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From the latest new restaurant openings, Instagramable events, cult buys and limited edition ranges, Anji McGrandles shares her edit of what’s hot right now.

This Summer’s Hottest Alfresco Dining Ticket

Feast on Cloud 9 returns to The Grove this summer and is set to be as popular as it was last year. Landing within the picturesque grounds of the luxury Hertfordshire hotel from 25th May until 1st September, the immersive dining pop-up will take guests on a culinary journey from the comfort of a custom-made hot air balloon. 

Guests can choose between afternoon tea or a nine-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.  There’s a children’s tasting menu available for those aged 12 and under, delivering a gastronomic adventure to the tiniest of tastebuds.  Book your balloon now before it sells out.

Thailand’s Top Retreat

Aleenta Resorts in Thailand renowned for wellbeing has launched a series of retreats designed to help guests discover the benefits of positive solitude. 

Guiding guests to harness the positive effects of this vital ‘me time’ Aleenta Resorts offers a selection of wellness retreats across its three locations in Chiang Mai,  Phuket-Phang Nga and Hua Hin-Pranburi that provide a safe space and the tools to help people find head space.

The experiences have been created by the brand’s Ayurah Wellness Centre and each offers their own take on positive solitude with experiences that mirror local traditions and their location. 

All retreats start from THB 17,000 per night based on single occupancy and include accommodation, daily classes, wellness cuisine or cleansing program, health diagnostics, and a complimentary daily spa treatment. Book your spot here.

The Adaptogenic Smart Skin-Care Range

Perricone MD’s Hypoallergenic Clean Correction Collection is a new revolutionary regime formulated with powerful, plant-derived adaptogens for age-defying, sensitive skincare without compromise. 

With Holy Basil, Peptides, Ceramide, and a ton of other smart ingredients the range soothes and alleviates irritated skin, and protects against environmental aggressors while firming and smoothing skin. Shop the range here.

Limited Edition Curuba Elderflower Red Bull

Red Bull Summer Edition, Curuba – Elderflower, Peach Tea Ball cocktail still life, UK on February 8, 2024

New for summer is Red Bull Curuba Elderflower, with hints of passion fruit and peaches, this is a lighter, refreshing alternative to the original. 

The carefully crafted combination is rounded off with the floral notes of fresh elderflower, resulting in a zesty explosion of flavours, available only for the summer from leading supermarkets. RRP £1.55

Travel in Style

Luxury luggage brand Antler has launched its new Icon collection. Featuring three distinct silhouettes: the Icon Stripe suitcase, the Soft Stripe suitcase, and Discovery backpack, the Icon collection is a must-have accessory for a stylish getaway.

From £245, the collection spans across large, medium and cabin suitcase styles, as well as offering luggage tags, straps and packing cubes to complete your perfect travel companion. 

The Summer’s Most coveted SPF

If you are a fan of their yummy-smelling sprays and body creams you are going to love the newly launched Sol de Janeiro suncream range. The Rio Radiance collection combines Brazilian botanicals and active ingredients such as niacinamide.  

The SPF 50 mineral body lotion is lightweight yet moisturising.  As you would imagine it smells delicious, we are big fans because it doesn’t leave a greasy film, or a white residue unlike most mineral sunscreens.  Stock up for summer as this is going to fly off the shelves.  RRP £40.

The Shroom Boom Continues

DIRTEA brought us their functional mushroom teas and we loved them.  Now the brand has created a collection of gummies that pack a punch.  Each serving contains up to ten times the amount of functional mushrooms in comparison to the industry average.

Choose from, Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Cordyceps and Tremella, and level up your energy, skin, focus and sleep.  Don’t just take our word for it, DIRTEA has amassed a legion of high-profile brand fans, including Idris Elba, Charlotte Tilbury, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Rita Ora.  RRP £29.99 for 30 servings or £99.99 as a boxset available from DIRTEA.

For countless people, visiting ‘Lapland’ is a bucket list destination most people are keen to tick off early. However, with this part of the Nordic region sparsely populated, it is hard to know where to start. If you are looking for an authentic nature adventure, look no further than Muonio. With around 2,300 residents and an area of 2,039.97 km², social distancing is never an issue there.

Muonio, Finland

What makes Muonio unique? You can breathe the purest certified air in the world. They have over 200 pristine lakes and over 20 fells, and only in Lapland will you experience eight different seasons.

Where to stay in Muonio?

A great base for your arctic adventures is Harriniva Adventure Resort. They’ve been established since 1973, on the edge of Muonio village. The hotel is synonymous with wilderness adventures. Their five decades of experience have meant they’ve fine-tuned the very best outdoor adventures for their guests. You can enjoy fast-paced action with their snowmobile and husky tours. You can go white-water rafting in Europe’s longest free-flowing river, the Tornion-Muonionjoki. You can go ice-fishing under the midnight sun. They offer multi-day wilderness tours for those who want to spot exotic wildlife. Alternatively, you can just enjoy a relaxing stroll on the frozen river and get inspired by the northern lights and the multitude of stars.

What is great about supporting Harriniva Adventure Resort is that you are supporting a third-generation family business who are passionate about the surroundings. Their restaurant serves up the best of local cuisine including toast Skagen with white fish roe and reindeer served with mushroom sauce. They also have a dedicated vegetarian menu. Their resort is also great for those seeking relaxation with two riverside saunas and outdoor jacuzzis, offering tremendous views of the locality.

Saunas in Muonio

Another place to consider visiting is Jeris Lakeside Resort. It is situated by the mystical lake of Lake Jerisjärvi. It is considered sacred in indigenous Sámi mythology. Snowmobile is a great option here through the snow-covered forest and to the lake. The jewel in their crown is Arctic Sauna World. Sauna is a religion to the Finns and this is the equivalent of a shrine for locals to worship in. 

Their saunas are named after Finnish folklore gods: Tapio, Ukko, Ilmatar and Vellamo. They represent the elements: earth, fire, wind and water. For example, the most traditional smoke sauna belongs to Ukko, which is the fire sauna. They also have a Northern Lights sauna, which includes a two-floor panorama view experience. In the winter, they have ice holes for you to take a dip in before, during and after your sauna experience. It is supposedly ideal for improving blood circulation and the suppleness of your skin.

Hunter experience

If you want to experience activities like ice fishing, you need experienced guides like the teams from Hunter of the North. You’ll be transported to your fishing spot by sleigh or snowmobile. There are numerous lakes in Muonio to choose from. They will provide all the equipment needed whether it is traps and nets or fishing rods. The kind of fish you can expect to catch include whitefish, perch, pike or burbot. They will also show you how to handle and prepare the fish, before savouring a homemade lunch by the campfire.

You can also try the reindeer herder experience. You’ll get to feed reindeer in the wilderness as well as learn invaluable knowledge about this majestic animal.

Animal farm

If you are thinking of tours with huskies, reindeer or horses, then you need to check out Polar Lights Tours. They are a family-run business and have designed these experiences for all seasons. They can be paired with other activities like picking berries or paddling through crystal clear waters. They even own an aurora wilderness cabin, where you will have a chance to observe the northern lights from the comfort of your bed.

Embracing nature

If you want to learn more about local nature and culture, you should pay a visit to the Nature Centre of Kellokas. They provide in-depth information about Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park and nearby is Finland’s oldest hiking trail. The exhibitions focus on how dependent people are on nature and promote respect for Finnish wildlife. The national park is Finland’s most popular national park and was established in 1938 and includes hiking trails of varying difficulty and atmospheric campfire areas.

Whether you are a winter or a summer person, Muonio has so much to offer for outdoor aficionados.

For more information, visit the website

If you’re dreaming of a tropical getaway that transcends the ordinary, look no further than Six Senses Laamu. Ensconced within the pristine beauty of the Maldives, this luxurious resort offers an experience that goes beyond your typical fly-and-flop vacation. From the stunning decor of the villas to the diverse culinary delights, and a plethora of activities to indulge in, Six Senses Laamu is a haven for those seeking relaxation, adventure, and rejuvenation.

Getting there

Your journey to relaxation begins long before you arrive at Six Senses Laamu. If every good holiday starts at the airport, then flying Emirates Premium Economy sets the perfect tone for your getaway.  You get a generous baggage allowance, and a seamless travel experience, with priority check-in and boarding making the journey as stress-free as possible. Say goodbye to long queues and hectic terminals, here, the journey is just as enjoyable as the destination.

Once onboard settle into one of the buttery soft cream leather seats that are 19.5 inches wide, with a pitch of up to 40 inches and additional legroom, allowing you to stretch out and catch up on your sleep. 

Use your flight time to enjoy a movie or your favourite box-set from over 5,000 channels. The expansive, high-resolution 13.3” screen and noise-cancelling headphones provide a cinematic experience, turning your seat into a private entertainment haven.

And let’s not forget about the food because every good journey should be accompanied by delicious cuisine. There’s an extensive globally inspired menu and complimentary drinks including premium wines and champagne.   All meals are served on chinaware, accompanied by stainless steel cutlery wrapped in a linen napkin.

Sit back, relax, and by the time you reach the Maldives you will be refreshed and ready to start your holiday.

The Resort

Touch down on the jetty at Six Senses Laamu via the Sea Turtle, their private sea plane transfer from Male where you’ll be greeted with warm smiles and genuine hospitality. Here you’ll meet your Guest Experience Manager or GEM who will give you the low-down on all the essential information you need for smooth stay.  Your GEM is on speed dial and can help with everything from restaurant reservations to making sure you have the pillows of choice to ensure a good night sleep.

The island is a sprawling haven of luxury that epitomises the essence of understated opulence.  The style is rustic chic, with a harmonious fusion of contemporary design elements and traditional Maldivian architecture. It has been designed to blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings, with spacious villas scattered along the pristine beaches and perched over the azure waters of the Indian Ocean.

The Accommodation

Picture yourself waking up to the gentle sound of waves lapping against the shore, with the soft hues of the ocean merging effortlessly with the earthy tones of your private overwater villa.   The internal décor uses lots of dark wood and natural fabrics juxtaposed with fresh white linen and accents of lime.   Space is in abundance, split level decking with an infinity pool and lounge area wraps across the back of the villa with direct access to the ocean.  The deck leads up to an outdoor shower and bathroom, complete with a glass bottom bath. Whether you opt for an overwater villa or a beachfront hideaway, you’ll find yourself surrounded by unparalleled comfort and luxury.

Food and Drink

At Six Senses, dining is an experience to savour.  Unlike some of its Maldivian neighbours, Laamu has a range of restaurants offering everything from international cuisine to local delicacies, there’s something to tantalise every palate.

Start your day with a sumptuous breakfast overlooking the turquoise waters at Longitude, it’s a great spot to see dolphins, turtles and marine life.   Indulge in a leisurely lunch by the main pool at Sip Sip, with a laid-back beach bar vibe you can soak up the sun with a cocktail and a selection of light bites and main plates.  They serve a mean woodfired pizza and homemade burger.  When it comes to dinner you are spoiled for choice, each of the fabulous four restaurants delivers a unique experience.  Leaf is particularly standout and a firm favourite of mine.  This treehouse style, adult only restaurant serves Mediterranean inspired gourmet cuisine.  The chefs here are culinary wizards, weaving magic with the freshest ingredients sourced locally and from the resort’s own organic garden.  The menu changes daily and features tender cuts of beef to seafood delicacies, every dish is a masterpiece.

Those with a sweet tooth will love the Ice and Chocolate studio.  Take a trip post lunch, to the complimentary al fresco ice cream and sorbet parlour that serves a whopping 48 unique flavours.  They’re all homemade using natural ingredients and are the ultimate treat to help you stay cool.

Things to do in Six Senses Laamu

There’s a whole array of activities to keep you entertained and engaged throughout your stay. Explore the vibrant marine life with a snorkelling or diving excursion, the house reef is spectacular, corals are rich in colour and brimming with marine life.  Discover secrets of the sea at The Maldives Underwater Initiative, SHELL, a stunning visual and interactive experience that showcases the marine environment.  Here a cool team of marine biologists conduct innovative research in the lab facilities and take guests on an extraordinary journey into the ocean. 

We can’t talk about Six Senses and not mention wellbeing.  The brand is synonymous with health and wellness and as you would imagine is part of the resort’s DNA, for those looking to indulge in some self-care you can head to the spa where you can book in for an integrated wellness screening, enjoy a treatment and consult with the spa team to create a bespoke wellbeing programme. The spa makes full use of the outdoor space with uniquely designed treatment ‘nests’ dotted along the beach or among the lush landscape.   

Hop onboard the luxury yacht, Sense of Escape and enjoy a private dolphin cruise against the backdrop of a pink Maldivian sunset.  Sip champagne and appreciate the views while your guide shares stories and local knowledge as the crew lookout for dolphins.  For a more romantic cruise you can sail the Indian ocean on a Dhoni.  This traditional Maldivian boat glides out just before sunset, drinks and canapes are served while you lay back relax and take in the ever-changing colours of the sky.

For the more adventurous souls, there are opportunities for surfing, kayaking, and water-skiing.   The Ocean Wings Watersports Centre offers a variety of options for aqua lovers. The experienced instructors will help you get familiar with the equipment and give you inside tips to improve your technique.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this idyllic retreat offers a slice of luxury and an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and nature. So go ahead, pack your bags, and embark on the ultimate getaway where every experience is designed to delight the senses.

For more information on bookings at Six Senses, Laamu please contact reservations-maldives@sixsenses.com or visit the website

House of Coco travelled to the Maldives via Dubai with Emirates.  London Heathrow to Male return is £1,749. This is based on Premium Economy from London Heathrow to Dubai and then Economy from Dubai to Male. Prices subject to change. 

Located along the southern edge of the Californian Central Coast is the super scenic, Monterey County.  This beautiful seaside city was made famous by writer, John Steinbeck whose novel, Cannery Row was inspired by the renowned, waterfront thoroughfare lined with former sardine factories that is now home to hotels, shops, and restaurants.

What makes Monterey worth a visit is the plethora of things to do.   Whether you are looking for adventure, want to explore the local marine life, enjoy a taste of the local wine or kick back with a book on the beach there is something for everyone.

Just further along Highway 1 (which reopens in April) is the neighbouring town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a charming picture postcard destination that packs some punch for its size. 

Carmel’s romantic cobblestone streets are brimming with art galleries, great places to eat and boutique shops.  The main stretch of road runs from downtown directly to the sugar-white beach.  The town is jam packed with culture, unique backstories and film buffs will also be excited to discover that Clint Eastwood who served as mayor of Carmel resides here, and is often seen dining in Michelin Starred, Aubergine restaurant. 

One of the best times to visit is towards the end of summer. It’s less crowded and you can still expect balmy weather.  Start in Carmel before exploring Monterey Bay and the surrounding area.

Where to stay

Just a stone’s throw from the beach and a short stroll from the shops and restaurants, is the Carmel Beach Hotel.  The hotel opened in 2023 and is one of six new boutique hotels in the town.  The vibe here is laid back luxury, this intimate property has just 26 rooms and three suites.  My room was contemporary and spacious, with fresh whitewashed walls and bedding with accents of marine blue taking inspiration from the ocean.  The large bathrooms comprise of double vanity units, shower and a free-standing roll top bath.  There’s a pretty courtyard restaurant, cocktail bar, spa and gym.  The staff are friendly and deliver a personal seamless service you don’t get from big faceless chains.  During my stay I was running late for a dinner reservation and the manager personally drove me to a local restaurant. 

The breakfast here is fabulous, both mornings I had it delivered to my room.  A cute basket of continental delights are served alongside your preferred hot dish.  The eggs were cooked to perfection, toast still warm and bacon crispy.   

The location makes it ideal for sunset walks and picnics on the beach.  

The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa sits on stilts directly above the crashing surf of the Pacific and in the prime location of Cannery Row.  The hotel is plush with lots of polished marble, soft carpet, dark wood and large ceiling to floor windows that look out over the bay.  The rooms are spacious and have a similar classic design and décor that continues throughout the hotel. 

When it comes to dining you are spoiled for choice.  There’s lobby café’s, excellent room service and for more casual cuisine guest can head to Schooners, there’s a heated deck and uninterrupted views of the ocean.   The menu includes classic American staples making it the perfect choice for breakfast or a light bite. Coastal Kitchen offers fine dining.  Executive Chef Michael Rotondo serves an ever-evolving tasting menu that showcases the culinary treasures from the region.

The adult only spa is decadent retreat for those looking to relax after a day exploring.  Located on the roof, with dramatic panoramic views from the sundeck, there are two outdoor hot tubs, a steam room and indoor sauna. There is also a gym.

Eat and drink

Chez Noir’s French inspired menu showcases innovative, seafood-centric dishes that have earned them a well-deserved Michelin star.  The menu boasts a fusion of flavours, from tantalizing appetizers to decadent desserts. Highlights include their perfectly seared scallops and the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate fondant. The staff’s knowledge and passion for each dish add a personal touch, making Chez Noir a must-visit for those who appreciate culinary artistry.

Lucia restaurant at Bernardus Lodge and Spa is nothing short of spectacular.  Situated in the Carmel Valley it’s nestled on the grounds of rolling vineyards, olive orchards and 28 acres of fragrant lavender.  With beautiful vistas, tables at Lucia are sought after.  Slick service and a menu dedicated to delicious farm to table fare is what sets Lucia apart from other restaurants.  The wood brick pizzas are divine, the seasonal salads are served like a work of art and the larger plates source prime cuts of meat and market fish. Choose from a selection of wines from the Bernardus vineyard to accompany your meal.

For a seafood feast that celebrates the bounty of the ocean, Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette is the place to be. This award-winning upscale seafood restaurant is a short drive from Monterey Bay, and exudes coastal charm with a menu that pays homage to the region’s maritime heritage. The raw bar is a standout, featuring an array of oysters and an abundance of seafood. The wood-fired grill adds a smoky richness to dishes like the grilled octopus and honey glazed duck. The casual yet sophisticated atmosphere, coupled with the welcoming staff, makes Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette a go-to spot for those craving a seafood extravaganza.

What to do

While staying in Monterey you must pay a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium who are celebrating their 40th anniversary in October.  Here, you can see leopard sharks meander through kelp forests and sea turtles bobbing amongst schools of colourful fish.  Floor to ceiling tanks span two floors at one of the largest aquarium exhibits in the world.  There are interactive experiences, a variety of behind-the-scenes tours (some of which allow visitors to feed penguins) and touch pools, where you can get close to sea cucumbers, bat rays and tide-pool creatures.  This is no run of the mill aquarium, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region, it showcases more than 35,000 animals and plants representing over 550 species.   

Embark on a wine adventure like no other with Kombi Wine Tours, where vintage style meets exquisite vintages. Board the classic VW Kombi, ‘Sweet Pickle’ and journey through the scenic vineyards and wineries of Monterey, indulging in a curated selection of wines from the region. You’ll be collected from your hotel by their knowledgeable guide, Steve who will keep you entertained with the inside track on all things Monterey.  Expect to stop off at some of the finest wineries along the coast, make sure you call in to Galante Vineyards tasting room to see Jack!

Monterey Bay is California’s best location for viewing whales, great white sharks and spotting an abundance of marine life including dolphins, jellyfish and sea lions.  Discovery Whale Watch trips depart from Fisherman’s Wharf daily and the team onboard are the best in business for spotting and guaranteeing whale sightings.   The three-hour tour is an extraordinary experience that allows you to get up close to these amazing creatures, I got to witness a humpback breech and a pod of dolphins escorted our boat out of the bay.   Throughout the trip the crew tee up sightings, impart knowledge and facts with passion, ensuring you have a memorable experience.

House of Coco travelled to Monterey County courtesy of See Monterey.

Tucked underneath luxury hotel, Middle Eight is QT, an elegant hideaway that every Friday and Saturday night presents The Leo Green Experience, a musical twist on live jazz, led by the man himself, Leo Green.  Leo doesn’t need an introduction, he’s played saxophone for music legends, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney. He regularly presents on Radio 2 and was described as “The greatest sax player I have ever worked with,” by rock and roll icon, Jerry Lee Lewis.  Along with his super talented band, Leo brings to life some classic old school songs mixed in with the latest releases in a two-hour show that will have you up on your feet at least one cocktail in.

QT is a great venue, intimate enough for you to feel part of the show and enough space to indulge in a shimmy stage side. Cosy tables with low lighting and sumptuous velvet seating give speakeasy vibes with a modern twist.   While the band set up, you can settle into your seat and order from their extensive cocktail and drinks menu and if you’re peckish, indulge in a selection of light bites.   There’s table service and the staff here are slick and seamless, my drink is regularly topped up and my substantial charcuterie platter arrives ahead of the show starting.   There’s various drinks and food packages you can pre-order in advance so it’s worth checking out what is on offer.

As the Leo Green Experience took to the stage, I found myself mesmerised by their electrifying performance. Leo Green’s passion for music was palpable in every note he played, and the band members complemented his talent with their own exceptional skills. Together, they delivered a dynamic sax party that spanned genres and eras, expect big tunes you can sing along to and throwbacks that Leo and his ensemble bring bang up to date. 

What stands out was the band’s ability to engage with the crowd, you quickly feel like an old friend. Leo’s charismatic personality and genuine interaction made the evening fun and memorable. Whether he was sharing anecdotes between songs or inviting audience participation, it was evident that he was dedicated to ensuring that everyone had a great night.  You’re encouraged to request songs and challenge the band to belt out a curve ball, when I was there the group put a spin on a Snoop Dog tune that had guests up dancing.  As the performance comes to a close, no one is sat in their seats.  There’s a group of school mums on a night out and they’re soon up on the stage looking every inch glamorous backing singers, all the while Leo is blowing up a storm on the sax.  The band are clapped off stage and guests thin out to the bar upstairs in the hotel.

The Leo Green Experience at QT is a must-see for music enthusiasts and anyone looking to indulge in a night of fabulous entertainment. With its impeccable service, vibrant atmosphere, and unparalleled performances, this event promises a ridiculously fun evening that will leave you longing for an encore.

The Leo Green Experience at QT, Middle Eight Hotel, runs every Friday and Saturday, twice a night. Tickets available at middleeight.com

If you’ve ever found yourself frantically stuffing clothes into your holiday suitcase at the last minute or agonising over whether you’ve forgotten something essential, you might be suffering from Travel Packing Stress Disorder or TPSD.  As someone who used to loath packing (not great when you write for a travel magazine), I regularly overpacked yet still managed to forget something.  However, with a bit of forward planning and some nifty accessories I have said ‘Adios’ to TPSD and ‘Bonjour’ to stress free packing.  Here’s my top eight tips to make packing for your travels a breeze.

Start with a Packing List

The key to avoiding TPSD is proper planning, and a packing list is your best friend. Before you even think about touching your suitcase, sit down and make a list of everything you’ll need for your trip. From clothing and toiletries to travel documents and electronics, jot down everything you’ll need to bring with you.

Research your Destination

I once packed four pairs of heels for a trip to the Maldives to only get there and not wear a single pair.  If I’d done my research, I’d have realised the vibe was bare foot luxury so no heels necessary.  To avoid this, do your homework.  Look at the hotel website and socials to get a feel for the dress code.  Some of the restaurants might require a collared shirt or have a no beachwear policy.  Also check out the weather forecast, this will help you when it comes to selecting outfits.

Pack Outfits

One thing that has helped my TPSD is packing versatile staples for during the day that can be dressed up and down.  Trying to lay out outfits for each evening, dresses and jumpsuits are good options as they take up less room in your case. Remember, you don’t need to pack your entire wardrobe – stick to the essentials and mix and match clothing items to create different outfits.

Use Packing Cubes

I recently discovered packing cubes and have never looked back, they are a game-changer when it comes to staying organised while traveling. These handy little pouches allow you to compartmentalise your belongings, making it easy to separate clean clothes from dirty ones and keep everything neatly organised. Plus, they help compress your clothes, saving even more space in your suitcase.

Streamline Toiletries

Toiletries can be heavy and take up a lot of your luggage allowance so decant your favourite products into travel bottles and get a smart storge holder.  I love the Briggs and Riley Essentials toiletry case, It is translucent so I can pinpoint my essentials and is large enough to hold all of my make-up, bottles and hairbrush in.  The design is sleek, durable and can easily be wiped down if you have any leaks and easily fits into a suitcase or tote.

Opt for ‘Smart Luggage’

I once found the coolest tiles while on holiday in Lisbon, I knew they’d be perfect for my reclaimed fireplace but getting them in the case was a struggle.  If like me, you love to pick up some local souvenirs and goodies you will need to leave space in your case or invest in ‘smart luggage.’  The best investment I have made was in the Briggs and Riley carry-on case with CX® Technology.  This stylish suitcase gives you the ability to jam-pack your bag with everything you need (and want, and then some). But thanks to the incredible patented compression-expansion system, not only can you expand your bag up to 22 percent, but then you can compress it back down to carry-on size.

Don’t Forget Gadgets and Electronics

There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to realise you’ve forgotten an adaptor or phone charger.  I invested in a multi-charger cable that means I can use it to charge my phone, Kindle and speaker without the hassle of packing lots of leads.  You can also get similar adaptors that are multi-use destinations all in one cube.  For long-haul travel I always keep my adaptor and charger cable in my hand luggage, so I don’t arrive at my destination with no juice in my phone.

Use a Jewellery Case

Keep all your bling in one stylish case with the Caroline WOLF jewellery portfolio. Available in ivory, red or black this soft leather quilted wallet with gold hardware includes 13 earring holes, one ring roll, two compartments and four necklace holders with pocket. It also uses LusterLoc™ fabric lining inside the case to absorb the hostile gases known to cause tarnishing. I love it because I can take all my favourite accessories on holiday without the worry of losing it or anything getting damaged.

Code 8 is a haven for beauty enthusiasts looking to add a personalised touch to their make-up routine. Tucked away in Burlington Arcade, just set back from the bustling streets of Mayfair, their boutique store is an Aladdin’s cave of jewel rich lip glosses and lipsticks, velvety smooth beauty balms and radiant highlighters.   Unlike some make up brands, Code 8 isn’t overwhelming with too much choice. Instead, it’s a strip backed, carefully curated selection of essentials that will enhance your make-up bag.

What makes Code 8 extra special is their Bespoke Lipstick Bar.  Working with their team of make up maestro’s you can create your own lipstick, tailor-made to match your skin tone.  Gone are the days of settling for generic shades that merely suffice. Here, you’re the architect of your lipstick masterpiece. Guided by the knowledgeable team, you will embark on a journey of colour exploration, selecting from an extensive palette of hues and finishes.

As soon as I arrive, I’m greeted by the friendly staff who whisk off my coat and quickly replace it with a glass of bubbles.  I take my seat at the Lipstick Bar where I meet Juan Lopez, the Colour Maestro at Code 8, responsible for creating some of the brand’s fabulous lipstick shades in matte and cream.  Juan and I chat about my make up routine, the brands and shades I regularly go for.  When it comes to lipstick and lip gloss I’m a tad boring, I very rarely opt for anything other than a Bobby Brown nude chubby stick.  What I’d love to try is something a little bolder.  Juan suggests we start with a red and then a nude with a bit more punch to my usual shade.  We agree and he gets to work.

Behind the bar is where the magic happens.  Here is a palette of colour pigments which Juan sets about meticulously blending.  As more colours are added the shade becomes more pronounced.  It’s quite therapeutic watching the process come to life, a bit like watching an artist mix their colours while working on a masterpiece.  When Juan thinks he’s got the perfect shade we try it out.  He inspects the colour against my skin tone and shakes his head.  It’s too dark, so he gets back to work remixing until he has the ideal blend and I have to say when we apply it this time, I feel a little more kick ass with a dash of glamour.  We go through the same process until we find a nude.  What makes this experience exceptional is the team’s knowledge, passion and recommendations, all tailored to your preferences. 

Once you settle on your shade the mix is transferred to beaker and gently warmed before being poured into a mould and popped in a machine where its frozen and moulded into a lipstick.  The result is a soft velvety red lipstick which I get to assign a name to.  All the details of your lip colour are recorded and stored on file so you can purchase again, its then boxed in beautiful packaging for you to take away.

Code 8’s commitment to quality is evident in the ingredients they use. Their lipsticks boast a formulation enriched with nourishing agents, ensuring not only a flawless application but also long-lasting comfort. Whether matte, or cream, each finish has staying power.  I wore my new red to a party the following weekend I can confirm it was still going strong by the end of the evening.

As I leave Code 8, I feel like I’ve uncovered a beauty secret I need to share with my girlfriends.  This customised lipstick experience would make a great Mother’s Day gift, a fantastic hen party or a fun afternoon with your best friend.

Bespoke Lipstick Bar starts at £80, appointment types vary from individual bookings to parties for up to 6 people. Makeover consultations and masterclass services are also available to purchase online.  For more information contact Code 8.

When you think of the Maldives, what comes to mind? Crystal-clear waters, pristine white sand beaches, and overwater bungalows perfectly tailored for romantic getaways, right? While it’s true that the Maldives has long been synonymous with honeymooners and couples seeking a romantic escape, there’s so much more to this tropical paradise than meets the eye.

While it’s great for relaxing and taking time out, each resort has unique experiences to spark your sense of adventure, stoke your senses and light your imagination.   Two resorts that excel in personalised experiences and deliver in abundance are Gili Lankanfushi and Six Senses Laamu.  Both resorts serve up lashings of luxury, plum sunsets, pink skies and azure waters but what sets them apart from their Maldivian neighbours is the exceptional experiences.  Here’s my favourite things to do in the Maldives.

Discover an underwater world at Six Senses Laamu

One of the things that sets Six Senses Laamu apart from the other resorts is the spectacular house reef that hugs the edge of the island, coupled with a state-of-the-art immersive research facility and you have a unique marine experience that lets you take a deep dive into ocean life.  

The Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) by Six Senses Laamu is a collaboration of marine biologists from the resort and three partnered NGOs; the Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and the Olive Ridley Project. The Sea Hub of Environmental Learning in Laamu (SHELL), home to MUI, is a stunning visual and interactive experience that showcases the marine environment.  Here a cool team of marine biologists conduct innovative research in the lab facilities and take guests on an extraordinary journey into the ocean.  This awesome facility wouldn’t look out of place at the Science Museum.  Full sized manta’s hang from the ceiling, while a series of dedicated informative stations are dotted around, jam packed with fun facts and statistics on the mysteries of the ocean and those who inhabit it.

The SHELL is home to an interactive room designed for guests to discover the secrets of Laamu and the underwater world. Highlights include an augmented reality sandbox which allows you to change and redesign habitats and topography using projection mapping technology. There’s a nifty little piece of animation kit that lets you get creative and watch your favourite marine creatures come alive on a large screen and watch them swim in a virtual world.  I came away with a plethora of facts and a better understanding of the ocean.

Following some time exploring the SHELL you can get up close and personal with sharks, parrotfish and green turtles at the house reef.  Private tours are available for beginners as well as seasoned divers and snorkelers.  

The coral reefs of the Laamu atoll are rich in colour and brimming with marine life. I took a snorkel tour with the resident marine biologist who knows all the best spots along the reef to get a glimpse of Nemo and the impressive eagle rays.  I spent over an hour exploring the stunning coral garden coming face to face with oriental sweetlips, a moray eel, schools of needlefish and pretty Moorish idols.  It’s easy to get lost in this breathtaking world.   

Whether you are a marine enthusiast or a novice, I’ll guarantee you’ll quickly fall in love with the ocean and this is without a doubt the most impressive snorkelling sites of the atoll.

Experience your own private jungle cinema

Upon arrival at Gili Lankanfushi you are assigned your own Mr Friday, a dedicated butler service to ensure that your stay and experience is second to none.  I can vouch that this is very much the case, with my Mr Friday going above and beyond to make sure my stay was nothing short of incredible, recommending a series of unique experiences to enhance your stay.  My Mr Friday arranged for a slice of movie magic under the stars, a fantastic way to spend an evening.  Nestled in the middle of the island ensconced in your own private leafy jungle is an outdoor cinema like no other.  Ahead of my private screening I got to request my movie of choice and select from a mouthwatering barbeque menu.  This wasn’t your run of the mill burger and sausage menu, instead it comprised of succulent lobster and fresh seafood with wagyu beef and premium cuts of meat, accompanied by delicious sides and salads.  

After drinks on the beach watching the sun go down, I was whisked to a quiet nook of the island where flanked by tress and foliage was the most fabulous outdoor cinema.  I was greeted with a glass of champagne while a private chef was getting to work on dinner discreetly in the corner.  The set up was nothing short of spectacular.  A large screen played out an action-packed Denzel Washington movie while my date and I were served starters, and our champagne was topped up at an intimate candle lit dining table.  After our main course we retreated to a cosy lounge area, with reclining beds and blankets.  Here we sipped more champagne, indulged in a delicious chocolate treat for dessert and enjoyed the rest of the movie. 

Be warned, once you experience the private jungle cinema at Gili, popcorn and a slushy at the local Odeon just won’t cut it.  It has ruined the regular cinema experience for me!

Indulge in Culinary Delights

Situated amidst the outstanding beauty of Six Senses Laamu, the team at Kaji bring the vibe direct to your dinner. Combining the artistry of Teppanyaki with the stunning backdrop of the Indian Ocean, this culinary gem promises an unforgettable journey for the senses.

As soon as I enter the restaurant, I’m hit by the aroma of warm sizzling garlic that fills the air and entices my taste buds.   

There’s a set menu of five courses, each thoughtfully curated to showcase the freshest seasonal ingredients and bold flavours. From tender cuts of beef to seafood delicacies, each dish is a masterpiece.

The dining experience revolves around the ancient Japanese cooking technique of Teppanyaki, where skilled chefs showcase their talents in an open kitchen setting.   What makes Kaji exceptional, is the theatrical element where right before your eyes, chefs expertly grill and flip.  I get to take a seat around the Teppanyaki grill, where I am treated to a front-row view of the culinary action unfolding before me. The chefs, deftly wield their knives and spatulas with precision and grace, chopping with speed and accuracy, turning cooking into an art form. It’s not just a meal, it’s a performance.

But beyond the spectacle, it’s the quality of the food that truly shines at Kaji. Every ingredient is sourced with care, ensuring the highest standards of freshness and flavour. The chef takes time to talk you through each dish, explaining with passion the process.  Whether it’s the buttery texture of the scallops or the umami-rich taste of the miso-marinated black cod, each dish is a testament to the resort’s dedication to excellence.

And let’s not forget the fun factor. Dining here is not just about satisfying your hunger – it’s about enjoying a lively and convivial atmosphere with friends and fellow diners. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply indulging in a night of gastronomic adventure, you need to book a table at Kaji.

Nightly rates at Gili Lankanfushi start from £1,397/$1,722 based on two adults sharing a Villa Suite with breakfast included. For more information or to book please visit Gili Lankanfushi

For more information on bookings at Six Senses, Laamu please contact reservations-maldives@sixsenses.com or visit the website

House of Coco travelled to the Maldives via Dubai with Emirates.  London Heathrow to Male return is £1,749. This is based on Premium Economy from London Heathrow to Dubai and then Economy from Dubai to Male. Prices subject to change. 

The growing demand for personalised wellness is on the rise with more consumers looking to proactively prevent illness and boost wellness with biohacking and longevity solutions and treatments.   The Covid 19 pandemic has been pivotal to us taking an analytic interest in our health and how we can best optimise it with science backed, bespoke wellbeing programmes.

This has seen an increase of wellness clinics, providing state of the art technology, cutting edge treatments and solutions, all housed under one stylish, sleek roof.  Want to know more about how you can hack your health?  Here’s my favourite wellness destinations and their biohacking solutions to level up your wellbeing.   

HUM2N

HUM2N is a team of experts with access to some of the best cutting-edge technologies and deep biomarker testing (to flag future health issues). Whether you are looking to improve your overall health, skin or increase longevity, Dr Enayat and his team have your back.   Client consultations kick off your wellness journey and following biomarker testing, expect a bespoke healthcare programme that might incorporate NAD+ therapy, a course of cryotherapy or sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.  The journey continues away from the clinic, with a dedicated Doctor and nutritional therapists, working with you remotely, providing ongoing care, medication and lifestyle strategies to help keep your health goals on track.  HUM2N clients have seen on average a remarkable 42% improvement in health within 8 weeks. 

Aqua-Tox

This Hertfordshire based clinic focuses on four pillars; wellness, recovery, laser and aesthetics.  The team here know their stuff, whether you are looking to recharge your inner battery, recover from an intense training session or perk up a dull complexion there’s a slew of preventative and regenerative treatments from cryotherapy, NormaTec compression and infrared sauna therapy. 

One of the ground-breaking treatments available at Aqua-Tox is the Emsella Chair, a non-invasive device that uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic (HIFEM) technology to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and target conditions such as stress incontinence, experienced by many women after childbirth and during menopause.  Just one Emsella treatment is the equivalent of 11,000 Kegel exercises in just 30 minutes and is clinically proven to reduce pelvic floor disorders.  The chair is designed to deliver targeted electromagnetic waves to the muscles in the pelvic region, causing involuntary contractions that help to improve muscle tone, strength, and function.  

Grey Wolfe

The biotechnology at Grey Wolfe is precisely researched, backed by credible science and authentically curated to deliver the ultimate recharge.

The BioCharger is a smart piece of tech that works to enhance health, wellness and athletic performance by balancing the energy of every cell in your body. It promises to optimise the frequencies in your body to ease anxiety, energise you, and banish stress by utilising four different energy types; light, voltage, frequencies, and Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Fields (PEMFs) to duplicate and restore the energy cells leaving you feeling rejuvinated and calm.

Remedi

Remedi London, founded by aesthetic doctor Nima Mahmoodi and integrated medicine practitioner Yasmin Shirazi is designed to help a discerning clientele address a host of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs using science-backed treatments and biohacking therapies.

The Rebalance Impulse is a non-invasive stimulation and cognitive training device based on applied neurosciences, devoted to fighting stress and preventing health problems.  A 30-minute session combines a range of exercises and techniques such as breathing, guided mental imagery, cardiac coherence, sound therapy, mindfulness training and binaural synchrotherapy to tackle a host of health concerns.

The Body Lab

Developed and delivered by industry experts, self-care gets seriously chic at The Body Lab where they offer an extensive range of regenerative therapies and services focussed on enhancing health optimisation both inside and out

The operation here is slick, the aesthetics and design similar to a five-star hotel. Access their world-class gym, flotation tank, infrared cabins and cryotherapy room, alongside nutritional guidance, specialist training, physiotherapists and other fitness recovery specialists.

If you’re looking for some book inspo to level up your wellbeing here’s my round up of the best of the best.  Whether you need tips to manage stress, make life changes or easy hacks to feel good, I’ve got you covered. 

Thrive, Richard Sutton

This perfect book for anyone feeling stuck right now.

Richard has worked with some of the world’s top sports stars such as Martina Navratilova and Maria Sharapova on performance and unlocking their full potential.  In this book he shares unique practical skills and tools that are easy to apply to help you develop and harness your resilience and to realise your fullest potential. 

Available from Watkins Publishing, RRP £18.99

Choosing Me, Kelly Weekers

This is for anyone who needs to take back control of aspects of their life.

Reading this book is like having a chat over a cuppa with a wise best friend.  Psychologist, Kelly Weekers who specialises in authenticity, shares her advice that not only will empower you, but remind you that you are allowed to put yourself first and are capable of living a life of greater fulfilment. However, in order to make the changes, you must first get clear on your true desires. Choosing Me is packed full of easy to digest tools and prompts to make the reader pause, reflect and self-enquire so they can move forward with clarity.  

Available from Amazon, RRP £18.24

The Queendom Within, Heidi Hauer

If you’ve fallen to the bottom of your ‘to-do-list’ you need this book.

Heidi Hauer is on a mission to help every woman realise that she has choices in her life and that everything she is seeking is already within her power to fulfil.   Heidi’s book, “The Queendom Within – Rewrite Your Fairy Tale and Create Your Own Happily Ever After” is a practical and explorative guide for women to reclaim their energy, rediscover who they are, decide what they really want and take tangible steps towards it, with or without a romantic partner by their side. Practical, reassuring and truly inspiring, Heidi’s book encourages you to invest your time and energy in yourself.

Available from Amazon, RRP £12.99

A Year to Change your Mind, Dr Lucy Maddox

Tips and advice from a therapist without getting on the couch.

Dr Lucy Maddox takes you through typical highs and lows of an average year, month by month introducing helpful ideas and tools to help you survive.  Whether you struggle with change in January or find the summer holiday season stressful, she provides solutions to manage everyday dilemmas, spot repeating patterns and make shifts to help us feel better and improve situations.

Available from Waterstones, £16.99 (Hardback)

Calmism, Dr Alex Willett

If life is getting on top of you this will give you solutions.

Dr Alex walks you through developing eight habits for complete rest and wellbeing, based on science and personal experiences.  Packed with simple activities, Calmism takes a fresh look at the essential habits for rest and offers a menu of easy-fit options to give you the variety that’s key to overall wellness. With just a few minutes’ attention each day, you can cultivate positive, daily habits that stick, to help you feel ultimately revitalised.

Available at Waterstones, RRP £12.99