Feeding and Kissing Giraffes at The Giraffe Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

Being born and brought up in Kenya you tend to take some things for granted and don’t realise how unique they are. Seeing Giraffes, and other animals up close, and especially getting to feed Giraffes is one of those. I had visited the Giraffe Centre countless times as a child and teenager, and it was only when I left to go to university that I realised how special an experience it was and how Kenya is truly an unbelievable place to grow up in.

I used to get shocked expressions from new friends whenever I talked about these experiences and it became very clear that these are very special and rare experiences that don’t span all continents. My favourite was when I told someone about the monkeys that frequented our garden at home! The look of horror followed by “I thought you could only find monkeys in the zoo” was what made me realise my upbringing, and that of my fellow Kenyans, was not normal.

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The origins of the Giraffe Centre, which is such a gorgeous and magical sanctuary, began back in 1979 when Jock Leslie-Melville, who was the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish earl, and his wife Betty realised the sad plight of the Rothschild Giraffe, which continues to be the rarest species of Giraffe today.

At the time the numbers of Rothschild’s giraffes had severely plummeted to a mere 120 creatures and they were really close to extinction. The couple started by bringing 2 young giraffes to their property, which is now where the Giraffe Centre and Giraffe Manor can be found today in Langata. Now they have several Rothschild Giraffes in Langata, as well as dotted around other parts of Kenya. They are still the rarest species though.

The Rothschild’s giraffes have a distinct look to other giraffes and can be identified by their white “socks”, whilst on other species, the  patterning runs below the knee. In Kenya there are 3 types of giraffes – the Rothschild, the Maasai Giraffe and the Reticulated Giraffe. I absolutely love these herbivores, who feast from acacia trees. They have enviable eyelashes and are the world’s tallest mammals. You certainly wouldn’t want to be head butted by them or kicked by those long legs! Despite their strength, they are gentle and calm animals.

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At the Giraffe Centre and neighbouring Giraffe Manor, you will find the Rothschild Giraffes and they wander between the two properties during the day till around 5.30pm. Last time I was in Kenya I visited the Giraffe Manor for afternoon tea and was able to feed and kiss the giraffes, mainly Kelly and her new born baby at the time, from there.

At the Giraffe centre you climb the steps to  an elevated platform and you’re given a handful of pellets to feed the giraffes with.  You should give them to the Giraffes one by one in the palm of your hand and the giraffes will swirl their long sticky tongues around your palm and pick the pellets up.

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If you are brave enough, you can even put a pellet in your mouth and go in for a giraffe kiss. At least you can proudly proclaim that you have kissed a giraffe and tick it off your bucket list. Ps. Now is a good time to add kissing a giraffe to your bucket list and book those flights to Kenya.

Also found at the Giraffe Centre and Giraffe Manor are these cheeky Warthogs.

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This time, we decided to let the lovely guide Rose, from the Giraffe Centre, educate us about Giraffes and we realised how little we actually knew despite having visited so many times since our childhood.

For instance, she told us that wherever Giraffes are, Warthogs are found close behind as they rely on the Giraffes for protection from any prey. The Warthogs actually burrowed into the ground and made themselves at home at the sanctuary by themselves! They are now permanent residents here.

We also learned that Giraffes sleep for a maximum of 30 minutes in 24 hours. This would comprise of a couple of minutes here and there. They also sleep upright. I can barely manage on 5 or 6 hours sleep so kudos to them!

The third fascinating fact that Rose told us was that Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months and that when a baby Giraffe is born it falls 6 feet to the ground and the impact brings it to life. Within 30 minutes of being born it will begin to walk!

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When (not if) you visit the Giraffe Centre I highly recommend learning a little bit more about these majestic mammals as it is so interesting!

There is also a lovely shop where you can buy Giraffe themed souvenirs and I walked away with a brand new Giraffe mug which I am sure you will spot on my Instagram account soon.

The Giraffe Centre is located on Koitobos Road and it costs 1000 Kenyan shillings for adults (around $10) or 500 Kenyan shillings for children (around $5). Even less if you are a Kenyan resident so you really have no excuse! All the money goes towards the conservation of the Giraffes.

 

Urban Eatery Dessert Menu Re-Launch Party

They say the best things in life are sweet. They also say we are what we eat…so what better way to be than sweet? That is my excuse for constantly indulging in desserts. Life is too short and besides cake doesn’t go to your stomach. It goes to your heart 😉

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During my trip to Nairobi, I was lucky enough to be invited to a dessert party at Urban Eatery in honour of the re-launch of their dessert menu. Yes a dessert party! Heaven right there. With Moët & Chandon bubbles flowing and a beautifully set table with the most eye catching variety of desserts on gorgeous plates for each blogger and media personality present, it was truly an afternoon very well spent.

I finally got to meet some dear friends in the blogging world that I had met online but never in person so it was such a treat to finally put faces to names. I have so much love for the blogging community and it was so refreshing to learn more about the Kenyan blogging scene at the same time.

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Urban Eatery has the coolest dining concept I have come across in Nairobi. With its contemporary modern decor, and trendy dining choices, it is a welcome change to the Nairobi food scene. There are four different kitchens, a bar and a frozen yoghurt counter.

It has an all day dining concept where you can start off with a stack of pancakes, or an omelette for breakfast in the early hours and go for dinner and dessert at dusk. The food is international and so if you are in a group and all craving different things it just works perfectly. There is something to suit everyone. Even a healthy menu!

The carefully orchestrated dessert menu at Urban Eatery is also nothing short of amazing and the perfect selection to satisfy any sweet tooth cravings or as the perfect after dinner treat. You can choose to have 3 courses of desserts if you want t0o! No one is judging 😛 I totally would. The choice is so amazing it is hard to narrow it down to one thing so just choose everything to share to be on the safe side. Win win! You also get to try so many different things as a result.

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Starting with frozen yoghurts we knew we had a lot of desserts to try that afternoon but we were well up for the challenge.

The menu has such a wide variety of desserts which range from classics such as carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, affogato, banana split, strawberry soft cheesecake, Macarons and New York Cheesecake, Tricolad, Black Forest, just to name a few,  to Indian desserts, such as Dark stuffed Gulab Jamun and Marble Rasmalai, Fireplace desserts, such as Churros and Mexican Fried Ice Cream, just to tease you, and Yog Frozen Yoghurt.

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I mean what an incredible choice and selection of desserts! It is absolutely perfect to go with your friends or family to catch up or for a special occasion or even impress someone on a date. Dessert always impresses. Lets be honest. No great love story started with a salad.

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The favourite dessert was a mass consensus and it was the Marble Rasmalai. It was so light, dreamy and not overly sweet. The perfect pick me up and definitely one to bring a smile to your face. Definitely a must order in my opinion.

You can choose to go have dessert on its own if you desire or combine savoury dishes to start with from Urban Eatery’s amazing menus and then finish off with a scrumptious dessert.

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I had an incredible time trying all the desserts and getting to know new friends and familiar ones in the media world. I will definitely be back at Urban Eatery to try the rest of the menu as I really love the concept. If you are looking for an awesome venue and for amazing desserts to try I definitely recommend heading to Urban Eatery.

Thank you so much Urban Eatery and Canvas Media for hosting me at the dessert party. I had an incredible time.

Urban Eatery can be found at Ground Floor, PwC Towers, Delta Corner Estate, Westlands
Nairobi, Kenya.

 

 

Hotel review: Le Dokhan’s Paris

Le Dokhan’s Paris, located between Trocadero and Champs Elysees, is part of the Starwood Group of Hotels, under the Tribute Portfolio collection. A five star hotel, originally built as a residence in the 18th century, it was our choice mainly due to its wonderful location (walking distance to the Eiffel Tower), but also as we are SPG members. SPG is the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program. Our closest station was Trocadero.

When I first read about the hotel, what caught my attention was that it houses Paris’s first and oldest champagne bar, which has also featured in the World’s Best Bars list as well as the World’s Best Champagne Bars. The dream!

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Le Dokhan’s has 45 chic guest rooms, including four suites, across six floors that are accessed by a famous Louis Vuitton elevator.

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To our delight, when we checked in we were upgraded to the Ming Suite, which was on the 6th floor of the hotel. We took the Louis Vuitton elevator (YES CAN YOU BELIEVE IT) up to the 6th floor and were in awe of how pretty the décor was. From the large windows we had a view of the Eiffel Tower which was an extra bonus.

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The room was decked out with lots of amenities and we had a Nespresso machine for that all important morning coffee, a hairdryer, toiletries from Korres, a lovely mini lounge area, a TV and a desk. Wifi is complimentary which is always a plus!

 

The bathroom was spacious and bright and had a tub with an overhead shower. Everything had a modern feel and was luxurious.

My favourite aspect though wasthat they had left a Samsung Smart phone with data on it in the room for us to use when we went out exploring which was incredibly handy for navigating around. I thought this was a really nice touch. You could even make free calls from it and use it to order cabs.

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While we were settling in the room after check in, there was a knock on the door and we were given an invitation for 2 Complimentary glasses of Champagne of our choice as well as 2 Macarons to indulge in. This is the type of service from the Starwood Group of Hotels that keeps me loyal!

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The Champagne bar is the venue for breakfast at the hotel in the morning. The bar itself opens at 6pm and we headed there later that evening to relax and enjoy a glass. I had a glass of Champagne in a gorgeous coupe glass whilst Amit changed his option for a classic Gin and Tonic instead. What was lovely was that the bartender came over with a tray of different Champagne glasses and asked me to pick one. Some were truly fancy and I had never seen glasses like that before!

Although we didn’t have breakfast at the hotel as we had our heart set on going to get fresh bread and pastries from a Boulangerie in the morning, I can imagine that it was really good as when we walked past in the morning there were a lot of happy faces in the restaurant/bar area and a lovely aroma.

In terms of the room, the bed was so comfortable! I had a really good night’s sleep after a day of exploring and walking around the City of Light. The size of the room wasn’t the biggest for a suite but Parisians sure know how to meticulously decor and fit everything in that we had everything we could have possibly wanted.

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Downstairs near the reception, is a comfortable lounge area complete with a roaring fireplace. It was the perfect spot to come and sit with a book to unwind. It was rather difficult to get up once we had made ourselves comfortable!

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I loved my stay at Le Dokhan’s. Whilst more a boutique hotel, its location is absolutely perfect, prices are so reasonable for a 5 star hotel and the service was exemplary. Plus you are super close to a global award winning Champagne Bar! C’est parfait!

There were so many restaurants in close proximity to the hotel and our favourite was literally across the road, a French Bistro called  Ducale Café on 110 rue Lauriston. I highly recommend the French Onion Soup there!

Disclaimer: We received an upgrade. We had pre-paid for a room however all views and photos are my own.

Paris is always a good idea! What to do in a weekend in the City of Lights

Paris is always a good idea! This quote rings so true as every time we visit the City of Lights we come back utterly refreshed and happy. This was our fourth visit to Paris and we decided to go for a cheeky weekend break and left London on Saturday morning  and returned Sunday evening.

If you check in advance you can get some pretty decent deals on the Eurostar and you just have to live once and book those tickets! I always favour going on the Eurostar over flying as you get the scenic route as well as arrive at Gare Du Nord which is so convenient. For the amount of time you save it is worth it.

In terms of location, we decided to stay centrally so that we could walk around and lucky for us the weather forecast was pretty positive and we had some decent sunshine and blue skies. We had a fantastic time revisiting the main sites we had been to on our previous visits as well as trying out different Bistros.  I would recommend getting a metro ticket as it is so easy to use!

Based on our weekend in Paris, here are my suggestions of what to do.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is always so magnificent to look at no matter how many times you visit Paris. There are 3 places I love observing it from. On the ground at its base, from a viewpoint at Trocadero station, and from the Jardin des Tuileries.

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Jardin des Tuileries

The Jardin des Tuileries are so beautiful and strolling through them is a real pleasure. I would recommend purchasing some French treats such as Macarons or pastries and sitting down and people watching whilst indulging. There are different spaces where there are chairs available too so you could just settle down with a good book and relax.

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The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum is the most well-known Parisian museum and is the city’s heart. It is a must visit whether you are an art lover or not as it is full of treasures and even looks beautiful from the outside!

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Arc De Triomphe 

If you are feeling fit enough you can actually go to the top of the Arc De Triomphe for panoramic views of the city. It is equally as nice observing from the various avenues leading up to it.

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The Avenue des Champs-Élysées

My favourite shopping avenue in Paris is the Avenue des Champs-Élysées which houses some amazing shops, restaurants and definitely the place to be if you want to splurge or treat yourself. You can make a pit stop at Laduree for some Macarons and tea too.

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Eat at a French Bistro

Our favourite places to eat are in French Bistros, and we had a really good one called Ducale Café on 110 rue Lauriston which had the most immense French Onion Soup ever. The rest of the food was equally as good and our second favourite was Camembert with Honey and Thyme. When in France you have got to make the most of all that amazing cheese.

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Eat Macarons

When in Paris you have got to treat yourself to some Macarons. My personal Favourites are Laduree, Carette and Pierre Hermes.

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Visit Les Deux Plateaux at Palais royale

Les Deux Plateaux, more commonly known as the Colonnes de Buren, is a highly controversial art installation created by the French artist Daniel Buren in the 80’s and is located in the inner courtyard (Cour d’Honneur) of the Palais Royal. It is also very instagrammable and perfect for photos.

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Have a glass of bubbly at Paris’s first champagne bar at Le Dokhan

Le Dokhan was Paris’s first and is still the oldest Champagne bar and can be found in a prime location, between the avenue des Champs-Élysées and Trocadéro. It has also won accolades in the World’s Best Bars list and is definitely worth a visit.

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Have fresh bread and pastries from a Boulangerie 

Our favourite thing to do when in Paris is wake up early and buy bread from a Boulangerie. On this trip we had one within walking distance  of our hotel and it was so good! We bought a baguette, as well as some cheesy pastries followed by a selection of mini cakes. The choice inside the Boulangerie was unbelievably good and we literally were finding everything irresistible. There is always one within walking distance so definitely go exploring the day before so you have one to go to in the morning.

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Bonus tip: If you have longer than a weekend you can also visit Disneyland Paris by taking a train from Gare Du Nord. It is such fun and it doesn’t matter how old you are!

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What are your favourite things to do in Paris? I would love to know in the comments below xx

Review: Indian Tapas and Cocktails at Lokhandwala

One of the best things about work has been the dear friends I have made and one of them has been Jas. We decided to catch up over some cocktails and food and our choice of venue was newly opened Lokhandwala, by the team behind The Grub Fest, which is India’s biggest food festival.

In fact it was so new when we walked in we couldn’t help notice that “brand new” scent in the air with all the fixtures, fittings and interiors.

We wanted a cocktail before dinner so we settled at the in house bar at the rear of the restaurant called “The Hot House” which had a Victorian theme. Stunning area!

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I was really impressed by the selection of cocktails on the menu which were very inventive and unusual for an Indian restaurant. They also offer an interesting variety of vegan shots and smoothies. Want your Turmeric Latte fix? This is the place to come!

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We decided on The Herbalist for Jas, which was a blend of Tanqueray Gin, Absentheroux, Herbal Liquor, Vanilla syrup, Cucumber and Coriander, Rose Lemonade.

I went for a rum based cocktail called Great Journey, which was a blend of Rum infused with Lemon and Thyme, Liquor 43, Fresh Lime, Ginger beer, Angostura and Cola Bitters.

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We ended up sitting at the Cocktail Bar an hour longer than we were meant to as we had so much to catch up on. At no point though did the staff rush us to our table or even hint that we were an hour late for our dinner reservation. Instead we felt really relaxed and well looked after and the bartender was really lovely.

When we did move to our table and settle down, we loved the decor in the restaurant, having the time to observe it properly. It is so pretty and romantic inside Lokhandwala, with a French Boudoir/Victorian theme complete with distressed mirrors and grey furniture. I absolutely loved it and especially as it was not the type of decor you would assume to find inside an Indian restaurant.

Of course moved on to Prosecco because our catch up was very special! I loved that they served them in these coupe glasses.

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The menu is focused around Indian Tapas, which are small plates, and from this section we ordered a selection to share.

Our first choice was the Gujju Vaal Daal Chat. This is a dish made from Lentils from the Broad Bean Family mixed with black pulses and served with yoghurt and imli chutney on the side. This wasn’t my favourite of the dishes although very tasty.

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Our next choice, which was the Celery Prawns, was my favourite and to die for. These were Lava Grilled Prawns marinated with Yoghurt, Celery, Coriander, Mint and Green Chilli and served with a Ginger pickle. The flavour combination was ridiculously good.

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Our third choice was Lamb Sliders, which were oven baked Shammi Kebab sliders, topped with grilled brie and tomato, cardamom scented onion confit and coriander aioli. These were so cute and so tasty too!

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3 Tapas dishes was just the right amount for a table for 2 to start with and we were excited about our mains, which we chose from the “Imperial Jewels” section.

We opted for Chicken Chettinad, which is a classic Southern Tamil Nadu dish cooked with 18 ingredients and served with rice. It was heavenly and I loved the presentation of it in a clay pot.

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To accompany this dish we had the Blue Stilton Naan with Truffle oil which is a must order. The flavour combination is a match made in heaven and it was served hot and went down quickly!

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We always leave space for desserts and we had 2 beautifully presented desserts  between us – the baked Kheer Creme Brulee and a Salted Chilli, Choc and Nuts stuffed crispy Naan with grilled Marshmallows. These were good and I was really happy with the Creme Brulee as I am always hesitant to try versions that deviate from the classic, but this was very well adapted.

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The prices are really reasonable despite the location being in trendy Fitzrovia and the choices for both the food and cocktails are really novel, with some classics, and really good. There is enough variety to please both vegetarians and non-vegetarians and it is a really fun place to socialise and catch up. I loved the decor and the service was really friendly, nice and not intrusive at any point.

A great addition to Charlotte Street!

Lokhandwala can be found at 93 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 4PY

My 11 favourite London Hotel Cocktail Bars

The best part about living in London is there are so many fabulous cocktail bars to choose from, and some of my favourites are housed inside luxury hotels. In the name of research (!!) I have tried lots of them and here are my favourites. I couldn’t cut my list down to ten so you have 11 choices instead!

I will caveat that at the majority of them I had a Mojito but I did try some other cocktails at some of them too. I have chosen these based on factors which include ambience, atmosphere, deliciousness of the cocktails and service and are listed in no particular order.

1. The Blue Bar, The Berkeley

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With its plush, trendy interiors, the Blue Bar at the Berkeley is a really swish venue with delicious cocktails. It is all blue too! My favourite cocktail was the Toffee and Bubbles. The drinks are colour coded and it is definitely the place to bring a date to impress them!

For more info: The Blue Bar

2. The Connaught Bar at The Connaught Hotel

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Ask anyone and this bar tops so many people’s favourite bars lists in London and I can see why! The Mojito was pretty damn good! It has won many accolades and is housed inside the iconic Connaught Hotel.

For more info: The Connaught

3. The Artesian Bar at The Langham

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The Artesian is one of my favourite and most picked drinking establishments and as much as they perfect the Mojito, they also do some quirky cocktails too which are served in treasure chests, by example, and with so much flair and theatrical style. Perfect place to escape a crazy shopping day away from Oxford Street.

For more info: Artesian Bar

4. The American Bar at The Savoy

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I visited here with some friends and we all ordered our classic favourite drinks and each one was just perfect and spot on! This bar tops international best bar lists and it is much deserved. I loved how the waiters were all so dressed up in tux’s and you would feel like dressing up to go here! Perfect for a special occasion.

For more info: The American Bar

5. The Churchill Bar and Terrace at The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

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This is the first time I have seen a Mojito served with so much snazziness and it was definitely worth it! My friend had the Raj Mojito, which had some chillies in it, whilst I opted for the classic and we both enjoyed our drinks thoroughly. The comfy sofas were a massive plus point and the living room style charm meant that we could have sat there for hours!

For more info: The Churchill Bar and Terrace

6. The Amaranto bar at the Four Seasons London Park Lane

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This has been our choice of venue for pre-dinner drinks on many the occasion and it continues to draw us in with its trendy vibe and superb service! It is an oasis away from herds of tourists in Mayfair and the perfect venue to catch up with friends. The food in the neighbouring restaurant is really good too!

For more info: Amaranto Bar

7. The Arch Bar at the InterContinental, London Park Lane

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The best place to people watch from whilst enjoying a really good cocktail! They do a mean Mojito and they also do really good Pornstar Martinis, as the Dynamic Duo have tested rigorously! Lovely place to pop in for a drink and maybe then have dinner at Theo Randall’s restaurant after too.

For more info: The Arch Bar

8. Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London

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I adore the decor in the Scarfes Bar in Holborn and its library feel. It has a grand vibe with comfortable seats, a long bar that you can sit at and they serve some really good indian food too! It has a quintessential British feel and it is housed at the Rosewood London, which is such a beaut hotel. Go to the Mirror room first for brunch and then pop in to the Scarfes bar after for some refreshments!

For more info: Scarfes Bar

9. Smith & Whistle at Sheraton Grand Park Lane

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Smith & Whistle is my secret absolute favourite from the list and is always my top choice when in the area for a quick drink or a pre-dinner tipple. I adore this bar and if you haven’t been you have got to go! It has a Mayfair mystery theme to it and has such a lovely relaxed and casual vibe for Mayfair that you feel like you are going home everytime you go in!

For more info: Smith and Whistle

10. The Courtyard Bar and The Long Bar at The Sanderson Hotel, London

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The perfect spot for G&Ts or a glass or two of champagne – love the vibe in the Courtyard, especially on a bright day, you could easily forget you are steps away from the madness of Oxford Street! If you haven’t had the afternoon tea here yet it is a must!

For more info: Sanderson Hotel

11. The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel

I can’t believe how long it took me to discover this fashionable bar and boy is it a gem in Mayfair! I love the quirky presentation of the cocktails, the fun vibe, the ambience and it is the best place to forget a bad day or celebrate milestones over some excellent drinks. This cocktail was The Photographer and just loved that it was served inside a Camera Lens. The drink was Chase Marmalade mixed with Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, mango juice, fresh strawberries, fresh blackberries, homemade raspberry syrup and a few drops of Donovan bar Bitters. NOM NOM NOM

For more info: The Donovan Bar

There you have my favourites! What are yours? Would love to know in the comments below.