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

Happy, happy Friday my little love bugs! I’m writing to you this morning at 6.15am, from my snuggly bed… Matt is just getting ready to leave for work and our room is FREEZING! We sleep with the window open no matter the weather (literally even when it’s snowing) because we love the room to be cold when we’re super warm under our duvet and blankets. However it’s not as fun when I’m trying to type up a blog post and it feels like Alaska in here… Anyway, I’ve got lots to talk about, so let’s get into it!

What I’m obsessed with:
So, like I often do, I copied Shay. Again. I seriously love everything I try on her recommendation, so I’m happy to try out new products based just on her reviews! I’d been eyeing up the Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt bubble bath for the longest time but it’s pretty pricey and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it. A while back I read Amazon reviews, searched for blog posts talking about it and asked my family/friends if they’d tried it, and then kinda forgot all about it. Then, last week I was re-reading lots of Shay’s Fall blog posts from last year (Autumn. is. on. the. brain.) and I seen this mentioned a couple of times, which prompted me to purchase it. Guys, I’m so happy I did because it’s SO GOOD. I love it! I have arthritis which is much worse in my knees/hips, and I’ve heard lots of good things about this helping aches and pains. To be honest, hot baths in general help me so I’m really intrigued to see if this makes a big difference when it starts to get a little cooler over the next few weeks.

What I’m reading:
I’m currently reading The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg, which is the sequel to The Note (one of my favourite books). I always love a book series, and I can’t get enough of this one! Zoe is such an incredible writer; her books feel like you’re right in with the characters, like you know everyone personally. I have read about two thirds of the book so far, and I’m going to be so sad when I finish it, I love love love Maya (the main character) so much, and Nena (her best friend) melts my heart. I am just finishing up a post this week about all the ways I find time to read regularly, which is something I asked if you guys might be intersested in SO long ago. It’ll be up in a few weeks and if you’re struggling with finding the time to read I really hope it helps you!

What I’m watching:
Matt and I started watching The Office! Well, we actually tried Parks and Rec but we just couldn’t get into it, we might go back to it in after The Office. We’re so late to the party, but we needed a funny, easy-to-watch show as we’ve now finished up to season five of Brooklyn 99. I’m still crying about it and I can’t wait for season six to be on Netflix! So far we are loving The Office, it’s so funny and the dry humour is exactly our style, we actually really look forward to watching a few more episodes every night. Baby John Krasinski melts my heart (I’m kinda obsessed with him and Emily Blunt, literally the best celeb couple!)

What I’m buying:
Okay so I kinda teased this last week, but I’m already looking for what I need to add to my Autumn/Winter wardrobe. I’m missing a few very obvious essentials in my wardrobes which was highlighted when I cleared them all out a few weeks ago, so I already have a pretty good list. One of the things on there is a good sweater/fleece that I can wear with jeans or leggings for just any casual weekend, and I found THIS baby. I’m not sure on the colour way I’m going to buy yet, but I already know how much I’ll love it and how much I’ll wear it. Patagonia have brilliant ethics which I fully support, and even though it’s extortionately expensive I’m hoping praying for a 20% discount to be available very soon! I also really wanted a mid-length cosy cardigan that will see me through the last of the Summer and into the Autumn, so I ordered this one, it’s a steal and it looks perfect, I’m excited for it to arrive! I can’t wait to start buying a few staple jumpers, long sleeved tees and I really need some black leather boots sooner rather than later because we have been getting SO much rain!

What I’m happy about:
Last week I had to send my iPad away to be fixed, because the battery ‘swelled’. Like, who knew that was even a thing?! It turns out they couldn’t actually fix the problem so instead they replaced my iPad with a pretty little new one! I was super nervous sending it away to be fixed because I really wanted it back before bank holiday weekend, but it literally took TWO days from when they received it to my new one arriving… Apple’s customer service is SO GOOD. I had just started using my iPad way more because I forgot how easy it is to carry it with me most days, and I can use it to blog on the go! I ordered this cute new case in anticipation of my new one arriving and I’m really happy with it!

What I’m thinking about:
Next week I’m getting my hair done again, and I’m completely undecided on what to do! I’m so torn between going for a darker, brunette balayage or going a little bit lighter with my current blondey balayage. I really just want a low maintenance, easy-to-manage colour as I feel like I get my hair dyed all the time which is pretty costly, not to mention so damaging! I’ve finally figured out how to curl my hair (well, kinda, I’m so bad at doing anything with my hair haha) but I LOVE how curls look in darker hair. I’m confused on what to do; should I go darker for Autumn or go a shade or two lighter? Someone please help me! I’d love for my hair to grow longer and I’m pretty sure the more I bleach it the less it’s likely to grow out.

What I’m working on:
I’ve planned so much new content for my blog, I feel like I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and trying to fit them into my posting schedule. Writing the posts is the easy part; I literally sit down at my laptop and the words just come out (for the most part, anyway) but having time to take photos isn’t always easy, and I hate to feel rushed or put up sub-standard photos. This weekend, Matt and I are taking photos for my first morning routine post, I really hope it all comes together how I picture it in my head, I’m nervous and excited about it!

What I’m up to this weekend:
Tonight we’re cooking, relaxing and snuggling in to watch Stacey Dooley’s new documentary. #Stace4evs. Matt is at work tomorrow on an early shift, so I’m taking the morning to run errands, grocery shop for the week ahead, maybe pop to Homesense and work a little a lot on my blog. He’ll be home around 3.30pm, so we’re spending our evening watching football, grabbing a Chinese takeaway and having the most chilled night, which is our favourite way to spend a Saturday! On Sunday we’re having a chilled morning (and also taking photos as I mentioned above), then heading for date day in town. I’m taking Matt for a breakfast date, we’re visiting the Quayside Market, getting donuts from The Best Place In The North East, browsing the shops and just having a fun little day together, before coming home to probably watch more football. ‘Tis the season! We’re spending our evening snuggled up on the couch with a good dinner, watching a movie before a hectic week.

Our favourite meals from the week:
I decided to start a new segment in my #feelinitfriday posts! I am asked SO often – especially in response to my almost nightly Instagram stories – to share recipe ideas on the blog, and I really want to do it; I’m just not great at taking photos of food. It’s hard because we obviously want to eat when our food is hot, but cooled down food photographs way better (weird, I know). Also, presentation is not our strong point; we literally throw it all together and all we care about is eating it! I’m not sharing recipes (unless I’ve followed someone else’s in which case I’ll link them) but maybe it will give you a little inspiration of things to make for the upcoming week. As I talked about in last week’s post, I was pumped to make this BLT pasta, and it turned out so. dang. good. I tweaked the recipe a little (we didn’t use stock) and we already know it’s going to be something we make all the time; it’s delicious, so easy and pretty healthy, what’s not to love? Another night we made pizza pasta bake which was also very good. Last night I made the easiest, most simple chicken fajita recipe for Matt coming home from work and we loved it. You literally throw it all in the oven for forty minutes on a baking tray, add rice, guac, salsa, sour cream etc and throw it all into a wrap. We had them with garlic potatoes, and we’re so happy the peri peri rice we LOVE is back in stores!

…and that wraps up today’s post, thank you so much for reading! These posts always get the most views on the day they go live, and I’m pretty sure it’s because we’re all nosy and love to know the behind-the-scenes of other people’s lives… just me? 🙂 I’m not sure if you’ll be getting a #feelinitfriday from me next week as Matt and I are going on a trip across the bank holiday weekend (I’m SO excited), we’ll just have to see how busy life is next week! Have the most wonderful weekend!

-G x

Summer Bucket List

Happy, happy Wednesday loves! Today I’m back with another seasonal bucket list, these are some of my favourite posts to write! I’m linking my Winter Bucket List here, and my Spring Bucket List here. We ticked off so many things from our Spring bucket list this year, and I already have tons of ideas for the things we want to do next year! We especially loved seeing the cherry blossoms at Alnwick Garden, taking all the road trips and celebrating our 25th birthdays. There were unfortunately a lot of things we didn’t get round to, as we were super busy the past few months and it kinda feels like we barely stopped. We have very high hopes our Summer will be way more relaxed, and we really want to spend so much more quality time together! There’s already so many fun things planned in for Summer already, and tons more we’re hoping to do!

– Visit Croatia! We go this coming Monday, UGH I’m so excited!! And thankfully no longer feeling stressed
– Play mini golf… and ideally beat Matt (haha that will never happen)
– Have a picnic in the woods
– Take a road trip to a new city
– Book a city break to Lisbon. We couldn’t confirm dates last season so hopefully we’ll be able to go in late Summer!
– Have a huge BBQ with both our families at Matt’s grandma’s house
– Visit the Lake District
– Go on lots of hikes
– Spend lots of time reading outside in our hammock*
– *Buy hammock
– Prioritise breakfast dates. This is literally in every single bucket list because we love going out for breakfast
– Wear less makeup when it’s hot
– Visit Bolam Lake on a hot sunny day
– Matt is running a 5k! I’m so proud of him and I can’t wait to cheer him on from the sidelines 🙂
– Spend a hot sunny day picking baskets of fresh fruit from Brocksbushes Farm
– Wear lots of yellow clothing
– Visit Matt’s family down South, I’m SO EXCITED
– Go wine tasting
– Take a road trip through the Scottish borders, stopping off at any little towns we fancy along the way
– Eat dinner outside during the warm evenings
– Make s’mores. This post from Savannah inspired me last year, we definitely need to try to re-create some of these!
– Play tourist in our own city. This is one of our favourite ways to spend the weekend
– Watch as many beach sunsets as we can possibly squeeze in
– Go for afternoon tea at Spanish City
– Visit a waterfall
– Shoot more in-front-of-the-camera content
– Enjoy a day at the spa
– Spend an afternoon at a Summer fete. Definitely not just for the mini sugared donuts…
– Shop fresh produce at a local Farmer’s Market
– Spend a day at Cragside
– Go for lots of early morning beach walks
– Enjoy August bank holiday at the Quayside
– Eat ALL of the ice cream from Arrighi’s. It’s literally the best thing ever
– Spend a rainy day watching movies and eating popcorn in bed. It is Summer in England, after all!
– Go to NUFC games once the season starts again

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this post gave you lots of fun ideas of things to do this Summer, especially if you live in Northern England! I can’t wait for another fun season, and this year I’m determined to embrace every second of Summer! What are some fun things you have planned this year? Do you also write bucket lists to be able to get some kind of plan in place? What else should we try to squeeze in?!

-G x