Blog Archive

Monday, 6 March 2017

Our First 3 Months as En Voyage!

Wow… where do I start? It’s been a fun-filled, hectic, crazy, whirlwind 3 months for us…I’m running out of adjectives. We’ve managed to launch En Voyage across every social media platform that we saw fit and we’ve achieved a substantial number of followers on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and our blog page itself through site clicks and views…this has all happened in 3 months.

I’m not sure that we realised how challenging and time consuming running an online business would be. It’s genuinely taken over our life, every minute of the day watching our social media followers increase and then decrease across every platform. It’s the first thing that we do when we wake up in the morning and the last thing that we do before we go to sleep in the evening. Visiting a restaurant, bar or hotel and having our phones in hand photographing every single thing in sight that means something to us, letting our food go cold on the table whilst we get as many photos of it as possible from every single angle (even if that means standing up to get the best shot it in a completely full venue). I think we’ve had dreams about what blog post that we’re going to write next and what sort of reaction it’s going to get and who we’re going to send it to.

So why do we do it, you may ask? Well the simple answer is, we absolutely love it! It’s extremely exciting knowing that people and fellow travelers and lifestyle bloggers are engaging with our content and finding our material interesting. We love to visit new restaurants, sample new cocktail menu’s, stay in the latest hotel and genuinely be able to share our experiences with people in the hope that they may find them insightful and beneficial in some way or other. We have a profound interest in helping businesses thrive by promoting their products and services through the network that we have and hope to build. We LOVE writing. Being two creative individuals with huge creative backgrounds, we tend to enjoy sitting down in a quiet room and writing about the amazing culinary experience that we’ve just had or the city that we’ve just visited that we’d never been to before. It’s very much like keeping a diary…only a public one.

The creativity stems from a passion for the arts and this helps us when capturing images on Instagram or Snapchat. We do that thing where we stand there for a painfully long time, normally in one of the most awkward/busy places trying to get the lighting just right or taking about 100 pictures of the same thing. Why do we do that? Because we care about our brand and this is what we’re passionate about.

We’ve explained in really minor detail about where the idea actually came from in our ‘About’ section on our page, but let me explain in a bit more depth why we exist. The Algarve…a summer’s day in 2016…lying on a cabana with a cocktail in hand, in a paid beach club, reflecting on how lucky we were and what a great summer we were having etc. As we continued to talk about the experiences that we’d shared and some of the places that we’d been to and were going to visit for the duration of the summer, it became very apparent that we had a mutual love and passion for travel and lifestyle, and not just travel…luxury travel.

You know when you’re having a conversation and have a bit of a light-bulb moment and your speech gets a bit quicker and you urgently need to say everything that is in your head before you internally combust through excitement? We wanted to tell stories through travel and be able to advise on food, drink and hotel hot-spots. For the following few days, we brainstormed ideas and decided how we were going to implement our love for 5* getaways and a certain quality of life. The discussions continued and we drove ourselves crazy creating a brand that people were going to take to.

Fast forward to the beginning of March 2017 and here we are, living and breathing it. Spending the majority of our time planning our content, understanding what material people are going to find interesting. But more than that…just providing our audience with a real honest account in the simplest of ways. Places to go and not to go. We don’t see this as a chore, both of us finish our full time day and will carry on writing or creating branded hashtags on social media or browsing other similar travel and lifestyle pages for some new inspiration around places that we can visit.

This year is going to be a big year for En Voyage and we’re excited to share all of our luxury travel experiences with you and provide you with a bit more insight into our lives and what we get up to.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Our top 3 European weekend breaks

We've hand selected our top 3 European, romantic destinations to visit if you have a spare 2 or 3 days and want to spoil yourselves in sheer luxury hospitality and service. Top quality food, drinks and relaxation.  

Hotel Villa Honegg – Switzerland

Hotel Villa Honegg is one of the most remarkable, sought after boutique hotels in the world, 914 metres above sea level, a fascinating mountainous world is apparent with views over Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps. Again, with only 23 bedrooms this 5-star hotel is a paradisiacal dream. Tranquil and peaceful in very natural surroundings, it’s the ideal location to spend with a loved one. December or January is absolutely the best time of the year to spend here as it will more than likely be snowing in Switzerland in February to make the experience that tiny bit more magical. This winter wonderland is about an hour away from Zurich airport and 3 hours from Geneva airport, most hideaways like this are in the middle of nowhere right? The main attraction in the hotel is the rooftop spa, consisting of what many refer to as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’. This is a 34 degrees heated swimming pool that overlooks a valley in between two mountains. As you descend down the stairs into the water, the steam disperses into the surrounding clouds and the feeling is nothing short of amazing. Day or night, this romantic hot spot imbues mindfulness and relaxation. The gym, sauna, steam baths and ice fountains make up the rest of the leisure facilities. Luxury travel bloggers have been talking about this hotel for the last couple of years and will continue to do so for the next few. It’s the go-to snowy destination for us and is certainly as romantic as it gets.

 Top Tip: Make sure if you visit the hotel restaurant, that you wrap up warm and sit out on the terrace as the views are absolutely breathtaking over the lake.

Palazzo Manfredi, Rome

Palazzo Manfredi is an elegant hideaway with a luxury cachet, in the centre of what was once imperial Rome. The charming 17th century palace has spectacular views of the city, combined with superb hospitality. This beautiful boutique hotel is conveniently located in the centre of the city, making it an ideal base for your stay in Rome. Overlooking the iconic Colosseum, the romance and history of its location are palpable – perfect for history lovers.
With 16 uniquely designed rooms and two suites, the hotel exudes intimacy and exclusivity. Classically decorated Italian interiors complement all the modern luxuries you could dream of.
During our stay, the service was impeccable. The concierge at the magnificent five-star Palazzo Manfredi were on hand to satisfy our every need, ensuring that we felt at home from the moment we arrived. Hotel services include - arranging queue-jump passes for the city’s popular tourist attractions, organising the finest Italian luxury cars (complete with private chauffeur of course). Or if you fancy shopping in the city’s most famous boutiques and browsing the latest collections by appointment in complete peace and quiet… the hotel even offers personal shoppers to be at your service with their exclusive address books! And if you’re looking for the ultimate indulgent, luxury room service, be sure to book an in-room massage for two.  
The crowning jewel of the Palazzo Manfredi, has to be its roof-top culinary establishment. At Michelin starred Aroma restaurant, quintessential Rome is reflected in a menu of classic Italian dishes on a perfectly picturesque outdoor terrace offering an unparalleled Colosseum view.  This has to be ‘the’ perfect restaurant reservation – what could possibly be more romantic than a candlelit table for two ,360 degree vistas of the eternal city, while award winning, Michelin-starred chef Guiseppe Di lorio and his team serve the most delectable dishes in all of Roma.

Top tip: If you’re really looking to impress your loved one, then we’d recommend opting for the ‘Romantic Getaway Package’! This offer really is worth every penny if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience!... The rate includes: VIP treatment with champagne and fruit, bed of petals, dinner for 2 people in exclusive Hotel “Aroma” Restaurant: 4 courses, continental Breakfast with champagne, couples massages, personal Netbook or Ipad during your stay, newspapers and late check-out!

Hotel Bourg Tibourg – Paris

Bourg Tibourg is a delectably decadent hideaway, located in the ever-chic Marais district. Expect the height of comfort combined with sumptuously seductive interiors, designed by Légion d'honneur-decorated designer Jacques Garcia.
The Tibourg truly is a lovers’ retreat, ideally positioned in our personal favourite, and one of the most beautiful corners of Paris. The Marais is a hidden quarter, yet very central (15 minutes on foot to either Notre Dame or the Louvre). The location couldn't be more perfect for embracing the true Parisian experience...for soaking up the best of the area's terrace cafés and fashionable boutiques, with main shopping street Rue de Rivoli less than five minutes' walk away. This boutique hotel may be smaller than most, so don’t expect acres of space, but rather cosy quarters, designed to the highest spec. Somewhere between the orient, romanticism and lush gothic is played out in the paintings, on the black granite of the bathroom tiles and on arabesques of the bedspreads. In our experience, the intimate chambres only made for a more personal and ultimately more satisfying experience.

The hotels understated façade belies the stylish opulence that awaits within. Low lighting, richly coloured luxurious fabrics and oriental design motifs are juxtaposed with neo-gothic décor, combined with meticulously chosen pieces of antique furniture. The hotels carefully curated design, along with subtle exotic scents that envelop the corridors, culminates in a sensuous, alluring welcome to any guest.

This is one of our favourite hotels in Paris for the simple fact that real passion and integrity has gone into perfecting this hidden jewel deep in the heart of Paris, and it stands out as a truly unique place to reside with a warm and alluring ambience.

Top tip: If you’re really looking to pass yourself off as an unadulteratedly chic, cultured Parisian Madame or Monsieur, be sure to select a film from the hotel’s film library, mostly composed of stylish French cinema classics, which you can watch in your room with popcorn. You may also pick up books from the hotel’s collection which spans French classics, photography books and graphic novels.

Monday, 27 February 2017

9 of the most Romantic, Couples UK Getaways!

Are you wanting to kick back, relax and escape somewhere for the weekend with your loved one? Whether it’s a sumptuous spa stay or a sunny city break, we’ve been fortunate enough to stay in lots of different places across the North West and further afield. Sampling some of the finest hotels, restaurants and bars that are ideal for couples on a romantic trip away. We thought that we’d share a few of our favourites with you! Enjoy!

Hillbark Hotel – Wirral

Hillbark is the only 5* hotel on the Wirral and in Liverpool and the smallest 5* in the UK. The size of it makes it extremely exclusive with only 18 bedrooms to choose from, each one offering something completely different. The Tudor exterior of the building and the large fountain in the courtyard makes for a truly memorable first impression. The traditional, ornate wooden furnishings constantly remind you that you’re surrounded by old school luxury. ‘Riviera’ the 3 AA Rosette restaurant located in the wine cellar in the basement offers a first class culinary experience. Indulge in the finest Nicoise cuisine with influences from the Cote d’Azur. On a Friday and Saturday evening, there’s a pianist who will serenade you with 40’s and 50’s jazz and swing classics upon request and all of your favourite numbers. The intimate setting is a night to remember and extremely romantic.
We stayed in the Bridal suite during our time at Hillbark and we can safely say that it’s one of the best hotel rooms that we’ve ever stayed in. A wooden four poster bed fit for a king and a huge Jacuzzi bath coupled with stunning views over the lawns…. even the hair and body products are Bvlgari.

Top tip: Order the sharing Chateaubriand and request to speak to the Sommelier about the wines, you simply can’t go wrong! There’s also a great park next-door to the hotel called Royden park to get a bit of fresh air and stretch those legs whilst nursing a stinking hangover in the morning.

Crewe Hall

Crewe Hall is an incredibly noble Jacobean style mansion nestled in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. It is an award winning Grade 1 listed building and has been standing since the 1600’s. It oozes class, style and elegance and its rustic interiors are an aesthetic dream. Open roaring fires spitting and crackling, luxurious wooden throne-like chairs that have been there for hundreds of years but look like they’ve never been touched; dragon shaped, stone statues resembling mythological creatures that have been carved by hand, and tall, aristocratic, illustrious ceilings…gold, royal blue and brown. Crewe Hall has played host to many members of the Royal Family in the past and it’s evident as soon as you walk through the doors. We spent New Year’s Eve here and as far as romantic getaways go, it’s right up there. The brasserie restaurant has one AA Rosette and the spa has a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room to enjoy at your leisure as and when you please.
Our room was located in the old section of the hotel and had a winding brass staircase that spiralled around to the second floor where there lay a completely separate living quarters with a desk, a television, a lounge area and a sink. Our stained glass windows overlooked the front courtyard and this was another hotel to remember.

Top Tips: Make sure that you explore the whole hotel (they provide you with a map at Reception). The old library is absolutely worth a visit with original books in from hundreds of years ago and the Afternoon tea in the lounge in the foyer is sublime!! 

Gilpin Lodge

There’s probably no better location for a long weekend away, than a stark, remote, secluded retreat in the middle of the Lake District. This Relais & Chateaux hotel is split into two complexes consisting of the original Georgian country house with no more than 14 rooms and the Lake House which is a 5-minute drive away by car holding up to a maximum of 6 couples at any one time. This enhances the relaxation levels and the sheer exclusivity of the guest’s stay at Gilpin. Gilpin Hotel is home to Hrishi, the Pan-Asian Michelin starred restaurant with impeccable presentation and numerous different flavours in every mouthful. Gilpin Lake House has an indoor swimming pool, a jetty spa and lots of different treatments whilst overlooking the lake. Gilpin couldn’t be more perfect for a digital detox over a romantic weekend with your partner. The spa lodges in the hotel are detached, quiet and so incredibly intimate with all you could possibly need under one roof. If you don’t fancy moving on a particular day, then you can request for the spa staff to come to your room to conduct whatever treatment takes your fancy. It’s a family run establishment, so the service is outstanding with a warm and friendly feel to it. If you’re wanting to chill, put your feet up and enjoy some top quality food, drink and spa treatments, then Gilpin Lodge is definitely the place for you.

Top Tip: For the more adventurous couples, there’s lots of walks and bike trails surrounding the hotel where you can catch glimpses of wild deer and other natural wildlife. We’d also recommend choosing wisely between the two experiences as they are quite different, however there’s a chauffeur on hand to ferry you between the two.

Cliveden House

If you’re looking for a truly royal experience, and a venue that is as noble as it gets, then Cliveden House is most definitely the crème’ de la crème. The 375 acre gardens play host to a huge 5-star hotel that is in our opinion, the most premium venue imaginable outside of London. It is an Italianate stately home and the décor and furnishings take most of their character and inspiration from the ‘Palazzo’ which is considered a grand house in the early Italian era’s. The perfect time to visit Cliveden House is most certainly in the summer. It has the only listed heated outdoor swimming pool in the country and you can kick back, relax whilst sipping on a glass of Taittinger champagne. The only way that we can possibly surmise this incredible venue is that of the ‘Great Gatsby’ style grandiose era. The rooms are large with tall ceilings, the drinks are served strong and the food is served piping hot via an eight course tasting menu by the award winning chef Andre’ Garrett. This was a truly unforgettable experience for us and we will most definitely be revisiting.

Top Tips: You definitely have to try the afternoon tea. It’s complete with fresh sandwiches, pastries, cakes, scones with flavoured jams, clotted cream…all to be washed down with some bespoke Cliveden fruit tea’s. This is all for a mere £37. Certainly not to be missed.

Doubletree by Hilton Chester

Doubletree by Hilton is considered one of the most sought after spa retreats in the North West. For any of those couples that’re wanting to make their stay that extra bit more meaningful and special, this large manor house is the perfect wedding venue and has 12 acres of land to relax, unwind and laze about in. The best feature of the hotel has got to be the health and well-being facilities, you almost forget where you are and because there’s so much to do (or not to do for that matter) you can spend a number of days in sheer relaxation mode. It has an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor heated Watsu pool with a waterfall, a number of hydrotherapy pools, Indian hamam aromatherapy rooms and our personal favourite…. the dream-wave room. The dream-wave room is effectively a meditation room that you can go to, to gather your thoughts or fall asleep on a huge beanbag whilst watching the waves on the ceiling and listening to the sound of the ocean in complete silence. Utter bliss.
The restaurant is the infamous Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse bar and grill that provides some top class choices on the menu and a selection of fine wines. If you’re a spa fanatic and love being pampered or drinking champagne in the Jacuzzi, then the Doubletree Chester is the one for you!

Top Tips: Don’t miss out on the warm complimentary doubletree cookie on check-in, also if you don’t mind spending a tad more cash, then the junior suite is definitely worth upgrading to.

ME London

The ME Hotel, London courtesy of the Melia Hotel group is one of the most exclusive celebrity hot-spots in the ‘Big Smoke’. It’s a 5-star modern boutique situated on The Strand, a stone’s throw away from the world renowned theatres and Covent Garden. It’s trendy, stylish interior attracts your average A- lister and big spender on a fleeting visit to the city. So… why ME London over the other hundreds of hotels in the city. Two main reasons…ME is home to Radio Rooftop bar, one of the swankiest cocktail houses in the country. With 360 degree panoramic views, deep techy tones and the highest levels of table service around, this place never disappoints. There’s a roof garden complete with white leather booths, heat lamps and blankets so that you can get cosy next to your loved one and have a cocktail under the stars. Secondly, downstairs on the ground floor of the hotel, the STK restaurant awaits. The New York style design and decor and theatrical lighting makes for a sleek and chic evening destination. As you slice into a thick cut of Wagyu beef, the DJ accompanies you with some laid-back, chilled out vibes. ME London compared to lots of 5 star hotels in central London offers an extremely affordable room rate and an ideal setting, location and atmosphere. Definitely has to be one of our favourite hotels in the city.

Top Tips: To avoid disappointment, ensure that you book a table prior to arrival at Radio or STK as they can be very strict on the door and may have limited availability due to the exclusivity and popularity of the venues.

Peckforton Castle

Peckforton castle is another stunning Grade 1 listed building that is doused in English Heritage. It’s one of the most sought after wedding venues in the country because of how enchanting the interiors are, dating back to the 18th century. It’s gothic style and grounds make for an incredibly romantic location and setting, with many films having been filmed around the castle including Robin Hood, Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes. The restaurant called ‘1851’ holds 3 AA Rosette’s and displays some of the finest in French and British cuisine. It’s grey and off-white furnishings make for an extremely grand feel to the room and you certainly won’t be disappointed with the food presentation and flavours as it arrives well garnished and tasting delicious. During our stay, we reserved a suite and it was the best thing that we could’ve done. The four-poster bed was fit for a king and queen and we both relaxed in our bath robes and slippers feeling like royalty. Peckforton castle is somewhere where you can spend an unlimited amount of time with your loved one in the most luxurious, extravagant conditions… many celebrities have married here and it’s definitely one of our favourite venues in the country.

Top tips: We would highly recommend the Land Rover experience, as you get the chance to zoom through the forests and shrubbery of the amazingly impressive Cheshire countryside. This excursion suits all, from the thrill seeker to the more laid-back spectator.

Hotel Gotham

The award winning Hotel Gotham brings Manhattan to Manchester in all of its glory. The inside of the hotel has an extremely cinematic, comic book feel to it whereas the outside…. A tall, gloomy, atmospheric misshapen structure dating back to 1928. The eeriness is captivating and is especially enticing for a sultry night of romance. The concierge stands proud in the entrance head to toe in a black robed petticoat with a cane and top hat. He has a curly moustache and greets you with an evil grin and the words ‘Welcome to Gotham’. Themed hotels have to be up there with our favourite places to visit because you almost forget that you’re in a hotel and it all of a sudden becomes an experience. Gotham is based in Central Manchester on King Street and was the old Midland Bank building. During our stay at Hotel Gotham we stayed in a suite with a stand-alone bath in the middle of the room, the furnishings are decked out in brass, dark wood and black leather. Honey restaurant and Club Brass are perfect teatime tipples with both putting on a mouth-watering menu and the club offering a VIP lounge on the 7th floor of the hotel. If you wanted to venture out into Manchester, then Rosso restaurant is on the same street and Spinningfields is a taxi ride away. Hotel Gotham definitely sets the scene for a romantic night of cocktails and canapés and the hotel cast (as they like to call them) play an integral part in enhancing the experience.

Top Tip: Don’t forget to get your complimentary copy of the ‘Gotham Bugle’ newspaper on check in to have as a keepsake following your visit. It comes in a ‘SWAG’ bag and definitely adds to the characterful experience.

Titanic Hotel, Liverpool

Titanic Hotel Liverpool is one of the newer hotels to grace the city and is also the largest. The building itself is steeped in history and was home to the North Warehouse of Stanley Dock, next door to the rum warehouse and opposite the tobacco warehouse. The sheer size and scale of the building makes for an industrial looking, themed hotel with acres of space. Impressive or what. The largest hotel room that we’ve ever stayed in is here at the Titanic Hotel, Liverpool. The corridors are dimly lit and long as if to give the impression of a ship. The Rum Warehouse is the event space at the Titanic and can fit up to 1000 people in any one space at a time. Coupled with the rum themed warehouse, there is a Rum bar displaying some of the finest light and dark rums in the country. Our personal favourite has GOT to be Sailor Jerry’s. To enjoy some culinary delight, you can make your way into Stanley’s bar and grill with floor to ceiling glass windows and views out onto the river, the food is sublime! There is so much to do in this hotel and such a huge space to explore but we’re not done there. In the morning after a few too many rums, wander down into Maya Blue Wellness centre and spend the day there with your other half, lazing around in the Hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room. Titanic Hotel is just outside of the city centre and certainly won’t be leaving you with any sort of sinking feeling after your stay there on your weekend getaway.

Top Tip: Definitely sample some of the rums at the Rum bar, as they have one of the largest selections around.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Furnival's Well' and truly the place to be!

It was our first time visiting Furnival’s Well and what an experience it was. We’d heard an awful lot about it and wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. Being the restaurant and bar fans that we are, we were fully aware that it was run by the same people as Berry and Rye so our expectations were pretty high to start with. 

An old, rustic, Victorian police station…what a perfect location for a dimly lit speak-easy in the back-streets of Liverpool. We arrived at the big blue door in the pouring down rain and quickly wandered through trying to avoid getting wet. We then arrived at another door and were greeted with the low humming of hustle and bustle inside, groups of merry socialites enjoying a drink in the run up to Christmas. A member of staff welcomed us in and escorted us to our cell. The corridors were long, the décor was entirely authentic and the only lights were that of candles lighting the way. 

We sat down in our cell at a two-seater table and were served some water on a metal trolley, rattling away as it passed over the original, tiled, stone floor. We perused the drinks menu whilst debating which heady cocktail to choose. Our drinks were served and garnished at the table to add to the magical ambience and impeccable service. This is a very clever concept as the bar-tenders are some of the best in the city, so some of the theatre is lost at the service bar. 

We opted for the gin based twist on the clover club and the rum based caramelised punch garnished with a papaya leaf. The drinks were smoky and were not too dissimilar to an eerie cigar lounge at the turn of the 18th century. They were aged and mature, complementing the wooden, oaky surroundings. We stayed for a couple of drinks and soaked up the sound of a jazzy number in the background and the effervescent scent of the diffusers and aromatic candles around the building. We settled our bill and thanked the staff for their hospitality. We will definitely be returning in the not too distant future to experience the sights, sounds and smells of yet another successful speak-easy in Liverpool City Centre.

Furnival’s Well is ideal for a really intimate couples date or a couple of hours of really laid-back drinking with a group of friends. If you appreciate a great cocktail, then it’s the perfect place to take somebody that has never experienced a place like this where such pride and precision is taken over the drinks. We look forward to this establishment serving up some delectable food offerings.

Cosy up for a tea-time tipple!

As avid frequenters of all newbies to emerge on the Liverpool bar and restaurant scene; my boyfriend and I naturally had a jam-packed agenda that involved sampling all the new places purportedly opening in Liverpool city centre. After having heard word on the street about a so called ‘cosy club’ right in the heart of Liverpool One, we were intrigued to give it a go!

We first encountered Cosy club on a late afternoon weekend shopping jaunt. A warm golden glow radiates from the new façade on Liverpool one’s lower level. The street view of the second level floor to ceiling windows exposes sparkling chandeliers, twinkling tantalisingly, beckoning passers-by to wander in and see what treats lie within.

Evidently, we couldn’t quite resist the cosy club allure, and wandered up the stairs to investigate… Quirky, eccentric and extremely lively (given the fact that it’s the new kid on the block), Cosy club immediately emits its own unique ambience. A perfect paradisaical oasis (very apt being located on Paradise street). A refuge for the exhausted shopper to escape the hellish swarms below, and indulge in a libation or two?

The interior of Cosy Club takes inspiration from no one discernible era, but rather is a controlled collision in an eccentric yet eclectic clash of styles. The furnishings are exceptionally well curated; every inch of wall adorned with oil paintings and portraits, taxidermy and unusual prints. The bar area comprises a mixture of battered chesterfields, and sleek vintage 1930’s sofas. Perhaps the interior piece de resistance is the assorted antique light fittings, that calibrate an optimum light intensity, for a soft yet sumptuous mood.

Once ensconced at one of the candlelit tables, tucked away in the corner of the bar area, or ‘lounge’ as the staff called it, we made our way over to the bar to peruse the cocktail menu. Spoilt for choice, we took a recommendation from the bartender, who suggested the Sparkling Duchess. Divine. Highly recommended. We were also pleased to discover that we were in time for a ‘Teatime Tipple’ – any two cocktails for £9.50, weekdays from 4-7pm! Naturally we hastily ordered two more.

Cosy Club is sure to become a regular haunt. We’ve made dinner reservations already.

A little safe hold, a Mecca for the bewildered, disillusioned shopper; where you can indulge in an evening cocktail or two with friends, a lazy breakfast or an intimate dinner. Personally, I can’t wait to do all three.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Our NYE 5 Star Debut in Crewe

It was our first New Year’s Eve together so we wanted it to be as special and as magical as possible. This is the reason that we opted for the Q Hotels group. We’ve stayed in numerous Q Hotels before but had never ventured out to the countryside in Cheshire. We browsed the internet for weeks before-hand before coming across Crewe Hall…. As soon as we saw it, we had to stay there!
We boarded the train armed with champagne and olives and made our way to Cheshire. Upon arrival at the station we took a taxi to the hotel and that’s where our paradisiacal 48 hours began. The path was long and tree-lined either side one after the other, stretching and running for miles. Our driver meandered his way through the remoteness of the grounds, the Jacobean mansion still a speck in the distance. As we edged closer to the doorway, the ornate, traditional aesthetics of the exterior became ever more apparent. A pair of Christmas trees twinkled to the left and right of the entrance. The grandiose, noble Grade 1 listed building was going to play host to our commencement of 2017. We clambered out of the taxi with a number of bags but were quickly assisted by a member of staff who was on hand immediately to make our check-in as hassle-free as possible. The same gentleman then proceeded to introduce himself whilst carrying the majority of our bags, and escort us to our room that unbeknown to us, we’d been upgraded to, his name was Connor. A great touch from the hotel, Surria who upgraded us, and the member of staff on hand. Much to our delight, we were staying in the Old Hall, the historic, long-established part of the hotel with so much character, it oozes class.
The room was astonishing. We were greeted by a bottle of Belle Époque by Perrier Jouet sat on the bedside cabinet, a gold tub of champagne truffles and a Happy New Year card courtesy of the hotel. When we’re staying in hotels, which is rather often, we’re always looking for magic moments like this. Gestures that people undertake that isn’t part of their job to add to the guest’s experience, it’s highly commendable and isn’t ever expected…even in a venue with the prestige that Crewe Hall obtains. The winding, brass staircase in our room spiralled around to the second floor where there lay a completely separate living quarters with a desk, a television, a lounge area and a sink. The furnishings were all present in their quirky, Jacobean, classic style and our stained glass windows opened out onto the meticulous front lawns. We weren’t going to forget this room in a hurry.
We wandered the corridors of the whole building in order to get some snaps of the surroundings. Crewe Hall once played host to numerous members of the royal family and as soon as you walk through the doors, you completely understand it. Open roaring fires spitting and crackling, luxurious wooden throne-like chairs that have been there for hundreds of years but look like they’ve never been touched; dragon shaped, stone statues resembling mythological creatures that have been carved by hand, and tall, aristocratic, illustrious ceilings…gold, royal blue and brown.
We bumped into Connor who offered to give us a tour of the whole hotel, being shown around rooms that were being prepped for the big event that weren’t yet open to the public…this was another magic moment for us. It’s not very often that you meet somebody who is as hospitable, knowledgeable, passionate and proud of the hotel and all of its history. He told us story after story about the décor and the year it was fitted etc. we were extremely impressed and it made our stay that extra bit memorable.
Our dinner reservation was scheduled for 9pm, but as usual we were fashionably late, having got carried away drinking champagne and enjoying the pre-dinner celebrations. The restaurant staff, Dominic in particular were extremely accommodating and despite us being late to the table explained that it was not a problem. We devoured a rib eye steak, slow braised beef, one with thick cut chips, the other potato gratin. Our meal was accompanied by a bottle of our favourite, middle of the road white wine that we’d highly recommend – Gavi. We then ordered dessert consisting of chocolate brownie and sticky toffee pudding. The food was cooked to perfection and the presentation was outstanding.
The main event was minutes away and we made our way outside onto the back lawns which were consumed by darkness and a large array of merry socialites all eagerly awaiting the countdown, the clock to turn 12 and the fireworks to light up the sky casting a warm glow over the supreme stately home. The sound of laughter, cheers, and drunken songs rang out as the display resembled a flourescent, patchwork canvas against the jet black background.
Crewe Hall is definitely a brilliant option for New Year’s Eve and any night of the year for that matter. It was certainly an extremely pleasant and memorable stay all round and we will definitely be returning. Thanks to the staff for being so accommodating and for looking after us to the extent that they did during our time there.

8 Reasons to visit Barcelona in 2017!

Whether it’s top class music acts, culinary delights or cutting edge exhibitions, there’s plenty to whet your appetite and have you booking your tickets for Barca sooner rather than later!

Both Easyjet and Ryanair fly direct from Liverpool John Lennon Airport on a daily basis with fares as low as £60 return, there really is no reason not to head to one of the most beautiful city’s in the world.
DAVID BOWIE IS’ IN BARCELONA                      
Literally. This year’s blockbuster exhibition ‘David Bowie Is’ will come to the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona in spring 2017. If you’ve missed your chance to get a glimpse into the life and times of the legendary ‘Starman’ at London’s V&A , you can still catch it here, in its final European destination. It’s the first international retrospective on Bowies life and career. The exhibition showcases over 300 artefacts from Bowie’s handwritten lyrics and original costumes to photography and music videos, from every era of his dazzling career. ‘David Bowie Is’ has already broken records, as the most visited exhibition in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum’s history. More than 1.5 million people have already visited this one of a kind exhibition. On display from May 17th at Museu del Disseny de Barcelona, Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, 37. More info here.
Yes, we’re fully aware that this is a glaringly obvious one. However, La Sagrada Familia has become a symbol of the city and is Barcelona’s most visited tourist attraction for good reason. The construction of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece began in 1882, and remarkably its construction is STILL in progress. It is expected that the city’s magnificent gothic temple will be finally finished in 2026, which will mark 100 years on from Gaudi’s death in 1926, and 144 years after the building work started.
With construction still very much underway, there are still some major structural changes to be made to Barcelona’s most famous building, including the addition of the highest towers on the basilica yet. So even if you’ve already been to visit the Catalan capital’s biggest landmark there will be something new to discover in 2017.
Barcelona is well known for being home to some of the most avant-garde artists in Europe, the city plays host to some incredible museums, from the MACBA museum of modern art, to the Picasso museum right in the heart of the Old Town.
But if you’re visiting Barcelona in 2017, there’s an exhibition that you really won’t want to miss.
Romanesque Picasso – Located in the beautiful Montjuïc park, Museo de Nacional de Arte de Cataluña (MNAC) has held some interesting exhibitions over the past years. Its latest exhibition examines Picasso’s relationship with Romanesque art, a style to which he was dedicated for a long time in his career. The retrospective features over 40 works, focussing on 3 areas; The ‘Virgin from Gósol’, which Picasso saw during his stay in the village; ‘The Crucifixion’, which was a popular theme in the Romanesque art; and the skull, which is also a prevalent Romanesque symbol. The exhibition runs until February 26th at Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc. Booking is advised!
The city now has its first THREE Michelin star restaurant
The Catalonian capital certainly has its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants, but the Michelin Guide has awarded three stars to a restaurant in Barcelona for the first time ever. Lead by chef Martin Berasategui, ‘Lasarte’ restaurant opened its doors in 2006 and rapidly rose in the ranks of Barcelona’s fine dining scene. So if you’re feeling super fancy, this is a once in a lifetime dining experience you won’t want to miss. However, if you’re not looking to splash the cash, the city boasts a host of culinary delights suitable for every budget. It seems that competition amongst Barcelona’s restaurateurs is about to get fiercer than ever.
That’s right, there’s not just one but two world class music festivals which take place in Barcelona each year. The good news is, it seems that the line-ups go from strength to strength. The headline acts at this year’s ‘Primavera Sound’ include Aphex Twin, the XX, Frank Ocean and even the legendary Van Morisson. While over at ‘Sonár’ everyone from experimental house DJ Nicolas Jaar to hip-hop legends De La Soul will be joining the party. Primavera runs 31 May- 4 June, and Sonár runs 15-17th June.
2016 ranked Barcelona as the 16th most Instagram-med place on Earth. An accolade indeed.
After all isn’t it all about getting that perfect pic? Be it a restaurant snap of the local delicacies, or an arty shot of some architectural marvels you’ve managed to filer to perfection. As last year came to an end, Instagram revealed its list of most snap-happy places in the world, and Barcelona Centre came in at a very respectable number 16. With it’s amazing architecture, including the fascinating works of Antoni Gaudí, Barca is unsurprisingly a big hit with the Insta crowd. So, head to Barcelona in 2017 to boast an enviable photo album. If you didn’t Instagram it did you even really go?
If you’re planning a Barcelona getaway this February, then you absolutely can’t miss out on one of the biggest and most anticipated festivals in Europe: Sitges Carnival! Just 45 minutes south of the city lays the quaint seaside town of Sitges, and from 23rd – 1st of March this usually quiet neighbourhood transforms for the annual Carnival, or ‘Carnaval’ to the locals. This wild week long party is renowned for its colourful parades and costumes, and of course, the delectable gastronomies on offer! Although the Sitges Carnival may not be as ostentatious as the world-famous celebrations of the same name in Rio de Janeiro, this Spanish fiesta attracts over 300,000 people each year!
Head over to ‘La Farga de Hospitalet’ for Barcelona’s craft beer festival. In this 3 day celebration at the end of March, you can try new and innovative craft artisan beers both from Spain and around the world. The centrepiece of the festival is a very long bar with 50 beer taps where beer aficionados can sample around 300 different varieties of craft, artisan beers. The festival aims to showcase beer culture and introduce the qualities of artisan craft beer to the public. Perhaps most pleasingly of all, admission is FREE! The Festival runs from the 24th – 26th March, at Carrer Barcelona, 44.
Barcelona may be Spain’s second city, but It’s certainly taking the number one spot on our 2017 holiday hit-list!