Living in such a great city, it is easy to take for granted the different attractions that are on your doorstep!
So we thought, what a better way to start our London Diaries with a tour of London’s main attraction, Buckingham Palace where we took a guided tour of The State Rooms and The Royal Gardens.
Of course, visiting an historical landmark of this magnitude, we did not expect anything less than impressive. We can certainly say that The Royal Palace did not disappoint!
We visited up to 15 state rooms in the Palace that were a maze of gold and marble, with high ceilings, grand staircases, impressive chandeliers and portraits of past Kings and Queens. It was everything that you would expect from a Queen’s headquarters and so much more. It exuded elegance and was truly regal.
To end the tour, we walked through Her Majesty’s Royal Gardens. It was very serene and was the perfect back garden to the gigantic Palace that you could get lost in. The lake had swans and a little family of ducks on the water. There was a small café, a gift shop and a must try ‘Royal Ice Cream’ stand.
You are not allowed to take photos inside Buckingham Palace but you are able to take as many pictures as you want in The Royal Gardens.
It was truly a remarkable experience and was one of the places we have both wanted to explore since we were kids. It is seeped in British tradition and would recommend that whenever you are in London you make the Palace your first tour stop!
The Palace is open for 10 weeks from July through to September each year, so take that into account before you book.
We had been talking about going to Rum Kitchen for awhile and a friend of ours had recently been and could not stop talking about how delicious the food is….so we said why not give it a try.
An inviting West Indian restaurant tucked away in Kingly Court on Carnaby Street, buzzing with people, with tasty Caribbean cuisines and delicious cocktails we knew we were in for a treat.
A great atmosphere, designed like a Caribbean beach hut, there was a DJ on the decks playing good upbeat tunes and it felt like you were being transported away to a Caribbean island. So if you are looking for tasty West Indian cuisine with the best cocktails, then look no further than Rum Kitchen.
We are lovers of Caribbean food so are expectations were pretty high! Lol. The Rum Kitchen offers a very meat filled menu with some of our favourite dishes. From jerk chicken, to curry mutton, plantain to macaroni and cheese. We couldn’t decide what to choose from on the menu (nothing new). But we decided on the spiced prawns, the jerk bowl and the proper jerk dish. You can choose the level of spice that you prefer, so if you like it hot or not, the chefs will cater to your taste buds. Sides include sweet potato fries, callaloo, spinach, ackee and a few more options. The meat focused menu is balanced out with exotic fruit that included watermelon and pineapple sprinkled over the coconut rice that complemented the dish and got your taste buds bursting with a combination of flavours.
You can not be in a Caribbean restaurant and not be sipping on a cocktail or a little bit of rum. The Rum Kitchen do a perfect mojito, so of course we had to order more than one…it would be rude not too. We must admit, that we are picky when it comes to cocktails but the cocktails were soooooooo tasty. You can tell that the cocktail makers put a lot of emphasis on creating the perfect drink. You can order Happy Hour drinks between 5 to 7pm.
We do recommend booking Rum Kitchen in advance as the restaurant gets very busy. So if you want to experience a taste of the Caribbean in the heart of the West End then take a stroll to Rum Kitchen. It is only a 6 minute walk from Oxford Circus tube station. Or why not try, Rum Kitchen in Notting Hill or Brixton.
We travelled to one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean….Aruba ‘One Happy Island’ and had a week relaxing and exploring in paradise. The sea is crystal clear and made up of different shades of blue. You could literally bathe in the sea all day. But don’t be mistaken…Aruba has so much to offer, from stunning beaches, to rugged landscapes and tasty authentic cuisine. We can certainly say that Aruba was the perfect getaway for the sister duo!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the all-inclusive resort, The Hotel Riu Palace Antillas (here) that is located directly on Palm Beach. It is an adults-only hotel that boasts a gym, spa, casino, swimming pools, nightclub and a variety of restaurants and shops. All hotel guests also have access to their sister hotel, The Hotel Riu Palace Aruba situated next door which is more family friendly (here). This was not our first time staying in one of the Riu hotels but this particular hotel is definitely top of the list! The staff were friendly and we felt very looked after. There was so much to do within the resort there was never a dull moment!
Things To Do
Aruba is the perfect destination whether your a couple or on a single girls/boys trip and has something to offer everyone. From submarine tours, to horse back riding on the beach to deep sea fishing you can be as busy or chill as you desire.
One of our favourite trips has to be the Baby Beach Safari tour. You have your own personal tour guide (shout out to Sherman!) who takes you in his jeep on the bumpiest off-road adventure through the Arikok National Park of Aruba. You drive through what looks like a desert land, made up of lava formations, quartz rocks and fossilised coral at full speed. So buckle up and be prepared for windswept hair, dust and a crazy ride. Perfect for any thrill seekers!
Our first stop was the east coast of Aruba to the California Lighthouse, followed by a pit stop at the Natural Bridge, then headed onto the donkey sanctuary (where Shelley fed the donkeys), onto the Fontein Caves and ended our day at Baby Beach that is located in the south east of the island where you can clearly see the coast of Venezula across the waters which was very cool to see.
We also recommend other ways to spend your time on the island from taking a cruise across the sea in time for the sunset on a catamaran, watersports and going on the karaoke party bus (which is a lot of fun).
Food we ate
We ate so much delicious foods on the islands, from fresh fish to tasty soups, with our favourite dish of the menu being steak and lobster. The combination of the two foods work so well together!
Also, you have to try the cream of conch soup, finished with two stuffed pastry’s. A very tasty, Aruban dish that should be finished with the famous Aruban rum punch. This was certainly our favourite cocktail on the island.
Aruba is an expensive place and is certainly an island that appeals to honeymooners and retired people. However, it is still a great place to experience no matter your age as there is so much on offer, including the incredible scenery.
We would certainly suggest having a budget so if you are renting an apartment and eating out daily you will probably have a daily spend of 130 USD. If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort (like we did) your daily budget will be a lot less. So bear that in mind.
Daily activities such as the Baby Beach tour will cost around 110 USD, water sports vary from 20 USD up to 85 USD and sailing on a catamaran is around 65USD.
Aruba is also known for their designer shops located in Oranjestad, so if you want to fit in some shopping, make sure you have enough spending money to splash out a little bit.
There is nothing quite like spending a lazy Sunday afternoon, over a glass of prosecco, warm tasty scones and a good cup of English Tea!
So that’s exactly what we did when we visited The Grande Royale Hotel in Hyde Park, London. The Edwardian style hotel has an Old English vibe and is the perfect place to spend a chilled weekend. Just a 3 minute walk from Queensway tube station, the hotel is perfectly situated by Hyde Park.
We both love an afternoon tea experience so you could certainly call us a pair of afternoon tea enthusiasts!
The decor is stunning with a vintage yet modern edge. It felt like we were stepping back in time.
Once seated at our table we were provided with a bottle of prosecco which is always a great way to start an afternoon tea date. After a couple of sips, we couldn’t wait to tuck into those sweet and savoury treats.
We can’t recommend this experience enough. There were so many different options from macaroons, scones and clotted cream, chocolate cake and a variety of fresh tasty sandwiches which was washed down nicely with a good cup of English Tea.
The staff were incredibly friendly and always made sure we had everything we needed. So if you fancy a lazy Sunday eating, drinking tea and fizz then afternoon tea at The Grande Royale Hotel in Hyde Park is the place to be.
If you haven’t already guessed it, we are both fans of West Indian food. Whether it’s travelling to the Caribbean or even just finding that perfect restaurant on your door step. We came across a hidden gem on Camden high street called ‘Cottons’ which is an eight minute walk from Camden Town tube station and a four minute walk from Chalk Farm tube station. Perfect!
Cottons Restaurant and Rhum Shack have been serving Caribbean food in London for over 30 years and have three other restaurants in Shoreditch, Notting Hill and Vauxhall.
The vibe of the restaurant is just amazing and has a real party feel, with reggae playing in the background and people enjoying themselves. Whilst they prepared our table we were seated at a small table by the bar…Obvs! We both fancied rum punch and decided on the ‘Reggae Rum Punch’ which consists of Wray & Nephew 63% overproof rum, orange, pineapple and lime juice with grenadine, which warmed us up in no time.
When we were seated we enjoyed the tastiest and and fulfilling three course meal. We started with the Ebony Wings which was cooked to perfection. The wings came with three jumbo chicken wings which was glazed over with finger-licking BBQ sauce.
Cotton’s menu is so versatile you can choose from Jerk Salmon to the Vegetable Pepper Pot (for vegetarians) and even the Mixed Jerk Grill Platter and many more. Shelley went for the Curried Mutton that came with rice ‘n’ peas, plantain and coleslaw. Michelle chose the King Prawn, Red Snapper, Sweet Potato and Lime Curry with basmati rice and cucumber raita. Both dishes tasted absolutely delicious! We were so stuffed and couldn’t bare letting the food go to waste, so we asked for a goody bag lol!
For dessert we chose the White and dark chocolate Mousse which ended the meal nicely. The Mousse was so delicious and tasted so creamy.
Shelley stuck to the Reggae Rum Punch during the evening and Michelle also tried the Cottons Pina Colada. Cottons has a daily Happy Hour on cocktails, wine and beer from 5pm-7pm. If you like music, dancing and just enjoying life we recommend you visit Cottons past 9pm. The DJ arrives and plays a mixture of bashment, reggae and soca music to get you up on the dance floor. Literally when you’ve finished your meal everyone makes there way to the DJ and you just dance the night away.
There is nothing quite like taking off your make-up after a long day. It just feels good!
But sometimes we all feel a little lazy when it comes to taking off our make-up each day *cough* …Michelle.
However, it is important to have a simple routine that doesn’t take hours. Plus we all know that leaving make-up on your skin overnight is BAD!
We both have sensitive skin so we steer clear from products that can be harsh on the face. Also, we do not like to use products that are drying and take away from the natural oils in your face. That’s why we keep it Simple.
We can not fault the Simple range. It is very kind to your skin leaving it feeling soft and refreshed. And thought it would be nice to share with you all our night time routine when removing your make-up. We hope our post gives you some bed time inspiration. Please feel free to like and share our post. We would love to hear your make-up removal tips!
Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes
Our make-up removal routine is pretty much identical! The Simple facial wipes are very smooth on the face and is the quick way to get rid of make-up. Use one or two wipes, depending on how much make-up your wearing. Also, they get rid of waterproof mascara with ease.
Simple Facial Wash
We love the Simple Facial Wash Gel! We have used this facial wash since our teenage years and it has worked wonders. It is not like a harsh soap that leaves your face feeling tight and dry. Also, it doesn’t get too foamy. Just place a pea size amount to your fingertips and massage gently onto your face and neck after splashing a bit of warm water onto your skin. It is a great way to get rid of any residue off of your face that could not be taken off completely from the wipes. Trust us when we say, it leaves your skin irresistibly soft and supple. It also makes you feel refreshed so we would also recommend using this facial wash in the morning too.
Simple Micellar Cleansing Water
We have only recently been using the Simple micellar water. Before using the cleansing water we used to use the Simple Facial Toner. The toner is a great alternative for the cleansing water if you wish to give this a try too. What is perfect about using the Simple cleansing water is not only does it gently remove make-up but also helps to unclog pores and remove impurities from the face. The Micellar water is full of multi-vitamins that allows the skin to breathe. It is not heavy or sticky and makes your skin feel so clean. Simply use a cotton pad or two, to gently remove any further residue left on the skin. There is no need to rinse it off. It can used as the perfect addition to a toner, morning and night!
Finishing off our make-up removal routine we use the Simple Cleansing lotion. Again you only need to add a pea sized amount to your face. You can add to your fingertips and massage into the face or use a cotton pad. So whether you have oily or dry skin, it is a great moisturiser for all skin types. It does not give your face an oily shine. It is light and is the perfect way to complete your make-up removal routine.
We have enjoyed the food at Ping Pong for a few years now, but haven’t been for some time and decided to spend an evening dining at the trendy Chinese Dim Sum restaurant. There are a few Ping Pong restaurants in London, we chose the Bow Bells House location which is a five minute walk from Cannon Street Station.
The dim lit restaurant has a great atmosphere with delicious foods, amazing wine and cocktails. We ordered small dishes to share and started with the vegetable puff, soy chicken skewers, prawn and scallop sticky rice and black prawn dumpling.
The food was so delicious and came with a variety of different sauces which complimented the dishes. The vegetable puff was full of different flavours and the glazed honey melted onto the puff pastry perfected the dish. The soy chicken was cooked just right, it tasted as though it had been on the bbq and was served with a zesty orange sauce. You have to try the prawn and scallop sticky rice which tastes so good!
The rice was wrapped in a leaf which you have to unwrap, the prawn and scallop tastes great together so we definitely recommend this dish. All we have to say is mmmmmmm!! The black prawn dumpling just melts in your mouth and gets your taste buds going!
If you’re going to an event or meeting your significant other maybe choose something else on the menu as this dish is full of garlic but tastes amazing.
It’s not a night out without wine and cocktails involved! The cocktails were so tasty, Shelley had the lychee and roses martini which contained bombay sapphire gin, rose petals, fresh lemon and lychee juice. Michelle had the straight up daiquiri made with bacardi carta blanca rum, sugar, shaken with fresh lime juice.
We booked our table in advance, which we tend to do before eating out at restaurants. So we would say book a reservation to avoid disappointment. As there are other Ping Pong restaurants in London, when in the area why not try Ping Pong Southbank, Covent Garden or Soho.