Browsing Category LIFESTYLE

Luxury Staycation in London | Duke’s Hotel Mayfair

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A staycation is something I hardly ever get to do, can’t remember when last I had one…

If you remember this post How to transition your bedroom from summer to winter & Luxury Bedroom with Juliette’s Interiors, it was a challenge from Juliette’s Interior to design my dream luxury bedroom using some of their products. As it happened, they liked my post and I won the competition.

To cut the story short, they organized an overnight stay for 2, including breakfast at the Duke’s Hotel in Mayfair. I slotted in a suitable date and I dragged my husband along with me.

Duke's Hotel Mayfair

Duke’s Hotel Mayfair

A boutique hotel tucked right in the heart of Mayfair. A walking distance from Green Park and Piccadilly Circus so location is perfect if you want to get about and see a bit of London.

Promptly checked in at 2pm, set for a chilled time at the hotel and a little wander around London later in the day.

They do an amazing bottomless brunch from 12-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, considering I was there on a Saturday, this is something I would have loved to experience, but, sadly I missed out on it as we only finally got to settle in just after 3ish. An hour will be way too short to have tea, sit back and take it all in. Maybe some other time perhaps. 

The room

Very cosy and comfortable, perfect for an overnight stay. Just think you are on a business trip or stop over and you want somewhere very descent to rest for the night. Or perhaps just in need of a staycation like myself. I must say, I fell in love with the marble bathroom.

Breakfast

Something I look forward to every time I stay in a hotel, it’s usually the highlight of my experience. If it’s good, then everything is perfect and I can say I’ve had an amazing time.

We went for breakfast pretty early as my husband had lots to do the next day. The breakfast room (GBR) is absolute perfection and the service we had was great. So, for breakfast, I had a delightful Smoked salmon, scrambled egg brioche and it was phenomenal. It was nicely washed down with a beetroot, apple, ginger and carrot juice which wasn’t half as bad either. I regret not having enough time to experience the bottomless brunch even more after the amazing breakfast :(.

Also, they do afternoon tea which I presume would be good too, judging by their breakfast. Definitely on my ‘to do list’ with my girls sometime.

Here is a short room tour video…

But all thanks to Juliette’s Interior for choosing me as the winner of their challenge and for organizing the staycation at Duke’s Hotel.

Personal Journal | Best of Both Worlds

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A personal journal. So, this is real life…

I decided to share a part of my career journey on my blog. I was a bit uncertain if to write this or not, but I hope it inspires someone and encourages you to work hard towards your personal goals. Whatever your personal goals may be. (It’s a bit lengthy, on so fasten your seat belt!)

Best of Both Worlds

I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but one step closer. Every step counts…

A little over 3 years ago, if anyone had told me I would ever go back to wanting to become an accountant, I would have laughed in their face. Like really?

No part of me likes studying. I don’t think I ever studied throughout my university or school days. I listened in class, attendance was 100%, took notes and skimmed through the textbook before exams. Memorised what I could and paid a little more attention to stuff I found difficult. This didn’t work for every module, I had 1 re-sit in my second year of uni which deterred me from school and studying. It was so traumatic for me, it felt like the worst thing that could happen. I think I developed a fear of failure, could not wait for uni to be over and done with. Eager to finish uni and do something more fun with my life. That was back in 2006, I was only 20, little did I know.

After my Accounting degree, I worked in retail, customer services to be precise – from shop floor, sales assistant to supervisor to e-commerce customer service supervisor, then moved into fashion PR. I convinced myself that that was what I wanted to do. Moving from customer services to PR felt like an upward movement in the right direction but it didn’t work out. I left my first PR job in November 13 and was hanging in limbo for about 8 months, not really knowing what to do next.

I did a bit of this and that, but PR is a fast paced job, a few months out and could already be off your ball game. That was also the time that digital media saw so much growth and everything was moving at such a fast pace. I could not catch up and my passion was dying as time passed. It even got worse with the next ‘pr job’ which I did for only a month. On CV, my experience probably looked good but I did struggle to nail another PR role.

Retrospectively,  I genuinely didn’t want to go back to PR, but I still wanted to work in fashion. Since I had convinced myself that that was what I wanted to do, I felt like I was giving up on something and not knowing what next was a bit scary. With no experiences to go into anything else apart from customer services or PR. I did some soul searching during my 8 months of unemployment, and I had the opportunity to work on my blog and social media. Involuntary full-time blogger. It’s the best thing I could have ever done for my blog. That was when I finally started seeing some growth. 

I finally decided to go back to everything I had spent almost 8 yrs running away from. Of course, this made my parents very happy. Bearing in mind I was an international student and they paid about 8K per year for me to do this degree!

3 years after leaving PR, I now work as an accountant. I had to start all over again. I started as an intern and within 3 months of my internship I found a full-time job – my fast learning skills came to play. I’ve climbed a couple of steps up the ladder in the short while. The best part of it is that I’ve worked with the best team and people since I started my new career path.

Now, the very ambitious Banke emerged again, being an accountant for me, is ok, but why stop at that? Why not become certified or chartered – reach the peak of my career while I can. I decided I needed this challenge not only for the opportunities it will present, but for my self-confidence. I needed to reassure myself that I had made the right career move. After many years of being off the field, I needed something to knock my confidence back in, I felt a little rusty.

Though my degree granted me a few exemptions from all the papers I need for my full qualification, passing my first exam is potentially one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long time. I sat my paper in December. The 3 months of preparation for just 1 exam was so bloody emotional (so sorry to all the amazing people that had to cope with me). I had panic attacks, I questioned my decision, I questioned my blog which had nothing to do with anything, I hated the things I loved including my blog. I was just all over the show!! The month wait for the result was almost as painful too 😂.

My blog connects me to my passion which is fashion… and, I can occasionally pour my heart out like I’ve done in this post. It also makes me feel connected to a different world, and I haven’t lost my soul to working 9-5. I’m one step closer to becoming a certified chartered accountant which gives me a different kind of soul satisfaction. Not the most exciting career, but I think I’ll stick around for a few more years…

I’ve worked hard and prayed even harder, but when I finally let go of the life I planned and accepted a new one, I finally feel like I’m in a place where no longer have to work so hard but work smarter and everything will fall into place. Working smart is something I learned in the last couple of years from my CFO :).

I GENUINELY feel like I’ve got best of both worlds and equally as open to every opportunity my blog presents!

Link to outfit in SHOP

 

A Few Things I Didn’t Share in ’16

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Peace out 2016. Here’s my last post for the year, just wanted to get a few things I didn’t share in ’16 off my chest.

As you know, we bloggers like to share, either a little or a lot. We get that urge or feel the need to share every life event with anyone who is willing to listen. Instagram check, Snapchat check, YouTube and of course the next social platform we don’t even know of yet. I sometimes go back to my old tweets and wonder ‘what the heck was on about?’ why o why did I decide to share such an irrelevant information with anyone….?!

Four years of blogging and I haven’t quite mastered the art of sharing, you know, like a proper blogger. If I was to rate myself in the blogging world of sharing, I’ll be a 4/10.
I move on quickly from the things that are sometimes share-worthy or maybe there’s just not much to share…Why would anyone want to know I turned 30 this year or what I did for my 30th? Whilst many bloggers share their “new-in” on the same day they got them, I share mine like a month after. I’m so leaving this attitude in 2016. A better and improved me in ’17.

Ok, so a few things that I should have genuinely shared fell off the radar, like details from Fashion Week SS17, my collaboration with Jaeger and more recently Dorothy Perkins (these were more focused on Instagram though)…not forgetting the very fab blogger event with Farfetch back in July. If you are following me on Instagram, you would have seen the super gorgeous MSGM ruffle sleeved sweater I got from Farfetch. I hardly buy branded clothes, so it’s pretty special to me. I honestly can’t go into details of every blogging highlight from 2016, there’s a lot to say, but not meant for typing. Again, if you are flowing me on my social media platforms, you would have seen them as and when.

I’m tempted to go in details from Fashion Week SS17. It unplanned, I was unprepared, but potentially the most eventful till date. I’ll spare you guys all the details in this post. I did lots of instant sharing across my social platforms, from Instagram stories to tweets. This was my fifth season attending LFW, amongst the shows I was able to see, I was a virgin to 2 main shows, Jasper Conran and Julien MacDonald, and so chuffed to have had seated tickets to the both of them.

Here’s my main and favourite look for LFW SS17. I recycled this red tux I bought back in ’14 for my work Xmas party. Hadn’t worn it since then, so why not eh?

2016Wearing: Tuxedo & Sandals – ASOS, Earrings – H&M, Fascinator – Lindex

red-tuxedo-trousersI also mentioned the fab collaboration with Jaeger on the launch of their new store on Marylebone Highstreet. The pictures from the shoot are too good not to share on the blog. One of my favourite shoots this year. Shot by Moeeztali.

 

Moving on to more personal bits from 2016,

I spent the last quarter of 2016 studying for my professional accounting exam. Things slowed down a lot on all blogging activities because of this. I’m still struggling to get my blogging mojo back. I ticked off most of my pre 30 goals including buying my first property, having a career I’m comfortable in and super proud of, buying my first car, and most importantly, being in a happy relationship. My side hustle didn’t perform too badly either. I decided to monetize the blog this year and I’ve had some really great opportunities. Made me realise the potentials and worth of my little blog. I’m thankful to God.

I’m a new year enthusiast. It symbolises a new chapter. The perfect time to set new goals and so much more.

For my own sanity, high on top of my ‘must do’ list in 2017 is to travel more. I’m open to every option, from press trips or personal breaks. The past couple of years has been more about working hard and trying to achieve set goals. Now I’m all about letting my hair down a lot more.

I think this is the most I’ve written all year! A very spontaneous post as well. I hope you guys have enjoyed it. Go find me on Instagram and Twitter for regular updates. I’ll be back on the blog in 2017 with hopefully more exciting stuff!

Love love love!

Cottons Caribbean Restaurant and Rhum Shack In Notting Hill

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Cottons Caribbean Restaurant and Rum Shack launched its new flagship restaurant in Notting Hill. With the convenience of the new location, I could finally experience the renowned restaurant at it’s finest.So, off to Cottons it was, with my friend L…

Cottons Caribbean Restaurant the Bar

Cottons pride itself as the only bar stocking the largest collection of rum in the UK, with over 300 varieties available.The restaurant brings the exotic vibes of the Caribbean to Notting Hill in true tiki style.

Cottons Caribbean Restaurant_Rum Cottons Caribbean Restaurant.Rums

Now we are talking huh? I was shown some of the fanciest and rather impressive rum bottles ever. Since I was in rum heaven, it wouldn’t be right not to give a rum a go, right? I decided to keep it minimal and opted for any spicy number – I was being polite.

I shared a tour of the interior on snapchat {astylediary_1}, I was most taken by the hand painting on the wall opposite the bar, I couldn’t stop going on about it on snapchat. I’ve never been to the Caribbean, but the hand painted floor-to-ceiling wall depicting a vibrant, tropical jungle scene, which gave the merry Caribbean feel that I had always imagined. I’ll let my pictures do the talking…Cottons Caribbean Restaurant.Art Cottons Caribbean Restaurant

Cottons Caribbean Restaurant.Interior Cottons Caribbean Restaurant Interior

On to the crux of the matter, the food. The food was good, it satisfied my soul. The presentation was perfect – I say this because in my opinion, like most Nigerian meals, there is sometimes a lot going on, making everything come together to look A* could be a challenge. I think they nailed it, all our dishes looked ravishing.

Cottons Caribbean Restaurant. Honey & guava glazed Corn fed chicken Chow Cottons Caribbean Restaurant. Pork Belly

Cottons Caribbean Restaurant. Meat Platter Dish Cottons Caribbean Restaurant. Seafood Platter Dish

Off the A La Carte menu, we started off with Barbecue glazed pork belly with rum & molasses, pickled vegetables and Honey & guava glazed Corn fed chicken Chow, infused with spiced rum. Main course – Cottons Signature Fish & Seafood Platter – I kinda thought, Caribbean and sea, can’t go wrong, didn’t go wrong. Scallops, Clams, King Prawns, Squid, Monkfish tails and lobster with plantain.

The Meat Platter. Jerk marinated & grilled Pork ribs, Lamb chop, Chicken pieces and herb crusted salt beef with plantain, accompanied with a side dish. In my belly now!

So, If you are one for spice and all that’s nice, a visit to any Caribbean/African restaurant calls for Fried Plantain, my absolute favourite. Most people are familiar with the Jerks, but I will definitely go back for some dishes I’ve never tried. The Pan roasted guava glazed Duck breast with spring vegetable terrine, yam croquettes & ginger carrot puree sounds mighty good, as well as the Spiced coconut Bouillabaisse with clams, squid, crab and red mullet, annatto potatoes & scotch bonnet rouille…and perhaps everything from the starter menu.Cottons Caribbean Restaurant. Desert

Our meals were washed down with refreshing cocktails, while I’m not one for cocktails, I tried 3 different recommended cocktails 2 of which I liked. Under the Coconut Tree & My Fair Lady.

IMG_2353b Cottons Caribbean Restaurant Food

The overall experience was really excellent, the waitress that served us was full of enthusiasm. After learning we were first timer’s, she guided us through, giving personal recommendations et al, she knew what she was talking about so well. On discussing rums, I told her my preferences, she said to me, “I will surprise you”, and I must say, her choice was perfect. Also, the manager understood the true meaning of hospitality, she engaged in a conversation after our meal, recommended a few other dishes to try off the menu and the expectations from the new location.

The original Cottons opened in Camden over 30 years’ ago and is still thriving, while the Street Food extraordinaire Boxpark Cottons in Shoreditch launched over three years ago. Cottons Notting Hill will be the couture sister to the brand offering a more refined experience, but still keeping the colourful vibe and authentic Caribbean flavours.

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**In collaboration with Cottons Caribbean Restaurant. All views are my honest opinion. All images are my own.