When to resign from your job

Monday, 27 October 2014


It's a sad fact that most of our generation will be working until we're way into our late sixties. As awful a prospect as this seems, it simply means we could, and should, be picky about where we work. No one says we have to stay in the job we trained in, and in the same vein it doesn't mean we all need oodles of letters after our names to be able to have a shot in a new industry.

If we're to survive our working lives with some sanity - spanning five decades for some - we need a good work ethic, a little bit of luck, and an industry we want to support.

So what happens when you realise your career prospects aren't taking you any further than your current role? It's time to look elsewhere. And when you find a new job, it means there'll be one awkward conversation: a meeting where you say thanks for the opportunity Mr Boss Man/Lady, but I'm off.

For me, this happened a month ago.

And
I
Was
Petrified.

So say you've been offered a new job. You've got the call. When should you resign? I called on the expert advice of Annabel of Irenicon again to iron out the facts.

When to resign from your job

Check your contractual notice period... if you have one.


When you get news you've been offered a new role, chances are you'll get a written contract outlining everything from your company pension to holiday entitlement. If you're working for a smaller place, though,  or your role is a bit more casual, you might not be asked to sign a thing. But that doesn't mean you don't have a contract - it's just a verbal one.

Annabel says anything written down can serve as your contract, from informal emails to handwritten memos, so check these to see if there's any indication about your notice period in any correspondence.

Ok, so you've checked and there's nothing about your notice period anywhere. "In the absence of a contractual term about notice, you and your employer are on ‘reasonable notice’. For the majority of short term ordinary employees this will be the same as statutory notice which kicks in at one month’s service and is a week from either party."

So now you know your legal obligation, whether it's one weeks notice or one year. What next?

Don't burn your bridges.


As mentioned in this feature, you may want to slam the letter of your boss' desk, flip him/her the finger and tip over the water machine while moonwalking out of the building knowing you have mere days left at your desk. But not only is that a terrible idea, it could leave you without a job to go to next.

"Are you going to want a reference from these people at some point now or in the future? If their policy is to give ‘tombstone’ references only (which is to say you worked here from that date to that date as a whatever your job title is) then you are not going to affect that. It might be worth checking it out before you arrive at a decision though..."

Your employer has been decent enough to (hopefully) always pay your wages and give you a shot at your career. There's no need to act entitled just because you've decided to leave.

Work out a plan of action.


Firstly, sign your contract with your new employer. After all, there may be terms in your new job you aren't happy to just accept, so there could be a bit of negotiation needed before you go ahead. Only after the contract has been signed and sent should you then decide to have the chat - otherwise, tell no one.

Secondly, work out any remaining holiday you're entitled to. Again, check your contract for whether you need to take it as leave before you go or whether  you'll need to work the full period of notice and be paid in addition.

Thirdly, in this world of Instant Messaging and E-Mail it can be easy to type something up and fire it off. But you got the job face-to-face. So do the right thing and schedule a meeting to inform your boss.

It's not the easiest thing to have to do, especially if you've been at your place of work for years, or if you're a fairly intrinsic part of the company. Remember though, that not everything is permanent, and at the end of the day, it's just business. When you find a job you love (like I have) then you'll realise that quitting could have been the best thing to do.

Note: for tips on how to resign, click here.




Interested? Read on...

Is deciding not to head to university career suicide?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


We've heard from A Boy and A Laura about how university helped them, not just bag their job in an industry they love, but also build their confidence with people, relationships and friends.

But what happens if you think university isn't for you? Are you doomed to a life of manual labour and friendless-ness?

No.

As Another Laura, here's why I think you can make it without those letters after your name.

When I was 16, which was far too long ago to even remember how I felt back then, I was a bit indecisive. My parents are both successfully self-employed, with dad only taking an Open University course when he was in his late thirties. So I grew up with the notion that uni wasn't necessary for all things. It was about priorities, working hard, and not slacking.

Plus, the plan was to always move abroad, so being settled wasn't ingrained in me as much as travel was.

At 16 I had literally no clue which direction I wanted my career to take. I wasn't even sure I wanted a career, preferring instead to earn cash monies and get a car/buy clothes/go on holiday than devote my life to work. I didn't want to take a course at uni for the sake of it, wasting my time and racking up a debt I wouldn't be able to pay.

So I went to college for a bit and started to study beauty therapy. Which I decided wasn't for me. I knew I liked working with people, though. But how and in what way I was unsure of.

Ten years later...

One day I woke up and I decided journalism was for me. I don't know what it was that told me this was my career, but I knew I wanted to pursue it. Desperate to learn and soak in all the knowledge I could, I took an intensive online course to get the basics, and then got stuck in pitching to editors left right and centre.

I worked damn hard to impress and network with those in the know, and after a stint at the Beeb and a few months interning at a press agency I found a job as a copywriter for a beauty website. It's led to so many opportunities, writing words for newspapers and magazines, for New Look and H&M, on tube ads to scripts for tv advertising. I've seen my work in print and on screen, and I know I've fought damn hard to make it happen. I know I'll also always have to prove myself to make up for my lack of formal qualifications.

Now, I face another career change, taking my work from freelance to something a bit more steady. I started my brand spanking new job as a Communications Executive for a really exciting travel brand almost a month ago. And I didn't need uni to get there. I just needed drive, enthusiasm, courage and the ability to learn new things pretty damn quickly.

And walking past a recruiter's window one Sunday afternoon.

So, in my opinion, uni isn't always necessary. And I'd advise anyone unsure if it's for them to think about forging their own career path rather than following the crowd. You can make a career without uni. It may take longer, it may be stressful, and it may require some raw talent mixed with sheer determination to be the best you can, but you can do it.

Dealing with disappointment and the scary decision

Someone else who shares my point of view is Hannah, 22, who blogs at Love Icon Fantasy Ego. She went to school in Solihull, and almost all her classmates packed up and headed to uni after A Levels. Not her.

Like me, Hannah says there are three reasons why she gave it a miss. "I didn't know what course I wanted to do, I didn't want to get into debt, and my parents didn't go and are very successful in their careers." Valid reasons lots of others can relate to.

But what did others think? "I didn't get opposition from family or friends," she says, "but my college mentors were disappointed because I was a high achiever and I think they always thought I would go."

"I worked in what I thought was my dream career as an assistant buyer straight out of college, asking persistently for a shot at it. Nothing happened straight away, so I decided to set up my own company. My now-boss saw my ambition and drive to succeed, as well as my business acumen, and employed me. I currently work as a Marketing Assistant."

Hannah hasn't been treated any different by employers, but admits that a few job seekers may resent us non-uni folk for not spending the time and money on study. "To be honest other people will have their opinions regardless."

Her advice for anyone who isn't sure what to do? "If you change your mind about working straight out of school and it doesn't work out uni will always be there, you don't have to go now."

What do you think? Have you managed to make a career without university on your CV? What did it take for you to make it happen?
Interested? Read on...

Review: Afternoon tea with the bunnies at Playboy Club London

Friday, 10 October 2014


I have to ask this question: what do you think the Playboy Club London is like?

Do you picture ladies in skimpy outfits being touchy-feely with men who leer over their boobs? Do you imagine mirrored ceilings, private booths and hidden 'extras' only the regulars know about? Do you think of silicone boobs, bums and lips? Members only? Business meetings and shady dealings?

Well, you'd be wrong. There are so, so many misconceptions about this place, and I had most of them.

Playboy's changed tack recently. Long gone are the notions that a woman is there for one (old) man's enjoyment. With the magazine recognising that feminism is now part of being a gentleman - though they won't actually use the f-word - features such as Jennifer Lawrence Is Not A Thing To Be Passed Around, based on her leaked nude images, and an infographic explaining when it's appropriate to cat-call a woman (if that female is literally a cat) have appeased female audiences. Playboy's come a long way.

So when I heard the Playboy Club was a. open to non-members, b. hosting a special pink afternoon tea to commemorate breast cancer awareness, and c. was in partnership with Salvatore Calabrese, maker of the world's most expensive cocktail, I was intrigued. Life is full of new experiences and I wasn't about to let my uneducated notions stop me. So, along with Mr W, we booked in to give tea a go. With totally open minds of course.

"DW,  I'm taking you to the Playboy Club," I said once the table was confirmed. Of course his eyes lit up. Tweets about being the best wife in the world were sent, and I earned some serious brownie points. Sure, he thought it was going to be all tits and arse, but I knew different.

The Club's located in a small street off Piccadilly. It's lit up but fluorescent pink lights at the moment, and at the entrance stand two security guards and two bunnies, ready to welcome patrons in.

Now, the bunnies. They're dressed in the typical attire; opaque tights, corset-like tops with fluffy tails, and a bow tie collar with matching cuffs (and bunny cufflinks). As far as what they're wearing, it's way tamer than the bodycon and boob tubes that grace Brentwood's Sugar Hut every week. Far, far tamer. It's a classic outfit, a bit of history, and one that serves the bar well.

Once we gave our names we checked our coats in - minus a £2 charge - and walked through to Salvatore's, a 70's inspired bar with hints back to the original. Bottles of rare and expensive whiskies, cognacs and brandies line the walls, as does a rubber duck (seriously, ask about the rubber duck). We were seated on a plush sofa opposite a group of three girls, a table of eight and a family of six. Seating in the other booths was a couple of businessmen and a few couples. It was a real mix of people.



The Playboy afternoon tea

After getting settled, Martina, our bunny, handed us a menu and asked us to choose a tea, from fruity to floral. Except this wasn't just tea. These were tea-infused cocktails. Served in teapots, sure, but they were definite cocktails. At £30 a head (with £1 being donated to breast cancer research) we thought this was really competitive with the scores of other places service afternoon tea in the area, less alcoholic beverage.

Served on slate,  the tea this month features a selection of pink treats - savoury include beetroot bruschetta, pastrami rolls, smoked trout and prawn mayo sandwiches. The bunnies were more than happy to take any dietary requirements or substitutions which was a good touch.

For the sweets, we were presented with carrot cake, pink 'bunny' cupcakes, blackberry and clotted cream shots and raspberry macarons.

The teas complimented the sweets so well, and there wasn't anything we thought could be improved.I was full after the meal, but Mr W could have done with a bit more. It was such a surreal experience, but all in good fun. Martina was a fantastic host. Over from my mum's homeland of Sicily, she's worked within Salvatore's as a bunny, just because she loves people. We talked about Sicilian words, the recipe for the perfect ragu, even carte Siciliana, for the longest of times. It really made the night, and I've promised to keep in touch, even if it is just to perfect my pasta sauce skills.



The Playboy Club members - inside their secret world

Salvatore's is open to non-members but head upstairs, as we did on our tour held by Bunny Hannah, and you see where the 1% come to play. A casino floor filled with bunnies as croupiers, a private restaurant, a sports lounge and closed-booth dining area available. But membership, which starts at a cool £1,000 per year, includes everything a playboy needs including dinner for four, a champagne tower, invites to the hottest events and access for up to three friends. Become a lifetime member for £15,000 and you even get to have lunch at the Playboy Mansion and enjoy the Playboy's private booth at Ascot. You'll even get a private chauffeur to take you to and from the club.

It's amazing to see how the other half live. The club was full of members enjoying their Saturday night, stacking their chips, and dining on chips.



After our tea we settled back down in Salvatore's and spoke to Antonio, the manager. He talked through the awards and accolades the place has under its belt, and before we left he suggested he bring us some special cocktails based on our tastes.

It was a great experience, and definitely worth a visit. It's not the cheapest place for a drink but then again it is a tourist venue, and you shouldn't be in Mayfair if you want a cheap drink.

The entire Playboy Club is designed around one thing: you. Everything is about enjoying your time there. Sure, life may be hard. But take off your jacket and shake off the rain, and everyone will help you enjoy life for a bit. As the Hef says, life is too short to be living someone else's dream. Even if it's just for one day.

Playboy Club London | 14 Old Park Ln, London W1K 1ND | 020 7491 8586




Interested? Read on...

My next travel destination: Tunisia

Thursday, 9 October 2014


Africa’s never been big in my travel plans ever since I discovered Asia (DJ would agree to this after an evening in Wahaca where I convinced him to give Thailand a try). But I keep reading travel blogs, and I keep thinking perhaps I’m missing a trick here. Perhaps I don’t need to think about ‘travelling’ in Africa. Perhaps I should just think about a holiday. After all, I loved my all-inc break to Egypt a few years back.

Standing on the beach in south west Sicily, my mother’s homeland and the place I spent six weeks every summer as a child (and a teen. And adult if I can get away with it), you can actually see the coast of Tunisia on a clear day. Relaxing on the beach was almost always interrupted by a smiling marrochino or tunisio selling gorgeous rings and bracelets scored from their homelands, or cooling coconuts cut into halves. You couldn’t help offer them a cool drink after watching them pace up and down the scorching sand for hours on end touting their wares.

I would sit on the sand at Ericlea with the pine forest behind me, facing that mysterious and elusive land, wondering just what it was like in Tunisia. What did the people do? What did they eat? Could they see us here in Sicily?

My Sicilian family has made Tunisia their holiday hot spot for over thirty years (5,000 camels my uncle could have got for my aunty) and why not, with a Grandi Navi Veloci – literally meaning big fast ship - from Palermo being £80? After a lifetime looking at Tunisia from across the sea, I think it might be time to pay it a visit.



When to go to Tunisia

Tunisia is perfect as a winter destination resort, with First Choice giving some helpful advice about average monthly temperatures and rainfall. Even in January temperatures rarely fall below a breezy 17C - this time of year is best to visit the sand dunes as it's far too hot any other time. We have Jamaica booked for January, but as a cheeky little week away in November or December we’re thinking of Djerba island, which has absolutely stolen my heart.

Culture

Tunisia is steeped in history, with Queen Dido founding Carthage around 3000 years ago. Through the years (and the wars), Arab, Roman, Sicilian, French, Greek, Jewish and Turkish influences all shaped Tunisia into what it is today - there used to be a huge Jewish, French and Italian community in the country up until the 1950s. The main language is Arabic, but a little French and Italian is spoken. Oh, and did I mention their national did is couscous? Scrummy!

Carthage

These ruins are a massive tourist attraction, and for history buffs (like me) would be a must-see. The Ancient Roman Baths are seen as a great little place to watch history stand still against the backdrop of palm trees, the sea, and Sicily in the distance. Unlike here in the UK, where everything is hands-off, you can explore the vaults and chambers to your heart’s content. For fans of What Once Was, this would be top of the list.

Djerba Island

Around one corner you’ll see an octopus. The next will be a frog. The next, a lion. Street art takes on a new meaning on this pretty little island, with the whitewashed walls and cobbled streets home to traditional religious art and surreal paintings. Even old gas containers and doorways are a canvas. There’s a reptile farm on the island too, as well as Tripadvisor’s 2014 Travellers’ Choice Winner Guellala Museum which gives tourists an insight into the island’s history.

Beaches

Hammamet has a castle by the sea, Sfax is right next to a massive shopping centre, Tunis has the Pedruchillo ecological centre, and Monastir is the most famous beach. Lazing at the beach is great for a few days, but most beaches around Tunisia have plenty of things to do around them, perfect for keeping fidgety travellers like me entertained.

So, for now Tunisia will still be that mysterious country I would stare at while feeling the sea breeze over my sun-kissed skin. Well. Until I book a getaway due to the harsh English winter, that is.

Have you ever been to Tunisia? If so, where did you get to? And what are your must-see places?




Interested? Read on...

We ask a boy: what's up with the grooming routine?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014
Malr grooming

Depending on your source, many people believe it's actually men who take longer to get ready rather than women. My wife can testify to this. I preen like a non-gay peacock. The question is, what is wrong with a good grooming routine? For special occasions, it can go something like this...

- Shower
- Face scrub
- Shave
- Moisturise
- Hair
- Scent
- Clothes

You have the occasional one who enjoys a bit of body butter (you know who you are), a dabble on the fake tan, and those who need to ensure "their hair does not resemble a whale", again, you know who you are.

It is increasingly common for men to indulge in metrosexuality. No, that isn't lusting after free newspapers. It's the equivalent of their female counterparts - men talking as much time getting themselves looking good as women have traditionally done.

Last year Debenhams surveyed 1,000 men, and this boom in groom becomes more evident. Of the 1,000 British men surveyed, those aged between 20-29 spent on average £35 per month on grooming products. It also revealed men in their 30s were willing to spend up to £50 on a moisturiser and up to £40 on sorting out eye wrinkles. EYE WRINKLES FOR PETE'S SAKE (if anyone knows who Pete is please let the editor know).

I must admit, I'm partial to a bit of this. My skin has been described as baby face by an aesthetic nurse. Considering I'm 30 and commute across London, that's pretty impressive. However, a baby face means no beard, and everyone is partial to a bit of facial hair.

To look after mine, I tried Lush's Kalamazoo beard scrub. It smelled lovely. So much so I would definitely be tempted to have a nibble on it if I'd had the appropriate amount of alcohol for such a suggestion. Filled with the naturally enzymatic pineapple, almond oil for healthy skin, jojoba for moisture and apricot oil for softness, no wonder it smelled good enough to eat. Lush pride themselves on being all natural, which is great for me as I don't like synthetic rubbish.

Their Five O'Clock Whistle shaving smoothie also smelled rather tasty. However on long beards it was nowhere near as effective as my preferred shaving cream. It would be perfect for men with a little bit of stubble that needs tidying up for that 9am client meeting the following day. It has left my skin in pretty good nick though, which is always a bonus - probably due to the high coconut oil content. Shame it took the best part of an hour to get rid of my beard though.

But that's the point. We do spend longer getting ready. We do spend longer making an effort. Gone are the days of clean-shaven short back and sides. Rough and slightly rugged around the edges is very much in, and that needs maintenance.

So next time you're getting ready to go out with your boy, let him jump in the shower first. It will save you a whole lotta waiting around time.




Interested? Read on...

Review: Flint+Flint Glycolic Cleanser, Primer and Moisturiser cosmeceuticals

Thursday, 2 October 2014


There's a difference between the skin stuff you buy over the counter at Boots and the product of hard work and research spent over years and years. Cosmeceuticals - cosmetic pharmaceuticals - are designed to be used with caution but can give off amazing results. The concentration of the essentials needed for clean, young and plump skin are usually higher, and for that there's a premium paid.

But honestly, if you're over 25 it's worth starting a good skincare routine now. Trust me, it's easier preventing wrinkles and pigmentation than it is trying to fix the damage caused by the sun, toxins and neglect. Trust me. Working with an aesthetic nurse in a dermatology clinic I've seen the damage that can be done, and how medical skincare professionals fix it.

So when Flint+Flint's products (or is it Flint plus Flint?) arrived on my radar, I was keen to try them.

How do these size up to the heavyweight products I have imported into the quest for good skin? Read on.



Flint + Flint Glycolic Cleanser Review

I'm a huge fan of acid on my face. Literally. You see, the healthy skin we all have is under dead skin cells. These dead skin cells are stuck to the healthy, glowing skin - almost like a glue. Glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid or AHA, works by dissolving that glue-like substance, exfoliating, and penetrating into the skin for lightening and brightening. It can tingle, especially if you're not used to using 12% on your skin, and is great for mature skin - which can mean us late twenty somethings, I'm afraid. It needs regular use, but results will be seen after one wash.

Dermatologists will use glycolic acid for those who want to improve the colour, texture and overall appearance of the skin. My usual glycolic cleanser, imported from the US and FDA approved, is £30 - as is the Flint and Flint glycolic cleanser. I find it works best in combination with a salicylic cleanser, a beta hydroxy acid or BHA. One rejuvenates, while the other strips the skin of grease. It's win/win.

Ok so that's enough science. This cleanser is way thinner that what I'm used to, but as that's the case you only use a smidgen at a time. I'd say a pea sized amount at most. For best results, I wet my face first to remove some of the grease and grime (I stopped using my salicylic to see how this would hold up to a typical girl/guy's routine) and massaged in a tiny amount. Ideally, I left the glycolic to work it's magic for about five minutes. This gives it time to actually work - don't bother using it if you're a splash on spash off type. It was rinsed off with warm water, followed by a cold rinse.

My skin felt similar to my other glycolic - smooth and fresh. It did make my skin break out after a few days which was a bit of an annoyance during my Very Important PR Meeting, but it settled soon enough.

It's a good staple to have for morning and night, but due to it's high glycolic content start off using this once every two days and build up a tolerance to it.



Flint+Flint SPF Primer review

I'm not a massive user of primers. I've found my foundation - again, imported from America and suitable for camouflaging my spider veins but gentle enough to be used after a skin peel - stays flawless from morning to night even in hot weather.

But, what EVERYONE needs, is a high SPF. No ifs, no buts. This should be a minimum, even if you don't wear make up. I use an SPF30 sun block daily as a preventative measure, as well as a vitamin C serum which gives added protection. But an SPF as a primer? This is new and interesting to me.

As above the primer is best used in tiny dabs all over the face. It's silky and light, and admittedly provides a great base for foundation. It also contains high levels of vitamin E, which served as my antioxidant protection while I was off my usual C serum.

After a week, I have to say I'm impressed. It's not something I'll use every day, purely as I love my current SPF/C routine. But for days when my skin's feeling a bit sluggish, or I'm having an off day, I'll be reaching for the primer. It just has a wow factor I think should be saved for those special occasions.



Flint+Flint Moisturise x3 review

Retinol. The wonder product being shoved into everything and anything with the promise of giving us airbrushed skin. Those with acne may well be familiar with tretinoin, a pure form of Vitamin A which is only to be issued by prescription, and only to be used for a limited time. It can make skin red, sore, and will make the skin photosensitive. Those with aggressive acne may also have been referred to a specialist for Roaccutaine, the oral form of Vitamin A which requires monthly hospital check ups for blood and liver function, and psychological exams in some cases. Scary stuff huh?

Vitamin A is fantastic at resurfacing the skin and it works at a cellular level; not just on the surface. It's potent, but it works. This moisturiser contains Retinyl Palmitate - it's basically part of the Vitamin A family. The weakest, and safest, part. It needs additional steps to convert within the skin to retinoic acid, the active stuff that works to resurface skin. Tretinoin does this on contact, which is why it's so effective and so irritating, whereas this moisturiser won't cause peeling or redness at all.

So while results won't be dramatic with this moisturiser, even with continued use, the skin is still getting some form of resurfacing and a boost of collagen. Flint+Flint's moisturiser is clinically proven, making it a bona fide cosmeceutical.

It also contains hyaluronic acid, a sugar produced in the the skin. It's used in some dermal fillers, especially in mesotherapy, as it gives thirsty skin a great big gulp of hydration. No other biological substance can retain as much water as HA can, so for people with dry skin this should be a staple.

So, what about the actual product? It's rich, really rich, and glides over skin. I'm probably a harsh critic as I have used tretinoin before so I'm used to the effects of instant vitamin A. As I expected, it didn't really improve my skin as the latter would, but I would say it's a perfect introduction for someone who a. doesn't want to pay a crazy amount for tretinoin, b. has never used a retinol on their face before and c. doesn't want a peeling face for two weeks in the quest for youth.

I also love how it has two of my favourite skincare essentials. HA will only ever be a good thing for skin and it's something currently lacking from my routine, so after each use and for hours later my skin felt so, so hydrated. It looked youthful and firmer with continued use too.



Flint+Flint have a great thing going. When my staples from America run out I will easily transfer to this British brand. The glycolic content warrants the price and contains the same amount as my usual but it a less sticky format. This was definitely my clear winner of the three, and one I'd suggest everyone adds into their routine.

Over the counter products may be cheap and easy. But when you have the decades of experience that's gone into these skincare essentials there can't be a comparison. I'm never going back to standard cleansers because I've seen first-hand how spending on skin can increase confidence (and compliments). Flint+Flint is definitely worth the investment for anyone serious about skincare.
Interested? Read on...

Review: Our wedding night hotel at The Athenaeum in London's Piccadilly

Monday, 29 September 2014


Weddings. Oh how equally stressful and special you feel on the day. With getting married way up in Edinburgh this time a month ago, it's time to talk about the practicalities. One such practicality is where we're were going to stay once we landed back in London, because home in Essex is a good 35 minutes away from the city.

We chose the Athenaeum, located right on Piccadilly and a stone's throw from The Ritz (dahlink) for a few reasons. Firstly, it's lux enough for a wedding night hotel in London. It has a garden on the wall, is how luxury this hotel is. Secondly, it's special enough for a bride and groom and friendly to dogs, which means they're friendly to people too (we did not have a dog). Thirdly, free minibar.

So what did we think of our first night in London as a married couple?

Hotel review of The Athenaeum Hotel Piccadilly

Read our review of The Athenaeum Hotel in London's Piccadilly




Check in

We'd decided to hail a taxi from King's Cross as we were lugging around everything from my wedding dress to our flipping amazing rainbow wedding cake. The tube would have been a nightmare, and it was only £15. The best £15 I've ever spent, I dare say.

Upon arrival the doorman grabbed all of our bags and helped us weary travellers into reception. A friendly chap greeted us, and after a quick tour of the ground floor whisky bar - one of the best stocked whisky bars in London no less, with a mere 270 bottles - we signed the forms and were given a key card. No wake up call thanks, and no Sunday papers needed.

Our bags were to be brought up by the porter so we ambled upstairs ready for some well earned rest.




The room

We stayed in a park-facing room on the fifth floor, I believe. The hotel goes up and up further, and has apartments located in it somewhere, but we were in a standard double room for the night. There is also a three double bed rooftop suit available. With Ben & Jerrys, guys.

And what a room. There were mirrors everywhere, from the mirror on the back of the door in the bathroom (yep, ever seen yourself on the loo? I HAVE) to the wardrobe and headboards. It screamed luxury, opulence, and expense.

The bed was gorgeously comfy, and little amenities such as slippers placed right by the night stand and even a brown paper bag to carry shopping home made us feel right at home.

Mr W has asked me to include the iron in the room description as being the best iron he's ever used. It was a full sized Morphy Richards steam technological contraption with a extra hot tip or some such technology which he was thrilled with.

The room, though, had so many little quirks. There was a display of red toy solders neatly lined in a row on one side of the bed, and a three-way holographic picture on the other. Books and magazines were provided as well as two alarm clocks, and Nespresso pods for coffee and did I mention the mini bar? Featuring pear and peach purée, Kit Kats, Mars Bars and other treats? All complimentary and so handy.

For London, the 26m² you get is larger than most hotels with room to unpack and have coffee by the table, but with the floor to ceiling bay window looking out over green trees, the room felt so much bigger than it was. Views from the upper floors would be absolutely gorgeous I'd say.

There were only two issues. Plug sockets were seriously lacking, with only one by the floor and one under the telly. Considering all the mirrors in abundance, this plug socket was as far from the mirror as possible, so I had to do my hair from a distance. Secondly is the light console. It's really clever once you get the hang of it, and a lovely feature to roll out in a hotel of such calibre. But after dinner when you're laying in bed trying to figure our how to turn off the lights without the air con fan being switched on at the same time and what is this a dimmer why oh why, it gets a bit tedious.

We slept so well though, with only a little bit of noise from neighbouring rooms and the traffic from the road below. But hey, this is London. If you're looking for quiet then head to a village in Lincolnshire.



Dinner at The Athenaeum

It being such a lovely occasion for us, we were treated to a meal in the restaurant downstairs which was so lovely and unexpected (thanks guys!) It's really all about the little things in this place, and the staff go out of their way to make each visit excellent.

We confirmed our time at reception, and after getting washed and dressed, we were ready for our first meal as a married couple. Scary, but what a setting for the occasion.

They offer a taster menu for £99 per person, which includes food, cocktails, wine and liquors. We thought this was such a great deal, with items on the menu including scallop gazpacho with a gin cocktail, goat's cheese paired with a South African wine, followed by sorbet and fish and quail and cheesecake and fruit and cheese. The meal is finished with a Cognac, a coffee and rose truffles. Luxurious, and well worth it's price tag. We decided to go a la carte - after such a long week of eating and drinking the taster menu seemed a bit too much for our stomachs.

Lobster Medallion for me and a Ham Hock Terrine for Mr W were ordered and promptly served. I wasn't 100% sold on my starter, it was very, very fishy and although the lobster was cooked to perfection, the bisque was too much. I knew I should have gone for the Make Your Own Seasonal Salad. Mr W loved his terrine though, and the egg it was served with looked scrumptious.

Mains were a 250g rib eye steak (which we forgot to order sides for, but the waiter brought some out so quickly) and broad bean risotto with quails egg. Now, the risotto was lovely, but the steak was something else. It was cooked to perfection. Literally, the best steak I've ever eaten, and Mr W (the fussiest man in existence) agreed. It was a beautiful cut of meat and so delicious.

We were far too full for desserts, so after asking to waiter to bring the rest of the wine up to our room we retired for the night with full bellies and happy as clams.

The restaurant was lovely, and the ambiance was so relaxed for such a high end place. There was a couple on a first date on the table next to us (her Louboutins were FAR too high for a first date imo) and a couple walked in excited to try the food - they'd ensured they had all the chef's accolades beforehand. There was a table of five ladies and gents clearly staying for business... it was such a lovely mix of people.

The meal was with compliments of the hotel, but would have cost us both £85, for two starters, two mains and two sides.



The breakfast

Now, being as we were staying here after our wedding, breakfast in bed was called for. We were actually swayed after seeing next door's trolley left outside and it was packed to the rafters with food and champagne. So why not?

We filled out our choices, me opting for pancakes and bacon, with cereal and some fresh fruit salad with yoghurt, and Mr W choosing a Full English as standard. We set our delivery time for fairly early at 8:45 (is it wrong I wanted to go home early to see the cat?). The form was hung on the doorknob, and we drifted to sleep.

Right on cue the next morning the dude arrived with a trolley full of our food. He said his goodbyes and we got stuck in, hoping it tasted as divine as it looked. And after the food the night before, it was only natural we'd think so. (That steak...)

Sadly, it really wasn't that good. Mr W's order was missing beans and sausage (two key components of a Full English) and my pancakes were just that. Literally small pancakes with two small rashers of bacon and a small jug of syrup. It was so, so stingy considering the price paid. My Earl Grey tea had been sitting there for a while as it tasted bitter and was undrinkable which was really disappointing.

The carrot juice I ordered was great though, as was the fresh fruit salad, the pastries and Mr W's enormous pot of coffee. But we were a bit let down at how everything else is five star, except this. It may have been chef's off morning, but I'd recommend walking down to Pret and sorting out something there.

For wow factor, and luxury in London it looks great. But there was a little something missing (like sausages).



Check out

This was simple. A taxi was waiting outside and the same doorman collected our luggage and packed it into the taxi for us. A simple signature from reception, and we were done. It was the quickest, easiest reception experience I've ever had, and one we were thoroughly impressed with. Service from front of house was top notch throughout, so thanks to them for their professionalism.

Our overall opinion

This place is as central as you can get, and nothing is too much. Granted it's not the Ritz, but it's a slice of real luxury in an already very luxurious location. The room was gorgeous and you can tell a lot of money's been spent on even the more basic of the rooms. The mirrors were unique and such a gorgeous touch. Sure, the breakfast was a let-down and I'm gutted I didn't go for the steak, but the hotel was the perfect place for our first night as a married couple.

Definitely ask for a park-view room and, if you fancy it, go for the taster menu and settle down in the gorgeous bar downstairs in the evening.


The Athenaeum Hotel | 116 Piccadilly, London W1J 7BJ | 020 7499 3464
Rooms start from £199 per room per night




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