London Low-down – 30th Birthday Celebrations Part 1

London Low-down – 30th Birthday Celebrations Part 1

If you follow me on Instagram (or know me in person!) you’ll be fully aware that my fiancé, Euan, turned 30 last week and we had a whole week (just over!) of celebrations… Starting with London. So here’s a little London low-down post about the places we visited & some recommendations etc.

london low-down lila bailey blog

London Low-Down – Where to stay?

Usually when we visit London, we stay in the Hub by Premier Inn hotel on Goodge Street (near Tottenham Court Road). Which I would highly recommend if you want somewhere relatively central, fairly cheap, and compact & clean. However, this time we stayed in the Thistle Hyde Park Hotel, situated opposite the Lancaster Gate entrance to Kensington Gardens.

Although slightly further out, it was actually a fantastic location. You could either get the tube from Lancaster Gate to Bond Street (or wherever!), or take a stroll through Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park (takes about 35-40 mins to get to Oxford Street on foot).

london low-down lila bailey blog

It is a gorgeous old building and they’ve kept the old-school feel inside, whilst still modernising. It wasn’t 5* luxury, but the room was spacious & had a lovely marble bathroom. Plus the entrance & lounge area was impactful but comfortable. All in all, we had a brilliant stay here and would definitely go back!

Breakfast for Kings & Queens

Next up on the London low-down is a quirky little breakfast place… We actually didn’t do any fancy evening meals this time around as we were mostly drinking (and I had fancy meal plans lined up for the rest of the week…). But I did want to do a nice breakfast one day. I’m not actually sure how I came across it, but somehow I discovered the Pavilion Restaurant at Kensington Palace.

pavilion at kensington palace lila bailey blog

I’m a shameless Royalist, so I jumped at the chance of having breakfast at Kensington Palace. And as it happened we were not disappointed! The Pavilion building itself is nothing special, but they have made such an effort with the interior. Classical music was playing, there was fancy china on the tables, and the decor was modern but could equally have been from the late 1800s (the Indian influence of Queen Victoria’s taste).

pavilion at kensington palace lila bailey blog
pavilion at kensington palace lila bailey blog

The food was actually brilliant, and the staff & service was attentive and polite. We had views looking out to the Palace itself, and Euan says he’s going to tell our grandchildren that Kate & William were eating breakfast at the next table… (they weren’t, but they do live at the Palace so it’s only a slight fabrication….!).

pavilion at kensington palace lila bailey blog

Bring on the Cocktails

Now for the best bit of the London low-down… The cocktail bars! I really did my cocktail bar research for this weekend, and I absolutely pulled it off (if I do say so myself…). On Saturday night we met friends for drinks in Cahoots, a favourite of ours and an absolutely must if you’re into cocktail experiences.

cahoots london low-down lila bailey blog
cahoots london low-down lila bailey blog

Not only are the cocktails brilliant, the bar itself is actually a war-time remake of the London Underground. All the staff are in character as if it was the early 1900s, and there is even cockney rhyming slang playing in the loos. You’re definitely paying a little more than other places (£12-£15 a cocktail) but it’s honestly worth it, and you needn’t stay for more than an hour or two! (Booking is essential, especially on weekends).

cahoots london low-down lila bailey blog

Next up was a hidden gem (also on Saturday night), where we met my cousin & her boyfriend. Supposedly one of the top 10 cocktail bars in London (according to google), and it did not disappoint. Barely noticeable from outside, and semi-ordinary upstairs, you head downstairs to the coolest basement bar. Live piano music & booths to sit in, plus a menu including over 350 whiskies! (Euan was a happy chappy). Again, attentive table service, mood lighting, and delicious drinks. Swift Bar – highly recommend!

Swift bar london low-down lila bailey blog

Bring on the Cocktails (night 2)

For Sunday evening, I changed things up a bit (literally…). It was just Euan & I for the evening this time, and I wanted to surprise him with a couple of places he’d never think of going (mission accomplished, just sayin’).

Firstly, we headed to level 32 of the Shard where you can have drinks at the Oblix bar. There are two restaurants here – Oblix East & Oblix West. We had some cocktails in Oblix East, with night-time views down the Thames and towards East London. It was an amazing experience, and definitely worth the higher prices (get it…). The Shard is always somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for drinks (despite being afraid of heights) and I’m really glad we did it! The vibe in the Oblix East bar was really cool as well, which added to the atmosphere.

oblix bar east the shard london low-down lila bailey blog
oblix bar east the shard london low-down lila bailey blog

I then took Euan to the Sky Pod Bar in the Sky Garden, which is on the top floor of the walkie-talkie (also known as 20 Fenchurch Street). If you know London well, you’ll know that these two buildings are directly opposite each other (on either side of the Thames). So it was quite cool to quickly hop from one to the other!

sky pod bar sky garden london low-down lila bailey blog
sky pod bar sky garden london low-down lila bailey blog
sky pod bar sky garden london low-down lila bailey blog

The Sky Garden was even cooler than the Shard, and we enjoyed a quick stroll around the building before sitting in a roped off area at the edge of the bar space. We sat with more rooftop views of London and had a brilliant waiter who was happy to recommend cocktails. They even left blankets for you on the chairs which I was more than buzzed about!

sky pod bar sky garden london low-down lila bailey blog
sky pod bar sky garden london low-down lila bailey blog

London Low-down – Conclusion

Having grown up near London, I know the city pretty well. And Euan & I love to go for the odd weekend every so often to visit some of our fave places. Now we have a few more to add into the mix!! Do you know London well? Perhaps you have some top-spots to share too? Let me know in the comments!

For more city recommendations, take a look at two slightly older posts below!

Geneva

Venice

The Bishop’s Palace – What am I up to Blog Series

The Bishop’s Palace – What am I up to Blog Series

So following on from my post about my interview at The Bishop’s Palace (and subsequently getting the job!) here is more about the Palace itself and the work I do!

the bishop's palace blog post what am i up to  lila bailey blog

The Bishop’s Palace

Aka the most wonderful place in all of the lands – plural. I’m not joking, The Bishop’s Palace is genuinely magical. I’m not sure if it’s the gorgeous towering medieval buildings, the incredibly beautiful gardens, the community spirit, or all 3! But I L-O-V-E it there. On one of my first days, a colleague said to me ‘it really gets in your blood’ and that has since resonated so much with me. It’s true – it honestly does get in your blood.

The Bishop’s Palace is run by a trust, meaning it’s a non-profit organisation. Any money they do make goes straight back into the trust to preserve the buildings & gardens and make it increasingly desirable and accessible to be enjoyed by all. And it’s so amazing to work for a company who runs on that basis. Plus, I have a huge number of amazing colleagues across many different departments, and we’re all left to get on with our work to the best of our abilities. No micro-management or lack of belief in our abilities (which, as you may know, is something I have had the displeasure of experiencing previously).

Obviously, people have to make money. But I feel that when making money out of people’s weddings becomes the focus of the business you may as well be working for an enormous corporate chain. Turning every wedding into a business development opportunity, for me, loses all meaning of what the wedding industry is about. And, as a bride-to-be I have actually rejected suppliers for my own wedding on that basis. Anyway, slightly off topic there. But my point is that at The Bishop’s Palace, your wedding is contributing to the preservation of an 800 year-old site, and I think it’s magical!

the bishop's palace blog post what am i up to  lila bailey blog

What I do

Now onto the fun stuff, what do I do all day? Well, as the Wedding & Venue Manager, I’m the face of the wedding and private hire department at The Bishop’s Palace. I deal with all incoming enquiries, and have a system in place for following up with enquiries and generating show-rounds. I’m also the person who conducts all of the show-rounds and (hopefully!) turns them into bookings.

A lot of my time is spent on the business development side of things. My first couple of months were spent focussing on a small re-brand of the wedding department to bring it up to a higher standard. I’ve also been accumulating previous wedding images, and over the next few weeks I’ll be submitting those to various blogs & magazines to get featured. I’ve created a specific ‘wedding’ Instagram for The Bishop’s Palace (@bishopspalaceweddings – go & give it a follow!) to keep the wedding department separate from the huge amounts of other things that go on at the Palace.

the bishop's palace blog post what am i up to  lila bailey blog

As the manager, I’m also responsible for all wedding & events staff. Making sure they’re working the hours they need to, approving holiday, managing office hours vs function hours, and keeping everyone happy! We have a weekly team meeting in which I have to give a brief overview of private events that are happening at the Palace, and once a month we have a management & trustee meeting for which I have to prepare a management report and be present at and contribute to the meeting (which usually lasts most of the morning).

Alongside all of that, there are various meetings with other team members (chefs for example) and meeting with local suppliers to build professional relationships. The list goes on! But that’s the bulk of it. And I couldn’t be anymore thrilled that this is my life!

the bishop's palace blog post what am i up to  lila bailey blog

The Travel

I’ve had a lot of questions about how I’m finding the travelling, how long does it take, etc. To be honest, it’s really not that bad. It takes me 2 hours almost on the dot and it’s a really easy & pleasant drive. I’m only there 2 days a week (usually Mondays & Thursdays), so only doing the journey twice which makes it very do-able. I think if it was 3 days or more I would definitely struggle, but it’s not, so, yay!

During the drive I mostly listen to podcasts which is actually a wonderful use of my time. The times of day that I’m travelling are also, in my opinion, ‘lost’ times of day anyway. In the morning, I would just be in bed for a bit longer and have more time to get ready. And between 5pm-7pm all I’d do is probably cook dinner and maybe do some chores or go to the gym. Euan has dinner covered on those evenings and chores & gym can be done on another day!

And that, is that!

So, there you have it! That’s what I get up to on most Mondays & Thursdays. If you want to know anything else, just drop me a line. And please do consider The Bishop’s Palace as your wedding venue if you’re getting married!

Photography by Simon Biffen

Is it really all just for ‘one day’?

Is it really all just for ‘one day’?

Okay, so as a bride-to-be how many times has ‘all this, just for one day’ been said to you? Have you even thought it yourself? I have already had so many people accost me with questions about it ‘just being for one day’. Well, people, I’m about to take you on a journey of discovery.

Newsflash! It’s not just about one day.

Just for one day? Part 1…

Firstly, it’s not ‘just a day’. It’s the foundation for your marriage. The day it all started. A celebration of your love. A chance for you to show the people around you how much they mean to you, how much you mean to them, and how much you (as a couple) mean to each other. It’s pretty symbolic.

Not to mention the family & friends reunion side of it. Tell me another instance where you get to sit in a room with all the most important people in your life. In one place. Altogether. For a happy occasion. You can’t? That’s because there isn’t one.

Just for one day? Part 2…

Secondly, why wouldn’t you want an excuse to dress up in the best and most expensive clothing you can afford, drink amazing wine, eat wonderful food, and dance the night away? And whilst smiling the entire time! That sounds like the perfect day. What’s not to love?!

Just for one day? Part 3…

Seriously though, it really isn’t just about that one day. Thirdly, and most importantly, it’s about the journey.

It’s about that indescribable feeling of being proposed to, and the tears of excitement and happiness as you share the news with family & friends.

It’s about deciding who you want to stand beside you on the day, and watching their expression as you tell them.

all this, just for one day blog post lila bailey weddings

It’s about working with your partner and making decisions about your day which reflect you as a couple, and learning more about each other as you do so.

It’s about listening to and respecting your partner’s thoughts & visions for your day and coming to conclusions that you are both happy with.

It’s about wedding dress shopping with your mum and girl-friends, drinking bubbles and squealing for no particular reason, just because.

all this, just for one day blog post lila bailey weddings

It’s about the days out with you girls/boys and giving them a chance to show you how much you mean to them.

It’s about sharing your excitement with your parents, and watching how happy it makes them to see you so elevated.

It’s about all of those little things in the build up. All of the decisions you make because of the wedding. All the conversations you have and all the memories you make along the way.

So, no, it’s not all for just one day.

Previous Post

Is it really all just for ‘one day’?

Wedding Dress Shopping Experience Part 2…

So you’ve heard about the wonderful experience, now for the not-so-wonderful… (if you missed my last post then catch up here before reading this one).

 

The Experience…

The bridal stylist sat us down, and at first was quite pleasant and talked us through what I would be doing during our appointment. However, quite quickly our ‘welcome chat’ became a little patronising and almost felt like a dictation of what I will and won’t feel when I put a wedding dress on. I was asked about my wedding and my vision for the day, and I explained in quite substantial detail about what I pictured for the wedding and the dress. I mentioned fabrics and necklines, as well as the overall ‘feel’ of the dress. An error of mine was failing to mention that I was in the wedding industry and had worked with wedding dresses before, plus I had visited the Harrogate Bridal Show every year of my childhood and teens, so my understanding of the wedding industry – in particular wedding dresses – was quite vast. I wonder if this would have made a difference to the way I was treated (not that of course it should have done). Very bluntly, I was asked what my budget for the dress was. I don’t like to discuss money, and despite my bridesmaids being family or as good as, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable talking about my wedding budget in that environment. I gave the stylist a starting figure but said I was aware I will probably be spending more and was okay with that. I explained there was flexibility in my overall wedding budget to spend a little more on a wedding dress if I decided to. She retorted with an incredibly blunt ‘well our dresses start at X which is almost double your budget’ and gave me a look as if to say ‘so what on earth are you still doing sat there’. I replied explaining I’m open to expanding my budget for the right dress, but unfortunately she had already made her (uninformed and incorrect) assumptions about me and frankly wasn’t interested.

Nevertheless, we powered on and went through the collection of lovely dresses, picking out ones in styles I knew I liked from the previous appointment. I selected one dress which was made of a very interesting fabric, and I was curious to try it on as I’d never seen anything like it. Instead of taking that one to the dressing room, the stylist picked another one and ushered me behind the curtain. Once we were in the dressing room, the stylist said ‘the dress you picked out is not in your price range so I’d advise you to not try it on’ I was slightly shocked by her audacity and replied ‘oh that’s okay, I’m really open to trying anything on’ and she looked at me coldly and said ‘we’re talking £12,000plus for this particular dress so I don’t think you should try it’. Her boldness was honestly outstanding.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

(A Suzanne Neville dress)

The appointment only continued to get worse. I was told to put on these enormous platform heels, which I was fine with. What I was not fine with, however, was stepping into these (rather large) dresses without even a hand to hold onto for support. Keeping in mind (as many of you will know from dress shopping yourselves) you’re not wearing an awful lot when in the dressing room, and for someone to watch you struggle into a dress whilst wearing giant heels (and not a lot else) is nothing short of terribly embarrassing. I cannot tell you how anxious I started to feel as the appointment went on. The stylist made it perfectly clear that she was completely disinterested in the appointment, and if the yawning wasn’t enough, she kept disappearing to have whispered conversations with her colleague behind the front desk.

I tried on a dress which was absolutely gorgeous and one I really liked, as did my mum and my bridesmaids. The stylist, however, had other ideas. She hauled me back into the dressing room where she put me in a dress which was wonderful, but just not me. It was very much ‘of the times’, and definitely stylish in a designer sense, but not the timeless wedding dress I was looking for.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

(Disclaimer – this is not the dress she put me in, but you get the idea…)

As I came out of the changing room she exclaimed ‘this is the dress!’ to my posse of wedding-dress-groupies and started to ramble on about how the last dress was ‘too old’ for me (despite it being strapless with a modern skirt) and how I should be looking for something ‘young & fun’. Without giving anything away, I have certainly not been looking at dresses that are ‘too old’ for me. In fact, quite the opposite. Despite what the stylist (with a blinding complex) thought.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

(Another Suzanne Neville dress)

It was at this point where 3 other people entered the shop, one of which being a man. At first, I didn’t mind because I assumed they would be taken downstairs. The women were, the man however was invited to sit on a chair right outside my dressing room. If I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable enough by now, this certainly sealed the deal. I might add too that my dressing room was opposite a floor-to-ceiling mirror and the stylist was not discreet with the curtain. Need I say more?

Despite me taking the time at the beginning of the appointment to explain exactly what my wedding vision was, the stylist had paid no attention whatsoever. She kept describing my wedding as ‘rustic’ when I’d said nothing of the sort. Again, forming her own opinions based on the smallest amount of information. At one point she put me in a dress which I instantly hated and said ‘I’m not feeling this at all’ and instead of getting me out of the dress and into something I liked, she left me standing in it and went to chat to her colleague (again). I was stood awkwardly in a dress which didn’t make me feel good for over 5 minutes, trying to make positive comments about it until she got back and put me in something else. It all started to become very frustrating, and I quickly wished we had never come. What started off as the perfect day was turning into a nightmare. By this point I was feeling so completely rubbish that I didn’t even want to smile when in a dress I liked because I thought if I showed any emotion at all I might burst into tears.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

Whilst all of this was happening, none of us knew how we were all feeling about the appointment. I wanted nothing more than to turn round to my mum and girls and say ‘I’m hating this. I feel so uncomfortable and I’m not having a good time’ but I never had the chance. Even when the stylist left us, she was always in earshot. And because I thought maybe it was just me who was picking up on this awful vibe and atmosphere, I didn’t want to start being rude in case the others thought I was being completely overdramatic (no bridezilla moment I can assure you!). As it turned out, we had all felt exactly the same during the appointment, and we were also all unsure of how each other was feeling at the time. I must have a pretty good pokerface because none of them had any idea I was feeling so miserable! If I could turn back time, I would definitely be far less polite and actually tell her she was making me feel awful. Or failing that, maybe just have given up altogether and left. But, I can’t go back in time so I just have to live with the experience and learn from it. After all, a wedding isn’t just about the day itself, it’s all the moments during the buildup and the things we experience during that time.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

It was also incredibly interesting to be on the other side of an appointment like that, and it made me realise where the business I used to work in was going so wrong. Whilst we were told to act professional and give the opening spiel to each bride who walked through the door, actually this comes across very negatively and isn’t at all what brides want. Not brides like me, anyway! I much preferred my genuine, down to earth, and relaxing experience at Suzanne Neville where I was made to feel like a princess and my tastes, opinions, and visions were listened to and respected. That’s what a wedding dress appointment should be like.

Saving Money – Budget Priorities

Saving Money – Budget Priorities

In my last post, I explored the 4 things worth spending the majority of your wedding budget on (you can find it here). This post is about saving money…

Saving your money

  1. Stationery. Don’t get me wrong, I love stationery. And because your stationery the first time your guests get to see a glimpse of your wedding day, it is a really important added touch. But it is an added touch, and whilst everyone needs to know where to be and when, there comes a point where all those stationery extras become a little unnecessary.
  2. The Guestbook. Again, having a guestbook is a lovely touch and a great way to get creative. But let’s be realistic for a second. You don’t need to spend much on a guestbook. There are many different guest book ideas, none of which cost too much, so don’t try and overcomplicate things by coming up with some elaborate guestbook plan. Save your hard earned cash for putting towards one of the budget priorities, because – let’s face it – your guests really aren’t going to notice or care about how much money/time/effort you put into the guestbook. They’ll be more interested in the booze – trust me.
  3. The Wedding Favours. Personally, I adore the idea of wedding favours. Anything miniature and you’ve got me hooked. That was – however – until I was looking into having gin miniatures as wedding favours at my own wedding. I was going to end up spending £250 on essentially a large shot of gin per person, and for what? The idea is great, and the gin miniatures would’ve been super cute (for about half a minute). But is it worth £250? I’m not saying don’t bother with wedding favours at all, I think they are a lovely touch. Just be clever about it. Instead of spending £1.50 a head, trying spending 40p. Every little saving hack helps!
  4. Those extra bits. The list of ‘extras’ you can add to your wedding day is honestly endless. Baskets of flip flops, sparklers, sweet stations, additional decor, the list goes on… And if your budget allows, then go for it. But if you’re trying to cut back on your spending then trust me, these things are not a priority. A lovely touch, don’t get me wrong, but should in no way be the focus of your time, energy, and money.