SLIDER

Five Reasons I Loved The Rosewood Hotel, London

Monday, 30 January 2017

From the outside, The Rosewood is a grand, old building and one that I had never been inside before, I think that made it all the more exciting. Andrew took me for my birthday and we only stayed for one night before we were off to another hotel in East London but this incredible place left a mark and I would now count it as one of my favourite hotels in London. Here's why:

The Bed
Obviously we spent the night in bed but we also spent a good proportion of the afternoon and the next morning in bed too. I’m not over exaggerating here, it was seriously the most comfortable night’s sleep we have ever had. The mattress was just the right mix of firm but squishy, the duvet was thick and dense but not suffocating and the pillows were just right. I love how a good night’s sleep makes you feel in the morning, we both woke up feeling super relaxed and excited to get up for breakfast! (which as it turns out, I wasn't such a big fan of)


The Gym
We go to a cheap pay as you go gym at home so a hotel gym is always a bit of a treat! This one was full of state of the art machines (complete with TVs, USB slots and internet access) and bright natural light from the big windows looking out over high Holborn. Big mirrors and wooden floors added to the chicness. The gym was split into two rooms; cardio and weights so I hopped on the treadmill whilst Andrew went off to the other room. My gym doesn’t offer any extras so I was very impressed to see a couple of antibacterial wipes on each piece of equipment as well as complimentary infused or bottled water, fruits, towels and headphones.

The Location
I walk past this hotel at least once a week and for me, it’s in a really great location. The hotel is less than five minutes’ walk from Holborn station and had everything we needed for my big birthday weekend within walking distance; we started at Hubbard & Bell for breakfast which on the same road. Andrew had also booked theater tickets in Covent Garden which was just a short walk away and if you’re not sick of Oxford Street like me (that’s what working there does to you) then it’s a great place to spend the day shopping before walking back to the hotel to put your feet up!

The Service
We have stayed at a lot of 5* hotels in London and sometimes I find that staff can act as if they are too cool to talk to you; they take your details, give you a key and that's that but the service here was very genuine. The lady who checked us in asked about our plans and then in the morning, she asked how Matilda was and we had a chat about the show. Room staff were very efficient; we asked for some cold water and instead of a glass each we got four chilled bottles brought up to the room within minutes or putting the phone down. Also they worked out it was my birthday and brought a surprise birthday cake up to the room.

The Décor (& the Dog)
I loved the classic meets modern design of the Rosewood and I feel like that is something that makes it totally unlike anywhere else we have stayed in London. You enter though a big courtyard taking you instantly from the hustle and bustle of the street into the tranquillity of the hotel. Honestly, it’s more like a countryside manor house than a hotel in central London. The whole place is very grand, luxurious and classic but without the old fashioned feel; it was actually very modern. Also, I loved our dark marble bathroom and the bold striped carpets in our room

FYI, the hotel also has its very own resident dog, Pearl the golden retriever! She’s very sweet and sleeps in reception. This image was taken from her instagram account!
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My First Hostel Experience At La Guitarra Gdansk

Monday, 23 January 2017

Today's post is a hostel review! Not something I thought I'd be posting about in the past but I've really changed my outlook recently. I want to travel, and I want to do it more than two lovely holidays each year. I want to see the world and I want to experience it all and if that means staying somewhere that isn't a 5* hotel every now and then that's fine with me!

Hopefully you read about how I ended up in Poland in the first place (here) so with Selena being the expert, she talked me though booking my first hostel stay. First off, check location and accessibility, also whether it included free breakfast - all normal hotel stuff but then there were things like checking if it had lockers or whether you had to pay extra for towels, bedding or if there was a curfew - which is not all so familiar.
After we had narrowed those things down, it was about seeing which had the highest review ratings and picking a room. We decided on La Guitarra Hostel since it ticked all the boxed and was an 8.1 on hostel world. It had free internet, free breakfast and it was a fifteen minute walk from the station - passing though the center on the way. We decided on a four bed dorm - smaller rooms are usually more expensive but since it was my first time and the more expensive price was still only £7.55 we thought it was a good shout.
Checking in
After a short walk in the snow we made it to a very warm reception area. First box ticked, I was kind of a bit worried about spending our day exploring Gdansk in -19 degrees and then coming back to a cold room as well but that was not the case, reception was toasty (as was the rest of the building - our room had a huge radiator). Reception staff weren't all too friendly - most of the reviews described them as emotionless robots which I thought was a bit harsh beforehand but I can totally see where they are coming from having experienced them first hand. Still, not a problem, the guy gave us a card (the same one key card was used for the front door to the building, the dorm room and the crazy hi-tech electronic lockers) and the wifi password and we were off to check out our dorm. Reception also had a vending machine in case of emergency (running out of snacks).
Our Room & Roommates
Our room was on the first floor and had a brilliant view of the river. It had a bit of a university accommodation vibe but it was nicer than I was expecting. The room itself was in an L shape which turned out to be really great because it meant the other beds were around the corner and had we wanted to ignore them, it would have been very easy. Contrary to that, the couple we were sharing a room with were actually very nice! They were a Canadian couple travelling around Europe together and they were the perfect roommates for us. Turns out we were all in bed by 11pm reading a book (read: tweeting) and we were all very respectful of each other plus neither of them snored! We agreed on a time to set an alarm the night before - we were all off on the same tour in the morning which made that easy too.
The Bed
There were two sets of bunks beds and I took a bottom bunk. I was very impressed to spot a clean, thick, white duvet and huge fluffy pillow folded up on each bed which was super comfortable and very warm. There was also a little lamp and another socket next to each bed meaning I could charge my phone while I slept without worrying about someone stealing it. It was quite cosy actually! In the morning we were asked to strip the beds before we left.
Bathrooms
Toilets were outside the room in the hallway and were fresh and clean throughout my stay. Selena pointed out that the toilets and sinks were in different rooms which was a good thing and meant more people could use them at once but honestly I didn't see anyone else apart from our room mates though my stay. There was also a heater in each one for you to warm your towel whilst you shower!

Common Room & Kitchen

This was downstairs in the basement and oh so chilled. We popped in at about 10pm and the TV was on, some people were sitting around on the sofa with drinks and others were cooking a pizza. We came back again for breakfast in the morning and it was all very tidy set up with a simple continental breakfast. Just tea, coffee, cereals, ham, cheese and bread but it was more than enough - we both made a sandwich to take out with us that afternoon as well! I didn't fancy washing up so I ate mine off of a tissue - I'm surprised at how well I adapted to hostel life!
So what did I think? Well, maybe I just lucked out with La Guitarra or maybe  everything I've ever seen surrounded hostels has been wrong. Probably a bit of both as Selena was also pretty impressed with it too! It was clean, I felt safe there and I felt like my stuff was safe there when I was out. So overall I would totally recommend!

Have You Ever Stayed In A Hostel?

How I ended up going on holiday with a complete stranger

Monday, 16 January 2017

It all began one day in December. I’d had my last trip of the year, it was cold and horrible in London and the festive anxiety had started to set in again. I spend the evening crying to my mum about how much I wanted to travel in 2017 (I actually ended up doing the same thing last night) but I didn’t even know where to start, neither of us did. Even though it was what I wanted to do, I was scared about going anywhere without Andrew, not staying in a 5* hotel and having to use the public transport - I just couldn’t see how I was going to do it, my big dream of travelling just seemed impossible.

I went to work the next day feeling just as sad, I had another little cry at lunch but pulled myself together for an arrangement that evening. I’d been invited to a travel meet up, just some girls who were all on their travels but in London that evening. Some were working here, some were studying here and some had just arrived that morning so I was looking forward to chatting to people who were already living my dream and getting some advice from people who know more about this whole thing that I do.

Obviously I told them my worries and they had so much encouragement and useful information for me. Then, one girl, Selena then said she was going away that weekend and that I should come with. As per usual, I said yeah sure but this time something was different, I actually meant it. This was the push I needed to try out this travelling thing. Turns out the flights were all booked up that weekend and with Christmas around the corner, I dropped her a message saying I’m not free until 7th Jan now and conceded that it wasn’t going to happen and I should just forget about it. Four minutes later I got a reply saying “shall we just book that then?”

So, last weekend, that’s what we did. We got on a plane to Gdansk, and then a train. Checked into a hostel and explored a town together. Not only was I fine with all those silly things that I had worried about, but I was fine with doing them whilst it was -10 degrees (not to mention that I was with a bit of a travel beast. Selena met me at the airport just a couple of hours after returning from her trip driving around Ireland in a Go Car Hire she rented on her own; shes crazy!) W. We did a walking tour of the town, went shopping and ate traditional polish food for dinner. It was a sweeping weekend, being back in time for work on Monday morning but it was loads of fun! 
So there it it. The story of how I grabbed an opportunity to travel (albeit a small one) with both hands; and now travelling has taken over. It's all I think about and I plan to travel more than ever in 2017!

*This post is sponsored
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How to spend Three Days In Hong Kong

Monday, 9 January 2017

I have always loved all things oriental so Hong Kong (and my first visit to China) in September was a huge deal for me. Everyone that we’d spoken to prior said that three days was the perfect amount of time there but now that I've done it, I disagree. In hindsight, I would have loved an extra day, there were so many more places to visit, restaurants to eat at and roads to explore; there is a lot more of Hong Kong that I want to see. So until next time, I thought I'd take you through what we did..
DAY 1: Hong Kong Island
 We were pretty jet-lagged when we arrived so after checking into our room on the 22nd floor of The Harbour Grand Hotel, the first thing that we did was take a nap. By the time we woke up just after midday, the rain had stopped and we could see the amazing view over Kowloon from our window.
We found the tube is the fastest way to travel around so we hopped on just outside our hotel at Fortress Hill and headed to Central. From there, we caught the star ferry to Kowloon in search of lunch. Our first day was all about getting to know Hong Kong so we just wandered the streets until we found somewhere. We ended up in a little café down a side alley; it was full of locals so we thought it’d probably be a good choice. Wanting to try something new we pointed at a picture on the wall and ordered that with some rice; neither of us could work out what part of the animal it came from but it was really delicious.

The evening was spent drinking cocktails in Lang Kwai Fong (the backpackers nightlife street as we were told). We started off at a table outside on the street and finished on the roof of Ce La Vi in our trainers and shorts. The view from up there was amazing and since it was dark, the whole city was lit up with bright lights and animations up and down the buildings. 
DAY 2:  Lantau Island
 The plan for day two was to visit the big Buddha on Lantau Island but of course things don’t always go to plan. We caught a boat over to the island instead of getting on the tube again and decided to drive up and get a cable car down but half way up the mountain we came to a police block; there had been a landslide so we couldn’t drive any further. Andrew suggested getting the cable car up but after our last cable car disaster (that time in Santorini and the power plant blew up) I wasn’t too sure especially when the mountain was falling apart beneath it. Obviously it was a bit of a pain but we didn’t let it ruin our day – we were only in hong kong for 3 days and I wanted to make the most of it. Lantau island is known for two things; The Big Buddah. And Disneyland so we hopped back on the tube and caught the Disney Express. Yep, it has its own line.
We arrived at about 2pm and paid £54 each for a day ticket which gave us until 7.30pm. It was pouring rain by this point but neither of us cared; we love Disneyland, it was still warm and it meant that the park was almost empty – we queued at each ride for 5 minutes at most! The park is very compact and the 5ish hours that we had there was the perfect amount of time to do it all. We had enough time to ride everything and still go back to do some again! I loved how all my favourites were the same but with a little twist to them, it made everything even more exciting! I won’t ruin it for you but Thunder Mountain had a big surprise that we totally weren't expecting, it’s a small world was huge and the haunted mansion had a whole different story behind it.
We left at closing, ran back to the hotel to grab some more cash and caught the train straight to Central. So many people had mentioned the star ferry at night and this was the perfect opportunity; we got the see Hong Kong sparkle.
At the other side, we ate at a Chinese restaurant called Peking Garden (that’s what my local is called haha). We had heard their duck was pretty good so that's what we ordered. Unlike my local, five minutes later, there was a woman in a surgical mask standing at our table slicing up a whole duck right in front of us. Worried that we might still be hungry (like that was going to happen), we ordered a plate of special fried rice too. The more time I spent in this city, the more I loved it.
DAY 3: Kowloon
  On our last day I felt like I got the see the real Hong Kong. We took a map and navigated the city ourselves starting with a trip to Man Mo Temple and a little wander around SoHo. We came across the escalator and stopped off for a fresh mango juice.
Our next stop was back to Kowloon for lunch at Aqua. Again it was super high up and we ate lunch looking over Hong Kong Island. We both ordered the most delicious udon noodle soup with thinly sliced Wagyu beef. Swiftly followed by some ice cream.
All fuelled up, it was time to hit the markets. We walked along Nathan road which was absolutely crazy; it was like a motorway lined with shops overflowing with people – quite an experience on its own! Sadly we only had time to do one market - we decided on the Ladies Market and I was pleased that it was the one that we did get to see but I wish we had had time to see the others as well. The market was full of all the sorts of rubbish you buy from China on Ebay and I loved it! Just as you got the end of the block, there was another street in front of you bursting with more stalls.
We came home with a new phone case, a silk dressing down, a tea set for Andrews’s sister, a load of ornaments for him, a packet of pens, some magnets; the list goes on! I really got into the bartering and when the women weren’t getting angry (lol) and shouting at me, I managed to save so much money!

Whilst we were pretty exhausted by the time we finally got to end of the never ending market, we wanted to make the most of eating guilt free Chinese food every day so for our last evening so we ate at the hotel’s restaurant. A plate of sweet and sour pork, some more special fried rice and a bottle of champagne to celebrate our time in Hong Kong!

Have You Been To Hong Kong?

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