Friday, 2 March 2018

Brunch at Palm Vaults, Hackney

A few weekends ago, on a hungover Saturday, I decided to leave my West London comfort blanket and head to Hackney - anyone who knows me will know how shocking this truly is. Anyway, I headed off on my voyage across London to visit the wonderfully pink Palm Vaults. I'd been seeing this cafe pop up on my Instagram for months, but what really sold me was the 'glitter pink latte' that I saw on their the excitement of being in a completely pink room I actually forgot to order the glitter latte, but what I did order was well worth the trek it was to get there. 

Palm Vaults is located right on Hackney High Street, a short walk from the overground station. I'm not very familiar with East London, but it was pretty easy for me to get to from my house in West London, it just took a little while. When we got there, we did have to wait a little bit to be seated, but that was to be expected as it was 11am on a Saturday and they don't take reservations {despite me shamefully begging on Instagram DMs 😂}. They did let us browse the menu while we were in the queue though, so when we sat down we knew exactly what we wanted. 

After we were finally seated, our waiter came over and answered our many questions about the extensive coffee menu and I settled on a Red Velvet Latte, while my friend went for a Rose Latte. Disappointingly, neither were pink when they turned up {I've still not worked out which latte is pink!} but they did taste lovely, and they were made with coconut milk, so perfect for any of you who are dairy free. 

For food, we both decided to go for one of the smoothie bowls with granola and berries. After a night on the tiles the previous night, I needed something fresh and healthy, so this was the perfect option. I went for the dragonfruit bowl {I can't remember it's exact name but it was definitely something along the lines of dragon or monster...}, which was just instagram goals when it turned up...I don't think I've ever had food so pretty! It also tasted ah-mazing and the portions were pretty sizeable despite not being too expensive...a definite win in London!

After we'd tucked into our smoothie bowls we decided to undo all of the good work done by our healthy breakfast, and devour some {delicious} cake and could we travel all of that way without at least trying some of their sweet treats?! 

The decor in Palm Vaults is very much inspired by 80s Miami and is so pink and girly, so it was perfect for a girls brunch/catch up...however, they do operate a no laptop policy, so maybe not the place to go to catch up on emails with a coffee! They also offer vegetarian options and free-from options on their entire menu, which as someone who has certain dietary requirements, I think is amazing. 

xo Becky 

Thursday, 8 February 2018

A Day in Tulum: What We Did, Saw & Ate.

Ever since I saw this blog post all about Tulum, I was hooked. I instantly added it to my bucket list but it was one of those places {like many on my bucket list} that I never thought I'd get to see for myself. Luckily for me though, our hotel in the Riviera Maya was only 20 minutes down the road by car, so I just had to get myself down to Tulum. 

We were only in Mexico for a week, and had some other trips {and serious pool time} planned, which meant there was only time to head into Tulum once, so I crammed as much in as I possibly could and picked out a few spots I really wanted to see while I was there to make the most of the one day we had. 

We got up super early on the day we'd dedicated to visiting Tulum, it was meant to get up to 30° that day, so we wanted to get there early before it got too hot to explore. We took a taxi from our hotel which took around 20 mins - half an hour and cost about £20, not bad considering how far we went. If you want to keep the costs down then you can take the bus but for the price, we decided to escape the heat in a taxi {and save ourselves an inevitable argument trying to work out the mexican public transport system}. 

First on the agenda was the Mayan Ruins...we couldn't really visit Tulum without seeing these! The 13th Century Mayan site at Tulum National Park overlooks the sea {the bluest sea I think I've ever seen!} and is comprised of the clifftop Castillo, built as a watch tower over the port, and the Temple de las Pinturas. The site also has pyramid shaped temples with views over the surrounding jungle. We went on our own to the ruins, sans-tour guide, and it was easy enough to follow the path and each part of the ruins are well signposted with stories about what the building was used for, who would have lived there, etc. I would recommend getting down to the site early though, as all of the tour groups arrive at around 9am, and it can get pretty busy, especially in high season. 

After wandering around the ruins {you want to leave around 2 hours for this} we were a bit peckish and very thirsty as it was so hot that day, so we jumped in a taxi to Nomade, a laid back eco hotel right at the end of the beachfront resort strip in Tulum. However, when we got there we were informed that the restaurant was only for guests, despite seeing hundreds of fellow bloggers nip in for lunch. Feeling a little deflated, we headed off down the road to see if we could find somewhere equally as pretty {it wasn't hard, every resort there is looks like it stepped right out of Instagram}. 

A few steps down the road we discovered Nest, a boutique eco hotel right on the beach and it was stunning. We wandered through the hotel to get to the restaurant, taking in all of the cute little treehouse rooms and the smell of incense burning through the jungle and fell completely head over heels in love with the place. The restaurant was right on the beach, shaded by palms which was a godsend after trekking around the mayan ruins all morning, and had the most incredible views of their seaside set up - the cabanas were perfect. The food was also the best I ate the whole time I was in Mexico, I had the vegan tacos which were to die for and my friend had the shrimp and quinoa salad which I'm also assured was amazing. After lunch we chilled out on the cabanas with a margarita before heading down to our next stop. 

Next on my Tulum Bucket List was Coco, an all-white beach bar which was just SO pretty. Instead of chairs, they have swings to sit on looking over the beach and let me tell you, the view is perfect. Tulum has some of the best beaches in the world, and being able to sit on the swings, sipping a piña colada and taking in the view was a real treat - and the best way to end the day. I also loved the fact that the beach showers were actually shells attached to some drift wood, it gave the place a real beachy vibe, and I'd have loved to be staying in one of the rooms there. 

I honestly can't express just how much I loved Tulum and how happy I was sitting there watching the world go by, it's a day I'll never forget and I'm sure it won't be my last time in Tulum, the place really did capture my heart in the few hours I was there. 

xo Becky 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Rivera Maya, Mexico: Where We Stayed

As you may have seen on Instagram (sorry for all of the holiday spam), this past week I've been staying in the Riviera Maya in Mexico. I've had a few messages asking about where we stayed/if we would recommend it and so on, so I thought the easiest way would be to round everything up in one blog post for those of you looking to book something similar!

Those of you who know me IRL, will know that we've been trying to book a holiday for months (if not years) now, and last year on Boxing Day, we finally managed it! When it got to around October/November time and we still didn't have anything booked, we decided it would probably be wise to wait until the Boxing Day Sales in case any airlines had good deals. Luckily for us, TUI were having a winter sale, so off we went and booked. 

We'd decided before going that we wanted an ultra relaxing, all-inclusive holiday, and TUI seemed like the perfect place to book one. I'd not been on one of those types of holidays in years, so needless to say I was thrilled. We didn't really have a destination in mind, and were originally looking at Cape Verde, however when we saw an amazing deal on Mexico, we couldn't say no. 

Anyway, enough rambling about the booking process and onto the holiday itself! For most of the holiday we spent our time in the resort (it's so big that you really don't need to leave)  relaxing, but we did venture out twice - posts on that coming later or this post would be huge!

We stayed in the Grand Serenis Riviera Maya, located just 20 mins outside of Tulum - which I was so excited about, Tulum has been on my bucket list for years. As I said, the resort was huge, almost like two hotels built into one, it had three pools as well as a lazy river, it's own private beach that goes on for miles, ten restaurants, twelve bars and a leisure centre's worth of sports courts (which in all honesty, we never saw because you know, sunbathing took priority 🙊). We rarely spent any time in our room, as there was so much to do outside, but it was huge and the perfect place to escape to for a pre-dinner nap. 

There were also plenty of activities down by the beach including, snorkelling and diving, swimming with dolphins and jet skis, but my favourite had to be the hammocks which looked out towards the ocean, but were shaded by the palm trees making them perfect for a quick siesta or to escape the heat for an hour or two. 

Sunglasses - Celine at World Duty Free, Bag - Poolside Bags, Hat - Marks & Spencer

I'm not really an all-inclusive kind of person, as I normally prefer to explore different restaurants where I'm travelling, however as we really did want an easy week in the sunshine where we didn't have to worry about getting dressed up if we didn't want to or put any effort into planning our trip, going all-inclusive was perfect. The resort had two huge buffet restaurants with every type of food under the sun (some of which they'd even make to order - hello pasta bar) which was perfect for those lazy days or for when we'd been out for the day and didn't know what time I'd been back. We also had three meals in the resort restaurants included within our stay, which gave us the option of getting dressed up and going out for dinner. There was also a coffee shop so we didn't have to worry about being without our precious Starbucks (although we did manage to find one by some Mayan ruins in Tulum 😂). 

Overall, I was SO impressed with our stay at the Grand Serenis and our trip with TUI, everything was so easy from the booking process to getting to home from our trip, and everything in-between. The hotel was like paradise on earth, and I've honestly never seen water so blue in my life. I think it's fair to say I've got a terminal case of the holiday blues after this trip...

xo Becky