Since we’re in the family way (or will be very soon: look out for smithandfamily.co.uk on an internet near you), we spend a lot of time scouting around for anything that makes parenting that little bit easier, or reminds you that, even though you’ve had kids, you’re still a human, with your own interests, passions and style. Thank the heavens, then, for StyleNest and its founder Hannah Rouch, fashion journo turned, ahem, ‘mumpreneur’. Although Hannah initially created the site as a resource for young mothers, it has struck a chord with women all over the UK, thanks to its magpie eye for fashion, beauty, recipes and general good stuff.
We asked Hannah about what got StyleNest started, and where she goes to relax…
Thank you for talking to the Smith Travel Blog, Hannah! Tell us how StyleNest came about…
I’m at the age where lots of my friends are having babies. Many found they lost confidence with their style post-pregnancy and came to me for advice and quick-fix beauty tips. I realised that there was no website that focused on the mum as a woman, not just as a parent. Before the baby, you’re interested in fashion, beauty and travelling to luxury hotels – this doesn’t have to change when you become a mum; it’s just a question of adapting things to fit your new lifestyle. Mums are always juggling a million things at once, so it was important to me to create a site that was easy to use and navigate. Whether you’re looking for the best accessories for the new season or simply want to find a healthy recipe for dinner, you’ll find it on StyleNest. Next year we have plans to expand and launch another site but I can’t say too much about that at the moment.
Obviously, we’re especially interested in StyleNest’s travel features (we’re thrilled, for example, that you loved Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds as much as we do). What’s your favorite hotel that you’ve covered for the site, and what makes it so great?
Without a doubt it has to be The Connaught. It’s opulent yet relaxed; a country home in the heart of the city.
Excellent choice – can’t beat a proper London grand dame. What about further afield? What destination are you most excited about at the moment, and do you have any tips for anyone heading there?
I’ve just returned from a trip to the Maldives – it’s such an incredible place with such an interesting history. Head to Naladhu for the ultimate relaxing retreat, or for action, Baros, where you’ll find yourself swimming with turtles, sharks and rays on their fabulous house reef. The Lighthouse restaurant serves the best lobster bisque and, if your budget allows, treat yourself to the sandbank dinner (left).
Nothing says romance like sunset dinner à deux on the dunes… <sighs wistfully>. What does a romantic weekend mean to you?
There is something so wonderful and romantic about hopping into your car and escaping London for a weekend in the countryside. I’d definitely prefer a country hotel to a cottage so I could be truly pampered and could really relax. My favorite spots are Lucknam Park, Barnsley House and The Olde Bell Inn. The weekend will involve lots of reading in front of fires, good food and long walks. Two days at one of these hotels and you will head back to the Big Smoke recharged.
So what’s the first thing you check out when you arrive at a hotel?
The bathroom. I don’t tend to have baths at home, so I love a long relaxing soak in a giant tub when staying in hotels.
What do you never leave home without?
My Macbook Air, straighteners (I have very unruly thick hair), MAC red lippy (will finish any look) and an interesting book.
HANNAH ROUCH’S INSIDER ADDRESS BOOK
My little black is book not so little. I live in Notting Hill and love all the boutiques around there – Matches on Ledbury Road, and Joseph and Helmut Lang on Westbourne Grove. My favourite store in London though, has to be Liberty on Great Marlborough street. I could get lost in there for hours. To eat, head to The Cow pub on Westbourne Park Road for Oysters and Guinness.
Matches 60–64 Ledbury Road (+44 (0)20 7221 0255)
Joseph 230–236 Westbourne Grove (+44 (0)20 7243 9920)
Helmut Lang 237 Westbourne Grove (+44 (0)20 7985 1184)
Liberty Great Malborough Street (+44 (0)20 7734 1234)
The Cow 89 Westbourne Park Road (+44 (0)20 7221 0021)
I love to wander around Le Marais, popping in and out of boutiques. I always pay a visit to Colette on rue Saint Honoré. I never tire of visiting the Musée d’Orsay and the Rodin Museum on rue de Varenne, a must for those who haven’t been. I always go to Rotisserie de Beaujolais – the mash is to die for. Brasserie Lipp on Boulevard St Germain is my favourite spot for people watching – particularly during fashion week – and Au Moulin au Vent (‘Chez Henri’) on is the best for a romantic meal. For drinks it has to be Hotel Costes.
Collette 213 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris (+33(0) 1 55 35 33 90)
Musée d’Orsay 69 Rue de Lille, 75343 Paris (+33 (0)1 40 49 48 14)
Rodin Museum 79 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris (+33 (0)1 40 49 48 14)
Rotisserie de Beaujolais 19 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris(+33 (0)1 43 54 17 47)
Brasserie Lipp 151 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris (+33 1 45 48 53 91)
Au Moulin au Vent 20 Rue des Fossés St Bernard, 75005 Paris(+33 1 43 54 99 37)
Hotel Costes 239 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris (+33 1 42 50 00)