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When it comes to entertaining, I’m not going to lie, I get really into it. I think it started back at uni, when there so few places to go in town, that we had to create our own entertainment. Through the years I’ve had a lot of practice – from formulating menus, cooking the food and inviting the right mix of people, I just think it’s so much fun!

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No matter whether it’s a casual lunch with a few close friends, or if it’s something which is a little larger scale, I like to keep my eye on the details. Pretty china, beautiful glasses and some flowers make the whole event feel special. I tend to keep it as simple as possible – a couple of colours, and a delicious menu. I also like to figure out numbers as soon as possible.

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When I’m planning a bit of a do, I like to think out my guest list first – a good mix of friends old and new, and give them as much warning as possible. To do this, I’ve been absolutely loving using Paperless Post. It’s all the fun of stationery shopping, but with none of the bother of the Post Office.

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On the site, there are literally hundred of invitation options. Whether you want to send an old-school invitation, or you’d rather just opt for a correspondence card, Paperless Post have your back. They have pieces from some of my favourite brands including Crane & Co and Kate Spade. Everything is completely customisable too – so you can send invites which match with the whole theme of your evening.

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Sending your invites couldn’t be easier – after customising your cards, you simply add in your friends’ emails and click send. Then you can trace when people open your invite, and see when they confirm that they’re coming. It’s one less thing to worry about when you’re planning a gathering (and the cards are so much fun to receive!) and they can even let your guests know who else will be there!

Paperless Post isn’t just for events though – I’ve been sending a variety of their cards rather than just regular emails – and everyone has been loving them! They look so much nicer than a regular email, and they are so much fun to create too!

You can see the whole range of invites, cards and announcements at Paperless Post

*This post was published in cooperation with Paperless Post, but all thoughts are my own*

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A few weeks back I was invited to a secret event at Edinburgh’s Dominion Theatre. All I knew is that we’d be watching Baby Driver and that it was being held by RBS. That was it. No hints, no tip offs – just an invite and a whole lot of mystery. So, when we sat down to watch the movie, still intrigued by the night’s premise and the video below popped up, it’s fair to say that the whole cinema of people were shocked to say the least.

It’s easy to share so much of our life online – Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are easy to update, and who knew that hackers could use the information we willingly put up for such dark purposes? The insight was a shocking one (although I was rather happy about how little information they found on me!) and it’s a good reminder to be careful about what we post online. Not every subscriber is here for the reviews!

(And the movie? It’s a great one – go and see it while it’s in theatres!)

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When it comes to getting my hair done, I am probably the most boring person in existence. I just want my hair to look as shiny and thick as possible, so it’s always ‘straight, glossy with a bit of volume please.’ I can positively feel the creative juices of hairdressers dying when I stroll in.

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So, when I popped into the West End branch of Edinburgh hairdressing icon Cheynes, I was blown away with how lovely the whole staff were. I was taken through to the back of the salon to have my hair washed, and enjoy a head massage. Then, once my ends had been suitably pampered, it was through to the front, where I got one of the best bouncy, glossy blow outs in the city! All the staff were exceptionally polite, chatty and upbeat, and it was exactly the thing I needed to enjoy my evening out!

Blow Outs at Cheynes start at £29 and you can find out more about Edinburgh West End

www.edinburgh-westend.co.uk/

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When I first heard about the Restoration Yard late last year, I fell in love. Hard. It’s a place which feels unique in Scotland. A haven to escape to just outside Edinburgh, it’s one of those places I end up in whenever I need a little pick-me-up, or if I’m looking for a little treat.

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Nestled in the heart of Dalkeith Country Park, The Restoration Yard has been developed over the past few years to be an absolute haven. A children’s paradise in the form of Fort Douglas (perhaps the world’s most incredible tree house and fort) sits beside the most fabulously curated store in the country.

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Not only this, but there is also the most fabulous restaurant which serves an ever-changing seasonal menu. I popped in just before Christmas (you can read my review here) and I still dream about the venison ragu I enjoyed!

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Whether you’re looking for a gift, or just a treat though, I guarantee you won’t be leaving empty-handed. There is a mind boggling selection of goodies in there, and they have all been specifically chosen for Restoration Yard. There is a real spirit of positivity behind each and every piece of stock.

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I’ve found pieces by covetable like Ban.do, Rifle Paper Co and Bruket, and honestly, every time I pop in, my wish list just grows and grows!

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It’s not just beauty and accessories which are stocked. There is a fabulous selection of both men and women’s clothing, and the children’s pieces are absolutely dreamy!

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There is a whole food hall in there too – complete with another cafe perfect for a casual snack. There is also a whole range of classes to choose from if you’re into yoga and pilates – you can even book in for massage treatments soon!

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The Restoration Yard is located in Dalkeith Country Park, which is only a 15 minute drive from Edinburgh. You can find out more here.

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When it comes to getting ready for the Christmas party season, I don’t think anything can make as big an impact as having your nails all done. Over the past six months or so, I’ve taken a major shine to shellac manicures. For someone who chips polishes as easily as I do, having a manicure which lasts two to three weeks is a bit of a dream!

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So, when Zen Lifestyle got in touch to see if I wanted to try their new ombre shellac, I couldn’t resist! So, I popped in to their stunning Hanover Street spa to give the treatment a whirl.

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Since we’re only a week or so out from Christmas, the whole salon is decked out in the most glorious of decorations. It’s an absolute haven from the hustle and bustle of outside, and you would never know that there are throngs of shoppers charging up and down George Street. Instead, the spa is peaceful and quiet – the perfect spot to recover a little!

Even though it was late-sh on a Wednesday evening, there was still a steady flow of ladies wanting to get primped and preened, and the nail bar is the perfect spot for a little people watching. After sitting down with a glass of cucumber-mint water, it was time for the hard part – deciding on what colours to choose. Thanfully, Zen have a whole ring of examples to choose from, with every colour and glitter you can imagine. There are so many I ideas, I think I’ve planned my manicures well into 2017!

Then it was time to sit at the nail bar and be filed and buffed into sparkly perfection. My therapist was so lovely, and so through, making sure that every nail and cuticle was perfect, while I got to sit back and relax. There is enough room for four or five people to get their nails done at the same time, so it would be the perfect spot to catch up with a couple of friends for some pampering.

As you can see, I opted for the navy and blue shimmer, which I am just obsessed with. It looks amazing with jeans, and I love that it’s pretty subtle until the light shines on it. Then it turns all shimmery and sparkly which feels absolutely perfect for this time of year! I’m already plotting my New Year nails!

Zen Lifestyle’s shellac manicure plus is priced at £48 and you can buy vouchers here

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When it comes to jewellery, I can be a touch fussy. I can’t wear costume jewellery as it makes me itch, and the real stuff I love is a tad out my price range.  So, I’m left with something of a capsule collection of daily favourites and an ever growing wish list of pieces to save up for. So, when I got the opportunity to visit Laing Edinburgh, the swishiest jeweller in Edinburgh, I absolutely jumped at the opportunity.

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Not only was I invited to have a look around the new George Street store, but I also got the chance to learn all about diamonds from Richard Laing himself – the sixth generation jeweller who runs the place, and who is pretty much the authority on all things diamond!

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The new Laing store is an absolute joy to explore – there are cabinets upon cabinets filled with real treasures – Mikimoto pearls nestle beside diamonds, and I won’t even start on the watches (yet!). My afternoon started with a masterclass in all things diamond, and I couldn’t be in better hands than Richard’s. Not only is he the sixth (!) generation of his family to run the place, but along with his father, Richard is responsible for buying almost every diamond in the place!

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Looking at a loose stone, we talked all about those famous ‘c’s – cut, colour,carat and clarity. Obviously, we all want the clearest, sparkliest stone, but what I hadn’t realized is that colour and clarity are most important. A smaller, better stone looks far better than a big cloudy one! Getting the chance to handle an uncut diamond was such a thrill. It looks pretty ordinary to the untrained eye, but knowing the brilliance inside is so special! Once the stone on the right is properly cut, it will be about two carats (the size of the stone on the left), and I was even shown a secret test to test how well a diamond has been cut. All you do is slip the stone into a special viewer and look down. If it’s been perfectly cut, the facets all line up, creating hundreds of perfect hearts. Honestly, it’s the most magical kaleidoscope you can imagine!

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Then, once I knew what I was talking about, it was time to view the jewellery on offer in the store. Honestly, stunning is an understatement when it comes to Laing’s pieces. They are designed and made exclusively for and by artisans working exclusively for the jeweller, and the result is a whole array of pieces which are beautifully elegant and absolutely stunning!

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What Laing have also done is introduce the idea of a jewellery collection. When someone opts for a particular style of jewellery, for example an engagement ring, there is an entire set to collect. It means that birthday and Christmas gifts are more than sorted, because you can choose from tennis bracelets, necklaces and earrings all with matching settings.

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What is also absolutely adorable, is that Laing’s settings are all inspired by seven women in the family. Depending on the personalities of the muses, there are flourishes to the pieces to reflect hobbies and loves. It’s such a special nod to the heritage of the jeweller, which I think is just so important!

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There are real heritage pieces in the store too! I was lucky enough to handle the absolutely jaw dropping 175 Necklace, designed to commemorate the 175th birthday of Laing. Again, the piece has been inspired by the seven ‘Ladies of Laing’ and contains nods to all of their styles. The sheer scale and attention to detail in the piece was so wonderful to see, and honestly, it is as much an art piece as it is jewellery!

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I think what affected me most was the sheer clarity of the stones Laing use. Honestly, the twinkling and sparkling of the diamonds was just incredible, and getting to handle the pieces and learn from Richard was just so much fun!

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Then, as if I wasn’t having enough fun, I was shown upstairs to the exclusive watch salon. It’s an absolutely beautiful, light-filled space, filled with concessions for the world’s very finest watches. Turning from Rolex, to Cartier to Jaeger-LeCoultre I was absolutely spoiled for choice. Without even saying anything to him, Richard whipped out a selection of the most perfect watches, including some of my real must-haves. The first was the Men’s all-gold Rolex Datejust which I’ve been in love with since I was about 15, and the second was a new favourite. A Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso with Alligator strap. I’d never had the chance to play with one before, and now I’m obsessed! Originally designed for polo players, it’s a discreet, almost cocktail-esque watch which has two faces! One is a subtler, more day appropriate side, whilst the other is a bit flashier, glinting with diamonds.

To say I enjoyed my afternoon is an understatement! A huge thank you to both Richard and to Laing the Jeweller for having me!

 

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I think winter is my favourite time of year in Edinburgh. There’s something about strolling down George Street when it’s all twinkling and fairy lit which just feels so magical. Especially this year, when the entire West end block of the street is dedicated to the street of light.

Edinburgh’s Christmas 2016, Edinburgh – Unlike some Christmas events, which are confined to a specific location, the entire city of Edinburgh comes alive when the winter rolls in. From an enormous Christmas Market to a funfair, ice wall, ice skating, Christmas tree maze and more, you’ll find something for everyone when you’re welcoming in the festivities. Running from the 19th of November until the 7th of January, it’s an event that consumes virtually all of the city’s main shopping streets, so can’t be missed!

Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a visit to St Nick! Thankfully, the capital has you covered!

Santa Land, Edinburgh — tell any child they’re going to Santa Land and their excitement levels will likely go through the roof! Santa has pitched his grotto in Santa Land this year, near the Christmas Tree Maze and Santa Train, and will be there between 19th November and Christmas Eve. He will be of course dishing out gifts too!

Opening times:

* 10.30am to 7pm Monday to Friday

* 10.30am to 8pm Saturday & Sunday

* 10.30am to 7.30pm Christmas Eve

*Many thanks to Stagecoach for sponsoring this post – you can find easy transport options at www.stagecoachbus.com

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Sunday always seems to be the perfect day for brunch. Late and slightly lazy mornings feel like such a treat, especially when you’re up as early as I am every day! So, I absolutely jumped at the chance to sample Montpelier’s brunch menu.

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They’ve just been named as the best brunch in Edinburgh by ion magazine, so, as you can imagine, I went with high expectations! Situated in Bruntsfield, we parked the car nearby, and when we got in, we were met with possibly the cutest Christmas decorating in the whole of Edinburgh. Everywhere you looked there were fluffy little owls perched alongside teeny stockings and berries.

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We settled down to the task of ordering, we got some tea and orange juice to keep us going. The restaurant had a really wonderful atmosphere – buzzing with groups of friends, families and couples, all enjoying a bit of a morning treat. There was even the most adorable maltese sitting under a neighbouring table, which was very difficult not to offer treats to!

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Since we were in to see what was on offer, we had to order the The Full Monty (£11.95). This really is a breakfast fit for a king, and comes with a pot of tea and a glass of orange juice. If you’re after something to really set you up for the day, this is it!

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The Full Monty is literally everything you could imagine in a breakfast on one plate. Fluffy eggs, baked beans, bacon, sausage, haggis and black pudding all competed for space with a rack of fresh toast and a potato scone. Considering we had dived into Montpeliers out the rain, it was really a perfect winter warmer of a dish. I admit to nicking a bit of sausage, and it was absolutely delicious – flavourful and herby, everything was so fresh and flavourful, we were more than a little disappointed when we couldn’t quite finish it!

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When I saw I could order a stack of pancakes, complete with maple syrup and crispy bacon (£5.95) there wasn’t another choice for me. There’s something about fluffy pancakes smothered in syrup that’s just delightful, and then the addition of bacon (especially when it’s crispy) just makes it heaven.

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The stack was three pancakes high, and they were absolute perfection! With crunchy outer edges and soft, fluffy centres which just sucked up the syrup, the dish was exactly what I was after! It was such a treat to be able to sit on a weekend morning, and really enjoy breakfast. Sitting in the window of Montpeliers, we got to people watch (my favourite) and really savour the morning, soaking up all of the restaurant’s convivial atmosphere. It was such a lovely way to spend an hour or so!

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Also, I just wanted to draw attention to the amazing initiative that the restaurant is currently running. If you’re dining (or just having a drink) you can add a couple of pounds onto your bar bill, and it means that a homeless person will be able to enjoy a hot Christmas meal. If you’ve been in the city centre recently, you will have noticed how many people need our help, especially in this cold weather, so I really appreciated the gesture.

Thank you so much to Montpeliers for having us!

 

 

 

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If you’ve been on George Street recently, you might have noticed a bit of a renovation going on over the past few years, as the George Hotel has been transformed into The Principal Edinburgh.

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The building is one of the city’s grandest, and the hotel spans what was once a bank, three Georgian townhouses, as well as a more modern addition to the rear. It’s an absolutely glorious building, and by far the best hotel in Edinburgh. There is even a coffee shop (Burr & Co) and restaurant (The Printing Press) onsite, meaning that if you’re lucky enough to stay in the hotel, you don’t even need to step outside, whilst still enjoying some of Edinburgh’s best spots!

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As well as getting to have something of a nose around the hotel, we had been invited for the official unveiling of a specially-commissioned artwork by British artist Charlie Anderson, to celebrate the hotel’s new look. We gathered in the bar of the Printing Press, sipping on signature vodka cocktails (Kelpies) or seriously strong Old Fashioneds whilst General Manager Andreas Maszczyk introduced Charlie and explained a little about the renovations.

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The artwork celebrates the best of Edinburgh – portraits of some of some of the city’s most prominent citizens are scattered throughout the piece, interspersed with a quotation from Sir Walter Scott. The top etching is taken from the original plan for the building (when it was still a bank) and it’s a really lovely representation of all that Edinburgh has to offer. We then heard from Charlie about the creation process and how he incorporated all of the elements of the piece together.

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Then it was time to head upstairs to have a bit of a nosey at the rooms. We were shown to one of the hotel’s Junior Suites. Overlooking George Street, we could see the sparkling lights shimmering through the curtains, but it was absolutely silent. Then, sipping on prosecco, we got to have a real look around and hear more about the hotel in general.

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The room itself is absolute perfection. Decorated in soft greys and whites, it’s exactly how I want to redecorate. With a velvet chesterfield at the bottom of the bed, and soft flannel drapes, I can’t imagine a better place to wind down.

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It was so lovely to hear Andreas talk about the hotel – the level of service and comfort that Principal Edinburgh prides itself on is seriously impressive. Every room has an old-school red phone which can pretty much grant every wish in under an hour. Whether you want to order room service or theatre tickets, it will be at your door in under 60 minutes! We were also shown all the extra little touches in the room – rather than an overpriced minibar there are complimentary tuck boxes, and the framed and wall-mounted televisions are all equipped with Netflix and the like, meaning you can sit back and enjoy a couple of episodes of your favourite shows. The hotel is now pet friendly too! Four legged guests are provided with their own beds and bowls, meaning they get as much of a treat as you do!

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The bathrooms are just as dreamy as the bedrooms too! The suite’s was an absolute confection of white marble, fitted with a glorious roll top bath and rain-fall shower. Also, they are using one of the best water softener for water softening. All the rooms in the Principal Edinburgh hotel rooms come with these showers, which sound absolutely incredible! We then got the chance to explore the Forth View Suite, which has the most wonderful views over the skyline of Edinburgh. Getting to pop outside and see the castle all lit up was incredibly special. Unsurprisingly, it’s already booked up for New Years!

Rooms at the Principal Edinburgh start at £149 per night and you can find out more here.

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Edinburgh’s West End is inviting you to come and take a closer look this Christmas, exploring its full range of unique events and themed master classes throughout the month of December.

This is a very exciting time for Edinburgh’s West End which is constantly growing with a number of stylish boutiques, luxury hotels, fine dining, traditional pubs and modern bars. As well as a range of hair & beauty salons and spas– providing the very best in style and well-being with some of the finest places to visit in the city.

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Throughout December, Edinburgh’s West End will host a number of themed master classes and pop up events as well as a unique Christmas Concierge Service to organise all of your shopping with a personal touch in the run up to the big day. This service will run on the 8th, 15th and 22nd of December.

Some of the festive master classes include: Breath Works – An introduction to mindfulness and meditation. If practised regularly, can help you to relax, feel happier and more content. Glam Candy – Skincare and Make-up master class with a demonstration from a professional make-up artist. Just g Boutique – Fashion Colour Master Class to discover the styles and colours that will make you shine this season. Rogue Flowers are hosting a pop up shop for Christmas with a number of in house master classes as well as their very own Christmas Grotto.

A full list of the calendar of events and activities taking place within Edinburgh’s West End throughout the festive period will be available on their facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/EdinWestEnd/ from Sunday 20th November, as well as a weekly ‘Take A Closer Look’ social media competition starting on the 5th of December. For further information and booking details please keep up to date with their social media in the run up to December.

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Just over a fortnight ago, I took a week off work for the first time in what felt like a lifetime. Realistically, it’s more like a year, since I had so much time off, but it was very much needed! To make best use of the time, we decided on a bit of a road trip to explore down south and see a little more of England.

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Whenever I have a spare weekend, I tend to find myself in Cheshire, so, on this trip, I wanted to venture a little further afield. The first stop was the stunning Jesmond Dene House located in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I’ve never really visited Newcastle before (unless a school choir competition counts), and since it’s only about a two hour drive from Edinburgh I don’t really have an excuse, but since visiting the stunning Jesmond Dene House, I think I’ll be back far more regularly!

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The hotel is situated in the centre of the city, within a stunning parkland. It was built as a mansion for a Victorian industrialist, and you can only imagine our oohs and ahhs as we drew up in the pouring rain. The hotel is a study in Arts & Crafts architecture, and is absolutely stunning. After trying to dodge the rain to take a few photos, were were ushered inside by the concierge, who whisked away our bags, and showed us to our room.

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Honestly, the welcome couldn’t have been warmer, and it was absolutely fascinating  to learn about the history of the house. There are nods to the property’s history throughout – with photographs on the walls and original features in some of the bedrooms.

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We were shown to room 2, located just off the lobby, with views to the back garden, it was the perfect spot to spend a rainy evening.

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The room was previously a library, and benefits from almost double-height ceilings, turreted seating area, and copious original features. It was an absolute gem, and we couldn’t have been happier with it!

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I was absolutely obsessed with the nook, which overlooked the gardens. It was such a cosy little spot to answer emails and enjoy the rain pounding outside.

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The room is fully stocked with everything you could possibly need. The wifi was super fast, and, importantly for a hotel, free of charge, and the cupboard was filled with fluffy robes, a mini bar and complimentary coffee and tea. Needless to say, we fixed ourselves a few cups of tea and settled down to enjoy watching the rain outside.

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The room was wondrously spacious and benefits from a double bed, which can be split into two singles depending on your needs. Swathed in super-soft white linens, they were absolutely heavenly, and so comfortable to lounge on!

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I loved the mix of contemporary decor within the traditional room, and it was the perfect place to relax and begin to unwind.

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After arriving we had a couple of hours to fill before our supper reservation (more on that tomorrow!), so I did what anyone would, and drew myself a long, hot bubble bath.

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You can see why I wanted to spend so much time in the bathroom – it was stunning! With a huge bath which was perfect for wallowing in, as well as a double sized shower and two sinks, it was absolutely heavenly!

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The bath was set beneath an original doorway, and getting to soak in a bath whilst sitting under all the carving was absolutely glorious! Despite being pretty much in the centre of town, the hotel was so tranquil, it was the perfect place to begin our vacation!

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Soon though, it was time to tear myself away from the room, for supper, which we enjoyed in the hotel’s dining room. Jesmond Dene is probably best known for it’s restaurant which has been awarded with 3 AA rosettes. Honestly, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time (and you can read about it tomorrow) and I can see why it’s so beloved.

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Positively stuffed, we were thankful that the room was only a few footsteps away, and sank into the beds. Perfectly comfortable, we both remarked on how well we slept, and how cosy the hotel felt.

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All too soon though, it was time for breakfast, which we enjoyed in the conservatory. Still full from dinner the night before, we didn’t really take advantage of the breakfast like we should have. Guests are free to choose hot items from the menu (there are mouth-watering options including French Toast and Porridge which is served with a hint of Single-Malt Whisky and stewed fruits) or from the buffet – there really is more than enough choice for everyone.

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The buffet is a Continental affair, with a wide array of yogurts, breads, cereals, patisseries, meats and cheeses. I so wish I had been able to squeeze in a pain au chocolate or muffin, as they looked and smelled absolutely divine!

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Despite the array, we chose to keep it simple, ordering black coffee and orange juice, and sharing a plate of smoked salmon and watermelon.

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Despite sounding simple, they’re some of my favourite breakfast foods in the world, and so easy to get wrong. At Jesmond Dene, however, they were perfection. The coffee was delicious, and strong enough to shake off any morning snooziness, whilst the orange juice was freshly squeezed and wonderfully zesty.

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Our watermelon was perfect – firm and juicy, with wonderful flavour, and I’m still dreaming about the smoked salmon! Home cured in dill, it was rich and flavoursome, and the perfect way to round off a truly enjoyable stay.

We both had an absolutely wonderful stay at Jesmond Dene House, and are already looking at dates for our return! Our stay was complimentary, but the room rate was £250 per night including breakfast.

 

 

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