London Art Studies: 10 Landmark Photographs at Phillips


Robert Mapplethorpe self portrait NHYM 2016. 

I was invited last Tuesday to attend a lecture at Phillips on ‘Ten Landmark Photographs’ by the London Art Studies, who offer short, accessible art classes. It was timed perfectly to coincide with Photo London, a very new photography fair which opened yesterday at Somerset House and runs until Sunday (last year was its first year), and the Phillips Photographs exhibit and auction. This week, it’s all about photography (Art16 also opened yesterday, but one has to choose with less time available).


Diane Arbus. Three transvestites in evening dress. NHYM London Art Studies 2016. 

London Art Studies offer short, concise art classes for those who may not be able to commit to a 9 week Christie’s/Sotheby’s/Royal Academy of Arts course. When they contacted me, I was immediately intrigued and thought it a very good concept: pick and choose the subjects you want to learn about, when you are available. It offers classes in contemporary art, art collecting, and on topical, current exhibitions in London (for example, its class yesterday was on Georgia O’Keefe who will be at the Tate Modern this summer).


London Art Studies evening, Phillips, May 17 2016. NHYM.

I arrived at the Phillips lecture room to find a room full of art lovers, collectors and photographers, including myself. I’ve always been interested in photography but last took it seriously about 15 years ago when I took a class at the International Centre of Photography in New York. Since then, I’ve been an ‘amateur’ photographer, as we all are in the age of selfies and instagram. But photography is an art in its own right and this art fair and lecture is a reminder that it is one of the great creative mediums.


Lecturer Ben Street and photograph by Bill Brandt, NHYM 2016.

The lecturer Ben Street has all the credentials you can ask for. He is a lecturer at the Tate, National Gallery and at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Right away, you could sense his passion and enthusiasm for art, which he conveyed in an eloquent and loquacious way. He went through the history of photography in an hour, which is a feat in itself. Photography is a very young art form, which only really emerged in 1839. He showed us photographs meant to look like paintings (Julia Margaret Cameron), and discussed Henri Cartier Bresson’s huge influence on photography and the ‘decisive moment.’ This above picture by Bill Brandt shows the surrealist movement of photography.


Robert Mapplethorpe Flowers. NHYM 2016.

The lecture also included Robert Mapplethorpe, who photographed ‘beauty,’ from naked people to flowers, and Bernd and Hilda Becher who photographed industrial Germany. These fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction. Some of the great quotes I took away from that night were ‘photography is like enhanced vision, it makes us the see the world better than in reality,’ ‘an iconic photo is so much more than itself, it represents something bigger.’ Finally, ‘every photograph is nostalgic, it is a moment in time, it is you in the past’, and ‘photography of the dead keeps them alive.’


Peter Beard NHYM 2016. 

After the lecture, we were invited to visit the Champagne reception and photography exhibit in advance of the photography auction. The exhibit had a wide range of illustrious photographs, but also had a strong emphasis on fashion photography’s impact on our general culture (coinciding with Vogue’s 100th).


Peter Lindbergh Supermodels NHYM 2016. 

The London Art Studies classes are a great way to learn in an informal, social environment in short, concise classes. The lecturer was excellent and the set up was lovely (although it started a little later than was supposed to, which would have been fine apart from babysitting issues). I thoroughly enjoyed it, and loved learning in a different way. At university, part of my curriculum involved Art History, which I loved. It taught me the appreciation of art, and for those who want to learn more, this is a sweet and succinct way to go about it. Recommended.

London Art Studies:




Restaurant Review: Black Roe

‘Do the Hokey Poke with Me…’ 

Black Roe 

4 Mill Street

London W1s 2AX


Most Photos Courtesy on the Internet. Apart from the Shake and Bake. NHYM 2016. 

Design: 4.25 stars

Ambience: 4.5 stars

Food: 4.5 stars

Service: 4 stars

Overall: 4.25 stars

When I told Mr.X we were going out for Hawaiian food, he looked at me like I had told him that we were going out to Pizza Hut; clearly not impressed and hinting that it was a bad idea. To him, Hawaiian food evokes images of anything with a pineapple on top: Hawaiian pizzas, fried rice topped with pineapple or chicken kebabs – with pineapple. Little did he know that the newest trend to hit this side of the Atlantic is Poke (the U.S. has had this trend for a while already, but it has now swum to our shores). I told him to trust me, I am now a bona fide restaurant critic after all (the pressure was now on).


Poke is the Hawaiian version of ceviche: raw cubed fish marinated in garlic, sesame, soy or other spices on a bed of rice. Black Roe, the first Poke bar in London, comes from Kurt Zdesar, the man behind Chotto Matte, a popular restaurant serving Nikkei food (Peruvian-Japanese) and also the man who was responsible for bringing Nobu to London. So, we owe a lot to him.


When we got to Black Roe the other night, Mr. X was quite surprised. There were no Hula dancers or Hawaiian shirts in sight. Instead, we entered a cool, dark lit restaurant with black and white max-sized photographs on the walls, neon signs about silence and cozy leather booths. All very Soho. And not at all what he was expecting. The dance music was blaring and we wondered whether this place turned into a night club after midnight, which we would have loved.


But let’s talk about the food. It was excellent and was the main attraction of the night. The yellowtail Poke dressed with spicy garlic salsa was just delicious, with perfectly balanced flavours and was as fresh as you can get in London. The asparagus tempura, which Mr.X wasn’t originally quite keen on getting, had the right crunch and flavours, satisfying the entire table. Each of the mains we ordered was very good and tasty; the grilled spatchcock chicken with corn salsa, cajun style seabass with pineapple salsa (yes, there had to be some pineapple hidden somewhere) and the Bison rib eye steak with yuzu soy hollandaise.


My photo of the Shake and Bake. NHYM 2016. 

For dessert, we almost went for the ‘shake and bake’ which deserves its own menu and website given its enormity, but we opted for the conservative tarte tatin, which was good, but not quite as thrilling as the shake and bake. The other dish we didn’t try but deserves its own menu and website was the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese served in a huge lobster shell. Looked delish.

When we left the restaurant, Mr. X couldn’t stop raving about it and showering it with praise. ‘…one the best restaurants I have been to in ages…’ ‘…great restaurant, the food is outstanding…’ I couldn’t help but feel quite smug about it, given how unenthusiastic he was at the prospect of going. He is now a full-on Poke-convert, preaching about it to anyone who will listen. For once, I can be the one who can say, ‘see, you should always trust me, I’m always right.’ Which doesn’t happen very often.




Black Roe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Reviews, Social Commentary

What’s New In Notting Hill…

One of the great things about London is that it is vibrant and dynamic; there are constantly new restaurants opening and closing, new business ideas cropping up everywhere I look, trends coming and going. And it has a great art scene, which as you know, I am a big fan of. So, when someone I know recently said that Notting Hill wasn’t ‘dynamic’ enough, I of course took offence and had to counter that argument. At the moment, Notting Hill is booming. It is showcasing some of the biggest trends in London at the moment:


Restaurants & Bars 

There’s a lot happening in the restaurant and bar scene around here, most recently with the opening of Farmacy on Westbourne Grove this past Monday. Farmacy is a plant based restaurant and bar, so essentially a vegan restaurant, opened by Camilla Al Fayed. I went opening day and it was packed, service was spotty (it was their first service after all), but the food was good. For vegan food. My only problem with it was that as I was eating my aubergine and pumpkin curry, I kept looking for the chicken. It is a beautiful, light, airy space, that it is going to be a sure hit around here: Nice restaurant + rabbit food= Happy Yummy Mummies.


On the heels of the Rum Kitchen’s success, a new Caribbean restaurant and bar is opening up on Notting Hill Gate today, Cotton’s Restaurant & Bar, which will boast 300 different rums on offer. I have been invited to try it out so will give you the scoop in a few weeks.

This leads me to think that Notting Hill Gate is upping its game, with Polpo, Cottons’s, and the total refurb of Itsu. Itsu’s new look is also being unveiled today (April 29th), and I will let you know what I think soon enough!

Speaking of Japanese, mysushishop is coming to Westbourne Grove very soon. For those who don’t know it, it’s a French-fast-food-fancy sushi (try saying that four times in a row). Or at least it claims to be. Its reviews are mixed here in London, although it has been a hit in France. Let’s see what happens.

On the Portobello/Kensington Park Road side of things, Tonkotsu has opened on Blenheim Crescent where the Bubble Tea Bar used to be and I’m keen try it out. Next to it a sweets shop, Ask Mummy and Daddy, has opened in place of the popcorn shop. Across from it, Sweet Things Cafe has been imported from the Primrose Hill and it is absolutely lovely.

Around the corner on Kensington Park Road, Peyotito, a Mexican restaurant and little sister to Peyote has taken over the space of Montgomery Bar, which I was quite sad to see go, as it was one of the only bars in the neighbourhood. Notting Hill is now becoming Mexican heaven with Crazy Homies, Santos, Taqueria, and let’s not forget Loco Mexicano.


Beauty & Wellness

Lots going on in this sector as well, with the brand spanking new Bodyism opening up right smack in the middle of Daylesford and Joseph. So, what you do is 1) eat your grains at Daylesford 2) work out at Bodyism 3) go to Joseph in your newly found Size 0. Of course, I don’t have £18,000 to spare for a membership, but if you do, I hear it’s a wonderful ‘lifestyle.’

Like I already mentioned, Teresa Tarmey has recently opened a spa/salon around the corner from Cult Granger (I still don’t understand the wait-in-the-rain-for-2-hours-granger-cult, it’s good, but it’s not THAT good). Margaret Dabbs has taken over the Spa NK spa area (not sure what happened and why it closed down), but it offers great medical pedicures for anyone whose feet need some professional help; they are podiatrists who can sort out your wonky feet in a jiffy.

Real Estate Etc…

On the Bayswater side of Westbourne Grove, so much is happening on the real estate front; four new ‘luxury’ residential buildings have been built/are being built, which is slowly changing the face of Bayswater. One houses the West London Buddhist Centre and another houses Heal’s on Queensway. I don’t think you can get more of an indication of gentrification than that. Can’t wait to see what they will do on Queensway…

So, if this isn’t ‘dynamic’ enough, I don’t know what is.

Let me know your thoughts or if you want any of the above reviews, I am happy to try them out for you 😉




Reviews, Travel

Hotel Review: Anassa, Cyprus


Anassa Hotel. All photos by NHYM Copyright 2016. 

For my mother’s birthday this year, I decided to take her on holiday somewhere warm in April. I called up Scott Dunn, my trusted travel advisor, with my list of requests: 1) Somewhere warm 2) within 5 hours of London (I don’t need any long haul and jet-lag battles for a while) 3) kid friendly (I was taking them along after all) and granny-friendly 4) A nice spa 5) A beautiful hotel with sea views.


Views from the main pool. NHYM 2016.

Immediately, they wrote back to me recommending Anassa, a five star, LWH (leading hotels of the world) hotel in Cyprus. I had never thought of Cyprus as a destination, but I had heard about Anassa from a few friends who had been, and had thought quite highly of it.


View from our room. NHYM 2016. 

We arrived late night (with Sleazyjet, I know, but it had the best departure times) and woke up to a very beautiful view, as seen above and below. We had interconnecting suites, one Junior suite, and one regular studio suite, which worked very well for a family. The rooms were spacious, with neutral tones and had wonderful sea views:


View from our room. Amazing. NHYM 2016. 

The only minor gripe I had with our room was that the pillows were on the hard side. (Who knew I would ever need a pillow menu to rectify this). The service in the room was very good, with two services per day. The rooms are not heated at this time of year, but heaters were brought to our room as soon as we mentioned this. When one of us forgot our toothbrush, a toothbrush was sent right away, indicating true 5 star service (which also came with expensive ironing services, but there you go, you pay for what you get).


Breakfast Terrace. NHYM 2016.

The first day there, it was too cold to eat outside so we had to sit inside, next to screeching children sitting next to us and I did wonder whether this hotel was a little too ‘child friendly,’ but the next day, the terrace was open and the setting was absolutely gorgeous. Any screaming children were soon forgotten when faced with this view. The breakfast buffet was very good and offered a nice variety of fruits, pastries, omelettes etc… The cappuccino was good, which it sometimes isn’t – I was recently at a 5 star hotel that served machine-made cappuccinos – huge let-down.


The main hotel view from the grass below the main pool. NHYM 2016.

Hotel Grounds

The hotel grounds are really beautiful, from the inner courtyard, the chapel and the amazing views from anywhere in the hotel. It is not a small, boutiquey, trendy type hotel (if you’re looking for that, it isn’t it), but it is bold, big and beautiful. Such a large hotel could be tacky and resort-y, but Anassa manages to remain beautiful and has lovely Cypriot touches.


Inner Courtyard. NHYM 2016.

There is even a Chapel where baptisms, marriages and Easter mass take place.


Anassa Chapel 2016. 

The location and the views are truly beautiful and are probably the best part of the hotel. Just walking through the hotel is a sublime, uplifting experience, with spring flowers blooming everywhere you look.


Spring Flowers NHYM 2016.


Clementine Tree with succulent, sweet clementines. NHYM 2016. 


There are three pools; two unheated pools and a small heated ‘kids’ pool. Since we were in prime Easter Holiday season, there were a lot of British families and kids at the Kids Pool. It’s a shame the kids pool is not bigger, but you can’t have everything. More on kids later…


View from my sunbed with pool bar nearby. Feet and nails done by Margaret Dabbs, Spa NK Notting Hill. NHYM 2016. 

The views from the main pool are really quite stunning, with the sky, sea and pool all blending into one blue infinity. Once I found a sunbed with this view, there wasn’t much that would take me away from it. The only thing I would mention is that the main pool area is not very big, relative to the number of hotel rooms so I did wonder how busy it gets in the summer/high season months.


There are five main restaurants to choose from at Anassa. Amphora is the main, buffet-style restaurant which serves breakfast buffet and dinner. Generally, we are not huge fans of buffets, and we weren’t huge fans of the Asian buffet, but the other buffets, Cypriot, seafood and Mediterranean, were actually all very delicious and pleased all of us.

By the pool, there is a pool bar serving light lunches, as well as a more formal restaurant Pelagos, which served fresh, grilled fish and had -more- beautiful views. The snack bar menu was very light and could be more extensive, but they also served a children’s menu that we often ordered from.


Basiliko restaurant in caves. NHYM 2016. 

For fine dining options, Helios served delicious Mediterranean options, which allows children, who were spoiled with chairs pulled out and napkins applied on their laps and who were served freshly made linguini and prawns (there weren’t very many people that night, I assume it gets busier during high season). Basiliko is the Asian fusion, romantic restaurant (no kids allowed), which served really tasty and inventive foods. The menu did not do it justice.


Sunset on the Terrace. NHYM 2016. 

The upstairs terrace showed off 180 degree views of the stunning Cypriot coastline and could not be criticised in any way. (The inside lounge was less interesting, so I would opt for the outdoor terrace if at all possible. In April, bring jackets and pashminas for the night as it gets a little chilly).


Indoor pool at the Spa. NHYM 2016. 

The spa was also a very grand and relaxing affair. I booked us in for some Chakra healing treatments, which ‘healed’ our chakras and left us completely relaxed and happy. My mother came out with a big smile on her face and I knew that this was a perfect birthday present.


Rooms with private pools. Near kids pool. NHYM 2016.

I would be careful choosing a room with a private pool as they are situated around the kids pool and if you don’t want to hear kids screaming all day, I would stay away. We had lovely rooms in the main hotel, far from the pools, which were very private and peaceful. Just how I wanted it.


The crowd was distinctly British, from SouthWest and West London (Battersea/Clapham/Fulham and even some Notting Hillers were spotted) with children called Olly/Alexander/Saskia/Izzy/Bella. As it was school holidays, there were a lot of children (it is very family friendly) so if you are traveling without children, I would come outside of school holiday time. Apart from the Brits, there was a smattering of Russians, Swiss Germans, Israelis, French and Danes. The day we left, at the end of the Easter Holidays, the demographic changed from families to couples and from Brits to the rest of the world.


Playground in front of Kids Club. NHYM 2016. 

Kids Club by Scott Dunn

The Kids Club at Anassa is run by Scott Dunn, which does provide a high standard level of care. It is in a kid – friendly area of the hotel, with a playground and ping pong tables nearby. My children were separated in their respective age groups, and although I understand the reason for separating the groups, they were somewhat disappointed not to be in the same group. There weren’t that many children in the over – 5s group, so my eldest didn’t enjoy it as much as she could have. I think the reason was that the grounds were so family friendly that older children can easily entertain themselves in the pool/playground area without supervision. Nevertheless, they enjoyed the playground, swimming time with the kids club, playing by the beach and the arts and crafts i.e. aliens out of aluminium foil and crocodile paintings out of foot prints.


Anassa beach. NHYM 2016. 

Speaking of beaches, there was a nice, quiet, pebbly beach at the hotel with a watersports centre nearby (not run by the hotel but they work closely together).


View from the boat. NHYM 2016. 

There isn’t a huge amount to do outside the hotel. The hotel is the main draw of the area, but one day we ventured out on a boat trip to see Aphrodite’s rocks (where Aphrodite is meant to be born), the Cypriot coastline and the Blue Lagoon, with shallow beautiful waters. It was a lovely day out on the water.


Translucent blue waters of the Blue Lagoon. NHYM 2016. 


We had a wonderful trip to Anassa this year. We were certainly not disappointed by the hotel, the rooms or the location. The children loved it as did my mother, so I succeeded in keeping everyone happy. To find summer sunshine in Europe in April, Cyprus is a very good option and we were lucky to have 5 out 6 very sunny and warm days, reaching 24 to 25 degrees Celsius. It really felt like summer. At Anassa, don’t expect trendy and hip, but expect very nice spacious inter-connecting rooms for families, wonderful views from everywhere in the hotel, super staff and service, and lots of great amenities, making it a granny, mummy & kiddy pleaser. My children are already asking if we can go back tomorrow. And so is my mother.

Thank you Scott Dunn for organising our trip and Anassa for treating us so well!




** I paid for this trip but Scott Dunn organised it and provided perks and discounts. ** 



Let’s Talk About Skin, Baby: Teresa Tarmey Facial


Teresa Tarmey NHYM 2016. All photos courtesy of NHYM apart from Kate Moss photo, courtesy of the internet. 

Teresa Tarmey

12 Needham Road

London W11 2RP


I don’t know how it’s been for you, but this winter has flashed by in a haze of viral and bacterial sniffly noses, coughs, fevers, shivers, and body aches. Of course, I never write about the ‘downs’ in my blog, because frankly, no one would really give a toss. But, after three months of mostly indoor-living, my skin has become clay-grey, thick, dull and very tired looking. So, when I was invited to the launch of Teresa Tarmey’s new salon in Notting Hill, I was only too pleased to check out her new salon. And then the inevitable hit; sore throat, headache, and chills took over, that sent me right back to bed.


Teresa Tarmey is known to be the fashionistas go-to for their beauty fixes and regimes; she ‘does’ Kate Moss, Suki Waterhouse and all the other models with alabaster,  flawless complexions. And she also happens to be friends with the Primrose Hill set.


Kate Moss, Sadie Frost, Teresa Tarmey on a trip to Turkey.

In any case, when I got over my sniffles and sneezes, I headed over to try the famous ‘Teresa Tarmey Facial.’ My skin needed a wake up call and this seemed like just the thing.


Her new salon is off Needham Road, a stone’s throw away from Bill Granger’s, strategically placed to be a pre- or -post lunch activity. There are no signs to indicate its existence which is very New York/East End cool. It just means she is so popular that she doesn’t even need to advertise and that her patients are so famous that they don’t want anyone to know where they are going. Am loving it so far. Inside, the decor is full of warm, gold lighting, with a taupe and black backdrop. It is very beautifully designed and decorated and it is not what you would expect from a typical sterile spa/salon.


There are also clothes to peruse while you wait for your appointment, which I believe are from the landlord’s collection.


I met Agatha, my beauty therapist, who took me to the treatment room, which felt more like a facial salon than anywhere else. She was very knowledgeable and soothing, exactly what you need before slumbering off to facial-land. The facial started off with lots of Skinceutical products, which I think are excellent, followed by a very light alpha hydroxy acid exfoliant/peel from Neostrata. Then came the extractions and a facial massage meant to revive your skin. It felt like a mini boxing match between my face and little rabbit paws. Oddly reviving and somewhat pleasurable. Then came the Vitamin C masque, full of nutritious benefits. But my favourite came at the end when she gave me 10 minutes of their LED phototherapy, which was so bright and warm, I felt like I was under the Maldivian sun again.


The Teresa Tarmey Facial is a great way to revive your skin after a long winter of obstacles. It felt like I gave my skin a holiday of its own and I came out of the spa glowing and warm. For the next few days, my skin felt great, I must say, and I would happily try one again.

Thank you Teresa Tarmey for the lovely facial!





Busy Mum’s Cookbook


I obviously chose the wrong blog – type to start: I should have started a recipe/food blog. Look at Deliciously Ella whose book shot up straight to the top of the Times Bestseller’s List and ‘Julie & Julia’ which was made into a film. And Jamie Oliver who is now richer than Gordon Ramsay and worth a quarter of a billion (£240 Million). Well, I missed my calling but truthfully, I am more of an ‘appreciator’ than a ‘creator’ when it comes to food. I know how to cook, but let’s face it, I’m no Masterchef.

Someone else who has made her career out of cookbooks is Annabel Karmel, whom I have interviewed in the past, and is out now with a new recipe book: Busy Mum’s Cookbook. It’s not ground-breaking, highly inventive recipes necessitating 300 ingredients, half you can’t pronounce, but it does offer quick and easy, healthy, tasty meals with ingredients you probably already have at home. One section has recipes requiring less than 6 ingredients and one section has 20 minute recipes. It’s all about keeping it simple. Which, as we know, is essential in a busy household.

Here are a few recipes I am keen to try:

Duck Stir Fry with Plum Sauce:

Prep: 8 mins

Cook: 12 minutes

-2 x 150 g skinless duck breasts, cut in strips
-4 tbsp plum sauce
-2 tbsp sunflower oil
-1 yellow pepper sliced
– 2 shallots sliced
-200 g button mushrooms
-250g snap peas
-2 bak choi
-2 tbsp soy sauce
-1 tsp grated fresh root ginger
– 1 tsp cornflour
– salt and pepper

Step One: Season the duck strips and coat them in 2 tablespoons of the plum sauce. Heat the sunflower oil in a wok or frying pan until hot and add the duck strips. Fry for 8-10 minutes until golden, then remove and set aside. Add the yellow pepper, shallot, mushrooms, sugar snap peas and pak choi leaves to the wok over a high heat and stir fry for a few minutes.

Step Two: Mix together the remaining plum sauce, soy sauce, ginger and cornflour. Pour the mixture in the wok and add the cooked duck. Toss over the heat for a minute or two until heated through and serve immediately.

Quinoa and Edamame Salad with Honey and Ginger Dressing

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 4 minutes


– 150 g quinoa
-1 caroot
-1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
-4 tbsp canned or frozen corn
-100g shelled edamame beans, cooked and refreshed under cold water
salt and black pepper
-2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
– 4 tbsp olive oil
– tsp runny honey
-1/2 tsp grated fresh root ginger
Step One: Put the quinoa and 300 ml of water into a small saucepan. Cover, then bring to the boil. Stir and turn off the heat, then re-cover and set aside until all of the water has been absorbed. Season and leave to cool.
Step Two: Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl with the grated carrot, spring onions, corn and edamame beans.
Step Three: Combine all the ingredients of the dressing in a small bowl, then add to the salad and mix well before serving.
Apricot, Pecan, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10-12 minutes
-100g unsalted butter
-100g light soft brown sugar
-1 large egg
-150g porridge oats
-75g self raising flour, sifted
-a pinch of salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-50g dried apricots
-50 g raisins
-25g pecans
-100g dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
Step One: Preheat the oven 180C degrees, line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
Step Two: Cream the butter with the sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, then add the egg and beat again. Fold in the remaining ingredients until well incorporated.
Step Three: Shape the cookie dough into 20 balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, well spaced apart, and press down slightly to flatten. Bake for 10 -12 minutes, until lightly golden but still slightly soft in the middle. Leave to cool on the sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Photos, Reviews, Top 10, Travel, Uncategorized

Hotel Review: NIYAMA, Maldives

NIYAMA’s 50 Shades of Blue


View from our beach. All Photos taken by NHYM 2016 Copyright. Except the Tiger Shark. 

NIYAMA is a cool, understated, luxury hotel with a modern feel to it, with great original restaurants, a superb kids club and great personal touches like the in-room complimentary popcorn and island-made ice-cream.

Rating: *****5 star luxury

We landed in Male after surviving our flight from London (where we spotted Jemima Khan in Business Class and a ‘Lady Goldsmith’ sign waiting for her at Male airport), and were whisked away to the local Maldivian seaplane ‘terminal’ where we waited for our sea plane:


View from Seaplane. NHYM 2016.

The views of the lagoons and atolls from above where stunning and the seaplane was a novelty for my children – and my husband – who had never been on one.


Powdery Beach on Chill. NHYM 2016.

The Hotel

After being welcomed by our Thakuru, Vlad (our butler/personal assistant/concierge and driver all rolled into one), we were driven off for a tour of the hotel in a buggy. The hotel is set on two islands, ‘CHILL’ (for adults/older children), and ‘PLAY’ (for younger families), and is run by Per Aquum who also own Huvafen Fushi and Desert Palm in Dubai. ‘Chill’ opened in 2012 and ‘Play’ opened only just over a year ago, when they decided to cater to families. It has a high hip factor with an underwater club ‘Glow Party’ and DJs on Saturdays and fun touches like an ice-cream bar and complimentary popcorn.


Our room keys; there were lots of cool and hip touches to the hotel. NHYM 2016. 

It tries to be different and original, bold and unique, which it succeeds in doing.


Bananas and Bicycles in front of our room. NHYM 2016.

When we arrived to our beach hut, we were welcomed by banana trees and bicycles. This would be one of three ways of transportation; barefoot, bicycles or buggies.


Island Path. NHYM 2016.

There is something wonderfully freeing about walking around barefoot on an island and chose to walk barefoot most of the time. The kids loved the buggy, so we often opted for it for longer rides.

20160213_130340_resized 1

Welcome to Paradise. NHYM 2016. 

The Room

The room was everything you would hope for in a place like this; sea-facing, big enough for a whole family of 2 adults and 2 young children, modern yet welcoming, and had the biggest fridge I have ever seen in a hotel.


Popcorn Machine! NHYM 2016. 

The complimentary popcorn and in-room, island-made ice-cream was of course a big hit for the children.


The bathroom in itself was quite spectacular with a pond/pool and banana trees. As soon as we arrived, the kids jumped out of their clothes and into the bathroom pool.


View from our Room. NHYM 2016.

On arrival, we were welcomed by a bottle of Moet, a fresh fruit platter and welcome canapés. Every day, we had a new fresh fruit platter and milk cartons for the kids delivered to our room. Despite the modern amenities, the room still retained Maldivian charm with its thatched roofs and a Dhoni-inspired swing.


Our beautiful Beach Hut. NHYM 2016. 


View from our room. NHYM 2016. 

This is what I call a proper sea view room…


Beach hut with pool. NHYM 2016.


General Manager’s Drinks at the 3 Bedroom Beach Pavillion. NHYM 2016. 

The Crowd

The crowd was understated cool; Wayfarer and Aviator Raybans, black rimmed glasses, Missoni style kaftans and lovely gay couples were seen around. There is less bling here than at the One & Only (am thinking of the Russian oligarch’s wife dining on her own with a bodyguard lurking around at the Japanese restaurant of One & Only and the Hedge Funders discussing their private jets or lack thereof), and is dominated by Northern Europeans while we are there. Germans are plentiful, as are Danes, Swedes and Brits. There are also quite a few young Chinese honeymooners and Christina the Marketing Manager tells me that their number 1 demographic is Chinese. The Russians have stayed away recently due to the crumbling Rouble but the Europeans have been replacing them.

It is actually a really nice crowd, everyone was very friendly and nice, and sartorially superior. There are no cheesy T-shirts and Birkenstocks here; polo shirts of Phuket, Mustique and Club 55 are more like it. One teenage girl is sporting a Club 55 bracelet, so I know where she will be this summer.

The Food

The food was overall very good, although quite expensive, so we were quite glad to have been on a half board option. Food is complimentary for kids, which is always a nice touch. The breakfast buffet, which is particularly important to me and indication of the entire catering, was stellar. There was everything you could ask for without being too over the top; from congee to gluten free, smoothies to huevos rancheros, crepes and waffles, stir fries to curry, and all the tropical fruit you could ask for; dragon fruit, mango, lychee, rambutan, jack fruit, papaya, guava, melon…


A fruitarian Paradise. NHYM 2016. 

The restaurants in NIYAMA deserve a special accolade for originality;


Edge Overwater gourmet dining was only accessible by boat.


Subsix underwater restaurant was a fun, once-in-a-lifetime-experience, with nemo entertaining the girls while we savoured our Wagyu beef (only open at lunch time).


Every Saturday and Wednesday night, Subsix turns into a nightclub where they have infamous ‘Glow Parties.’


Nest, an Asian restaurant set in the treetops, had South East Asian cuisine with Teppanyaki downstairs in a jungle/rainforest setting. This quickly became our children’s favourite restaurant.


Tribal, an African and South American restaurant, was excellent, dishing up tribal African dishes and Argentinian steaks. A must try.


Pool and view from BLU. NHYM 2016.

BLU is the main restaurant on PLAY island which served a delicious breakfast buffet in the sand and a casual Mediterranean/European lunch. This is the view we had every morning and the child-friendly pool that we used most of the time.


View from Epicure. NHYM 2016.

Epicure was the main restaurant on ‘CHILL,’ and is the biggest restaurant of them all, which was a ‘no reservations’ restaurant. Reservations are needed to all the other restaurants, so be sure to plan in advance. They were all very popular and were booked up one or two days in advance.


Weather Station and Dune Restaurant/Bar. 

Dune Restaurant/Bar was next to Epicure, serving lunch and Cocktails.


Also a big hit with the kids was the ice-cream bar and deli that offered snacks and sandwiches throughout the day.

The Service

The service was 5 star as expected at this level of hotel; nothing was too much, everyone was smiling and friendly, always willing to help. Our Thakuru managed everything from check-in, restaurant reservations, driving our buggy, to sorting out Disney movies for the girls. The local staff were wonderful as were the African staff at Tribal, who were very knowledgeable and friendly. Occasionally we had to wait a little for the buggy rides, but most of the time we could flag a kind buggy-driver to take us to our destination. Checkout was a little haphazard and slow, but perhaps Island-life is a little more laid-back than what we are used to.

The Activities

Outside the perfect, pristine, powdery sand beaches, there was plenty to do on the island if you chose to. The water sports centre was fully stocked with paddle boards, jet skis, para-sailing and surf boards. There were fishing trips, dolphin cruises, the Spa, Zumba, Yoga, meditation etc.. etc… etc… I didn’t manage time for the spa but did manage three dives.


Photo of a tiger shark courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2016. 

As an avid and 20 year veteran scuba diver with 200+ dives, I am pretty particular about my diving and I am a fair weather diver. This atoll isn’t known to offer the best diving in the Maldives, but I was still very happy; I still saw lots of white tip reef sharks, turtles, schools of rainbow coloured fish and lots of eagle rays. We also saw the local pod of dolphins on our way to a dive site but the highlight was encountering a tiger shark, my first one ever, which was so enthrallingly exciting. I was in complete shark heaven, which may seem strange to you, but there is very little in life that makes me this happy…


Scott Dunn Explorer’s Kid’s Club

Of course one of the main reasons for coming to NIYAMA was to try out the Scott Dunn Explorer’s Kids Club, which I had heard was one notch above any of other Kids Club. It is complimentary for those over 3 years old, but does take children as young as 1 y.o. It only opened 1 year ago when the island ‘Play’ was opened and is operated by Scott Dunn, meaning that Nikki, the director was recruited and trained by Scott Dunn. Nikki told me that there were over 60 children at the hotel, and the Dolphin cruise recruited 18 kids! That is an excellent turn out and shows that they are really engaging the kids. What was nice at the hotel was that even though there were so many kids, you couldn’t really see or hear them. The children were all beautifully dressed and well mannered, looking like they just stepped out of a White Company photo shoot.


Kids Club Thatched Hut and Playground. NHYM 2016.

The Kids Club was divided in age groups, with one hatched hut for the under 5s and one thatched hut for the over 5s, but with activities for 4 age groups: 12mo-2ys, 3-4, 5-7, 7-12 years.


Water Playground, with new friends. NHYM 2016. 

The Under 5s Kids Club was very impressive with tons of activities from making arts and crafts masks, valentine’s cards, drawing and creating treasure hunts to playing in the water playground and going to the beach to make sandcastles.


5-12 years old kids club. NHYM 2016.

The 5-12 age range group really stood out for their well thought out and enticing activities; dolphin cruises, snorkelling, kayaking, coral conservation programmes with a marine biologist and a lecture at Subsix underwater restaurant. Every day, at 5pm they would take the kids swimming in one of the pools, led by Adam the Kids Club manager. My daughter’s highlight was the dolphin cruise when she spotted dozens of spinner dolphins playfully dancing around the boat.


Kids Club Dolphin Cruise. NHYM 2016.


Kids Outdoor Theatre. NHYM 2016. 

For older children over 12 years old, there was an entire ‘Active’ area with a pool table, ping pong table, video games, simulators and more that seemed busy every night.


This is a hip, 5 star, Robinson-Crusoe, ultra-luxe hotel that caters perfectly to couples and families, providing top-notch luxury service and amenities. It was everything we could have hoped for and stood out with special touches and details. Of course there was the odd hiccup, but in true 5 star style, it is how it is dealt with that matters, and this hotel manages to live up to its award winning accolades. Kids are definitely welcome with complimentary food and an extensive Kids Club schedule, even the teens love it. The only very slight negatives would be the less abundant marine life around the island compared to other islands and a slightly longer travel time with the seaplane, but the hotel was faultless and we had a great time and can only recommend it very highly. We met another family of Notting Hillers while on the island and it was already their second time there, which shows you that if you try it once, you will want to go again. As my daughter stated as fact the day we were leaving, ‘We’re coming back next year!’




Thank you Scott Dunn for organising this wonderful trip!! I paid for this trip with a few perks from Scott Dunn, but it was organised professionally and efficiently from A-Z by them. 


Our ‘beach.’ NHYM 2016. 


Restaurant Review: Ivy Kensington Brasserie


All photos courtesy of NHYM 2016.

Ivy Kensington Brasserie

96 Kensington High Street 


W8 4SG

0203 301 0500

Food: 4 stars

Design: 4.25 stars

Atmosphere: 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Value: 4.25 stars

Overall: 4. 25 stars

I was having lunch with a friend at Granger the other day, when she started moaning and complaining about the dire amount of lunch places in Notting Hill. ‘I’m so sick and tired of Granger and Daylesford!’ she moaned. It doesn’t help that we are in January and the most depressing day of the year was around the corner (and luckily we both survived D-Day, which was Monday January 4th). It is true that there are very few places in Notting Hill, once you’ve been through the triad of Granger/Daylesford/202. So, I was very excited to be invited by the Ivy Kensington Brasserie the other day, to try out their new outpost on High Street Kensington.


The Ivy Kensington Brasserie, an off-shoot of the very famous original Ivy, and its myriad of underlings; Ivy Marylebone, Ivy Chelsea, is now the latest of the Caprice Holdings Ivy Franchise which recently opened in December. Friends of friends who went during the opening weeks liked it so much that they went for New Year’s Eve. I dare say, that it’s my new favourite out of the franchise, although I have not been to the revamped Ivy (too far) and the Ivy Chelsea felt too big for me. I like my brasseries and this one is a perfect example of French- Brasserie-meets-British-old-school. I took one of my newly single friends who has just gotten out of a 15 year relationship and needed a little cheering up.


The Design 

I loved the design of the Ivy Kensington Brasserie. Like I said, it is French-Brasserie-meets-English-old-gentleman’s-club-in-the-middle-of-High-Street-Kensington. Perfect! It has marble floors, big white spheres of lighting and a flutter of origamis in flight, which just work. The thought of origamis flying on a ceiling could have been quite questionable, but in this case, it adds a lightness and playfulness to the room, which could have veered towards a heavy, old school brasserie. The room is cosy, even though the space is quite big and has multiple areas to sit in. We had a great view of the whole restaurant, spying on Piers Morgan sitting diagonally from us, and we spotted quite a few Notting Hillers and South Kenners that we knew and now have somewhere to meet in the middle.

Ivy Kensington Brasserie Menu NHYM

The Food

The menu had a very large selection of brasserie-style dishes from fish & chips for the Brits, to onion soup and moules-frites for the Frenchies. There is also a very alluring brunch menu with lots of avocado, which happens to be the food of the moment. We opted for a duck salad and tuna carpaccio as starters and the swordfish and dover sole as mains.


Duck salad. NHYM 2016. m

My five-spices duck salad was quite good, with bak choi, mache salad, and pomegranates, but my friend’s tuna carpaccio was a little flat. Since it is actually impossible to find reasonably priced fresh tuna in London, I can forgive the chef. But soon, the rest of meal made up for the tired tuna.

Ivy Kensington Brasserie Sole NHYM

Dover Sole. NHYM 2016.

My dover sole was great, meaty, but light, nicely seasoned with capers and lemon, it has recently become my new favourite dish. And at £18.50, this is great value, compared to the £42.00 Dover sole at the Arts Club, which isn’t actually any better.


Swordfish NHYM 2016.

My friend’s swordfish was also very satisfying, with both dishes tasting so good, that it was hard to believe that we were eating rather healthily (It is January after all). A hard thing to accomplish. To compensate for this goodie, goodie healthy meal, we had sides of Zucchini Fritti, which were a bit on the oily side, but which of course made them delicious and gave us a guilty pleasure.

The Desserts:  

Ivy Kensington Chocolate bomb 2 NHYM

Chocolate bombe. NHYM 2016.

All that healthy eating was soon forgotten when we ordered desserts. I ordered the chocolate bombe, and my friend ordered the Strawberry Shortcake. Both were a success. The chocolate bombe is a must-try for chocolate and caramel lovers. There is a ball of chocolate on an Ile Flotante, which opens up after hot, molten, chocolate sauce is poured over it, revealing vanilla ice cream, and snap, crackle, pop caramel inside. You’ve just got to try it. Divine.


Strawberry Shortcake. NHYM 2016. 

The strawberry shortcake was beautifully presented and equally as delicious that my friend was still dreaming about it the following day.

The Atmosphere

There was a great vibe and buzz the night we were there, with a pleasing crowd of varying generations, from 30 year olds to 60 year olds. Couples, families, friends all having dinner, conspiratorially chatting away. It caters to all groups and all ages, which makes for a very comfortable setting. I ran into friends I knew, making it feel clubbish, and the service was very friendly and young (mostly young women I noticed).


I particularly liked the design and the vibe, with an extensive enough menu that I will never get bored. The food is good, brasserie-style. It’s impossible for the food to be perfect  with such a vast menu, but if you find a favourite dish, I would stick to it. It is a great new addition to the neighborhood. I loved it so much that I have already made my next reservation. Now, the only problem is that if I liked it this much, reservations will get harder and harder to get, so don’t spread the word.




I was a guest of the Ivy Kensington Brasserie. Thank you again for a great dinner! xx


Restaurant Review: Sexy Fish


All photos are NHYM apart from this one, generously borrowed from the restaurant’s website. NHYM 2016.

Sexy Fish

Berkely Square

London W1J 6BR

0203 764 2000

Design: 4.5 stars

Food: 3 stars

Service: 3.5 stars

Atmosphere: 4 stars

Overall: 3.75 stars 

‘I have never seen a restaurant whose ethos is so clearly and comprehensively, so preeningly and unapologetically: ‘Fuck you, I’m rich and I want a golden cave and servants. I want a pony and all the hookers I can strangle. I want a pyramid of cocaine and an Audi -Quattro.’ It is like being punched in the face by Abu Dhabi.’

– quoted from the Spectator Review 28/11/15

After reading a review like that, well, you’ve just got to see it with your own eyes. Sexy Fish opened last year as one of the hottest new restaurants in town, trying to steal the celebrity limelight away from Chiltern Firehouse, and has seen everything from Popstars (Cheryl ex-Cole, ex-Versini), Models (Kate Moss at the opening), Rock Royalty (the Jaggers were there 2 days ago for Georgia May’s 24th), to a private party full of politicians including dear old David (Cameron). Rita Ora sang at its opening party and VIP keys were handed out in advance. All ingredients to make it the latest trendsetter in the restaurant world.


Bronze cast Damien Hirst statue on the bar. NHYM 2016.

It is the latest venture by Richard Caring (RC for this post) and his ever expanding restaurant-empire-cum-restaurant-chain. He is trying to take over the Mayfair restaurant scene and he is certainly making a statement. Firstly, we’ve got to address that oxymoronic name: Sexy Fish. A fish will never be sexy, but RC manages to make his restaurant pretty sexy-slutty: sexy bronze mermaids by Damien Hirst at the bar, climbing crocodiles by Frank Gehry, a parterre of onyx from Iran, and an actual waterfall behind his bar. Ok, completely over-the-top ostentatious, but you’ve got to love it. Downstairs in the private room are two glowing aquariums with multitudes of glow-in-the-dark fish ready for an after-party.


Main dining room NHYM 2016. 

The Design

The dining room is art-deco, brasserie style with a large crocodile on the back wall designed by Frank Gehry, whom you will recall did the fish sculpture next to The Hotel Arts in Barcelona. It is quite a large room where you can scan your neighbours easily, with Matisse-inspired patterns on the ceilings in burgundy and gold.


The very friendly bartender. NHYM 2016.

But the bar is by far my favourite part of the restaurant. It is large, sexy and is framed by overhanging white delicately sculpted fish above and blue mermaids on either side and yes, there is a waterfall in the back. When we arrive at the touristy hour (i.e. anytime before 8pm), there isn’t much atmosphere and it is largely catering tourists. But by the time we leave, the bar is buzzing, the vibe is cool, and the DJ has started spinning. This is really the time to show up.


The Menu. NHYM 2016.

The Menu & the Food

The menu reads like many of the Asian-fusion/Japanese restaurants that first emerged in the 90’s starting with Nobu and still keep coming (Kurobuta). There is nothing creatively new on this menu, it follows a tried-and-tested formula of Nobu-Zuma-Roka-Novikov dishes. We order a bunch of sharing plates including the yellowtail sashimi, the Sexy Fish roll, tuna tartare, maple glazed pork belly skewers, duck salad and the famous Miso Glazed Chilean Seabass.


Miso Seabass and Maple-Glazed pork belly. NHYM 2016. 

The food is unfortunately a let-down. It all looks beautiful, sounds beautiful and should be beautiful, but sadly, there is something missing. It isn’t bad, but falls flat compared to the other restaurants I have aforementioned. Usually, when you go to Nobu/Zuma/Roka, you are enlivened by the tastes and combination of flavours, but not even the famed Miso Seabass could do that for me. The only standout dish for me was the maple glazed pork belly skewer which melted in your mouth and was perfectly sweet and salty. The rest was ‘good’ but unfortunately quite forgettable.

The service gets some low marks just because we were ‘evicted’ before we could order the molten chocolate cake which we wanted to try. Next time.


Sexy Fish Kitchen. NHYM 2016.

The Verdict

We managed to spend 4 hours at Sexy Fish, which meant that something worked. Sexy Fish combines the right ‘menu,’ the right location, the right brasserie-style design and the right amount of slebs to make it a success. The food isn’t what you’re after here, the main attraction is the bar and of course the people-watching. It’s a fun, lively spot that starts to get going around 10pm, and if I were to go again, I’d probably skip the food and head straight to the bar for a martini while I ogle all the hedge-funders and their mistresses for entertainment purposes. After all, it’s cheaper than flying all the way to Dubai.





Sexy Fish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Restaurant Review: Gymkhana


Gymkhana Restaurant

42 Albemarle Street W1S 4JH

0203 011 5900

Food: 3.75

Design: 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Atmosphere: 4 stars

Overall: 3.9 stars

When you talk about Indian restaurants, there are 3 types of people who relate to Indian restaurants: those that like Indian vs. those that don’t, and within those that like Indian, those that like the corner curry shop vs. those that like fine dining Indian restaurants. I tend to fall into the LILCCS: ‘Likes Indian/Likes Corner Curry Shops’. So, it is never my inclination to go to a fine dining Indian restaurant, but when a friend ‘lent’ me her reservation, which are quite difficult to get, I was eager to try this much applauded Indian restaurant.

Gymkhana was voted Best Restaurant in 2014 at the National Restaurant Awards, sponsored by the Restaurant Magazine, which appears to be one of the top Restaurant accolades you could ask for. This sets a high bar to this new-ish Indian restaurant that was opened in 2013 by the team behind Trishna. Both have Michelin stars. All the critics ‘LOVED’ it, with capital letters. I am not a curry/Indian food expert so can’t really put myself in a critic category and can’t give you an expert opinion whatsoever, but can give you a Indian-fine-dining-novice’s opinion.


The restaurant

The restaurant itself is very cool and dark; there are dark wood walls and marble tables around, with swirling colonial fans above and sepia photographs hanging on the walls. The effect works and reminds me of trips to Asia visiting old antique shops and colonial relics. It takes you out of London to another world, which gets very high points for me. I love everything colonial and this succeeds at putting you in the mood of a gentleman’s club in the day.

The drinks were excellent, and the ‘mixologist’ or bartender for us common folk, did a great job but the menu is very confusing, there are too many different parts to it with too many descriptions that I don’t quite get. There’s kid goat that we had to have, the duck-in-a-teepee, the venison biryani and so on. The waiter had to repeat and explain the menu way too many times and it took too long to order. Yes, I know I’m a novice, but it really shouldn’t be this hard.


The Food

The food was very tasty. There are so many spices involved and it is, I assume, very well balanced, but like I said, what do I know about Indian restaurants? I liked it, but I can’t say that I fell in love or that the meal was one of those very memorable meals, which is why I didn’t mark it higher on the food.

I remember going to a Sri Lankan Restaurant in Tooting about 12 years ago shortly after moving to London that I am 100% sure no one who is reading this blog would have ever been to, and having the best Biryani I have ever had. This is a meal I remember, and where my taste buds were so alive that my memory still remembers the taste to this day. Now, that was a stunning dish. Nothing too elaborate, just a corner Sri Lankan with amazing food in a very dodgy neighborhood.


As much as I did enjoy Gymkhana’s colonial atmosphere more than the food, it did remind me of one of the greatest Biryanis I’ve ever had. As I said, I am a ‘Likes Indian, Likes Corner Curry Shops.’ And I will remain that way, even after trying out what is considered the ‘Best Indian’ in London, but I would go back for the good drinks, the cool atmosphere and the decent food.





Gymkhana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato