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 In Edinburgh

Hi, loves! This past Saturday Matt and I headed up to Edinburgh for a fun little day trip to explore one of our favourite cities, finish up on a little extra holiday shopping and… well… eat all of the food (and drink all of the Irn Bru)! We live in the North of England and we are very used to the cold weather, but oh my gosh it was so freezing cold up in Scotland. Which, to be fair, I guess that’s to be expected in December! Matt and I have a tradition to visit a new city’s Christmas markets each year. Back in 2017 we headed to York, then last year we went to Manchester. It was so fun to see another city and how they do Christmas! We of course visit our hometown Christmas markets which are beautiful, but they’re not a patch on some other cities. Spoiler: Edinburgh is our favourite Christmas market we’ve visited so far! ๐Ÿ™‚

We started our day bright dark and early, and we just had to make a Starbucks trip as soon as we got to the train station. As much as I love the holiday themed drinks at Starbucks/Costa, I opted for my ‘usual’ cold weather drink: an extra hot, hot chocolate with two pumps of vanilla and almond milk. It’s delish!

Hahahaha. We were going past Newcastle United’s training ground at the time I took this, look at his face!

I love you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

The very second we came out of the train station we headed straight to H&M to buy gloves and an umbrella for Matt! He forgot to bring a hat (but ended up buying a cute lil Barbour cap during our day, I LOVE it on him. It’s very Peaky Blinders haha!) We got a SHOCK when we came out into the fresh air because it was so freezing cold, our cheeks and noses were instantly red! I was super toasty in my coat though #bestbuyever.

I’m so drawn to colorful wool patterns and Tartan is my JAM.

I have no words how amazing these pancakes are, I didn’t want to share with Matt, hahaha! There were ten little pancakes in the tray, smothered with Nutella and white chocolate that melted in and made the most delicious litle treat ever! I want to eat it again right now.

After walking all round the markets, we headed to wander around a few shops. We went into a store called Kingdom Of Sweets and found all of the Tony’s flavours…

…and best of all… USA Mountain Dew!!! The Mountain Dew we can buy here is really naff and just not the same at all. I was so excited to see these that I didn’t even care they were ยฃ1.99 each! We got three Mountain Dew’s and one Exotic Fanta for Matt. I couldn’t BELIEVE the price of Freddo’s! Like, what the HECK?!

The streets throughout Edinburgh are GORGEOUS, especially when decorated for Christmas. The streets by The Dome are our very favourite and they have the best shops, including so many that we don’t have here in Newcastle. I really wish I had taken photos in Harvey Nichol’s because it was just so pretty in there.

We HAD to make a stop at Anthropologie! Look how beautiful!

I was literally in love with these coasters. I bought one in a teal/dark green shade and Matt got me one in this light blue to put in my stocking! I just think they’re so pretty ๐Ÿ™‚

Another shop we stopped by was Oliver Bonas. I’m dreaming of this sweet chest in our future home! How GORGEOUS!?

Many shops later, we stopped for lunch at All Bar One. We do have one of these in Newcastle that just opened a few months ago, but we haven’t had chance to visit yet. We ate breakfast here two years ago so it was really nice to come back! Matt got Tennent’s and I got Irn Bru… #wheninScotland. We also had delicious food and the atmosphere is just so lovely in there! It’s relaxed but busy, and just feels so homely and cosy. Matt went for a burger and I opted for mac n cheese, we were so happy, warm and full when we left!

We did have another little look around the markets, then headed up to the castle! The streets on the way up are so quaint and cute, I feel like they’re very ‘typically British’ and so photogenic. We’re so lucky that where we live in Northumberland has so many pretty castles and places of history, but I LOVE Edinburgh Castle so much. It absolutely beautiful and on a clear day you can see for miles!

The most handsome man I ever did see ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m SO glad it wasn’t windy up there…

Matt may or may not have added this bottle of whisky to his Christmas List. I’m pretty sure Father Christmas will NOT be getting that memo!

A candid at the top of the very windy hill.

We sent this shirt photo to Debbie (Matt’s mum) to ask her opinion on whether or not Matt should get it. I loved it, Matt liked it, Debbie loved it. We bought it! He’s going to be wearing this on Christmas Day ๐Ÿ™‚ …if you’re looking for a last minute gift, anything from Ted Baker is a WINNER. Matt wears Ted Baker shirts for so many occasions, and they’re such high quality.

More market wandering… more drinking inside the log cabins to warm the F up… we also grabbed Bailey’s hot chocolates but our hands were too freezing to take photos. They were really good, but we can do make better at home!

SO pretty!

The Dome lit up for Christmas is just SO STUNNING! If you get chance to visit Edinburgh at Christmas, do it!

After a little more wandering/browsing/shopping we headed to a bar (I’m pretty sure it was called The Refinery?) for a few drinks. Pints and gins all round! This was such a cute bar, it’s definitely Matt and I’s kind of vibe.

…just before we made a dash to Sainsbury’s to buy drinks/snacks for the train home we got a photo outside of the Tipi. How gorgoeus is this star!? I love this photo. And Matthew, I love you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed coming along with us on our little festive trip and seeing what we got up to. Have you ever visited Edinburgh at Christmas? Which are the best Christmas markets you’ve visited this year? I so wish we could have stayed for a whole weekend, we definitely want to visit again next year.

-G x

Travel Diaries: Stamford

Hi, loves! Today’s post is a photo diary instead of a typical WIML post, as we spent so much time with Matt’s family and just totally relaxed all weekend! I am so excited to be sharing our photos from Stamford with you, because I literally took so. dang. many. We spent August bank holiday weekend there; visiting Matt’s family, exploring the area and just enjoying a break from our usual day-to-day life. We love going for weekends away, and we try to visit somewhere every few months for a mini break. Our weekend was filled with love and laughter; we had the best time exploring and I’m so grateful to my favourite person for always making our travels so fun. Matthew; I love you, and I love doing life with you! Did you see what I packed for this trip? I’m linking that post here in case you missed it!

We headed off super early on Saturday morning, and what should have been a maximum three and a half hour drive took us five and a half… which is literally just our luck! The A1 was closed due to a lorry fire (thankfully nobody was hurt) but we took a huge detour and got stuck in SO MUCH traffic. Luckily we had snacks, our favourite podcast and each other so we were still pretty happy ๐Ÿ™‚

I love you so much Matthew ๐Ÿ™‚

…yes I am tucked in with my car blanket for the journey. I am a child. When we finally made it to Stamford, we headed straight for Matt’s aunts house! His parents, nana and cousins little boy were already there so we were so happy to see everyone. The garden was a total sun trap and it was SO HOT. Especially for us Northerners, ha! We caught up, ate and played in the sun – it was so nice to be with the family (and out of the car)! Later we headed to find our cute little apartment in the centre of town and walk around Stamford for a little while; it is the most beautiful place! Everywhere is just so picturesque, the photos really don’t do it justice. We walked around for an hour or so before popping to The London Inn for a few drinks, then we headed back to freshen up for the evening. I can’t believe we didn’t take any nice photos but Matt and I went out for dinner with his parents; we ate at Cosy Club which was amazing, we all had great meals! Debbie and I tried a delicious new rhubarb gin and we had such a fun night all together. Afterwards we met up with Matt’s cousin and his lovely girlfriend for drinks before snuggling back up in our cosy apartment; we had the perfect first day!

This was our view from the apartment, it was so pretty in the late afternoon sun ๐Ÿ™‚

The most English picture I think I’ve ever taken, lol!

So funny story… I jumped to the side of the road to take this picture of the tractor coming down the road and I think he thought I was a tourist (I mean, technically I was) because I must have looked so excited. He stopped to wave at me, hahahaha. Matt thought it was so funny!

Our Sunday was very chilled; we went for a breakfast date in the morning at the garden centre, it was so good! We love love love breakfast dates and we know good breakfast food, but this ticked every box. We’ve made a mental note to try breakfast at garden centres in our town to see if we love that too! After breakfast we visited with Matt’s nana; her village is so so tiny I can’t even explain it, they have like three shops! I I loved the area so much, it was super pretty and so remote. We spent the rest of our day visiting a little more with family and exploring the town; there was a classic car show in the centre which we looked around, but really I was only there for the ice cream van at the other side. #truth We got ready pretty early for the evening (it was BEYOND HOT – 34 degrees is just insane to us) and headed back to Matt’s aunt’s house to spend a little more time with the family before going out for the evening. We went to The Crown for dinner with Matt’s cousins and their partners, before spending the evening in the courtyard with them; it was so quirky and literally nothing like we have at home. The fairy lights made it beyond cute! We had such a fun night with everyone, and we’re already excited for our next trip down!

Eggs and avocado on toasted sourdough is HEAVEN to me!

Matt and I LOVE exploring garden centres. Like, seriously love them. I swear we’re 25 going on 75, hahaha.

I loved this little street! The light coming through the church on the next photo was surreal to us, so I had to snap a quick picture ๐Ÿ™‚

It was HOT. Hahahaha.

Is this not the most quintessentially British pub you’ve ever seen?! Flowers are my favourite, and these were so pretty and vibrant!

On Monday morning we left pretty early and headed home via York; we went to the Designer Outlet and Matt did so well with his bargains, as always. I picked up a cute Levi’s tee that I’m sure you’ll see on the blog sooner rather than later! Thank you so much for reading, I hope you liked seeing a little snippet of Stamford! We really loved the quaint, cute town SO much because it’s just so different than where we live. It was REAL middle-of-nowhere countryside, I loved it! As you can probably tell from the photos in this post it was very pretty; literally every corner we turned there was something so sweet to look at. We’re hoping to go back in December and I really hope we can make that work; I’d love to see how the town looks decorated for Christmas! Have you ever been to Stamford? Where is your favourite places to travel in the UK?

-G x

Travel Diaries: Croatia

Hi, loves! Matt and I just got back at the beginning of this month from the most perfect week in *in our opinion* the most beautiful hotel on the Adriatic Coast. We stayed at the TUI Sensimar Adriatic Beach and every second since we came home weโ€™ve wished we were back there! We would 100000% recommend this hotel if youโ€™re looking for a chilled holiday not too far from home. The staff were incredible, the food and drinks were amazing (strawberry daiquiris became our drink of the holiday), the rooms were gorgeous and the views were straight out of a TUI advert. We literally couldn’t have asked for more, it was beyond what we expected or even imagined! We were staying on the side of a freaking mountain, and the views from every direction were breathtaking. The Biokovo mountain towered over us and the incredible coastline beneath it, it was the most peaceful of places. The sea was so. dang. clear. and I swear the photos don’t even do it justice!

It was so hot during our holiday which was a little uncharacteristic for the time of year as Europe was experiencing some kind of freak heatwave throughout June. It was 36 degrees even at 6pm in the evening, which is crazy to us! We spent our days swimming, eating delicious food, drinking our way through the cocktail menu, laying on sun loungers and exploring along the local beach and nearby harbour. We spent one evening in Makarska, which is a larger town around 25 minutes away from the hotel and we were so in love with the whole place, it was so beautiful! There was a lot more going on here compared to the sleepy relaxation of our resort, and it was so fun to be able to see another little town of the Adriatic. We explored quaint streets, drank local beers and watched another gorgeous sunset at the harbour. It truly was such a perfect holiday!

Something you may know about me, is that watching sunsets with Matt is literally my favourite way to spend an evening, and these were the most beautiful sunsets weโ€™ve ever seen! Our beaches right by our hometown do have beautiful sunsets, but seriously nothing will compare to the ones we saw in Croatia. Every evening we looked forward to watching them, it literally was surreal to watch! We even saw dolphins during sunset some evenings, they were so close to the hotel whilst we ate dinner and the moment could not have been more amazing! I posted a few videos on my Instagram and got so many messages of people asking where the heck we were and how the sunsets were so dang pretty… theyโ€™re saved in my Croatia highlight on my Instagram profile if you want to take a look, along with some other fun videos and photos that arenโ€™t in this post.

Editing this blog post and putting all of our photos together has made me SO sad and nostalgic!! We seriously couldn’t have asked for more, it’s absolutely our favourite place weโ€™ve ever been, and I can’t wait to go back one day. If you have any questions please feel free to ask below or message me on Instagram! Looking at these photos I SO BADLY want to just jump through my screen and go back. Why canโ€™t we blue skidoo like in Blues Clues? Matt and I are already talking about our holiday for next Summer and we have SUCH a big list to make our way through. Even though there are so many countries and islands we want to explore, we know one year we’ll head back to Adriatic Beach. I fully realise that Iโ€™m so so lucky to be able to holiday with my love every year – twice next year, we’re so excited! – and I never ever take it for granted! I love every second we spend together but holidays are just a little bit extra special arenโ€™t they?

Just a slight disclaimer: this post is not a day by day account of what we got up to! The photos are in chronological order but I didnโ€™t take many photos on some days, and on some days I took SO. MANY. Apologies in advance that some of them probably look exactly the same, I promise theyโ€™re not haha! It was so hard not to keep snapping photos every time we walked around the resort because everything was so. dang. beautiful. 

We landed around 8.30pm, and were treated to a dusky pink sky. We had NO idea how beautiful the sunsets would be every night!

We didn’t get to our hotel until just before midnight, so we had no idea what the area around us looked like. We woke up at 6.30am on our first day (LOL we were so excited!) and stepped out onto our balcony to this. We never got over how beautiful this view was!

How badly do you want to be in that water!?

We were obsessed with this chocolate throughout our holiday! I was so sad when I couldn’t find it in Home Bargains with the other Milka chocolate bars ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

We loved going for a walk down by the beach in the afternoons to work off our lunch. If you headed right out of the hotel you came to this gorgeous teeny little harbour town. There were maybe thirty houses, one bakery and one bar. It was SO quiet and beautiful!

Bae always trying to ruin my shots!

If you turned left out of the hotel and through this little arch, you came to a nudist beach! LOL we saw way more than we bargained for on this walk. (But the views out to sea were amazing!) The water was even clearer along this stretch.

Each evening we’d head down to the beach to watch the sunset in total peace and quiet. There was usually just a handful of people here, but some evenings there was just us two! All you could hear was the crashing of the waves on the shore, and the golden hours in Croatia were everything. Oh, how I want to be back!

The mountain was incredible. It’s visible from every part of the hotel, and were the prettiest backdrop you could ask for!

This was our view on the way down to the pool each morning (yep, we’re totally those people that put their towels on sun beds before we go for breakfast!) and we stopped and stared out every. single. morning.

This lemon tree was right outside of our apartment block! We got the short straw and were on the top floor of the furthest away building. However, the views were out of this world, and we toned our butts up going up and down thousands of steps every day! LOL!

That golden hour glow *ft squinting eyes because dang the sun is bright*

๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. So lucky to be yours, Matthew!

Some of our favourite views were from up on the Mojito Terrace, it was so magical!

Hahahahaha. This photo makes us DIE laughing. My mum and dad were on holiday at the same time as us and sending us typical ‘mum and dad selfies’ so we sent them one back. Hahahaha.

๐Ÿคฉ I love this photo!

This was the very last set of steps (the FOURTH set!) between our apartment and the beach, coming down was easy but heading back up was a STRUGGLE in 36 degree heat! We loved walking down to the pool then up to breakfast every morning, it was so freaking peaceful.

He’s so shy…

I realise this is the worst picture ever, but I was trying to capture the butterflies! Seriously I’ve never seen so many butterflies in my life as we did on this holiday, and they were SO friendly. They’d land on you and just sit super still, so beautiful!

My dress wasn’t this tight, it was actually super flowy but I was holding it at the front because I wore a dress on the only windy night of our holiday ๐Ÿ™‚ an *actual* candid photo!

The strawberry daiquiris were everything ๐Ÿ™‚

Our favourite spot โค๏ธ

This was along a main street at the top of our hotel – I would NOT have liked to drive on these roads haha! My poor little car would have fell down one of the pot holes for sure. The views walking along to our favourite little shop were so cute though!

Our first view when we stepped off the bus in Makarska! The harbour was insanely beautiful, and everywhere was so. dang. clean. There wasn’t a spot of litter anywhere!

I just love him so much!

I am so lucky to do life with you. I love you, Matt โค๏ธ

This is one of my favourite photos of our whole holiday! Dreaming of being back in paradise.

We stopped in the most gorgeous little street to enjoy drinks and listen to live music. The video from this night is SO much better than the photos, but I couldn’t upload to my blog. It’s in my Instagram highlight! I cried when we were sitting here because I was just so happy. LOL. The most perfect Saturday date night with my love!

My favorite Summer lipstick! The Duchess by Charlotte Tilbury, which was a present from Matt, the little cutie

Matt is literally shaking his butt in the first picture because we had just eaten such an amazing dinner at the hotel’s a la carte restaurant and he was so happy hahaha. Life with this one is always so fun ๐Ÿ˜ (also can we just take a moment to acknowledge the fact I have actual CANKLES!!! It was so hot my feet swelled up like crazy hahaha).

We both got the tomato and basil soup to start. It was so buttery and had rice in the bottom!

Matthew got beef with mushroom gravy and truffle mash potato…

…and I got sea bass on a bed of spinach risotto and roasted veggies. This was the best meal I’ve ever eaten, Matt had a taste and was so sad he didn’t opt for this too!

Our desserts were just as good as our app and main! Tiramisu for Matthew…

…and limoncello cheesecake for me. Every couple staying on an all inclusive package at the hotel was gifted one free evening meal at this restaurant, and if you’re planning to go we HIGHLY recommend eating here! If we’d visited earlier in our holiday we definitely would have went back again, as you could pay to eat there are very discounted prices too. It was truly the perfect way to spend our last night in Croatia!

Hvala, Hrvatska. The most perfect week, with my best friend in the whole world. I’m so grateful for you Matthew, and I can’t wait to explore the world with you for the rest of our lives! I love you so much baby.

Thank you so much for reading, and re-living our holiday with me! Don’t you just want to be there right now? Me too. We seriously can’t wait to plan our holiday for next Summer! We’re going to Florida next September with my mum, dad and brother for my dad’s 60th birthday celebration – I finally get to take Matt to Disney World!!! – and I can barely wait, I feel so lucky we’re going to have two holidays to look forward to in 2020. Do you have any trips planned for this year or next? Where would you love to go? I’m planning to write a travel bucket list over the next few weeks, because I’d love to share that with you! If you’ve written any posts about your recent holidays, please leave them below so I can go read them and live vicariously through you!

-G x