Exploring Sydney - Larmont Hotel & The Hyde Sydney

Despite visiting Australia so many times, I’ve never really explored properly so this time around, we decided to visit Sydney and Melbourne for a couple of days to visit some famous landmarks we’ve heard so much about. I have to be honest, Melbourne wasn’t really for me - it almost reminded me of a sunnier Manchester - it was very grey and I didn’t feel overly inspired by it if I’m totally honest. However, both myself and my ‘fiance’ (still can’t get used to saying this hehe) have been to Sydney before and loved it but as we’ve only visited briefly in the past, we were excited to see more of the city and I was obviously desperate to go to Bondi Beach.

We looked around online for hotels in central Sydney so it would be handy to get to all the places we wanted to go - the opera house, harbour bridge and Bondi Beach. Luckily we can across The Larmont by Lancemore and I just have to share this place with you guys as we absolutely loved it and I can’t recommend the place enough if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Sydney.

Situated in Potts Point and only a 15 minute walk from the famous Opera House, The Larmont is a modern hotel with beautiful open plan suites that make for the perfect place to chill after a busy day of exploring the city. The decor is very modern and minimalist with pops of colour through artwork on the walls and cushions on the bed and seating area. The rooms are light and airy, as well as super spacious - it’s one of those places where you feel instantly calm and relaxed. Not to mention the bed was probably the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on - you just sink right in.

A highlight of the room for me has got to be the bathroom - as I said, the rooms are open plan so the sinks were in the same room as the bedroom with huge mirrors above and marble tops (ideal blogger aesthetic) which was the perfect beauty station for getting ready in the evenings. The toilet and bath/shower were separated by frosted glass doors and I totally fell in love with the freestanding bath tub - total bathroom goals. I loved that the shower was a wet room style too - I seriously need this in my house. Inspo!

Another huge bonus of the room was the balcony and views of the city. As you can see from the photos, we had stunning views right over Sydney and the spacious balcony was perfect for enjoying a few drinks in the evening. There was even a bottle of rose wine waiting for us in the room when we arrived which was obviously cracked straight open and sipped on the balcony whilst the sun set. Perfection!

On the second night of our stay we were very kindly offered a complimentary meal at the hotels new restaurant, The Hyde Sydney. We didn’t know what to expect as hotel restaurants can be hit and miss but this was literally out of this world. No word of a lie when we say this was one of, it not the best meal we’ve ever eaten. From start to finish, it was incredible. The menu wasn’t huge but there was enough choice that it catered to everyone’s tastes. I’m personally not a big meat eater so I went for a tomato and Burrata cheese starter whilst Matt and our friend Emily went for Quail and Oysters - all of which were beautiful.

For the mains, Emily and I both went for the crab, asparagus and tagliolini and it was divine. I’m all about a simple pasta dish and this one was so fresh and full of flavour - hands down one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten. However, the real star of the show was the pistachio crusted lamb which Matt ordered. Oh my goodness - I don’t even like lamb but this was unbelievably good. It just melted in your mouth and had the most beautiful flavour due to the herb crush. In Matt’s word is was “the best meal I’ve ever eaten” - I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Dessert was to the same standard - we got three of the desserts from the menu so we could sample a bit of each and just like the rest of the meal, they were divine. I had a hazelnut and chocolate fondant with a caramel sauce and it was beautiful. I'm not a dessert kinda girl and would usually always go for a starter over dessert but oh my goodness, this was like heaven on a plate. Emily went for the white frozen white chocolate and berry mousse whilst Matt went for the Olive Oil and Vanilla Panna cotta. 

I also have to comment on the staff who were so helpful and lovely - they couldn't do enough for us and were constantly coming over to top up our drinks (which again, were delightful) and ask if everything was okay. They were also really helpful when it came to choosing what we wanted to eat - they gave us their recommendations and told us a bit more about the dishes and ingredients. It was such an amazing place and atmosphere that I decided it would be the perfect time to ask Emily to be my bridesmaid over a glass of prosecco so The Hyde will now always hold a special place in my heart. I'll definitely be back on my next visit to Sydney which I'm hoping won't be too long away.

I honestly can't recommend this place enough and if you're visiting Sydney soon or have plans to in the future, make sure you add this to your list of hotels to stay at. You can find their website here for more details and prices.

Park Royal On Pickering, Singapore - Hotel Review

Hey guys! I'M BACK! If you follow me on social media you've probably seen that I've been away travelling for the past three weeks and honestly, it's been the trip of a lifetime. Not only did I get to spend three weeks travelling to some beautiful places and catching up with friends but my boyfriend surprised me with a trip to Bali for our 10 year anniversary and asked me to marry him. I couldn't be happier - it's a total dream come true. I feel like I've been dreaming of getting engaged and planning my big day since I was a little girl so it's crazy it's finally here. If you'd like a post with all the details of the proposal, just let me know. I'm sure he won't mind me sharing it with you guys, hehe!

If you've been keeping up with my travels via Instagram, you'll know that the first destination of our trip was Singapore where we stayed at the beautiful Park Royal on Pickering hotel for two nights. My boyfriend and I had never been to Singapore before despite going to Australia numerous times so we figured it made sense to do a stop over on the way to break up the flights and explore a new country (little did I know he'd already been planning the Bali trip - sneaky). 

After our 13 hour flight to Singapore, we were so excited to get to the hotel and after swooning over photos online, we knew we were in for a treat. Getting there couldn't have been easier - we jumped into a taxi outside Changai Airport and 20 minutes later, we were at the hotel, which is located in central Singapore right near all the main tourist attractions. On arrival, we were greeted by exceptionally friendly staff who couldn't do enough for us - the concierge took our luggage up to our room and we were given a lovely welcome drink to enjoy while we checked in. We arrived fairly early in the morning and our room wasn't due to be ready until lunch time but they'd kindly organised early check in which was so appreciated after the long haul flight.

We were shown to our Deluxe room by the lovely hotel manager and as soon as we walked in, we were wowed by the layout, decor and impressive city views. I'm sure I don't need to describe it to you as the photos say it all - beautiful. Despite the hotel being in the middle of the city, it's 'hotel in a garden' design provides an instant feeling of zen and relaxation. The hotel is completely eco friendly and surrounded by gardens so you feel like you've escaped to a remote sanctuary rather than the hustle and bustle of a busy city. That was the whole idea of the hotel when it opened in 2013 - to provide the city with an oasis amongst Singapore's otherwise modern and futuristic sky highs. I personally think this is such a cool idea and it made the hotel that bit different from any other city centre hotel I've ever visited. They even grow their own herbs round the pool which I was very impressed by!

Our room was one of the 'Orchid Club' rooms which meant we got access to the Orchid Club Lounge - a bar/casual dining area on the 7th floor. The lounge is only for those who have paid extra for the privilege but let me tell you, for the small extra cost when booking a room, it's SO worth it. You get breakfast, afternoon tea from 2-4pm and all the alcohol & nibbles you want from 6-8pm included so you soon get the extra you've paid (and more I'd say) back in unlimited amounts of food and drink. It was fabulous to know that whenever we were feeling a little peckish, it wasn't long until we could head to the lounge for some nibbles which included cute sandwiches, prawns with sweet chilli dip, dumplings, cake and scones, just to name a few. The afternoon tea was definitely a highlight for me as well as the unlimited Singapore Slings, Mojitos and Prosseco - as you can imagine, I took full advantage!

Another huge highlight of Park Royal has got to be the pool area. As you can see from the photos, the huge infinity pool with incredible views of the Singapore sky line is pretty amazing. I'm a sucker for a good swimming pool and this one was next level - we thoroughly enjoyed having a swim whilst taking in the amazing views of the city. The pool is surrounded by colourful Cabanas too so you can chill out privately between dips in the pool or if you want to soak up some sun, they had traditional sun loungers too! As we were only there for two nights we only managed to get a couple of hours at the pool but if we'd been there longer, I could have quite easily spent a few days lounging around with a cocktail in hand. Talking of cocktails, we also sampled a Singapore Sling at the hotel bar and it was divine - I actually preferred theirs to the one we had in Raffles which is where the Singapore Sling was originally created!!

Overall, we had an amazing stay at Park Royal on Pickering and I wouldn't hesitate to go back. I absolutely loved Singapore and would like to go for longer next time to explore even further. Gardens By the Bay & Clarke Quay were two of the highlights for me - must visits if you're planning a trip. You can find more details about the hotel here too!!

Have you ever been to visit Singapore? Is it on your list?!

Is Blogging As Glamorous As It Seems?! 10 Downsides of Being A Blogger

I often get people saying things along the lines of 'you're living the dream', 'why can't I be a blogger' or 'bloggers have it so easy' but, is this true? Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and it has a lot of perks but like any job, there's downsides to it as well and I think that's something people often forget. It isn't all free makeup & clothes, fancy events and press trips - there's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes that you don't see when scrolling through an Instagram feed full of perfectly posed photos.

I thought I'd share a few things you may not know about just so you can see the other side of blogging as I hate to see young girls comparing their lives to the lives of bloggers and thinking their life isn't as great in comparison! Trust me, there's been many occasions I've envied those with a 9-5 office job thinking their life must be much easier and less complicated than mine. Probably not true I know but what I'm trying to say is that we all experience similar feelings in any job and blogging is no different. 

1. Content, content, content. As a blogger, my mind is constantly on overdrive. Long gone are the days I can go out and completely relax - every cocktail/restaurant/pretty street is an opportunity for that perfect Instagram shot or snapchat update. Also, holidays no longer exist. Yes, bloggers go to nice places and have more holidays than the average person but those holidays are work in the eyes of a blogger as it's the perfect opportunity to get that content! Content is key and without it, bye bye blogging. For example, I'm heading off to Australia on Saturday to see my family who live there but I know a good portion of my time will also be spent getting blog content and Instagram photos so I won't be truly relaxed and carefree whilst I'm there. I don't mind doing it because I love creating content but I do sometimes think it'd be nice to totally switch off for a couple of weeks.

2. Annoying those around you. Point number one can begin to grate on the people around you which is something I'm always having to be mindful of. My family and the majority of friends don't even read blogs, let alone know what goes into maintaining one so I often feel the need to justify myself for the amount of time I spend on my phone or  updating social media when we're out and about. They often don't understand why snapchatting a cocktail is so important but as a blogger, you need to keep your followers constantly updated so it's a never ending battle between living in the moment and capturing the moment via social media. Seriously, if I even go a day without posting, I begin to worry people will forget about me - silly, I know.

3. It can make you feel like you aren't good enough. I think any blogger would be lying if they said they haven't compared themselves to other bloggers on more than one occasion. It's natural for everyone to compare themselves to others throughout their lives but I do think it's even more prelevent in the blogging industry as we're all essentially doing the same job and brands can only offer a small number of people work they may have available. This make it very easy for those awful 'her content is so much better than mine', 'why can't I look as good as her' and 'why are my photos not that good' thoughts to pop into our minds.

4. Every month is different. Whilst this can be nice as it keeps things exciting, when you're doing this as a job, it can also be a huge worry. What if I don't make enough money to pay my mortgage this month? What if people stop reading my blog and brands no longer want to work with me? What am I going to do with my life when I get older and people aren't interested in me anymore? These thoughts are always floating around my mind stressing me out and I often think having a secure 9-5 job would be less stressful as it's a guaranteed income at the end of each month.

5. Dealing with difficult brands. I recently had a run in with a brand who claimed I was rude for not posting an item of clothing within a week of receiving it, despite explaining I'd been busy and was planning to shoot the imagery that day. This isn't the first time this has happened either - I've been spoken to in a disrespectful manner on numerous occasions by small brands who don't value bloggers worth and instead see us as a quick way to get a few sales, forgetting that we pride ourselves on our content and the time that goes into creating it. I know I'm not alone in this either as it's happened to a few of my friends who are bloggers too. This can make it hard to work out which brands are clued up on how blogging works and which ones just see you as a quick option and generally have no respect for blogging as a career. Make sure you only work with those people taking what you do seriously!!

6. Always justifying our worth. Following on from the point above, another issue I always encounter is having to justify the fee I'm charging. I won't go into details about what I earn as that's private but I know I charge a reasonable figure for my following and the content I produce. However, some brands aren't willing to pay bloggers fairly and expect us to do a full review of their product or wear their clothing for next to nothing in return - it's just not going to happen. For example, shooting an outfit post for my blog requires a trip to London to shoot with a photographer who I have to pay myself. Why would I bother if I'm getting nothing in return? I think because blogging was once a hobby and not so much a career like it is now, certain companies will always challenge payment and almost try to make you feel bad for even asking in the first place and it can be so disheartening and make you feel like your aren't good enough. Another response I always get is 'sorry, we can't pay you that amount as we only paid (insert other bloggers name here) this much' and quite frankly, I've stopped responding to those kind of emails all together. Comparing one blogger to another is just not okay - we all have different lives and different circumstances. It's so important to always remember your worth and not let anyone try to put you down or make you feel bad about that. Let's face it, brands would have to pay traditional media a hell of a lot more than a blogger to get the same kind of exposure and reach.

7. You become really self critical. Going back to the point about comparing ourselves to other bloggers, another down side is that you start picking yourself apart. Maybe it's just me but I hope some of you can relate to me on this one as I've found myself to be a lot more conscious about my appearance since I started blogging. There's so many girls out there who look completely flawless on social media and it's difficult to try and keep up. I've even considered getting things like botox and lip fillers recently which is something I'd have never even thought about this time last year. I realise that I don't need these things but it's almost like the popular group at school - if you want to be part of it, you need to keep up. Sad but true.

8. People have a misconception of you. Last year, I went on a hen do with a group of girls I'd never met before (I only knew the bride) and was shocked to discover that most of them thought I'd be a stuck up b*tch before they met me. After talking to them about it, they said they thought that because I'm a blogger, I'd think I'm better than them. Luckily, they realised this couldn't be further from the truth and the holiday ended with them telling me how down to earth and lovely I am (yay!). However, it isn't nice having to prove people wrong just because you're a blogger - being a blogger doesn't make you instantly stuck up or in love with yourself. It's a job just like any other - albeit not a conventional job but still a job and one that requires hard work. I never set out with the intention of having a large following or blogging as a career, it started as a hobby and just happened!

9. It requires serious motivation. People often think blogging is super easy and we can just jump on our laptops, type a few sentences and be done with it but there's SO much more that goes into it and on days when you're maybe not feeling too great or are stressed with other things, it's so difficult to get your head into it and writers block strikes at the most inappropriate of times. You may have noticed I haven't been posting as regularly recently and that's because I've had so much going on in my personal life and have been so busy with other work related projects, social media updates and managing my emails that my actual blog has had to take a back seat. Even keeping on top of social media can be hard work - there's some days when you just don't want to have to get yourself ready to take photos but it has to be done as there's brands waiting and deadlines to be met.

10. It's not as effortless as it looks. Those street style photos you see us bloggers posting on Instagram? Like the one at the top of this post? Yep, not quite as effortless as it looks. Shooting outfit imagery is challenging to say the least and is something I have to plan weeks in advance. For me personally, it requires a 2 1/2 hour journey to London, carting a heavy suitcase on and off tubes to get to the location, posing on the streets of London in the freezing cold and getting changed in a pop up tent. Don't get me wrong, it can be quite amusing at times but there's definitely been occasions inside that tent when I've thought 'why on earth am I doing this' after the wind has almost blown the tent down and exposed my naked body to the residents of South Kensington - LOL! We also have to deal with the general public making comments such as 'it's a bit cold to be wearing that love' or men shouting crude comments from their car windows as they drive by - such a delight! So yes, a lot of effort goes in to getting those shots you see all over your Instagram feed! Next time you see one, give it little like whilst thinking about the pop up tent involved to get that finished result haha.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this post and that it gives you a bit more insight into the life of a blogger and you can see that it isn't always as amazing as it might seem. Also, I just want to say this isn't meant to come across as me moaning either - I love my job and wouldn't change it for the world - you have to take the good with the bad, just like any job. However, I think it's important for impressionable young girls who dream of being bloggers to realise that it isn't always 100% glamorous and fun and it comes with its challenges too!

If you're a blogger, is there anything else you'd add to this list?! There's probably quite a few things I've forgotten to include!

Homeware Haul | Matalan Accessories & The Best Bargain

Since moving into my house in October, people have been loving my home updates on social media and I'm constantly getting questions about where I bought things from. I've always been a massive fan of home decor and interior design - my dream career as a child was to be an interior designer when I grew up. My favourite TV shows growing up were changing rooms and extreme home makeover so that says it all doesn't it. Now I have my own house, one of my favourite past times in browsing websites for cute new home accessories to add to my house. In my opinion, accessories for the home are exactly the same as accessories for an outfit - they totally finish a room off just as they finish off an outfit and can take it from fairly basic to something quite special.

With this being said, I thought I'd share a few of the items I've been buying over the past couple of weeks as I had a little splurge at Matalan HomeMy boyfriend keeps telling me off for spending so much on accessories when we still have main work to be done like painting walls but I just can't resist. I want my home to look cosy and homely and accessories are the perfect way to do that. Creating the perfect home is obviously a work in progress and will take months and months to do everything the way we want it but that costs a lot of money so cute affordable accessories are a great place to start. 

I had to start with this lamp from Aldi (yes, Aldi - can you believe it?!) as I recently posted it on my Instagram (@kayleighjcouture) to let my followers know I'd got it for only £10.99 and it went down an absolute storm. I never expected it to get such an amazing response but the post got well over 100 comments and I was receiving DM's from loads of people saying they'd gone out and bought it after seeing my post. I always love seeing that people have taken my recommendations on board and I'm happy I've helped people grab a beautiful bargain for their homes. I still can't believe how nice it actually is for only £10.99 - it looks so much more expensive. Plus, it has a mixture of marble and copper so what's not to love?! Dream blogger style!!

Next up is this super cute wooden lantern from Matalan - as is everything else I'm going to show in this haul. I often browse the Matalan home section as they have so many bargains and the styles are always right up my street. This lantern jumped out to me as son as I saw it - I'm very much into shabby chic pieces so this is very me and the little heart cut-out is so cute. It looks perfect sat on top of my Ikea Hemnes chest of drawers in the spare bedroom with a battery powered candle flickering away inside. 

I'm a total sucker for artificial flowers and have them all over the house. I know they don't beat the real deal but that costs a fortune to keep on top of so artificial do the job just fine. You'll notice a bit of a peachy pink theme in this post as I've decorate the spare bedroom in greys and pinks (much to the boyfriends dismay haha) and I thought these Camilla flowers would be a lovely little addition to the room. They're in a cute little glass vase with pink bow detailing and look great sat on the chest of drawers next to the wooden lantern (see photo of them together above).

I can't resist anything with a slogan and these Rise & Shine pillowcases are just so adorable. These are going to look so cute in the spare bedroom! I'll have to share a photo of them on my Instagram when I've ironed them and put them on the bed!

Is it just me who is obsessed with handing things off door handles?! Almost every door handle in my house has something hanging from it - if I can make a door look prettier, I will. I love this rustic heart decoration I picked up - it's made from twigs which I just love and things like this add such a nice finishing touch to the room. I was initially going to have it handing from the handle on the chest of drawers like I have above but it's since been moved to the handle of the storage cupboard in our hallway!!

Much like artificial flowers, I'm also obsessed with candles so you can find tea light holders all over my house. The colour scheme in the main bedroom has different tones of grey with white and silver so I thought these grey ombre tea light holders would look lovely on the window sill. I love the wire design too - they're just that bit different than a standard tea light holder. I'm on the look out for a few more accessories for the main bedroom but these are a nice start!

As I said, I'm obsessed with candles and my house is literally covered in them. There's just something so relaxing about lighting candles and watching them flickering away. My all time favourite scent for a candle would have to be anything cotton or fresh linen scented as they're so homely and fill the room with such a lovely fresh scent.  The Soft Cotton Yankee candle is one of my favourites as I love the jars and they fill the room with such a strong scent.

I bought this cute white photo frame from B&Q whilst Matt was grabbing some DIY bits and pieces (I didn't realise they did so many home accessories) as I need to start adding more photos of myself, Matt and our friends and family around the house. A house isn't a home without a few family photos after all. I love the two sided style of this frame - when sat on a surface it looks like a little open book. This will probably be another one for one of the bedrooms.

Finally, I picked up this Pink (well, it's more of a peachy pink) fluffy cushion and a zig zag printed throw in the matching colour to add a bit more colour to the spare bedroom. I personally love grey mixed with pinks - they compliment each other so well and as our house is a new build and all the walls are currently magnolia (soon to be changed) I thought it would be nice to add something that bit more colourful to the room. As you can see in the photo above, they look really cute together on the bed. P.s - the tripod lamp in this photo has now been replaced by the Aldi lamps as these ones didn't really match the theme of the room - they're now going in our other guest room.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post - do let me know if you'd like to see more hauls or more home related posts as anything I post about my house on Instagram seems to go down really well.
© Couture Girl

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