Le Cinq Codet


After getting my hair done, finishing off some last emails and then heading into town for a quick spot of shopping, I got home so late I was still packing my bags for Paris late into the night. I was so excited I hardly slept at all! We had a really early start but I had so much energy and after arriving at St Pancras to catch the Eurostar, I refuelled on the most delicious apricot pastries and coffee which kept me going through the morning.

Our journey was so easy and the incredible way the train passes under the Channel is simply magical! It is easy to forget which such different identities and personalities how close London and Paris are to one another! It was amazing, one minute we were waving goodbye to the red buses and the Christmas lights of London and the next we were walking down grand boulevards and shopping along Les Champs Elysées. We got so caught up in the beauty of it all that we didn’t check in to our amazing hotel until late in the day, the 5* Hotel Le Cinq Codet, which was in the most incredible location, minutes from Les Invalides where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried and just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower and the famous Champ-de-Mars in the 7th arrondissement, one of the most exclusive neighbourhood’s in Paris.


The 5* Hotel Le Cinq Codet, designed by Jean-Philippe Nuel was beautiful. We were greeted in a modern colourful lobby, filled with incredible pieces of furniture and beautiful flowers. The whole hotel was finished to such incredible quality. As we were shown around I couldn’t help but admire the courtyard situated in the middle of the building decorated with Christmas trees and lights. There was so much light and so much glass yet the stylish bar and lounge still felt cosy. I couldn’t wait to see our room!





We stayed in their Chambre Duplex, which I will refer to for the rest of this post as our “suite” because it was so big! When I showed my friends the photos of our room, they thought that our sofa and seating area was actually the hotel lobby because it was so spacious and nice! The room didn’t have one, but two plasma TV’s and both had my name on them upon arrival “Mrs Royston” – Ok, so I am not Mrs yet…but still, pretty cool right?!




The room was filled with original works of art which made it feel like a modern day artist’s studio, a futuristic version of the bohemian romantic and creative hubs that fuelled so many creatives that Paris is so famous for! There were curves and angles all in the right places, all complimented by original lighting, large mirrors and an incredible glass window that travelled the length of the two floors. What really added to the luxury and the modernity of the room were all the gadgets and incredible technology that we had at our disposal – from an an Apple-mini which enabled us to check Facebook and let me blog on the plasma TV, to design mobile phones that we could use to call room service. To say that Gustavo had a field day with all these toys is an understatement!



I on the other hand was far more obsessed with the fact that this place had a gym and a spa and that we not only had a separate washroom and walk in shower that was big enough for 4 people downstairs, our own bathrobes, slippers and the best smelling cosmetics, but that we also had a huge bath in our bedroom, just feet away from our bed! Ou La La! This meant that I could run a bubble bath and watch Bad Grandpa on my customised “Mrs Royston” plasma TV! If this is a time to Hashtag Travel Goals then I don’t know when is…





I slept like a chubby cat who has found a pile of freshly washed warm towels in the airing cupboard and has decided to go for a nap after polishing off a whole packet of cream. I woke up in a chubby Abi’s paradise – the Breakfast buffet was one of the most extensive I had ever seen…Continental, American, English, I made about three trips over to the counter and only stopped because we had managed to fill the whole table with our treats – bacon, sausages, croissants, pains of chocolats, coffee, juice, fruit salad, yoghurt, pastries, bread, muffins… It was so good I actually managed to eat most of it but only of course after taking a few pics 😉



Our first two days were so busy and it was great coming back to such a lovely luxurious hotel in the evenings! We had some great meetings lined up for this year’s fashion season but we had a bit of time to Paris – so I can’t wait to share some of the pictures that we took and to reveal some of the exciting things that happened in this magical city soon! But first, here is a quick peak at the 5* Le Cinq Codet  and the first part of my Paris Travel vlog!


Fashion Weekend in Canary Wharf


It’s passed midnight here in London and my car hasn’t turned into a pumpkin and my dress hasn’t disappeared into a puff of fairy dust, but… some magic has been happening here these last few hours… in that my very own YouTube Channel is now finally up and running!!!

I am super excited to show you my very first video, one that we shot last weekend when we were staying in the heart of Canary Wharf, one of the most important financial districts in the world, courtesy of Rated Apartments!I am going to try to post more high quality videos of my travels and my outfits on my channel as per today, so make sure you subscribe or check it out, because I really think that that way I will be able to share my trips and adventures with you in a more personal and fun way!  ❤

You can subscribe here: MY GIRLS ON TOUR YOUTUBE

Last weekend was really busy as we were filming a secret fashion project in the capital.  I hope to be able to tell you about soon, but at the moment I can’t, so I thought that it would be nice to share with you some of my outfits for the shoot and a bit about our time in this super luxurious apartment in this amazing district of London!

We arrived with all our bags full of outfits and accessories, cameras and make-up bags. We were greeted by the concierge in a beautiful lobby, which had such a beautiful Christmas tree and our reception, thanks to Rated Apartments, was just so easy and hassle free. When we entered out flat it was just amazing, we had a beautiful bedroom which was really nicely decorated, a balcony with views and a kitchen/living room with plasma TV and everything we could need…and all for us!!! I couldn’t believe it! There were shops just next to our apartment, so on our first evening we cooked dinner and just relaxed, ready for the busy day which we had ahead of us.

We had a great time walking around Canary Wharf, going shopping in the many boutiques in the mall, eating in Carluccio’s and thinking about the fashion project that we were doing the following day. So here are just a few photos of when we arrived, but I am afraid that the rest of the guided tour and sneak peak into my mini-hotel wardrobe is in the video 😉

I would definitely consider RatedApartments a reliable accommodation provider around the globe and stay with them when I go abroad, to places that I am less familiar with. They bring travelers and accommodation providers together and as they have over 3,000 listings all over the world, including Paris, New York and London, I would definitely love to stay with them again.  Really I can not recommend them enough, they have the perfect apartments for if you are intending on staying in London for either a holiday or a business trip.

I hope you will enjoy our first video and stay tuned…We have more magic to come 😉

Abi xxx

To book the Apartment where we stayed click RatedApartments








Rental Apartments


Cream Coat – ZARA

Over-sized Sweater – H&M

Black Glitter Shoes – LONDON REBEL

Black Ripped Jeans – PRIMARK


Hollywood Sirens and Chanelling My Inner Marilyn

Yesterday we went to a beautiful event on the rooftops of one of London’s most stylish hotels the ME Hotel thanks to Deluxe Store Bahrain. If you are looking for the best view in London in one of the most exclusive and elegant atmosphere’s, then this is the place to go in London. Radio Bar is open in the day time and is a great place for cocktails and food and in the evening it fills up with London’s most chic crowd who sip drinks in a blue hue whilst listening to lounge house. It is very hard to get in on a Friday and Saturday night and guest list is an almost must.


This was going to be a very special occasion and so I decided to draw inspiration for my outfit from some of the most stylish, best dressed women every to grave this Earth, the Hollywood Sirens. These actresses burst onto the scene as drop dead gorgeous women and marked the golden era of American film and Hollywood. Grace Kelly, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Talor and Audrey Hepburn, all household names who inspire thought of elegance and beauty. But it was the most famous of all, the tragic Marilyn Monroe who’s looks and dresses really provoked, seduced and shook the nation. A sex symbol,  with a coy attitude and dresses so legendary they would become to be immortalized in stone, I decided to use her famous red sequin dress which she wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as inspiration for my look.



I opted for a long floor length gown with long sleeves and shoulder pads which is entirely covered in sequins to truly reflect the glizzy glam pre 1960’s era. As accessories I decided to wear my beautiful ALFEX watch which I have just received from Deluxe Store Bahrain which is super glam. The white of the strap really went well with the dress and the gold dial which I could light up for some added bling really enhanced richness of the look. I find it quite difficult to find a watch which is functional but which elegant enough to wear out and so I was so pleased with this beauty! I finished the look off white gold stiletto heels and a gold arrow necklace. Hope you like it! Which Hollywood Siren is your favorite and why? Maybe you could do a Hollywood Siren/Beau look and share the link at the bottom of this thread, I’d love to see you ladies and gents looking all glammed up! 😉




White and Gold Watch – ALFEX from DELUXE STORE BAHRAIN

Long Sleeve Floor Length Sequin Dress with Padded Shoulders – AX PARIS

Metal Twist Stilettos – DUNE LONDON

Arrow Pendant – ACCESSORIZE

5* Riad Palais Calipau

There is no doubt that on your first trip to Marrakesh, to get a real flavour of the city, you should stay in a traditional bijou boutique hotel in the heart of the Medina. These hotels once traditional houses or Riads look more like the Sultan Palaces than hotels, with their interior courtyards lined with lush orange trees, water features, thick walls and rooms decorated with mozaics, they are a true wonder of Moorish Architecture and design.


The walls of our Riad were red and from its protective shell little could be known of the beauty that awaited us inside. Indeed, passing the dark heavy door and stepping into Riad Palais Calipau for the first time was like walking into paradise. It was cool inside, whereas outside it had been really hot and the sounds of bikes and street banter were replaced with the sound of running water. The turquoise the pool was still. It was calm here and so lovely. Big lanterns hung from vaulted ceilings, lush velvet sofas lay hidden thin net curtains. It was here that we received our complimentary mint tea served on a gold tray and yum scrum biscuits on our arrival.

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Our room was extremely large and was on the first floor. It wasn’t the best one, but wasn’t the smallest one either. The air con made our stay even more bearable as at night without it, it would have become quite hot. I loved the ceiling and the blue of the bathroom. Everything was new, from the fluffy feather pillows to the TV and the safe in the walk in wardrobe. The water was always hot and it felt really safe. In fact I wish my room at home was that nice and I came to refer to our Riad not as “our hotel” but “home”, which was quite awkward as it kept requiring clarification every time I made the error. The only slight criticism, if any, would be say that there was no mini-bar in the room and no dressing gown/slippers provided. There was however shampoo and soap stocked up daily and both the room and the bathroom were very clean.

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The hotel staff were really kind. They booked for us a Hamman & Massage spa treatment at the famous Les Bains de Marrakech, our taxi to the Majorelle Gardens, Agadir Gardens  and airport – with our taxi driver being so friendly and honest that he would charge us “only what we wanted to pay” even though he gave us some great info about the city as he drove us round. We didn’t have time for tours, but other guests we spoke to really enjoyed their day trips organized by the hotel to the Atlas Mountains, Essaouira and the desert. In fact I can’t wait to go back to do them!

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The breakfast was plentiful, with pancakes, jam, honey, omelet, yoghurt, fruit salad, as much fresh orange juice as you could drink and great coffee. We saw Moroccan families eat similar foods for their Ramadan breakfast in the evening and every time we walked passed seller’s of our morning feast, we noted with excitement “that’s what we had for breakfast”! In this respect the Riad really felt as if I was staying with a friend or a wealthy Moroccan family which really added a great experience to our fantastic holiday.

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I loved sitting down at night by the edge of the pool and gazing upwards at the open sky surrounded by candles and orange trees. After a long day bartering in the souks there was nothing better than to take a refreshing plunge after and a spot of relaxation on the roof terrace in the waning afternoon sun.  Hotel Calipau was the perfect location – close enough to the action but far enough removed to feel like an oasis of calm and a great place to relax and recharge. I really can not recommend it enough and as I had such a great time, my sixty year old parents have also decided to go and stay at Hotel Calipau for their visit Marrakesh next year!

I booked this gem through Expedia (flights included) for a great price, so make sure you check out Riad Palais Calipau’s website but also Expedia for some great last minute deals!

The Red City and the Heart of Africa, the Heart of Life


 We reveled in our success at bartering with the taxi driver at the airport, lowering our fare down from 150 Dhs to 120 Dhs. Was it really worth ten minutes in the backing sun to save 3 euros (1.50 per person) and risking heat stroke even though this car was almost the only one available? Probably not…but hey we were in Marrakesh and we were here to do business local style!


The earth was dry and the houses and walls red. Palm trees lined boulevards, everything looked really smart. New mansions and apartments were being erected next to lush green gardens and new roads. We laughed and joked and exclaimed that really people had exaggerated. It sounds condescending but we felt that things looks better than we had imagined. Marrakesh we mused after all does have its own film festival now reaching the heights of Cannes itself and is being described my many as the new St Tropez. We passed Mamounia Hotel where the King himself stays when he comes to the city, its massive grounds sprawling out into the distance. Other Golf Courses, large hotels and Beach Clubs all loomed ahead. Had we flown 3 1/2 hours to see a slightly shabbier version of the South of Spain? Had we come too late? Has globalization, tourism and the property boom managed to finally sanitize even the wildest of mythical cities? We tried to ask the driver a good place to eat, but he mumbled 120 not 150 and remained silent :/ Perhaps bartering was now a thing of the passed? Anyway whatever what is done is done! We had arriiiiived and I wasn’t that hungry anyway so he could just sulk and go away.


Impressive large red walls loomed up ahead. The rich colors of the houses really made the architecture that much more special. I felt like I was in a desert city and in this respect things started to differ from Europe. We passed through a large ornate door, one of the many separating the new town from the Medina and it was then that the world turned upside down.

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The car slowed down as vendors and people filled the narrow lanes. Donkey carts laden with melons, shops with spices piled up high in pointed mounds. Baskets spilled out of shops, jewellery and carpets adorned the ocher walls. Women covered from head to toe and young men exchanging banter, mopes, more people and cars blocked our path until we crawled along at snails pace. Then came the sounds, metal against metal from a tiny crack in the wall: a man crouching low in a cave under hundreds of broken bicycle parts, his hammer working furiously working away. A beautiful tower loomed up ahead, yellow stone with an ornate design. It was tall so I thought it must be the Koutoubia and I pointed to it and gazed in awe. But then in the distance I saw the peak of another Mosque this one higher and I realized that this was just one of the many that sprang up around the old town. Clang, Clang, Clang went the hammer. It felt medieval with so many artisans, animals and what seemed like so little order.



Just a few minutes later the car stopped and we were directed down a side street, the name of which was written in Arabic. It was narrow and this was as far as the car could go. We were out of the tiny vehicle, out of the protective shell which separated us from this crazy outside world. From in there it has seemed so wonderful, but now it was a bit scary and the tiny weaving streets disorientating. The taxi left and we looked around us and had no idea if having not paid the full price we hadn’t been taken the full way.


We were already walking down the little alleyway that the taxi driver had hastily instructed us to go down before leaving, when a group of young kids passed us and waved us on in encouragement. We had found the right way, but they would take the credit and the money for leading us there. Round a few bends we were hot and somewhat ruffled, not to the point of panic or intimidation but because to show hesitation in our navigation meant intervention – perhaps friendly but perhaps not, we couldn’t tell yet. A few more twists and turns and like wide eyed gazelle we gaped with relief when we arrived at the ornate door in the side of a normal red walled house. Hotel Calipau 5* the sign read. We had arrived at our destination. The big thick doors creaked open and beyond the shadows we saw the oasis.  A wave of calm, serenity and protection washed over us as we passed out of the sun and into the cool shade of the Riad. From the crazy world which we had just briefly entered into into very sumptuous surroundings with the sound of motorbikes replaced with that of birds chirping and the light trickling of water, like a babbling brook.


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We walked under vaulted ceilings and melted into the purple arm chairs. Mint tea was served on a gold tray and as I took the first sip of the sweet fragrant drink all I could do was think about that crazy buzz which I had just experienced and like a drug I couldn’t wait to put our bags down to get back out there in the heart of Africa, at the heart of life.

5* Hotel De L’Europe – Amsterdam

On our tour we stayed at a number of places: Zeewolde, Den Hague, Rotterdam. After having played and lost quite a few tournaments around Holland, our group decided it was time to go for a few days to Amsterdam. We took a train and arrived at Central Station. The plan was that the girls would wait with all the bags, whilst the guys went off in search of a cheap hotel or hostel close to the center. After more than hour my friends returned. The bad news was that all the hotels were fully booked. The good news was that a 5* Hotel a short taxi ride away still had some rooms available.


Hotel De L’Europe loomed up ahead. This is the one place where sneaking an extra guest for free into your room will be impossible. We were going to have to book two rooms and it was going to be expensive.The porter opened the door for us in a green tail coat, top hat and white gloves. It was really grand and the reception desk spanned the whole crescent of the beautiful entrance hall.

De L’Europe is acknowledged as Amsterdam’s legendary hotel and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World for over 25 years. With its location on the banks of the Amstel River in the heart of historic Amsterdam, it’s impossible to escape the city’s rich history while staying at this iconic 19th century treasure. Expect timeless design, intimate ambience and genuine service.


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The rooms were very beautiful. I particularly liked the yellow and white striped walls and the beds were extremely comfortable. De L’Europe boasts a distinctive décor, enhancing each room and suite with a replicated Dutch Master painting, handpicked in exclusive partnership with the nearby Rijksmuseum. Choose for gracious and timeless elegance in the historic Rondeel Building or for art and design in the contemporary Dutch Masters Wing.The room service breakfasts were amazing, with lashings of scrambled egg, bacon, juice and fruit served in silver dishes. The pictures below show our group in one of the rooms before heading out.

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De L’Europe is a hub of haute cuisine, boasting a selection of the city’s finest restaurants overseen by Executive Chef Richard van Oostenbrugge. Bord’Eau has redefined Amsterdam’s fine dining scene. Hoofdstad Brasserie is perfect for a sophisticated yet casual riverside bite. With its plush interior, Freddy’s remains the city’s iconic bar, while Hèt Terras offers a contemporary take on café classics, and the city’s most authentic Afternoon Tea is served in the Promenade.


The location of Europe de l’Europe was wonderful and the staff so friendly. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for the ultimate luxurious stay in the heart of Holland’s most vibrant city.

5* Islantilla Golf Resort & Mirador del Golf

At only a 70km drive from Faro airport,the stylish resort of Islantilla can be found on Spain’s ‘Coast of Light’, often referred to as the ‘Spanish Algarve’ or ‘Spain’s Best Kept Secret’. Its beautiful sandy beaches stretch for miles and its lack of over-development means that it has retained its natural beauty with its backdrop of sand-dunes and pine trees between the sea and the promenade.We found beautiful star fish and walked past a lagoon to a deserted beach.




I particularly liked the small fisherman’s village with its little white chapel. At night after a hearty meal we would walk about along the promenade and see their little lights bobbing out at sea. In the morning we went and bought fresh fish straight from their nets and saw how they pulled their boats in and mended their nets. Islantilla is the perfect place to relax, enjoy a lovely scenery in a very stylish and beautiful Spanish town. There are many shops and restaurants, some cocktails bars but no night clubs. In the summer half of Madrid and Sevilla escape the hot sun and come down for a couple of weeks to play golf, tennis and eat some of Spain’s best sea food. Make sure you can speak Spanish or don’t mind giving it a go, as there are not many foreign tourists here and lots of people can’t speak English.

Here are my recommendations of where to stay in Islantilla:


A lovely two bedroom house in one of the most exclusive urbanisations of Islantilla, ‘Mirador del Golf’, 5 minutes walk from Islantilla Golf Club- rated Top 100 Best Courses in Europe by Golf Digest, and 8 minutes from the beach. It is a peaceful & securely gated complex with a stunning pool, sea views and own parking. It was really clean and had been newly refurbished to a great standard. The pool was beautiful and the kitchen was really well equipped. We enjoyed using the DVD player and watching the wide screen TV. This is a really cheap but good quality alternative to a hotel as prices start at £350 per week and the house sleeps 6!

Another wonderful place that I have stayed in is the 5* Islantilla Golf Resort, which is 3 minute walk from the house Mirador del Golf. It is very large and its grounds are really impressive. With both indoor and outdoor pool, a beautiful and world famous golf course right in front, this is the place to go for all golf lovers. It is around 10 minutes from the beach, but a little train goes passed every half and hour and it is free for guests. An additional perk of staying here is the ability to use the Beach Club which is a luxurious pool and lounge area right on the sea front reserved for members and guests of the hotel. The golf coaches are great and when we went they offered a free lesson to anyone who came every Saturday morning. The rooms were large and had great views. The only slight downside would be that it was a little empty and thus the services normally on offer at a 5* resort were slightly absent.

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Sitting on the City Walls Courtyard House – Beijing

This was my first time in a hostel. Apparently, it was actually possible to stay for under 7$ a night and in really good conditions too! If you have read my earlier posts, you will know that the location wasn’t great. We had chosen this place to stay as it was Lonely Planet recommended and looked fairly close to all the major attractions of the city. The NianZiHuTong or Hutong as we called it for short wasn’t charmingly old, it was more corrugated iron and shanty old.This was at least from the outside… No taxi drivers would take us to or from there, no one had really heard of the hostel. Finally, it was very far from any metro, which we found out later was by far the best way of traveling round the city.



My trip to China taught me many things. Probably one of the most important ones would be to never judge a book by its cover. Yes, the exterior of the houses were rough and we could hear birds shrieking, BUT these houses are traditional ones and thus, their center is focused on an internal courtyard.

Things are not as they seem; the first appearance deceives many – Phaedrus


Deep thoughts. So anyway, even though, from the inside it looks like the worst place in the world, but from the inside we were treated to a marvelous flash of color, the sound of running water, fountains and beautiful plants. Terracotta warriors stood over the main internal courtyard, where food was served on demand and computers purred away into the night. This place really had everything and was a great rest from the rest of the world around us which was very foreign and alien. Here we could get crisps, coffee, food which we recognized. The staff were so so helpful. We were able to book our tickets to far away tours and all our travel tickets to our following destination Pingyao. We were given maps and ideas of what to do and what to see.


The rooms were really clean and had air-conditioning. The bathrooms were really smart and the beds comfortable. Apparently in China toilet paper is supposed to be put in a little bin. I’m sorry to say though I flushed it and I flushed it all.



So, although not the greatest of locations, we did enjoy many other benefits of this charming traditional Courtyard House. Here you will get a great sense of the real Beijing. Close by there is a park where people of all ages play ping pong and board games, couples stroll along to the night markets. Little bikes and cute, hopefully rabies free dogs wander around.


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