Monday, 26 January 2015

A visit to Edward James London Aveda salon and spa, Putney, London

I don't like going to spas for massages in the winter as the palaver of getting undressed and dressed, as far as I am concerned outweighs any benefits of the treatment.

However, manicures and pedicures, especially this time of year are a necessity. Feet may need special attention, especially if they have had plenty of wear and tear over the festive season.

So I headed to Putney to try the Edward James London Aveda salon, the second in the chain, for some pampering.

Edward, the salon owner, is a highly-respected hairdresser who provides outstanding customer service. 

I was delighted to discover a lovely salon where you can easily slip away from the hustle and bustle. As soon as I entered I was greeted warmly and offered a drink before being taken downstairs to the basement Moorish-themed spa to meet my therapist Shermia in one of the two treatment rooms.

She quickly got to work on my feet, removing hard skin and cutting my toe nails and filing them into shape. Before she applied my polish, she gave my tootsies a most wonderful massage. I never knew this could be so relaxing and therapeutic. This treatment was the best of both worlds. Not only did I feel good, but my feet looked wonderful and would stay that way for good few weeks.

My manicure was equally as wonderful. Nails filed properly – no rough edges as so many technicians leave. We opted for a pretty nude pink polish which was extremely flattering on my hands.

This is a spa that I think could become a habit.

By Daralyn Danns

Pedicure from £32.50 for a 30-minute treatment. Manicures from £27.50. For more information visit

Friday, 23 January 2015

Cannizaro House, Wimbledon, London

Shafts of early morning sunlight filtered through the trees as I stood by the lake watching the ducks toing and froing playfully into the water. This unyielding bucolic loveliness ran to the sound track of bird song. Just the place you want to linger and engage in a little quiet contemplation.

I felt as if I were in the middle of the countryside miles from anywhere but I was actually in Wimbledon near the Common and not far from central London. After spending the night at the boutique hotel Cannizaro House, I decided to explore the lovely Cannizaro Park in which it is set. 

Ducks toing and froing playfully into the water

It was not hard to imagine the likes of Oscar Wilde and Lord Tennyson having been house guests. Perhaps the picture-perfect environment helped  their creative juices? It certainly is a stunning place to escape the frenetic pace of city life or slip off for a romantic break. 

Like a lot of old country houses that have had a colourful past littered with scandal, Cannizaro House is quintessentially English and makes for an alluring place to stay There is something in the air that promises a glance into a bygone world although there is a lacing of modern sophistication.

Cannizaro House

My spacious room with a four -poster bed and crisp white sheets had a sense of retro glamour about it although the bathroom was modern albeit the tarnished soap tray in the shower needed replacing.

There were some lovely little touches such as a selection of magazines and complimentary sherry and delicious biscuits to enjoy while reading them.  

I did not want to get too comfy because I wanted to have a pre-dinner drink in the Orangerie. This conservatory with floor-to-ceiling windows has been cleverly designed to add a modern twist to the hotel and always seems to be buzzing whether it is with housewives coming in for morning coffee or business people  having meetings and lunch. 

The restaurant

Decorated in fancy patterned wallpaper, the restaurant which boasts two AA Rosettes is an elegant room that immediately transports you back into another era. Not quite Downton Abbey, but you get my drift.  It has won awards for its cuisine so I expected the food to be impressive and I was not disappointed. 

The scallops that I chose to start were done to perfection and presented beautifully. From the mains I opted for the Cornish bass served with artichoke and clotted cream mash which was superb. Not normally a dessert lover, the Pina Colada parfait with mango, coconut  rum jelly and matcha was an exquisite melange of flavours that finished the meal to perfection.  

There are also some good wines to choose. I went for a light red from Bordeaux which worked well with the fish. Somehow white doesn’t slip down easily for me on a cold winter’s night.

The level of service, however, did not match the food. My vegetables were brought at the end of the main course despite having asked for them a couple of times. But, when they did come, they were piping hot and rather good.

Breakfast – which really was scrumptious - came round all too quickly and it was time to take my leave.

Now part of the Hotel du Vin chain, it will be interesting to see how the group makes its mark on Cannizaro Park as, reportedly, it is to undergo a £1 million refurb. Yes, there are things that need changing and improving, but please don’t take away the charm.

By Daralyn Danns

Double rooms from £195 per night.  A three-course meal in the restaurant is £45.For more information on Cannizaro Park visit 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Longing for frizz-free hair?

I have always been against the so-called Brazilian blow-dry, especially since I read in the Daily Mail last year that Jennifer Aniston, reportedly, had to cut her hair short due to the damage it caused.

When these treatments came out there were those within the industry who were not convinced and I was one of them. A mixture of formaldehyde and keratin is applied to hair after it has been washed with a special shampoo and then straighteners are used supposedly to lock-in the treatment.

The other day I had an appointment with the amazing crimper Michael Charalambous at his new Sloane Street salon ( and saw Brazilian model Analu Campos having the Prolab Brazilian Blow-dry. If it is good enough for a Brazilian…Perhaps this is the one to consider? After all not all treatments are made equal.

Applying the Prolab Brazilian Blow-dry

Not all hair is suitable and you have to trust your hairdresser implicitly before you go ahead. If you  colour your hair a lot  and/or it is fine, you may want to think twice about it. You can always pop into the salon to get your hair blow-dried more often. 

Always go to a reputable salon such as Michael Charalambous as you will need to have an excellent consultation before you go ahead. Check the formaldehyde level. It is supposed to be not more than 0.01 per cent. Also ask how the treatment is sealed in. You may be able to forgo the straighteners or at least ask for them to be used on a low setting. Too high heat can cause damage. 

If you are longing for frizz-free hair, this could be the treatment for you. I would suggest having a test first. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

By Daralyn Danns

Friday, 16 January 2015

Destination Lisbon, Portugal

Smoulderingly gorgeous mingled with gritty and edgy, Lisbon is irresistible. Bathed in charming traditions of yesteryear, the genuine warmth of the people wraps around you like a cosy sweater. Portugal’s capital city will melt even the hardest of hearts.

Nailed to the estuary of the River Tagus, Lisbon unfurls over seven hills. The bewitching and beguiling streets of the historic centre beg you to roam. It is like travelling along a conveyor belt of surprises.

Meandering through the opulent Baixa district, you get a sense of the city’s past as you stumble across herbalists and haberdashers rubbing shoulders with art galleries and restaurants.

 ©Turismo de Lisboa -

Board a rickety old tram – an experience not to be missed – through the old Moorish district Alfama. The number 28 rambles along narrow, cobbled streets flanked by whitewashed houses. The stunning views of the city cascading down to the river on the way to the omnipresent Castelo de São de Jorge (Saint Jorge Castle) are picture perfect.

Perched, on one of the city’s highest hilltops, the castle resonates with history. It passed through the hands of the Visigoths in the 5th century, and became a Moorish royal residence before being conquered in a long siege in the 12th century by the Crusaders. It was partially destroyed in the 1755 earthquake that rocked much of Lisbon.

Sauntering back down, I peered into the ancient Se Cathedral and also discovered plenty of super restaurants and managed to catch a performance of fado – the melancholic folk music for which Lisbon is  renowned. The singer accompanied by a guitar belted out what seemed to be poetic lyrics.

Take a tram 
 ©Turismo de Lisboa -

Lisbon is such an easy city to get around either by foot or by public transport. I jumped on a bus to Belém, the place to go to while away a pleasant and interesting afternoon. 

At the waterfront, the grandeur of Portugal’s Age of Discovery marked by the spectacular Jerónimos Monastery – erected to honour the intrepid explorer Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India – and amazing statues. The 16th century Tower of Belém, was built to protect the entrance to the Tagus.  

It would be a mortal sin to visit this area and not go to the Antiga Confeitaria to savour the Pastéis de Belém. These delicious egg custard tarts are still made according to the original secret recipe created by two Catholic nuns in Jerónimos Monastery.

Initially, this delicacy was only served in monasteries. However, in 1837 some enterprising priests set up the Casa Pastéis de Belém which turned into a great money spinner. To this day there are always queues for these pastries, but I can assure you it is worth the wait.

Foodies will also want to check out Lisbon’s Mercado da Ribeira. This market traces back to the 13th century and has now been transformed by the guide Time Out Lisboa into the city’s biggest fresh food market. 

This medley of food shops and restaurants is a destination for both locals and tourists. You will be spoilt for choice sampling the different regional specialities. Just make sure you arrive hungry and thirsty.

River Tagus
 ©Turismo de Lisboa -

A walk along the Tagus had me wallowing in mystic and magic. On the other side of the river is the awesome statue Cristo Rei, inspired by Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and built as a thank you to God for not involving Portugal in the Second World War.

My eye was drawn to the mesmerising bridge, the 25 de Abril, one of the city’s most celebrated landmarks that spans the Tagus. This beautiful construction, constructed in the 1960s, looks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I discovered, the same architects were behind the design of this one. 

Sitting in the rather grand Praça do Comércio, the largest square in Lisbon, and one the city's main crowd pullers, I realised what makes Lisbon all the more alluring is that it makes you feel at home.

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there

British Airways offers a daily service from London to Lisbon three times weekly from £110 return including taxes and charges. Hand baggage only from £80 return including taxes and charges. To book or for more information visit  or call 0844 4930787

It is hard to beat BA. You always know you are is safe hands and the in-flight  service is hard to beat


Hotel Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade, Rates from €162 per night. Prices are subject to change. For more information and the best rates visit

French savoir-fare fused with the laid-back, gregarious charm of Lisbon. You will be hard-pressed to fault this hotel. A wonderful place to stay

Hotel Altis Grand is a member of Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection. For best rates and more information or to book visit or call 020 7380 3658

The Altis Grand blends Portuguese geniality with elegance. Don’t leave Lisbon without visiting the D. Fernando Grill, set on the 12th floor of the hotel. The food is great and the view is to die-for

For more information about Lisbon visit and