'I have a secret love affair with London'
Anastasia Achilleos, one of the world's top facialists, reveals her favourite places, buys and products. I live in London. I was born here and never left. Although my parents are Cypriot and I adore Cyprus, I never wanted to live there. As I become older I realise it would be a great place to take children every summer as my parents did in my youth. Although I travel for work, and at times wish I could live in other countries, I am finding I have a secret love affair with London when I am away. I rely on the speed and availability of London. Because London is so cosmopolitan and so diversely cultural, you can have almost anything you desire. For a treat I visit Smythson of Bond Street (@email:www.smythson.com) and indulge in diaries and stationery. It's just so classic and addictive. I also love L'Artisan Parfumeur (@email:www.artisanparfumeur.com) for their candles, and Agent Provocateur (@email:www.agentprovocateur.com) for the fragrance and anything new they have added to the cosmetic collection, such as candles and bath oils. I love Christian Louboutin and Gina shoes. Harvey Nichols (@email:www.harveynichols.com) have such a great selection of designer clothes, and I also love Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney. For manicures and pedicures or general beauty I hang out at the Urban Retreat in Harrods (@email:www.urban retreat.co.uk). It's one of the largest and best in the world for skincare brands and treatments - other than myself, of course. For years I have offered my clients skincare advice. I have hundreds of favourites but some of my current ones are The Cleanser by Urban Retreat, which is fantastic for a creamy aromatherapy hydrating cleanse; Yonka Masque No1, the best anti-ageing hydrating masque ever; and a brand called ILA (@email:www.ila-spa.com), based on organic and energy-based plants and oils - the facial oil is out of this world. At the moment I'm listening to Madonna's new album, among many other albums on my iPod. I also love Huvafen Fushi's compilation album with DJ Ravin, Huvafen Fushi Maldives by Ravin (available at @email:www.amazon.com). When I travel, I always take a candle with me. Great candles are the kind of purchase that most people see as luxurious but love to have. I like either L'Artisan Parfumeur, Agent Provocateur or Diptyque (@email:www.diptyqueparis.com). They make a great gift, too. My favourite make-up items are Laura Mercier's camouflage palette, BeneFit lip tint SPF 15, YSL bronzer, Guerlain Cheek Color, Dior mascara, Chanel eyeliner, BeneFit eyebrow mascara and Nars blusher. My favourite off-the-beaten-track place is Absolute Flowers in Maida Vale (+44 020 7286 1155). It's owned by Hayley Newstead, a florist whom designers and major celebrities use to design and style events, because she has exceptional taste and trawls the world to find vintage pieces for her lifestyle shop. I never travel without my iPod, a good book, my perfume, my Aromatherapy Associates equilibrium oil to help me balance and adjust to time zones, my Aveda comfort tea and Tara Smith's hair serum (she is Demi Moore's hair stylist; @email:www.tarasmith.co.uk). My local favourite restaurants include Carluccio's for Italian (@email:www.carluccios.com), Mr Chow's for Chinese (@email:www.mrchow.com), Lemonia (+44 020 7586 7454) for Greek in Primrose Hill, Scott's in Mayfair for fish and The Wolseley (@email:www.thewolseley.com) in Piccadilly for afternoon tea. All of these places have wonderful memories for me. I find I go there with good friends who want good food and laughter. For a real treat I'd go to any of the Gordon Ramsay restaurants (@email:www.gordonramsay.com) or Tom's Kitchen (@email:www.tomskitchen.co.uk) in Cale Street, Chelsea. I love to cook - I am an experimental cook. I buy all the renowned cookbooks but they just decorate the shelves. I love to cook Greek and make an excellent Sunday roast dinner. I learnt how to make the best roast potatoes from Jamie Oliver. I prefer to go to local groceries especially when looking for Greek ingredients. If it's something special I am after, I will go to Selfridges (@email:www.selfridges.co.uk), or it's Waitrose (@email:www.waitrose.com) for everything else. I love Los Angeles. It's always sunny and the views on the city when its dark - the lights just twinkle. I have friends there. Everyone is so friendly and the customer service is great. I visit Urth Caffé (@email:www.urthcaffe.com) every day for breakfast. It's totally amazing for organic creations. I also like Koi (@email:www.koirestaurant.com) - the sticky rice with spicy tuna is world-renowned. And Vegas is only a one-hour flight and Malibu beach is 40 minutes' drive. You can't go wrong in LA.
Anastasia Achilleos will be at LIME Spa at Desert Palm, Dubai, today. To book a session call 04 323 8888.
Updated: September 7, 2008 04:00 AM