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

Seven Beauty Products I Use Every Day

Hi, loves! I’m a creature of habit when it comes to pretty much every aspect of my life – I love routine, I love plans and I love using tried and tested great products. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy trying new products and finding new things I like, but as I’ve got a little older I have less of a want to buy, buy, buy without lots of research and consideration. When I was 19 I bought my very own Soleil Tan de Chanel after seeing SO many beauty bloggers and vloggers rave about it, and I’ve never disliked a makeup product more. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the product, I just didn’t and still don’t have the skills to apply a cream bronzer to look good on my face, and it was also way too dark for my skin tone. This should have been a valuable lesson (literally) as it cost around £40.00, which was a lot of money to me back then in my first ‘real’ job where I made barely nothing. I mean, it’s still a lot of money now and I have a much better job!

It took me years and years of buying the must-have product of the moment, but I’ve finally learned my lesson, and I only buy now if I’m confident I’ll love the product. I know what I like, and I’m always drawn to the same tones, colours and finishes when it comes to makeup. When Matt and I go shopping I would always rather spend more time looking at beauty products than clothes as I really don’t buy many clothes, but I’ve cut back on purchasing beauty products so much! I very rarely pick things up on a whim now, and try to do a lot of research before I buy from reading blogs, watching YouTube videos and reading website reviews. I use so many products on a regular basis, but I thought it would be fun to choose seven truly loved products that I couldn’t imagine getting ready (or unready) without! I’m sure they’re all very familiar to you, but that’s how you know I really love them, right?

Morroccanoil Treatment Light
I am obsessed with using oils on my hair (and face and body!) but this one is my absolute number one. I recently changed to the light treatment instead of the regular and it truly is a miracle worker on my hair. I apply a teeny tiny amount to wet hair after I wash it, and then I work a small amount through the ends of my hair on the in-between days before styling. It smells incredible and I’d really love to try more products from the Morroccanoil range, I know so many salons – including mine – recommend their products!

MAC Turquatic Rollerball
As I wrote about in this post, this perfume lives in my bag and comes in so handy for travelling and typical day-to-day life! I switch up my perfumes depending on the day or where we’re going (although of course Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede and Lancome La Vie East Belle are my ultimate luxury favourites!) but this I reach for every single day. I use it to top up whichever perfume I applied that morning at least once per day, and the smell makes me so. dang. happy. Matt loves this perfume on me which is so cute, it’s such a feel good scent and although I think it’s marketed for Summer due to the citrus notes I wear it all year round.

Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Concealer in 1N
I discovered this product towards the end of last year, and it first featured on my blog in this post, yet I’ve spoken about it so many times since. I bought it on recommendation from Allie Glines after she talked about how much she loved it, and I’ve repurchased a few times, I can’t imagine using another product under my eyes! It doesn’t crease, it lasts throughout the day (I always set with my Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder) and it looks great in photos.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve shared this product on my blog, but when you really love something you want to share it with others, right?! No matter what lipstick or lip gloss I’m wearing, I always apply this first, which is probably why I go through them so quickly. I first purchased this product around four or five years ago, when it became *the* beauty product on YouTube and I’ve not looked back since; I’ve tried so many ‘dupes’ and nothing works as well as this. The formula is so creamy but it applies easily and lasts for such a long time, and it is a perfect base for any peach, pink or nude lip product, which is pretty much all I wear!

L’Occitane Cherry Blossom Hand Cream
I have one of these hand creams in my bag at all times, and one in my nightstand drawer because I just need to have it on hand at all times. ON HAND, lol. Get it? I definitely do use multiple hand creams – The Body Shop and Sanctuary Spa also make great ones that are a little less expensive – but this is just a luxurious product I love so much. First of all, it smells amazing and the smell lingers around on your hands for so long, but the formula is not sticky or tacky and sinks in right away. I use hand cream religiously during the colder months because if I didn’t my hands would be ridiculously dry, but I’m getting better at using it when it’s not cold too. I’m really trying so hard to use hand cream after every time I wash my hands, because since I stopped getting gel manicures my hands need all the love they can get!

The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter
The. Best. Cleanser. Ever. Hands down. I use all of the products in my skincare routine every day, but I just had to include his gem! I’ve used this for such a long time, and although I use other products in rotation, over the past few months this is really all I’ve reached for. I truly look forward to taking my makeup off with this cleanser every single night because it’s so relaxing and makes my skin feel great. It’s lightly fragranced but smells amazing, almost spa-like, and it’s a very relaxing way to begin my evening skincare routine. I apply this directly onto my face to break down makeup, then add a little water to create a milky consistency that breaks down any extra makeup a little more. I remove with a muslin cloth or flannel, and depending how much makeup I’ve worn that day/night I sometimes repeat, although I very rarely need to.

Carmex Watermelon Lip Balm
Lip balm is a beauty obsession for me, it’s one product I truly can’t have enough of and boy do I love trying out new ones. To be fair, Matt steals my lip balm all the time, and even when he doesn’t he wears it by default from how much I kiss him, haha. I use so many lip balms, but I really love Carmex and I reach for several throughout the day, depending on where I am as I have them stashed everywhere! I picked this watermelon scented lip balm up a few weeks ago and I really love the scent of it, it’s just perfect for the Summer months.

Thank you so much for reading! Could you have guessed some of these products? Do you use anything I mentioned in this post? What are your tried and tested must-have products you use every day?

-G x