Review: Brooklands Hotel Spa

A few days ago a friend and I were invited for a spa day at the Brooklands Hotel. It’s a hotel I have always been familiar with but have never been to, knowing that it’s right next door to the Mercedes Benz World and opposite the Mercedes test track.

Brooklands Hotel offer many spa packages with spa facilities to compliment the treatments. We were booked on a package with a 50 minute treatment each, lunch and the whole day to make use of the spa.

Review: Brooklands Hotel Spa

We arrived at the hotel and were immediately impressed with it – really grand and with a lovely welcoming feel. We had a friendly greeting and were advised to make our way to the third floor which is home to the Brooklands Hotel Spa.

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Review: Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa

When we went to Wales to visit The Royal Mint Experience, we stayed at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa for the night. I didn’t know much about the hotel before we arrived but we were able to park underneath the hotel, with plenty of availability for just £12 for the night and checked in easily.

Review: Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa

Review: Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa

The hotel was beautiful, still decorated for Christmas and with plenty of places to sit and relax. The whole hotel had a really welcoming feel and the staff were really friendly and helpful. We had a Junior Penthouse Suite for the night, on the top floor, and when we got to it we were so impressed with the size.

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Review: Novotel, Southampton

Last weekend we stayed at the Novotel, Southampton to extend a festive day out into a festive weekend. The Novotel is situated close to West Quay shopping centre and also Southampton Docks – so a great base for both travel and entertainment.

Review: Novotel, Southampton

The hotel had it’s own private car park which costs £8 a day to park for hotel guests and as soon as we walked into the hotel we were greeted with such a bright and airy reception – complete with beautiful Christmas tree!

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Enjoying a Minibreak with Marriott Waltham Abbey

Last weekend we were invited to the Marriott hotel in Waltham Abbey to have a little break for Hubby’s Birthday. It’s a part of the country we haven’t really spent much time before and one we were keen to explore a bit more.

Enjoying a Minibreak with Marriott Waltham Abbey

Marriott hotels are always well located to make the most of the surrounding areas and the Marriott in Waltham Abbey has great access links to London as well as plenty of parking marking it a great base to explore London, Essex and Hertfordshire. We had planned to spend Saturday afternoon in Epping Forest, a beautiful place to explore close to the hotel but sadly the weather was so bad that we instead chose to spend some time together at the hotel instead, making the most of some quality time to relax.

Enjoying a Minibreak with Marriott Waltham Abbey

We had a lovely warm welcome at the hotel and checked into our room – a really good size family room with two double beds. It also had a really functional bathroom – complete with bath, which is always appreciated on a family break. There were complimentary toiletries too which are always such a treat and so handy.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

The children were in their element having a big bed to share and were happy bouncing on the bed, playing with their tablets and watching TV whilst we all relaxed and got ready for dinner.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

We didn’t realise that the Waltham Abbey Marriott has a beautiful leisure suite complete with swimming pool so didn’t bring our swimming things but this would have been a great way to spend a rainy afternoon!

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

We had dinner in the Thyme restaurant which had a really nice and upmarket feel to it but a relaxed atmosphere too. The children were given colouring pages to keep them entertained and we took our time ordering from the menu.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

The children’s menu had a good choice of mains – chicken breast, hot dog, sausages or a burger all served with chips or salad as well as a pasta option. Little Man chose the hotdog and LP went for the chicken breast.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

Both of their meals were a good size but having just chips to accompany the main part of the meal did leave their plates looking like they were missing something. It would be nice to have chips and salad as standard or offer beans or an alternative side to make it a more balanced meal.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

For our starters, I chose the Buttermilk Chicken Salad which was really refreshing. It was full of flavours with a great mix of beetroot, chicken and salad leaves as well as plenty of dressing. A really nice starter.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

Hubby went for the Cheese Brûlée which was like a cheese fondue served with carrot sticks and celery. There wasn’t really enough carrot and celery for the amount of cheese and it would have been nice to have more to dip in the cheese – either more vegetables or some crusty bread for a more rustic starter.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

For our mains, Hubby chose the rib eye steak which was served with thick cut chips, salad and peppercorn sauce. He really enjoyed his meal however, the sauce was quite thin – we’re used to a nice and thick peppercorn sauce. But, the steak was cooked to perfection and just how he had asked for it.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

I went for one of the specials – a lamb burger served with fries. It would have been nice to have a side salad too, just to make it more of a balanced meal – especially as there was space on the plate for it. The burger was lovely but the minted mayonnaise was more like minted soft cheese which was a bit of a strange consistency and I would have liked the red onions to have been cooked rather than raw. But, I enjoyed my meal and the chips were beautifully cooked.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

For dessert the children had ice cream which was served with wafer straws. It was really good quality strawberry ice cream and the children really enjoyed it.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

Hubby had a Chocolate Pave which was a really good quality chocolate cake served with chocolate coated pieces of honeycomb and, it doesn’t happen often, but he couldn’t eat it all. It was lovely and rich and the perfect end to a meal.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

I had sticky toffee pudding served with salted caramel ice cream. Salted caramel is never salty enough for me but it went so well with the sticky toffee pudding – and I have never tasted such a light and fluffy sticky toffee pudding before. A really lovely dessert.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

We all had such a lovely meal and it’s always so nice to have a meal together as the four of us as we’re not always at home at the same time – which makes weekends like this even more special.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

We had a really good night’s sleep and were all looking forward to breakfast in the morning – a good breakfast really sets us up for a day of adventuring. The breakfast was fantastic – with plenty of cereals, fresh fruit, yogurts and pastries as well as a plentiful cooked buffet too. There were even freshly cooked waffles!

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

The children loved having fresh fruit, yogurts and then chocolate muffins for breakfast and Hubby and I enjoyed cooked breakfasts followed by pastries – and plenty of tea and coffee too. It couldn’t have been a better end to our Marriott stay.

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

We left the Marriott in Waltham Abbey and went on a day out to Paradise Wildlife Park which is just up the road from the hotel. It was the perfect place to stay for a family weekend away and any Marriott hotel would be a great base to explore the surrounding areas.

The UK has so much to offer, whatever time of year and whatever the weather and our family are enjoying exploring more of it. According to Marriott’s Great British Break Report, two fifths of Brits have already chosen to take a break in their own county this year and three in ten are more likely to holiday in the UK now than they were in the past. Over on the Marriott Weekends website, Marriott are inviting you to discover your weekend self with them. For us, we love exploring the UK and will keep having at least one UK break each year – exploring more and more of the country as we go.

So, next time you plan a break away, stick a pin in a map of the UK and go and explore somewhere new. We are already looking for our next place to visit!

Enjoying a Staycation with Marriott - Waltham Abbey

Disclosure: We were invited to review the above hotel for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.

Reasons Why We Love Holiday Inn Express

For a while now we have been booking with Holiday Inn Express whenever we need a convenient, affordable hotel – for a weekend away, a wedding or anything else. We usually have a quick glance at other local hotels but, every time, we end up booking with Holiday Inn Express.

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Here are a few reasons why we love Holiday Inn Express:

It’s part of the IHG Hotel brand, with over five thousand hotels around the world. It means that all of the IHG brands – Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental etc can be found all across the world with the same standards that we are used to. If I book a Holiday Inn Express I know exactly what I am getting.

The IHG Hotels brand has a membership system that you can join for free. It gives you so many benefits – the main one being discounts on bookings. But you can also collect reward points on your hotel stays, letting you stay for free in the future.

Holiday Inn Express give free wifi as standard – and as a blogger this is something often important to me. But not only that, the wifi is great quality, fast and reliable.

The breakfast is nice. There’s a good mix of continental and cooked options, all buffet style and although the cooked breakfast is usually limited – sausage, beans and scrambled eggs – there’s plenty of options to suit any appetite.

Parking is always plentiful and included in the price. There’s no need to find somewhere to park, have an extra cost for the parking or have to drag your luggage across town from where you’ve parked.

Holiday Inn Express are all about convenience – they’re situated in easily accessible places and have everything you need for a night away – hairdryer, iron and toiletries are included in the rooms. There’s also a microwave and ice dispenser in reception and they sell anything you may have forgotten – toothpaste, deodorant etc.

Each room has tea and coffee making facilities but Holiday Inn Express are the first hotel I have seen where they tell you to help yourself to more tea, coffee, milk etc from reception if you need it.

There are lots of room options and the four of us usually share a double room – with a double bed and sofa bed (which is always made up on our arrival). But Holiday Inn Express also have interconnecting rooms that are perfect for longer breaks or breaks with more people.

Check out isn’t until midday – and 2pm, if available, when you sign up to the IHG membership. This is amazing, and so much longer than other hotels, letting you relax and take it easy – or even use the time to get work done if you’re away on business.

Lastly, we always have such a good night’s sleep at Holiday Inn Express. Despite all being in the same room the children sleep really well and Hubby and I do too!

So, that is why we love Holiday Inn Express and I know they will be our first choice for affordable accomodation going forward.

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Disclosure: I love Holiday Inn Express and so thought I would write about it. This is in no way a sponsored post and as always all opinions are my own.