Dubai-based lifestyle blogger and influencer Noreen Wasti is passionate about creating intimate and unforgettable experiences when she entertains.
Recently she hosted two curated events at the Marriott Executive Apartments in downtown Abu Dhabi and Al Jaddaf, Dubai. These experiences allowed her to embrace her love of understated, chic design and culinary expertise, creating the perfect staycation in a stylish, five-star serviced apartment.
In a conversation with Marriott TRAVELER, she spills the beans on what it takes to host a girls night in your girlfriends won’t forget.
What are three things you’d look for in a United Arab Emirates serviced apartment if you were planning to host a girls’ staycation?
It would be nice to have a great concierge service, someone to handle specific requests and help you organize things.
To me, the food is a significant part of the entire experience. If there were a chef on the property who could create a special culinary experience, whether it’s a tasting menu or just nibbles on the table, that would be great. I tend to look at the restaurants at the hotel, the kind of food they serve and who’s in their kitchen.
I definitely look at design and aesthetic. My style is minimal and cozy. I’d see the room and the style of the hotel and ensure it matches the décor I’d want to create.
Could you tell us what you envision in terms of design and décor when you think of the ideal staycation space?
I like working with blank minimal spaces and introducing my own touch to make them unique. I am all about understated coziness; I love throws and blankets and lots of cushions on the floor and on the sofas.
I’d add many candles to make it moody. Candle glow changes the ambience of a room and adds a certain warmth. Fresh flowers, of course, you don’t want to be using artificial arrangements. I would place small vases and delicate floral arrangements in little corners.
What menu advice and tips would you give to women organizing a girls night in who might not be very crafty in the kitchen but are eager to impress?
I don’t think you need to know how to cook to create something beautiful. We also eat with our eyes. Of course, the food needs to be delicious, but it’s also about presentation.
The key is to set up one table that looks abundant and use wooden boards and large marble platters to make it casual and homey. You could be doing a simple cheeseboard, but there is so much potential to make that look gorgeous. You could add some cut figs, nuts and dried fruit, and place some baguettes wrapped in a linen cloth on the table.
Nowadays, you can buy edible flowers from supermarkets and use them on whatever you’re serving, whether it’s a crostini or cheeseboard. They really do elevate the visual element of your table. You could also order simple dishes and use herbs like parsley and dill to garnish everything.
I like to write little display cards for the food on the table. It adds that extra touch to my overall presentation.
Could you share an easy and quick cocktail recipe that is sure to be a hit with the girls?
You can make an easy and quick drink with sparkling wine and muddled fruit. Muddle peaches, nectarines, or berries with a wooden spoon and add the wine to make a refreshing cocktail in less than five minutes.
Add a twig of rosemary or thyme in the glass to make it look pretty. That’s something everyone would love because it’s fruity, simple and you don’t need mixers.
How would we find you dressed for a girls night in?
My style is understated chic, but I also like to introduce an eclectic touch with jewelry, shoes and accessories. I might wear a feminine jumpsuit and add a huge pair of statement jeweled earrings.
Or I’d wear a vintage little black dress with great shoes and a wrist full of arm candy. But I’d also keep it simple because I do want to be comfortable.
It’s often felt that women experience constant pressure to excel and deliver results in every aspect of their lives, expertly juggling roles in the workplace and at home. How would you get your girls to truly unwind, sit back and let their hair down on a girls night in staycation?
I try to create that comfortable space where they feel like that they can leave all that stuff at the door. Maybe some of them would need to put their phones away so they can relax, although I’m certainly not that person because I love social media.
It’s also nice to have a pampering aspect if you can incorporate that into your girls night in. Have someone come in and offer 20-minute head, neck and shoulder massages. It’s a nice touch to make your girls feel taken care of.
To help them unwind and set the mood, I like to have a nice playlist, like some 1940s jazz, Motown or The Beatles.
What party favor is perfect for hosts to give their guests to take home and commemorate their staycation?
I like to cook, so I would love to give jars of homemade jam, candy, cookies or even a little bag of granola they could use for breakfast. But I know that not everybody has the time or skill to do that, so you could even shop for little granola bags from a bakery.
What are your favorite go-to movies or Netflix shows for a girls night in?
I love the classics, so I might play an old Hollywood movie like “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Gone with the Wind,” or do an Audrey Hepburn marathon. If I know that the girls are currently binge watching a certain Netflix show, I’d screen that.
But what I like about the classics is that they’re incredibly romantic, and you wouldn’t typically watch them at home.
It’s time to spill the secrets. What’s the most fun thing you’ve done with your girlfriends on a girls night in?
For our last girls night in, we brought in a florist who taught us how to make flower crowns. I think interactive activities are a lot of fun, and it’s nice to have everyone involved in something.
You could also have a mixologist come in and teach everybody three signature cocktails they could make at home.
As someone hosting a chic girls’ staycation, what are three gifts from your girlfriends that you’d appreciate?
A great gift is a succulent plant because it lasts longer than fresh flowers, is easy to take care of and brightens up any room. I’d also appreciate a beautiful candle.
Finally, I’d love something for the kitchen because I love to cook. It could be something simple like a pretty linen tea towel.
I try to bring gifts my hosts would like. Whether they love jewelry, fashion or music, I adhere to that. I tend not to give gift cards or vouchers because they can feel impersonal.
Watch the Perfect Girls Staycation with Noreen Wasti Unfold
Noreen Wasti is the founder of noni’s place, a lifestyle and food site focused on accentuating the little pleasures in life from the home to the kitchen to travel and better living. Wasti’s work includes collaborations and projects ranging from editorial work, food and prop styling, event curation, recipe development, content creation and hosting workshops.