Sometimes I like to pretend I’m a lady of luxury and there’s no better place to do that than Blythswood Square Spa & Hotel in Glasgow.

Many of my friends were surprised that I hadn’t visited the Blythswood already, so I made a point of booking in for a birthday treat. Another year older, another life goal ticked off the list!

The 5 star hotel exudes elegance, with an impressive exterior and grand reception area that puts me in mind of a David Lynch boudoir. In a good way, I promise – if sparkling chandeliers, monochrome flooring and red velvet is your thing, you’ll love it. 

I wasn’t staying overnight in the hotel on this occasion, so I headed downstairs to the spa, eager to treat myself to some much-needed pamper time.

Upon arrival I was asked to fill out a consultation card and offered a glass of prosecco, which was part of my package and went down a treat. 

Afternoon Tea at the Blythswood 

The relaxation area at the spa reception looks glamorous and comfortable, but I’ve decided the chairs are deceptively uncomfortable. The backs of the chairs recline at an angle that’s neither lie-back-and-relax-pre-massage or sit-upright-and-sip-prosecco. So you end up perched in an awkward in-between position, glugging your prosecco so you can move on to comfier surroundings.

This is also an issue when the afternoon tea is served, as I found I was digesting fruit scones and cream cakes at an alarming rate, due to my uncomfortable seat.

On the plus side, unlike many afternoon tea offerings, you do get one of those fancy tiered trays of treats all to yourself. And dietary requirements, or fussy eater requests, are catered for without any issues. 

Blythswood Square Spa Review

Several scones, cakes, meringues and cups of tea later, I was taken through to the chilled out treatment rooms. I only waited a few minutes in the treatment reception area before being taken to a private room by my therapist, who I want to call Natalie so I will. 

Once Natalie had an understanding of my many aches and pains, she got started on the back, neck and shoulder massage I had requested. Her perfect pressure and precision when targeting my pain points left me feeling very relaxed and soothed some of the tension I had arrived with. One of the best massages I’ve had the pleasure of receiving, using gorgeous-smelling Ishga products. 

Post-massage, I took a wander round the thermal suite to see what it had to offer. Not being a massive fan of saunas (the lack of air is suffocating and I have an irrational fear of being locked in), I opted to spend most of my time floating between the hydrotherapy pool, the solarium and the crystal steam room. 

The hydrotherapy pool was probably my favourite, a large jacuzzi situated in the centre of the spa. Plenty of bubbles and high ceilings made this a relaxing experience that I returned to a few times on my visit. 

The crystal steam room is unique and you’ll either love it or hate it. I could only cope with it when the door was slightly ajar (see previous comment on irrational door locking fear), but it was a calming wet room filled with menthol steam that did its best to clear my congested system of toxins and the previous night’s vodka.

The spa itself feels like the crystal maze, with its various rooms and themes, so it’s fitting that this steam room does have a red crystal centrepiece, from which the scented steam emanates. Strangely hypnotic and relaxing at the same time, with the door open of course…

My one gripe is that the main pool, complete with waterfall and jet features, isn’t larger. When I go to a spa I like a swim, but the size of the Blythswood’s pool is only fit for a doggy paddle. There also doesn’t appear to be a need for the strange ‘hidden’ room located towards the back of the pool. Other than the water that shoots out from the corner, it seems like a bit of a waste of space that could be put to better use.

Given the small size of the pool, there are only a few loungers located next to it for relaxing on but the spa wasn’t busy enough when I visited for this to be an issue. 

Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Blythswood and was pleasantly surprised that it lived up to the hype. Not sure I would pay the list price to visit the thermal suite, but worth a visit if you can get a deal on a voucher code site. 

Pure Spa Glasgow nail bar

Pure Spa Glasgow nail bar and reception area

I make no secret of the fact that weddings and all things wedding-related stress me out, so when a month of hen dos and weddings approached me way too fast, I decided to take action.

I decided that only a total body overhaul would switch my mind off from overthinking the impending doom of the big days ahead, and signed up to the Spa Essentials Experience at Pure Spa on West Nile Street, Glasgow.

My only previous experience of the salon was a quick file and polish in the downstairs nail bar, so I was excited to see what lay in store at the spa side of the building.

On arrival I was greeted by my therapist Alison, who showed me through a series of doors that led to a serene hideaway from the bustling street below.

A quick change out of my work clothes and into the soft, fluffy robe and slippers provided was my first step to relaxation and this was followed by a five minute rest on the reclining chairs dotted around the spa waiting area. My only criticism is that this area is not ideal for relaxing – the bright lights and rigid recliners don’t allow you to switch off fully, even less so as this is the main walkway for guests entering and leaving the treatment rooms.

Pure Spa Glasgow relaxation area and sauna

Pure Spa Glasgow relaxation area and sauna

I was slightly more relaxed when Alison collected me and took me into one of the tranquil treatment rooms, complete with soft lighting and heated, towel-laden beds.

The treatment started with a refreshing foot scrub and massage, as Alison asked what I was hoping to get from today’s experience and if there were any particular aches and pains she should concentrate on.

It was then over to the indulgent bed, where I snuggled down for the first part of the treatment: a hot stone massage. The tension in my shoulders was expertly massaged away with the help of the hot stones and the aching muscles I’d complained of earlier in the day eased up for the first time in a few months.

Part two was a hopi ear candle – now, I’d never considered this particular treatment before, but when I saw it was an option for this package I decided to go for it. Having been plagued by blocked ears and tension headaches over the past couple of years, my research told me this was a possible remedy for these ailments. 

It’s quite possibly the strangest treatment I’ve ever had, yet I found the experience quite relaxing. The hollow cotton tube, soaked in beeswax, honey and herbs, is lit and inserted into the ear to remove excess wax and impurities. Although this sounds dangerous, the flame is at the top of the candle away from the ear and a gentle crackling noise is heard as the candle burns and works its magic.

The jury’s out as to whether this does actually help sinus and stress-related conditions but I did feel less congested and Alison showed me the wax that had been removed by the candle… not something you’d want to look at every day!

Elemis skincare

Elemis skincare

The final part of my treatment was an Elemis facial, which I hoped would give my dull winter skin a boost. Having tried Elemis products in the past, I was looking forward to seeing what Alison recommended for me. The pro collagen cleansing balm was a standout for me, as it felt so soothing on my skin, so I made a mental note to try this at a later date. I love it when a facial is finished off with a scalp massage so I was pleased that this is what came after the facial, but a bit gutted that my time in the spa was over!

As I made my way back down the stairs and into the brightly-lit reception area I got a stark reminder of why I hadn’t revisited Pure Spa after my manicure all those months ago. Some of the reception staff could not be less-friendly and inviting if they tried. There’s one in particular who looks thoroughly bored and disinterested in every customer that comes through the door and when she asked me if everything was okay with my treatment I got the impression she wasn’t remotely interested in my answer as she quickly faked a smile and tried to push some add-on products.

I’d thoroughly recommend the Spa Essentials Experience if you’re looking for 90 minutes of escapism, but try and avoid the icy robots at the door…

*Spa Essentials Experience at Pure Spa, West Nile Street, Glasgow, £110

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

When people ask you who your idol or inspiration is it can be hard to pinpoint one person who has the sort of longevity to constantly be a source of inspiration. After all, we live in a world where today’s triumphs are tomorrow’s trash, so everyone’s looking to latch on to the ‘next big thing’ (before someone else instagrams it…).

I’ve had many idols of the celebrity variety of the years, but there’s only ever been one that’s continued to inspire me through my whole life and constantly surprises me with her ability to reinvent herself.

I believe I was 3 years old when I was sat in front of Top of the Pops, transfixed by Madonna, who was, at the time, sporting a bright pink wig singing Holiday. That was the beginning of a lifelong adulation for the woman who would become an international pop star, actress, dancer, performer, fashion icon, mother, film director, businesswoman and icon.

I’m sure my parents were horrified that I just wanted to be Madonna, when I could’ve chosen someone a bit less offensive and sexualised. At ten years old I’d moved on from having posters on my wall and cassettes of all her albums to asking the hairdresser to bleach my hair and refusing to remove the bright red lipstick I thought was appropriate for school. Come to think of it, I haven’t really moved on from those issues!

So almost 30 years later, I finally got the chance to see my idol perform at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena. Having missed her last visit to Scotland (a near universally-panned performance at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh) I didn’t know quite what to expect.

Was she still up for it? Would she play my favourite hits? Would she disappoint me like some many of our idols do? Yes, yes and no. Turning up fashionably late, she put on a spectacular two hour show with no breaks – truly the queen of everything.

For the majority of the show I just looked on in awe as she perfected dance routines and changed costumes seamlessly, adding in a few one-liners to show she still has a sense of humour these days.

Many things have been and will be written about her, and she wouldn’t have it any other way, but for me the most impressive thing about Madonna is her ability to keep going. Criticism of her music, acting ability, appearance, personal life and political beliefs don’t stop her from doing what she wants to do, whether other people believe she should or not.

And that’s the thing I suppose – they’re all just other people, but there will only ever be one Madonna.

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, Bath Street, Glasgow (Source: Beauty Boutique & Day Spa Facebook page)

Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, Bath Street, Glasgow (Source: Beauty Boutique & Day Spa Facebook page)

Many moons ago I reviewed the now-closed nkd Waxing concession in House of Fraser, Glasgow.

It was my first experience of designer waxing and I was so impressed that I was a regular customer until they closed their doors a couple of years ago.

The reason for the closure cannot have been lack of customers (as it was always really hard to get an appointment), but Brazilians and Hollywoods are now the norm in the waxing world so there’s a multitude of options out there for former nkd devotees like myself.

The one thing I learned from going along to nkd regularly was that the wax they used, Perron Rigot, made all the difference when it came to preventing pesky ingrown hairs and minimising the pain.

So when it came to finding a new “intimate” waxer, as they’re known in the beauty industry, that was the first thing I looked for.

I’ll be honest – although many salons I tried after nkd were good, they never quite managed to meet the nkd standard. It wasn’t that the salons or therapists were bad, most were lovely and I can’t actually fault their waxing, but if you went to nkd and had Ashley as a waxer, you’ll know what I mean.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve finally found one salon that does meet my high post-nkd expectations.

Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, located on Bath Street, Glasgow, is a real gem of a place. Like most newbies to beauty salons these days, I booked using an offer I received via Wahanda which meant I had a package of treats for a decent price.

The salon itself is welcoming and modern, and way bigger than you expect it to be. Although I only experienced the waxing and massage rooms, a short trip through the salon revealed a slick city nail bar and hair salon to the left the of main beauty building. As they offer day spa packages and treatments, I assume there are hot tubs and/or a small swimming pool somewhere in the salon but I didn’t come across this on my visit.

I’m terrible with names but I *think* my therapist’s name was Laura. She immediately put me at ease and a short chat revealed that she managed the salon, so I was in safe hands. 

I opted for a Brazilian wax and since I’ve been having these for a few years now, there’s no surprises in the routine. However, you do hear horror stories of being asked to kneel on all fours (really, is that ever necessary?!), so when you go to a new place, that’s always my worst fear! Thankfully, there was none of that and the process was as embarrassment-free as it can possibly be when you’re naked from the waist down.

This is my checklist for a good bikini wax and Beauty Boutique met them all, so that’s why they’re my new favourite waxing place:

  1. The therapist should be easy to talk to – awkward silences are good for no one
  2. The procedure should be explained fully if it’s your first time at the venue or first time getting the treatment – surprises are never welcome
  3. Perron Rigot wax is your friend, if the salon is using it then you shouldn’t have to worry about ingrown hairs
  4. The hair should come out in one swift swipe of the strip – if you feel every strand being tugged out, there’s something not right
  5. Wait for the excruciating pain to come… and smile in relief when it never does. Okay, so it’s not the most relaxing/enjoyable experience in the world but if you’re close to passing out from the procedure then it’s not being done right.

I’d say I only had regrowth after about 6 weeks and could easily have got away with 8 weeks if I wasn’t going on holiday, so it was also excellent value for money.

I know some people are put off by the cost of designer waxing, but I used to spend £8 every 2-3 weeks to get a basic tidy-up wax so it does add up to around the same cost in the long term.

If you’re looking for a fuss-free (and mostly pain-free) waxing experience, in sleek city centre surroundings, Beauty Boutique & Day Spa is definitely the place to try – you won’t be disappointed.

I had the Brazilian Wax, £27, @ Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, 145 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4SQ
0845 408 8804

http://www.beautyboutiquedayspa.co.uk

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

I was lucky enough to live and work in London a few years ago, and I loved the place so much that I’m still a regular visitor to the city for both work and pleasure. Even though I now live back in Scotland, I’m always asked for advice on what to do and where to go when friends and family are visiting London for the first time.

I forget how daunting it can be when you’re a first time visitor in London – everything is different and there are more people living in the UK’s capital city than currently reside in the whole of Scotland. 7 million and rising! And people wonder why the tubes are packed…

Anyway, having been asked the question again, I thought it was easier if I just created a blog post with all my tips and hints for making your first experience of London an enjoyable, hassle-free one. Some of the tips are specific to Scots/Glaswegians landing in London for the first time but there are some general rules that apply to tourists visiting London from anywhere in the world…

1. Choose Your Transport Wisely

This one’s a bit confusing if you are used to one main airport and train station. So you leave from Glasgow Airport or Central Station, but where do you head to?

The train is easy enough as Glasgow trains end up in Euston or King’s Cross station, both in north/central London and much of a muchness. Go for the cheapest service with the least amount of changes and you’re on to a winner, as some Virgin and East Coast services only take 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Don’t even think about the dreaded mega bus – you have seen Trainspotting right?! Having endured this once a few years ago when I missed a flight, I’d say the depiction is pretty accurate. But if you insist… don’t forget the cairds! You might be safer having a pastime that doesn’t involve making eye contact with the general public on this vomit-inducing journey.

Too many airports to choose from is a headache though so think about where you’re travelling to once you get to the airport, as that can be a deciding factor. Along with price of course – Heathrow, served only by BA from Glasgow, is generally more expensive to fly to due to faster links into London from the airport (15 minutes to Paddington on the Heathrow Express).

In order of my personal preference, here’s your airport options:

Heathrow

Easily the best option – you can fly BA and get be in central London 15 minutes after landing on the Heathrow Express to Paddington. Usually worth spending a bit extra for convenience, but especially so if you’re staying in west London. If time’s not an issue you can save some money by travelling on the less expensive Heathrow Connect service, 30 minutes to Paddington.

Stansted

If you have to go budget airline then Stansted is generally a better experience than the other airports. The Stansted express takes 45 minutes but drops you in Liverpool Street station, east London, ideal for connecting with most of the main underground lines. Another handy tip for anyone staying in north London is that the national express bus will get you to Golder’s Green and Finchley Road in under an hour for around a tenner. Although the bus travels on to Victoria station, I wouldn’t recommend staying on to sit in central London traffic jams.

Gatwick

Not my favourite airport in the world due to the confusing north/south terminal setup but you do sometimes get decent BA flights here. As it’s south of London it does feel like you’re on a longer flight and the Gatwick ‘Express’ (listed as taking 30 minutes into Victoria but I’ve yet to be on a service that’s actually got me there in that time!) is nowhere near as good, fast or reliable as the Heathrow or Stansted options.

London City

Better if you’re staying east but has the added bonus of some BA flights departing and arriving here. A short trip on the DLR will hook you up to the main tube lines so you can continue on your journey to wherever your hotel is. I’ve only ever flown into this airport so not sure what the duty free options are like, but it is a smaller airport (think Prestwick v Glasgow) so you take your chance on this one.

Luton

Just avoid. Seriously, you would be as well considering alternative dates if this is your only airport option.

2. Choose Your Hotel Even More Wisely

If you’re setting up base camp in a central London hotel room then you do need to do your research. London hotels are like nowhere else on the planet I’ve decided. Do a quick search and you’ll find reasonably-priced 4 star hotels in Covent Garden that look grand… until you discover they’re 4 star dormitories you’ll be sharing with 12 other people, sleeping in bunk beds and using a shared bathroom. Even Travelodges in this town don’t come in cheap so it’s worth doing the ground work before parting with your pennies.

Besides decent TripAdvisor reviews and comparison site promotions, it’s always key to check the hotel on a map and see how close it actually is to a tube station. You will rely on the tube to get around so if it’s more than a few streets away and you don’t know the area, it’s probably not worth the 10% off promo code you’re about to type in.

As a general rule the areas surrounding Hyde Park are popular with overseas tourists, so make sure your hotel isn’t likely to be overrun with backpackers and school trips. Avoid smaller B&Bs and independent guest houses in this area and stick to larger, established hotel chains for a better night’s sleep.

And unless you’re visiting London for a specific venue/event outside Zone 2 (e.g. Wembley or Wimbledon), it’s best to keep your search to this area for convenience and travel costs when moving around the city.

3. Download a Tube Map

Even a seasoned Londoner will check the tube map if they’re travelling a route they don’t take often, just to make sure they’re taking the quickest route and avoiding any station closures.

The best place to get on is the Transport for London website – I keep one bookmarked for when I visit. It pays off to plan your journey before you get inside the tube station so you avoid clogging up the area in front of the in-station maps (Londoners hate this and will knock you out of the way if you’re obstructing their commute).

4. Buy an Oyster Card

Quite possibly the greatest invention for public transport, the Oyster Card beats Scotfail’s overly-complex and overpriced Zone Card every time. Order a preloaded card in advance of your trip from the Oyster Card website or pay for one when you arrive at most tube stations – either way, it costs £3 to activate and you can top up the balance as and when you need it.

The great news is that in 2015 the capped rate for Zone 1-2 travel is £6.40, so you can travel as many times as you like on the bus, tube or DLR in these zones and never pay more than this fare in one day.

5. Mind The Gap

On the platform, on the escalators and even on the overcrowded things themselves… London tube-hopping is all about paying attention to the gaps.

Tube etiquette is something quite incomparable to how you travel on the good ol’ Glasgow subway, fondly known as the Clockwork Orange (because of its colour, not through any reference to the Stanley Kubrick film… although I’m sure there are times when it’s just as anarchic).

Here’s some hints for travelling on the tube:

Stand To The Right, Walk To The Left

As a rule this is the best way to avoid the wrath of frantic commuters during rush hour. If you’re travelling with a suitcase, bear in mind that most tube stations don’t have the luxury of a lift for passengers so if you do have to haul one up the escalators with you, it needs to go either in front or behind you. Not to the left of you – that’s for walking, remember?

Don’t Make Eye Contact

It’s classed as suspicious behaviour. Smiling is even worse. And if you’re thinking of starting a conversation, be aware that you’re likely to be met with a swift safety barrier, otherwise known as a newspaper, between you and your potential travel buddy.

Snap Up A Seat

Normal manners don’t really apply when it comes to nabbing a seat on a packed tube. In other words, don’t rely on gender, age or imminent childbirth to guarantee yourself a comfy spot when you travel so get in there first of you see one. Very rarely will someone offer you a seat, even if you’re struggling to balance as you stand in the aisle wearing 5 inch heels. More fool you, should’ve worn flats. Yes, there are some rare displays of manners and chivalry at times, which are to be welcomed. But don’t expect it.

Avoid Rush Hour

If you really want to travel with a gap of more than a centimetre between you and your fellow passengers then avoid the hours of 7.30am-9am and 4.30pm-6pm Monday-Friday. It will still be busy outwith these hours but slightly less uncomfortable. If for some reason you do need to travel during rush hour, the central and northern lines are probably the worst so look for an alternative route if nose-to-nose travelling makes you queasy.

6. Leave Your Winter Coat At Home

This one always amazes me, when Londoners complain about the weather. Hello, have you tried walking to work in the west of Scotland when it’s blowing a gale and the rain is lashing you horizontally? No, you haven’t.

Granted, it can be rainy in London so do pack and umbrella, but as for the eskimo-like coat and scarf combo you’ve packed? Not required, even if it’s snowing.

The reason for this is simple – you’ll be spending most of your time travelling about on the tube, which is underground and naturally warmer anyway. Add on top of that the body heat of at least twenty other people in the carriage beside you and you’ll end up overheating, which is never a good look.

Even if you do have to walk anywhere, it is only ever five minutes before you reach the safety of a warm tube station so where’s the need?

7. Speak Slowly

Glaswegians are always accused of talking at a hundred miles an hour anyway but the further south you go, the harder it seems to become for people to understand your accent. Never mind that we’re expected to know what they’re saying at all times (you’ve watched Eastenders right?), you may as well be speaking Martian if you talk at your usual pace.

The first time I visited London I headed for Oxford Street looking for Selfridges. I should’ve got off at Bond Street, but didn’t realise this, so asked a member of staff in Boots how far away the famous department store was. Her response? A screwed up face followed by a very confused ‘Sorry love we don’t sell fridges, you’d need to try John Lewis or some fink’. The conversation went on like this for another few minutes until I wrote it down for her on my receipt and she realised what I was saying! Sometimes you do have to spell things out.

And I’m not just digging at Londoners here. In my experience 9/10 staff working in the service industry in London are not of British descent, which is fine, but they really don’t understand your Glaswegian take on the English language.

If you don’t slow it down, be prepared to deal with blank looks, requests for sentence repeats and the dreaded ‘Could you say that again in English please?’. Not even joking.

8. Take Scottish Bank Notes At Your Own Risk

Yes I know it’s legal tender and believe me I have argued this point many times. To be fair, this one is sometimes not an issue, but if it is then be prepared to get very angry.

As I’ve just said, the majority of service industry staff are not British anyway, so you do have to give them some sort of leeway if they’ve never come across a Scottish note.

But I’ve been told all sorts of nonsense before, including a member of staff in a branch of Savers (national retailer) in Ealing telling me that the bank no longer accepted them! She was very British and very English, so probably no excuse here other than being extremely confused by banks no longer accepting Scottish pound notes rather than not accepting any sort of Scottish notes at all. No point explaining what Sterling is either, this is a lost cause.

9. Take Advantage of Happy Hours

 

London bars often do happy hours where drinks are 2 for 1

London bars often do happy hours where drinks are 2 for 1

 

The good old SNP and their increased ‘protecting us from alcohol’ laws have practically wiped out this sort of promotion in Scotland so do make the most of it when you’re in London. A lot of bars in central London, especially in tourist hotspots, do happy hours between 5pm-8pm, so you can get 2 for 1 drinks and the like.

Like most things in London, including taxi fares and rental properties, alcohol does tend to be more expensive no matter where you drink so it pays off to make the most of happy hour.

10. Visit A Market

Yes we’ve got the Barras and that’s a unique experience in itself! But London markets are well worth a visit, no matter what you’re looking for when you go shopping. I’m probably not listing all the markets in the city but these are the ones I’ve visited and would recommend.

Camden Market

My favourite part of London holds the capital’s most visited market. Although some of its charm has been lost in recent years, with an influx of cheap stalls selling mobile phone cases and tourist tat, you can still find some of the more Camdenesque goods here that made the market a destination for alternative shoppers.

The Stables Market still houses some proper vintage stores selling everything from Pucci scarves to vinyl records and even the odd bong or two. It tends to get busier on a Sunday, with Camden Town tube station exit only in the afternoon, so try and pop along on another day if crowds don’t appeal. Situated on Camden Lock, next to a varied collection of bars and shops, it’s ideal for soaking up the edgier side of north London.

Portobello Road

The famous row of pastel townhouses featured in Notting Hill really does exist and it’s just as pretty in real life. So movie stars don’t fall in love with bookshop owners every day in these parts, but the area is just as charming nonetheless. Perfect if you love looking at antiques and vintage bags, clothing and jewellery, with the odd cupcake and coffee stop.

Spitalfields Market

Welcome to east London, Victorian style. The large covered market is an eclectic mix of independent fashion, beauty, art and food stalls, with a history that’s hundreds of years old. Open seven days but busiest on a Sunday, there are different markets running depending on which day you visit. Get here via Liverpool Street or Aldgate East tube stations.

Brick Lane Market

Only visit this one if you’re a true retro lover or fashion obsessive. That’s not a dig at this place but if Shoreditch hipsters annoy you then steer well clear at the weekends, when the markets sprawl over the streets here, packed with designer moustached men and budding fashion bloggers on vintage bikes. Lots of arty stuff happens in The Old Truman Brewery but there’s as much junk flying around this place as there is proper unique finds, so make sure you know your bargains from your bric-a-brac.

Borough Market

One for the foodies, this market is bustling with traders selling every food produce you can think of. Situated in Southwark, it’s right next to London Bridge station so easy to find if you’re that way inclined. You might not think market stalls selling food and flowers would be exciting but trust me you’ll easily fritter a few hours away filling your shopping basket with things you’ll never find in your local Tesco superstore.

11. Go on An Open Top Bus Tour

I’ve done this six times, once at night, and it never, ever gets boring. By far the best way to see all of London’s iconic buildings up close, the London bus tours are great value for money as your ticket is hop on/hop off and usually valid for 24/48 hours.

With the exception of Buckingham Palace, where you’d be best to get off the tube at Green Park and walk up to the grounds to wave to The Queen, this is the way to do it. You’ll see the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Marble Arch and the Tower of London with plenty of photo opportunities. Plus it also takes you down to Knightsbridge if you want to visit the iconic department store, Harrods.

12. Shop the Department Stores

Chanel SS15 at Harrods

Chanel SS15 at Harrods

Speaking of which… this is the best way to do some serious shopping in London. I’m not talking about going to Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser – we’ve got great branches of these in Glasgow. But the original Selfridges store on Oxford Street is worth a visit for the window displays alone or head down Argyll Street, off Oxford Circus, to see the monochrome magnificence of Liberty. For a truly Ab Fab fashion trip head to Knightsbridge where you could easily spend an entire day getting lost travelling up and down Harrods’ Egyptian escalators or bankrupt yourself in Harvey Nichols.

13. Enjoy A Bit Of Parklife

The Serpentine at Hyde Park

The Serpentine at Hyde Park

Not in the Damon Albarn meets Phil Daniels sense, though for any Britpop fan that won’t necessarily be a bad thing. London has a reputation for being a cold, grey city, and sometimes it is, but there’s a surprising amount of greenery in some parts.

I’m a north London girl myself, having been lucky enough to live in St John’s Wood, which is close to two of London’s most famous and beautiful parks, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. The latter is perfect for enjoying views over the city and sunbathing on a hot day, with the odd celeb spot entirely possible.

Hampstead Heath is a bit further north if you’re only visiting for the weekend and staying more central, but I’d also say this is one of my favourite areas in London too so have to recommend it!

Hyde Park is also fab on a summer’s day with the picturesque Serpentine gallery area probably my favourite place to park and look out onto the swan-filled lake. And Kensington Gardens surrounding Kate and Wills’ home, Kensington Palace, is another quieter part of London, great for an evening walk away from the busier parts of the city.

14. Be a Culture Vulture

Museums aren’t going to take everyone’s fancy however if you do like a bit of art or fashion then take advantage of some of the exhibitions on display around London. The V&A in South Kensington always has some fashion-related display and art lovers will appreciate a trip to the Southbank for the Tate Modern. There are hundreds of museums to choose from and some are free to visit so have a look at what’s on before you arrive.

15. Stay Safe!

I say this as someone who has had their purse stolen twice in Camden and a credit card cloned once in a bar in east London. And yes I’ve heard all the stuff about Glasgow being the most violent city in Europe and tourists being terrified of the place yadda yadda, but London can be a scary place at times for different reasons. Crime is everywhere, from crackheads outside tube stations to pickpockets actively working inside tube stations. A thief loves nothing more than opportunity and a tourist is an opportunity.

– Always keep your bag zipped shut, and hold it in front of you as you’re going up and down escalators in tube stations

– Check for people watching over your shoulder as you enter your pin number at card machines in bars and cash machines on the high street

– If you’re heading out at night after the last tube time, make sure you know your night bus route home

– Taxis are a safe option but never hail a mini cab off the street, always use a registered black Hackney or store a legitimate taxi number in your phone to call and book when required

– There’s safety in numbers so if you do get lost for whatever reason don’t wander off the beaten track, stick to busy areas like Trafalgar Square where it’s busy at any time of day or night and plenty of night buses to get you home safely

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.