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Design Hunter

A room with a 1000 year old view

Helen Powell

Citizen M Tower of London | Design Hunter

It's not every day you get to stay in a room with a 1000 year old view.

citizenM's new flagship Tower of London hotel opened earlier this month. The 370 room hotel, designed by Amsterdam based Concrete, is the Dutch hotel brand's largest property to date and this was the view from our room when we checked in last Friday to meet up with a group of design bloggers who'd been invited along to stay. Located right next to one of London's most historic sites, it's citizenM's second hotel in London. Their Bankside hotel opened in 2012 and a third is due to open in Shoreditch in September.

Citizen M Tower of London | Design Hunter

'Affordable luxury for modern travellers' is the citizenM philosophy, and it's a concept it's hard to find fault with. The rooms, which have wall to wall windows to frame the views, are prefabricated and then lifted into place during construction. They aren't large but what they've managed to do with the space is impressive. Each room has a huge super king size bed, comfy linens, a large flat screen TV with a range of on demand movies and a bathroom /wet room with a great shower. Everything is thoughtfully designed and exceptionally well configured and nothing feels cramped. Every element packs a punch.

An iPad acts as your 'in-room personal assistant', controlling the blinds, the lights (there are lots of different ambient settings that you can adjust according to your mood), the TV and your morning wake up call.

All the rooms are the same - there are no suites or superior rooms - but it's worth trying to secure one with an external view if possible (some of the rooms look out over an internal courtyard). The views from the rooms overlooking the Tower really are breathtaking.

On the ground floor there's a large comfortable lobby and a series of spaces in which you can eat, drink, meet up for appointments or relax in one of the inviting sofas or lounge chairs. There's also a communal workspace with iMacs and printers free for guests to use - great if you want to travel light and leave your laptop at home but still need to catch up on some work during your stay.

George Nelson bubble lamps at CitizenM | Deisgn Hunter

A cluster of George Nelson bubble lights greets you as you enter and the Vitra furnishings include classic designs by Verner Panton, Charles and Ray Eames and Jean Prouvé.

citizenM Tower of London
citizenM Tower of London
Lounge at CitizenM | Design Hunter

This Julian Opie piece acts as one of the main focal points...

Julian Opie art at Citizen M | Design Hunter

...and a kinetic light installation by Dutch design duo Studio Drift floats up and down the internal courtyard of the hotel.

LIght installation by Studio Drift at citizenM | Tower of London

At the top of the hotel there's an amazing rooftop bar.  cloudM is a dramatic double height space with floor to ceiling windows and a wrap around terrace that offers views of the iconic skyline - from Tower Bridge and the Tower of London to the Shard and the Gherkin. We drank gin cocktails by the East London Liquor Company while taking in some of the best views in town.

Cloud M bar at Citizen M Tower of London | Design Hunter

After a fun evening hosted by We Blog Design I enjoyed one of the best night's sleep I've had in a hotel in ages. The beds are huge and super comfortable and despite the fact that the hotel is located directly above Tower Hill tube station there was almost zero noise. It was incredibly quiet.

Of all the hotels I've stayed at recently this is the one I'm most likely to return to. This in part due to the location as I'm often looking for places to stay in central London, but also because a stay at citizenM involves a unique combination of affordable luxury and contemporary design. You get all the buzz of being in a busy central London location but in a friendly, creative and inspiring environment where you can relax and feel completely at home. And with rooms starting at from £109 a night that means there's more leftover in the budget for cocktails on that amazing roof terrace.

Tower of London | Design Hunter

Design Hunter was a guest of citizenM Tower of London. With thanks to Camron PR and We Blog Design for a great evening.

The Cos x Hay collection

Helen Powell

COS x HAY collection 2016 | Design Hunter

It hit thirty two degrees here earlier this week. Summer has finally arrived.

Time then to take a break from my desk and head out into the garden where I've been enjoying a few of the pieces from the COS x HAY collection. I've yet to invest in my dream garden furniture - the Hay Palissade collection by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec - but these minimalist flowerpots look right at home on the new deck we put down last summer. Available in black or light grey they come in several different sizes - a nice little contemporary detail and of course a good excuse to pick up some new plants too, something I can never resist at this time of year.

No matter how hot the weather gets I rarely forego my morning coffee, especially when there's a stylish new espresso cup just sitting there waiting to be used. And coffee is usually accompanied by Radio 4, in this case catching up with Woman's Hour on iPlayer and listening to my friend Chelsea being interviewed about the wonderful Sheila Bownas exhibition she's curated at Rugby Art Gallery (on until 3 September). Do go, it's excellent, and if you are a you are a lover of pattern and print or midcentury design then you really won't want to miss it.

Back to the COS x HAY collection which centres around live, work and dine pieces with the summer edit including flowerpots, garden furniture (at the High Street Kensington store only) as well as outdoor living pieces such as glass bowls, carafes and trays. I picked out this Dot cushion made from dusty pink fabric by Danish fabric brand Kvadrat (also available in a wonderful bottle green shade which I was very tempted by). And while the merino wool throw is really rather too lovely for outdoor use, it would make a very stylish picnic blanket. The graphic pattern reminds me of those found on traditional Welsh blankets, which I've always loved, but with a modern monochrome Scandi edge.

Let's hope the heatwave lasts.

COS x HAY collection
COS x HAY 2016 | Design Hunter
Styling and photography by Design Hunter

Styling and photography by Design Hunter



plant pot

espresso cup*

portable wireless speaker*

* gift or sample

The COS X HAY collection is available in COS London High Street Kensington, Vienna Neubaugasse and Gothenburg with an edited collection available online at across Europe.

Shop the collection

Delphin | A Scandi style Cornish beach house

Helen Powell

Delphin - Unique Homestays | Design Hunter

"I'm sure it's along here somewhere," I reassured Mr P as we retraced our route back down the tiny Cornish lane we'd just driven along, having ignored the directions helpfully provided for us and instead decided to rely on google maps. Because the first thing that strikes you about Delphin, apart from its fabulous location - just outside the charming harbour town of Porthleven between Marazion and the Lizard Peninsula - and the amazing clifftop views, is how incredibly private it is. Tucked away at the end of a quiet road and with a private terrace and balcony facing directly out to sea, it is almost completely hidden from view.

The gleaming white Scandi-inspired beach house is one of the latest properties to be added to the portfolio of luxury homes available to rent through Unique Home Stays and last weekend we were invited to be among the first guests to stay there. Originally built in the 1950s the property has been both thoughtfully redesigned and lovingly furnished by the current owners. Spacious and luxurious, but designed to sleep just two (plus the whippet in our case as Delphin is dog friendly), it's the perfect bolthole for a romantic escape.

White Scandi style minimalist kitchen with copper lighting | Design Hunter

We arrived to a welcome hamper and a fridge stocked full of everything we could possibly need for breakfast the next morning - eggs, milk, bread, butter and jam. This was so appreciated  after our long drive as it meant that we could immediately relax and unwind without having to worry about heading out for supplies.

Blue headboard | Design Hunter

The Interiors

The interiors at Delphin are light, white and open plan with pale floors, fur rugs, copper lighting and furniture sourced from stores including Skandium, Skagerak and Hem. Every last detail has been carefully considered. There are luxurious linens and throws, White Company scented candles and home fragrance, and lovely Cologne and Cotton bathrobes. I have these at home, and with their slim, elegant cut they are the most comfortable and flattering robes I've ever come across.

Basically Delphin offers all the comforts of a well-appointed home, combined with the luxury you'd expect of an upscale hotel. There are a few little unexpected extras too. There's a Dualit coffee machine with an assortment of artisan coffees, a record player and a selection of vinyl, and a lomo instant camera complete with a supply of film. I'd forgotten just how much fun it can be waiting for your photos to develop!

Cactus | Design Hunter
Albert whippet | Design Hunter
Kitchen shelf

Outside there are sun loungers, a table and chairs for sunny breakfasts on the terrace and a firepit for chillier evenings, as well as a comfortable sofa from which to sit and enjoy the uninterrupted views out to sea. We were also excited to find a pair of binoculars hanging on a peg next to the door. Seals and dolphins occasionally visit the area in the summer months, and although we weren't lucky enough to spot any ourselves we noted a sighting by the previous guests in the visitor book.

Copper lamp | Design Hunter
Fire logs and fur rug | Design Hunter

Thankfully we didn't need to use the double sided wood burner - it was the middle of July after all - but with all those lovely throws and fur rugs, a generous supply of logs and the incredible misty sea views I can't imagine a more perfect place to snuggle up during the colder months, which lets face it can be at least half the year here in the UK!

Kitchen island with copper pendant lights | Design Hunter
Grey sofa & copper mirror | Design Hunter

Out and About

On our first evening we bagged ourselves a window seat at the Harbour Inn in Porthleven and ate fish and chips while tapping our feet to The Floral Dance as the local brass band played outside. After all the political upheaval and uncertainty of the past few weeks there was something incredibly comforting and reassuring about these very familiar (and very British) tastes and sounds. It was the perfect way to spend a summer evening in Cornwall.

Porthleven Harbour | Design Hunter
Porthleven | Design Hunter
Porthleven harbour | Design Hunter

In true British fashion the weather was very changeable. We experienced everything from near perfect blue skies and sunshine to thick Cornish mizzle, and back again. The following morning we woke up to find that the horizon had disappeared under a blanket of mist, but rather than dampening our spirits this provided a magical opportunity to venture out and capture some moody sea shots. With our cameras in hand, we set off to explore the coastal path and marvel at the wild, atmospheric beauty of this stunning part of Cornwall.

Cornish coastal path at Portleven | Design Hunter
Porthleven harbour | Design Hunter

Porthleven has a number of good foodie hangouts. Amelie's and Kota were both recommended to us and Rick Stein also has a restaurant on the harbout front, but we passed up the opportunity to try these and instead headed back to Delphin to enjoy the views, and open the bottle of champagne we'd left chilling in the fridge.

Dining table with rattan chairs | Design Hunter

Some of us were more tired than others...

Whippet on fur rug | Design Hunter
Delphin - Scandi style contemporary holiday home - Unique Homestays | Design Hunter

Waking up to bright sunny skies on our final morning we enjoyed breakfast on the terrace before bundling our belongings into the back of the car and finally managing to wrench ourselves away from this idyllic hideaway.

We left with wind tanned cheeks, natural sea salt waves in our hair (maybe I should just ditch my GHD wave wand and move to Cornwall?) and the sound of the Atlantic waves crashing into those Cornish granite cliffs still playing in our heads long after we arrived home.

Cornish beach house | Design Hunter
Loe Bar beach near Porthleven | Design Hunter

We stayed at Delphin in Porthleven as guests of Unique Home Stays (and honestly didn't want to leave). A few dates are still available for 2016, but you'll need to be quick as they are already filling up fast.

*      *      *

All photography by Design Hunter.

Soft Minimalism

Helen Powell

Circle collection by LSA | Design Hunter

Soft minimalism is a style I've found myself continuously evolving towards over the past few years, both here on Design Hunter and within my own home, so I'm happy to be joining in with a new hashtag Hannah of Hannah in the House has just launched over on Instagram.

#SoftMinimalStyle is aimed at countering the idea that minimalism is cold and sterile - it's about interiors that are warm and liveable.

"It's modernist and minimal with soft tones, ergonomic design and conscious consumerism" says Hannah.

All of which resonates with my love of objects and interiors that are simple, pared back and honest in their design and use of materials and my belief that we should make more carefully considered choices so that we buy less but buy better.

For me this style is about contrasting textures and materials - wood, natural stone, porcelain, wool or linen for example. It's also about everyday luxuries that make daily rituals and activities more joyful, like a simple linen tablecloth or a cup of tea enjoyed from a favourite tea set.

This stackable porcelain teapot by LSA playfully lifts off its base so that you can use the cup underneath. It comes with a handy wooden saucer and a matching milk jug to complete the set.

The pieces are from LSA's Circle collection which was created to mark the brand's 50th anniversary this year. Pairing mouth blown glass and vitrified porcelain with natural ash wood it's a practical and versatile range designed for serving food and displaying objects or flowers. I've used the glass container as a vase but it could also be used as an ice bucket or for storing and displaying objects.

I'll be sharing more of my #SoftMinimalStyle over on Instagram. Hope to see you over there.

Circle Collection by LSA | Design Hunter

glass vase*  |  LSA

milk jug*  |  LSA

tea for one*  |  LSA

linen tablecloth |  The White Company

* gift or sample

Styling and photography by Design Hunter.

Holiday Style | 9 Summer Essentials

Helen Powell

Summer holiday essentials | Design Hunter

There's always something fun about shopping for summer wardrobe updates and planning what you are going to take away on holiday with you. This year we're heading off on another road trip - discovering the beautiful West Coast of Scotland, popping over to the Isle of Skye and travelling sections of the North Coast 500 Route. We did a similar trip to Scotland last year and loved it so much that we decided to head back again this year to explore the bits we missed. We'll be travelling by campervan, albeit a luxury one with a shower and full size double bed, so my packing list looks quite different from one I'd put together for a beach or city break, but I'll still be squeezing in a few little everyday luxuries.

Holiday Essentials | Design Hunter


Scotland admittedly isn't usually the hottest of destinations, but we were incredibly lucky with the weather last year and any camping trip almost inevitably involves a fair amount of sun exposure, even on overcast days as you spend so much time outdoors. As I've got older my skin has become prone to dark spots so I'm currently testing out Caudalie's cult anti dark spot product Vinoperfect Radiance Serum which is formulated to help prevent and correct dark spots as well as evening out skin tone and boosting radiance. 

I'll be giving my skin a break from make up while we are away so I'll probably just use a hint of tinted moisturiser, and I'll be popping this grape water facial mist, also from Caudalie, in my bag to keep my skin feeling refreshed and hydrated on long drives.



Graham gave me a bottle of Diptyque's Philosykos for Christmas and it's since become my all time favourite perfume. There's something incredibly comforting and enveloping about this fragrance. I wear it all year round but it's definitely a more summery scent. It's light and subtle but completely enchanting and I love that it feels quite natural and less 'obvious' than other more over-powering perfumes. It's like the most perfect summer day captured in a bottle and I now can't imagine wearing anything else.


I always love to have some stripes in my summer wardrobe. Usually it's a striped breton top, but this year I've ditched the breton in favour of these black and white striped espadrilles which I picked up in the sale at H&M last week. They have a lovely slim fit, are super comfy and perfect for popping on and off easily while travelling. They'll go with pretty much anything in my mostly monochrome wardrobe and along with my much loved Birkenstocks I'll be wearing these all summer long.



No holiday packing list is complete without a couple of new t-shirts. I love the relaxed fit and styling of this v-neck tee from Hush. It's a really flattering shape - loose, but not too baggy or boxy - and will look great with jeans, sunglasses and espadrilles for an easy summer look.



A lightweight hammam towel is perfect for stuffing into my leather tote for trips to the beach. This one was a gift from my friend Caroline who brought it back from a holiday in Turkey, but Urbanara have an almost identical one. 

And last but definitely not least, my Celine sunglasses (bought last summer but similar ones still available here) help elevate even the most casual and off duty summer outfit and are always at the top of my packing list.

What's on your summer essentials list?

Holiday Essentials | Design Hunter

Vinoperfect Radiance Serum*  |  Caudalie

Leather tote*  |  Shinola

T-shirt  |  Hush

Perfume  |  Diptyque

Sunglasses  |  Celine

Hammam towel  |  similar here

Espadrilles  |  H&M

Tinted moisturiser*  |  Caudalie

Facial mist*  |  Caudalie

(* gift or sample)