Monday, 30 November 2015

Spotlight on Vanille d’Iris by Ormonde Jayne

It is incredibly rare that I smell a new fragrance and fall head over heels in love with it. Vanille d’Iris (£90) had me smitten from the first whiff. I even liked it more when I had been wearing it for a couple of hours.

The London-based perfume house Ormonde Jayne opened its doors in 2002 and has achieved numerous accolades for the luxury range of perfumes created by the founder and creator Linda Pilkington.

Linda’s ethos is to fuse “the quality of English craftsmanship, the art of French perfumery and the sensuality and natural harmony of the Orient" which she defines as her definition of true elegance.

Vanille d’Iris is a classy beauty. Soaked with the aphrodisiac Tahitian vanilla, this scent is an elixir of Orris butter (an essential oil extracted from irises) with a smattering of refreshing Sicilian bergamot and coriander seed on a musky-tinged woody base.

This is a stunning feminine fragrance that is a pleasure to wear. One squirt of this and my mood is instantly enhanced.

By Daralyn Danns

For more information about Ormonde Jayne visit

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Hair supremo Alessandro Jottini works wonders

A rainy damp evening plays havoc with your hair. My locks had turned frizzy so I arrived at Fortnum & Mason the other evening for a Christmas event not looking my best.

Luckily, help was on hand. Hair supremo Alessandro Jottini, based at the renowned Josh Wood Atelier Lansdowne, was doing a demonstration using Oribe hair products.

Alessandro at work
Photograph by S Jottini

As much as we slather on the lotions and potions full of promise to wipe away those lines and wrinkles, a good hairstylist is a much better way of knocking off the years.

Alessandro quickly wielded his brush and hairdryer and within a matter of minutes I looked and felt like a new person.

I was not the only woman that night to have suffered with her hair. Several sat down with fluffy hair. Carefully taking into consideration hair type and face shape Alessandro set to work transforming them in no time at all. Most of them, including me, looked years younger after he had worked his magic.

A delighted client
Photograph by S Jottini

If only I could win the lottery. I would have him come round to my home every day.

By Daralyn Danns

For more information visit

Friday, 27 November 2015

Hotel Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik

The crystal clear turquoise of the seemingly-endless Adriatic Sea glittered in the sunlight. In the distance was the island of Lokrum. To my left were hills carpeted with greenery, peppered with white terracotta-roofed houses. This is what I call a room with a view.

Nestled into a cliff overlooking the Dalmatian Coast, the Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik  serves up idyllic views in a warm and friendly ambience. Built during the Communist era, the hotel was severely damaged during the Balkan Wars. Having been lovingly restored by the Turkish-owned Rixos Group, it is now one of Dubrovnik’s most luxurious contemporary five-star hotels.

Room with a view

The simply decorated lobby with a central atrium and floor–to-ceiling windows, makes it feel light and spacious. 

Check-in was quick and easy and there was a glass of Croatian bubbly waiting to welcome me. The guest relations team is especially helpful. Ivana went the extra mile when she bumped into me on her day off and took me for a walk along a beautiful coastal path that I am not sure that I would have found myself.

You get the sense that the people who work in this hotel enjoy their work. The ones I met all seemed so eager and willing to ensure I had a great experience.


There are 254 rooms, most with large balconies, and apartments as well as conference facilities. Rooms are decorated in calming neutral shades and fresh, crisp white. A touch of black gives it a modern feel. The open-plan bathrooms are tastefully decorated. There are coffee and tea making facilities and the free Wi-Fi is quick and efficient. A lovely touch is the bowl of fruit and bottle of water waiting for guests on arrival.

Being by the sea was therapeutic enough for me, but if you want to indulge in some serious pampering head down to the Royal Spar that has an impressive menu of treatments. There you will find an indoor and outdoor pool and one for children.

You can also swim in the sea. The beach is rocky. Don’t go to Dubrovnik looking for lovely sandy beaches. They are mainly shingle or pebbles.

Superior twin

Another great plus of this hotel is the location. Dubrovnik’s fabled old town is only a 15-minute walk away. As I was there early autumn I missed the crowds and most of the cruise ships.

It is not often I would say to go half-board at a hotel. While there are plenty of eateries in town, they can be hit and miss. Executive chef Özgűr Dönertaş has honed his skills from many highly-regarded restaurants including Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, so you can expect the quality of the food in the hotel to be good. 

Produce is sourced locally. Breakfast and dinner buffets are served in the Mozaik Restaurant. You will get plenty of choice from international to dishes with a distinct Mediterranean and Dalmatian flavour. (More on Dalmatian cuisine and wines in another post.) In the summer you can also dine at the Azzur Fish Restaurant.

For a real treat, book yourself a table at the Lalezar Grill House, where Özgűr  has put together a superb choice of Dalmatian dishes with a Turkish twist. There is also an impressive wine list featuring a variety of Croatian wines.

After dinner you can relax on the terrace or in the bar and listen to the piano player. Alternatively if you fancy a flutter there is the Golden Sun Casino, the only one in town.

Unlike so many resort hotels which can be soulless, the Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik exudes its own special charm making it an idyllic place to stay.

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there

British Airways flies from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik from £62 each way. For connections from regional airports and to book visit

Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik is a member of Great Hotels of the World Premium Collection. Double room rates start from EUR 84.80. For more information or to book, visit or call 020 7380 3658.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Blow-dries that never get forgotten

Adnan Al is the go-to man for blow-dries that last. Based at Michael Charalambous’s  prestigious salon in Sloane Square, London, this man is a real whizz with hair.

His blow-dries last for days which, as I was travelling, was just what I wanted. So many that tend to last are usually so puffed up when you leave the salon that you need to give it a couple of days to settle. Not Adnan’s. You are only too happy if you bump into somebody that you know.

Before styling the hair, Adnan protected my hair with a light volumising spray. If you have curly hair, Adnan’s tip is not to comb your hair but let it dry naturally to bring out the curl and then smooth out, using a brush and hairdryer where necessary.

As my hair has some curl in the ends, Adnan said he would blow-dry the hair under to keep the body and then flick out pieces when it was finished.

“When you are styling your own hair, you want to choose a brush with which you don’t have to play around too much. In other words, it should be easy to use and you should be able to style your hair quickly and easily,” he advised.

According to Adnan hair is now being worn longer with some movement in the ends which stops hair looking flat.

He also suggests, if you have coloured hair, not to shampoo it every day. “Wash it every couple of days and in-between damp it down. This will help to prevent the colour from fading.

With the colder days fast approaching and many of us getting ready to get our hats out, Adnan’s tip to avoid “hat hair” is not to use styling products, just conditioner. 

“When hair is too clean, you get static so don’t rinse out all the conditioner when you wash it.  After you take your hat off, push hair forward then push it back into place to revitalise the volume,” he said.

I was really pleased with my hair. It survived the aircraft and lasted for a good few days. Just what I wanted!

By Daralyn Danns

For more information visit or follow on


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Warming winter wines

As the temperatures start to drop and we turn to comforting food, here are a selection of wines that are the perfect companions to cosy winter nights at home.

Doctors Flat Pinot Noir, 2012, New Zealand, £38
An extraordinary elixir! Hailing from a small organic vineyard in Central Otago, this artisan berry-soaked wine laced with a touch of spice is refined yet has a certain spark that enthrals the senses. 

Uvaggio Primitivo, 2011, Lodi, California, Berry Bros. & Rudd ( £14.95
Made from the primitive grape, this is a captivating wine that tantalises the palate with flavours of damsons and blackberries spiced with a touch of oregano and a hint of oak. 

De Martino Gallardia Muscat, 2013, Chile, Berry Bros. & Rudd ( £12.50
A grape-soaked wine, light in alcohol (11.5 %), that makes a great table wine which will  slip down so easily. Think raisins drenched in alcohol.   

Desierto 25 Malbec,2012, Bodega del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina, Berry Bros. & Rudd ( £12.50
Full of charm and flavour, this medium-bodied number has just the right amount of acidity. This is a truly delicious wine that is wickedly enticing. 

Foxwood Vineyards Shiraz, 2011, South Africa, Berry Bros. & Rudd ( £16.95
Oozing black cherries, this wine makes a statement. Refreshing and elegant, it is a real pleasure to sip and savour.

Berry Bros. & Rudd Own Selection Margaux, 2011, Brane Cantenac, Bordeaux Berry Bros. & Rudd ( £19.95
If Berry Bros. has put its name on the label you know that the wine has to be exceptional, after all it has its reputation to maintain. Mesmerising blackcurrant flavours tempered with a smattering of oak assault the taste buds. Lingers long on the palate.

By Daralyn Danns