When you’re visiting a new city for the first time, it can be hard to decide on where to stay.

You want a nice, stylish setting that is close enough to the shopping, restaurants and bars, but not on a noisy street that keeps you awake at night.

A hotel with a good bar is a plus and – of course – friendly and helpful staff can really make or break a stay.

THE BEST PLACE TO STAY IN NEWCASTLE

We go to Newcastle a few times a year. Brian is a Newcastle football fan so has been going to games since he was little and we decided to take a trip together to to his beloved toon in 2015.

Since then, we’ve tried out a few different hotels (side note: one time Brian decided we should just go down and back up the same day for a game. This ended v. badly with my perhaps overindulging in some pre-game rose wines and I’ve refused to go down just for the day ever again!) and hadn’t found one that was quite right.

Don’t get me wrong, they were all lovely, but it was when we arrived at Hotel Indigo Newcastle for the first time that I knew it was instantly my favourite. Firstly, it’s super close to the train station, which is a big thing for me and my overpacked bags. It’s also just a few minutes’ walk to the very heart of the city and – of course – Newcastle stadium, which Brian is particularly thrilled about!

The staff are always superb, the rooms are Instagram-worthy and they do the best Pornstair Martini in the hotel’s Grainger Lounge Bar.

 

NEWCASTLE ROOM WITH A VIEW

We’ve visited the hotel now countless times so it was a no-brainer to book it for Brian’s birthday stay. The Hotel Indigo team kindly invited us to stay in one of their Superior Double rooms, which even has its own balcony*. It may have been freezing outside, but with amazing views across the city, I just had to put on one of the fluffy white robes and sit outside with a glass of chilled prosecco. Well, it would be rude not to!

The blogger in me was also delighted that the bright and airy balcony turned out to be the dreamiest place for outfit pics too. My long-suffering reluctant photographer Brian was not as thrilled about this, if I’m being honest.

These rooms also have SkyTV and a complimentary mini fridge to make you feel very at home. It’s all these little touches that make the hotel really stand out.

 

MARCO PIERRE WHITE STEAKHOUSE NEWCASTLE

The one thing I love about Hotel Indigo Newcastle is the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill restaurant. Forget your standard hotel dining, the famous chef’s on-site restaurant serves up the most delicious breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner dishes.

With breakfast included in room, I’m delighted to report the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon was cooked to perfection, with plenty of pastries, fruit and cooked breakfasts to choose from.

Come dinner, we’re shown to one of the plush booths and we order a bottle of prosecco, which I have to let you know is only £20 all day Friday and Saturdays at the moment. Seriously, I love this place!

 

DINNER CHOICES AT HOTEL INDIGO NEWCASTLE

We peruse the menu (probably for a little too long – there was just so many options for my foodie loving brain to choose from!) before I finally opt for Seared Sea Scallops with Black Pudding and Brian goes for the Classic 1970’s Prawn Cocktail. Both seafood dishes are presented beautifully and taste amazing. I’ve been telling everyone about the scallops since we came home as they were cooked to perfection!

 

For mains, I could not resist indulging in one of the famous steaks, choosing the Grilled Centre Cut Fillet cut. Served with pommes frites, roasted vine tomatoes and a sauce of my choice (grilled wild mushrooms in garlic butter is my go-to), I could not stop myself ordering a side of baked macaroni cheese. I insisted this was to share with Brian, but I cannot lie to you: I ate the entire thing myself and I regret nothing.

Brian tells me his main meal (The American burger) was equally amazing and believe me when I say, Brian is a burger pro!

We decided to forgo dessert (mainly because if I had ate one more thing, I’d have had to have had a nap at the table) and moved into the chic bar area for one last drink before bed, but not before Brian had to watch the highlights of the game again. Newcastle won 3-2 and I had a balcony where I could go sip prosecco – the most idyllic of Newcastle stays!

 

BOOKING A ROOM AT HOTEL INDIGO NEWCASTLE

If you’re looking for a stylish yet affordable Newcastle city centre hotel, Hotel Indigo Newcastle is the one. With the most amazing team (a special thanks has to go to Laura who looked after us so well in the MPW Restaurant), you can really relax and unwind.

To book a room, visit Hotel Indigo Newcastle’s website here or you can find them on Instagram @hotel_indigo_newcastle.

 

*This stay was gifted by Hotel Indigo Newcastle, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A weekend day spent brunching is a day well spent, especially when said brunch spot  a) Instagram-worthy, b) understanding of the importance of champagne at a good brunch and c) sets the tone with a DJ set.

The Ivy on the Square Edinburgh* must have heard our brunching prayers as they launched their new DJ brunch series and invited Victoria and I along to try it out.

If you’ve not been to The Ivy Edinburgh yet, you’re missing out. With its chic interiors and plenty of natural light, its an Instagram lovers dream! Brian and I first went last Christmas and I’ve been excited to go back ever since.

THE IVY EDINBURGH DJ BRUNCH SERIES

The brasserie has established itself as the place to brunch in the capital, so it seems right to add to this with the introduction of the DJ sets. First up, was Capital FM’s Garry Spence. Garry set the tone with a mix of soul music and new classic as Victoria and I ordered our first champagne of the day.

There’s plenty of brunch dish favourites to choose from, including the Eggs Benedict and chips, served with pulled honey roast ham and rich hollandaise sauce, or for those with a sweet tooth, the hot buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries, Greek yogurt and strawberry sauce is a must.

We decided to stick with our go-to: Eggs Royale with a side of ripe avocado and Vic tired one of their brunch cocktails – a (very spicy, as requested) Bloody Mary.

Good music, good brunch and plenty of champagne – surely what every weekend needs?

The good news is that the DJ brunch series is here to stay. Keep an eye on The Ivy Edinburgh’s website, Facebook and Instagram pages for the details of the next DJ brunch date. Until then, you can still brunch in style every Saturday and Sunday, with the delish brunch menu served from midday until 4pm.

Can we do it all over again next weekend, please?! The brunch life is 100% for me.

*THANK YOU TO THE IVY ON THE SQUARE EDINBURGH FOR GIFTING THIS EXPERIENCE.
ALL OPINIONS MY OWN.

PUBLIC HOUSE BY NICO

The Nico restaurants are so popular in Glasgow (and now Edinburgh too) – and for good reason. Six by Nico‘s curated concepts menu is always a hit, whilst 111 by Nico‘s ‘trust’ 5-course tasting menu has created a totally unique dining experience in the city.

There has been so much excitement for the latest Nico instalment, Public House by Nico.

Located on Glasgow’s iconic Great Western Road (and just across from the Subway, meaning it’s super easy to get to), Public House by Nico is described as having ‘the charm of the Great British pub meets delicious gastropub grub’.

With its cosy yet stylish interiors (think Chesterfield seats and geometric tiles contrasting the traditional wood), it serves up small plates Monday to Saturday, with breakfast served on weekend mornings. On a Sunday, this switches to their Sunday roast menu after 12pm and Phil for SKAPA invited us along to try it out. My kind of press lunch!

SUNDAY ROAST MENU IN GLASGOW

I’m always on the look out for a good Sunday lunch. A nice glass of wine, a roast with all the trimmings and a nice little stroll around is how all Sundays should be spent.

One thing I have to mention is the prices are great for the quality of food, with two courses for £17 or three for £20. For starter, Yasmin and I both had the Arbroath Smokie Croquettes which were amazing.

For the main, it had to be the Roast Speyside Sirloin, which was cooked perfectly pink. I think I must have overindulged on the gravy and Yorkshire puddings because I didn’t have room for dessert, but it just means I’ll need to pop back again to try it out!

My new favourite spot for a Sunday roast in Glasgow!

This post contains a gifted meal/experience from Public House by Nico. All views are my own.

There’s a kind of joke between Brian and I when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

You see, we’ve never really been a couple that goes all-out, #boydidgood, delivery of a billion roses, etc.

The last few years, we’ve not managed a stereotypical romantic Valentine’s Day, in fact one year Brian was even on a stag do on the day, which we found quite funny. How romantic!

Anyway, this year has been a big one for us as a couple. We got engaged, we moved in together and booked our wedding date so this Valentine’s Day feels a bit different.

St Enoch Centre must have read my mind as they got in touch with a Valentine’s challenge – to find the perfect gift for Brian*.

THE MAIN PRESENT

Nothing says ‘romance’ like trainers, eh? Seriously, though – I knew I wanted to get Brian a nice surprise that he’d actually use and you can’t go wrong with a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths.

I spotted this pair in the window of Xile and liked that they were a little different to other Stan Smith trainers.

At £89, they took up most of my £100 gift card budget, but I always think it’s better to invest in a really good present that someone will love. Quality over quantity!

PERSONAL TOUCH

Sometimes, it’s the little gifts that mean so much – and they don’t need to by expensive, either.

I decided to get a few of my favourite pictures of Brian and I printed in Boots and bought a frame from there too. I couldn’t decide what photo I liked best, so I’ll let Brian decide.

The frame was only £6 and the instant prints were 42p each – such a bargain!

SWEET TREATS

I always love going into Kimble’s. The staff are so friendly and the sweet treats are always amazing.

They’ve got so many Valentine’s sweets to choose from, but I opted for this cute marshmallow stick which was £2.99.

I love finding a good pressie combo and think Brian will like it too.

**This post contains gifted product from St Enoch Centre Glasgow.**

Looking for dog-friendly lodges for a Loch Lomond stay, complete with hot tub? Luxury doggo, Kassie, took us on a little trip…

I’m a crazy dog person, if you don’t already know, so one of my fave things to do is head off on an adventure with Brian and his family doggo, Kassie.

Luckily for us, Kass has built up quite the reputation for loving a luxury lodge, so when the team at Argyll Holidays* invited Kassie, Brian and I to stay in one of the brand new Lomond Retreat Hot Tub Lodges at their Loch Lomond Holiday Park*, Kassie was already packing up the car with her tennis balls and a supply of Schmackos.

Loch Lomond Holiday Park

We arrived late on the Friday night, but the team were quickly on hand to show us to our one-bedroom luxury lodge. Although it was dark when we arrived, I could already see our beautiful view of the loch, with the moonlight reflections.

The living and dining area is so spacious, with the kitchen decked out with all the appliances you need to make your self-catering stay as chilled as possible. You even get a complimentary bottle of prosecco ready and waiting in the fridge, which was opened as soon as we (well, Brian) got all the bags in from the car whilst Kass and I explored the lodge.

Kassie had been a good girl in the car, so we let her open her welcome pack from Argyll Holidays and eat one of the biscuits they gave her, which she greatly appreciated!

Interior goals

I think one of my fave features of the whole lodge has to be the bathroom. Seriously, it’s bathroom goals, with a massive bath, all the getting ready room and – what I now must have in all my future bathrooms – underfloor heating. Seriously, what an absolute treat underfloor heating is in the middle of winter in Scotland.

Anyway, after a chilled evening, complete with Kassie keeping cosy beside the fire, we headed to bed before Kass woke us up pretty early the next morning, clearly excited to see more of the holiday park.

With loads of windows around the lodge letting in all the natural light, it also let Kassie see pretty much every other dog go past, which made her want to go outside even more!

Dog walks at Loch Lomond

There’s plenty of places to walk your four-legged friend, with Kassie’s favourite being a walk along the beach before we found some woodland to throw her tennis ball for her – her most favourite activity.

On arrival, you also get a folder with loads of walking routes too, if you want some more inspiration.

It was so nice to just take some time to do nothing all day, opting to make Bailey’s hot chocolates with plenty of marshmallows, watch some very cheesy films, then head out on another walk. Bliss!

Moonlight strolls

Following dinner and drinks, we couldn’t grudge Kass one last walk of the night and headed a walk along the beach under the moonlight – I couldn’t get over how pretty it looked.

Until next time, Loch Lomond!

 

BOOK TO STAY AT ARGYLL HOLIDAYS LOCH LOMOND RETREAT LODGE

Prices start from £475 for a minimum 3 night stay. All the details on how to book here.

 

***This was a gifted two-night stay from Argyll Holidays.***

All words and opinions my own.

Let’s be honest: who doesn’t need a little January pick-me-up?

The weather is dull, your bank account looks sad and festive fun is a distant memory.

During a time of January blues, my Scottish staycation couldn’t have come at a better time.

OLD LOANS INN, TROON

A 40 minute drive from Glasgow and we arrive at our home for the night. The Old Loans Inn, part of the SimpsInns group, is a cute little hotel just a few minutes drive from the Troon beachside.

It’s a freezing cold day, but we’re soon warmed up inside with a lovely welcome from Kerry, the duty manager who was super helpful.

After a friendly check in and putting our bags in our room, we head back to the restaurant and bar area for some lunch and a glass of prosecco. Well, it would be rude not to!

Our table overlooks the pretty terrace, which I imagine is a go-to in the summer months for drinks outdoors, especially as there’s so many delicious cocktails to choose from.

Another glass (or two) of bubbly later, it’s time to get ready and I’m happy to say that there’s plenty of getting ready room!

 

LIDO, TROON

The hotel arrange for our taxi to take us to our dinner destination, Lido Troon, which you may remember I visited last year and loved. The restaurant kindly gifted us with a gift card on the night so I’ve been looking forward to returning ever since.

The food at Lido is as good as I remember it and I adore the contemporary and stylish interiors. The bar and restaurant were really busy (it was a Saturday night), so I’d recommend booking in advance.

Along with the gift card, Lido had also gave us one of the free Buzzworks Benefit cards which gives you points everytime you use it. Just for registering the card, they give you 1,000 points (which is equal to £10) so well worthwhile!

We decided to go for main courses with lots of sides. Steak, mac and cheese and prosecco is a winning combination for dining.

Staying on at Lido for one last cocktail (their Bramble is delicious), we head back to the hotel and can’t resist sitting in the cosy bar – the perfect place for a relaxed chat.

BREAKFAST + BEACH TIME

After a good sleep in the seriously comfy bed, it’s time for my favourite – a hotel breakfast! Again, the staff were super helpful and breakfast did not disappoint with plenty of coffee included.

I spend the rest of the morning doing some blog work in the room, which has a perfect little table and comfy chair under the window which makes for a cute work space.

After express check out (you can request this and it saves lots of time in the morning), we drive to Troon beach. It may be raining, but nothing beats the salt air and the sound of the waves on a Sunday morning stroll.

Heading back to the car, we’re already making plans to come back for another seaside stay in the spring. Never underestimate the power of a Scottish staycation for some much-needed R&R.

To book your own Scottish staycation at Old Loans Inn, click here for more information.

To book a table at Lido Troon, click here.

My stay at Old Loans Inn was gifted, but all views are my own. Some of the value of the Lido Troon meal was gifted, but all words and views my own.