New York

. November 12, 2019 .

Good evening angels. I can't quite believe how far into November we are and that I've been home from New York for almost a month already. I had the most wonderful trip with my mum, it'd been too long since we'd had a girls trip together and the five days we spent here were just magical. Despite a forecast of rain, we were blessed with some gloriously sunny autumnal days and saw so much of this crazy city. I had a lot of DM's asking for for advice on what to see etc, this was my fourth time visiting so I thought I'd list my five favourite things to do in New York City and the tips I've picked up along the way.

First up, if you're flying from the UK I can't recommend Norwegian enough. With fares starting from £139 one way and £245 return (!) it's such a great value airline yet the inflight experience is never compromised – always such a comfortable flight, impeccable service and you can order drinks and snacks right to your seat (winning). They run three flights a day from Gatwick, and their 6am departure means you can arrive at Times Square by 10:30am local time. 

NYC location wise, I stayed at Yotel NYC. It was my second time staying here and I loved the property just as much as last time. Cute, efficient little cabins with gorgeous views over downtown Manhattan with a restaurant, rooftop bar and gym all on site. The location in Hell's Kitchen is a stones throw from Times Square and a great base to reach everything else from in the city. Now.. into the good stuff.

1. Walk the High Line & have brunch in the West Village

I did this shortly after it opened a few years ago and it's remained one of my favourite things to do in the city. Only a 10 minute walk from our hotel, we headed here on our first morning and, in my opinion, it's the loveliest way to start the trip – but definitely do it on clear/sunny day if you can! The Highline is actually an old railtrack running from Hell's Kitchen area all the way down to Hudson Yards, that's been transformed in to a beautiful 1.45 mile walkway (or 'elevated linear park') for New Yorker's, commuters and tourists alike. Weaving between tall, modern skyscrapers and old traditional New York buildings, the High Line is lined with gardens that took inspiration from the self-seeded landscape that grew wild for 25 years after the trains stopped running – I'm sure you can imagine this makes for a pretty beautiful juxtaposition between urban and nature. Not to mention, the epic, elevated views of the iconic skyline.

If you walk in the Hell's Kitchen > Chelsea direction like we did, you can find yourself a short walk from the West Village just in time for brunch. My forever favourite is Jack's Wife Freda (although they have 3 more locations across the city), and filling up on their delicious brunch menu is just what you'll fancy after your walk. FYI – the green eggs with feta are the

2. Visit the Top of The Rock (& how to save on entry)

Now I've done the touristy things a few times in NYC, but as mum hadn't been in over a decade we definitely wanted to check a few of them off. And to be honest, I don't think I'll ever take a trip here when I don't go here. The Top of The Rock, in my opinion, is the best of the sky scrapers you can visit when it comes to seeing the city from above. Having visited both here and The Empire State observation deck's on this trip, it's definitely the more spacious, less crowded and the views are unparalleled. We went shortly after opening at 8:30am and were lucky to be two of only a handful of people there. Unfortunately the clouds hadn't cleared for us yet, but I imagine this would be even more spectacular as the sun rises over manhattan.

You'll need to buy a ticket to get in ($38), but if you're planning on visiting a few of the sites, I can't recommend picking up a NYC GO City Pass. Saving you up to 44% you gain admission to the top 6 New York attractions, including Top of The Rock, MoMA and The Statue of Liberty Island to name a few! I was kindly gifted one of these to use during my trip, but paid for one for my mum too as they were such amazing value.

3. Brunch & shopping in Nolita/ Soho

Nolita and Soho are maybe my favourite neighbourhoods on Manhattan. From the dreamy fire escapes and pastel painted buildings, to the plethora of trendy brunch spots and pretty boutiques. It's a really cool area that makes you feel like a local and is the perfect place to spend morning or afternoon mooching about and perhaps even staying for cocktails in the evening too. 

We had a lovely brunch at the Butcher's Daughter in Soho, one of my favourites in NYC for vegan/ veggie eats. With tables just outside it was a great place to people watch and see the New York go by right in front of you, all of course whilst sipping on an oat-milk matcha and munching their vegan deli sandwich. Some other great spots nearby are also Rin-Tin-Tin, Pietro Nolita and Egg Shop. Afterwards, you can wander around the neighbourhoods and do a bit of shopping – these areas are a hotspot for sample sales too. And, if your muscles are aching from all the exploring, head on over to Chinatown for a massage. We were recommended by a local to visit Renew Day Spa for a $36 dollar 1hr massage and it was bloody amazing.

4. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge & take the ferry to Williamsburg

Perhaps surprisingly, this was maybe my favourite day of the trip. It was Saturday and the sun was shining, the day ahead was looking beautiful. Of course, that meant half of Manhattan showed up to walk the bridge too, it was so lovely none the less and the views are just spectacular – just get there early if you can to soak as much of it in as possible. Over the bridge you'll find Dumbo, AKA Dan Humphrey's 'hood for my GG babes out there. Again, this might have been because it was a sunny Saturday, but the main street was full of people getting that iconic shot of the Manhattan Bridge. There are however a few lovely lunch spots, we went to Al Mar and definitely would have stopped for a drink at Ceccioni's if it wasn't too busy.

From Dumbo you can then take the NYC Ferry down to Williamsburg. My friend and fellow NYC maven Hayley gave me this recommendation and it was such a good one! Only a couple of dollars so it's 10x cheaper than getting an Uber and oh my god was it 10x more beautiful. Download the free app to purchase your ticket and avoid the queues, then to enjoy a beautiful view of Manhattan as you cruise along the river.

We got off at North Williamsburg and a short walk from there was Smoursburg food market which we stumbled on by complete chance. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, it's the most insane collection of delicious street food of all kinds – the NY Times even dubbed it the Woodstock of Eating! There's also a bar just next to it where we enjoyed a couple of pints, before indulging in some seriously delicious treats from the stalls. I picked up a fresh coconut, loaded fries, a soya meat slider whilst having a little boogie to one of the stall's reggae music – pure heaven.

Afterwards we headed to The Hotxton Williamsburg for sunset cocktails (again get here earlyish) and made it to their rooftop bar, Summerly, just in time for sunset. Both the drinks (go for the Key Lime Colada) and location where phenomenal. The views of a slow burning sky kissing the manhattan skyline, Mum by my side and cocktail in hand are memories I'll cherish forever.

5. Have lunch in Central Park at Tavern on The Green

Central Park is of course an absolute must when visiting NYC. It's beautiful in all four seasons and often provides the perfect sanctuary when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. We were pushed for time, so this time took a rickshaw around the park and actually had the best time! We lucked out with an amazing rider who showed us all of the most beautiful parts of the park, taking pictures and loading us with all the history and famous film spots along the way.

On the west side of the park you'll find Tavern on The Green. It's a beautiful restaurant and bar looking over the edge of the park with an amazing menu. I had a salmon Ceaser salad that was to die for, washed down with a couple of flutes of prosecco of course. This spot is perfect for a special occasion or birthday and I'll come back every time I visit New York.

This is actually a very personal recommendation, we visited the Tavern on The Green as a family back in 2002 and I remember to this day having such a special evening, running around the property and dancing underneath the fairy lights with my brother. So I surprised my mum with lunch here on our last day and it was the perfect way to end the trip.

Thank you so much for reading! You can see this all in action in my IGTV vlog of the trip here.

. October 29, 2019 .

Paris is always a good idea, hey? It was only towards the end of summer I was thinking how much I missed this special city and how it'd been way to long since my last visit – two years to be precise. Which coming from the girl who used to call it her favourite city in the world, (back then I visited four or five times a year) is quite a long time. I guess you could say I've been cheating on Paris with Bali, but I'm so glad last month brought the opportunity to visit this wonderful city and the long lost love I'd forgotten I had for it.

With some last-minute planning and panic-booking flights and Eurostar tickets, I set of for Paris with my babe Lauren Crowe on an early Gatwick Flight. A little over an hour after take off we were in our Parisian Uber en route to the apartment and meeting the rest of the girls. We stayed with the absolute queen that is Amy Sturgis who runs her own consulting agency and looks after some insanely beautiful brands that we got to play dress up and shoot with during our trip. Also staying with us were super cool fashion sisters Olivia and Alice who were also such lovely girls. It can definitely a bit daunting going on content creation/ press trips with people you haven't travelled with or even met (!) before – but fortunately this was such a good group of gals to spend a whirlwind couple of days in Paris with.

It's been a long time since I've done something so fashion-heavy, and this trip definitely reignited a once-lost love for style and clothes I (maybe) forgot was there. I said I'd been cheating on Paris with Bali, but it's also like I've been cheating on fashion with travel over the last couple of years. But there's nothing like the energy of fashion week to re-inspire, from well dressed Parisians and even better dressed show guests, stunning showroom appointments and some extremely glam pfw parties, it was the style circus I needed to remind me how much I love fashion and everything that comes with it. 

Of course, it can be a little overwhelming too – rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tezza, Olivia Culpo and Sincerely Jules (to name a few) definitely gave me a bit of imposter syndrome despite being invited to be there. Attending my first series of Revolve events was really exciting for me, I've worked with them on a gifting basis for years now but getting invited to Song of Style's gifting suite, the FWRD party and the Revolve picnic were some really memorable moments and I was so thankful to have Lauren by my side showing me the ropes! Other highlights were a dazzling cocktail reception with Swarovski and a stop by the incredible House of Sunny showroom and meeting their gorgeous team (I'm now a fan girl for lyf).

Dotted between these were many Parisian pit-stops in between, from talking about boys over café cremes, people watching in the Tuileries and spenny french dinners to leaving the party early to devour a cheese plate and a bottle of chardonnay in a bistro at midnight which I adored just as much as the glitz and glamour of the events. A jam packed couple of days that was gone in a flash, but I loved every minute and left this city feeling re-inspired and my love for Paris and for fashion rekindled. Until next time Paris, mon amour.

Watch Lauren's vlog of the trip here.

Shop my Paris looks via the links below and check out Cinta the Label / Neon Hope / Monica Nera

lucia grace