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8.2.18

Travel: Our Luxury Mini-Moon At The Fish Hotel In The Cotswolds

champagne by the fire mini-moon
the fish hotel estate in the cotswolds
the lancaster suite at the fish hotel
entrance to our spacious room and plenty of wood for the fire
countryside walks at the fish hotel cotswolds
spacious room with in-room log burner
spacious room at the fish hotel in the cotswolds
honey couple champagne on arrival
luxury travel in the cotswolds
newlyweds honeymooning in the cotswolds
mini-moon in the cotswolds at the fish hotel
bathroom spacious room the fish hotel
blue sunset in the cotswolds
outdoor dining and BBQ at fish hotel
spending a weekend in october at the fish hotel
bar area at the fish hotel
communal area fish hotel

Honeymoon Plans

I apologise in advance that it has taken me three months to write up and publish our mini-moon post. Blog posts featuring our wedding details and inspiration are still to come as well as a couple of posts about our actual honeymoon in the Maldives - gosh, so much content, so little time in the day! 

On that note, somehow, we still haven't written our thank-you cards - it feels shameful admitting to that, but time really does run away with itself! 

Did anyone else find it a slow process catching up with general life admin after their wedding?

Anyway, writing and re-living this post has brought all those special memories back and has reminded me that I still need to upload our gorgeous wedding photos to Facebook and Instagram and get some big versions printed to hang up around the house :)

So Why Did We Decide to "Mini-Moon"?

We had always been smitten with the idea of honeymooning in the Maldives - escaping from reality to a secluded, exotic island in the middle of the Indian Ocean was the perfect antidote for us. We married on 26th October, however, we booked our honeymoon for 4 weeks later in November, mainly because we didn't want to exhaust all of our annual leave in one sitting, plus, it gave us something to look forward to after the initial wedding madness. 

As we married on a Thursday, we thought that a couple of days away from it all, to reflect on one of the biggest moments of our lives together, in a luxurious hideaway suite would be the most sensible thing to do - obviously!

Our Luxury Mini-Moon In The Cotswolds

One of mine and Alex's favourite places to visit in the UK is The Cotswolds, with its small, characterful villages dotted around Gloucestershire and it's enviable honeysuckle cottages. We required somewhere close to home as we had Friday and Saturday night, before heading back to the reality of life and work on Monday morning. 

We decided upon The Fish Hotel for our short honeymoon break in the CotswoldsThe Fish Hotel is part of the exclusive Farncombe estate, which also includes luxurious sister hotels, Dormy House and Foxhill Manor. It's a unique place to visit and stay with its ultra-charming hillside location just outside the charming Cotswolds village of Broadway. A unique village-style retreat, with accommodation and amenities, spread out over the hillside. 

As it was a special occasion we opted for one of the Fish Hotel's "Big Suites" - said to be the largest (*& best) rooms in the estate. Our suite was at the end of a wing with its very own front door and porch area filled with plenty of logs for our in-room wood-burner! The room itself was stunning, super spacious & oozed luxury

It had Mr. and Mrs. Stocker written all over it! 

There was a super king-size bed, a separate bathroom with walk-in shower and free-standing bathtub and to top it all off, within our suite was a cosy sitting area with scandi-style armchairs and footstool draped in faux sheepskin rugs, and we had our very own in-room wood-burning stove. We also arrived to find a bottle of bubbly on ice - nice touch!

I believe only two of the big suites (Lancaster and Barnes-Wallis) contain wood-burning stoves, the other two have outdoor seating areas with tables and chairs. I guess it depends what season you visit if you're making a pit-stop in summer you may prefer an outdoor seating area, but on a chilly and autumnal October evening, you really can't beat drinking champagne, wrapped up and cosy by the log-fire. 

Unfortunately, we only had two nights in this lustful enclosure. We arrived quite late in the evening on Friday night after a day at my parents, hosting and reminiscing with friends, family and other wedding guests about our beautiful wedding, the day before. 

On Saturday we slept in late, grabbed a late brunch, & mid-afternoon we layered up in our warmest attire, pulled on our muddy wellington boots and took a leisurely stroll from the hotel down the hill into Broadway village, which took about 15 minutes. We found a warm and cosy pub, filled our bellies with some gourmet grub and gin cocktails. Later we headed back, chatted with the cows and spent about three hours before dinner sitting by the fire, drinking champagne, listening to music and loading up the wood-burner with logs. Short and sweet but a perfectly memorable break. 

We spent most of the weekend laughing and smiling in each other's company while reminiscing about every tiny detail and cheerful memory from our wedding day. It was the perfect mini-moon retreat - we felt completely blissful in each other's company, tucked away from reality, cosy in the countryside.

If you're looking for a romantic break in the Cotswolds and an affordable hotel with stylish and cosy rooms I strongly recommend you check out The Fish Hotel near Broadway. 

I believe The Fish Hotel is currently undergoing a large scale makeover and expanding its Scandi-clad accommodation offering with a treehouse, hideaway huts and refurbished farmhouse for 2018.

Where's your favourite place to visit in The Cotswolds?


xo. 
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26.1.18

Travel: My Top 5 Food & Drink Hotspots To Visit in Barcelona

trendy rooftop bar on top of Museu d’Història de Catalunya
best rooftop bars in barcelona
pina colada cocktail at Restaurante 1881 per Sagardi terrace
rooftop bar barcelona with marina and skyline views

1) Sophisticated Rooftop Bar: Restaurante 1881 per Sagardi


If you're looking for a rooftop bar in Barcelona you are very spoilt for choice, with lots of luxury hotels in the city already boasting their own enviable cosmopolitan outdoor terrace overlooking Barcelona’s gorgeous skyline. However, the terrace of Restaurante 1881 per Sagardi is one of the city’s better-kept secrets.

It's actually quite hard to find, take it from us, we nearly gave up after 15 minutes of scaling the building. In order to reach the restaurant and rooftop terrace, you must enter via the Museu d’Història de Catalunya and take the lifts all the way to the top floor where the restaurant is located.

Once you are at the top, walk through the restaurant and you'll immediately see why it was worth finding; with incredible views overlooking Barcelona's skyline and blue marina. It really is a unique place to sit back, enjoy the view (and thankfully a breeze every now and again!) and indulge in the extensive and creative cocktail menu. 

The outdoor terrace is adorned with white marble table tops and lush greenery, & it felt utterly tropical being high up in the 30-degree heat and in fact, an absolute necessity to order a Pina Colada, which was delicious by the way!

Location: Plaça de Pau Vila, 3, 08003 (on top of the Museu D'historia de Catalunya)
Best for: Cocktail with a view overlooking the Barcelona skyline
Recommended Cocktail: Pina Colada!

best paella restaurants in barcelona near the beachfront
eating at barraca in barcelona
meat paella and red wine at barraca 
barraca beachfront restaurant in barcelona

2) Best Beachfront Paella: La Barraca

I'll be honest, before my trip to Barraca, I was extremely misinformed about Paella and what exactly it was. I had always assumed that Paella was only ever a rice dish full of fish, basically prawns, clams, mussels etc. Don't get me wrong, I really like fish, in particular, white fish, but I'm really not keen on prawns or mussels at all, so Paella has typically been something I've steered away from. 

Little did I know, paella is a Valencian rice dish that typically includes different combinations of vegetables, meats, and fish or pretty much any kind of ingredient that bodes well with rice. So, it's completely normal that you would be able to experience paella without the seafood *does a little dance*

& that’s when I discovered, hands down - the best (and only) paella I've ever had! The meat-based paella at Barraca was for 2 people to share, served in a large shallow pan and the dish featured mixed rice with chicken, rib, tender bean, artichoke and sausage paired with a bottle of Spanish red wine - ahh blissful! Every bite was delicious, flavoursome with smoky notes throughout. 

It’s worth noting, we spent most of our time walking everywhere in Barcelona, not once did we catch a taxi (apart from when traveling to and from the airport) and on this particular evening we decided it would be a good idea to walk from our hotel to the restaurant - it was later at night so the heat was definitely more bearable, however the walk did take us around 45 minutes, which is fine - I love strolling around Barcelona, especially at night, but by the time we arrived we were suuuuper hungry and starting to get a bit agitated. 

The best thing about dinner in Spain? You can rock up at 10.30pm at night to be seated for dinner, and that's exactly what we did and when we arrived, the atmosphere was absolutely buzzing. The food is fabulous, but what’s more, the restaurant is situated right in front of the sea so you can enjoy the views of the beach of Sant Sebastia in Barceloneta while you dine and sip on red wine. Late at night, they still have the windows and doors open on the terrace so it feels like your dining in the open air. 

Location: Passeig Maritim Barceloneta, 1, 08003 
Best for: Late night wining and dining! The restaurant is inside but with a beachfront breeze - basically it's undercover but all the windows and doors are open while you dine, amazing experience when you rock up at 10.30pm in the evening. 
Recommended Dish: The meat-based paella was absolutely amazing. Me and Alex reminisce about this restaurant and the paella dish all the time! 

tapas and cava at la taperia in el nacional
El nacional 4 restaurants and bars all under one roof

3) Traditional Tapas Tasters: El Nacional 

El Nacional is a unique place to visit because you have 4 gastronomical spaces and 4 specialised bars at your disposal, all under one roof. It is the first restaurant in Barcelona that has different spaces for you to enjoy traditional recipes of the Peninsula, made with high-quality products in a unique atmosphere. If you’re feeling fancy, there’s even an oyster and champagne bar on site!

Located in the heart of Passeig de Gràcia, it is a reflection of the social and cultural life of Barcelona.

On our visit to El Nacional, we visited La Taperia - an informal tapas restaurant where you can try delicious tapas and rice dishes, auctioned “Malaga-style” by the waiters. There’s a wide variety of cold tapas, hot tapas, rice and paella dishes to choose from and of course glasses of Cava by the tap!

Selfie queens take note - the toilets were seriously instagramable and reminded me of the floor to ceiling tiled toilets you find in Iberica restaurants in the UK. 

Location: Passeig de Gràcia, 24 bis 08007 
Best for: Sampling the best cuisines of Barcelona all in one building
Recommended Dish: You need to try all the usual tapas - ham croquettes, Padron peppers, tomato bread, tortilla!

popular square in Barcelona gothic quarter with palm trees
Ocana barcelona cafe restaurant and cocktail by day club by night
trendy public plaza Placa Reial
cocktails at ocana in barcelona
cocktail hotspot in barcelona
tapas restaurants in placa reial

4) Tapas & Cocktails Combo: Ocaña, Plaça Reial


Ocana is a vibrant cafe, restaurant and cocktail bar by day and club by night. Located in the trendy public plaza, Placa Reial in Barcelona's popular Gothic Quarter

The plaza itself is one of Barcelona's most famous and beautiful squares, where a fountain takes center stage and the enviable square is scaled with luscious tall, green palm trees with a collection of restaurants and nightclubs scattered around the outside. The essence of the Real Plaza is flowers, colours, and people - it is just a very vibrant place to be and well worth a visit if pottering around the Gothic Quarter and looking for a food and drinks pit-stop. 

All the restaurants and cafes have their own outdoor seating so there's plenty of other trendy eateries to choose from if Ocana happens to be full. We choose Ocana because a work colleague of Alex's who lived in Barcelona recommended, as well as our Lonely Planet guide. We had been walking around in the super hot 32-degree sunshine for quite a while so paused for cocktails and some traditional tapas; Iberico ham and cheese croquettes, tomato bread and crispily fried mackerel of course!

If you're sitting in the outdoor terrace, don't neglect to take a sneak peek inside; it's super spacious, with high, never-ending ceilings and a moody and romantic vibe with red and pink-washed walls and dim lighting - very suitable for the Gothic quarter!

Great place to visit by day, or by night!

Location: Ocaña, Plaça Reial, 13-15, 08002
Best for: Local buzz and atmosphere
Recommended Dish: Iberico ham croquettes of course!

El pacifico - cheap beachside tapas in Barceloneta

5) Cheap Beachfront Eat: El Pacifico


El Pacifico is one of many beach-side restaurants where you can eat traditional food from Catalonia and Spain and drink fresh and friendly cocktails or a good glass of honest wine. 

There is a small seating area indoors, however, the terrace is the place to be seated, between the palm trees you have a direct view of the beach and the boardwalk of Barceloneta

It's the ideal place to sit and watch the world pass by - a great spot for people watching!

Location: Carrer de la Vila Joiosa, 52, 08003
Best for: Beachfront tapas and a glass of wine in the sunshine
Recommended Snack: Patatas bravas and tomato bread!

Looking For Barcelona Hotels?

& if you're looking for places to stay in central Barcelona look no further than NH Collection Barcelona Podium Hotel located near the Plaza de Cataluna - we loved staying here, with close links to plenty of trendy restaurants & bars. 

Where are your top restaurants and bars to visit in Barcelona? 

I'd love to hear your recommendations, please share them below so I have more places to explore when we next visit!

xo.
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14.1.18

Travel: Darwin's Townhouse - Boutique Bed & Breakfast in Shrewsbury

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A Festive Break At Darwin's Townhouse

For this blog post, I collaborated with Original Shrewsbury on an arranged press trip to Shrewsbury. I was tasked with exploring and experiencing the accommodation, food, drink, and sightseeing Shrewsbury has to offer its visitors and afterward, share an honest account of my weekend experience with my readers - I hope you enjoy this post and find my recommendations useful for any future trips you have planned to Shrewsbury. 

If you're not already familiar with Shrewsbury, it's a quirky town packed full of genuine one-offs, independent shops and cool cocktail bars – great for those in need of a short break in an eccentric and buzzing medieval town, nestled in the heart of the Shropshire countryside. The town center itself is packed with timber-framed black and white buildings, steep narrow streets and alleyways - there's tons to explore! 

For the duration of our stay, we were conveniently located in Darwin's Townhouse; one of Shrewsbury's newest boutique hotels in the heart of the town center. With 20 perfectly sized rooms, we were excited about our bed and breakfast experience within this charming Grade 2 listed, Georgian townhouse.

Our room was located in the main house, a beautifully appointed deluxe room with a king size bed overlooking the immaculate communal gardens behind the house. All rooms feature creature comforts and bold tributes to Charles Darwin himself (he was born in the town!), ours, in particular, featured a rustic wooden map, detailing Darwin's travels and framed pictures of parrots above our bed.

Upon arrival we were in awe, this beautiful three-story townhouse felt like a home from home. With a huge circling staircase and a homely living room full of plush sofas and a huge Christmas tree stocked with presents, I wanted to move in and stay for Christmas!

With a fireplace beautifully decorated with festive holly sprigs, warming lights and bold red stockings we immediately felt like giddy little children at Christmas time. We checked in our bags, oohed and ahhed at the room then quickly wrapped up in our warmest attire for a quick evening walk around the town to see the Christmas lights.

We spent the whole weekend pottering about the town discovering Shrewsbury tourist sights; eating fusion tapas food and drinking quirky cocktails at House of the Rising Sun & finally, curing a Sunday hangover with comfort food at The Loopy Shrew, we definitely weren't short of places to indulge!

I urge anyone visiting Shrewsbury to consider Darwin's Townhouse as your bed and breakfast of choice. Deluxe rooms range from £75-£110 per night - very reasonable for such a central location in my opinion. 

Have you visited Shrewsbury before? If so, where would you recommend to eat, drink and stay?

xo. 

(*) For this post I collaborated with Original Shrewsbury on an organised press trip where all food, drink, and accommodation was provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest view of my experience on my blog. All opinions expressed here are my own. (*) 
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13.1.18

Travel: Places To Stay Near The Cotswolds - Tewkesbury Park

tewksbury park from the outside and alfresco dining
tewksbury park golf course and hotel
rolling countryside views tewksbury park
cotswolds sunset
plush blue and cream interiors at tewksbury park
lobby bar at tewksbury park
cocktails in the cotswolds
historic suite at Tewksbury Park
modern bedroom interiors at tewksbury park
staying in a large suite at tewksbury park
refurbishment at tewksbury park
large comfortable hypnos bed at tewksbury park
tewksbury park suite bathroom
wining and dining
starter a la carte dining tewksbury park
a la carte dinner cotswolds hotel
fresh and seasonal produce
rightupmystreet uk food blogger
desserts tewksbury park restaurant

Places To Stay Near The Cotswolds - Tewkesbury Park

Tewkesbury Park Hotel is located on the southern edge of Tewkesbury, nestled in the heart of the Gloucestershire countryside, however, still boasts easy access from the M5. As you arrive, the slow drive into the grounds and up the grand hill sets a luxurious scene for the hotel. 

The hotel sits on top of its own 18-hole golf course and boasts unrivaled panoramic views across of the Cotswolds, the Severn Valley, the Welsh Mountains and the Malverns. 

I'll be honest when you arrive and park up in the carpark, the outside of the main hotel lobby and the adjoining hotel rooms block, plus the golf club appears to be quite outdated by design and look rather "unimpressive", however, my initial thoughts were soon pushed to one side upon entering the glamorous hotel lobby with its "Conde Nast Johansens Luxury Hotels Award Finalist 2018" plaque taking pride of place on the wall. 

The interiors of the lobby, bar, and sitting area are smart with plush blue and cream tones adorning the walls and there are a variety of sunken armchairs scattered around the central log burner in blue velvet and some backed with patterns and finished with an outline of circular gold studs. 

In terms of guest rooms, there are nine suites located in the main 18th-century building and 85 bedrooms in the adjoining wing. Our room was one of the historic suites in the main building, accessed via an impressive staircase behind the lobby. 

For me, staying at a hotel will always be a luxury in itself, but the little luxury I enjoy most is being able to walk downstairs from your room and have immediate access to a cocktail bar, ample cosy seating space and a restaurant on your doorstep. Even better - once you've finished dinner or a drink at the bar & are ready to retire away from the world and other people, well you can just waltz straight back up those stairs. Call me lazy but, with no cab to call or wait for & no pinch of the bitter cold on your face or bare legs - that's luxury for me! 

The suite itself was huge and lovely. When reviewing hotels for this blog, I always find myself doing a little dance of excitement once the member of staff leaves and the door has closed behind them - I try to act professional and composed when they show me around but in reality its always so overwhelming (and never will stop being overwhelming) to think about the opportunities my little corner of the internet enables me to experience. 

Even more so, it makes me appreciate the effort and lengths the hotel has gone to create and ensure such a luxurious space for their guests to enjoy - now that's hospitality - surely it can't just be me who gets so excited about the prospect of staying in a posh hotel room? 

Anyway, back to the suite! The suite we were staying in was situated in one of the buildings circular curves (which you can see from the outside) and featured an area with three long, almost floor to ceiling windows with window seats. The panoramic views were impressive;  overlooking the hotel's golf course and out onto the disappearing Gloucestershire countryside for miles. 

Our suite had its own sitting area with a sofa and two armchairs - we had to make use of our posh surroundings so we suitably spent our evening, pre-dinner sat here chatting, with our feet up, drinking wine (as you do - rolls eyes). The adjoining bathroom was separated from the bedroom via a spacious closet area. 

Wining and dining at Tewkesbury Park was equally pleasing. On every dish, all ingredients were impeccably decorated across the plate, making us even more eager to tuck in and start eating. It is evident that the hard-working team is clearly passionate about using top quality local, fresh ingredients. 

The main dining room you initially walk through and are seated for breakfast is still yet to be updated - however, adjacent, there is an elegant orangery featuring the same plush, cosy interiors mirrored from the lobby and bar area. 

Tewkesbury Park Hotel is a lovely place to retreat if you wish to spend a weekend pottering about The Cotswolds. It's worth noting, if your visiting The Cotswolds, are short on time and are looking to find a typical Cotswolds scenic driving route that's scattered with honey-coloured stone villages and views of the beautiful rolling countryside then check out my blog post on the Cotswolds Romantic Road driving route - a great way to get a glimpse of all the villages in a day, or even just a couple of hours. 

Do you visit The Cotswolds often? Whats your favourite Cotswolds village to visit and where do you like to stay? 

xo. 

(*) Our overnight stay and dinner at Tewkesbury Park Hotel was provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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