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

Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Fillers Under £20

Photo contains gifted items – please read my disclaimer here

Hi, loves! Today is the last installment in my Christmas Gift Guide series for this year and if I do say so myself, I think I’ve saved the best for last! Stocking fillers are some of my favourite gifts to give and receive; there’s so many incredible options. I love to give one or two ‘big’ gifts then pad out my loved ones presents with smaller items, and everything in this gift guide would be perfect for that, too. I also think there’s something in here for any Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchanges you may be participating in this holiday season.

Also, I’m only sharing a few at the end of this post because there’s SO much choice, but it’s not a good stocking without ALL of the sweets and chocolate… right? 🙂 also – gift cards are my favourite gift to give/receive in stockings! I highly recommend placing a £10 or £20 gift card for the recipient’s favourite store in the bottom, it’ll be the best surprise.

Christmas Gift Guide For Her | Christmas Gift Guide For Him

FOR HER

1. Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara Mini | 2. The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Mask | 3. Invisibobble Cracker | 4. The Body Shop Juicy Pear Shower Gel | 5. Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm | 6. L’Occitaine Cherry Blossom Hand Cream | 7. Therapie Himalayan Detox Bath Salts | 8. MAC Cosmetics Turquatic Rollerball | 9. Bumble Bee Necklace | 10. Pixi Glow Tonic Mini | 11. Oliver Bonas Bee Makeup Bag | 12. Emma Hardie Merrily Moringa | 13. Lush Yog Nog Shower Gel | 14. Cosy Socks | 15. Eye Majic Instant Eyeshadow | 16. This Works Seventh Heaven Gift Set | 17. The Body Shop Rich Plum Body Yoghurt | 18. Benefit Hoola Bronzer Mini | 19. Cath Kidston Christmas Village Tea Plate | 20. Stitch & Pieces Mustard Beanie | 21. Nike Black Trainer Socks | 22. Dr Teal’s Lavendar Foaming Bath | 23. Morroccanoil Treatment Light Ornament | 24. Cath Kidston Christmas Village Mug | 25. Katie Loxton Pen Set | 26. Essie Nail Polish | 27. The Body Shop Mango Hand Cream & Lip Balm Set | 28. The Giver Of Stars by Jojo Moyes | 29. Lush Polar Plunge Bubble Bar | 30. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

FOR HIM

1. Personalised Golf Mug | 2. Percy Pig Socks Gift Box | 3. Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay | 4. L’Oreal Beard Cream | 5. Next Checked Scarf | 6. Kent Tortoiseshell Comb | 7. LED Torch | 8. Ted Baker Notepad & Pen Set | 9. Jack Black Lip Balm | 10. Robot USB Stick | 11. Gillette Fusion 5 Razor | 12. Nando’s Peri Peri Salt & Shaker Set | 13. Dachshund Through The Snow Socks | 14. Brussel Sprouts Jigsaw | 15. Sukin Cream Cleanser | 16. The Body Shop Arber Hair & Body Wash | 17. The Chase Game | 18. Poo Pourri Spray | 19. Barbour Travel Mug | 20. Clarins for Men Cracker | 21. Beard Baubles | 22. Dr Teal’s Eucalyptus & Spearmint Foaming Bath | 23. Whittard Milk Chocolate Spoon | 24. Adidas Cushioned Socks | 25. Lush Shoot For The Stars Bath Bomb | 26. Jack Wills Boxers | 27. Brussel Sprouts Jigsaw | 28. L’Oreal Sheet Mask | 29. Bamboo Toothbrush | 30. Granite Whisky Stone Ice Cubes

TEN OF THE BEST SWEET TREATS UNDER TEN POUNDS

1. Thornton’s White Chocolate Snowy Bear | 2. Lindt Milk Chocolate Bear | 3. Handmade Gingerbread Fudge | 4. Hotel Chocolat White Chocolate Reindeers | 5. SugarSin Ros Gummies | 6. Nestle After Eight Straws | 7. Cadbury’s Chocolate Santa | 8. Jelly Babies Giant Jar | 9. Pink Smarties Tube | 10. Quality Street Purely Chocolate Caramel Brownie

This may be the last in my Christmas Gift Guide series for 2019, but I’m talking in detail about a few of my current favourite budget beauty products in my next Feelin’ It Friday post (coming to you next Friday, November 29th!) which will also make wonderful stocking filler or Secret Santa gifts so make sure to check back for that too!

-G x

Christmas Gift Guide: For Him

Photo contains gifted items – please read my disclaimer here

Hi, loves! Today I’m sharing with you the second part in my gifting series, the first post was specifically for all the gals in your life and you can catch up here if you missed it! Today I’ve appealed for the help of my lovely boyfriend Matthew (who has a pretty starring role on this blog, haha) to pick his three favourite gifts from each category, similar to what I did in my Gift Guide: For Her. I hope you enjoy and this is helpful to tick a few people off the list this year! Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: There are a few higher priced items in this gift guide but I promise you it’s because they’re great value for money and really amazing gifts! I really wanted to keep my gift guides affordable and practical, and also very realistic for the average gift giver like myself. Remember Black Friday is coming up and always check for discount codes before purchasing online – you can almost always save at least 10%. I hope you find it so helpful!

THE HOMEBODY

Matthew’s favourite thing in the world (apart from me, of course) are his Ugg slippers. He literally wears them all day, every day when we’re at home! He may also be recieving some spanking new ones this year as his are a little too loved. He wears his M&S dressing gown every day too; it’s a must-have for any homebody, especially at this time of year! Matt loves sweatpants, and you just can’t beat how soft and cosy Abercrombie’s feel.

1. M&S Dressing Gown | 2. Ugg Slippers | 3. Checkerboard Pyjama Set | 4. Amazon Echo Dot | 5. Amazon Fire TV Stick With Alexa Voice Remote | 6. Abercrombie & Fitch Lounge Trousers | 7. Zara Hoodie | 8. Popcorn Machine | 9. Kindle Paperwhite | 10. PJ Pants Set | 11. Home City Wall Art | 12. Next Grey Borg Zip Hoodie| 13. Barbour Lambswool Scarf | 14. Cork Collection Box | 15. Royal Doulton White/Grey Mug

THE LUXURY LOVER

Fun fact: I bought Matt Chanel de Bleu aftershave our first Christmas together and it quickly became his most prized aftershave. He keeps it for special ocassions but he just loves it! He has a mini collection of coats and he thinks this Barber coat would be the best present you’d give someone this year. It’s a pretty bold statement but I believe him. If a man in your life has a love for watches, instead of stretching your budget to buy him a new one why not buy him a Dulwich Designs display case so he can admire his collection?

1. Moet Champagne | 2. Mont Blanc Pen | 3. Ted Baker Tie | 4. Chanel de Bleu Aftershave | 5. Gucci Card Holder | 6. Black Nespresso Machine | 7. Grey Paul Smith Jumper | 8. Acne Studios Grey Beanie | 9. Jigsaw Cashmere Jumper | 10. Dulwich Designs Watch Display Box | 11. Barbour Stevenson Coat | 12. Tom Ford Black Orchid Aftershave | 13. Black Mulberry Wallet | 14. Paul Smith Long Sleeve Polo Shirt | 15. Daniel Wellington Bristol Watch

THE GROOMED GENT

Like many men, Matt loves his pampering products. An electric toothbrush is a must for him and he recommends buying one for any man that doesn’t have one. He’s so interested to try some new skincare products to change up his routine and we both agree the bath oil would be a great present for anyone that enjoys a nice soak in the tub after a long day. Like Matt… who spends a good hour in the bath pretty much every evening!

1. Kiehl’s Gift Set | 2. Mr Burberry Aftershave | 3. Phillips Electric Shaver | 4. Sukin Oil Balancing Mattifying Skincare Gift Set | 6. Mont Blanc Legend Aftershave | 7. Ted Baker Leather Wash Bag | 8. L’Oreal Men The Expert Energetic Washbag Gift Set | 9. Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil | 10. Oral B 4000 Cross Action Electric Toothbrush | 11. L’Occitaine Shower Gel | 12. Kiehl’s Nourishing Beard Oil | 13. Molton Brown Tobacco Absolute Gift Set | 14. Tom Ford Noir Aftershave Balm | 15. Clinique For Men Skincare Set

THE FOODIE

Matt thinks the Lazy Man pan set is perfect for men everywhere, haha! He’s a whisky fan but not necessarily too specific on brands, so he agrees a set like this would be brilliant for someone to be able to try different options without potentially wasting a whole bottle. As for the spaghetti monster colander… let’s just say if we had this he’d be helping out in the kitchen a lot more 🙂

1. Hotel Chocolat Hamper | 2. Whisky Tasting Set | 3. Chilli Sauce Set | 4. Cadbury’s Chocolate Football | 5. Joseph Joseph Kitchen Acessories Set | 6. Edinburgh Gin Apple & Spice Gin | 7. Spaghetti Monster Colander | 8. Paddle Shaped Serving Board | 9. Oliver Bonas Glass Globe Wine Decanter | 10. Lazy Man Pan Set | 11. Brewdog IPA Hamper | 12. Whittard Coffees Of The World Gift Set | 13. Tasty Cookbook | 14. Cheese Dome & Chutney Gift Set | 15. Whisky Marmalade

THE TRAVELLER

Matt is obsessed with his laptop, and picked the Herschel MacBook sleeve as the best accessory to keep it looking great whilst travelling. I purchased a very similar Ted Baker holdall to the one linked below for Matt last Christmas and it’s become his go-to for every weekend away or small trip we take. It’s so handy for a man on the move and Matt thinks it would also be a great gift for anyone who travels for work. Matt has visited so many countries so he suggested a scratch map would be a wonderful idea for anyone else who likes to travel!

1. Sony Noise Cancelling Earphones | 2. Stojo Grey Collapsible Cup | 3. Ted Baker Webbing Holdall Bag | 4. Molton Brown Travel Size Toiletry Set | 5. Gaston Luga Praper Backpack | 6. Jack Black Lip Balm | 7. Anker Powercore Portable Charger | 8. Antler Packing Cubes | 9. Aspinal of London Passport Cover | 10. Scratch Map | 11. Travel Pillow | 12. Herschel Macbook Sleeve | 13. Personalised Luggage Tag | 14. Lonely Planet Ultimate Travel Book| 15. Nuxe Travel Set

THE GUY WHO HAS EVERYTHING

If anyone knows my boyfriend, they know he is SO OBSESSED with all things football. He recently started an Instagram account called NUFC Vintage on which he showcases his love for football shirts and Newcastle United; a classic football shirt is literally the perfect gift for him! Matt is an avid golfer and Titleist Pro V1 golf balls are always going to be a hole in one with him. Yes I wrote that. I’m so sorry. He has had the brown Tommy Hilfiger belt for years and it still looks brand new; it’s such great quality!

1. Nintendo Switch Lite | 2. Classic Football Shirt | 3. Patagonia P6 Responsibilitee Long Sleeve | 4. Go Pro Hero 7 | 5. Aspinal Of London Silver & Mother Of Pearl Cufflinks | 6. A Named Star | 7. Gentlemen’s Hardware Cheese & Wine Multi Tool | 8. Titleist Pro V1 Golf Balls | 9. Tommy Hilfiger Brown Belt | 10. ASOS Design Brown Faux Suede Chukka Boots | 11. Cedar Shoe Trees | 12. Alpha Designs Black XXL Bottle | 13. Bose SoundLink | 14. Nike Half Zip Sweater | 15. Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce Candle

“It’s not about the gifts under the tree, it’s about the people around it”

-G & M x