Now and then, we all need a good pamper. If I’m feeling particularly low or stressed, a combination of sweating it out at my favourite boxing class followed by a trip to a beautiful salon is guaranteed to boost my mood.

Luckily there are plenty of awesome nail and blow dry bars in London to suit all budgets, so I wanted to share a few of my favourites below:

Cheeky and Barber & Parlour: Best for Pedicures

Holborn (smaller) and Shoreditch (bigger)

The Cheeky salons are probably my favourite ever places to get pedicures. The prices have risen slightly this year which isn’t ideal for my strict wedding budget but I personally haven’t found anywhere else that beats them!

The salons are always the perfect mix of exposed & edgy meets relaxing & friendly and I love how you dunk your feet into a big box of soapy water before the talented pedicure technicians get to work buffing, scrubbing and polishing. (I have done a full review of Cheeky in my London Manicure and Pedicure Recommendations post).

Barber and ParlourNail Salon ShoreditchCheeky Holborn best pedicure in London

Blush and Blow : Best For Blow Dries, Lashes and Pedicures

Parsons Green, West London

I visited Blush and Blow recently to try a half set of eyelash extensions for the first time and absolutely loved the grey and gold interiors (as well as the owner’s dog who was happily wandering around). It was such a beautiful space and would be ideal for a group of ladies to grab a blow dry before hitting Chelsea.

Blush and BlowBlush and Blow LondonBlush and Blow review

Duck & Dry: Best for Blow Dries

Oxford Street, Central London

Specialising in speedy blow dries, I recently visited here to get some bouncy curls ahead of my hen do weekend in Brighton. The lift was broken which was slightly annoying when I had my big suitcase with me but there was a motivational message to keep me going (!) and once I was upstairs I loved how airy, modern and Instagram-friendly the space was. There are plenty of blow-dry stations, making it ideal for large groups such as birthday parties, office parties and hen-dos, and there are also small makeup and nail stations on hand too if you need them.

The other reason I like this blow dry bar is because it is one of the most affordable in central London/Oxford Street (it cost me £32 for a hair wash and blow dry).

There is no lift to success stairs

Duck and Dry Oxford CircusDuck and Dry reviewDuck and Dry London

London Grace: Best for Affordable Manicures

Putney and Leicester Square

The original London Grace salon is in Putney but I tend to go to the Leicester Square branch as it is closest to my office and also because it is newer, less well known (and found in a nondescript alley), I can always book in at short notice. What is also great is that they run ‘happy hour’ discounts during the week and have a fab little bar that serve both alcoholic and soft drinks. The manicure stations are long benches which also means you can get your nails done at the same time as a friend whilst sitting next to them, making girly gossips that bit easier.

London Grace pedicureLondon Grace nail colours

If you are thinking of visiting London for a girly pamper and need somewhere to stay, you might want to check out Home From Home, a website that has plenty of beautiful short-term apartments in London to suit a range of budgets and group sizes.

And if you need more inspiration of girly things to do in London, you might also want to check out my posts below!

What to do For a Girls Day in London

Afternoon Tea Recommendations in London 

London Manicure and Pedicure Recommendations

Prettiest Places for a Drink in London

*This post contains a sponsored link to Home From Home but all thoughts and views my own.

Before our wedding in September, my goal is to turn my light blonde (read: invisible), straight lashes into dark, fluttery, long natural-looking lashes that will work for the wedding day as well as last for the honeymoon.

After trying a YUMI Lash Lift a few months ago (full YUMI lash review here), I was really interested in trying lash extensions to see how they would compare.

I was kindly invited down to Blush & Blow, a gorgeous blow-dry, nail bar and beauty salon near Parson’s Green (West London), to try out my first time lash extensions.

I popped in on a Friday afternoon and loved that it was so quiet as it meant I could take plenty of pics of the beautiful grey and gold interiors (and cuddle with the owner’s dog). This is honestly one of the prettiest salons I have been to and would be amazing for a girly pamper party.

Blow dry bar London

I was invited downstairs to one of the treatment rooms where my therapist and I discussed the natural, fluttery look that I was after.

She said that as I hadn’t done lash extensions before and am not super high maintenance, then a more natural looking half set would work best.

She prepped my eyes, applied a black tint onto my lashes for 10 minutes, wiped off and then began to glue the individual extensions onto my lashes. It was a long process (around one hour) but it was incredibly relaxing and as I listened to the spa-like music in the room, a couple of times I did feel myself drifting off!

Eventually, I was told to open my eyes. There was some stinging at first but the therapist trickled water down my eyes to help get rid of any of the glue or dye that may have irritated them and after a few minutes they felt fine. I was then handed the mirror to inspect.

So, moment of truth! Here are the (shiny, make-up-free, awful brows) before-and-afters:

Natural lashes beforeNatural lashes afterFirst time lash extensions

I thought she had done a brilliant job of making them look natural and felt very pleased with them. I feel that the result I got was great for holidays and for no-makeup days (it was SO good waking up in the morning to fuller, black lashes, as it made me look instantly more put-together and saved time getting ready) but I personally found that when I had the rest of my makeup on, they lost their impact and I still needed to wear mascara to bring the look together. So now that I know more about the experience, if I was to get them done again, I would probably want them to look longer and more curled upwards so that they looked more impactful.

For aftercare, I was told not to use any cleansing oils or mascaras with oil in (especially waterproof mascaras) as it will dissolve the glue and make the false lashes fall out quicker. I was also given a spoolie/mascara wand and told to brush them through each morning to stop them crossing over.

I have been doing as told and over one week, only a few have fallen out so far, which apparently is normal as it happens with your natural lash cycle.

So, one week on, this is how they now look (ignore that left eyebrow):

Natural lash extensionsLash extensions Steph Style

I have one month left to get the perfect lashes before the wedding, so do let me know if there are any particular treatments or salons that you would recommend!

In the meantime, thanks to Blush and Blow for a fabulous pamper.

Blush and Blow

Shoreditch House oozes cool (I know, what was I doing there right?).

It is a members-only hotel complete with bars, restaurants, nail parlour and the most exciting thing of all – a rooftop pool.

I have heard that becoming a member is pretty hard as it requires you to know 2 existing members who can refer you onto the waiting list but I was lucky enough to stay over recently when hosting a blogger sleepover with bareMinerals.

The sleepover was to celebrate the launch of 10 new shades of the iconic bareMinerals Original Foundation SPF15, the loose mineral powder foundation that is makeup so pure you can sleep in it. (You can read more about my job working for bareMinerals here and see some pics from the New York launch I attended here).

It was such a fab stay – the food was delicious, the staff were attentive, the atmosphere was relaxed, there were plenty of cool, creative people to watch and that pool overlooking the city was awesome.

As the hotel is so exclusive there is a strict no-photo policy so I wasn’t able to get many good pictures, that is, apart from the bedrooms. I was lucky enough to stay in one of the Large rooms in the recently built Club Row which was light, modern and had a bathroom that was fully stocked with all manner of Cowshed toiletries (as well as some bareMinerals goodies we bought in) so I thought I would share a few pictures. Enjoy!

Club Row bedroom

Club Row large bedroombareMinerals blogger sleepoverbareMinerals Original foundation makeup so pure you can sleep in itAn overnight stay at Shoreditch HouseClub Row large roomShoreditch House mini barBlogger review Shoreditch HouseClub Row bathroomShoreditch House bathroomsCowshed at Shoreditch House

Do you want to know one of the things I missed most during my two months out of England? Mildreds.

Mildreds is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that I became obsessed with last year and the obsession is still real now. Even if you are not veggie or vegan, I think you would be completely wowed by the meals here. (I even managed to convince my meat-loving fiance).

You can choose from mix-and-match salads…

… or one of the larger hot items (all of which are delicious). I do have some favourite dishes that I would highly recommend though, like the Sri Lankan Sweet Potato curry which is warming, fragrant, has heat without being spicy and is filling without making you feel uncomfortably stuffed:

(The stir fry is also pictured above and is meant to be delicious). Another excellent choice is the Mushroom and Ale pie which comes with some of the best chunky chips I’ve ever eaten and a sauce that tastes so rich and meaty you can’t quite believe it doesn’t have meat in it!

The best part is that the prices are also super reasonable here, ranging from between £8-£13 for mains. This is amazingly good value for such flavoursome, hearty food that you can understand why it is busy almost every day. That and the fact that you can’t reserve (standard London), which means there are usually queues forming from about 7pm.

Guys, if you ever find yourself in Soho or King’s Cross, you need to pay Mildreds a visit.

If you liked this you might also like:

10 Good Affordable Restaurants for Dinner in Central London

Best Brunches in London

10 Cool London Restaurants with Greenery

10 Best Places for Lunch in Soho

Healthy Lunch Places in Central London

My favourite type of workout is one that feels too much fun to count as exercise and the Rumble boxing class at 1Rebel is just that.

The 1Rebel studio is found at London Liverpool St where also on offer is a Barry’s bootcamp style class (you might want to build up to that one). The studio is underground-urban-cool – think exposed breezeblocks, a smoothie desk and copper changing rooms complete with amazing mirrors…

Once you have paid your £1 to hire boxing gloves and £3 to buy wraps, you make your way to the dark round breezeblock room to start the class, which is typically 45 minutes of boxing and HIIT (that’s ‘high intensity interval training’ to the unacquainted).

The great thing is that you get your own bag to punch (and kick, and slap) so no need to worry about fighting against another human being. The instructor has their own bag in the centre of the room where they demonstrate the techniques and this is lit up so that you can see clearly (whilst hiding in your own shady patch of the room).

The class is usually broken down into 3 rounds of boxing that focus on different elements – speed, power, agility etc – interspersed with 3 HIIT rounds that feature everyone’s favourite killers, such as burpees, squats and planks. This is definitely the hardest part of the class for me and something that any first-time friends that I bring struggle most with, so you might want to bear this in mind if you feel like you might struggle. Although sometimes if I feel like I can’t quite catch my breath then I stop and none of the instructors do that annoying thing where they come over and force you to carry on, which I love.

Each instructor has their own style of doing the class but whoever it is, I always find the boxing to be really fun. There is something so satisfying about hitting something that I can’t believe that it counts as exercise. And the soundtrack is always amazingly urban – think Jay Z, Kanye and Eminem. After this, you might just feel like you could handle yourself on 8Mile.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Three Fun Workouts To Try in London

Fun Fitness Classes in London Round 2

As I’m back in the UK after my stint in New York I thought what better way to celebrate than to talk about my favourite topic, the best brunches in London!

Now there are so many fab brunch spots in London (some of which I have covered here) that it is hard to mention them all, so I thought I’d start off with 3 categories, including…

Best for Avocado On Toast: Dean Street Townhouse

Dean Street Townhouse is one of my all time favourite restaurants for brunch in London as it has such a cosy, upscale interior but with affordable prices (between £8-£12 for brunch). Not only that but they also do the tastiest avocado on toast in London (and I feel that I am qualified to say that as I have eaten my way through almost every avo dish in London). Creamy, zingy chunks of avocado sit on earthy grain toast with lemon on the side to an extra lightness. Even talking about it is making me desperate to order one.

Second choice: Caravan, a large, relaxed King’s Cross restaurant housed in an old granary brick building. Cool vibes and delicious avo to be found here.

Best for Vegetable Fritters: Lantana

There are a few Lantana restaurants in London but the one I would recommend most is in Shoreditch. The brunches here are slightly higher than average (between £10-£18) but the large portion sizes and incredible flavours completely justify this. The sweetcorn fritters here are moist and delicious and piled high with smashed avocado and streaky bacon. You can read my full review of brunch at Lantana Shoreditch here.

Lantana sweetcorn frittersSweetcorn fritters at Lantana

Second choice: Coming in at a close second would be Brother Marcus in Balham, South London, who do a mean beetroot fritter breakfast dish.

Best to take the Family: Bill’s

Yes I know there are Bill’s all over the UK now but I just don’t think they can be beaten on tasty food, good prices and pretty ambience. It’s the perfect restaurant to take the family, not just for brunch but for lunch and dinner too.

Best for Luxe Vibes: Joint Winners

I couldn’t pick out a clear winner for this category so I thought I’d list the top choices. They are: Balthazar (Covent Garden),  The Wolseley (Green Park), The Ivy Chelsea Garden (Chelsea) and Berner’s Tavern (Soho), as they are all very similar and all have some pros and cons. Balthazar has a gorgeous French brasserie style to it but the waiters can be a bit slow, The Wolseley is very beautiful but the service can be a bit slow or confused at times, the Ivy Chelsea Garden is a fab conservatory/outdoor space to breakfast in but sometimes the food can be a little cold and Berner’s Tavern is a grand restaurant room but the portion sizes could be bigger.

What other breakfast categories would you be keen to know about? Any other restaurants I should try? Do let me know in the comments!

If you liked this, you might also like:

 Best Brunches in London (2015 edition)

Breakfast at the Dean St Townhouse

Lantana Shoreditch : Great Breakfast in London

10 Good Affordable Restaurants for Dinner in Central London