Travel: Hotel Sahrai in Fez, Morocco

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After experiencing a few nights at an authentic riad in Marrakech, le bf and I were eager to check out the promised luxury of Hotel Sahrai in Fez. While our riad in Marrakech was quite lovely, and we felt safe and welcome at all times, we were growing weary of the paper-thin walls and lack of hotel amenities – spoiled travelers that we are.

Once we got to Hotel Sahrai, we literally had nothing to complain about. From the minute we stepped through those glass doors, we were ushered into the luxurious oasis in the middle of the bustling city. From smooth and welcoming check-in, to our stunning suite, to the abundant daily breakfast buffet, we felt like royalty at all times.

Little extras went a long way – swanky Acqua di Parma toiletries perched on the side of our glass-enclosed black marble bathtub, complimentary bottled water delivered with turn-down service every night, delectable fruit and local desserts to welcome us on our first day – all of these things made our stay feel more special.

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And those amenities we were starting miss? Well, at Hotel Sahrai, we had access to a couple of breathtaking outdoor pools, state-of-the-art gym, 2 amazing restaurants and a roof-top bar, as well as an indoor pool at the Givenchy Spa. Speaking of Givenchy Spa…it was transformative…and surprisingly affordable. Even if you weren’t planning a stay at Hotel Sahrai (and why not?!), Givenchy Spa is a must-visit while in Fez.

The day we arrived, I booked an in-room blow-out which set me back all of $20, and lasted me our entire stay! Le bf and I also tried hammam treatments, which were ridiculously affordable (around $40!!!) – in Toronto, the same treatment would set you back at least $150. Also, the scrub-down that we received at Givenchy Spa was not only more vigorous, it felt a lot more like a massage than the similar treatments I’ve gotten in Canada. My only regret is that I didn’t visit the spa more often. The staff were lovely, helpful, and tried very hard to make sure that we received top-notch service.

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More after the jump!
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Foodie: Easter-Inspired High Tea at Shangri-La Hotel Toronto

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Last weekend, I took my mom to the Shangri-La Toronto to try the hotel’s latest Easter-inspired High Tea menu. Having already experienced the regular High Tea at Shangri-La last June, I had high expectations for the revamped menu. As we arrived at the Lobby Lounge, live piano music playing softly in the background, we settled into the comfy couch overlooking a fireplace, and took our time selecting our teas. Once our tea selections were made, we impatiently waited for the delicious tower to arrive. The menu promised a selection of the usual mouthwatering staples like Atlantic lobster brioche roll, honey baked ham with caramelized onion on sourdough bread, Pacific smoked salmon on dark rye, and warm English scones, with Easter-inspired additions of spiced hot cross buns, tropical Easter egg (coconut cream, mango curd and crispy meringue), and the religieuse profiterole (baked choux pastry with white chocolate orange blossom cream and lemon glaze). It all sounded and looked amazing.

I let my mom judge each plate, her enthusiasm growing with each bite. It was her first time experiencing the Shangri-La High Tea, and she was loving every minute of it. With our scones, we were served caramelized white chocolate jam, strawberry preserves and Cornish clotted cream, and I have to tell you that caramelized white chocolate jam was divine. I am not even embarrassed to share that we totally polished off the entire ramekin…with a spoon. Delicious!

By the time we got to the last plate – the prettiest of them all, we were almost hesitant to cut into the exquisite-looking desserts…almost! Of the four desserts, my favourite was the tropical Easter egg, which looked like a fried egg, but was instead a combination of delicate coconut cream, tangy mango curd, and crispy meringue. It was so good! Obviously the milk chocolate and raspberry verrine, Simnel fruit cake, and the religieuse profiterole were delicious as well. With the last dessert finished, we settled back into our comfy couch, chatting, sipping our White Rose tea, and enjoying the rest of our perfect afternoon at Shangri-La.

If you would like to try some of the limited-time offerings served at the Easter-inspired High Tea, it will be available until April 6 and is priced at CAD$42 per person or CAD$25 per child, served daily from 2-5 p.m. in the Lobby Lounge. And if that’s not enough, with the purchase of a chocolate Easter Egg ( the “Golden Egg” or “Toy Egg”) or the Easter-inspired High Tea, guests will receive a complimentary petite milk chocolate egg with the chance of receiving one of five winning ”red tickets” placed among the petite milk chocolate eggs. One winning petite chocolate egg will be revealed every other day throughout the Easter promotion period from 28 March to 6 April, 2015. “Red tickets” will signify that the person who received the petite egg has won the prize. The prize includes a tour of the pastry kitchen at Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto with pastry chef Kate Seigel for one person (the prize winner) and complimentary High Tea for a year in the Lobby Lounge of Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto for the winner and a guest (two people) once a month for twelve months (May 2015 – April 2016). Free High Tea for a year?! May the odds be ever in your favour!

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More after the jump!
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What I Wore: Warm Spell

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This past weekend, Torontonians got a momentary respite from the snow and frigid cold, and it felt wonderful. With temperatures hitting above zero, Canadians wasted no time shedding their winter layers, walking around in light coats, and swapping those scary winter boots for the cuter fall versions. I joined in on the fun, by wearing my coat open, with light but warm layers underneath. I felt so free!

Le bf and I took a stroll aroung Yonge and Lawrence, finally making our way to Bobette and Belle for a little afternoon treat, and we loved it! The place is inviting and oh-so-very-stylish, with yummy hot drinks, and even better desserts. I’m definitely going to be back!

By the end of the day, the weather had turned, and as we were making our way home, I had to button up, pull my coat’s collar up in order to avoid the wet snow from creeping inside my coat. I guess winter’s back, but we did get a little taste of spring, even if for a day.

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More after the jump!
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Style Days of Christmas: Starbucks Giveaway

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As you probably know already, I am not a fan of winters, but seeing those red Starbucks cups for the first time each season, makes me super giddy. It may sound funny, but for me, the arrival of the red cups signals the arrival of the holiday season. And since those Starbucks line-ups are always long, I know I’m not the only one. Which is why I’m super excited to be giving away a whopping $200 Starbucks gift card to my amazing readers. This should provide you with at least a few months’ supply of energizing and yummy drinks, or if you’re still on the hunt for holiday gifts, you can purchase some of those fun mugs from the Dot Collection! Either way, I know you won’t have any problems figuring out how to use that gift card this winter. Sounds good? Enter below!

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Details after the jump!

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Style Days of Christmas: TASSIMO T65 Giveaway

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We are in our second week of Style Days of Christmas giveaways and today’s prize comes courtesy of TASSIMO! Who doesn’t love a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate…or even tea on a snowy evening?! Well, with TASSIMO T65 home brewer by BOSCH (valued at $249.99), you can make all of those, as well as drinks like Pumpkin Spice Latte, Peppermint Mocha, and French Vanilla Cappuccino. Entertaining during the holiday season is going to be so easy with this sleek coffee machine!

Interested? Enter below!

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Details after the jump!
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Travel: Queen of the Night in NYC

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When I first heard about Queen of the Night I was definitely intrigued – a live-show that’s neither a theatre production, nor a musical, with a sexy circus twist, and an interactive dinner served in the darkness, with performers clad in Thom Browne-designed costumes? Sign me up! Well, the chance to see it all go down came up in September, when I was in New York for fashion week, and, of course, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

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Before the show, my friend and I were taken downstairs, a cocktail in hand, to spend some time exploring the venue, while the sexy butlers (who we soon found out were the night’s performers too) mingled with the crowd, luring people into secret rooms, asking some to complete a scavenger hunt in order to win a kiss. We weaved our way in and out of several rooms, checking out the intriguing decor, and watching an attendee hit on actor Bryan Greenberg in a wax-covered room. His fiance Jaimie Chung was there too; seated just behind the couple, we observed them laughing throughout the show, enjoying the performance. Celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, John Legend, Jessica Alba, and Adriana Lima, among others had enjoyed the show at The Diamond Horseshoe this year, so you never know who you’ll run into on your visit.

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More after the jump!

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What I Wore: Share a Coke

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You may have heard of Share a Coke, or have seen the many “named” Coca Cola bottles in stores, but what you may not know is that you can actually get your very own Coca Cola can personalized with your not-so-popular name on it. Sure, you can probably find the most common names at your local grocery store, but what about the Nelias and the Hawleys of the world? Well, if your name is not on the list, you can stop by one of these locations and get your name or the name of your loved ones printed on a Coke can. Pretty cool, non?

This is not an advertorial, in case you were wondering. Growing up, I never could find a single thing with my name on it…not keychains, not t-shirts, and definitely not one of those mint boxes, so having my own personalized Coke bottle felt pretty special. So if, like me, you want to see your unusual name promptly displayed on something, now’s your chance!

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More after the jump!

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Travel: Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto Staycation

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The month of May was more than a little crazy. Apart from helping organize the Blogger Bazaar event, last month I also finished a quarter-end at work, filmed not one, but two Styled By Nelia videos, hosted an ALDO A-List party, participated in an Aveda photoshoot and photo exhibit, all the while preparing for yet another month-end. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun doing these things, but doing them on top of my 9-5 job made me feel more than a little stressed. Knowing that yet another month-end was staring me square in the face, I knew that a staycation was in order. So last Sunday, le bf and I packed our bags, and took the 15-minute Car2Go ride to Toronto’s Shangri-La hotel, where we had a room booked for one night of fun and relaxation.

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ROOM

Shangri-La is one of the most prestigious hotel brands in the world. Synonymous with paradise, Shangri-La is all about providing sophisticated luxury, transporting you to a place of deepest calm and relaxation. The moment we walked into our suite, we were wowed by the size and design of our room. With a spacious living room, two stunning bathrooms, welcoming bedroom, plush robes, marble and velvet finishes, two closets, and a Nespresso machine, our suite felt more like a sleek condo in the city than a hotel room. There were labelled buttons everywhere, to make turning on the lights, as well as opening and closing the sheers and drapes a breeze, a built-in TV in the master bathroom vanity, and an in-room iPad for our room-service ordering ease. In one word – impressive!

After checking out our room, we dropped off our things, and took the elevator down to the lobby for the first stop on our staycation itinerary! Shangri-La’s afternoon high tea!

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HIGH TEA

Having heard great things about high tea at Shangri-La, our expectations were pretty high. When we arrived, our VAWK-clad hostess handed us a tea menu and asked us to choose our favourites from the 68 varieties on hand at the hotel. After taking our time to peruse the tea library (68 teas is no joke!),  we settled on Sunrise Serenade flowering tea. While we waited for our tea service, we had a chance to fully take in our surroundings. While the high tea service is held in Shangri-La’s Lobby Lounge, nothing about it felt “lobby-like”. We were seated on a comfortable sofa overlooking a large fireplace, and while the lounge was full of people, our high-tea experience felt very intimate.

When the tower arrived, I didn’t hear a single thing our hostess told us about it (I asked her to repeat it for me later), because I was ready to dig in and everything looked amazing. We started at the bottom, and tucked into lobster and chive rolls, cucumber apple and cream cheese, roasted chicken with grain mustard, and egg and watercress sandwiches with crispy Serrano ham on top. De-li-cious! Next up, we spread some creamy Devonshire cream and jam on warm, flaky chamomile scones, and they were gone in a flash. I am not usually a fan of scones, but these were divine. We moved on to the much-anticipated dessert plate, which consisted of a chocolate ganache cake with raspberry compote, passion fruit ball, berries and citrus pastry, and a pineapple verrine. Once again, everything was delectable, bursting with flavours. Even half of each rich pastry was enough to satisfy me and my sweet tooth. Once the tower was polished off, we sat back, sipping our fragrant tea, more intense with each cup, looking at the fireplace, and enjoying the soft piano music playing in the background.

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SPA

After our delightful high tea experience, we went back to our room, put on our bathing suits, and headed to the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris. Having visited the spa a few times before, I already knew what to expect – pure relaxation. We chose Hammam and Gommage for couples – 15 minutes in a high-intensity steam room to detox, followed by a full-body scrub. Hammam and Gommage is a great intimate treatment to share with a loved one, and I am really glad I finally brought le bf to experience it with me. The 15 minutes inside the steam room are very peaceful, and let you be alone together, breathing in and out, letting your pores open up, and rid your body of toxins. While the scrub treatment just feels incredibly nice, and can be as intense as you’d like.

Post-gommage, we marveled at our smooth, baby-soft skin, and relaxed some more in the little outdoor oasis on the patio of the spa, refreshed with some grapes, sweet Moroccan mint tea, and baklava. We probably could’ve stayed there all day, but we chose to pay a visit to the hotel pool instead. Private cabanas equipped with personal TVs, and stunning views of Toronto all around, made for a cool and refreshing post-spa visit – simply blissful.

More after the jump!

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Gadgets: Nespresso VertuoLine

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Thanks to this neverending winter and the polar vortex, I’ve become a weekend hermit. Instead of going out for brunch with le bf, my friends, and family, I’ve been making crepes, picking up pastries from the nearby Jules Patisserie, and scarfing it all down at home in the comfort of my kitchen with a cup of instant coffee. Having just moved into a pretty tiny house, our kitchen counter space is a precious commodity, and until now, le bf and I could not agree on a coffee machine to invest in. It all changed when I received a brand spanking new Nespresso VertuoLine machine.

Not only does Nespresso make stylish machines that would look amazing on anyone’s kitchen counter, but their coffees are also known to be very tasty and flavourful. Not a big fan of strong espressos, I was overjoyed to find out that Nespresso finally launched a machine that can make long coffees as well as espressos to satisfy all types of coffee lovers. With larger capsules that look like little planets instead of thimbles, the new Nespresso VertuoLine machines can “whip up” a large cup of coffee with thick foamy crema in 15 seconds, making the at-home coffee brewing experience feel extra decadent, and turning anyone into an amateur barista.

Last weekend, during the Slavic festival of Maslenitsa, I decided to finally give our Nespresso VertuoLine a try. Armed with a sample pack of capsules of various flavours and intensities, and with a few friends around the breakfast table, we welcomed spring with an abundance of crepes, and delicious coffee. So fun and easy!

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If you are thinking about investing in a new coffee machine, my thoughts on the new Nespresso VertuoLine are after the jump!

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Style Days of Christmas: SodaStream Source Giveaway

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A few months ago I got my hands on a SodaStream machine, and it changed my life. Ok, maybe it didn’t really change my life, but it certainly changed the way le bf and I consume soft drinks and host. We no longer buy sparkling water and pop – both of those are easily made at home, using less sugar, and wasting less bottles. Entertaining is now a breeze – with fun cocktail mixes at the ready, I am able to whip up a killer mojito in no time. And it sure looks damn sleek on our kitchen counter!

In June I also proclaimed that a SodaStream machine would make a perfect gift for anyone and for any occasion, and I still stand by that statement. It’s one of those things that you never knew you needed, but once you get your hands on one – you will wonder how you ever lived without it. It’s that good. So, because I love this product so much and want you to experience the SodaStream life (to hydrate, enjoy yummy cocktails, or drink guilt-free soda), I partnered up with SodaStream Canada to give away an amazing gift pack (valued at $202), which includes the following:

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– Ocean Spray syrups (Cranberry, Cranberry Raspberry, and Cranberry)
– Cola and Diet Cola syrups
– Orange and Grapefruit syrups

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It really is the perfect gift!

SodaStream can transform tap water into sparkling water in seconds to keep you hydrated

SodaStream contains 2/3 less sugar and 1/3 less calories than regular soda

SodaStream encourages kids to experiment with flavours by challenging them to mix different SodaStream syrups and make their own creations

SodaStream Source is the perfect kitchen accessory for hosting cocktail parties with friends

SodaStream allows you to get creative at home and customize drinks to suit all their friends or families’ individual tastes

Enter the giveaway after the jump!

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