A Night at Tewkesbury Park - Review


The Cotswolds has been on my UK bucket-list for quite some time due to its quintessentially English villages, picturesque landscapes and abundance of world heritage sites and two weeks ago, I finally got the chance to go when I was invited down to review the Tewkesbury Park hotel. For those  who are unfamiliar with the Cotswold, the Cotswolds stretches across five counties of England - Gloucester, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. The Cotswolds is popular with tourists worldwide due to it's astounding beauty from the lush green fields, to villages nestled by rivers and in 1966, it was given an (AONB) and declared an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' by UK environmental agencies.

Tewkesbury is one of the many traditional medieval English towns in the Cotswolds which rests next to the River Avon and it is known for its vintage and antique shops, quaint coffee shops and Tewkesbury Abbey, the second largest parish church in England and a former Benedictine monastery which dates back to 715. Tewkesbury Park, is set in 163 acres of undulating parkland and overlooks the town and the famous site of the AD1471 Battle of Tewkesbury. The hotel completed its second phase of it's extensive two-year renovation at the cost of £4 million in the autumn of 2016, with the brand new addition of nine luxury historic suites, two new spa rooms, meeting rooms, an Orangery and a cocktail lounge and two weeks ago I was invited to check it out.


Driving up the steep hill to the hotel foyer, the views were impressive. You could see the abbey at the bottom and the golf course was vast with beautiful lush greenery, neatly trimmed hedges and picturesque forestry - it was idyllic and everything you would want for a few nights, undisturbed in the countryside. When we checked in, we were equally impressed with the hotel lobby which is decorated with regal blues and gold colourings. The bar was spacious with an beautiful log fire which is lit on an evening and in the entrance there's an antique piano with a sign welcoming guests to play. 


Once we had checked in at reception, we headed to our room which was one of the new suites, the King Richard III suite on the third floor.  The suite featured a gigantic king size Hypnos bed, a 40 inch Smart TV, a Nespresso coffee machine  a separate dressing room complete with dressing table and wardrobe space and a large bathroom with a free standing bath and separate shower room. One of the things I loved the most about the hotel room was that it came with a hot water bottle and the hot water bottle was heated up when we came back to my hotel room after our evening meal. I suffer from chronic pain and cannot live without my hot water bottle at home, so it was lovely to have one readily available to me here and I really appreciated the fact that the filled it up during the turn down service.


Shortly after I had rested from my long four hour car journey, I was called down for my treatments in the spa. The hotel has several treatment rooms, a pool, outdoor Jacuzzi and sauna and stream, all of which are available to guests. I was booked in for a full body massage which was a lovely treat after sitting behind the wheel for hours and I loved the aroma that came from the natural, locally sourced body products that they used. The therapist used just the right amount of pressure that I like when I have a massage and when I left, I felt like all my knots had vanished. The full body massage was around 45 mins and when I was finished, I headed to meet my husband in the pool area. Since it was a lovely, bright day we both headed to the outdoor hot tub to soak up the sun. The hot tub just the right temperature and is hidden away in a courtyard so that you're able to relax in peace. I wore my brand new Boohoo swimsuit, which has the most beautiful summery print.


After we had finished around the pool, we headed back to the room to get changed for dinner and headed down to the bar. We both ordered a glass of house wine which came to £5 each, which I thought was really reasonable and then headed to the orangery for our evening meal. We ordered off the A La Carte menu which had lots of great choices with locally sourced ingredients - my only criticism is that the vegetarian options were rather limited, but I find this with most a la carte menus anyway. Overall the meal was wonderful and both my husband and I enjoyed it. The star of the meal was definitely my starter - the World Cheese Award winning Cerny Ash Goats Cheese with Cheltenham Heritage Beetroot, Balsamic pearls and beetroot crisp, it was a delight to eat.


When we headed back to our room, it was dark - that lovely countryside darkness that makes a room feel cosy.  Our slippers had been left by the bedside, the hot water bottle was filled and the curtains were drawn ready for bed. I had one of the best nights sleep that I've had in a long time and in the morning, it was wonderful to open the curtains to a view of the golf course and greenery which stretched for many miles.


In the morning we headed down for breakfast - which was a usual hotel style buffet breakfast and then left the car in the car park and walked down to the town. It was lovely to stretch our legs and absorb the wonderful scenery before heading to our next location. Our stay at Tewkesbury Park was nothing less than brilliant - the staff were excellent, the location is superb and I felt like everyone went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. My only criticism is that there are no lifts and a lot of stairs,  but I would still go as far as saying that this was one of the best hotels that I have stayed in. 

Prices start at £109pn, with a suite being £350pn

Have you visited Tewkesbury before?




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Luxe on a budget - How to save money on your travel

hotel room

Champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget could not be more true to my life right now. I'm currently putting away half of my wages towards a house deposit and each day that goes by I have itches to book holidays abroad, go shopping or eat out at my favourite restaurants. Saving money and still wanting to lead an extravagant lifestyle can be really tough, but it is not impossible. 'Luxe on a budget' is going to be my new blog series which will show you how you can splash the cash, but save money at the same time. Even if you are trying to budget, you should always treat yourself once in awhile as it will only motivate you more to save. 

I'm starting my luxe on a budget blog series with one of my favourite topics - travel. I love to travel whether it is travelling through the UK or going abroad and my life doesn't seem quite right without my mini trips. Holidays are often one of the first things we cut out of our plans when we are trying to budget, but here's some tips to make going on holiday while saving more achievable.

Hotels

If you're not too precious about the hotel you are looking to stay in,  look into booking a mystery hotel stay. Companies such as Last Minute and sites like Superbreak offer heavily discounted 5 star hotel breaks, the only catch is that you don't know which hotel you are staying in - just the location and amenities.

To save money on the hotels that you really want to stay at,  try schedule your holidays so they are at the beginning of the week. Many hotels offer large discounts for Sunday - Tuesday stays as these are unpopular times and they want to fill up all their rooms.

Always remember to shop around and don't rely too heavily on comparison websites, you can sometimes get great deals by going direct.

Travel - UK

Trains in the UK are very expensive and always on the rise, but there's still a few ways you can grab a bargain. Firstly, keep an eye out for any sales like the Virgin £5 London sale that pop up regularly throughout the year. The Virgin sale offers a limited number of single tickets from most major UK train stations to London for only £5.

Secondly, if two of you often go on holiday together you can apply for a 'two can travel' National Railcard. The two can travel railcard gives users a third off train travel as long as they travel with the person whose name is on the card.

If you have plenty of time on your hands and don't mind travelling at anti-social hours, look for super off peak train times which are usually in the early hours of the morning and very late at night. 

Travel - Abroad

If you're looking for holiday inspiration on a budget, Ryanair, Monarch, Jet2 and EasyJet all have 'fare finders' where you can type in your budget and it will show you plane tickets for that price and where you can go.

To save even more money on your flights, travel out of season and stay away from school holidays where possible. The best time to book flights are Sundays for short haul and Tuesday for long haul and 70 days in advance.

Always delete your cookies when searching for deals as prices will go up when you return the website if you don't delete them.

Activities

If your ideal holiday is visiting museums and sightseeing and you're visiting a well-known city, consider purchasing a city card. City cards offer great discounts and free entry to many museums and sightseeing tours and often offer discounted travel within the city, as well as airport transfers.

Transfers

Always book your transfers in advance to save money and use comparison sites such as Cheapflights to find the best deals. Cheapflights also have lots of tips on how you can save money on your airport car parking on their blog if you plan on taking the car.

What are your money saving travel tips?

*Collaborative post with Cheapflights





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Changing my wardrobe mid-twenties


The mid-twenties are an awkward age for women when it comes to fashion and things get even more confusing when you fall the wrong side of 25 . Some clothes seem far too young and others seem far too old. Getting the balance right can be the difference between 'mutton dressed as lamb' and looking far too old for your age. Over the last few months in preparation for my 26th birthday I have rid my wardrobe of all the clothes that that look too much like a 20 year old would wear and I have replaced them more sophisticated, capsule pieces that will see me through to my thirties. My hemlines have got a lot longer, my wardrobe is much more suited to my personal style and most importantly I've picked timeless pieces that will look great whatever age. Want to know how I've done it? Here's a few of my tips.

Less is more

When it comes to creating the ultimate capsule wardrobe - less is more. Buy pieces that will blend seamlessly together and always think 'when would I wear that?' If you cannot think of one particular occasion that you can wear that piece of clothing to or anything that you can style it with, you probably don't need it in your wardrobe.

Invest in quality

To create a wardrobe that stands the test of time, invest in quality pieces. Quality doesn't have to be expensive - there's many ways you can get designer on a budget from shopping vintage in charity shops to looking online at places like the Vestiaire Collective or eBay.  Buying quality clothes may seem expensive to begin with, but you're likely to get much more wear out of your wardrobe and they shouldn't need replacing as quickly.

Choose versatile accessorises
Accessorises can really help enhance an outfit whether it is a waist belt to show off your curves, a designer bag to add a little bling or a sparkly necklace to draw attention to your neckline. Choose accessorises that can adapted to suit every outfit and again like clothing, less is more - have a few items of capsule jewellery pieces that you will wear and wear again rather than having a jewellery box full of accessorises you will never wear.

Don't be afraid to experiment

Finally, don't be afraid to experiment with your wardrobe. During your mid-twenties you still have plenty of time to develop your own personal style and make a few fashion blunders along the way. I recently bought a frilly 1970s vintage dress that I thought I would never pull off and I get compliments every time I wear it, in fact it is now one of my favourite dresses.

Have you had a wardrobe clear out recently?
















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Why weekend breaks are good for your well-being


It is so easy after a long hard week of work to switch off at the weekend and spend two days lounging in front of the sofa, but sometimes rather than sleep, what your body is craving is some fresh air, adventure and something positive to give yourself an energy boost. Going away for two days, ten days or even just an afternoon can work wonders on your wellbeing. For a start, it gives you something to look forward to which always makes tiresome situations a lot easier to handle and when you finally take your break, seeing and experiencing new things and places can give you a different perspective on life. I always try to have at least one weekend a month where I go somewhere new or do something a little bit different, whether is for a few hours or 24 hours and here's why you should do too.

Break in the routine

We all have our own routines throughout the week from food shopping on a specific day to going to the gym and even taking a little shopping break, but sometimes it does our bodies good to deviate from those routines. It breaks the monotony of life and adds a zest spontaneity that gives our bodies a much needed adrenaline boost.

Get into shape

Whether you love it or hate it, exercise is good for us - not just physically, but mentally too. Exercising can release endorphins which helps with our positivity. Have you ever noticed that when you discover somewhere new that your step count is through the roof? Going to new places doesn't seem like exercise, but after you have been walking around all day those steps soon add up.

Digital Detox

Although there's a chance that you will be glued to Instagram taking snapshots of all the things you come across when taking a break,  you will probably using a lot less technology while out and about compared to being at home. If at all possible, turn off your phone for a few hours and take in time to absorb your new surroundings.  Having a digital detox is good for your wellbeing because it allows you to escape everything that is going on back home and truly focus on yourself.

'You' time

We live in a world where sometimes it's hard to say no and it makes us feel everyone wants a piece of us from colleagues and after work drinks, to friends and meeting up for lunch. Sometimes it's okay to be selfish and say 'I need some me time.' Go away for a short while and boost your energy so that when you return, things won't seem like as much of a chore. Going away is also great for couples that need 'couple time', especially in relationships where you both work different hours and have contrasting schedules.

Make positive memories

Going away for a weekend with the ones you love will help you create a plethora of positive memories that each of you can look back on and smile about.  It will give you stories to share, experiences to laugh about and strengthen relationships between the ones that mean the most to you. Having something special to think about like that when you're feeling stressed or down is a great distraction and can also motivate you through certain situations.


Do you find that travelling boosts your well-being?













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The Sensory Storytelling Experience at The Queens Hotel, Cheltenham


Have you ever visited somewhere and been reminded about that experience through a particular scent? Or do you wear a perfume simply because it makes you think of a special occasion? Scent can be a powerful memory trigger that makes us feel emotive and nostalgic about certain experiences. To celebrate the power of scent and it's ability to make us remember some of fondest memories, MGallery by Sofitel has just launched a brand new sensory storytelling experience at three of their luxurious UK properties - The Francis Hotel in Bath, The Castle Hotel in Windsor and finally the Queens Hotel in Cheltenham, where I was recently invited to trial this innovative experience for myself.

Partnering up with renowned scent historian Lizzie Ostrom from Odette Toilette, MGallery by Sofitel has created three new fragrance collections inspired by the heritage, personality and individual stories of each boutique hotel. Referencing the hotel's unique positioning and drawing from archival research on eighteenth and nineteenth century perfume formulations, guest are able to choose their fragrance as a finishing touch to their room or suite during their stay.


The Queens Hotel in Cheltenham first opened its doors on the 21st July 1838 and was named after Queen Victoria to celebrate her coronation. Since 1955 the  hotel has been listed a Grade II English Heritage building as it retains many of its original features, including wallpaper designed by Pugin, which is the same wallpaper that is featured in the houses of parliament. These days the hotel is popular with locals and visitors alike in Cheltenham, particularly those who visit Cheltenham for the races.

When I arrived at Queens hotel, I was greeted by a member of staff who led me to a table featuring a trio of perfumery bottles and I asked to pick my favourite scent. Each scent has been curated to tell a story about the hotel and the towns heritage. I chose the 'Eau D'Ange' which had a warming scent derived from a mix of cardamom, cinnamon and cedar. The scent was created to replicate the fragrances worn in the 1800s and it is also a known aphrodisiac (although that wasn't the primary reason I chose it, I promise).


After my scent choice had been noted, it was delivered to my room and placed into a machine that dispersed it at a frequency of my liking via a remote control. During our visit to Cheltenham, we stayed in the Cambray suite, which is one of four suites in the hotel named after local spas. The suite was spacious with a very large bed, Nespresso machine, stylish sofa and free standing bath with White company toiletries and large shower space.  It was the epitome of luxury and the warming cinnamon aroma added to the experience, from the moment I walked into the hotel room, I was instantly relaxed.


Once we had relaxed in our hotel room and freshened up, we headed down for the sensory storytelling afternoon tea. The sensory afternoon tea enables guests to learn about some of the individual notes and materials that make up each of the hotels signatures scents via smell and taste through a specially-created signature cocktail and Afternoon Tea which heroes particular fragrance notes from the hotel's collection, The Queen's Eau D'Ange afternoon tea features a selection of traditional finger sandwiches, apple cheesecake, lavender macarons, Gin-flavoured sorbet, rose chocolate opera, Cinnamon-infused biscuits and plain or raisin scones which locally sourced preserves. To accompany the afternoon tea, we had a sensory storytelling signature cocktail called 'Rose Drop' which had a floral taste and featured Jinzu Gin. The Jinzu Gin cocktail is one of the best cocktails I have ever had - it was not too floral and it tasted very delicate, light, it was so easy to drink. The cakes and sandwiches from the afternoon tea were all superb and the Gin-flavoured sorbet made me a wonderful palette cleanser. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects sensory storytelling experience and I think it was a lovely touch to our stay. I really think scent really does help us remember certain memories and different fragrances can help enhance our moods, which is something that is really important when you're taking a trip away. The sensory storytelling experience is £170pp which includes overnight stay, room fragrance, afternoon tea and the Jinzu cocktail.

*I was a guest free of charge in exchange for this review


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