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

Photo Diary: My 25th Birthday Weekend

Happy, happy Wednesday loves! I’m so happy to be back! I know I only missed one upload (more on that in this post) but wow it’s felt SO long, I missed blogging and I missed you guys! I love love love writing photo diaries and Weekend In My Life posts, and I appreciate that they always get such a great response from my readers! You can read my latest WIML post from way back in February here, and if you type ‘weekend’, ‘week’ or ‘photo diary’ in the search bar at the side, a ton more posts will come up!

Thursday May 16th

Thursday was my last day at work for the week, which meant early birthday celebrations! The girls in my office are so sweet and thoughtful, and as always they totally spoiled me with so many lovely gifts, including a Lush gift card that I’m super excited to use!

I finished work a little earlier than usual, and headed straight to the salon for an update to my balayage! I was there a good three hours, and I’m so so happy with how it turned out, my hair is WAY lighter and feeling ready for Summer. Erin at Rein & Co is the best; she’s so sweet and knowledgable, and there’s something about having your hair done that just makes you feel so dang good. I’d really recommend visiting the salon if you’re in the Newcastle area! I drove home via the beach (literally the sunset was SO pretty – I pulled over in the worst spot to take a photo but trust me it was beautiful. I love the beach so much!) While I was on my way home, Matt headed out to pick up Indian food for dinner for us and my parents, we always go to the same place and their food is delicious. After the quickest shower ever, Matt and I snuggled in to watch a few episodes of Brooklyn 99 and got an early(ish) night in. It was the perfect ending to my last day as a 24 year old!

Not the greatest photo. I snapped this super quickly before I headed home

Friday May 17th

I turned 25!! I woke up to Matt being the cutest ever (I mean, he is every morning, but he was extra cute on this day). We woke up around 7ish – no lay in for us! – as he was so excited for me to open my presents LOL. I love our little tradition on birthdays, Christmas and our anniversary of opening gifts in bed, it’s so cute. I also usually feel super awkward opening gifts from people, but when it’s just us two I don’t feel like that at all. Matt was SO generous and spoiled me like crazy, I love him so much and am beyond grateful! We spent a little time with my parents opening gifts from them and other family members, then my mum had to go to work. We ate birthday cake for breakfast (a must, right?), got ready for the day and packed up for our weekend getaway.

Literally the luckiest girl in the world, he’s so good to me!
My favourite EVER cake is the Red Velvet from Costco, I could eat this every day for the rest of my life!
I kinda love this photo, even though I’m squinting so bad in the sun and I’ve no idea why my hair looks super dark!

We visited with my grandma for a little while which was lovely. She absolutely adores Matt, it’s so sweet to see! We said our goodbyes and set off for Ramside Hall. We got there around 1.45pm and, as our room wasn’t ready, took a little time to relax in the bar area and grab lunch. Matt got a Heineken (of course) and I opted for a strawberries and cream gin with lemonade, and we both ate club sandwiches. We got cosy in the bar until our room was ready, then went up to have a look around. We’d stayed in this hotel before – I booked a surprise trip for Matt after he’d had such a busy time at work a year past April – so we had an idea of what to expect, but our room was way bigger this time! There was a HUGE bath – it doesn’t look as big in the photos at all, we were super excited to jump in haha.

I just love the decor!
Matt had told the hotel it was my birthday and they left chocolates for us – how sweet! Also Cadbury’s is my FAVOURITE
Our bath of dreams… serious house inspo for next year!

After we’d unpacked (well, Matt unpacked. He’s the cutest and the first thing he does when we get to a hotel is unpack everything and hang his clothes up. I just love him!) we quickly threw on our bikini and swim shorts, and headed down to the spa. It was so warm and relaxing, we lay by the pool for a little then Matt went for a swim whilst I spent five minutes catching up on birthday messages (I was so overwhelmed with the sweet messages I recieved – thank you so much!) I joined him in the pool, and we spent a while just messing around, it felt like we were back in Kos for a split second! We stayed around the pool area for around an hour, but that huge bath was just calling our name. We caved and headed up to our room to take a long hot bubble bath and chilled the F out. It was bliss!

These robes were HUGE and so snuggly – I wanted to take them home! Also, don’t mind the no makeup. Wowzers
I just love him so much!
My handsome guy

Afterwards, we got ready for the evening (I’m SO mad we didn’t get a good photo together) and headed for dinner at Fat Buddha. It’s one of my favourite places to eat – their honey chilli chicken is incredible! We spent the rest of our evening out at a place nearby called Missoula that had the prettiest decor, and really good music. We had a few drinks and were beat, so headed back to the room to snuggle up in bed with a drink from the bar. #25goingon85. We watched an episode of The Force: Essex and fell asleep, we’re so cool. Honestly, we aren’t always like that but I kinda love when we are, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I had the BEST day and I am so thankful for Matt making every day feel so special, not just my birthday. I love you so much, babe!

Saturday May 18th

Since we’d gone to bed pretty early the night before, we were up early and ready to take on the day. It was POURING rain out, so our plans to go for breakfast in Durham were unfortunately squashed as everything is outdoors, and we didn’t bring coats or appropriate footwear. #packingfail. Instead, we checked out, packed up the car and headed to the Metro Centre for a few hours of shopping. What else are you supposed to do when it’s pouring rain and freezing?! We ran a few errands, shopped in our favourite stores and ate lunch at our favourite place, Wagamama’s. I always get the same thing (either teriyaki chicken donburi or chilli steak ramen) and Matt ALWAYS gets chilli steak ramen, however this time I branched out! I got teriyaki steak soba noodles (without onions) and it was incredible, I think I’ve found a new favourite dish! We spent so long browsing Waterstone’s – book shops are one of my favourite places – and I picked up a few new books, I can’t wait to get stuck in! (I also made an Amazon order for even MORE when we got home as they were way cheaper on Amazon, I think I’m good for a while… LOL)

I love you!
My forever date!

We left the Metro Centre, and headed home via Tesco, our second favourite shop. Costco is obviously number one, we literally LOVE walking around buying crap we absolutely don’t need, haha. We were in and out pretty quick, just picking up groceries to make dinner that evening (and my favourite chips and dip… I couldn’t resist). Matt’s parents were away for the weekend so we were staying there the whole time and when we got home Matt went out for a run whilst I snuggled up with a cup of tea and my new book. Although I was in tears by page three – it’s so sad, but also heartwarming, moving and kinda funny – I’m completely hooked. I also kissed and snuggled Matt extra hard for the rest of the weekend, if you read it you’ll know why! And if you haven’t, I’m linking it here and saying you need to buy it immediately, you won’t regret it. (Well, I hope not. I’m 145 pages in when I’m typing this up on Monday evening, and it’s honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read up to now).

A little beauty haul… all repurchases of products I use and LOVE every single day!
Buying new books makes me so happy. Also, how cute is our bedding at Matt’s parents?! I love it so much!

Matt got home from his run and we watched the opening ceremony to the Man City match, I really love how exciting the atmosphere feels at big football games! We watched for a little while, then Matt got a post-run bath and I went straight back into reading my book. I really struggled to put it down! Matt ran me a bath (and he put a Lush bath bomb in, what a cutie!) and I soaked with a face mask on… yep, whilst reading my book. I used The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal purifying glow mask which is one of my absolute favourites, it always makes my skin feel SO good afterwards. Matt usually joins in on face mask night but he was not feeling it this weekend… party pooper! After I’d had a lovely bath, exfoliated, shaved and washed my hair, I jumped out and got ready for the evening. We made dinner – roasted veggies with ham and mashed potato – and got cosy on the couch to watch a few more episodes of Brooklyn 99, we’re seriously obsessed! We went to bed pretty late, and snuggled in for a loooong sleep.

My favourite kind of beer! It’s SO GOOD
Do you put butter on your mashed potatoes? If you don’t you really should!

Sunday May 19th

Okay, so Sunday is where I FAILED with the photo taking. I’m sorry, I was on a roll for the first part of the weekend but then I was a #badblogger. To be honest, I felt a little bit off all day – I was really anxious and a little teary randomly. I’m not sure why as there was no specific reason but Matt was so good to me. He loved me a little harder all day and I thankfully felt so much better by Sunday night. We still had a lovely day, I just felt super anxious. So, what did we get up to? We lay in pretty late, and after a little too long snuggling I finally got out of bed to make Matt breakfast. We slowly started moving to get ready, and booked a hotel for a pretty spontaneous trip to Manchester this coming weekend! We’re road tripping down for a family reunion, and I’m so excited for Sunday’s post… can you guess what it’s about?!

I bought this mug for Matt over a year ago and it still makes me laugh!
My new Adidas sneaks from bae! I am so in love with them 😍

When we finally got ready, we headed to Aldi to grab a few groceries we needed for the beginning of the week until I do a big shop mid-week. I typically grocery shop by myself when Matt’s at work or when I’m on the way home from work, so I always appreciate when we get to run errands together. We went to see my parents and open a few extra birthday presents that had been dropped off (my family are so generous!) and caught up on what we’d all been doing over the weekend. After, we went up to see my godparents – we love being at their house, it’s so beautiful and they’re so lovely! We stayed for a while, and got some puppy cuddles in with Phoebe. Isn’t she just so cute?! We went home via a pit stop at the Co-Op (I’m literally OBSESSED with going into any Co-Op we pass, whether I need something or not. It’s become a running joke between Matt and I, then my godmother said she totally gets it and loves going in too! HA we’re so weird. They just have everything you could ever need) and Matt got on with some work whilst I read some more of my book and started editing photos for this post. We showered, cooked the most amazing steaks for dinner and snuggled in for a night of TV on the couch with some yummy snacks. We of course watched a few more episodes of Brooklyn 99, then A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health, featuring several football players and Prince William. It was so insightful, and if you haven’t seen it I’d definitely advise watching it – and recommending it to any men in your life!

Photo credit to my favourite lil cousin Ellie, I totally forgot to take a photo whilst we were there! #badblogger
These rainbow pencils are AMAZING! The pink ones are rhubarb and custard flavour… what more could you want?!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed a look into my life from this past weekend! We had so much fun, and I’m always so grateful for all the quality time Matthew and I get together. Our schedules have been jam packed lately so we’ve had to make the most of our mornings and evenings, and he’s going away the first week of June – I miss him and am counting down to picking him up from the airport already! LOL. We’re enjoying every little moment together more than ever right now, and we’re SO ready for our holiday together at the end of June! How was your weekend, what did you get up to? I’m counting down to this weekend already, I can’t wait for another weekend with my love, and to spend time with family!

-G x