Friday, 27 February 2015

Spotlight on Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Sérum

I am a huge fan of Chanel skincare. I enjoy the ritual of putting on the pleasantly-scented lotions and potions. They make you feel good and, more to the point, they work. Another plus is that the packaging certainly looks great in my bathroom.

When I heard that Chanel was launching Hydra Beauty Micro Sérum (£66), I had to get my hands on it.  

What my skin needs, especially, at this time of year, is a massive dose of hydration and to be protected from the elements. Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Sérum is a supercharged formula boasting advanced antioxidant protection and contains camellia microdroplets – which according to Chanel “fuse with skin for continuous hydration and an intense plumping effect.”

Chanel Research using the science of microfluidics  – which the company explains as the mechanism of fluids on a micrometric scale – and with the help of eminent experts in this subject developed an exciting cosmetic first.

Well, whatever the magical ingredients and the science behind it, this silky, fine-textured cocktail contains, it certainly plumped up my skin, ironed out fine lines and gave me a wonderful glow. So much so that even during the cold weather, I didn’t need make-up except for a sweep of blusher. I am hooked!

By Daralyn Danns

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Balcon, Sofitel London St James

There is nothing like a touch of French flair to add a flavour of romance to a night out and transform it into something special. At The Balcon, the superb restaurant at the Sofitel London St James, this is exactly what you will get. It is the perfect fusion of elegance and refined dining.

Full of soul, the interior, inspired by a typical French brasserie is warm and enticing. The atmosphere is not too formal and is laid-back enough so you can relax. 

As soon as we arrived we were greeted warmly and shown to our table.  Service was excellent throughout the evening. But, then this  is what I have come to expect from Sofitel hotels.

We were offered an aperitif while we decided what to eat. The menu, a melange of classic French and British cuisine is full of innovative dishes.  Whether you have a huge appetite or just want a light bite, the choice is excellent.

The Balcon

The selection of small plates is perfect if you fancy sharing with your date or if, like me, you simply can’t make up your mind which starter to have, try a couple of dishes. I went for the grilled squid and Jersey Royal potato salad, with parsley and lemon pesto and gin marinated organic salmon with vegetables à la Grecque. They were both scrumptious. 

My companion opted for the Thermidor twice -baked cheese soufflé with native lobster and crème fraîche sauce. I could not resist a mouthful. So light, it melted in my mouth. It would be hard to imagine a better soufflé.

For the mains, both myself and my friend fancied fish so plumped for the North Sea cod, Provençal ratatouille and Niçoise black olives, which was really moist and succulent. 

The Balcon, Sofitel London St James

If you are on a diet or health-conscious, there is a De-Light menu which has some lovely fish dishes as well as other options that may be low in calories but don’t compromise on flavour.

It is the attention to detail that is impressive. Plenty of effort has gone into sourcing the best ingredients and the presentation is immaculate. This is a restaurant that surely goes that extra mile.

The wine list has plenty of interesting numbers. We opted for a sauvignon blanc, French, bien sûr, which was classy and crisp and went down a treat.  

You can’t be in a French restaurant and not have dessert. Although we were both full, the blackberry financier with green apple sorbet and raspberry coulis produced a wonderful combination of flavours to round off the meal beautifully.

The head waiter had discovered it was my friend’s birthday. Out came a gorgeous tray of the most delicious little cakes complete with candle accompanied by a rendering of “Happy Birthday”.

Whether you are going for a special occasion or pushed for time and want a quick croque-monsieur or want to try Tray Rapide (a 3- course meal served on one plate consisting of a small plate, a market special and one dessert) you will leave The Balcon full of wonderful memories.

 By Daralyn Danns  

For more information about the Sofitel St James visit

Monday, 16 February 2015

Blow-drying tips

However hard you try to blow-dry your own hair, it never seems to look as good as when you walked out of the salon. 

It is also easy to get into bad habits and if you are not careful when styling, you can end up tangling your hair in the brush or worse still frying it with too much heat.

So I asked Mihali Hadjiyianni at the prestigious Michael Charalambous salon in London’s Sloane Square ( for some tips.

 “Apply some leave-in conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends and comb it through with a wide-toothed comb,” he says. 

I use my fingers to ensure that I don’t damage my hair which is at its most vulnerable when wet.

Mihali suggests when I am short of time, to bend my head downwards and dry my shoulder-length hair forwards going from root to tip using a slotted or paddle brush.”To avoid damaging the hair, don’t hold the hairdryer in one place for too long,” he cautions.

Fingers once again are a good tool to use. Pull them through a section of hair at a time away from the scalp starting at the roots and hold it taut while drying to prevent it getting frizzy.

“Once hair is almost dry, take sections  and use a round brush to smooth them out. You can also create a flick in the hair by turning the brush,” he adds.

By Daralyn Danns

You can follow the Michael Charalambous salon at

Friday, 6 February 2015

Fizz finery

Rosé champagne is the drink associated with Valentine’s Day and romance. Beautiful to look at and oh so decadent to savour, the wonderful bubbly can turn any event into a special occasion. So whether you are sharing a bottle with your partner or simply want to toast friendship, here are some great sparklers.

Billecart-Salmon, Rosé, Brut £60, Berry Bros. & Rudd (
This elegant and classy pale-salmon pink rosé champagne is one of the world’s finest wines and my favourite. Mesmerising raspberry flavours tantalise your taste buds. A glass of this elixir and you are in seventh heaven. Magnifique!

Take advantage of this great promotion. Until February 15 receive a complimentary half bottle of Brut Rosé NV Champagne when you purchase one or more 75cl bottles of Billecart-Salmon non-vintage rosé, non-vintage Brut, or Blanc De Blancs from Berry Bros. & Rudd shop, London. Similar offers are available at selected retailers nationwide including Champagne Direct (

Champagne R&L Legras, Rosé, £39.95, (     
A complex and powerful fruity bubbly from this highly-regarded artisan champagne house.  This first-class fizz slips down so easily. Impressive!.

Champagne Deutz, Rosé, Brut, £46, (
Think scrumptious red fruits. Beautifully refined and rich, this outstanding rosé is full of character and should please even the most discerning palates. It is one of the go-to champagnes of those in the know.

For those looking to try something different why not take a look at a couple of English offerings? You might be surprised how good they are. Here are my recommendations.

Bolney Estate Briar Brut Rosé, West Sussex, Waitrose, £24.99 (£19.99 until February 17)
Zesty and zippy with strawberry tangs caressing your mouth. This good sparkling English wine won’t disappoint.

Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé Brut, Cornwall, Waitrose £28.99 (£24.99 until February 17)
This gorgeous creation comes from Camel Valley which is renowned for its excellent quality wines. Think mouth-watering raspberry flavours that linger long on the palette. This award-winner is a good choice for a romantic evening.

By Daralyn Danns