Contact

For press / media inquiries / collaboration, please drop me an email or fill in this form.

alixelay@gmail.com

 

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Blog

A Weekend Away from London

Alixe Lay

As much as I love living in London, I really enjoy taking a breather from the city life and get away during the weekends. This time Marlene and I took a road trip to visit Windsor, Eton and the Cotswolds, with MGallery by Sofitel and BMW Mini.

First stop Windsor, the scene of this summer's royal wedding. I'm just so in awe with the grandeur and history of Windsor Castle. In a close by side street on the East side of Castle you can also find the insta-famous Crooked House of Windsor. 

Changing of the guards, Windsor Castle
Crooked House of Windsor

Just across the river from Windsor sits the quaint English village of Eton. It is home to Eton College where Prince William and Prince Harry took their schooling. It is quiet and calm, in stark contrast to the overwhelming number of tourists in Windsor. There's one street through the centre of Eton, with lots of antique shops and traditional stores specialising in making Eton College uniforms. This place is so full of character and picturesque, which is why Eton is my clear favourite of the two. 

Eton
Antique shops, Eton
Frenchies, Eton
Eton
Eton College
Eton College

Castle Hotel MGallery by Sofitel was our home for the night. Situated in the heart of Windsor directly opposite of Windsor Castle, Castle Hotel is a great base for exploring the town. The hotel has a colour palette inspired by its heritage of being in service since the 15th century and receiving eight Royal Warrants awards along the way. The neutral shades and the chalky textures of the walls give a sense of nostalgia. The colours of French grey and mushroom dominates the interior, with a pop of acid yellow shades every now and again. 

Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel
DSC06516.jpg
Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel Imperial Suite
Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel John Chater Suite
Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel Imperial Suite
Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel John Chater Suite
Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel Windsor
Changing of the guards, Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel

There is a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill within the hotel itself as well, providing both great dining experience and convenience. We had a taste of the afternoon tea here at Castle Hotel, perfect for refreshing after a day out in the town of Windsor.

Marco Pierre White Restaurant in Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel Windsor
Afternoon tea at Castle Hotel MGallery Sofitel Windsor

Day two, it's time for us to go to the Cotswolds and experience some serenity in the countryside. We based ourselves in the town of Cheltenham, in Queens Hotel MGallery by Sofitel as it's strategically located near some of the beautiful Cotswolds villages. This hotel has a completely different vibe to Castle Hotel, offering a majestic setting with its decor and architecture encapsulating all the elegance, heritage and grandeur of the neo-classical era. Housed in a Grade II listed Georgian building, the hotel is rich in history as it has been open since 1838. The most notable feature of the hotel is the original wallpaper by Augustus Pugin, pioneer of the Gothic revival style. The staircase which leads to the hotel rooms also provides a unique focal point. 

Cheltenham
Queens Hotel MGallery Sofitel Cheltenham
Queens Hotel MGallery Sofitel Cheltenham
Queens Hotel MGallery Sofitel Cheltenham Imperial Suite
Queens Hotel MGallery Sofitel Cheltenham Imperial Suite
Queens Hotel MGallery Sofitel Cheltenham Imperial Suite
Queens Hotel MGallery Sofitel Cheltenham
Queens Hotel MGallery Sofitel Cheltenham

After bidding goodbye to Queens Hotel on our last day, we headed to the rainy Cotswolds in the comfort of our Mini Cooper. We really enjoyed driving the Mini Cooper for the weekend, as it's such a powerful vehicle despite being so small. The GPS system was also a breeze to use, helping us get to our destinations smoothly.

Raindrops
Mini Cooper on the road
Mini Cooper on the road
Mini Cooper

On the top of our list of Cotswolds villages to visit is Bibury in Gloucestershire. Of course I had to return to my favourite villages in the area - it would be silly of me not to. Arlington Row, famous for being in the British passport is as beautiful as when I visited last summer.. I might sound like a lunatic but I actually love photographing places in the rain, I think places just look ten times more atmospheric when the weather is moody and wet.

Arlington Row, Bibury, Gloucestershire
Arlington Row, Bibury, Gloucestershire

Bourton-on-the-Water was our next stop, again, one of my absolute favourite places in the Cotswolds. I've visited Bourton-on-the-Water every summer and this house never disappoints. When it's in full bloom it really is the most magical cottage ever. That being said, our Mini Cooper looked right at home in front of it.

Mini Cooper at Bourton-on-the-Water
Bourton-on-the-Water
Mini Cooper at Bourton-on-the-Water

Burford was conveniently on our route back to London, so we made a quick stop for some photo ops. On both sides of the road are some honey-coloured cottages with the most cosy-looking interiors. How I wish I could live in one of them when I get old...

Mini Cooper at Burford
Burford
Mini Cooper at Burford

How I love rainy days. We watched the fog roll into the hills of the Cotswolds as we headed towards M40 back to London. Just like that, our weekend has come to an end.

Inside a Mini Cooper, Foggy hills in the Cotswolds
Foggy hills in the Cotswolds

This post is sponsored by MGallery by Sofitel and BMW Mini.

Mei Ume: The Tastes of China and Japan

Alixe Lay

One of the things I love about London is the food, and particularly the variety of International fare you can find in this city. Whatever cuisine you're after, London probably has it. 

Since moving to the big smoke I find myself frequenting Oriental Asian restaurants during the weekend. This time we visited Mei Ume in the Four Seasons Hotel London, who specialise in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. 

Mei Ume, Four Seasons
Four Seasons Hotel, Ten Trinity Square

Residing within a Grade-II listed heritage building, formerly the office for Port of London Authority, the interiors of Mei Ume were inspired by both the east and the west. Upon arrival, I was immediately greeted by the plum blossom glass panel. This is representative of the restaurant's name, which combines the Japanese and Chinese language words for plum blossom. The bar was decorated with lamps in the style of lanterns, wooden and marble tabletops, as well as leather bar stools. In the larger dining room, the unique three-layer gilded triptych on both ends of the room tell the story of a Chinese garden banquet.

Mei Ume
Mei Ume

As it was our first time at Mei Ume, we decided to go with the Signature Tasting Menu which comes with 10 dishes, paired with 3 different wines. 

Amongst the starter dishes, my favourite was the Yellowtail carpaccio with truffle ponzu dressing. The smell of the truffle was very noticeable when the dish was first served, and the taste was very well balanced with subtle hints of spicy, sour and sweet. Within the selection of sashimi and nigiri, my favourite was the mackerel nigiri, so perfectly smoked and it really complements the freshness of the sashimi. What a perfect way to be introduced to what Mei Ume has to offer.

Wakame tofu miso soup

Wakame tofu miso soup

Edamame with salt flakes

Edamame with salt flakes

Yellowtail carpaccio with truffle ponzu dressing

Yellowtail carpaccio with truffle ponzu dressing

Selection of sashimi and nigiri

Selection of sashimi and nigiri

For main course, we were served dishes with both Chinese and Japanese influence. All the mains were brilliant and they remind me very much of the tastes I grew up with. I was particularly impressed with the Wok fried Hereford beef fillet in spicy black pepper sauce; the beef was so tender and every bit of the dish was coated with the well-balanced black pepper sauce.

Stir fried Chinese seasonal vegetable with ginger

Stir fried Chinese seasonal vegetable with ginger

Crispy duck roll

Crispy duck roll

Wok fried Hereford beef fillet in spicy black pepper sauce

Wok fried Hereford beef fillet in spicy black pepper sauce

Wasabi king prawns with orange tobiko

Wasabi king prawns with orange tobiko

Salt and pepper tempura vegetables

Salt and pepper tempura vegetables

Pan fried fillet of Norwegian salmon in yuzu teriyaki sauce

Pan fried fillet of Norwegian salmon in yuzu teriyaki sauce

Finally, the dessert. We've ordered both options on the tasting menu to try them out. The Chocolate moelleux with matcha ice cream was lovely, and I couldn't fault it at all. However as someone who always leans towards the more refreshing and fruity dessert options, I preferred the Mango pudding, coconut crumble, pistachio sponge and kalamansi sorbet. The texture was perfect, and every single element of the dish had a reason to be included. It's probably up there in my top 3 best dessert ever tasted.

Chocolate moelleux with matcha ice cream

Chocolate moelleux with matcha ice cream

Mango pudding, coconut crumble, pistachio sponge and kalamansi sorbet

Mango pudding, coconut crumble, pistachio sponge and kalamansi sorbet

Japanese matcha

Japanese matcha

Mei Ume was a culinary experience like nothing I've ever had before. The service was impeccable, the food was absolutely amazing and I'm truly grateful to have discovered it. If you'd like to have a look at Mei Ume's menu and their story, visit their website here

Mei Ume

Thank you to Mei Ume for the food. All words, images and opinions are my own.


Mei Ume

10 Trinity Square
London EC3N 4AJ

Kettner's Townhouse: A Lunch Rendez-Vous

Alixe Lay

Last week I had the pleasure to visit Kettner's Townhouse in Soho for lunch with my pal, Hal

A part of Soho House, Kettner's Townhouse is hosted in a Grade II listed Georgian building with many of the original designs still intact. The decor in the restaurant features old-styled lamps, marble tables, sofas in classic patterns, velvet armchairs, with soft curtains letting in the most gorgeous light.

Kettner's Townhouse Starters
Kettner's Townhouse Restaurant
Baked Scallop Meuniere
Baked Scallop Meuniere
Wye Valley Asparagus

Knowing that the restaurant specialises in traditional French food, I was very excited to try out the dishes as French is my favourite kind of cuisine. We decided to start with the Baked scallop meuniere, Langoustines, and Wye Valley Asparagus with egg. For main, we picked Truffle roast Banham chicken, and Lake District farmers fillet of beef. To end it on a high, we finished with Strawberry Soufflé, and Crème Brûlée.

I absolutely adored the Baked Scallop; fresh with a little acidity from the lemon, there simply was no better way to start the meal. The langoustines were equally as fresh, though it was a little dull in flavour in comparison to the scallops. My Banham chicken was cooked just right, with the truffle tasting prominent throughout. For my dessert, the custard of the Crème Brûlée was soft, the sweetness and texture were perfect, however the caramelised sugar on top was a little too thick for my liking.

Overall I really enjoyed the meal, it was a very lovely introduction to what Kettner's Townhouse has to offer. The staff were extremely helpful and approachable, making the experience even more pleasurable.

Hal at Kettner's Townhouse
Truffle roast Banham chicken, Lake District farmers fillet of beef
Strawberry souffle, creme brulee
Kettner's Townhouse Restaurant
Aftermath at Kettner's Townhouse

Before we left, we had a quick look into the Champagne Bar, which had a 1920's vibe to it. I particularly loved the colour palette of the room, the scallop shaped leather bar stools against the walnut bar with a marble top. The mosaic tiled floor adds an interesting touch to the place. It was certainly too early for drinks when we visited, but I would love to come back in the future for some cocktails in this cosy bar.

Kettner's Townhouse Champagne Bar
Kettner's Townhouse Champagne Bar
Kettner's Townhouse Champagne Bar
Kettner's Townhouse Champagne Bar

Thank you to Kettner's Townhouse for the food. All words, images and opinions are my own.


Kettner's Townhouse

29 Romilly St, London, W1D 5HP

Aesop Duke of York Square

Alixe Lay

Since first getting introduced to Aesop's Fabulous Face Cleanser about four years ago, it's been a crucial part of my skincare routine. Aesop's one of my favourite brands not only for the quality of their products, but also the in-store retail experience and the design of all their shops. I've visited a handful of their stores in London, but the one in Duke of York Square really stood out. 

Pink isn't the colour I'd usually associate with Aesop, but they've really made this one work. With the prominent silver shelves and grand curves, this store gives a sense of luxury that is quite different from their usual understated and modest vibe. I was warned by the staff to not put anything onto what looked like a simple silver table surface, as it is in fact filled with water. The water was so still it was impossible to tell it apart from a flat mirror.

Of course with a space like this I could not help but click away with my camera. Are you ready for the visual feast?

Aesop Duke of York Square
Aesop Duke of York Square
Aesop Duke of York Square
Aesop Duke of York Square
Aesop Duke of York Square
Aesop Duke of York Square
Aesop Duke of York Square
Aesop Duke of York Square

Aesop Duke of York Square

22–24, Duke of York Square, Chelsea, London SW3 4LY

The Ultimate Cotswolds Guide: 8 Picturesque Towns and Villages

Alixe Lay

There is only one way to describe the Cotswolds - quintessentially English. It is an absolute delight to visit, with an abundance of honey-coloured cottages looking as if they came straight out of a fairy tale. It's one of my favourite places to photograph in England and even after so many trips, I keep coming back for more. Having visited quite a lot of Cotswold villages over the past two years, I thought I'd compile a list of my favourites. Click here to save all of the locations on Google Maps.

 

8. Cirencester

Photo 30-05-2017, 00 38 09.jpg
Photo 30-05-2017, 00 27 58.jpg

The capital of the Cotswolds, Cirencester, is a large town in Gloucestershire. The high street is lively and buzzing, though the real charm of this town lies in the quiet residential areas where the gorgeous houses and winding streets are.

 

7. Burford

Photo 29-05-2017, 20 52 58.jpg
Photo 29-05-2017, 21 01 50.jpg

Burford is a lively Cotswolds town only a 40-minute drive away from Oxford. It is home to rows and rows of lovely cottages and a buzzing high street where you can find characterful tearooms, pubs and independent shops.

 

6. Chipping Campden

Photo 11-09-2016, 00 58 56.jpg

Chipping Campden is one of the least touristy towns situated at the north of the Cotswolds. You can find some unique thatched and rich honey-coloured cottages around here. If you're looking for a less conventional but equally charming Cotswold village to visit, then you will not want to miss Chipping Campden.

 

5. Stow-on-the-Wold

Photo 11-09-2016, 00 00 36.jpg
Photo 10-09-2016, 23 42 12.jpg
Photo 10-09-2016, 23 54 41.jpg

One of the busiest and most popular Cotswold towns, Stow-on-the-Wold is strategically placed on the cross roads in the Cotswolds. You will find lots of independent shops selling vintage items as well as old inns and tearooms. If you wander slightly away from the high street, you'll find lots of gorgeous foliage-covered houses.

 

4. Bibury

Photo 29-05-2017, 23 18 07.jpg
Photo 29-05-2017, 23 32 45.jpg

Pictured above is the famous Arlington Row, featured in the British passport. If you overlook the fact that it is an incredibly popular tourist destination, Bibury is a charming little village that is truly representative of the Cotswolds. 

 

3. Bourton-on-the-Water

Photo 10-09-2016, 20 43 35.jpg

Considered one of the largest villages in the Cotswolds, there is plenty to see in Bourton-on-the-Water. There will be no shortage of picturesque corners to be photographed, or tearooms to enjoy some afternoon tea in. The name gives it away - there is a river called Windrush that flows through the village, making it one of the most popular spots for picnics on warmer days.

 

2. Lower Slaughter

If you are after some peace and quiet, Lower Slaughter is the village for you. It is a small, intimate and romantic place with surprisingly few tourists, so you will most likely find that you're almost having the whole place to yourself. There is a little stream that flows through the village and you will often find the happiest dogs or kids in wellies just splashing about in the water. 

 

1. Castle Combe

Photo 29-05-2017, 18 28 21.jpg
Photo 29-05-2017, 18 49 06.jpg
Photo 29-05-2017, 18 44 10.jpg

Of course, Castle Combe has to be at the top of the list (or bottom in this case). Though small, this village is packed with so many photogenic corners that it makes everyone a photographer. It is truly the most beautiful village in England as it is definitely one of the most well-kept and unspoilt n England, making every bit looking postcard-worthy. You need to visit Castle Combe if you want to experience somewhere that is quintessentially English.

 

I hope that this guide will be useful in helping you plan your trip to the Cotswolds. If you do end up using this guide, please tag your photos with #cotswoldswithalixe - I'd love to see them!