It feels like eons ago that we were visiting the bustling hub that is Hong Kong, en route to Sydney following our spectacular stay in the Maldives, but I still wanted to share a little snapshot into our time there. Perhaps in a typical fashion, I somewhat naively thought that we might be able to get through a few of the things on my HK bucket list within 24 hours, but as reality would have it, we barely even scratched the surface.
Our flight landed in Hong Kong at approximately 8.30am, and after clearing customs, we headed straight to our hotel to drop off our bags and ‘freshen up’ before heading out to explore the city by foot. We stayed in Causeway Bay, not far from the metro, and a short 20 minute trip to central (where we ended up spending most of our tim). Given we were flying out to Sydney at approximately the same time the following morning, we wanted to make the most of exploring the city – which if I’ve learnt anything over my many overseas holidays, is always, always best done on foot.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the TUVE Hotel (16 Tsing Fung St, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong) a minimally designed boutique hotel located in Causeway Bay and a short five minute walk to Tin Hau station. The entryway to the hotel is easy to miss; a large iron door is all the only signal that a hotel might lie in wait inside. In terms of the design, the interiors, and the comfort of our room, there’s nothing that I could fault during our stay (except that it wasn’t long enough!). We splashed out on our booking and opted for their Premier Room, which coming in at less than $300 AUD, is a bargain when compared with other options in the city. Our room was located on the 29th floor, with a pretty incredible view out across the city, which even on a rather foggy day, still looked absolutely amazing.
WHERE WE ATE
After checking in to our hotel, our first stop was The Winery; I’d done a little bit of research online and after more than a week of eating beautifully rich curries and indulging in more than our fair share of desserts, we were after a bit of balance, with a healthy serving of good coffee. The Winery looked like it ticked all those options, and while I probably would have chosen our second stop for brekkie had we had our time over, the coffee was great, and the food was fresh (couldn’t go past the quinoa and avocado nourish bowl!).
Our second stop, Brew Bros really won me over. A cosy little coffee shop, nestled on the corner of a busy street, the interior is light and airy, and makes incredible use of the space. The coffee, was excellent, and the menu had me wishing I’d saved a little bit of room for a post breakfast-snack. Aside from the small selection of savoury options – which include smoked fish on sourdough – there are plenty of sweet treats to choose from.
For lunch, we headed straight to Duddell’s for dumplings and dim sum, sitting in their upstairs outdoor courtyard. For me, this felt like a little oasis in the middle of the city, surrounded by greenery and plant life, with the perspective of sky high buildings from every direction. Because we were so stretched for time, we didn’t get a chance to try their famous bottomless champagne brunch, but I hear it’s a must if you’re visiting the city. Next time, for sure!
Finally, to cap off our trip, we decided to book a dinner at Fish & Meat. Of all the places we dropped by, this reminded me the most of a restaurant I’d find in Sydney. Minimal, Scandinavian-inspired decor, and a fresh yet vibrant menu full of flavour. Instead of keeping it to just a few dishes, we went all out and ordered everything that took our fancy. Safe to say, we left with happy with full bellies – it was certainly a great way to end our stay in Hong Kong.
Aside from eating our way around town and wandering through the streets which took our fancy, we popped by a couple of stores in central HK (including Dior – didn’t come home with anything though!).
If you’re interested in having a little watch, I recently shared a vlog from our trip to Hong Kong on my YT channel which you can preview below. After a rather foodie day in the city, I’d love the chance to get back to Hong Kong to spend a few days exploring, and getting to see the sights. If you have any recommendations for our next trip there (which I hope we won’t have to wait too long for…!), please do leave them in the comments below.
When it comes to any trip (not including our recent stay in the Maldives), I usually try to ‘pack light’. As a teen travelling to Canberra for a week, I’d fill up a suitcase with clothing, only to find on my return to Wellington seven days later, half the items I brought along with me were unworn. But it’s when you’re travelling for two weeks or more that things can start to get a little… tricky.
But I do love a good challenge, and our first Christmas home since moving to Sydney four years ago made for the perfect excuse to sit down and plan out my vacation wardrobe, keeping it to one suitcase. My strategy is pretty simple; stick to a neutral colour palette, and pick pieces that can be worn in a variety of ways, as the two combined tend to be real space savers, particularly if you tend to find it difficult to narrow down your shoe selection, like I do.
We are spending just shy of three weeks in New Zealand for our summer break, split across Wellington, Auckland and Waipu (a small coastal town north of Auckland), and judging by the ten day weather forecast, we’ll be getting a mixture of sunshine, cloudy days, and a little bit of rain, with temperatures sitting around 19-25 degrees C; not too shabby! So I’ve focused primarily on sticking to some of my summer wardrobe favourites, with a few long sleeved tops and a pair of skinny jeans thrown in for good measure. If you’ve ever spent time in Wellington, then you’ll understand wanting to have a few items you can reach for just in case the weather turns.
Above is a little bit of a sneak peek into my suitcase, which includes a lot of the usual suspects that you may have seen featured in my packing list ahead of our trip to the Maldives, in addition to a couple of wild cards (read: something that isn’t black, white or grey). Not pictured? The five pairs of shoes neatly packed into the zipped-up compartment, and the three sets of workout gear I’ve brought along with me so I can nip out for a quick run, or squeeze in a HIIT workout.
For the last few weeks I’ve heard from my grandparents about how warm Wellington has been, but honestly after years of growing up in the windy city, I don’t think you can blame me for being a total skeptic. I decided to opt for a mix of short sleeved and long sleeved tops (which I figured I could wear rolled up when it was warm) to create a little bit of balance, so that I wouldn’t be caught out if the weather turned. We’re three days in and already I can tell I’ve made a pretty good judgement – today was incredibly windy so having a snuggly jumper to hand certainly came in handy.
As usual, my preferred colour palette is comprised mostly of black and white, but I think this mustard sweater from Uniqlo helps to break things up a little bit, plus I love the way that this pairs with white in particular.
I’m the type of packer that likes to have a back up plan – particularly when it comes to my travel wardrobe – so I brought along a light weight faux leather jacket. There’s a few cold days due to be coming our way so I figured this would be an easy option to throw on, plus it goes with everything.
If you can’t tell from the above list, I seem to be having a little bit of a denim moment. Denim skirts in black, white and blue, two pairs of denim shorts, and a pair of skinny jeans were at the top of my packing list. What I have been loving about denim is how easy it is to throw on, and the fact that it works pretty well for a casual day catching up with friends, or even for some cocktails in the evening (depending on how you dress it up, or down!). I also decided to bring along my favourite pink linen culottes – which I still can’t get enough of – as I figured they would work well in the Wellington wind!
My usual principle for vacation packing is to always stash a little black dress as the bottom of your suitcase. Rather than go for something classic, I opted to take this black and white spotted number, which can be worn a couple of different ways. I also stashed away a great navy ruffle shift dress which I’ve had for a while now from Karen Walker, and a newer silk dress I managed to pick up pre-loved from The Real Real to have a couple options for a nice meal out in town.
Finally, let’s talk accessories. The one thing I seem to have an issue with narrowing down – every, single, time – are shoes. I actually ending up packing many of the same shoes I took with me to the Maldives; a pair of mules, a pair of black enclosed heels, a black of loafers, some slip on sandals, and a throw around pair of lace up sneakers. The second half of our trip, we’re planning to spend a little bit of time at the beach up near Whangarei, so I decided to bring along my straw hat, which I nabbed on sale last Christmas – this has been one of those impulsive purchases that has turned out to be a really great addition to my wardrobe, and perfect for protecting my face from the sun. The last thing on my packing list was a couple of mini bags; these are my bag size of choice when it comes to travelling. I decided to bring along a classic option in black, and then something of a wild card… a new bag I nabbed from JW Anderson during the Black Friday sales in a rich cobalt navy blue. Unfortunately as luck would have it I’ve sent the JW Anderson bag back (it arrived without the leather strap), but my Celine has been a serious workhorse when it comes to weekend wear or more casual outfits, making it the perfect travel companion.
I’m thinking of doing a little wrap up on my YouTube Channel in the new year when we’re back, to talk about what worked for the trip and what didn’t, given we are away for just under three weeks, so let me know in the comments if that’s something you would be interested in seeing! x
I’ve made little secret over my excitement to head on our recent trip to the Maldives – a cluster of approximately 1,100 islands in the Indian Ocean, south of Sri Lanka. It’s been high on my wishlist for many years, and when Luke and I made the leap to finally tie the knot, we couldn’t think of a more idyllic location to spend some time in for our honeymoon.
After doing a bit of research online, we decided to book our stay at the Conrad Rangali Island Resort. It’s safe to say that the location, and the accommodations are nothing short of spectacular. Rangali Island is located a short 35 minute seaplane ride from the Maldivian capital of Male, in the South Ari Atoll. When you arrive, you’re greeted at the jetty and treated to a refreshing drink, before being checked in and taken to your room.
Split across two islands which are connected by a 500 metre bridge, the Conrad has a mix of overwater villas sitting on stilts over the ocean, and beach villas nestled in foliage, with direct access to the beach. We spent our first three nights staying in one of their beach villas (which had the most gorgeous lush entryway to the beachfront), and our final three nights in an overwater villa, with an infinity view out to the Indian Ocean. Both were absolutely beautiful in their own right; the beach villa is generously sized, with two lounge areas, a unique outdoor shower and bath (thankfully it never gets cold in the Maldives!), and a covered verandah at the rear – perfect for lounging on during the rain. The water villas delivered that iconic experience of staying in such a beautiful location as the Maldives; each morning you wake up to the sound of the waves lapping the shore beneath you, and not only does the deck offer unparalled views of the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, but you can head for a quick dip by taking the staircase which leads straight into the water.
I try not to play favourites but staying in the picture perfect overwater villa was all kinds of magical (true Aquarian and water baby at heart!), and if there’s one thing you can’t beat, it’s the undeniably stunning location.
WHAT WE DID
Perhaps the thing that made our vacation truly special, were the activities that puncutated our stay. I’ve never been the type of person who knows how to just sit still, and as much as I enjoy laying in the sunshine listening to a podcast or flipping through the pages of my next good read, when it comes to a holiday, I crave activity, and there was no shortage of things to do at the Conrad.
I don’t typically go out of my way to exercise too much when we’re on vacation, but I did make use of the gym facilities on-site, which were modern and fully-equipped with everything you would need for an intensive workout (though I opted to keep to the treadmill and the mats for a bit of ab-work). There’s also a water sports centre located right on the beachfront, where you can hire jet-skis, kayaks, paddleboards and the like; the island is also home to a full tennis court, and there’s a generous array of exercise classes which you can participate in, including my personal favourite: yoga (in addition to private yoga sessions!).
The Conrad also offers a huge range of excursions – a few of which we went on, more below – including a number of snorkelling trips, a trip to the Conrad’s private island for a secluded picnic on the beach, island hopping to nearby local villages, dolphin or sunset cruises, big game fishing trips, diving trips and a cruise on the hotel’s glass-bottomed boat, to experience the reefs and sea life from a totally different perspective.
Snorkelling with Whale Sharks
Without a doubt, this had to be one of the biggest highlights of the entire trip. I hate to sound cliche, but this has always been on my bucket list, and the excursion was something that Luke and I were both really looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. We were out on the boat for a little over three hours (pack lots of sunscreen and be sure to reapply – trust me on this!), and during that time we had two underwater encounters with whale sharks; the first was 7 metres long, and the second was 10 metres long. It might look like they are moving pretty slowly but you really do have to paddle furiously to keep up! Following our snorkel with the whale sharks, we were taken to a nearby reef, which had an abundance of marine life – from octopi to reef sharks, sea turtles and countless fish species, the entire experience was a really special one.
Dining in an undersea restaurant
Another remarkable experience is dining at Ithaa, the world’s first undersea restaurant, which sits 5 metres under the water, just off the main island. Of all the incredible dining options available, I’d consider this to be the most unique, and if you’re only planning to visit the Maldives once, it’s definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that cannot be missed. We visited the restaurant for champagne and canapes, and spent the majority of our time under the sea in complete awe of our prime position under the sea. Reef sharks, clownfish, oriental sweetlips, parrotfish and triggerfish (among many others) swam beside us and above our heads, while we sipped on champagne – safe to say it’s something that I’ll never forget.
A sunset dolphin cruise
One of the other excursions that we were looking forward to was the Luxury Lucky Dolphin Cruise, which heads out into the Indian Ocean onboard the Conrad’s luxury yacht, to try and spot a pod of the playful spinner dolphins who call this beautiful part of the world home. It was pretty special to get to see them swim under the bow of the yacht, and we delighted in watching them flip and spin as they leapt out of the water.
A cooking class at Ufaa
Luke’s the main cook in our household, but that didn’t stop us from both being excited about a cooking class in Jereme Leung’s award-winning Chinese restaurant. We spent approximately 30 minutes in the kitchen with one of the restaurants chefs, learning how to pack dumplings, make dim sum (which looks easier than it actually is!), and the secret to the restaurant’s signature handmade pulled noodles noodles. Afterwards, we enjoyed the fruits of our labour as we feasted on the food that we had learned how to prepare. We’ve taken away a copy of the recipe so I have a feeling now that we’re home, it’s only going to be a matter of time before we become pro at making dumplings!
There really is no place like the Maldives for some much needed R&R, and as someone who literally doesn’t know how to stop, it was the perfect spot to relax, live in the moment, and catch my breath. But for those who want to take relaxing to the next level, the Conrad Rangali Island has two beautiful overwater spas on-site. Luke and I booked in a couple of treatments at The Spa Retreat, which is situated at the far end of the main island, with the most stunning views of the Indian Ocean.
I knew I’d be in for a treat when I learned that the spa uses Elemis products, so I was sure to also get a facial while there (and pick up a couple of new beauty treats to take home with me…). I opted for the 60 minute Tri-Enzyme Dynamic Resurfacing Facial; 60 minutes of pure bliss that left my skin feeling fresh, glowing and bright. I also visited the spa for two massages; a 90 minute Indigenous Maldivian Massage which involved a full body coconut scrub, massage using heated coconut sticks, and a scalp massage with coconut oil treatment (let me just tell you, this was heavenly!); the second massage treatment I had was a 60 minute Aromatherapy Massage, which again was incredibly relaxing!
I tend to suffer from a lot of tightness in my upper back (in addition to a sustained injury in my left hip), but I don’t think I’ve ever felt such total relaxation as I did during our time in the Spa Retreat – and if we have the opportunity to visit Conrad Rangali Island again in the future, a spa treatment will be at the very top of my itinerary.
Finally, I wanted to talk about the food. As massive foodies at heart, Luke and I both have pretty high standard when it comes to what we eat, and we weren’t disappointed during our stay at the Conrad Rangali Island. The Conrad offers up 12 sensational dining options, from the undersea restaurant I mentioned earlier, to an al fresco nine-course Japanese meal, and restaurants sitting above the water, overlooking the coral reefs below.
Our first night at the Conrad, we were immersed into the Maldivian culture during a Maldivian dinner on the beach. As someone who wasn’t previously familiar with Maldivian cuisine, this was an incredible opportunity to try dishes prepared by local women from neighbouring islands, while listening to traditional Bodu Beru music against the backdrop of the glittering Indian Ocean.
Another special experience was lunch at Mandhoo restaurant, which is set on stilts above the lagoon, 100 metres out from shore. The food here is simply divine and focuses on the five basic elements of air, earth, fire, water and plant. We dined on a delectable crabmeat salad with avocado, which was superbly paired with a blueberry granita, and for my main, I selected the sage marinated spatchcock which rested on a bed of pumpkin risotto. What added to the special lunchtime meal was that at 1.30pm, you can catch a pretty good glimpse of the reef sharks that swim along the shores of the island which visit Mandhoo for their own daily lunchtime feed.
Our other favourite spot, which we didn’t really discover until about halfway through our trip was The Quiet Zone Lounge Bar. A tented beach lounge which has the beautiful aspect of looking out across the water, cocktails here were positively dreamy, and we found ourselves stopping in every afternoon and night (for a night cap, of course!) to enjoy the atmosphere.
Our stay at the Conrad Rangali in the Maldives was nothing short of spectacular, and it’s safe to say that we’ve already started thinking about how we can find ourselves getting back here in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. It was a little slice of luxury in what I can only surmise as being absolute paradise; a holiday that Luke and I will never forget. If you’d like to get to see a little more of our trip, then please do be sure to have a watch of the video below! x
I love a good packing post, so today, on the eve of our (much belated) honeymoon, I thought I’d share what I’m packing for the Maldives. I usually tend to take a ‘minimalist’ approach to holidays, and packing in general. I start by planning out my holiday wardrobe months in advance, so that I can narrow it down to the bare essentials; a selection of core pieces which mix and match really well. For this trip, I threw that approach directly out the window. Not only are we away for ten days, but it’s our honeymoon – the last thing I want to be doing is thinking about laundering any of the items I’ve brought with me. So, I took a more ‘maximalist’ approach to packing – something for every occasion. Keep reading below to see what I’m packing for the Maldives…
The weather during our trip in the Maldives is going to be hovering around the 27-31 deg C mark, with thunderstorms anticipated, which by my best estimation means that we can expect it to be sticky and hot – nothing we aren’t used to during a Sydney summer. It’s a little cooler in Hong Kong, around 25 deg C, and while it will be humid, I don’t believe we’ll be struck by rain during our trip.
I went for a mix of fitted crops, loose tees, and slinky silk tops with a little bit of personality. I know it’s going to be hot, so I wanted to pack things which I knew would be easy to throw on with a little denim mini, or my favourite pair of shorts. My favourite has to be this recent addition from J Crew – it adds a much needed burst of colour to my rather ‘chromatic’ holiday wardrobe (and it’s on sale!).
I tend to try and keep the number of dresses I pack for a holiday to a minimum – they might be a whole outfit, but they limit your options, and your valuable luggage space. I opted to take four with me; two are light and airy linen dresses – one from Grana and one from Stelen – a polka dot midi length dress as a more dressy option, as well as a classic LBD (my favourite is from Bec and Bridge).
This is the one area that I’m keeping to a minimum – it’s warm in Sydney, and it’s going to be warm in both locations we’re headed, so I don’t want to burden myself with anything too cumbersome, if I don’t need to (I’ve already got a backpack stuffed with a drone and two cameras that’s doing that job for me!). I’m just taking one faux leather jacket as a throw on piece, and depending how I feel when we’re headed off tomorrow morning, I might also take a lightweight cardigan – nothing fancy, just in case it gets cool in the evening.
SWIMSUITS, SHOES, BAGS & ACCESSORIES
I went a little swimsuit mad, though as these take up the least amount of space out of everything in my suitcase, I figured this wasn’t such a bad thing. In addition to four bikinis, I also packed a one-piece swimsuit which I thought would be ideal for when we go snorkelling, or do any other more intensive water activities.
For shoes, I decided to go with four pairs; a pair of flat sandals, some black heeled mules, a pair of high heeled strappy sandals, and some simple white converse sneakers.
My final accessories that I decided to pack include a couple of different clutch options for the evening, a nice straw hat, a couple of bandanas and one pair of oversized sunglasses.
As usual, I did share a whole video featuring what I’m packing for the Maldives on my YouTube Channel, however I have rejigged things a little bit. I’ve added some workout clothes and a pair of sneakers into the mix, dropped a few things including a pair of sandals, a linen shirt and a maxi skirt, and switched out the dress I’m intending to wear while in Hong Kong. I figured it was worth taking a page out of Coco Chanel’s book, and instead of removing something I’m wearing before leaving the house, I removed a few things I planned to wear from my suitcase.
WHERE: Hotel Hotel, 25 Edinburgh Ave, NewActon, Canberra
Based in the central NewActon suburb of Canberra, Hotel Hotel has been on my radar for the last couple of years. Most trips to Canberra, we haven’t had a reason to stay in a hotel, given that we typically stay with family, however a recent visit called for a night’s accommodation, so we took up the chance to make Hotel Hotel our ‘home base’ for the trip down.
The hotel offers two room options; their ‘sun’ rooms which are filled with streaming natural light, facing the street, or their ‘atrium’ rooms, which are dark and moody, overlooking an internal the internal rainforest courtyard. Given we only had a short overnight trip planned, we opted for one of Hotel Hotel’s ‘original sun’ rooms, which for a mid-week stay rung in at a total of $280 AUD for one night.
One of the core concepts the hotel is built around is Australian creativity, and it’s pretty safe to say that Hotel Hotel is far from ordinary, as a simple step inside the hotel’s lobby reveals little quirks dotted in every nook and cranny, designed and created by local artisans. These unique features extend to the hotel rooms, which have a strong industrial lean, and offbeat decor like fluffy white chairs and a shower big enough for four.
The room itself was incredibly spacious, with a large fluffy bed and Aesop toiletries in the bathroom. The bar was well stocked with Australian craft beers and organic dairy-free chocolate (a big tick from me!), and a separate study space – perfect if you needed to catch up on some emails before heading out for the day. It’s worth noting that even though we were situated in one of their ‘sun’ rooms, the light was brightest nearest the window, with mood lighting in the bathroom making makeup application a little… difficult. The building is also comprised of apartment spaces and commercial offices, which meant that we experienced some disruption (quite early) in the morning due to some drill works being carried out in the floor above ours. I suspect we just got a little unlucky, but it’s worth keeping that in mind.
Breakfast is not included in your stay, however a couple of really delicious options are nearby, including Monster Bar + Kitchen, on the ground floor. We opted to eat elsewhere (more on that soon), but I can highly recommend Monster. The food is excellent – as I’m sure the photo above might suggest… – and even if you’re not able to squeeze in time for a meal, the bar is open until 1am so it’s worth stopping by for a nightcap, before heading up to your room at the end of the evening. It is on the way back to your hotel room, after all! And if you’re after a little bit of evening entertainment, there is a lovely little cinema also situated on the ground floor.
WHAT: A Baker WHERE: 15 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra ACT 2601
We opted to head to A Baker for breakfast, a beautiful and airy cafe space within the precinct. We’d been here during a previous trip for lunch with my sister, and it had made a lasting impression on me so I was quite eager to head back. The fresh squeezed juices are a must – either apple or orange – and it’s worth picking up a loaf of bread from behind the counter as you’re settling the bill (though the options are no longer quite as adventurous as the last time I visited). Also open for dinner, the cafe-cum-restaurant has a firm focus on local produce and ingredients, something that I absolutely love in an eatery. And it’s food done well. Luke and I both opted for the ‘slow cooked eggs with mushrooms, sambal and kale’ with a healthy side of avocado and bacon, to get us through our morning, which was every bit as filling – and delicious – as it looked.