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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

REVIEW: Secret Garden Party

The yearly Secret Garden Party festival is not just a festival, it’s a way of life. It’s a community of like-minded, happy people all ready to embrace the lighter side of life, make fun-loving new friends, discover unique new pleasures and do crazy things like wrestle leopard print legging clad men in glittery water-filled paddling pools.
The humble roots of this eclectic event started out in a glorious landscaped garden in lush Huntington seven years ago, where 1000 elaborately adorned revellers got together for music, merriment and slightly saucy social shenanigans. Now a world famous music festival frequented by over 26,000 achingly cool party people in the know, it boasts over 15 stages, a plethora of international musical talent, spa experiences, vintage clothes stalls, tempting world food, fairground rides, art installations – and the chance to fondle a live chameleon whilst donning a pair of sparkly batty riders. As you do.
From the 21st to the 24th July this year, 26,000 achingly cool, bejewelled revellers (including my beloved brother Martin and I) minced about the scenic banks of an massive lake – surrounded by acres of sun-drenched green land covered with various exciting installations, activities and acts.  Headliners included Air, Caribou and Primal Scream – which caused mass euphoria in the heaving crowds.
Sassy singer Shura stirred a few emotions with her moving songs about love and heartbreak, Amber Shells caused merry mayhem with their jungle set in the 24 hour bar, whilst DJ Shadow naughtily teased an awe-struck crowd with his spine tingling set, refusing to drop the base for an excruciatingly long time. It was all worth it when it happened though. Oh yeeeeeah.
Weary, hungover souls found solace in the form of the Secret Garden Party woodland hot tubs and the Coyote Moon spa – a ethereal haven offering hot showers, a wood burning sauna and antioxidant-loaded smoothies to help frazzled folk rejuvenate and revive after the previous night’s debauchery.
Festival fashion and beauty was even more fabulous this year, with experimental beauty brand In your Dreams offering gorgeous glittery face art makeovers and Ash Claydon Flowers making bespoke fresh flower headdresses for frolicking sprites and pixie wannabes.
kiss meh!

Eye say!

This year’s creative theme was ‘The Gardeners Guide to the Galaxy’ – and with the help of Guerrilla Science’s neuroscientists, extra-terrestrial experts and astrophysicists, everybody was given the chance to partake in an array of zany activities such as space yoga, booking holidays to space and a drugs assault course.
Forget scarves, its all about the live snakes this season darling...

As always there was a pleasing variety of food stalls on hand offering fine wares to help soak up all the booze – including bacon baps courtesy of The Breakfast Club, flavoursome vegan lentil stews by Exotic Tagine and even hearty French dishes such as confit beef and chicken provincial by the fabulous Madam Gautier.

Exotic Tagine - So very noms 

Gorgeous glittery face art by In Your Dreams 

All in all, this year’s Secret Garden Party (or SGP as it’s endearingly now known) was an epic success. The Saturday night fireworks display over the lake was mind-blowing, the music was on point, the people were beautiful inside and out – all united by their desire to shun bedtime and celebrate life.

Forget New York. Secret Garden Party is the festival that never sleeps.
Review originally posted in The Metropolist  

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The foodies guide to Manchester

Manchester has serious foodie-boozy credentials that could seriously give the Capital a run for its money. So if you fancy a weekend of fun and frivolity but don't wanna scoot off overseas, a Mancunian mini break will prove the city has far more to offer than the Arndale Centre, a pleasing to the eye cathedral and chiselled football players. Sharing is caring and all that malarkey, so I've curated a few of my favourite hotspots, to bring you the best places to drink, dine and sleep in Manchester.

IMAGE: Tattu
IMAGE: Tattu

This hidden gem is a stylish foodie's paradise in Manchester's uber trendy Spinningfiels and boasts stunning tattoo art inspired decor, incredible modern Chinese food, exceptional service, experimental exotic cocktails and a four meter high pink cherry blossom tree - which you can dine under (if you're lucky to nab such sought after tables). The tree itself is real and consists of hand made cherry blossoms meticulously attached to each tiny branch, resulting in a breathtaking visual effect guaranteed to impress even the most fussiest dining companions. Tattu's dim sum selection is divine, the melt-in-the-mouth Saffron Miso Black Cod may cause you to weep with joy and the Caramel Soy Beef Fillet can only really be described as worthy of a death row inmate's last meal. Be sure to finish your meal off with one of Tattu's exquisite herbal teas - we recommend the blissful Coconut Noir black tea and the terrifically tart Red Berry and Hibiscus blend.

IMAGE: Australasia
IMAGE: Australasia

Manchester's most talked about restaurant has been frequented by the celebrity likes of David and Victoria Beckham, Liv Tyler, Paloma Faith and a few of the lads from the Manchester United football team. The decor is effortlessly chic and achingly cool - you enter the restaurant via an artistic geometric-style basement opening in the street, before entering a buzzy dining room and separate bar area - complete with a tune savvy DJ to get everyone in the mood for pre munch mingling. The restaurant serves modern Australian cuisine, which involves an exciting combination of Indonesian, European and Japanese influences, and you are encouraged by charming waiting staff to choose a selection of small plates to share. Sushi lovers will devour the decedent  Tuna Roll with Green Apple and Kimchi, whereas those in search of something hearty will be awestruck by the Roast Lamb accompanied by green peas, confit lamb, goats cheese and basil jus.

IMAGE: Artisan
IMAGE: Artisan

This spacious, 12, 000 square foot concrete warehouse is the perfect space to enjoy a couple of post dinner drinks late into the night. the venue is known for its back-to-basics style of cooking - serving fresh from the fire pizzas, fish and meats along with craft beers from around the world and charismatic cocktails such as the zesty Grapefruit and Berry - a marvellous medley of blueberries, Tanqueray, grapefruit, raspberry and lemon. Exotic cocktail conoseurs will be more enamoured with the dreamy Passion Fruit and Pomegranate Sling, which consists of pomegranate seeds, passion fruit shrub, Ketel One Vodka and Passoa - a punchy passion fruit french liquor. The venue is regularly frequented by those with an eye (and ear) for the sublime as it is adorned with various artworks by renowned contemporary artists and regularly hosts art events and live music shenanigans. Go with a gaggle of your best friends for late night boozing in a non pretentious lively atmosphere, or for a sexy nightcap and nibble with a lover before retiring for the night.

For a conveniently located snooze... The Hilton Doubletree
IMAGE: Hilton / Matthew D. Shaw
IMAGE: Hilton / Matthew D. Shaw

One of the benefits of this elegant home from home is its splendidly convenient location - just a stones throw away from Manchester Piccadilly train station and approximately 10 minutes walk to the city centre. After checking in and watching your luggage merrily carted off to your room by smiley bellboys, you'll be presented with a freshly baked (still warm!) welcome cookie, which we think is the best welcoming idea ever concocted by a hotel. Ever. Welcome drink? Gah! We'd rather take the gooey, chocolate chip cookie thank you very much. Craft ales, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages can be downed in the sexy Urban bar - perfect for washing down their extensive gourmet burger selection. The bedrooms are plush but not over the top, with outstanding views of the city and 'wow factor,' gleaming bathrooms with large mirrors - perfect for post party preening. And, just in time for the sunny season, the summer roof terrace has recently opened, serving a tempting selection of Mediterranean tapas, ice cold beers, vintage champagne and refreshing cocktails. There's even a fitness room available, full of all the latest booty-toning machinery, so you can work on those glutes before leisurely strolling down for a full English to soak up all of last night's debauchery.

The Hilton Doubletree's summer sale is taking place from now until 4th September, so HHonors members can benefit from a saving of up to 25% at this swanky hotel, with rooms available from as little as £104.25.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Review: BFI Flare, London LGBT Film Festival

This Easter Sunday saw the sad end of BFI Flare - one of the world's longest running and most respected LGBT film festivals, which hosted a plethora of queer films from all over the world as well as insightful talks and crazy club nights on the riverfront.
The festival opened last week with the mesmerising brit flick The Pass - the heart-wrenching story of a footballer in love with his teammate whilst struggling with his sexual identity under the eternally intrusive and judgemental glare of the celebrity spotlight. 

Other films included the critically acclaimed Carol, featuring an impeccably dressed Cate Blanchet playing the role of a married woman in love with a young shop assistant, dealing with the social stigma of her sexuality in 1940's Britain, and Real Boy - the tale of a brave 19 year old trans man who endures the agony of rejection from his family before finding love and acceptance though like-minded friends made through social media.

The gloriously bohemian French film Summertime closed the festival and left cinema-goers teary eyed as they were treated to visually exquisite cinematography and the powerful love story of Delphine - a young girl raised by traditional parents on a farm and Carole - a streetwise Parisian activist with a flock of unruly blond hair - and a boyfriend. The two meet at a feminist protest on the bustling streets of Paris and quickly form a passionate, unyielding bond which takes them to the lush rural landscape of the countryside before their fervent romance is suddenly tested by the dismal realities of life.

Roll on next year for more arty LGBT film shenanigans....

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Review: The Little Yellow Door

Attention all foodies and hip hop adoring pleasure seekers…
The West London food and party institution that is The Little Yellow Door has recently announced the six month renewal of their lease.
Founded in October 2014, this kitsch, hedonistic haven in hip Notting Hill is based on a fun, fictional flat share and hosts weekly ‘house parties’ and supper clubs brimming with the kind of friendly, frolicsome folk you could easily see yourself becoming bosom buddies with. In fact, the merry motto of this pleasing pop up, which conveniently takes Whatsapp bookings, is, “visiting The Little Yellow Door, you may arrive with three friends and leave with ten…”
For years, Londoners sick of generic nights on the town, with a craving for ‘something a bit different,’ have frequented their infamous house parties, retro gaming nights, kitchen suppers, Thursday takeovers, indoor gardens and exciting supper clubs with the cheeky Wandering Chef.

To celebrate the happy arrival of The Little Yellow Door’s latest USA hailing ‘flatmate,’ Hank, The Wandering Chef has revamped the Friday night supper club’s menu and will be cooking up a lip-smacking, belly-rubbing, taste bud titillating, all-American feast – to be vacuumed up by excitable guests as they take part in jubilant house party-esque games before tables are cleared to make way for copious amounts of jigging to some seriously sexy hip hop.

I had to get involved...
When I arrived, I was welcomed by a gaggle of gorgeous, happy people and served delicious dishes including soft Savoury Donuts with Sweet Shrimp, Cajun Crab Remoulade smothered in Pickled Chilli, New England Clam Chowder with Shrimp and Corn, followed by heaving boards of Pulled Beef Shin, Buffalo Wings, Smoked Sausage and Burnt Ends. These heavenly offerings were served with a sassy selection of sides such as Pickled Chilli and Kraut Slaw, Potato and Bacon Salad, and the creamiest, most addictive Mac ‘n’ Cheese I have ever tried in my life – and I don’t joke about Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Hell no.

Before I got ready to party on the freshly cleared dance floor, I came face to face with the magnificent puddings which were hovering about naughtily – particularly the seemingly innocent looking but exceedingly scandalous Oreo, Banana and Bourbon Hard Shakes and the raspberry topped Malt Cream Brownies.
The Little Yellow Door also hosts laid back Wednesday and Thursday night dinners and Saturday night house parties featuring a menu inspired by “the weird and wonderful characters you find at a party and, more importantly, their bizarre eating habits.”
I adore The Little Yellow Door and its quirky ways. Go with an open mind, your most entertaining friends and an empty tum.

 The Little Yellow Door, 68 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3HT 

This article was originally published in The Metropolist 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Review: Flemings Mayfair Yuletide Afternoon Tea

The afternoon tea at the renowned luxury boutique hotel, Flemings Mayfair is a truly decadent, gloriously British affair.

Since a lavish 14 million pound refurbishment earlier this year, the hotel – a proud member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, boasts an array of elegantly designed rooms and opulent apartments, offering a glamorous home away from home in one of the capital’s most exclusive areas.

Flemings is regularly frequented by well-heeled Londoners, jet setters with refined tastes and style-savvy celebs such as Kate Moss, Harrison Ford and Naomi Campbell - who all revel in the venue’s plush ambience and impeccable service.

The quintessentially English ritual of afternoon tea takes place from 12.30 to 5pm in The Drawing Room – a chic space containing Tiffany blue and grey velvet furnishings, elegant lighting, an original fireplace from 1851 and bookcases filled with biographies of famous designers and style icons.

Chocoholics can opt for the Chocolate Indulgence Afternoon Tea, featuring unique chocolate scones and cocoa-rich sweet treats, or treat themselves to the signature afternoon tea – a traditional assortment of sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones.

During this merriment-fuelled period, I was eager to try the hotel’s limited edition Yuletide afternoon tea – similar to the signature tea, yet prepared with a suitably festive twist. I took along my gorgeous friend Rodica who is a self confessed afternoon tea addict - and takes really good photos on her swanky, complicated looking camera. 

Dry yet fabulously fruity rose champagne was presented at the table in exquisitely tall flutes before a three-tired tray arrives bearing an enticing assortment of baked goods and crust-less English finger sandwiches – all meticulously cut and brimming with various fillings. These include mustard-slathered ham, mayo-laden egg and cress, lightly seasoned smoked salmon and of course, that good old Brit classic - cucumber.

The melt-in-the-mouth scones were fresh out of the oven, made to a special recipe developed hundreds of years ago and are served with generous portions of clotted cream and strawberry jam, so make sure you go with a hearty appetite - and a naughty sweet tooth.

Flemings Hotel prides itself on its vast range of fine teas by the iconic East India Company, which includes green tea with jasmine pearls, buttery Lis-Han Oolong, spiced Bombay Chai and (our favourite) the hotel’s signature Breakfast Blend – a strong, fragrant infusion to suit most tastes.

This fabulously British afternoon feast also features adorable mini Christmas puds, chocolate and berry cream cakes and charming lemon tartlets topped with quaint turquoise Christmas trees that evoke essential Christmas cheer, and somehow manage to cleverly match the décor of the room too. 

I urge you to visit this magical place. Go in your finest clothes with a carb-loving buddy and prepare to nom yourselves to festive oblivion. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Review - Gel mani and pedi at Muse of London

All throughout my life I have been scolded by various folk for naughty chipped nail polish. Although I am a self confessed beauty addict, I have never had the patience to sit at home and paint my nails religiously or remove my polish when it's looking worse for wear.

This is why a good gel manicure every two weeks is essential to my life (nobody deserves to be mocked for ineptly painted nails).

Before a recent trip to the sunny Spanish isle of Mallorca, I booked myself in to West End pamper parlour Muse of London - renowned for it's cutting edge (see what I did there) hair stylists, eclectic decor and talented nail technician, the lovely Holly.

When I arrived, flustered and windswept, I was invited to relax in a stylish lounge area where I could choose from a range of herbal teas and glossy magazines.

Before I knew it, I was whisked downstairs to a rather glamorous sofa - complete with double foot baths - perfect for preening ones toes with a buddy or a feet-fondling lover.

After a good soak, Holly exfoliated my troubled tootsies with a pumice stone and soothing creme scrub before filing and painting my toenails a classic pillar box red.

My nails were then shaped and polished in a matching colour using Shellac, which has always been my gel polish of choice due to its long lasting nature and gloriously glossy finish.

I then left Muse of London to rush home and pack for my holiday in my usual last minute, frenzied state, yet with fabulously mock-proof nails.


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Review - Secret Extensions and Zen Hair

I love thick, flowing, excessively-long, barbie-style hair. There. I said it and I am not ashamed.

For me, long hair is the epitome of femininity and sensuality. When my hair looks sad, I feel sad too, so it's essential I get that fabulously fresh weave in before an exciting holiday with the girls or a special night out.
I have been unashamedly in love with hair extensions for many years now, and thankfully due to the non-invasive methods of my regular stylist, Shannel Watson of Secret Extensions, my natural locks have remained in a pleasing condition.

Shannel shuns the use of toxic glue, which is the most common attachment method of extensions in the UK and is known to cause damage to the hair, severe irritation to the scalp, dermatitis and all manner of allergic reactions.

For those of you who prefer individual extensions, Shannel has invented her own hand-tied extensions called Brazilian Knots, involving the attachment of thin strands of natural hair to the roots by a tiny plait and organic cotton thread. The whole process takes about 4 - 5 hours but the results are truly worth it.

From my experience, I feel that as long as you look after your extensions (hold the hair from the roots before you brush, plait your hair before you swim/sleep, use high quality, nourishing hair products etc) and stay away from the ones that are attached by glue, your hair will be fine.

Shannel Watson smiling. Smiling, because those customers keep on coming back...
Whilst I've been lucky enough to find such an expert hair extension technician, it has been quite the conundrum to find the perfect hair to enhance my needy mane.
That is until I heard about Zen Luxury Hair Extensions - beloved by beauty bloggers, models in search of beautiful barnets and the sultry Kardashian sisters.

The company's website states that it has over 35 years of experience in the industry and that it uses a special source guaranteed to provide 100% virgin Remy hair of the highest quality.

As always, I was at first skeptical about such 'too good to be true' claims. I was overly familiar with such pompish talk from extension brands and would usually end up crying into a frazzled, shaggy mess after a few weeks of trying an unknown hair company's hair.

Zen Hair actually impressed me.

You can purchase three different 'series' of Zen hair - Pure, Luxury and Ultimate, which all increase slightly in quality levels.

I opted for three packs of the Luxury Series in 20 inches. This brand of hair is sold in a much smaller amount that other hair extensions, so you will need at least 3 to 4 packs for a satisfactory, voluminous look.

Each section of hair features a sticky section which is supposed to be stuck directly onto the roots of your hair. Being a pure weave advocate, Shannel simply sewed the hair into thin braids and the effect was outstanding.

The whole process took about 45 minutes and I was left with gorgeous long, shiny tresses, worthy of a cheesy shampoo advert - as you can see in the images below;

After blow drying only

After extensions are curled using heated rollers

I would recommend Secret Extensions and Zen Luxury Hair to anyone interested increasing the volume and length of their hair. After three months, the quality of my tresses are in perfect condition and for the first time ever, I am able to reuse the same hair when I get my weave redone next week. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Review - Elli 100% natural body balm

Due to my unyielding love of fine foods, I have been recently posting about my various culinary jaunts across the capital - but today I feel like going back to my organic/natural beauty roots by writing about my ardent love for my latest skincare discovery.

I was given the Elli Body Balm by the lovely people at Herbs-APlenty - a South African face and body care company specialising in natural and organic products that smell of pure jubilation.

First of all, I must blather on about how much I love the packaging - simple, slightly retro lettering and chic bright colours.

Then I must express my adoration for the wholesome ingredients list. I can't explain the feeling of intense happiness I get when I read the back of a new beauty product and am faced with lovely herby names such as 'matricaria chamomilla' and 'lavandula Marie' - a stark contrast to the scary chemical titles of PEG-40 and blahblahparaben, so commonly found lurking on the ingredients lists of even the most innocent looking containers.

This blissful balm is described on the packaging as "a calming and nourishing blend of Shea Butter and Marula Oil, enhanced with indigenous African essential oils." 

Shea Butter is excellent for deeply moisturising dull, dry skin, whereas marula oil is said to contain a whopping 60% more free radical busting antioxidants than argan oil - ideal for treating sun damaged and crepe-like post summer skin. 

I admit that my skin did feel rather nourished and my mood calmer as I smoothed on this deliciously-scented body balm. The texture is gorgeous - not too greasy, yet rich enough to leave my post-showered self silky soft from head to toe.

I also loved the sexy sheen left on my skin after using this product - perfect for donning a little black dress before a glamorous night out in London Town. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Olive leaf extract - the next green tea?

Gotta love Antioxidants - the feisty free radical scavengers of the universe, the buzz word of our health-obsessed era, the beauty-boosting badboys of the holistic world.

Blueberries, broccoli and kale are the most popular antioxidant-rich super foods commonly blabbed about by the mainstream media - but not many folk know about the immense health benefits of plain bog standard black tea.

Doctor Carrie Ruxton - member of the Tea Advisory Panel, stated after a recent study that, "All forms of tea contain polyphenols - a family of plant compounds which appear to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties. Almost half the UK intake of health-enhancing flavonoids come from tea."

Being a lover of a good cup of builders brew as I laze about on my sofa, this was welcome news to my ears.

But what's a girl about town supposed to do when she's mincing all over the capital, attending press events and meetings where she's expected to be alert and oozing with energy?

I'm a big fan of antioxidant consumption on the go and usually chug a big bottle of those cold green teas that you get in quaint oriental shops. These bottled beverages may look pretty, but they don't always taste that good. 

Damnit, sometimes I just want to down a refreshing, fruity drink that tastes of pure joy and isn't packed full of diabetes two-inducing sugar.

I have often prayed for a drink like this whilst I stand scanning fridges in supermarkets and newsagents, scowling at the vast range of sugar and artificial preservative-laden beverages on sale - complete madness in our health-obsessed times.

So, when I heard about a brand spanking new drink on the market called InFusion by Ovio, containing only fruit juice, water and antioxidant abundant olive leaf extract, I may have sung a silent celebratory ditty in my head.

These über hydrating beverages are completely sugar free, naturally low calorie and come in three refreshing flavours;

  • Lemon and Mint
  • Strawberry and Elderberry
  • Cucumber and Juniper (my fave)

InFusion - the perfect picnic pal
After trying the range of drinks at the brand's exciting launch, I couldn't believe how good they tasted and was impressed upon learning about the numerous benefits of their special ingredient - olive left extract.

This very special plant extract can boast the following;

  • Immune system boosting
  • Anti-ageing 
  • Blood pressure lowering
  • Anti-inflamatory 
  • Anti-viral 
  • Anti-fungal 
  • Detoxifying 

Because olive leaf drinks like to sunbathe too...

In addition to all the numerous health studies and articles, there's even a reference to this wonder leaf in the Bible for goodness sakes - "The fruit (of the olive tree) thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." (Ezekiel 47.12)

This rather holy plant extract is also available in more concentrated supplements made by Ovio - which I merrily add to my smoothies every morning to give me an extra kick of wellness and an extra spring in my step.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Ultimate Sleep Experience with Duxiana

Having a good old snooze – it's by far one of the most important things in life.
If we don't get a good night's kip, our health suffers, our skin looks pitifully lacklustre, our concentration is dismal and we turn into moody gremlins who moan about seemingly petty matters to anyone who dares cross our snooze-deprived selves. 

Being a fan of a beauty-boosting '8 hours a night',  I was excited to be recently shown how sleep should really be done.

A good bed and the right environment is essential. The vast majority of us naughtily succumb to the bargain bed philosophy and focus our attentions on a snazzy duvet or eye-catching bedside furniture -- but the bed itself needs to be the real focus. 

We spend a third of our life in our boudoirs, so to show how important the bed buying decision should be, Swedish bed manufacturer Duxiana kindly invited me to try one of their High Performance Sleep Systems – aka the best bed in the world. The daddy of all beds. The bed to end all beds. 

You get my point....

So off I went with a sleep-loving loved one to Hanbury Manor in Ware, Hertfordshire, where I took part in the Ultimate Sleep Experience. 

The grandiose Jacobean-style manor was a scenic slice of escapism - just one hour away from the bustling city streets of London. Oh how we marvelled at the 200 acres of lush green grounds - complete with a shimmering lake and ample golf course.

When we got to our elegantly designed suite, we were truly in awe of the 'DUX 818' bed - a massive, yet stylish creation that was almost impossible to prise ourselves off.

Come to meh and rest your weary head

We discovered that it was expertly engineered by clever Swedish designers to give you the best sleep of your life. An extra hour of deep sleep in fact - a claim backed-up by nap-loving researchers at the Karolinska Institute.

The bedlinen looked and felt deliriously comfortable and oddly (yet in a good way), the pillows had springs in them! What the...?

I was later told that this was to enable air to circulate correctly around the head and to provide the right kind of support whilst you drift away each night. 

No more dodgy neck pains after waking. Yay!

We also noticed that there was a glowing Lumie Lights sleep machine by the bed, which uses light therapy and soothing lavender essential oil to help aid the relaxation process at bedtime.

The essential sleepy time kit 

There was even a nourishing serum by one of my favourite beauty brands - Rajeunir, to help deeply hydrate our skin during our regenerative sleep.

After managing to tear ourselves away from such an exquisite slumber haven, we decided to explore our opulent surroundings. 

We relaxed our weary urban bodies in the blissful spa area before embarking on a hearty three course feast in the hotel's restaurant. Oh how we nomed...

Nom Nom Nom
With our tummies nicely rounded, we rolled ourselves back to our suite to find that our Duxiana bed was still as inviting as ever and that the Lumie Lights machine had permeated the air with a soothing lavender scent.

We also decided to gorge on fine puddings whilst watching back to back OITNB on Netflix - an essential prerequisite before our bedtimes (screw this whole 'no eating after 7pm' malarkey).

As we gradually felt our eyes closing with tiredness, we cooed with adoration at the serious comfort levels of the bed. The mattress seemed different to other mattresses. We learnt that it was in fact,  not a single mattress at all, but a series of highly configurable elements which allow you to adjust where you want or need more or less support. 

The bed's 'Pascal Cassette system' means you can tailor it to keep your spine straight as you sleep -  essential for getting you to the key deep sleep part of your nightly sleep cycle.

Yeah baby

Here comes the science bit...

There are, as DUX researchers told me, 4 stages to sleep and it’s during these various stages that the body actually goes about repairing itself. The Karolinska Institue in Stockholm looked at a number of mattress types and helped the DUX engineers refine their designs to make the classic DUX bed, which cleverly adapts to your shape and weight - giving you the straight spine and support needed to maximise the benefits of sleep. 

During the night, the brain is far from resting. In fact it’s really active, but in a different way – processing conscious thoughts of the day, repairing connections, producing delta waves important in self-repair. 

Equally, our skin needs deep sleep in order to repair and regenerate. As the largest organ in the body, you will start to see the signs of its unhappy wrath if you don’t get enough quality sleep. 

The DUX 818 bed is also developed with a special lumbar support mechanism, which allows you to alter another element of the support “firmness." This is niftily adjusted by a little crank mechanism made of polished steel - a nice touch Duxiana.

The question is, did we get a good nights sleep?

We did indeed. I think I slept for an extra two hours than usual and woke to feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to start the day.

Ok, maybe I nearly missed breakfast because trying to leave this magical bed was almost impossible (not sure if this is a good or a bad thing) and I felt a niggling feeling of annoyance that  from that moment on I could never look at my once beloved bed in the same way ever again.

DISCLAIMER: Although my Ultimate Sleep Experience was a generally pleasurable experience resulting in a pleasing 9 hour kip, I feel obligated to say that once you have slept in a bed as good as the DUX 818, no other bed will compare - resulting in feelings of distain (and even anger) for other perfectly innocent beds.