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.

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…

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?!

A weekend and a bit in the Algarve

I love a city break and spending long weekends wandering around looking for the best food – but chillin poolside, bikini on, oversized sunglasses in tow, is really where my heart is; and that’s exactly what this Portuguese getaway was for.

Morning flights out of Southampton make the whole airport experience so damn easy. No two hour wait in a holding pen with no air con – just enough time for the obligatory eggs benedict and mimosa combo before walking across the airfield and climbing aboard with FlyBe.

A little over two hours later, we land in the comfortable mid-twenties of Faro, pick up our darling little city car, and head for the hills…

Villa Organica

The stunning little villa in Vale de Telha, Aljezur, and our home for a long weekend. It’s the perfect spot for a couple or family who want a to get away from the mainstream of Southern Algarve and enjoy some time in a peaceful, nature-filled setting. And the view is something else…

We spent days with music, a bottle of Portuguese wine and a saltwater pool and all through Airbnb.

Restaurante Praia Arrifana

A surfer bar around a 10 minute drive from our villa, set in a cliffside looking over the Praia da Arrifana. They have quirky live bands with exotic instruments, and they do a damn good cocktail.

O Sargo

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Half restaurant, half cafe but all homemade goodness. We stopped by for a fresh pineapple juice, hummus and flatbread moment – it’s all about the little things. Another stunning lunch view looking out over Praia de Monte Clérigo.

Puro Beach

One of the many and probably the best beach club in Vilamoura, it’s reasonably priced loungers and Balinese beds attract couples, groups and even some families. Service got a little slow on our trip this time, but generally it’s laid back with some serious Ibiza cool factor.

El Patron

El Patron

Mexican food that is worth the wait – you can be waiting a while for a table here. They serve some of my favourite cocktails out of anywhere in the region, and the al fresco area sits right on Vilamoura marina.

I’m so in love with Portugal that we’re actually going back in a few weeks time – keep an eye on my Instagram for more hidden gems.