7 things I love about Miami (and then a few more)

I got withdrawal symptoms the moment I left Miami at the end of last year. I visited again in early April and felt EXACTLY the same, and after reading these next few paragraphs through, I think it makes sense…

The buildings
The spiritual home of art deco and actual home of the former Versace Mansion, Ocean Drive is the place that makes Miami Beach the icon that it is. It’s full of gorgeous photo opportunities and is just a really beautiful place to experience.

The food
Cuban influences are everywhere in Miami, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the food, whether it’s a classic Cuban sandwich, or a punchy chicken with rice, beans & plenty of plantain. I highly recommend everything from the menu of Havana 1957, particularly their tres leches dessert.

The people
I love the American attitude to meeting new people, and my experience of the states so far has only made we want to return more and more. But Miami is on another level for me. The service, the ViBeZ, and the laidback but forever helpful mentality blew me off my little British feet when I first arrived, and I’ve still yet to find any place that compares when it comes to the shiny happy people factor.

The mojitos
I mean, do I need to explain?

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The ‘Ultimate Mojito’ at Havana 1957

The nightlife
Like any big city, there is a lot going on in Miami, at pretty much any time of the day or night. However, there aren’t many other places where you can walk down the street past a Michelin star restaurant, a dive bar, a jungle themed mojito spot and an open-air jazz gig outside what looks like the back of a warehouse. And then you have the clubs and bars for those who want to get dressed up and go ‘out-out’. It’s the most bizarrely beautiful mix of things, all of which you learn to love & appreciate.

The views
There’s something incredible about the mix of huge skyline with sprawling beaches, and even the bridges and roads connecting the city to the beach have the most beautiful views across the water.

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The art
In particular, the street art, found in the Wynwood area of the city, a lively and up and coming place filled with craft beers, independent stores and the famous Wynwood Walls. The Walls represent a new era of art gallery, showcasing stunning and expressive pieces in an outdoor space accessible by all, and giving street artists a place to show their talents to the world. It’s definitely one of those places you have to actually visit to fully appreciate – no photo would ever do some of the work justice.

Annnnd, a few other Miami based shout outs while I still have you:

W South Beach Hotel, 2201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
This place quite literally incorporates all of the things I’ve mentioned above. Just stay here. It’s mindblowingly good and there’s no beating that sea view…

BACON/DRUNK BITCH, 860 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
Bacon on one side, cocktails on the other, all with a serious amount of personality. If you’re a fan of coconut, I’d recommend trying the ‘Fame’ frozen daiquiri.

Love Hate Tattoo Studio, 1360 Washington Ave, Miami Beach
The home of Miami Ink, and more recently, the birthplace of my latest tattoo. The fact that I went in and left a few hours later with a beautiful custom-designed tattoo says everything about this place.

Mac’s Club Deuce, 222 14th St, Miami Beach
The oldest bar in Miami and the longest happy hour of any bar I’ve ever come entered and the ultimate Miami dive bar. Make sure you keep one of the chips as a memento, it’ll bring back a LOT of memories when you find it in your bag a few weeks later.

Alter, 223 NW 23rd St, Miami
Chef Bradley Kilgore takes you on an insane and incredible dining adventure through local Florida staples, all with a twist. If you go, do the full seven courses and add the drinks pairing.

Havana 1957, 405 Española Way, Miami Beach
Mentioned above but worth repeating. I’ve eaten at this branch of the Cuban change three times, had three different meals and loved EVERYTHING, and their Ultimate Mojito is a thing of beauty. If you’re looking for more of a view, there’s also a branch down on Ocean Drive.

How I got productive

A few months ago, I was frustrated. I felt like I had no time left in my days, was pretty much always tired or easily distracted and had the ability to lose track of what I was doing within less than a second.

I was a grade A scatterbrain – and sadly, there’s no award or job description for that – I checked.

My problem was too many different noises going on in my head at the same time, which meant my head was so full and unreadable, that I wasn’t actually thinking anything through.

It was only when I had a few days off work sick and forced myself to switch off (and appreciate the value of duvet days) that I pinpointed this problem. I also decided that it was time to do something about it, and I think I’ve finally cracked it…

STEP ONE: BREAK IT DOWN
My approach used to be to attack everything all at once. I’m talking housework, actual work, arranging social plans, researching projects, photography and especially blogging. My brain was refusing to let me focus on one thing at a time without chiming in with ‘you forgot that’ or ‘how about we now do a bit of hoovering’. Breaking things down into chunks or tasks in my head, started to make everything seem a lot doable.

STEP TWO: MAKE A LIST
Mental lists are fine, physical lists are even better and they give a greater sense of achievement when you get to cross things off.

STEP THREE: WORK THROUGH THE LIST
This is where self-discipline had to start kicking in, because a list is only as good as the person using it. I found forcing myself to complete each thing on my list in order before moving on to the next thing ridiculously hard, but once I got it into my routine, it changed everything.

STEP FOUR: PLAN YOUR TIME
Perfect example, right now, I’ve given myself an hour to write this post in my lunch break. As long as I set realistic timeframes, it helps to keep things on track, especially when I have a deadline or when I’m working on something with a lot of stages.

STEP FIVE: LEARN WHEN TO SWITCH THE FUCK OFF
Big part of learning to look after myself and something that’s helped me to be 1000000000000% more productive (try saying that percentage, I dare ya) is knowing when to shut the Mac down and take a step back from a situation.

If you think about something for too long, you start to get unproductive with it, so I gave myself a computer bedtime, started enjoying a good Netflix sesh again and found that the hours I was working and doing ‘life things’, were much better spent.

I may not be Marie Kondo, but these five things have helped me organise pretty much all aspects of my life, and I’m here for it. Use them wisely, or, if you are Marie Kondo, don’t – you’re good.

Duvet days are important

It’s without a doubt that life is hectic these days, and it gets ever more challenging to make plans with yourself, never mind other adult human beings. Before the risk of complete burnout starts to set in though, I want to talk about possibly the most basic and underrated self-care concept; the duvet day.

By definition, this involves a few simple ingredients:

  • A duvet/blanket
  • A bed/sofa
  • Comfortable clothing/PJs
  • A TV remote (with TV connected, preferably)
  • Snacks & drinks of choice

A buddy to share all of this with is also an optional addition, along with video games & books – depending on how you’re feeling at the time.

Personally, I like to get up, shower, get into clean ‘comfies’, set up a little spot in my living room, and binge watch a series or two (movie marathons are also great though).

For anyone wondering about the general purpose of a duvet day, it’s about giving your brain a well-deserved life nap and putting yourself into a relaxing situation where you can switch off from the outside world for a day.

It’s also a great way to make time to reflect on what’s going on in your world, and having some time to yourself in this way even once every few months can put things that you might feel you don’t have time to think about into perspective.

Think of it as a mini holiday without the stress of travelling, and if you’re still thinking of a New Year’s resolution that doesn’t involve starving yourself or cutting the fun out of life, but has the potential to make you feel pretty fucking great, ‘HAVE MORE DUVET DAYS’ might be the one for you.

Skincare Essentials | The Travel Edition

I love pretty much everything about travelling. Even the airport and the build-up is all fun for me. But the one part I had always found challenging, is how to keep up my skincare routine both en route and mid-trip.

Having been lucky enough to escape to various different places over the past twelve months, I’ve finally collated my list of go-to products to get my blemish-prone, forever challenging skin through any kind of trip.

Supergoop, Everyday Sunscreen
The importance of protecting your skin against the effects of the sun year-round has definitely been communicated more widely online of late, and having dabbled in the world of acids and peels which make the skin even more sensitive the sun, my need is that much greater.

After trawling through numerous brands and formulations and experiencing countless breakouts, I finally came across the Supergoop brand, along with their brilliant reputation and penchant for making killer sunscreens.

‘Everyday Sunscreen’ sounded like where I needed to be, and it was definitely the right option for my skin. There’s no heavy fragrance, the texture is robust enough to reassure you that it’s there but not overly thick and cakey, it doesn’t mess with your moisturiser and makeup goes over it like a dream.

It’s here to stay and possibly my favourite product to date.

Origins, GinZing Eye Cream
My eyes are notoriously puffy when I’m tired, and flying increases that tenfold.

I’m pretty new to the world of eye creams, but after being a religious user of the scrub in the same GinZing range from Origins, it seemed to be a good place to start when buying my first product.

The texture is thick and creamy but blends well into the under-eye skin with a soft dabbing motion. I use it day and night as it too sits very well under makeup, and it’s brightening formula takes away the need to apply concealer in that area.

But most importantly, I noticed a huge improvement in my puffy eye bag situation in just a few uses, so this one is definitely a keeper.

Glossier, Super Pure Serum
If you’re looking for a serum that plays well with blemish prone skin, I’d recommend this one for sure. It’s almost watery texture sinks into skin in seconds and doesn’t leave the tacky layer on my skin which can usually be associated with serums.

Because of this, it’s a great product for keeping moisture balanced throughout the day, without leaving a sticky base for your makeup.

Nip + Fab, Dragon’s Blood Fix Plumping Mask Extreme
I love a good sheet mask. They’re my pre-flight holy grail for keeping skin hydrated and preventing those horrendous breakouts.

This is one of my favourites, firstly because of it’s incredible after effects, but also because the scent and general experience of using the thing is so great. It’s not overly gloopy like some sheet masks can be, and it sticks to your skin really easily without slipping around.

Pop one of these on for 15 minutes before you head to the airport and it might just change your whole trip…

Glossier, Balm dotcom
I went for the coconut option and this universal balm is quite simply the best thing I have found for mid-flight or climate affected lips. It smells UNREAL and can consistently be found loitering in my handbag.

The Ordinary, AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
After a course of high-intensity salicylic peels, I wanted something to keep my breakouts at bay on a weekly basis, which led me to this product from one of my favourite skincare brands, The Ordinary.

It looks a bit like you’ve smeared blood all over your face during the 10 minute treatment time, but the effects (and the ability to fuck with your loved ones) are worth it. Using this once or twice a week while away helps to keep the nasties away and keep skin soft and clean in any climate.

 

The great thing about all of these products is they’re all suitable for travelling light, so you won’t need to worry about sacrificing your skincare routine on your weekend away. Just make sure you remind your drunk self to actually use them…

The value of ‘doing you’

We hear a lot around the subject of ‘self-care’ and ‘self-love’ these days, but how many of us are good at giving ourselves the space and time we need to actually follow through with it?

The idea of simply looking after yourself may seem like a necessity to most people, but more often than not, our lives run away with us and we find stress creeping into our daily routine.

These stresses, which manifest themselves in many different, inconvenient ways, can affect not only our own wellbeing, but also that of our friends, loved ones and even acquaintances. Basically, not where any of us want to be.

Over time, stress can lead to more serious symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, mood swings and erratic behaviour, which if left unresolved, impact the way we interact with others in our day to day lives.

Preventative practices of self-care are the best possible defence against these things and while it isn’t about putting yourself before others, it’s about making sure that your health and wellbeing take priority so that you’re emotionally and physically equipped to care for others.

In the words of RuPaul, ‘if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else.’ AMEEEEEN.

Everyone needs space to breathe from time to time, and looking after you means listening to the signs your body is giving you and not pushing yourself to the point of burnout. So take a break, have a lie in, break at the candles or disappear off to a different country for a week (I often find that helps). Just do you boo.

Maya Beach Club, Ibiza

Whoever came up with the concept of the beach club, in its numerous different forms, is nothing short of a genius.

The beauty of these kinds of places is that no matter what type of holiday, event or group you find yourself in, there’s a version for everyone – particularly on the beautiful island of Ibiza.

Maya Beach Club | Flying Into Ibiza

If you’re in the mood for a champagne shower and are into swimwear that mostly involves string, then you’ll probably enjoy the likes of Nikki and Ocean Beach. If you’re after great food & great cocktails tucked away in a laidback spot with light house playing throughout the day, then head over to Experimental Beach.

But if you want to take in a truly exceptional beach club experience, then Maya Beach is most definitely my recommendation…

I came across Maya whilst researching potential spots for my birthday. I took a look at their website, dropped an enquiry through online, and within the hour one of the team had come back to me. I like that – it makes me feel special.

We booked out one of their clifftop Prive areas for the next day, which costs nothing to hire but includes a minimum spend of 450 EUR, giving us the perfect excuse to eat ridiculous amounts of food (including paella and a whole damn lobster for lunch).

So we arrived the next morning in high spirits at the level of service we’d experienced so far, and it only got better from there. Isabella greeted us and we were invited to have a drink in the bar area looking out over Cala Vadella beach while they made final preparations to the space we’d hired.

We then headed up the stairs to the Prive terrace, a beautiful private area made up of lovely white furniture, including a king size Balinese style bed with a retractable remote controlled canopy. It was really quite stunning.

Maya Beach Club | Balinese Bed

The area could have easily fit 10 or more people and created a much more upbeat party atmosphere (particularly with the magnums of wine & champagne available from the menu). But our aim for the day was to simply to eat, drink, relax and enjoy the stunning views.

Maya Beach Club | Bed & Chairs

The food throughout the day was truly amazing, starting with a late breakfast featuring eggs, bacon, chicken & onions on the same plate, moving onto the seafood and rice feast I mentioned earlier for lunch and ending with an incredible fresh sushi platter in the late evening.

 

Underpinning all of this was what seemed like a few gallons of wine, (a magnum of rose disappears surprisingly quickly if you’re in the mood) several mojitos and a traditional birthday shot of tequila. Not to mention the world class service that our host Esayas and the rest of the team at Maya gave us.

Our entire day was perfect, and through all of our gluttony, we only managed to spend 2.50 EUR more than the minimum charge, so the value for money was really clear.

The real beauty of Maya, however, is how universal it is. Down in the beach club itself, there was such a broad mix of people, both local and tourists in groups, families and couples of all different ages. And everyone was having such a lovely time, right into the late hours when the live music began in the bar.

Maya Beach Club | Restaurant

If you’re visiting Ibiza before the season ends, this hidden gem is worth a visit, even for just a few hours. You can find more details on Maya Beach and all of the services they have to offer over on their website.

 

 

Hard Rock Hotel, Ibiza

My boyfriend and I decided to celebrate my birthday in style this year, with a 5-night trip to my favourite island on earth; Eivissa. We stayed in the place that my dreams are made of, the 5-star Hard Rock Hotel, situated less than 10-minutes from the airport in Playa D’en Bossa. Anyone that knows me can tell you how obsessed I am with the cafe chain, but this took my obsession to new levels.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Statue

Our room of choice was the Rock Suite Platinum, chosen primarily because of the promise of sea views from the private solarium area which sat above the suite itself – and it certainly didn’t disappoint…

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Solarium View

All of the hotel’s suites come with a fully stocked Maxi Bar, including bottles of wine, a half bottle of champagne and various soft drinks & light snacks. We also had the added bonus of a drinks cabinet (which at first looks like an amp case) filled with premium spirits from vodka to whiskey. So naturally, it didn’t take long to crack open the Belvedere.

 

The room itself serves up the rock star vibe with a stylish Ibiza twist, combining elements like a faux snakeskin headboard with soft custom coloured effect lighting around the bed, complete with abstract art to match the look and feel of the hotel. A sofa bed in soft metallic, coffee table and accompanying breakfast bar complete the interior and bring a bit of convenience to the place.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | SuperKing Bed

Onto the solarium and the real star of the show, the spiral stairway to which can be found on the reasonably sized balcony outside the room. The area is made up of two levels, one slightly lower containing two white sunbeds and the other set a little higher and under the cover of slatted wood, which houses the wonderfully comfortable double daybed (complete with removable sheet and cushions) and a round jacuzzi bath which is the perfect size for two people. Each the bed and the jacuzzi came with a curtain for added privacy and shade, although in all honesty, we didn’t use these once.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Jacuzzi View

Outside of the suite, the hotel itself has so many things to explore, from the classic Hard Rock memorabilia (which you can book a guided tour for) to a number of restaurants and chillout areas for any type of holiday group – it’s probably one of the most inclusive hotels in the south of the island.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Memorabilia

There are also two pools playing music throughout the ‘sociable hours’ of the day, including live performances from some of the Hard Rock team. One event we did sadly miss out on was the ‘Children of the 80s’ concert which takes place every Friday evening of the party season, a show that’s visible from the majority of the Rock Suite terrace areas.

My personal favourite booking perk though, was the free entry to the Rock Spa, a haven located right in the heart of the hotel with a fantastic array of in and outdoor facilities, including the best thalassotherapy pool I have ever come across. We decided against booking in for a massage (which comes at an additional cost) but did take advantage of the other areas of the spa for a few hours.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Rock Spa EntranceHard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Rock Spa Outdoors

Another highlight of our stay was the ‘In Heaven’ dinner show, which takes place every Saturday & Wednesday throughout the season. For 80 euros per person, we spent our last evening enjoying really impressive entertainment in between the 5 courses of our meal inspired by the four elements (plus the fifth element, which is apparently chocolate – who knew?). The singers & musicians were madly talented, and combined covers of modern hits with a bit of opera, without forgetting to add a touch of Hard Rock-ness and a few nods to the Spanish heritage of the island – it was beautiful.

 

The only thing I can say against the hotel is that we didn’t stay long enough and that the pretty huge stage seems a little wasted on one concert per week. Other than that, it’s without a doubt one of the top hotels in Ibiza and does the Hard Rock brand proud. Now, someone take me back please?!