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Moodboard: Tallinn

We probably shouldn’t say this, since this is (partially) a travel blog, but this year doesn’t look very promising travel-wise. You can say that life has gotten in the way of our exploring plans and we are in a travel limbo. We hope we can squeeze some weekend getaways in our schedule, though.

The main problem that we face when planning weekends away is transport. Since there are not many direct flights available from/to our city, the possibilities for a quick weekend away are very limited. And before you ask us: what about trains? No, German trains are not an option. We love travelling by train as long as it’s not German.

So when you have just a few destinations to choose from, you start thinking about places you’d never thought of before. Like Tallinn, for instance. And since there is a direct flight to Tallinn that makes a Friday to Sunday trip possible, we are seriously considering give it a go this Spring.

Have you ever visited Tallinn? If you have, tips and recommendations are welcome! We have seen a few nice accommodation options like the Three Sisters hotel, The Telegraaf hotel or the picturesque Villa Hortensia and we’ve been surprised by the beautiful images we’ve come across of Tallinn’s old town. We’ve read that there is this cafe, Maiasmokk, that has been opened since 1864 so that is in our list. And so is a dinner at Sfaar and drinks at Butterfly Lounge. And apart from visiting the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and walk along the Town Wall, we sure would like to take a bunch of pictures of St. Catherine’s passage. And did you know the Estonian’s parliament building is painted in a beautiful shade of pink? In general, the city seems the perfect setting for a Wes Anderson film!

We’ve seen there’s a Estonian food festival and also a flower festival in May, so that might be a good moment to travel to Tallinn… but will we be able to survive such a long time without one of our beloved slow -paced weekends away?

 

 

Sunday lunch

Sometimes we need to spend a Sunday morning in the kitchen and prepare a special Sunday lunch. We always picture it like this relaxing experience, with Instagram appropriate moments, a lovely scent in the air, our favourite music in the background… But the truth is that we always stress about missing some important step of the recipe we are preparing, we never take an Instagram picture, let alone an IG Story, and we have to stop the music because like my nonna used to say: che confusione!  So, real life hits and the process is not as smooth as we imagined. But the result is always worth it!

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Last Sunday was one of those Sundays. It was freezing outside, so we decided to cosy up at home and roll up our pyjamas sleeves to cook something comforting: a lighter take on a British Sunday roast. To be honest, we cheated from the beginning because we had bought an excellent roast beef in a local fancy supermarket the day before, so all we prepared were the vegetables, but still, we managed to cook them in three different preparations (tap on the shoulder). We did a celeriac gratin, a shallot purée and some sauteed mushrooms.

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The celeriac gratin was the first thing we prepared. If you don’t eat celeriac we recommend you to give them a try. We discovered them when we moved to Germany and we love them raw in salads, especially with tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  But this time we used them to substitute potatoes in this gratin. For this recipe you will need:

2 celeriacs, peeled and finely sliced
100 ml vegetable stock (we cheat again, it wasn’t homemade)
25 ml double cream
Fresh thyme to taste
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Black pepper

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Pour the vegetable stock, the cream, the fresh thyme and garlic into a saucepan over medium heat for five minutes. In the meantime put the sliced celeriac in a bowl. When the sauce is warm, pour it over the celeriac and season with black pepper. You can add salt if you want, but we prefer not to.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Line a tin with greaseproof paper and layer up the celeriac slices until you use them all. Pour the sauce that might be left in the bowl all over the celeriac, cover with foil and place it in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and leave it 10 additional minutes so that the top coat gets a warmer colour.

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While your gratin is in the oven, you can prepare the shallot purée and the mushrooms. You will need:

For the shallot purée:
8 shallots, chopped
50 gr butter
Fresh thyme to taste
25 ml double cream
Pepper

For the mushrooms:
200 gr mixed mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Fresh parsley to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Begin with the purée: place the shallots in a saucepan with the butter and thyme over low to medium heat until the shallots start to caramelise, then add the cream and pepper. Remove from the heat and whisk until you have a fine purée. Set aside.

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Then place a frying pan over high heat, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, then the mushrooms and cook until they are brown and soft. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for another five minutes.

By now, your gratin should be ready so all you have to do is serve: a dollop of shallot purée, a couple of slices of roast beef, a portion of celeriac gratin and some mushrooms. You can add a few green leaves if you want to add some freshness.

The shallot purée is the real star of this Sunday lunch.  Its sweet flavour will enhance the other elements of the plate and make them combine perfectly, like a delicious common thread.

So here you have: three recipes in one, perfect to impress your guests or just treat yourself to a nice, home cooked meal.

PS: This recipe is a take on a Sunday Roast of Sophie Michell’s book Chef on a Diet.

Non Fiction

Is there anything better than a good book that you can’t put down? Maybe, but books are pretty amazing, even more during these Winter dark, cold afternoons. Add a pair of fluffy socks, a cosy blanket and something to nibble and you have the perfect plan.

However, we’ve noticed a different pattern in our reading habits lately. We barely read fiction nowadays. Our favourite book from 2016 was this one and although its content can feel like science fiction sometimes (the things humans do for power…) it was completely the opposite.  And that’s the trend that our bedside tables have been witnessing for the last few months: nonfiction.

Maybe the reason is that the world is so surreal lately, that we have been looking for truth and wisdom rather than fantasize with stories or tales. Whether it is a biography or a history book, we feel that we’ve been learning a lot and we certainly had a great time doing so. Non Fiction is fun!  These are some of the books we’ve loved lately and a couple that are on queue, waiting to be read:

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. This is a mixture of history, natural science and even philosophy. This book talks about our species and how we have evolved. It’s an easy way to fell in love with humankind and hate it at the same time. The eloquent writing makes it really easy to read and gives you a lot to think about regarding the choices humans have made and will make.

What if?, by Randall Munroe. This book is hilarious and educational. But mostly hilarious. It answers all those absurd questions that we are ashamed of asking. It was a present from my brother-in-law, he said it was so me… And it really is. I love it. The little chapters called “Weird and worrying questions” is really funny (and disturbingly scary).

Notes from a big country, by Bill Bryson. This book will make you roar with laughter. It’s perfect to forget your worries. In fact, any book by Bill Bryson is fantastic and will make you happier.  In this book the author talks about his experience and thoughts when he came back to his country, USA, after spending two decades in England.

What I talk about when I talk about running, by Haruki Murakami. One of us is obsessed with this author and wonders when is he going to be awarded with the Nobel Prize because probably she will throw a party. Obviously is not the one that loves books about absurd questions. This book teaches a lot about will power and the desire for self-improvement.

The last two books are waiting patiently to be read. They talk about two of our favourite places on Earth: the South of Spain and Venice. Getting to know the history of your favourite travel destinations is something that makes you see the cities, locals and culture from a different (and generally improved) point of view. These are not books to read in bed, though, imagine those huge volumes falling in your face when you finally fall asleep… auch!

The slow-paced weekend guide to Edinburgh

Edinburgh is fun, real fun. It’s a city to enjoy on foot up and down those beautiful hills that instantly put you in a good mood in spite of the usually terrible weather. The charming at day but enveloped in mystery at night cobblestone streets are full of history, there is a fantastic place to grab a drink or a bite in almost every corner and the city has a terrific cultural life. Squeezing all that Edinburgh has to offer in a couple of days could be difficult (and stressful), so take it easy, try to focus on having a good time and follow these tips to enjoy a wonderful slow-paced weekend in Edinburgh.

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HOW TO GET THERE

The Edinburgh airport is perfectly connected to the city by bus and tram. The tram takes a little bit longer and cost a tad more but the ride is smoother. Whatever you choose you won’t need more than half an hour to be in Princess Street with the Old Town standing majestically to your right and the attractive New Town to your left.

STAY

There are plenty of options because Edinburgh is a tourist magnet, so whatever your budget is, you’ll find a nice place to stay. During our beautiful autumnal getaway last year we stayed at The Howard, in the New Town, and we can’t recommend it enough. This beautiful Georgian townhouse is perfect if you are looking for a hotel that gives you a sense of place.  You can read our review here.

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EAT

You will find delicious pub dinners and pints all over town.  Rose Street is a good option to find a last minute, no reservation Friday dinner. There are lots of restaurants and pubs and the atmosphere is lively. The night we arrived we ate a really nice upgraded version of the classic fish and chips at The Rosehip: the food was delicious and the décor really homey. Just what we needed to warm up after a bumpy low cost flight.

For whatever reason (the weather? the long walks in those steep streets?) Edinburgh calls for comfort food and there’s no better place than The Dogs to enjoy a perfect meal. With just one visit, this restaurant became one of our top five places to eat in the world. This is the kind of restaurant that you would visit twice in a weekend, recommend your friends and dream about months afterwards every time you are hungry. Try their pulled pork bun with pickled red onion and baby leaves and the lemon and lime posset with ginger biscuit. For us, the best meal in Edinburgh hands down. Read our review here.

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In Leith’s waterfront you will find The Kitchin, a Michelin star awarded restaurant with a strong “from nature to plate” philosophy that resonates perfectly with our slow-paced approach to food and life in general. Book in advance.

Of course, a relaxing weekend can’t be completed without a delicate, comforting Afternoon tea. Again, we have to recommend the beautiful and delicious tea at The Howard, which is served in their gorgeous (and full of tartan) drawing room. The Afternoon tea at The Balmoral is a classic and a lovely experience to indulge as well.

The Scottish challenging weather will probably force you to stop for a mandatory warm coffee break.  There are plenty of lovely coffee spots: try Burr & Co. on George Street, The Milkman on Cockburn Street or Twelve Triangles on Brunswick Street in Leith.

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Finally, think about going for a stroll in one of Edinburgh’s street markets: Stockbridge market, Leith market or Grass Market. While the first two are a little bit away from the city center, the latter is located in the heart of the Old Town so it’s perfect for a second breakfast on the go. The Woods Brownie CO. chocolate brownie with salted caramel will make your legs walk faster up Victoria Street and will fill your heart with joy.

OUT & ABOUT

As we’ve mentioned before, Edinburgh is best enjoyed on foot. Wear comfy shoes or boots, wrap yourself, grab your camera and explore. You can start with an invigorating walk from the New Town to Dean Village. The impressive Georgian townhouses and the meticulously planned streets will become cute cottages and sinuous alleys. The landscape will change in front of your eyes turning the city into an adorable cute countryside village. The views from the Dean Bridge are amazing and the little houses are worth the walk.

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From here you can follow the Water of Leith, a beautiful, scenic route that connects the city and the port of Leith. Whether you dare to complete the route or just walk along the river for a small detour in your otherwise urban getaway, you will be mesmerized by the scape.

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If you happen to follow the Water of Leith to the port of Leith or if you take one of the buses on Princess Street that take you to the port (numbers 11 and 22), make sure to save a couple of hours to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia.  It’s a surprisingly enjoyable experience if you happen to love history and have a soft spot for marine engineering like we do. Enjoy a bit of fresh, salty air and maybe a cup of tea on its deck.

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Back to the city center! The Royal Castle could be the start of your tour. Follow the Royal Mile down until the Palace of Holyroodhouse, making a stop to visit St. Gile’s Cathedral.  It’s a long walk downhill… so imagine uphill! But it’s really worth it.  All in all this is the heart of Edinburgh!

Of course, you need to get lost in the Old Town and wander through (or should we say up and down?) the many closes on the Royal Mile. We highly recommend a visit to the Mary King’s Close to get a glimpse of real life in the 17th century and discover how Edinburgh was built. Plan your visit for a late afternoon, when it’s dark and cold outside.

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Don’t forget to make a detour and walk down the colorful Victoria Street, one of the most photographed corners of Edinburgh. There are lots of nice shops and you can always end your tour with a brownie at the Grassmarket and continue your day museum hopping. The choice is overwhelming and most of the times, free of cost (Museum of Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art or Scottish National Portrait Gallery).

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All the history, architecture and art might leave you with a desire of something more mundane. What about a little bit of late afternoon shopping? Head to the New Town for the best shopping:  Epitome is our favorite shop because it has the most gorgeous pieces for our Winter Uniform, that is,  boots, jeans, knits and coats. And we never miss the opportunity to have a look at Oliver Bonas! Both are located in Hannover Street.

And last, but not least: think about participating in one of the many literary or ghost tours. A fantastic and different way to discover the city with a little bit of sense of humour.

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Sweet & soft almond bites

This is one of our latest and happiest experiments in the kitchen. Lately we’ve been trying to cut down on sugar, mostly because we are scared to death every time someone puts a sugar cube in front of our face (or anything containing sugar for that matter).  In case you don’t know: sugar is the devil. And we thought that the worst thing that could happen to us was gluten… As if! Nowadays sugar is society’s worst enemy. Honestly, we can’t keep up with all the things that are terrible for our health.

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Obviously, we know that all those food-related hate speeches that periodically take over our society are mostly trends that come and go and, even though sugar is not the best thing for you, the key is moderation. However, I have to admit that lately I’ve been rethinking a few of my recipes, mostly the ones that involve sugar. Baking is not the same anymore. I guess we are easily influenced and as a result we think twice before baking one of those gloriously sweet treats that we use to indulge in (like this chocolate gateau basque or these Snickers and peanut butter muffins).

So we have used almonds, coconut sugar and whole-wheat flour in order to make these little mini muffins a little bit healthier. Don’t be fooled: they still have a fair amount of calories and they are tiny, fluffy clouds of carbs, but hey,  they are better than a Starbucks muffin. So if you have to snack, snack right.

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You will need just 5 ingredients:
150 g almonds, grated
150 g coconut sugar
150 g butter
25 g whole-wheat flour
4 egg whites

Put the grated almonds, coconut sugar and whole-wheat flour in a bowl. Then add the egg whites and mix well.
Melt the butter to medium heat until it has a nice light brown colour.
Pour the melted butter over the almond mix and combine it nicely until you have a lovely, smooth dough. Cover and leave it one hour in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Spoon the mixture into a muffin tray and bake it from 8 to 10 minutes. We prefer to use a mini muffin tray, because the result is lighter, bite-size muffins perfect to snack on. Let them cool a little bit and then eat them straight away or keep them in an airtight container for a week.

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They taste like airy, soft, light florentines and the texture is heavenly. You won’t be able to eat just one… But don’t worry because they are refined sugar free. So they are little angels in this world full of fearsome food devils.

 

30 days of yoga

During a few years I practised Hatha Yoga. It was a quite strange time in my life and I suffered from insomnia. The real insomnia, though, the one that only lets you sleep two hours per night. The one that makes you feel miserable and scared during those terribly long hours that you are awake, alone in your bed. Yoga helped a lot. I really loved yoga, though I was terrible at the most physical part of it. The breathing control techniques were the ones that really helped me to achieve a calmer state of mind and, therefore, a better sleep.

Of course, once I felt better and my life got organized, I stopped doing yoga. The breathing techniques, however, stayed with me and have helped me over the years to go through nerve wracking situations, terrible physical and emotional pain and stress at work.

Somehow, at the end of 2016 I got back to yoga thanks to Adriene. It was a mix of factors: the horrible weather made the perspective of going to the gym just unthinkable, we both had been suffering from acute back pain (long hours at the office in front of the computer do that to you, as the most of us know), we were stressed and just feeling meh. Plus I LOVE YouTube. So we started the 30 days of Yoga with Adriene playlist. To be honest, we didn’t do 30 days straight. Some weeks it was every other day, some weeks we practised just during the weekends…  But the more videos we saw and tried, the more interested we were. The key was the philosophy of it: find what feels good. No stress, no pressure, we just went with it.

And four months later, we continue to show up on our mats almost every day. We even asked Santa for yoga blocks last Christmas! The videos are fun, easy and relaxed. Plus we are at home so we can be terrible and no one sees. We both have reduced our back pain, some of us have beautifully toned arms thanks to the practice some of us don’t because we are meatballs with legs, but we feel stronger anyway and that’s what matters. Our posture has improved significantly and we wait with anticipation for those 20 to 50 minutes on the mat at the end of our day.

So, I’d say that we’ve found our cup of tea in the crazy fitness world. And coming Spring we will combine our wonderful at home Yoga with Adriene lessons with a little bit of Spinning (if you want to know why we love spinning, here is why) because now there’s no way we are facing this terrible weather to go to the gym. If there’s no food involved, we won’t be out of the house in the afternoons.

Before finishing this post (thank you if you’ve read so far) I wanted to mention the Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide. We did it as we told you in this post, but once we finished the first round, we didn’t continue because deeply in our hearts we hated it. It is a great, strong workout but it is extremely hard. And instead of waiting for it with anticipation we dreaded it. And precisely that’s the reason why we continue doing yoga, because… surprise! It does feel good. However, Kayla Itsines taught us the importance of exercising on a daily basis, so we are happy that we did it. We will never try it again because #pain, but it made us think about an active life in new terms. And our new terms involve comfy clothing, bare feet, a fun online teacher and a smooth workout that finishes with a couple of glorious minutes lying on the floor doing nothing but breathing deeply.

Image via Gemma Correll

Edit: we are doing now Adriene’s Yoga Revolution series and it’s even better!!

10 Instagram accounts to follow if you love Copenhagen

This time of the year is a wonderful moment to visit Copenhagen. It may sound strange but this is the best season to experience the über famous hygge at its best. The city is quiet and extremely cold, but the dusty pastel colours of the buildings and the candle lights shining in almost every window make the atmosphere almost magical.

There is also a very important reason to plan a Copenhagen getaway before the Spring comes: the black kale with fried egg and sorrel at Geist. We’ve mentioned it a few times already, we know, but allow us to insist: it’s absolutely delicious.

So in case you dare to visit Copenhagen in Winter or if, like us, you are charmed by this city, here you have 10 Instagram accounts to follow and discover the best places to eat, see and visit.

@conpenhagenblible: gorgeous landscapes and top views
@copenhagenart: for artsy shots of the city
@livefromcopenhagen: cool everyday life in Copenhagen
@copenhagenurbanadventures: small and private tours to discover the city as a local
@madaboutcopenhagen: beautiful stories about Copenhagen
@visitcopenhagen: the amazing account of the official turism organisation
@scandinaviastandard: local lifestyle with the hippest recommendations
@copenhagenfoodies: because you can’t go to Copenhagen and don’t enjoy some of the best food in the world
@tivolicph:magic, magic, magic
@brochnerhotels: you will need a place to stay, so these are the best boutique hotels in Copenhagen. The fantastic SP34 is our favourite!

Have you ever visit Copenhagen? Any tips? Others IG accounts we must follow? Please let us know!

PS: check our slow-paced guide to Copenhagen here

Slow roasted pork shoulder

During these last few years we’ve published all sorts of recipes here. However, they all had three things in common: seasonal produce, easy steps and more or less 30 minutes of preparation. Well, in this case we are breaking one of these rules and going crazy with the preparation time: you’ll need  8 to 10 hours. But hey, it’s absolutely worth it!

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We found this recipe in the last cookbook we’ve bought: A new way to Dinner. It may sound familiar because our latest recipe was a Brussels Sprouts Salad from this book too. Well, if we like something, we use it! And this proves that it is a great book and you should buy it. Anyway, we prepared this amazing slow roasted pork soulder a couples of weekends ago and even though it broke one of our rules, the truth is that you just leave it in the oven so it basically cooks by itself and it’s ridiculously easy.  Besides, the result did make up for the long hours in the oven.  We had a few dinners sorted out in just one day!

For our take on this recipe you will need:
A boneless pork shoulder (1.5 kg to 2.5 kg) plus twine to tie it.
75 g light unrefined brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
A handful of fresh thyme leaves
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and blackpepper

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First, bear in mind that your average supermarket may not have this piece of meat and you’ll have to order it. That’s what happened to us and the reason why we had to stay up late until the meat was cooked (instead of beginning the process in the morning we had to start cooking at 5 p.m. Ugh).

Now onto the recipe: tie the pork with twine so that the whole piece is compact. Heat the oven to 245ºC.

Combine the sugar, maple syrup, mustard, thyme, garlic and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Smear the previous mix all over the pork , concentrating on the top of the roast where the fat is. Put the meat (fat side up) into a baking dish and cook it for 15 minutes. Almost instantly a heavenly smell will take over your kitchen.

Remove the pork from the oven and cover the pan tightly with foil. Return the pork to the oven and turn the heat down to 95ºC.

The original recipe suggested to leave the pork overnight to cook for 8 to 10 hours. But since I’m a paranoic, I couldn’t leave the oven on and go to sleep. What if we burn down our the house? No way. So we stayed up until it was all cooked. Piece of advice? Start cooking early and you’ll be able to sleep.

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Once the gazillion hours passed the house was a big, warm, homey nest with mouthwatering aromas coming out of our kitchen. We let the met cool and then we covered it with foil and left it in the fridge. You can keep it there for five days but I doubt it will last so long because it’s delicious.

You can eat it with veggies, of course, serve it with roasted potatoes, salads… just about everything. We love it with a simple green salad with extra virgin olive oil and mustard dressing. The meat will have a powerful sweet touch, so in our opinion it’s better when combined with strong, savoury dressings.

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This makes a great desk lunch because you can reheat it or eat it cold. But the best thing you can do with your leftovers? A sandwich, of course: Two slices of brown bread, two slices of Cheddar cheese, one slice of meat. Heat it slowly in a pan to a low to medium heat, turn around and heat a little bit more pressing with a wooden spatula… And you’ll have the most amazing sandwich. So, there you have: two recipes in just one post! We told you that the long hours in the oven were worth it!

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Only You Atocha, Madrid

Last Summer we had the pleasure to stay at the extremely beautiful Only You Boutique hotel in Madrid (read our review here). We really loved the service, the decor and the location, so when we found out that they were opening a new hotel in Madrid we were intriged and decided to book a couple of nights at Only You Atocha last December. Spoiler alert: it’s fantastic.

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The style of both hotels is completely different yet the attention to detail is equally outstanding. Only You Boutique is sophisticated, calm and offers a flawless atmosphere, while Only You Atocha feels more masculine, cosmopolitan  and spirited. The vibe is clearly inspired in New York, in fact during this year they will open different pop-ups in the hotel (restaurants, cocktail bars etc) to bring the Big Apple closer to Madrid.

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The big lobby is one of the things we loved the most: as soon as you enter the hotel you can feel the relax vibes and the lively (not noisy) character of the hotel. You will find the Trotamundos restaurant, a cocktail bar and a cute branch of the delicious Mama Framboise patisserie in the same space, making this lobby the perfect destination to meet friends at any moment of the day. Fun fact: there is an über cool barber shop in case the gentlemen like to smart up before their date arrives.

The decor is spot on: leather, tiles, wood… It feels manly, industrial, cosy, casual and a little bit rough.  Do you now that attractive photographer character that lives in a loft and it’s pictured in so many movies, magazines and editorials? Well, if he was a hotel, he would be this hotel.

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The rooms are very cosy with tartan plaids, lots of wood and cool 60’s vibes prints. We stayed in one of their Deluxe rooms which overlooked the courtyard and we felt very comfortable. Sadly we didn’t have that much time in the room because when we visit Madrid we have more appointments that we can handle, but we slept very comfortably and we loved the room.

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only_you_atocha_hotel_4The bathroom deserves its own paragraph. While the rooms have a very different decor, the bathrooms were very similar to those at the Only You Boutique, only with more modern touches and cool prints. Bathrooms at Only You Atocha are perfectly decorated and extremely functional with plenty of room for all your beauty products, makeup and whatnot. However we also had a gorgeous vanity table with a shiny Broadway dressing room mirror in the space between the bath and the room.

We didn’t order room service this time but we found out that they offer lots of options, including fun movie deals (nachos, popcorn, chocolates, drinks and two films of their Pay Per View system) which we imagine would be perfect after a day of exploiring! You can also order a fancy picnics to enjoy in the Retiro, Madrid’s more renowned park, which happens to be a few meters away from the hotel.

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And let’s talk breakfast, our favourite meal of the day. While the Only You Boutique had a beautiful, curated menu with four different types of breakfast, here you will find an immense buffet choice. However, one of the best things of breakfast time at Only You Atocha are the incredible views. You can see almost the whole city waking up while you sip your Nespresso, eat delicious Donuts (yes, the Spanish version of doughnuts which is kind of plastic-y but absolutely delicious), drink a very healthy juice if that’s more your thing or nibble the best Spanish  ham (Which you totally should, even more if it’s on top of freshly baked bread, a tad of tomato preserve and extra virgin olive oil).

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This hotel clearly makes an effort to be different. It brings to Madrid the coolest trends and pushes the boundaries of traditional hospitality. In the premises you can find a gym with its very own running club and Capitán Emo, a personal trainer which can help you to burn those delicious breakfasts. There is also the exclusive Beauty Room by Caroli Health Club, the hippest meeting rooms in Madrid and they will soon start a VER-mut space on weekends, where you will be able to enjoy a take on the traditional Madrid’s aperitif with the best live music.

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To sum up: everything about this hotel is great. We didn’t think we would prefer it over the Only You Boutique because last Summer we fell in love with it, but the truth is that we do. In fact, we think we’ve found our home away from home in Madrid. We love the stunning decor, relaxed vibe and scrumptious breakfast. Besides the location, that for us is key, can’t be better: walking distance from our favourite areas of Madrid, perfectly  connected with the airport and just in front of the high speed train station, which comes in handy if you, like us, have to travel to another destination in Spain.

Both hotels are outstanding and unique and we can’t recommend them enogh. However, after staying in both of them… if we had to choose one, the Only You Atocha would be the winner!

Monochrome

As we get older there is a colour that not only has inevitably appeared in our hair but also has become the star of our wardrobe: grey. In fact, we have noticed that lately all of our purchases have this colour in common. Grey is cosy, modern, understated and the best friend of navy, black and white. That’s why grey should be in your wardrobe too.

Looking for a camel coat last season we went across this beautiful wrap coat in Zara. I’ve used this almost as much as this bag, so it has been promoted to one of our best buys. I use it for working meetings with more formal attire but also on weekends with jeans and my beloved Stan Smiths. Sadly, it’s no longer available. Of course, Max Mara does the best grey (and camel) wrap coats (exhibit A und exhibit B) but you can also find some more affordable options like this one from Reiss, this beautiful JCrew trench wool coat, this tomboy-ish Mango number (on sale!) or this cocoon shaped COS coat (also on sale!)

Do we need another grey sweater? Probably not, but there is always space for a new warm, soft, grey sweater inside our drawers. We’ve mentioned our loved for COS knitwear before, but if you are looking for a grey sweater, you should probably look at their online shop first. What a selection! Mango offers a great choice as well and the prices are ridiculous. Two of the sweaters that are pictured above are on sale now under 10 Euros and under 15 Euros. Crazy. You can always invest in cashmere, for that we will recommend something really versatile like this round neck jumper by The Kooples.

A grey tee is always a must. But of course. Again, our love for these striped COS T-shirts has been documented around here a few times, but the grey and white version is one of the most wearable pieces of our closet. Another great option if you want a soft, cosy grey tee is the American Vintage Jacksonville Tee. In fact, you should consider having one of these in every colour. They are the best tees in the world.

Our accessories come also in grey. One of the best additions to our scarf collection has been this huge, wonderful, grey Weekend by Max Mara wool scarf. Unfortunately is not available any more, but I’m sure this classic version would be great too.  And since my friends know me too well, I got an elegant grey wallet for Christmas. I love it and it combines beautifully with all my bags because (all together right now!) grey is so versatile. You can find a similar one here (on sale!!).

And finally my only purchase during the sales: these cool, grey Adidas Gazelle, which I can’t wear right now because it’s freezing but I will wear on repeat during the next months. Right now, my Sorel boots keep my feet warm. Oh, by the way, they are grey too, of course.