Looking to set up your residence with the right domestic staff? Start by hiring an Estate Manager.


Benefits of Hiring an Estate Manager

Are you upgrading your home? Relocating? Restructuring? Here are some simple guidelines to help you see that your residence runs as smoothly as possible. 

Running a home is like setting up a small business. The same structure, hiring, and operational complexities are involved when it comes to domestic staffing. As a business needs its CEO, the first thing your household needs is the Estate Manager.

The right one will depend on the size of your home and the number of homes you need managed. An Estate Manager works on setting up a solid daily structure for your home and also implements hiring practices for all other staff. The Estate Manager will assess your staffing needs and desires, outlining the positions you need filled, such as Nannies, Housekeepers, Chefs, House Managers, personal assistants, etc. The manager will know how to screen and hire the ideal staff for the schedule and size of the home. 

The Process of Staffing Your Home

The best Executive Housekeepers tend to work eight hour days, five days a week and slot in with each other. To attract the best Housekeepers, you want to pay market rate or above and ensure you hire Housekeepers on a live-out schedule, as those are the best candidates (good candidates have more options and will choose the job position that appeals to them the most). Market rate for a good Executive Housekeeper is $35 an hour, eight hours a day, and health insurance after three months of employment. 

The Estate Manager will understand how to structure your home with the ideal schedules and number of Housekeepers, so the cleaning is done correctly and all shifts are covered. An Estate Manager will use a top-tier domestic staffing agency to send the best candidates. They will understand how to screen several Housekeepers, ensuring they work well together and understand how to manage laundry, organizing, serving, art and antique care, and deep cleaning.

Once the Housekeepers are set up, if needed, the Estate Managers will work on childcare.  This is a more complex hire, as the parents are usually more heavily involved. Career Nannies have experience working in larger residences. They understand childhood development and will ensure the right Nannies are hired for the principal’s needs, ranging from specific language proficiency, special needs experience, twin experience, infant expertise, or school age and tutoring experience. 

Nannies are hired with expertise in the age group of the children in the home. These Nannies will commonly have experience working with families who fly privately and often last minute, so organizing the children and packing correctly is something these Nannies do well. 

Yacht travel experience is also something career Nannies will have experience with. They are expert swimmers and understand how to act and dress appropriately on a yacht. They are able to manage children safely on the water and help with sleep schedule issues that typically occur when traveling across time zones.

The best Nannies are found by appealing to their desired schedules and salaries. The ideal setup is live-out during the regular week and live-in while traveling. Depending on the number of children, the ideal Nanny arrangement is one career Nanny, Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm, one Nanny-Housekeeper from 7am to 3pm, and another career Nanny to work on weekends, if needed.

It is best to pay a weekend Nanny very well, as good Nannies don’t like giving up their weekends. However, the weekend schedule could be ideal for a Nanny working as a teacher or completing her PhD or Master’s degree.

A full-time career Nanny salary ranges from $80,000 to $150,000 a year, depending on their experience and skill-set. A French speaking career Nanny is always heavily in demand, so offering them a competitive salary and schedule is the wisest approach. Sometimes an evening backup babysitter is a good option to slot in, as well. An Estate Manager will understand how to hire the ideal Nannies, specific to the family and children’s needs. 

Hiring culinary staff can also be challenging, but, as with Nannies, the Estate Manager will hire Chefs who specialize in the dietary needs of the family, such as Paleo, Vegan, low calorie, pure foods, French, Italian, Austrian, etc. The Estate Manager will hire the Chefs once they have done a trial tasting for the family, ensuring the food is top-notch, and will also see that the Chef is flexible and easy to work with. This goes for not only Chefs, but all staff types. A good Estate Manager will always take soft skills, such as personality and demeanor, into consideration upon hiring. Many homes are unhappy homes due to one or two difficult personalities on staff. The Estate Manager ensures this doesn’t happen. 

After setting up the home with the correct staff, the Estate Manager will do the same for other residences you may own. The Estate Manager will oversee current staff, deal with any gripes, and fire and rehire as necessary. It is important you listen to the Estate Manager because he or she will be able to identify problematic staff members or subtle inefficiencies that you would otherwise miss. The Estate Manager will have an open dialogue with all the domestic staff and know where the issues lie.

Lastly, the Estate Manager will hire a House Manager for the larger residence(s) to oversee schedules and daily issues concerning vendors, parties, Housekeepers, Nannies, and all other daily staff. The House Manager’s job is to report back to the Estate Manager, who will ensure the problems are solved. The Estate Manager then oversees all homes, the payroll, legal issues and financial concerns outside of the family office and accountants. He or she will create, implement, and continuously update processes and operations. The household manuals for each home will be in place and updated accordingly. The Estate Manager also manages private planes, yachts, and car collections to ensure all these are up to date, safe, and well maintained. 

Begin Your Search to Hire a Quality Estate Manager

If you want a smooth-running home, start by hiring a top-quality Estate Manager, as this set up will ensure you don’t feel or hear of any problems. The secret to a happy home is having the right person in the Estate Manager seat to oversee hiring, training, implementation of processes, and legal compliance. Estate Manager salaries range from $150,000 to 400,000 a year.

If you want to hire the best domestic staff, contact British American Household Staffing. We can fix any issues and begin optimizing your home management.

What To Do in London for Some Much Needed TLC


By Alice for More Than Toast


London is such a great place to visit  – for days with friends or family days out – that you really shouldn’t wait for an excuse. Sure, it’s nice to head to the capital for a birthday, hen party or anniversary, but you don’t need an occasion such as this to justify a trip. In fact, it’s great to head to London if you’re due some much-needed TLC.

Here are some top tips to help you treat yourself in London:


What better therapy than some retail therapy? Oxford Street has more than 300 shops including pretty much every chain you could care to list, as well as Selfridges. Regent Street is slightly more upmarket – and home to London classics such as Hamleys, Liberty (just off on Great Marlborough Street) – and Bond Street and Mayfair sit at the top of the pecking order, offering designer boutiques for the luxury shopper. Don’t forget Harrods in Knightsbridge or the unique chic offerings of King’s Road in Chelsea – while Carnaby Street has retained the spirit it first became famed for in the swinging 60s. And that’s just for starters, there’s plenty more to explore if that hasn’t fed your shopping urge. Tatty Devine in Brick Lane and Alice Through the Looking Glass near Charing Cross should also be on your hit list.

Afternoon tea

Once you’ve shopped til you’ve dropped, it’s time for some refreshment. If you’re trying to treat yourself then nothing quite beats afternoon tea. Tea at The Ritz is, if your budget allows, a the ultimate experience – with sandwiches, scones and cake in fine surroundings (you need to dress for the occasion) all accompanied by an opera singer and pianist. Still, you don’t have to pay Ritz prices to be royally treated. German Gymnasium in King’s Cross was recently voted the most beautiful restaurant in the world and for £18.50 you can opt for ‘The German’ or ‘The Austrian’ afternoon tea. Black Forest ham, celeriac remoulade mini rolls, nussecken (German nut shortbread) and apple strudel, as Stylist notes, justify giving a European twist to this British classic.

A Show

Shopping? Done. Food? Sorted. Now it’s time for some entertainment on your TLC trip. The West End is home to some of the best live theatre in the world and is a great way to escape from the real world for a few hours. If you fancy some serious drama or a laugh-along comedy, there’ll be a show for you, but since you’re treating yourself, why not opt for the visual spectacle of a Disney classic such as Aladdin? You know you’d love it.

Where to stay

Once you’re done with that, why not book yourself into to stay somewhere nice? There’s nothing worse than having to rush home after your show – much better than you can relax in a comfortable bed at a luxurious hotel and feel truly pampered. Did you know, for example, that you can look out over the city while staying in The Shard for the night? The Shangri-La has opened a hotel on floors 34 to 52 of the iconic landmark and it won’t disappoint. Sir Terence Conran’s Boundary in Shoreditch is a design-lover’s dream, as is the Kit Kemp-inspired Covent Garden Hotel, while the Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross dates back to the golden age of the railways and has benefitted from a great revamp in recent times. Its couchette rooms include beds snugly fitted into the window in the style of sleeper carriages. Each floor of the hotel also has a pantry stocked with vintage sweets, fresh cakes, tea and coffee, newspapers and books. Very TLC.

So, what are you waiting for? You don’t need an excuse – head to London and give yourself a treat.

A Home Has to be ‘Future-Proof,’ Explains London Real Estate Broker


By Lucy Cohen Blatter for Mansion Global


Caroline Takla is a London-based buying agent, and the founder and managing partner of London boutique property consultancy The Collection LLP, based in the upscale central London neighborhood of Mayfair. 

She’s also co-founder and director of One Point Six, a luxury London development company.

Ms. Takla has worked in the London property market since 2002 and founded The Collection in 2009. We caught up with her to discuss the something-for-everyone nature of London real estate, the charm—and financial appeal—of a prime resale property and more.

Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.

Caroline Takla: I don’t think it actually exists. It would be in the middle of London, with beachfront views.

But my ideal home would be somewhere really comfortable, where I don’t feel like I’m scared to touch anything, somewhere where I can come home and unwind. 

My favorite homes have always been the ones that are comfy and cozy.

MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?

CT:  There have been two—a very large apartment in West London that was dirt cheap because it was probate. At the time we couldn’t afford to do it and do the renovations. I still think about that apartment, actually. To get from my house to my mum’s place, I have to pass that apartment building every day. So there’s extra salt rubbed in the wounds.

The other one was a townhouse with a self-contained flat on the first floor, and that was handy because I could have a live-in nanny live there. The sellers chose not to sell, but I think in retrospect, the house we got was better.

MG: What does luxury mean to you?

CT: If it’s not comfortable, it’s not luxurious. Spaces in London are smaller than other places in the world, so comfort is very important here. 

It’s about a balance between comfort, functionality and great materials that are used. People sometimes mistakenly correlate it with having to spend lots and lots of money.

MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?

CT: Mayfair, actually. For a long time, Mayfair was really overlooked as the poorer cousin of Belgravia or Knightsbridge, and it’s not as lively as Marylebone. Because of office blocks, it had a cold and transient feel, but in the last few years it’s seen regeneration. There are three high-end developments happening there.

You can buy for £2,000 to £3,000 (US$2,779 to US$4,168) per square foot in Mayfair, and in new developments, it’s more like £5,000 to £6,000 (US$6,947 to US$8,336) per square foot.

MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?

CT: The biggest surprise is that buyers of multi-million-pound properties still go without a buying agent and without advice. In no other scenario when you’re looking to make a substantial purchase would you try and do it without an agent.

In the states, they’ve nailed it. Here, there’s too much reliance on an estate agent who’s working on behalf of the seller.

It’s changing, but it’s slow, and because they’re not represented by someone, the buyer ends up paying a lot more. 

The London property market is quite opaque … There are nuances you may not understand as the buyer.

MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?

CT: London. Miami gives us a run for our money, though. And Miami’s interiors have come a long way.

The reason London is so great, in my humble opinion, is because we have some of the world’s best designers here. “Made in Britain” has cachet. There’s also a variety of different types of property—it’s not a homogeneous landscape at all. If you want to go ultra modern you can, if you want to go traditional you can too. The only thing we can’t offer is great weather. But we can cater to anything else. You’re also buying into heritage, schooling—all the amenities that London has to offer.

MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?

CT: My daughter’s nursery. We used a beautiful chinoiserie wallpaper. It’s a good marriage between being a fun space but also a calming space.

The rest of it is, unfortunately, a work in progress.

MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?

CT: Work in progress. The thing I loved about it when we bought it is it’s an old house, built in 1888, and it still retains original period features. Fireplaces were in place, the servant’s calling bell was even intact. I love those surprises that the house has. 

And our front door is a beautiful blue, with some stained glass. It has survived over 130 years. We want to enhance those features. 

MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?

CT: At the moment, the most value is the kitchen. It’s a handmade, wooden kitchen that was handmade in England. I imagine it cost the then-owners a lot of money.

MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?

CT: Flexibility and how you utilize the space. To be future-proof is super important. Having foresight to understand how the space needs to adapt when you live and grow into it—that’s the most important thing.

But more specifically, utility rooms are making a big comeback in the U.K. Traditionally you’d put your washer and dryer in the kitchen. But people are now wanting to migrate away from that. 

Office sheds are popular, too. They can be used as an office, playroom, or workout studio.

MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?

CT: People tend to economize where they can, and often that comes to their property lawyers. But you shouldn’t scrimp on those—they’re looking out for you, checking out that titles are right. 

And buying a home is not just an emotional decision, it also has to be a robust financial decision. Is there a profit possible there? Is it future-proof? Buy with your head rather than your heart.

MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?

CT: Undoubtedly the single biggest thing is Brexit. But there are other things going on that counteract Brexit. For example, we’re seeing a lot of Saudi money coming our way. London still has a cachet, and it’s seen as a safe haven, somewhere that you can park your money— and bricks and mortar is the safest asset class.

Since the 2016 Brexit vote, 2017 saw uptick, and that’s because there had been a significant amount of pent-up demand from 2015 (when there was a general election). And then there was the build-up to the referendum, and the referendum. It’s been a good three years of significant pent-up demand. Those buyers who’ve been waiting on the sidelines will transact for the right opportunity.

MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?

CT: Anything that will experience a significant infrastructural change. The Elizabeth Line, or Crossrail line, is a well-documented story. One needs to examine those points, and pinpoint areas that have other good infrastructure—good schooling, good parks.

Crossrail 2 is under consultation. Those routes have to be examined carefully.

MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?

CT: I personally wouldn’t choose to live in a new build. I know that they’re nice and shiny and they come with lots of great amenities. But the more unique your property, the more likely someone will pay you more money, and maybe buy with their heart not their head.

When you sell, you’re not necessarily going to have a strong pull or stand out from the others in a new property.

Resales are charming, too. Of course they’re not without their pains. But London is about history and heritage, and if you buy something like that, you have a slice of that. The key is to marry the historical elements with something more 2018—that’s the perfect marriage.

MG: What area currently has the best resale value?

CT: Chelsea—Sloane Square, Eaton Square, Cadogan Square. Those are certainly the most desirable. For every one client who doesn’t want to live there, there are five or six buyers who do. 

It’s a finite number of homes, and they hold their value.

Thoughts on Positive Body Image, Post Birth


By Katrina for Cool Bananas


There’s been a wave of ‘positive body image’ messages flooding my Instagram feed over the last week. And I love it. This sense of encouragement and support amongst women (many being mothers), towards shape and size; the fundamental message about learning to truly love yourself, is long overdue, especially in the media spotlight, where we’re constantly bombarded with unrealistic expectations of the female body.

Although my post here isn’t directly related to ‘accepting your body’ per say (as the movement on insta reflects), it felt apt to put it out there now (after 4 weeks of sitting as a draft) as it’s pertinent to positive body image: Philosophically, I want to reevaluate the language used in an often very flippant manner, towards our bodies, which can then, in turn, change our mindset, into a positive thought process. In all honestly, fully embracing my body shape/ size post pregnancy, will take a little me longer, and that’s perfectly ok. After all, it needs time to settle into its new form. For me, at 6 months postpartum, it’s about striking a balance between accepting my body, whilst it still adjusts.

 Let’s cut the ‘getting back into shape’ crap, post birth.

Hey! You’ve had a baby, so now you want to ‘get back into shape’?. * Enter serious eye roll here*

We’ve got this idea all wrong. I found myself using this phrase just the other day, and the more reflection I gave it, I became increasingly troubled with such a negative approach and thought. What irks me about the ‘getting back into shape’ notion post birth, in particular, is the implication that you want something to return to a condition it was in before. And the idea of ‘returning to’, suggests you have lost something. Also, ‘Getting back’ inherently means you’ve lost something too, and you want to either have or receive this again after a time when it was taken or lost (I’ve looked it up in the dictionary, can you tell?)

Whilst I do not disagree that you may loose definition to your abs (or for me currently, halloo jelly belly!) and your actual bodily shape is more than likely going to be different- your hips slightly wider, and, Hey there! Bigger feet (seriously, no one told me about this weird side effect of pregnancy?). The idea that you’ve lost something, or that your body beforegrowing and birthing a child is somehow better than what you have now. It’s just not the case. The way we should view our current body is far from having lost anything, it is quite the opposite- what we have gained (aside from a few extra kilos, and curves; these are inevitably part of the parcel when you sign up for pregnancy).

I’ve gained so much. A whole new level of respect, it’s incredible what the human body is capable of. The pure miracle of incubating another life, for your skin to stretch in ways you’d never have thought imaginable! To have shared your body, with another being inside- who has been relying solely on you for everything. Whichever way you delivered a baby earthside, YOU, YOUR body DID THAT (naturally, with all the drugs or with a medical intervention, it’s irrelevant). What immense respect and awe we deserve to credit our body with. I’ve gained stretch marks: far from feeling insecure about these, I should be proud; they, like scars that we accumulate over time, are placed there to be a constant reminded of the story, a narrative to my life.

This body of mine, even though I admit to holding onto some resentment because I feel like it failed me when I couldn’t conceive without intervention from modern day science. Despite feeling angry that my autoimmune system decides to go batshit crazy now and then, dishes out pain, which on days of late has been unbearable; This physical structure of mine, it has made me a mother. And with that, I’ve gained a whole new perspective on life, it’s changed my attitude and beliefs, transforming the essence of ‘me’ entirely. It’s helped me learn the true meaning of patience (*whispers quietly, ‘thank you, body’*).

Now, I am not saying that at 6 months post birth I feel happy with my current size and shape, or that I’m particularly confident in my skin. I’m not. It isn’t because of outside influence, the media, celebrities, or scrolling through those ‘picture perfect’ mamas on Instagram- I’m not naïve, I don’t buy into any of that jazz. We are all very unique, we must not forget that, all of us with our own struggles and priorities. We all respond differently after birth; some will fit into a pre-pregnancy wardrobe within weeks. Others will look slightly pregnant months down the line. I do! BOTH are ok. Be fearless to walk your own path, and don’t compare you beginning to anyone else’s middle. I’ve got at least 8 kilos to shed: This is the weight my frame is suited to, that my joints find comfortable to sustain me. Shape wise? Well, I look forward to seeing that. Because I don’t for one minute think, or want, it to ‘get back in shape’. Back in shape? Why would you want to move backwards? That is something belonging in the past. It’s about moving forwards, carrying a new found appreciation for your body and self as a person, and mother.

Setting goals are important, and again very subjective to each of us. Without them, how can we objectively achieve any results? Personally, I liked my pre-preggo-belly wardrobe, a lot, and with little money for new clothes, my target is to fit comfortably into those outfits again. It goes without saying first and foremost, I want to encourage my body to be strong and healthy. But feeling comfortable in ma threads is a very valid, practical, emotive and economical reason too

When it comes to finding my new shape, size and weight, my ultimate goal is to be kind to myself, both in a psychological and physiological way. Finally, there was nothing wrong with the ‘old me’, in fact, I was happy with my shape and size. I’m simply moving forward now to a more ‘improved’ version of me and bringing a whole lotta new perspective along for the ride. In the interim, you’ll still find that Ima rock a bikini, not because I’m confident but because I’m brave enough to feel the fear and do it anyway, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same.

12 ways London changes when you’re a parent

London Child.jpeg

By Gillian for A Baby on Board

How does London change when you’re a parent…? ‘Great news!’ I thought this week when I read that the Night Tube might actually be happening soon. And then I realised, it’s been years pre-children since we’ve lived on a tube line and the rare times I venture out in the evening it’s on the bus, to somewhere local, and I’m tucked up in bed before 12 (10.30). Oh.

Here’s 12 other ways London changes once you’re a parent:

  1. Baby on Board? You’re still green around the gills on the morning commute, but this time the only person in the carriage who didn’t go out for ‘just the one’ Thursday night drinks with your colleagues
  2. Guest lists? Now it’s all about nursery place waiting lists. Who knew you should have put your child’s name down ten years before you even started thinking about thinking about children? And it costs how much a month? Thanks for nothing, London
  3. You make the inevitable retreat from central central to zone 4 or 5. Or even *whispers* beyond that. It’s like a slow walk of shame you hope your twenty-something self won’t see (you swore it would never happen…)
  4. Previously you picked living locations based on pubs, bars and rolling-out-of-bed proximity to transport links. Now it’s all about sensible things like space, green places, schools and the closeness to Waitrose
  5. The newest pop-up restaurants and avent garde city supper club scene means nothing to you, but you’re all about Pizza Express and Giraffe. Wine AND crayons? Everyone’s happy. Bring it on
  6. All those glorious acres of London’s green spaces used to be a convenient location for your Sunday paper pre-pub picnic, or summer weekend Prosecco fest. Now? Finding the play park and trying not to freeze while you secretly check Facebook in your pocket
  7. Clapham Junction, once the hungover harbinger of doom that work was very close, is now a glorious joy with its wide platforms and lift access to every level
  8. Before? You knew the tube map like the back of your hand and could locate shortcuts and secret places all over the city. Now, you’ve a bone fide catchment area bore who can recite the distance for all of the 800 schools within coughing distance of your house (‘I know, 0.004 miles! Ridiculous!’)
  9. All these amazing tourist attractions, events, and places of interest..that you never went to because they’re two too many stops away on the tube and you were always hungover. Now? You still don’t go because the pram on the tubeis a faff and they’re too full of children (although looking at everything through the eyes of your own child, it is kind of cool that there are some jewels in a tower, a big old bridge and the Queen of England lives in a massive castle right in the middle of it all)
  10. People now actually speak to you in the the street and on public transport…if only to dole out unwanted parenting advice and generally unhelpful comments.  Come back, no eye contact and deathly silence, all is forgiven
  11. You get really nostalgic for things like the top deck of the bus, the ground floor of Topshop Oxford Circus and standing outside pubs in the road in the summer
  12. Tired of London, tired of life? Nope, just really, really tired.

Top 5 Yacht Charter Honeymoon Destinations

By Geoff Moore for A Luxury Travel Blog

For those looking for an unrivaled honeymoon experience, a yacht charter offers it all. With a dedicated Captain, crew and chef, all of your requirements will be catered for down to the most intricate of details and you can enjoy cruising in some of the world’s most stunning locations.

Whether you are looking to dine al fresco, swim or dive in a secluded bay or party in some of the world’s hotspots, a yacht charter offers infinite possibilities. Here are our top five yacht charter honeymoon destinations:


Nestled within the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a tropical nation of 26 atolls made up of over 1,190 coral islands and inlets. Offering some of the best sailing in the World, you will experience a journey of discovery that incorporates powdery beaches, secluded anchorages and a laid-back pace of life.

Whether you wish to island hop and visit some of the Maldives’ five star hotels or spend your full honeymoon aboard in complete privacy, a yacht charter provides the ultimate way to experience this stunning destination.


Located just off the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles is a group of islands renowned for their beaches, palm trees and beautiful landscapes.

This archipelago is made up of 115 islands, comprising some of the oldest granite islands in the world, and low-lying coral atolls and reef islands. This diversity of the Seychelles is a fantastic advantage when sailing, as each island is just a short trip away, providing a range of options depending on how you would like to spend each day.

British Virgin Islands  

For those that truly want to get away from it all, the British Virgin Islands, located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico, provide the ultimate destination. Particularly challenging to get to without a yacht, a honeymoon here will position you in 0ne of the World’s most unspoilt of locations.

Made up of more than 60 islands and islets , you will experience white sand beaches at every turn. Beach bars are located on many popular bays, whereas there are also many unexplored and inhabited locations for those moments when you’re looking for ultimate privacy.

Eastern Mediterranean

For those looking for something a little more adventurous, a yacht charter in the Eastern Mediterranean could provide the perfect solution.

Whether you want to casually cruise the coastline, or visit some of Europe’s most stunning cities, a yacht allows you to move between destinations and return to your yacht at your leisure. Some of the best destinations to consider include Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.

South of France

Offering quintessentially breathtaking backdrops that can’t fail to impress, a yacht charter in the South of France can’t fail to impress.

Destinations to visit include St Tropez, Monaco and Bonifacio and your Captain will also be able to show you some of Europe’s most idyllic locations and secret anchorages, perfect for swimming and private dining.

The Right Way to Spend a Weekend in Paris (according to a Paris resident)


By Bryan Pirolli for Thrillist

While the Eurostar trip from St Pancras International to Gare du Nord will be getting some upgrades over the next year or two (including some new restaurants, like the Éclair de Génie and Five Guys), there’s no reason to wait that long to take a trip to Paris. Here are a few tips for how to do a weekend in Paris like a true local.

Stay central 

You don’t want to waste your time in the City of Light underground in the Metro. It can take days to sift through hotels and Airbnbs, so booking a luxury apartment at Paris Perfect is a great idea… if you’ve got the ducats. Their brand-new location on Île de la Cité, in a gorgeously renovated 17th-century building, is as central as it gets, and there’s always someone in the lobby to answer any questions you may have. The apartment living will set the tone for a relaxed weekend, away from crowds and lines, allowing you to really soak up the Paris lifestyle. 

Just trust the chef 

Try to reserve a table at Semilla, a few blocks south from the Île de la Cité. The menu changes often, but just go for the tasting menu, so you can let the chef decide what you need to eat that night (this is Paris, after all -- chef knows best). Afterwards, stroll the banks of the Seine, across Pont des Arts, for a view of the Eiffel Tower, which sparkles on the hour.

... or opt for a classic bistro dinner 

Try a classic French bistro dinner at A la Biche au Bois or Chez Paul down by the Bastille. Sure, you’ll rub elbows with tourists, but locals still love being able to get French cooking like grandma used to make. Finish off the night with a drink at any nearby café terrace that is still open, and watch the Parisian night owls heading home. 

Go for the best version of a classic 

Head for coffee at Caféothèque, just behind City Hall, and pair it with an exceptional chocolate croissant -- or even one of its gluten-free cakes. We swear, these won’t leave you nostalgic for the days when wheat wasn’t considered practically poisonous.

Pretend to be more cultured than you really are 

While Paris is full of gorgeous museums, you may want to take an hour or so to duck into the lesser-known Musée Cognacq-Jay. This 16th-century mansion houses the private collection of a 19th-century mogul. Entry is free, and it’s always virtually empty. 

Go shopping 

Stroll the Marais and its tangle of boutique-lined streets. For shoes, check out Faguo, a French company that makes both men’s and women’s footwear. Every purchase means a tree will be planted by the company somewhere in the world, so your shopping trip is basically charity. Next, head to the Upper Marais for the unique perfumes at Liquides, where different artisanal fragrance makers sell their wares, like the young creator behind Les Eaux Primordiales. Head to their “perfume bar” to test out many high-quality scents. 

Spice up your life 

Stock up on spices after heading to the well-known culinary hub Thiercelin. This aptly named sniffing bar allows you to get a whiff of the many herb and spice mixes, like the exotic 1001 Nights, or tonka beans.

You’re in Paris -- try the chocolate 

Pop into the confectionary world of Jacques Genin to sample his amazing chocolates, and other sweet creations. His salted butter caramel -- especially the one with passion fruit -- is a must-try. Stay for a coffee and pastry if you have some time.

... and probably some wine, for good measure 

Before heading back to the Gare du Nord, stock up on a bottle of wine (or two) from one of the bottle shops open on Sundays. Stroll westward from the Centre Pompidou, under the newly reopened Canopy at Les Halles before heading north up rue Montorgueil. Check in at either Le Repaire de Bacchus or Nysa, both open on Sundays.

Go international for lunch 

It’s worth seeking out the Marché des Enfants Rouges off rue de Bretagne in the Upper Marais: this old, covered market houses a mix of international cuisines, including North African, Italian, and Caribbean food. Check out Chez Alain, where patience is rewarded with phenomenal crepes and sandwiches. 

... or go for lunch with a view 

Have a light lunch (maybe one of the excellent croque monsieurs) on top of the museum at Georges, soaking up the magnificent views of the city. You can take the external escalator -- akin to a hamster tube -- all the way to the top, where both indoor and outdoor seating is possible.

Spend the day people-watching 

In the afternoon, avoid the tourist traps and live the life Parisian: if it’s a lazy day, stroll the Canal Saint-Martin, and sample coffee at Ten Belles or Radiodays. Or give French coffee a break, and try the Portuguese offerings at the brand-new Donantonia pastry shop, including a custard-filled pastel de nada.   

Definitely stock up on pastries 

If there’s time, pick up a few eclairs or other pastries from Stohrer, the city’s oldest existing patisserie. Try the baba au rhum, which was created in the store, as well as its award-winning eclairs. See if you can make them last the entire Eurostar journey back, though it’s pretty likely they’ll be gone by the time you exit the tunnel on the UK side.


Raising my daughters to make mistakes

London Child.jpeg

From Coffee Work Sleep Repeat

You might think that that’s a rather odd thing to say, that I’m telling my daughters that it’s okay to make mistakes. Of course I want them to do the right thing and be ‘successful’ but what I want them realise that sometimes we fail before we succeed. That so often things take time and mistakes are all part of the learning process. I can say, hand on heart, that I have learnt more from my business mistakes than from any business book.

As a child I was very aware that I had to work hard, do the ‘right thing’ and be careful. When everyone else was climbing the tree I was at the bottom wringing my hands and telling them all to be careful. I don’t think I’ve ever even tried to climb a tree. It got the point that I was scared of trying new things. I was scared of making a fool of myself, of getting it wrong and ultimately failing. I’d tied up my self esteem with being seen as successful and good, with being careful and not making mistakes. I’d be scared of trying a new activity just in case I either wasn’t very good at it or I messed up while learning.

I can see the same traits in my girls that plagued me as child and then even still as an adult. They give up before really even trying, they write themselves off as a failure before they’ve even begun. It hurts my heart to see my littlest girl realising that she’s not as good as her sister at something so she sits down and then refuses to try again.

Thinking back to my own childhood I can remember as a child praising my mum’s drawings and creativity and asking why she didn’t do more and why she didn’t pursue art. She told me that when she was at school there were other people better than her in her art class so she gave up. Rather than recognising her own talent and creativity she compared herself to others and stopped doing something she so clearly loved and had a talent for. How sad is that? Perhaps it’s a female generational thing in our family? Something innate in us, or maybe it’s down to parenting? While I don’t have the exact answer I do know that we are not alone in this, it seems to be a girl thing.

..the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to give up

I read a study by Carol S Dweck from the 1980s recently, it studied a group of 5th grade children. She found that bright girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up–and the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to give up. Bizarrely, it was the straight-A girls that showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts, rather than give up.

Girls seem to believe that they need to be innately good at something to achieve and succeed, whereas boys generally put in more effort and reapply themselves (if motivated). There’s something to be said for watching the way we praise our children. 

We need to be teaching our girls bravery NOT perfection

We love the film Zootropolis, for those that don’t know it’s a kids film where the main story centres around a young female rabbit that wants to become a police officer, yet there has never been any rabbit police offices in fact it’s just not seen as a job for small animals. She faces so much negativity and opposition, even inadvertently from her own parents yet she never gives up on her dream. She digs deep and works hard, she makes mistakes but she picks herself up and keeps trying. It’s such a fantastic message for children (and adults!) and even the albeit, very annoying, soundtrack has some great lines –

I messed up tonight
I lost another fight
I still mess up but I’ll just start again
I keep falling down
I keep on hitting the ground
I always get up now to see what’s next
Birds don’t just fly
They fall down and get up
Nobody learns without getting it won

I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
Till I reach the end
And then I’ll start again
Though I’m on the lead
I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail

How fantastic are they? I often remind my girls of this song when they are struggling with something or just want to give up – (I’m sure I’m very annoying to them!)

So going forward I am focusing on praising my girls’ efforts, positively reinforcing them when they try something new or put in the extra work, and when they pick themselves up and try again, so to speak! I don’t want them to have a fear of failure that stops them even trying, think how many opportunities can be missed when we have that kind of mindset. The sense of satisfaction that you get when you dig deep and be brave and then achieve is priceless isn’t it? I want that for my girls.