Luxury Glamping with added Hot Tub

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Last weekend we headed off for our 2nd adventure of the summer holidays. Well when I say headed off, I mean we got in the car and drove for 10 minutes. Which is actually a good thing as the teen had ONE job to do…. bring his bag. Guess what he forgot ? We may have only stayed local, but our one night glamping certainly recharged our batteries. We started camping around 6 years ago, and over time our camping trips have taken a more luxurious turn. No more hushed arguments with the husband as we battle with the tent in the wind and rain (I swear I have never returned to Anglesey after THAT trip).

Glamping pods do differ in what they offer you. Some pods will just be the shell, and you have to bring your own camping beds. Others will be kitted out with sofa beds, and the one we stayed in had a double bed. Yes a proper bed. The pods housed 4 and the children slept on single fold out futon style beds. We also had a small fridge (just enough space for that all important bottle of wine), a kettle, plenty of sockets, storage space and a TV and DVD. And the best bit was on the decking….

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You don’t get many glamping pods that come with your own personal hot tub, and Lady Heyes Caravan Park has 9 pods ALL with hot tubs. The site is on the outskirts of Frodsham in Cheshire, and there is so much to do in the area. But if you just want to get away for some relaxation, you don’t even have to leave the site.

The pods are set around a small grassy area with a picnic table you can use in the middle. Each pod does come with a small table and 2 chairs, and we also took our own camping chairs. There is also a fantastic fire pit on the decking, and we had great fun toasting marshmallows. There are 2 shower rooms that the pods share that are literally seconds away.

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We have been to Lady Heyes with our tent before, and even camped on the very first weekend the site opened. But this was our first time in the pods. We paid £110.00 for a Sunday night, which considering you have the hot tub, is good value. There was a good mixture of families and couples staying, and the site overall had a nice, relaxed feel to it. The manager of the site Alex is so helpful, and works really hard in making Lady Heyes Campsite such a success.

Would we return ? Yes. We had a lovely stay and it just goes to show you don’t always have to travel too far away from home to have an adventure.

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This was the view from our decking at night

This was the view from our decking at night

Coombe Mill

Monday escapes

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Our extended weekend

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This weekend has been an extended one as hubby and I had a night away on Thursday night. The minute I finished work we were on the M56 heading to the Trafford Centre. I had booked my favourite Premier inn at the bargain cost of £39.00, and we were quickly checked in and the bags were in the room. We had planned to go to the local David Lloyd for a swim, but I received an email inviting us to a fantastic event at the Trafford Centre. Well it would have been rude to turn it down as we were already there. I will do a separate post about the event and all I will say is WOW. We had an amazing and slightly surreal night. After the event we wandered back to the hotel and did what I love…. people watching at the hotel bar. Around 1.00am, after a mixture of too much alcohol we literally fell into those heavenly Premier Inn beds.

The next morning, after a hearty full English breakfast and a hot shower, we were ready to hit The Ideal Home Show which was at Event City. We headed straight for the main stage where I knew Martin Lewis  was on at 12pm. He is definitely a hero of mine, as since I discovered his website more than 7 years ago, we have literally saved thousands of pounds. His talk was informative and afterwards you got to meet him, and yes I was first in the queue.

Afterwards we wandered around the various stands, gazing longingly at the hot tubs and the gorgeous garden furniture. There were Smeg fridges to admire and beautiful fireplaces. There was of course plenty of stalls from homeware, beauty and lots of delicious smelling food. As we were just about to leave we bumped into the ‘even more handsome in real life’ George Clark. After a picture with him, we headed over to the Trafford Centre for a look round the shops before heading home to see the kids.

The rest of the weekend was spent catching up on washing, gardening jobs and the food shop. I love having the chance to go away for the night with hubby. We are really lucky to have my Mum as our main babysitter, and we try to get away for a few nights during the year. You definitely need it in the busy world of parenting.

Doubletree Hotel Chester

images (11)For my birthday in January my lovely husband surprised me with a night away. He even booked my mum in to have the kids ! So last Friday we headed to the Doubletree Hotel in Chester, 20 minutes from where we live. We had been to the Doubletree twice before to use the spa facilities but never stayed over. First thing I loved about the hotel is warm cookies at check in. How ace is that. We were directed to our room on the ground floor and I was met with this

Oliver Suite at the Doubletree Chester

Oliver Suite at the Doubletree Chester

Top brownie points awarded to the husband. Our suite was lovely, and had a large living area with settee and a smart TV. There was a fridge to put the all important bottle of wine in, plus we got 2 bottles of water and spa robes and slippers. We quickly unpacked and headed off to the spa. The spa is fantastic here, and I especially love the bubbly pools. To be honest we spent most of the time in them, just chatting and relaxing. We headed back to the room around 6pm to get ready for our evening meal.

The TV in the suite

The TV in the suite

We were booked into The Brassiere restaurant which was part of our package. There is also a Marco Pierre White restaurant in the hotel, and to be honest the prices looked fairly reasonable. Will love to try there next time. We were seated in The Brassiere and the server explained we could have the 3 course menu, or order from the main menu up to £19.50 each. We both decided to order from the 3 course menu as this seemed good value. I ordered prawn cocktail and hubby ordered pork belly which he said was divine. Main courses were mushroom gnocchi and chicken in a curry sauce. Dessert was cheesecake. I have to say the food was absolutely delicious, but we did have to wait a while between courses. We enjoyed a few drinks in the bar before we headed to our room.

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After a really good sleep thanks to the wine the really comfortable bed, we headed back to the restaurant for breakfast. It was the usual self service, and we enjoyed the breakfast even though there were no mushrooms. We had a lovely Saturday morning of not running the kids around. All to soon it was 12pm and time to check out. We had such a great night away. We chilled, we ate, we drank and we laughed.

Doubletree is part of The Hilton chain and its well positioned being only 5 minutes by car from Chester. It is also close to Chester Zoo for family trips away. Hubby paid £170 for the suite, meal, breakfast and access to the spa, which I think is good value. The same package in a standard room would cost £120 when we stayed in January.

Thank you to my amazing hubby for surprising me, and the Doubletree Chester for a great night away. Oh and my fantastic mum for having the kids.

Photo courtesy from the Doubletree website

Photo courtesy from the Doubletree website

 

Premier Inn – Trafford Centre West

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Premier Inn is one of my favourite hotel brands, and the one we have stayed in the most is the Trafford Centre West. Even though we are less than 30 minutes away, I have stayed at the hotel 12 times and I love it there. The main reason we stay there is the close proximity to the Trafford Centre. There are actually 3 Premier Inns within minutes of the Trafford Centre, but we always pick the West one to stay in. It has a large car pack and it is less than a 10 minute walk to the shops and restaurants.

Out of the 12 visits, around 9 of them have been with the children. We love combining a night there with a trip to  Legoland Discovery Centre and Sealife Centre. The family rooms are big and spacious and have 2 large double beds in. Its worth noting that the bathrooms just have showers in and not baths, but this is fine with us. The front of the hotel gives you wonderful views of the Trafford Centre, and the side of the hotel gives you a view of the nearby Chill Factor. The majority of our stays have been very peaceful, and there is very little or no noise from neighbouring rooms. The only incident we had was when the bins were being emptied right outside our room at 5am in the morning. But all credit to Premier Inn who immediately apologised, and we were refunded the cost of the room under their ‘Good night sleep’  policy.

One of our many stays back in 2011

One of our many stays back in 2011

Talking of the cost of rooms, I have always managed to bag a room here at their saver rate. This means I have never paid more than £35 for a family room. I even have had a few for £19.00. Add the cost of the breakfast which is £8.25 per adult for a full cooked breakfast, PLUS 2 kids eat free for every adult, and you have a fantastic value break away.

Our latest stay was in October when hubby and I went to a concert at the Manchester Apollo. City centre hotels were coming in at over £100.00, but luckily I managed to book our favourite at £35.00. We got the bus into the city from the Trafford Centre which was £3.00 each. It took around 30 minutes to get into the centre. Coming home we paid for a taxi, which was just under £20.00. Factor in all this, the Trafford Centre West was still great value. The hotel is also really handy for Event City. We stayed there when we visited the Ideal Home Show back in May.

I am sure we will back soon for our 13th visit ! Thank you Trafford Centre West for being such a welcoming hotel, and having such friendly and helpful staff.

Someone was not sleepy at 11pm !!!

Someone was not sleepy at 11pm !!!

 

Girls night away at Cottons Hotel Knutsford

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Back in June it was time to head off for another girlie night away. Two of my friends had turned 40 in April and August, and June was a good time to go away and celebrate. After much research by my friend, we decided to head to Cottons Hotel which is in leafy Knutsford in Cheshire. We were impressed with the different packages Cottons have on offer, and we decided on The Girls Night Out Package for £117.00 each. This included the following

  • pre-dinner cocktails served in the bar
  • an overnight stay with breakfast in a luxurious guest room
  • delicious 3 course dinner with an option to take desserts in your room
  • half a bottle of wine per person
  • selection of chick flick DVD’s and popcorn
  • a goody bag for everyone on arrival
  • a gift from ESPA worth £20.00

We arrived on the Saturday around 2pm and we were quickly checked in. As there were 5 of us, we had 2 rooms which were along the corridor from each other. After the unpacking of the alcohol and hanging up of dresses, we headed to the spa area complete with our fluffy robes. The spa area was lovely which had a large swimming pool, indoor AND outdoor Jacuzzi and plenty of beds for relaxing in. We headed to the outdoor Jacuzzi which was just bliss. The indoor Jacuzzi got busy as children were allowed in there.

After a few hours of relaxation and chatting away, we headed back to our rooms to get ready. After much straightening of hair and spraying of perfume we were good to go. We headed to the bar area where we were served our ‘pre-dinner cocktails’.

Cocktail time

Cocktail time

We were then called into the restaurant, and advised as part of our package we had £30.00 towards our meal. I ordered the ‘Taste of Cheshire’ plate for my starter which was fantastic, and steak and salad for the main course. The £30.00 more than covered my meal. We also had half a bottle of wine, and I was pleased I could choose Rose. The service was fantastic, and the overall atmosphere was relaxed. We had such a lovely evening enjoying good food, and a good old girlie gossip.

We headed back to our room and it was time for our girlie movie. We decided on Cocktail complete with a huge bowl of popcorn which was supplied as part of the package.

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Popcorn time

The next day we were back in the restaurant for our breakfast. The breakfast was lovely and fresh and you could have as much as you wanted. More relaxing in the room after breakfast, and then we went for another swim and Jacuzzi before we had to check out.

I thought the package we were on at £117.00 was great value. I didn’t spend anything else whilst we were, and it was lovely to get all dressed up without the hassle of getting a taxi at the end of the night. We also had goody bags on our beds when we got to the room. Anyone who knows me will know I LOVE a goody bag. These bags included a Jessica nail varnish ! We also got an ESPA gift voucher for £20.00 to spend online. I purchased a lovely gift set for myself with the voucher.

Any girls looking for an excuse for a night away I would highly recommend Cottons. They have a good selection of other packages available on their website. Thank you Cottons for great service and a fantastic time away with 4 of my friends.

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Our ‘us’ time

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Last week the hubby and I managed some fantastic ‘us’ time. I really think that its important to get away once in a while if you can, and enjoy some  time just being a couple. We are lucky because I have a great Mum, and we try and get out at least once a month for a meal or a trip to the cinema. For birthdays and anniversaries we like to get away, and a night away in a Premier Inn does us just fine. Well it was hubs birthday last Wednesday (he turned 43 if you are wondering), and as we had booked to see John Newman in concert in Manchester we just had to combine it with a night away. My Mum was booked in, and I was quickly on the Premier Inn website. We chose to stay at the Premier Inn at the Trafford Centre. Basically Lady Gaga was also playing in Manchester, and the prices of the hotels in the city centre were crazy. I have stayed at the Trafford Centre West around 12 times and love it there. I paid £35.00 which I was more than happy with.

So last Tuesday we set off around 1.30pm, and checked in at 2.00pm….. yep the official check in time. I am never one to waste some hotel time. We took the bags to ‘our room’…. Yes I have a favourite room and always ask for it !!! We went over to the bus station at the Trafford Centre as we were getting the bus into the city centre. Last time I was on a bus was in Disneyworld in Florida. As you can imagine, the sights were ever so slightly different. However, we did drive past Old Trafford (yawn) and also past the HUGE Hilton Hotel which has about a million floors, and for our 10 year anniversary we stayed on the 21st floor.

Hilton Hotel through the Manchester rain !

Hilton Hotel through the Manchester rain !

As I knew retail therapy was not on the cards (couldn’t really turn up to a concert with shopping bags in hand), the only other option was to eat and drink. We chose to go to Bem Brasil. This is somewhere where we had both wanted to visit for ages. I made sure we got in there before 4pm as the price before is £13.95, and after 4pm a whopping £26.95. Bem Brasil was amazing. The food was to die for, and after eating half a zoo we literally had to be rolled out of there, into the howling wind and rain. We walked up to the Printworks and indulged in a few more drinks, whilst people watching. Around 7pm we took a taxi over to The Apollo which is on the out skirts of the city centre. We were seated and enjoyed the support act, and then John Newman came on at 9.15pm. WOW what a concert. He was amazing live, and if you don’t know who he is please seek him out on you tube. After the concert we got a taxi back to the hotel and had a few more gins….. for the road of course.

Next day it was hubby’s birthday. I had only took one present to the hotel, as the kids wanted to be there when he opened his main presents. So I opted to give him this present. Yep having an ‘unique’ name meant I had to order him a special coke bottle with his name on. He was made up.

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Finally it was time for some retail therapy, and we had a day of wandering around the Trafford Centre to look forward to. Hubby had some birthday money which he spent, and I even let him have some ‘man’ time in the Apple Store ! It was time for some lunch, and as it was his birthday I said I would treat him to anywhere in the Trafford Centre. After a five second think he chose……… Burger King ! Lunch done and a few more hours of wandering and it was time to head home to pick the kids up from school. We had such a fantastic time, and I am really grateful that we get the chance to go away and have fun together. It was a blast and can’t wait for our next night away. Do you get the chance for ‘us’ time or even ‘me’ time ?

Chessington Hotel

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Well after a 2 month break from blogging I think its about time I got back to it, and told you what us Williams have been doing recently. It has been a crazy 3 week start to the Summer holidays. The last 21 days have seen us holiday in such fantastic places as Corfu, Scotland and a ‘theme park visit’ down South. I thought I would start with the theme park visit and especially the Chessington Hotel which we stayed in on Saturday night.

I had booked the hotel as a surprise for our sons 12th birthday. We went and had a look round the hotel last year when we went to the theme park and I was very impressed. At the time I had mentally put it on the bucket list, and combining it with our sons birthday was a good idea. Especially as he had asked for an expensive ipod and I needed to ‘pad’ his presents at a little !! Win win eh.

Chessington Hotel Savannah View

View of the Savannah from our Hotel room

We stayed in the original Chessington Hotel which has a safari theme. The brand new hotel, Azteca, had only opened a few days earlier, which is an add on to the existing hotel done in a Mexican theme. We checked in quickly and found our room on the 3rd floor. We had been upgraded to a savannah view, and I must say the room was excellent. It had the kids area when you first walked in with 2 single beds and a TV you can play interactive games on. Then the bathroom, and then into the grown up part.

I had made a reservation for dinner in the new Azteca Hotel (basically because I wanted a nosey round it). Dinner is served in the Temple Restaurant and we were all really impressed with the buffet selection on offer. It was also nice to see that soft drinks were included in the price. There was some entertainment going on in the bar area, which the younger kids seemed to be enjoying. Though to get to the restaurant you have to navigate a packed dance floor of kids. I think I took a few out on the way !

The Temple Restaurant in the new Azteca Hotel

The Temple Restaurant in the new Azteca Hotel

Overall I actually preferred the existing hotel rather than the new one. It was lovely to eat breakfast overlooking the reserve, and of course have our bedroom overlooking it too. Though when the husband opened the curtains, I don’t think he was expecting to see some Ostrich sexy time !

We also used the swimming pool, which now has the added attraction of a Splash area much the same as at the LEGOLAND hotel. Most kids seemed to be in the main swimming pool and the Splash area was fairly quiet. It was nice to sit in the hot tub on a Sunday afternoon and see animals sauntering past.

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We paid £141 for our stay which was bed and breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children. This was discounted as we have a Merlin card. I actually think this is a good price considering the quality of the hotel. I would definitely say it is veering to luxury, whilst also being really family friendly. We would definitely look at returning in the future. Thank you Chessington for a great stay.

The walk way through to the new Azteca Hotel

The walk way through to the new Azteca Hotel