coffee and array of carbs was just the best start to the very busy day of exploring London, ahead!
Apart from being extremely close to the LFW locations, hub, Westminster, is a babe'in 10 minute walk away from my favourite spot in London. Nothing says London (and cliche tourist goals) like Big Ben so taking a stroll in the early morning sunshine was an absolute dream (until I risked death for an Instagram shot and that wasn't quite so dreamy). hub also has locations in Covent Garden, Tower bridge, Spitalfields, Goodge street and many more... they really are in the most key locations in London [insert hand clapping emoji's here].

And that brings this post (and the manicness of LFW) to an end. I think you'll probably get by now that I am obsessed with hub by Premier Inn Hotels. How techy they are, how ridiculously affordable they are, how insane the locations are... they're just the perfect way to do London and London fashion week on a budget. Without compromising on comfort or style.

I'd love to know if you've checked out hub Hotels before? Where is your go to place to stay? I always love hearing your thoughts :)

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx

This post was sponsored by hub by Premier Inn. All thoughts, photos and love of a hotel that provides comfort and lie ins, my own.


MY TOP 10 TRAVEL TIPS

If you follow me on Instagram, read my blog regularly, are subscribed to my Youtube channel or have just generally seen me nattering away on social, then you'll probably know that I travel quite a lot. You might also know that I'm a bit of a nervy "where the hell is my passport" every 10 seconds kinda gal (it is always, always in exactly the same place as it last was when I checked 10 seconds previously, of course), so I do try to be as prepared as possible. I try to take the little steps to make sure my journey is as stress free as possible and I guess that is what this post is about today.

It also includes photos of the snazziest, most babein luggage to ever exist.

As well as a mini fangirl to Harvey Specter and Pret popcorn bars because... why the hell not?

So here are my (some, very obvious) tips for smoother, more stress-free adventures.
Prepare. Yes I know I'm doing the whole granny, '24 going on 84' thing but I cannot even tell you what a difference being prepared makes. Print off your tickets in advance, get your passport ready to go, make sure you have all of your relevant documents - preferably not leaving it until a few hours before you leave to print them off - and plan your route from the airport to the hotel/wherever you're off to if you don't have transfers organised. It makes such a difference to know that everything is prepared and ready to go (... and gives you more time to chill with a glass of wine and pinterest stalking time to work out the best Instagram tourist spots #dontjudgeme).

Pre-plan some activities for your trip but, also leave some spare space for spontaneity and wandering. I love discovering all of the best spots that a place has to offer but I also love just wandering the streets and stumbling across hidden gems.

Packing. Every girl needs options, but every girl does not need 5 options for each day/night. Plan your entire outfit for each day/night that you're away and then throw in a couple of additional options... but stop at a couple. You're never going to wear the third dressy dress you've packed just because.

When it comes to toiletries, work your way through systematically. I like to go through as I'm doing my skincare routine and add everything in one by one. Just take one option for every item (i.e one cleanser/toner etc.) but make sure they're ones that you absolutely love and adore and use all the time. Minis are also a great shout so that you can leave them there once you're done.


Invest in your luggage. Honestly, I know that seems like a slightly hipster twat kinda thing to say but oh my god it makes all the difference. I've always been obsessed with Radley's luggage but the Vintage dog dot case in Medium came into my life recently and I am 100% not even ashamed to admit that it was love at first sight. Yes it looks amazing, but it's also just so practical... it has the most babein wheels that makes you the smug "look at me glide through the airport with no problems" person as well as a rubber handle that is so darn soft and comfortable to hold. Not to mention amazing zipped apartments inside which makes organisational packing a dream!

Organisational packing? Who the hell even am I?

Nailing your hand luggage is another travel difficulty... for me, the absolute dream is having hand luggage and a personal item so you can take a bag big enough for your laptop, liquids etc. but you can also have a cross body for your passport and everything you need to access easily. Annoyingly, not all airports allow this so get yourself a bag big enough to house everything and the kitchen sink but one that also has sneaky little interior pockets that you can put your passport and documents in. The Radley pocket essentials large tote - which reminds me a lot of the classic Longchamp bags too - is perfect for this. I've actually been using it in and around London too for days when I need my laptop because despite being practical, it also looks a bit babein too!
I'm gonna double whammy this because let's be honest, I'm waffling so much that I am well on my way to overdoing the 10 tips... take a scarf. A comfortable one and preferably a big one because it'll keep you cosy in cold climates and on a plane which is always annoyingly cold, plus it'll double up as a blanket/pillow/anything you need it for. Also, snacks. Take snacks. Buy snacks (there are Prets everywhere and those Popcorn bar things always surprise me by just how good they are)... just make sure you have snacks because hanger (that's hunger/anger for anyone that's reading that like a clothes hanger, LOL) is a terrifying thing. Isn't it? No?

Just me that nearly turns in a serial killer when they're hangry then...

If you have a long haul flight, make sure you have some form of entertainment. A book, a crossword (LOL BECAUSE YOUR 80 YEARS OLD), or some episodes of favourite series ready to - Suits and Greys anatomy, looking at you boos). Just make sure you are not bored. Boredom is the devil. And looking at Harvey Specter's dreamy face for hours on end is definitely not.

If you get homesick/travel sick or suffer with anxiety (I don't fyi, a few people have mentioned they've enjoyed my posts on anxiety and I've definitely never written any [insert upside down emoji here]) take something that reminds you of home. Whether it's a blanket, dressing gown, if you sleep with a cuddly toy - I ain't judging ya - if it makes you feel more comfortable, pack the goddamn thing. For me, it's a candle that reminds me of home (Molton brown, Liz Earle or Jo Malone's are my fave).

Put your phone away and be in the moment. I feel like the biggest hypocrite saying this as somebody that's surgically attached to their phone but actually, lately I've been doing better. I can put my phone in my bag and wander for an hour or two without feeling like the world is going to end and it has been utter bliss. Yes social media and this blog is my job and yes, with the chaos surrounding the rest of my life it can sometimes feel like the be all and end all... but actually it's not. And putting living above everything else has given me a perspective that I'm beyond grateful for!
And that brings this little tips post to an end. This is going to be one of those annoying posts that as soon as I post it, I'll think of 839749384 more amazing tips that I forgot to include but I do hope that these will help too. Travelling is insanely amazing so no matter how small the little things you do are to make a difference, they all count.


I'd love to know if you have any travel tips that I need to know about? What makes you feel calmer when you're flying? I always love hearing your thoughts :)

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx



© the Elle next door

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