• Last night, 150 UK bloggers and vloggers descended on the OXO2 Tower to celebrate the blogosphere’s shining lights. As sponsors of the ‘Best Travel Blog’ category, we were there to get the scoop from the party of the year…

    A room overflowing with impossibly glamorous ladies – and a few dapper gents – wielding camera phones could mean only one thing: the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014. It was our first time at this annual event, and after a dazzling evening chockfull of selfies, cocktails and more talented bloggers than we had time to chat to, it definitely won’t be our last. As we were busy tweeting and hashtagging our way through the proceedings, it turns out we weren’t the only ones – the Twitter reach from the event was an eye-watering 21.7 million people. Here’s the low-down from our glitzy night out…

    What… Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 in association with Next
    When… 7th October 2014
    Where… OXO2 Tower, London

    Who was there… The crème de la crème of the UK’s blogging scene. The style ante was upped every time someone new stepped into the room – it was like standing outside Somerset House during London Fashion Week.

    What we feasted on… Build-your-own cupcakes courtesy of Two Little Cats Bakery, iced biscuits on sticks, wild mushroom risotto cakes, black tiger prawn skewers, roast squash and halloumi croutons, and grilled sirloin steak and chunky chips. Needless to say, we didn’t go hungry.

    What we sipped… Instagram-worthy vodka cocktails courtesy of Pinky Vodka. We’re happy to report they tasted as delicious as they looked.

    What we got up to… Thomson’s Head of Editorial, Christian Torres, made a beeline for the sponsor backdrop. And Next’s photobooth. And any selfie opportunity, in fact. We even persuaded Cosmo’s editor-in-chief, Louise Court (bottom right, in the middle), to get in on the act…

    Over on our Thomson stand we coaxed bloggers to don wacky sunglasses and beach inflatables, and strike a pose against our dreamy Dom Rep backdrop. We loved meeting some of Britain’s leading bloggers and vloggers, and hearing what everyone’s got in store for their own little corner of the interweb.

    As we were sponsoring the ‘Best Travel Blog’ category, Christian also took to the stage to present Katie MacLeod (The Stories Our Suitcase Could Tell) and Jess Gibson (The Travelista) with their coveted awards.

    Once the girls had come back down to earth, we swooped in to grab the first interviews with the newly-crowned winners. Here’s what they had to say…

    Winner of the Best Travel Blog award: Katie MacLeod, Stories My Suitcase Could Tell

    Firstly, huge congratulations Katie! How does it feel to have won this award?
    Amazing! I’m so shocked. I wasn’t expecting it at all.

    So, what made you start blogging?
    I was working in China after university and started blogging to let people at home know what I was doing. When I came home I just kept on doing it. I love travel and writing, so it’s the perfect combination.

    Why do you love blogging so much?
    I just love writing. With blogging, the difference is there’s a community that comes along with it. So, as well as writing – which is a very personal thing – you can get involved with all these other people. It’s a lot of fun.

    Why travel blogging in particular?
    I’ve always loved travelling. My parents were big travellers when they were younger, so they really encouraged me to do it, too. I’m always travelling.

    Do you have any advice for people looking to get into blogging?
    I’d say just go for it. I started it as a hobby outside of work and, yeah, it’s gone really well judging on today!

    How do you attract new readers?
    I just write about what I enjoy, what I think other people will enjoy, and just hope that people read it, really. I don’t have any kind of plan.

    What’s your favourite destination, and why?
    I would probably say Diani Beach in Kenya. I went there for the first time this summer with Thomson and the people were just so friendly. The landscape was stunning, you’ve got the wildlife… it was just incredible.

    Where would you love to visit?
    There are lots of places, but I think Cuba is my number one destination. I’d also love to trek up to Machu Picchu.

    What’s your most surreal experience while travelling?
    When I was on safari in Kenya, I ended up being 5 feet away from a lion. I actually took a selfie with him!

    Finally, what’s next for you and your blog?
    Just to keep on writing, hope that people keep reading, and to keep on travelling. Hopefully people will continue to like my blog!

    Highly commended in the Travel Blog category: Jess Gibson, The Travelista

    Congratulations, Jess! How are you feeling?
    I’m absolutely thrilled. I’m back here for a second year running, as I just wanted to part of the awards again – it’s such an amazing way to recognise travel bloggers. I’m really proud to be part of it.

    What made you start blogging?
    I got a gig as a travel writer, so I was doing a few adhoc pieces here and there, and I got to have a few amazing travel experiences. I wanted a space on the internet where I could put it into my own words, without having to stick to house style. I also wanted to document it for myself, initially – that’s how I built up a following, because it was a real person’s travel diary.

    Why do you love blogging so much?
    It’s an entire community and you can share a passion with people that enjoy travel and blogging just as much as you do.

    Why travel blogging in particular?
    I’ve always been brought up to travel. My dad is obsessed with it, and he used to take us all around the world when I was younger. I never really appeciated it at the time – all I wanted to do was sit by the pool with my friends – but, in hindsight, I really appreciate the experiences he gave us.

    Do you have any advice for people looking to get into blogging?
    Find a niche. Specialise in something that you’re passionate about, because that way, you’ll never be bored to blog about it. Don’t go in for the freebies or the exposure – don’t go in for anything else but the love of the subject.

    How do you attract new readers?
    A lot of social media – it’s absolutely key – and lots of hashtagging. Cross-polinate your content as far as you can, and build up a lot of relationships with fellow bloggers. That’s really powerful.

    What’s your favourite destination, and why?
    La Réunion, a tiny island next to Mauritius. Nobody in the UK knows about it because it’s a French colony, but it’s a tiny slice of paradise. If you want to go somewhere that really feels like a hidden gem, go there.

    Where would you love to visit?
    I’d love to go to Bali, because I love South East Asia and I love being by the sea. That’s my dream. And I want to visit the Taj Mahal.

    What’s been your most surreal experience while travelling?
    Recently, in St Nevis in the Caribbean, I went on a ‘dive and dine’ experience – I went scuba diving to catch a lobster, caught one with a lasso, and had the actual lobster barbequed in front of me. That was my lunch.

    What’s next for you and your blog?
    My blog is growing really quickly. I’m looking to eventually turning it into an online magazine, so it’ll be a portal for female luxury travellers – since I’m specialising in females, Cosmopolitan is particularly relevant for me. I’ll hopefully be launching that in the next couple of years. Watch this space!

    Thanks for chatting to us, ladies.

    Inspired by the vlogger talent in the room, we quizzed a few of the bloggers on their dream holiday destinations and captured it on camera…

    For a full list of winners from last night’s Blog Awards, head over to Cosmo’s website.