Theme 8: California Diary. Loews Hollywood Hotel Review

"There's something in the air in Hollywood"
 Blogger Ulia Ali review on Los Angeles Hollywood hotel

As every self-respecting blogger who is trying hard to fit in, every April I attend Coachella festival with Ben, who from a highly ranked financial consultant transforms into my full time photographer during our trips. The festival is actually our favorite excuse to stay in Los Angeles and explore the city more (aka looking for the most instagrammable places). One of the hotels we stayed at during our annual 'Californication', was Loews Hollywood Hotel.

Located in the heart of Hollywood - literally just next to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Dolby Theater that is best known as Oscars location since 2002, Loews Hollywood Hotel is a dreamy and tasteful choice of accommodation for every traveler that wants to be close to the La La Land world.

The Hills! The Hollywood sign! The Theaters! Do I even need to say more?!

 Loews Hollywood Blogger Review

Waking up to the world famous Hollywood sign is definitely a very cliche thing that HAS TO BE on your bucket list, and Loews Hollywood can make that dream come true! Apart from having the A-list view, the hotel room we had was beautiful, spacious and comfortable, and had a bunch of informative magazines and books that helped to plan our city walks.

As Ben and I used to live in hotels full time, we have an eye for details and pay a very close attention to how a hotel's staff treats their guests. We were very impressed by how clean and equipped was the room, and how INCREDIBLY friendly and respectful every member of the Loews Hollywood family was. It is mind blowing how many luxury hotels nowadays have problems with their staff. W Hotel in Dubai was a great hotel, but had the worst valet service ever; St. Regis Kauai staff couldn't remember our names after two weeks of us staying there and were not attentive at all. We not only had zero issues with Loews Hollywood Hotel, but we actually had one of the best valet experiences in the last few years. It might seem like a small detail, but small things do really matter!

 Loews Hollywood pool review and rating

There are a lot of great amenities at the hotel, including a well-equipped gym, but me and my friend Vivien, who joined Ben and I on this trip, fell in love with the pool and hanged out there more than we initially planned. The view at the pool area make me geek out to this day as it a little bit reminds me of Ancient Assyrian wall reliefs. And any historical reference and a unique photo spot ranks high in my book.

I honestly think it is one of the most Instagrammable and just photogenic in general, pools in Los Angeles!

 Loews Hollywood 4 star hotel review

If you are hungry, Loews Hollywood offers a great variety of dining options, including a lovely American restaurant Preston's and a fun, filled with beautiful people, H2 Kitchen & Bar. It is not a secret that the breakfast buffet is one of my favorite parts of the staying at hotels (oh c'mon, we all can appreciate a variety of pastries and 10 types of cheeses on a plate to choose from!), and Loews Hollywood has an excellent one. I am getting hungry now by just thinking of that freshly made omelette and a bowl of fruits, soaked in honey :)

 Loews Hollywood

Another thing to mention and that is, I am sure, important for many of you, is the pricing point. For the service, location and the comfort you can't beat Loews Hollywood prices (less than $300 a night). The hotel is modern, chic and upbeat, but is family friendly and offers a calm retreat to the adventurers in the middle of the Hollywood's delicious madness!

 Ulia Ali - review of Los Angeles hotels

 Yandy swimsuits review

Swimsuit from: Yandy


Theme 41. Affordable Online Shopping Fashion Finds. Pretty Missy

 NYC blogger Ulia Ali gives tips on where to find affordable trendy looks. PrettyMissy.com review

With so many online shops popping up on the wild "fields" of Internet every single day and bombarding us with endless ads, emails and posts, it is quite overwhelming to narrow down your search and find what you need. For that reason I decided to launch a Theme 41 on my blog, where I can list my online shopping finds with some really affordable prices.

Well, if you read my blog somehow regularly or follow me on Instagram, you might saw that I own quite a few pieces from PrettyMissy online store (my autumn look here and this is my Williamsburg look post). Today I wanted to share other items from the store and highlight some of their new arrivals or pieces that just went on sale.

 Pink gloves in NYC. Ulia Ali styles the look!

First item that I saw on PrettyMissy and knew I HAD to have are these elegant and chic pink gloves. Priced at just $7, the gloves immediately add a very sophisticated and glamorous touch to almost any look. I found them to be easier styled with a matching beret, a bow or with similar colored accessories. 

 Downtown New York Style
 Pink Beret NYC look

Another item I picked this time was a black silky top. It is pleasant to skin, a bit revealing, but very sexy and fun. You can find it on sale here.

I have also looked through some of their newest additions and sales items and picked a few outstanding pieces that you might like. Overall, PrettyMissy is shop where every girl can find very affordable, but chic looking pieces! The website often runs some big sales, so it is definitely a great place to shop for new outfits on a budget.

Click on a photo to be redirected to the item!

My Top 3 choices today are the Jasmine inspired silky two-piece, glamorous silver dress and a fun floral top. Have fun shopping and remember to come back for more online shopping tips!


Theme 15: Downton Abbey. The Exhibition in New York.

 Downton Abbey: The Exhibition Review. New York, 2018

When I first heard that Downton Abbey: The Exhibition was coming to New York, I was beyond excited! It has been years since the last season aired. Nothing could quite replace witty, funny quotes of Dowager Countess, the fascinating-to-watch competition between Mary and “poor Edith”, blossoming romances, emotional heartbreaks and seemingly never-ending miseries of upstairs and downstairs habitants of Downton Abbey.

Asking myself the iconic “What is a weekend?”, I decided to take my friend Allison, a fellow fiction writer and another die-hard Downton Abbey fan, to the exhibition on Saturday morning to explore and review it for my Pastiche.today readers. I already had a Downton Abbey theme running on my blog, and I knew that this experience will be a perfect addition to the collection of my articles about the show and looks inspired by the Downton Abbey’s characters. You can click here to see the rest of the posts inspired by the famous PBS show.

 Mrs Patmore's kitchen. Downton Abbey exhibition in New York.

From the very beginning, the exhibition immerses you into the Crawleys’ household and really makes you feel that you are stepping into the Highclere Castle, where the PBS show was filmed. It all starts with the warm welcome from Carson and Mrs Hughes, and leads you through an impeccably and very true-to-detail executed kitchen of Mrs. Patmore, where she ruled over a handful of kitchen maids and footmen. Then you continue to explore the detailed sets and costumes of the servants’ quarters.

 Servants Quarters in Downton Abbey. PBS show exhibition
 Downton Abbey cast's costumes on display in New York.

The second and the third floor explores the lavish and beautiful world of Crawleys. It felt almost scandalous to peek at immaculately recreated Lady Mary’s bedroom, where I couldn’t help to avoid thinking of Kemal Pamuk. Then there is of course a grand dining room. Empty, but all set for an exquisite dinner party that could arrive any second. Every detail is intimately familiar and gives such a surreal feeling of invading Crawleys’ home that I half expected the Dowager Countess Violet to appear in front of me with a suppressed, but visible mark of a humorous disdain on her glorious face:  “Oh, roll up, roll up, visit an actual dining room! Complete with a real life table and chairs!”.

 Downton Abbey: The Exhibition.
 Lady Mary Bedroom
 20s dresses in Downton Abbey. Period drama costumes. Fashion of Downton Abbey.

Slowly walking and taking in all the magnificence of the masterfully designed space by Imagine Exhibtions, Allison and I especially enjoyed all the interactive and smartly placed insights of the historic events and changes that occurred in daily lives of British subjects from Post-Edwardian Era to the World War 1 and the Roaring Twenties. I can confidently and sincerely declare that even those who haven’t yet seen the Downton Abbey would enjoy all the valuable and entertaining information if they have even a remote interest in history!

 Wedding hair in Downton abbey
 Downton Abbey. Edit's Wedding gown
 Downton Abbey fashion.
 PBS Downton Abbey fashion styles.
 Sybil's harem pants in Downton Abbey.

And how can I forget to mention the costumes and accessories of the Downton Abbey’s ladies and gentlemen! The abundance of wedding laces, strict lines of riding costumes and enchanting glitz of all the glamorous 20s gowns absolutely stole my heart. Even though sometimes I like slipping into pajamas at a Netflix kind of night at home, I desperately long for the times when an afternoon tea in a garden required a pretty hat, and for a 6 pm dinner you had to change into an evening gown and wear long elegant gloves.

 20s fashion in Downton Abbey show.
 Downton Abbey Exhibition

Lord and Lady Granham, Mary, Edith and Sybil, Tom Branson, Mr, Barrow, Isobel, Daisy and all other beloved and sometimes despised characters of Downton Abbey already felt so real to every fan of the show, but the exhibition immersed us into their world like never before. Allison noted: “The section with the gramophone and the visual explanation of social hierarchy reminded me of the circumstances these characters faced and the changing landscape they had to navigate. The characters already felt real and three-dimensional. All of this information along with the costumes, sets, and  props made them even more alive!”

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition has exceeded my expectations and truly made me feel like I was a dear guest at the Crawley’s, or a curious phantom wondering through the halls and sumptuous rooms of the family that quite honestly feels in a way like my own!


Theme 39. Arabian Adventure. Four Seasons Dubai, Sea Fu review

 Ulia Ali - travel and fashion blogger, fiction writer. Review on Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah. Sea Fu restaurant.

Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach - Jet Set Oasis

Dubai has made a name for itself catering to the luxury-minded jet set crowd over the years, so it was only a matter of time before the Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels group installed their beach-side desert offering: Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach (FS for short because #carpaltunnel).

For those of you who have not had the privilege of gracing the threshold of a Four Seasons, let me be the first to tell you that you are in for a treat should the opportunity arise to visit one of their 109 (and counting) properties worldwide.

 Gorgeous Four Seasons
 Four Seasons Dubai beach

Like many of their locations, the FS exudes opulence from the moment you approach the grounds. A sweeping paver stone driveway lined with trees lifts you up and away from the bustle of Jumeirah St. Through gaps in the greenery as your drive deeper, you will begin to notice the neutrally colored, Arabian influenced lines of the main building. Terraced construction incorporating terra-cotta and neutral tones is the perfect complement to the landscape, causing one to forget that a city of steel and glass is only 15 minutes away. If you look closely at the buildings, you may notice nods to the Arabian culture in the form of Horseshoe Arches and large, ornate doors standing between you and marble lined lobby of the FS.

 Four Seasons Dubai Review

As one would expect from a Four Seasons, the lobby is the crown jewel. Every Four Seasons seeks to make the entry way to each of their hotels a statement. Dubai is no exception. With an attention to detail second to none, the FS unabashedly flaunts the line between palace and hotel. Gold trim, deep brown hues, neutral tones, complex light fixtures comprised of baubles and more flowers than Versailles in spring, the FS transports you.

Now, our engagement on this particular adventure was at one of the FS’s dining venues known as Sea Fu. The FS mantra is about experiencing sensory environments. So, if you can accept that the lobby overwhelms, Sea Fu relaxes, much to the same degree.

 Sea Fu Dubai, UAE
 Free People dress in Dubai
 Sea Fu menu, Dubai

Set in a quasi-outdoor, beachside setting, Sea Fu serves an Asian-inspired menu amongst pillars of wood and beneath umbrellas and billowing fabric. I highly recommend sitting outside as the breeze in winter or early spring is still pleasant. However, should the sun be too harsh, the interior of Sea-Fu is a perfect alternative and a welcome respite from the sun. There is something about an ocean breeze and eating lunch on a terrace that is just…pleasing.

The staff at Sea Fu was, for lack of a better term, phenomenal. From the moment we approached the host stand to announce our arrival, we were treated with near-perfect deference (I say near-perfect because I have a penchant for restaurants that maintain a dress code that includes white gloves for their staff, but that is a story for another time). The truly standout quality however, ignoring the smiles, friendliness and attention of the staff was something that I believe every restaurant should take to heart and do: responsive and thoughtful guidance on the menu.

 Best sushi in Dubai
 Sea Fu Dubai, Four Seasons review by travel blogger Ulia Ali Pillmore
 Four Season's Sea Fu review by Ulia Ali Pillmore.
sea-fu-review

This may sound like a simple task, but the vast majority of restaurants do not ensure that their staff knows the menu.

When I patronize a restaurant I like to ask the waiter or waitress to pick items from the menu that they believe will constitute a meal representative of the quality and diversity of the restaurant. Few get this right. More often than not, the selections are representative, but not of what is good, but what is popular, or what they think I will like based on their judgement. For those of you who know me personally, you will know that I drink and I know things. But you will also know that I eat. I love good food.

Sea Fu understood this. Our waitress selected dishes that complemented one another, were varied enough in their execution to not leave us bored and diverse in flavor to the point that we had to throw in the proverbial towel for lack of capacity. It was beautifully executed and showcased what I love best in a restaurant: mastery of a variety of techniques. 

In the words of Paul Prudhomme: “You don't need a silver fork to eat good food.”. Fine by me, the FS (and Dubai) happens to prefer gold anyway.

Until next time,

- BAP

 Free People dress in Dubai
 Desert in Dubai. Sea Fu at Four Seasons review.
 Lotus Flower Sea Fu
 Sea Fu review
 Impressive deserts of the world
 Dubai food - Sea Fu Four Seasons review

P.S. For the curious among you, here is what we had for lunch:

Small Plates: Edamame, Spicy Chicken

Sushi: Yuzu Tempura Roll

Raw Bar: Hokkaido Scallops

Main: Seared Black Cod

Dessert: Mochi Selection, Lotus Flower

 Four Seasons Dubai

SHOP MY LOOk:

My Dress - Free People (it comes in 4 colors and it is my favorite dress EVER!)

Bag - Louis Vuitton (It was a Christmas gift from my hubby)

Jewelry - Sequin Jewelry (My favorite Jewelry company! Everything is so gorgeous)


Theme 38: Exploring Williamsburg. Cinématographie

 Exploring Williamsburg by Ulia Ali. Leopard Jumpsuit.

I seriously should be hired to be a location scout for films as I always find the most interesting and not overused spots for my photographs. For the Theme 38 I decided to Explore Williamsburg and shoot my another PrettyMissy look.

 FSP heels and PrettyMissy leopard jumpsuit.

I paired this leopard jumpsuit with a red beret from Urban Outfitters (similar one for cheaper price HERE) and one of the most exquisite pair shoes I ever had - Femmes Sans Peur that remind me of Assyrian and Egyptian temple art.

 Femmes-sans-peur
 Ulia Ali wearing FSP heels.
 Ulia Ali in Williamsburg. YSL, leopard jumpsuit and red beret look.
 Ulia Ali blogger in Brooklyn, Williamsburg
 Ulia Ali NYC blogger wearing Femmes Sans Peur.
 Ulia Ali in Williamsburg
 Femmes Sand Peur heels
 Red Beret look by Ulia Ali.