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It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the Waldorf Astoria group took over Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hotel, transforming it into one of the city’s most luxurious spots – so last week I popped through to join in with their celebrations.

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The Waldorf’s afternoon tea, served in the elegant Peacock Alley is something of a city institution. The hotel itself was formerly a train station, and Peacock Alley was the concourse! It’s a stunning space – all high ceilings and rust-coloured brickwork, and it provides the perfect setting for an indulgent afternoon.

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The name for the room comes from the hotel’s history – Edinburgh’s finest would visit the hotel, and would walk up and down the restaurant to show off their most fashionable outfits – their ‘peacocking’ became renowned, and the name stuck!

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As part of the hotel’s birthday celebrations, there was a special take on their famous afternoon tea. Partnering with Edinburgh tailor Walker Slater, we were treated to fashion show between courses of afternoon tea, whilst Edinburgh Gin provided a twist to tea – with a special cocktail and gin-inspired treats.

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Presented by Dougie Vipond, the afternoon was one to remember! The fashion show was presented in two parts and I think it put everyone in the mood for autumn. Sumptuous velvets were paired with smart tweeds, and it was such a lovely introduction to such a fabulous Edinburgh brand, which I (mistakenly) thought mostly catered to gents.

The models sported suitably ‘Edinburgh’ windblown hair, and the outfits have already sent me scurrying around my cupboards, pulling out my tweed blazers with abandon!

It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon! I haven’t had afternoon tea for eons, so this grown-up version was exactly what I needed to kick-start the weekend! We started with a citrus-y gin cocktail courtesy of Edinburgh Gin. Notes of orange and grapefruit worked together to make it supremely drinkable!

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We were then presented with a tea menu to choose from – the Waldorf Astoria have over 40 teas and herbal infusions to choose from, so it took a while to decide! I opted for the Formosa Oolong Finest hailing from Taiwan. Light and refreshing, it was the perfect accompaniment to the goodies on offer!

We  were presented with the first layers of goodies – sandwiches, rolls, and the most perfect little quiches you can imagine! There was something for everyone – egg mayonnaise was served in buttery brioche rolls, whilst a rich cheddar was served as an open sandwich on rye bread.

 

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There were chicken wraps as well as ham and tomato on soft white bread, and perhaps my favourite was the smoked salmon mouse served on granary bread.

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We enjoyed prosecco with the sandwiches, and after the fashion show we moved onto the sweeter options. This is where the pairing with Edinburgh Gin really got to shine!

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Gin soaked cupcakes, and gin infused strawberry tarted were favourites of the table, but the fresh scones with jam and clotted cream were also devoured. It was the perfect way to begin a weekend, and even though the fashion show was a one-off event, you can still book in to enjoy an Edinburgh Gin afternoon tea (and really, you should!).

Afternoon Tea at Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria is priced from £35pp

 

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When I read up about the Principal Manchester, one of the (many) things which stood out about the hotel was the restaurant, Refuge by Volta. A huge space serving food all day, it’s one of those places you can pop in if you fancy a bite, or head to when you’re in the mood for something a little more special.

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The concept of the restaurant is an interesting one – globally influenced, you can pick from tapas-style dishes which range from salads to steak and everything in between.

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Since the menu has so much to offer, we opted to enjoy some olives (£4) and Dad’s Persian Lime Sodas (£2) as we perused the menu. The joy of these small dishes is that you can order a real mixture of flavours, and they’re brought out as and when they’re ready, rather than in the more traditional courses.

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The first dish to arrive was the Crispy Duck, Watermelon and Pomegranate Molasses (£8.50). Absolutely delicious – the mix of juicy watermelon, crisp duck and peppery rocket was a perfect way to start the meal.

Then came some of the biggest, juiciest tiger prawns imaginable served with chilli, and lime butter (£9.50).

To mop up some of the chilli’s heat, we opted for the cooling Mutabal (£4) a middle eastern style dip with beans and aubergine, as well as Bread for the table (£4.50). The mix of breads was delightful – the flatbread felt perfectly paired for the dip, whilst slices of soft herby bread dipped into the olive oil was delightful. My favourite though, was the slice of coal black charcoal bread. It had a soft, almost cakey texture and subtle charred taste, it was like nothing I’ve ever had before.

We couldn’t resist 6oz Flat Iron Steak (£11) with a portion of hot and crispy Fries (£4). The steak was perfect – nicely pink in the middle with a flavourful char on the outside. Served with a hollandaise sauce, it was the perfect duo.

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We had the best of intentions when it came to dessert, but then the waiter left us with the  pudding menus, and honestly we couldn’t resist. The promise of Cardamom Creme Brûlée (£6.50) just sounded too delicious to miss. When it arrived we were far from disappointed. The burnt sugar top smashed delightfully revealing the creamiest of custard, delicately scented with cardamom.

The Ice Cream Sandwich (£6.50) also sounded too good to miss. Two of the biggest chocolate cookies held three scoops of ice-cream (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry), it’s no wonder the waiter told us this was his favourite dish on the menu!

Thank you so much to Refuge by Volta for having us – we will be back soon!

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This summer has been a busy one, between work and a hundred other things, I’ve never had a minute to look at trips abroad, let alone book one. So, in an effort to feel like I’d had some sort of vacation, I headed down to Manchester to spend a night in what is possibly the city’s newest, and most fabulous hotel – The Principal.

Located in the heart of the city – The Principal Manchester is a stunning red brick Victorian delight. There are a tonne of parking options nearby, which meant it was super easy to stash the car for the night. Walking up to the hotel was an absolute joy. At the rather formidable gates you’re met by the friendliest of doormen, who whisk your bags off you, allowing you to fully explore the Manchester Florist who has set up shop in the entryway.

It’s composed of three buildings – one a very grand former insurance building, and The Principal have really made the most of it. From the warm welcome outside, you’re led into the most incredible lobby. A former turning circle for horse and carriages, the stunning glass dome ceiling was salvaged from a Scottish train station, whilst the huge statue of a horse harks back to it’s original use.

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After oohing and aahhing over the decor we were led upstairs – our room, on the second floor overlooking the side of the hotel. The rooms at The Principal Manchester have to be the most stylish in the city.

All muted grey tones and soaring ceilings, it was the most glorious base for a night in the city.

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With a bed as perfect looking as this one, it was all we could do not to jump in it right away, but we had dinner plans at the on-site restaurant Refuge at Volta.

So instead, we lounged around for a bit. The hotel had very kindly left all the necessary bits a pieces for a Manchester-distilled G&T. Since we had a little time to kill, we got to enjoy our drinks on the comfy tweed sofa.

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We headed downstairs to enjoy a fabulous meal at Refuge by Volta (review to come tomorrow), and we couldn’t resist heading back upstairs to enjoy a comfy night in.

I made good use of the ensuite – enjoying a bubble bath and a book.

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Much to my surprise, the hotel toiletries come care of Azzi Glasser. I actually got the chance to meet Azzie (you can read about it here) so getting to enjoy goodies in her fabulous Mr Vetivert scent was an absolute dream!

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Getting to lounge around in the kingsized bed was beyond perfect. I don’t know what Principal Hotels do to their beds, but they are just perfection. A puffy duvet and tonnes of pillows meant I got the perfect night’s sleep – exactly what I needed to prepare for a busy day in Manchester.

After enjoying a leisurely morning, we sauntered down to enjoy breakfast. Served in the Refuge by Volta, it was lovely and buzzy with families and couples all enjoying everything on offer. The meal is a hearty affair at the Manchester Principal – we feasted on sausages and bacon, although the baked goods looked incredibly tasty!

Between the stunning hotel rooms and the incredible friendly and helpful staff, I’m already planning a return trip!

Thank you so much to the Principal Hotel Manchester for having us! A 1 night stay with breakfast starts at £120 and is available here

 

 

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I’m currently knee-deep in planning my October trip. I was planning on getting a little sunshine during the autumn, but the allure of a fun driving holiday won out.

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I’m currently looking at destinations (I’m debating perhaps York again, and I’m definitely hitting The Cotswolds and Cheshire again. One place I hadn’t thought too much about was the Lake District.

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The newest world heritage site, The Lake District is only about 2 1/2 hours from Edinburgh, and it is stunning. I’m currently debating which hotels to visit, but one which caught my eye was the Ees Wyke Country Hotel – an adults only retreat where Beatrix Potter once holidayed!

Are you planning any trips soon?

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The last time I was in York, I was twelve years old and was on a school trip. We spent four nights in the city; our days spent trailing around various attractions and our nights squeezed four to a room in bunkbeds. It was as far from luxurious as you can imagine. So, when I had the chance to revisit the city, this time staying at the brand new Principal York, I absolutely jumped at the chance!

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Situated right by York Railway Station, the Principal occupies one of the city’s most beautiful buildings. A golden-brick Victorian hotel, it’s a pretty breathtaking building to drive up to, and the neatly manicured gardens to the front of the hotel add to the sense of old-school luxury.

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We had driven down from Edinburgh (and had managed to detour quite heavily through the Yorkshire Dales) so by the time we reached the hotel, we were ready to kick back and enjoy a little r&r. Our room, a Superior Double, was wonderfully spacious. With views out to the front gardens, it was the perfect spot to unwind from the rather long car journey.

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As in all Principal hotel rooms, there was a generous tuck box of goodies for us to nibble at, as well as the cutest little York-themed picnic basket! With chocolates, relish, wine and even a tea towel covered in Yorkshire sayings!

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The room was an absolute dream, with a huge puffy bed and separate little desk and seating area where I could set up my laptop and get a little work done. We had planned to head downstairs and grab dinner in the stunning Refectory, but since the room was so glorious, we opted to go for the naughtier option and order room service.

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We both went for the Principal Burger (£16.95) which was insanely good. It was exactly what we were after – it was the perfect comfort food supper.

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After dinner, there was only one thing I was ready for – a bubble bath in the room’s claw footed tub. With Elemis toiletries, it was absolutely heavenly to kick back in a bubble bath and enjoy a good book.

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The bathroom itself was absolute perfection. All marble tiles and grey panelling – I’m fully intending to copy it in my own house!

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After such a heavenly bath, there was no chance of us going out to explore. Instead, we made good use of the cosy room. We spent the evening in bed, reading and watching movies.

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The room was so comfy we managed to sleep through breakfast (but Principal breakfasts are among my absolute favourites, so you really should go). But the morning meant we got to give this shower a go. With the best water pressure you can imagine, it was the perfect way to prepare for a day of sightseeing!

Thank you so much to the Principal York for having us! Rooms start from £150 per night.

 

 

 

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Living in a place means that you can get kind of blinded to what’s around you. I know that I’m guilty of always heading to the same coffee shops, restaurants and bars.

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About a year ago, the Principal Hotel popped up on George Street, occupying 5 of the street’s historic townhouses, it brought with it a rather fabulous restaurant in the form of the Printing Press, and a great little coffee shop – Burr & Co.

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Since then, I’ve visited both Burr & Co and the Printing Press numerous times, all whilst dreaming of the rooms within. I got a sneak peak at the bedrooms late last year (post here), and I’ve been pretty obsessed with the hotel since!

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So, a couple of weeks ago, I booked a Monday off work, packed my bags, and headed through for a night of luxury.

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As you can see from the photos – the room was absolute perfection. We were in a deluxe double in the newer portion of the hotel. With views of Stockbridge, heading down to the Forth, it was the cosiest way to spend a Sunday evening you can imagine.

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We had been well looked after by the Principal Edinburgh – when we got into the room, there was the cutest little picnic basket all packed up for us! With goodies from Burr & Co (including possibly the world’s largest, most delicious brownie you can imagine) as well as drink vouchers for downstairs – it was just what we needed!

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Not to mention the tuck box – a tin of goodies found in every Principal Hotel room. It’s the cutest idea – rather than the usual overpriced mini bars, Principal Hotels offer tuck boxes which are filled with little treats you can enjoy at no extra cost.

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So, we unpacked, ran downstairs for two cups of Edinburgh’s finest hot chocolates and headed back up to enjoy a night of comfy luxury!

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I can’t even tell you how comfortable the bed was – the perfect mattress was topped with the softest, snuffliest bedding, and I had the best night’s sleep!

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All too soon it was morning, and we padded down the the Printing Press for breakfast. I’d only ever been for supper in the restaurant, but I’m already planning a return am trip!

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The buffet on offer was positively groaning under all the delicious offerings.

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Whether you’re a pastry-lover, a toast-cruncher or a cereal kind of gal, there are options for everyone. Even though I’m not normally a regular breakfast-eater, I couldn’t resist The Principal’s offering!

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In addition to what has to be the best breakfast spread in Edinburgh, there is also a menu full of delicious hot options. As we chatted over freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee, it occurred to me that somehow I’ve never ordered a traditional cooked breakfast.

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So, there was only one option for it – we both ordered a Cooked Breakfast. Promising slices of Gildener sweet-cured smoked back bacon, a Gloucester Old Spot sausage, Stornoway black pudding, grilled plum tomatoes, buttered mushrooms, Heinz baked beans, as well as free-range scrambled eggs, it was a rather impressive plate to receive!

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What arrived was an absolute delight! Enough to feed a small army, it was an absolute feast! The bacon and sausages were real stand outs – rich in flavour and subtly sweet – it was absolutely delicious!

Thank you so much to the Principal Hotel Edinburgh for having us! Rooms at the hotel start at £212 per night, you can visit for breakfast too at £15.95 per person.

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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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Visiting Archerfield House last month was definitely one of my highlights of 2017. The Pavillion Suites were beautifully comfy to relax in, and the Fletcher’s Cottage Spa is just a dream. So, when I found out that there’s rather a fabulous deal on at the moment, I just had to share it with you!

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Right in time for summer, you can re-engergise with a night away from it all for two this summer at Archerfield.

 

Enjoy a bespoke facial or massage treatment at the renowned Fletcher’s Cottage before relaxing in one of our recently refurbished luxury Pavilion Suites.

The following morning sit back and relax over the morning papers and a full Scottish breakfast in our Clubhouse.

The ultimate way to relax this summer at one of the UK’s best spa break locations.

All yours for just £355 – you can find out more here

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Over the past year or so, I’ve fallen more than a little bit in love with North Berwick. It’s an area which is breathtakingly beautiful, with an old-school seaside feel, but the jewel in the crown has to be the Archerfield Estate.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I (mistakenly) thought it was more of a wedding venue than anything else. But with one of Scotland’s best spas and a golf course which looks incredible, it’s actually the perfect place for a luxe weekend away!

There are a tonne of activites to enjoy whilst you’re staying at Archerfield – of course there is the fabulous Fletcher’s Cottage (you can read my review here), but there is also a fully equipped gym cottage which was filled with all my favourite machines and killer.

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There is a host of accomodation choices at Archerfield – you can enjoy luxurious country house surroundings of Archerfield House itself. Bedecked with crystal chandeliers, original artwork and the most glorious architecture, this is just the choice if you’re looking to celebrate something big with friends and family. Then there are a few cottages which sleep up to eight people, so again, fabulous for bigger families or those who need a little extra space. There is also a cluster of lodges which sleep up to four, so they’re perfect for families who want a little extra space.

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We were in the Pavillion Suites which are perfect for smaller gatherings. Sleeping two, our suite was absolutely glorious, and fitted out with a breakfast table, comfy sofas and even a little kitchenette.

Stocked with essentials like tea, coffee and wine it meant we didn’t need to venture out to find breakfast in the morning, and it was the perfect place to enjoy a lazy evening in. There are dining options available at the Club House on-site, but were couldn’t resist the newly re-opened Lobster Shack in North Berwick, so we popped out and came back to the suite laden with lobster and chowder.

The room itself was absolutely glorious. At least triple the size of regular hotel rooms, we had more than enough room to kick back and relax on the sofa, and I was able to spread out all my computer bits on the table too. The wifi and Sky TV were also faultless, and meant working away for an hour or two was an absolute breeze.

Like Fletcher’s Cottage, our bathroom (which came with both a roll top tub and rainfall shower) came stocked with Aromatherapy Associates goodies, as well as the pre-requisite fluffy towels and robes.

The beds deserve their own special mention. Big puffs of things, they were, without a doubt the most comfortable beds I’ve maybe ever slept in. Not too soft, not too hard (no, I’m not Goldilocks) these were absolute havens, and I have to say, getting up in the morning was nigh-on impossible!

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I should also mention that the views that you get in the Pavillion Suites are pretty sublime – getting to go to bed with this view outside was incredibly special!

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Pavillion Suites start at £185 per night.

Thank you so much to Archerfield House for hosting us!

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Archerfield is one of those places I had been dying to visit for years, so, when the opportunity arose to visit the North Berwick-icon, and enjoy some relaxation I absolutely jumped at the chance! To be honest, I had always thought of it more as a wedding-venue or golf course, but more fool me – it’s an absolutely glorious spot perched high on the coastline, with stunning suite accommodations and a spa to die for – I’m already planning my trip back!

The spa is tucked away in Fletcher’s Cottage – a chic lodge which falls somewhere in the middle of cosy-Scando and Hamptons retreat. There are puffy sofas and armchairs everywhere – very convenient for a post-treatment slouch, and it’s pretty much where I’d like to live from now on.

When you enter, you’re asked to turn off your phone, take off your shoes and slip into some puffs of slippers provided by the spa. As you fill out your client forms, you’re treated to a fresh juice and a dampened towel. It’s a cute way to really start the relaxation process and leave the outside world behind.

Once you’ve filled in your forms, you’re led into individual closets where you can take a quick shower (filled with Aromatherapy Associates goodies), take off your makeup and slip into one of their provided robes. Unlike most spas I’ve been to – there is no communal areas. These little rooms are your alone to relax in, there is not waiting for a hairdryer or tripping over someone else, instead you can just potter around at your own pace, enjoying the calm!

Then, once I had my robe on, and my makeup off, it was time to enjoy the relaxation area. Filled with comfy chairs, every magazine you can think of, I could have spent hours here.

I think it helped that I visited on the sunniest afternoon you can imagine, but honestly, I could easily move in here. With fruit-infused waters and even warming sherry available, the whole ethos of Fletcher’s Cottage is about wellness and relaxation. There is even a bar where you can order fruit juices, smoothies snacks and teas if you want to further extend your visit.

I was visiting Fletcher’s Cottage to enjoy the Sisley Supreme Anti-Ageing Facial, but honestly, every one of the treatments on offer sound absolutely divine. Considering I’m a huge fan of Sisley skincare, I couldn’t resist the chance to enjoy a facial stuffed full of their products, and I have to say, it’s one of the best ones I’ve had in quite a while!

After being shown to a plush room complete with comfy beauty bed and hundreds of blankets, it was time to really relax and enjoy the treatment (I didn’t want to swing a camera around too much and annoy other guests), but the treatment rooms are as pretty as the main areas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Sisley products in one place.

The treatment rooms also overlook the cottage’s breathtaking gardens. It was absolutely dreamy to lie back and relax in such pretty surroundings!

After having a chat about what I wanted for my skin (hydration, radiance and anti-redness) and which products I’d tried before. I was absolutely over the moon to hear that I’d been using many of the products which had been looked out for the treatment. The Sisley Gentle Buffing Cream (review here) made sure my skin was clean and prepped for all the goodness which was to come!

Then using Sisley’s own face brush, as well and a multitude of products, my face was massaged by my therapist, and moisturised with oils and hydrating masks. I fell absolutely in love with the Black Orchid Oil, which finished off the treatment. Honestly, I don’t think my skin has ever felt or looked smoother or healthier. My redness was pretty much gone, and I was on cloud 9.

What I didn’t realise, is that Fletcher’s Cottage is also a seriously stocked outlet for some of my favourite brands. There is pretty much every Sisley product you’ve ever heard of, including their makeup and fragrance.

There is also a huge range of Aromatherapy Associates and Voya Beauty to choose from, so you can continue the relaxation back in your room or at home.

I finished off my afternoon with a glass of freshly popped rose champagne out in the garden with a good book. It was an absolute treat to be able to escape the everyday for a heavenly few hours. It’s the perfect little spot to enjoy if you need some real luxury and relaxation.

The Sisley Supreme Anti-Ageing Facial is priced at £130

 

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The Blythswood Square Hotel is one of those places I’d been dying  to visit for years. Anyone I know who had visited only had only glowing things to report back, so it was the perfect excuse to stay over, when I popped in to review their rather fabulous Guilty Pleasures package (review here) a couple of weeks ago.

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Checking in an hour or so later than planned (thanks M8 traffic), the first thing we noticed was how warm and welcoming all the staff were. Parking was a breeze thanks to on-street spaces available directly outside the hotel (download the ringo app so you can just top up your meter without having to sniff out change) and we were well taken care of at check-in.

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Whisked from the reception desk, we were given a potted history of the hotel which had previously been the RAC headquarters for Scotland. With all of the original features remaining, The Blythswood Square Hotel is a seriously glamorous spot situated right in the heart of Glasgow – and I just adored all the attention to detail – just look at the chandelier!

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But what was an even better surprise than the stunning interiors was the Blythswood Suite we were ushered into. Spanning the front of the hotel, we were treated to sweeping views of the Blysthwood park opposite, as well as a dining room, super comfy seated area, huge bedroom and the most fabulous black marble bathroom!

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We ooh’d and ahh’d over the room whilst we freshened up – remarking on all the space, the light, and how comfortable it all was. Then, it was time to hop across to The Salon to enjoy our Guilty Pleasures package. Thankfully it was quite literally a few steps back to the room – after half a bottle of champagne each, we were both a little tipsy, and we very much appreciated the comfy sofas and wide screen tv to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Staying the the Blythswood Suite meant we also got to enjoy what has to be Glasgow’s slickest bathroom. Swathed in black marble, this is a bathroom straight out of a movie. There was a shower which could easily fit about four people, a his’n’hers sink and the most wonderful bath I’ve seen in a very long time.

I spent quite a few hours in the tub. It was huge, and it meant that I really got to enjoy the indulgent Elemis products which the bathroom was stocked with.

The main attraction for the room was of course, the oversized bed. Covered in a cloud of duvet and pillows, the bed frame was a pool table in a former life, and it was beyond comfy and cosy. I just adored the tweedy headboard, and it was such a treat to laze around for an evening and just enjoy the luxury.

Since we were lucky enough to have a full dining table to make use of, we thought we’d make use of room service and have it all delivered straight to the room. So, we ferreted out the breakfast request form, ticked away to our heart’s desire, then jumped back into bed to enjoy the comfort some more.

Once it gets dark, you’ll notice that all the windows in the hotel have red lamps in them – it’s not just to look cosy. Apparently … way back when, Blythswood Square was known as something of Glasgow’s red light district, and as a rather cheeky nod to the past, it’s a fun little touch.

We were woken up with a soft knock at the door, and the most fabulous breakfast feast was set up on the dining room table for us.

Yoghurts, pastries, salmon and toast were all unpacked, and we had the most indulgent morning, enjoying breakfast with views out onto the gardens below.

I wish every morning could be as luxurious!

Thank you so much to The Blythswood Square Hotel for having us. A night in the Blythswood Suite costs from £378 per night

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