Staycation Booking Tips

Hi, loves!

Last weekend Matt and I enjoyed a little staycation in our very favourite local hotel; Hotel du Vin, Newcastle. We’ve stayed there many times before and it always feels like such a treat, so much so that we rarely book anywhere else if we’re looking for a luxurious and romantic staycation! We especially love a night or two away from home because it’s just like a mini holiday for us, and we always treat it like that. We pack minimally, play tourist in our own city and just enjoy spending time together. I feel like it’s such a blessing that we’re able to take trips like this and I never want to take it for granted! I totally get this is not everyone’s cup of tea which is fine, but if you’re a fan of nights/weekends away I really hope this is helpful to you.

So, there’s several things to consider when you’re booking a staycation. Are you going to spend a lot of time in the hotel? Does it make sense to splurge a little more on your accommodation as you’re travelling less distance? Does the hotel look comfortable and cosy? Do you know of any friends or family who have stayed there before? Is it a suitable distance to the nightlife of the city/town you’re visiting? Is there anywhere to explore or play tourist nearby? If you want to really relax is there a spa facility?

Our checklist for a romantic weekend trip is pretty standard whether we’re staying close to home or travelling a few hours away. The five top things on our list are:
– a little bit of luxury that feels extra special
– the hotel being based close (ish) to shops restaurants and bars. We love to play tourist even in our own city and we went to make sure we can explore easily
– a roll top bath, because why the heck not?
– beautiful views
– a good deal on the room price, bonus points if it includes breakfast

For us, the benefit of a staycation is we’re jumping in the car and driving less than thirty minutes to our destination, and we want to R E L A X. We spend a lot of time in the hotel room before we go out for dinner, and also like to make the most of our morning there too. A roll top bath is obviously not a necessity for a hotel room, but hey… when in Rome Newcastle… Truthfully we are bath lovers, and a bubble bath sounds like a pretty fun way to spend time during a romantic weekend to me. Little luxuries of boutique hotels like fancy toiletries and a mini bar are great, but we try to take any extras we need… including our own cans of Diet Coke. I wish I was joking, hahaha. We usually book breakfast as an extra little treat because most days we don’t get to eat breakfast together due to our work schedules. And you all know, we love a breakfast date!

Choosing the right hotel for you and your needs is important; I personally think it’s extra special to be in a boutique hotel because there’s so many extra little touches that you don’t get in a large franchised hotel. We’ve stayed at several HdV’s (seriously guys, feel free to work with me!) and all of them have the same feel of a grand building, muted colour tones, huge comfy beds – which makes no difference because we always wake up right on the edge of Matt’s side, oops! – and friendly staff who look after you. I personally think Hotel du Vin’s have a very ‘homey’ feeling, it’s just really relaxing and quiet which is perfect for us. Every time we stay we also go for a walk along the Quayside which feels like something extra special too, because it’s somewhere we both love to be.

BOOKING (& PACKING!) TIPS

– read lots of blog posts and Trip Advisor reviews if you’ve never stayed at the hotel before
– look through the Instagram geotag to see real photos from guests
– check there is parking available on site, but remember it’s often charged separately to your hotel room
– set a budget beforehand so you aren’t tempted to book something too expensive
– plan ahead; if you stay on a Sunday evening you’ll normally get the best rates
– compare prices on different sites before booking, although often the best deal is with the hotel’s own website
– bring your own champagne/wine if you fancy a tipple in the room and you’re going all out on the romantic feeling. Glasses are always provided for free!
– you probably don’t need pj’s because hotel robes are the BEST
– whether you’re eating at the hotel or at a restaurant in the town/city, book ahead of time to avoid disappointment
– don’t overpack on the toiletries, it’s all there for you anyway
– check the hotel’s amenities for things that are important to you. Is there a hairdryer / coffee machine / fridge etc? Chances are, yes!
– make a (rough) itinerary of things to do and places to see so you aren’t tempted to spend all of your time lounging in your beautiful hotel room!
– pack snacks, nobody wants to be getting hangry

I hope this post was helpful to you if you’re thinking of planning a staycation any time soon! I’m still dreaming of that bubble bath… Have you stayed in a Hotel du Vin before? What hotels are your favourite for a luxury staycation? Do you have any additional booking tips to share with me and my readers?!

-G x

Feelin’ It Friday

Hi, loves! I’m back with another #feelinitfriday and it feels so good to just sit down and write about my week. I didn’t post last week because Matt’s parents came home from their holiday last Thursday and we spent our whole evening catching up with them, we missed them so much and are so happy they’re back! After missing out on a week’s worth of chatting with you all, I have SO MUCH to say hahaha. I’m so thankful it’s Friday and I’m very excited for this weekend, Matt is finally off work (YAY!) and we have a great weekend planned. Today’s post is a long one, so grab your morning cuppa and settle in…

What I’m happy about:
Well we’ve had a great week so I’m generally happy, but I’m so very happy to have pretty gels again! I treated myself to a little trip to the salon after work last night and I’m so happy to have my gels back. I know it probably sounds a little crazy to some but it just makes me feel good about myself, it’s such a fun self care treat now and then. I chose lilac with silver glitter, because isn’t that just the prettiest combo for Summer?

What I’m proud of:
I’m so freaking proud of my boyfriend! I know I talk about him A LOT on the blog – he’s my better half, sorry not sorry – but I just really need to sing his praises right now. Last week he was given the opportunity to manage two stores (he already managed one) and he is so deserving of success! He works so dang hard every single day and doesn’t even realise how amazing he is. I’m so excited to treat him and celebrate in a few weeks; we’re trying to get a date in the diary to go up to Edinburgh for the day and I can’t wait! He deserves the world, I just love him so much 🙂

What I’m watching:
Matt and I are now on season five of Brooklyn 99 (which we’re SO sad about, we never want it to end!) so we’re trying to watch it a little more sparingly at the moment. We watched Katherine Ryan’s new Netflix show this week and we about died laughing, she is just so hilarious! We enjoyed her original Netflix stand up so much and thought it would be hard to beat but she did it. Last night we snuggled in to watch Stacey Dooley’s new documentary (any regular readers will know how much I love her) which was amazing, I’m so excited she’s back with new episodes!

What I’m excited about:
Speaking of watching TV… we now have a TV to watch our shows again! Our old TV stopped working so we’ve been watching Netflix, Sky etc on my MacBook for the longest time, which worked fine and we had honestly got used to it. Then yesterday my mum and dad bought us a TV! We’re so grateful to them, they’re seriously so good to us. Doesn’t it look so cute with the little Diptyque candle? I never burn my fancy candles because they are the prettiest decor pieces! It’s only a small TV because it has to fit in the teeny space in the built-in wardrobes (that I designed when I was 14 and didn’t really know what I would want in the future haha) but it’s such good quality and it was SO nice to snuggle up in bed watching TV, instead of the laptop last night. We also will be able to take this TV when buy our house to use in our kitchen/spare room or something, so it’s super exciting to think about that for next year.

What I’m buying:
Autumn candles!!! I placed an order for my FAVOURITE Autumn candle (Leaves by Bath & Body Works) on Wednesday and I literally can’t wait for it to get here, I hope it arrives today! I probably buy at least five every year because Matt and I love the scent so much, it’s literally Autumn in a jar and it just makes me happy. I’ll be burning it the second it arrives in the post, and probably ordering a ton more. I’m really waiting for TK Maxx and Yankee Candle to launch their Autumn ranges for this year to pick up some more because the rainy, cold weather has truly got me in the Autumn spirit.

What I’m celebrating:
My (not so) little brother turned 21 this week! He may now legally be able to drink in the US but he’s always going to seem 12 to me, hahaha. We celebrated on his birthday, and we’re all going for a family meal this weekend in Morpeth; we had to fix a date that worked with Matt’s shifts and because he’s off all weekend it worked out perfectly. I can’t wait to eat Italian food and drink lots of gin with my favourite people!

What I’m eating:
This is super random but I’m kinda obsessed with these hummus chips, they’re so yummy!! They’re filling and tasty, and I’ve eaten SO many packets in the past few weeks without getting bored. I’ve only seen the smaller bags in the Co-Op (my favourite shop) but you can also buy huge bags at any supermarket. Of course Matt and I have been making delicious dinners each evening as always. We always sit down to eat dinner together no matter what time it is; Matt works until 9pm at least twice per week and I make dinner for him coming through the door. We really loved the steak stir fry I made on Sunday, it’s so freaking easy and I whipped it up in less than ten minutes whilst Matt was finishing up a little work. I picked up this stir fry pack and it was so good, we’ll definitely buy it again! Also, a little trick to make your stir fry taste better; use sesame oil. We get this one but I’m sure they all taste the same!

What I’ve been up to this week:
Matt and I have both been working every day as per usual, and we’ve been super busy during our evenings too. On Tuesday we celebrated Robert’s birthday so we relaxed and enjoyed being with family, but we’ve just been 100 miles per hour every other day, as always. I’ve also been spending a lot of time doing things for my blog, decluttering the heck out of the wardrobes (a LONG post will be coming on that soon!) and running errands, it’s just felt so busy. Matt and I have savoured every second of quiet time together, and we can’t wait to relax a little this weekend.

What I’m up to this weekend:
Speaking of which… we have such a fun weekend planned I can barely stand it! Tonight we’re finally going to watch The Lion King (and, you know, get popcorn and Tango ice blasts because that’s what date nights at the movies are all about. It’s tradition guys!) Tomorrow we’re sleeping in then going fruit picking at a local farm and exploring the nearby town, then we’ll be heading back to freshen up because we’re going out for my brother’s birthday meal. Sunday is a little up in the air right now but we know we’re going for breakfast at the beach – our favourite Sunday morning tradition – and then Matt may be playing golf in the afternoon. If he is I’ll work on my blog, we’re going for a run, then we so badly want a cosy evening in the house eating Indian food and watching Netflix! I’m thinking about recording another Weekend In My Life for this weekend because it’s been a while since my last one, please let me know what you think?!

What I’m reading:
Okay I just started a new book, but this week I finished reading After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid and oh my gosh I was a MESS through the whole thing! I literally cried through the first thirty pages, then throughout the book I kept tearing up (and sometimes full on sobbing) because the story was written so amazingly well. I said back in May that Forever, Interrupted was the best book I’ve ever read, and this one is up there too! I highly recommend picking this up – it was so raw and honest and heartbreaking, but also filled with hope and love and joy. I said the same after reading Forever, Interrupted but it totally made me appreciate what Matt and I have even more, we’re so lucky to have found each other and I never want to take that for granted, even for a second!

What I’m listening to:
Of course I’m listening to Shagged, Married, Annoyed because I’m forever obsessed with Rosie and Chris Ramsey. No joke. I have also been listening to another podcast that I’ve just discovered (I feel like I’m cheating on SMA…) called Outspoken Beauty. If you’re into beauty blogs and vlogs this is the podcast for you; it’s like having a conversation with a friend and I’ve already laughed and learned so much! I’m just waiting for the day Shay makes a podcast because I just aspire to be her… pretty please?

What else is new:
I very briefly mentioned this in Wednesday’s post and a little bit in this one, but I’ve started doing the Couch To 5k! I was NOT planning to start, and it was so random – Matt thought I’d had an out of body experience I’m sure, hahaha. I was super inspired after watching Jade’s vlog, downloaded the app and just went out running! I’ve done two runs now, so I’ve almost completed my first week and I’m actually excited about starting the new week. I really found my first two runs challenging because I am not a runner, but I’m so excited to see how I get on with it. I don’t talk about this often on my blog but I have arthritis which affects my knees and hips the most, so I’m not sure how this will work out. I’m not putting any pressure on myself, I just want to enjoy it for as long as I can and see what happens!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you all have the most wonderful weekends and please let me know if you’d like me to record a Weekend In My Life? Now Matt’s still snoozing in bed (he’s off work today) and I’m heading to work, but there’s eight little hours between me and the weekend… let’s do this! Also, I decided to end today’s post with three of my favourite posts of the week, please go check them out and leave the girls lovely comments 🙂
What Up Wednesday-ish – Savannah is back!! She took a few days off for holiday (and was unfortunately poorly) but she is BACK. She’s my all time favourite blogger and I genuinely feel like I know her, her posts are always my go-to… please go send her all of the love and good wishes to be better!
July’s Feelings & Favourites – Chloe writes so beautifully, all of her posts are from the heart and I’m so excited she’s writing more about her personal life, those kind of posts always grab my attention more!
Summer Glow Getters – Gemma takes THE most beautiful photos in every post and this is no exception, all of these products are dreamy and I’ve added a few to my shopping list, she’s so informative about the products in this post.

-G x