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Travel: Luxury in Oxfordshire - Staying in Suite 57 at Sudbury House Hotel

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king size bed in suite 57
plush pillows in the deluxe suite at sudbury house hotel
living area in suite 57 at sudbury house hotel
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huge deluxe suite at sudbury house hotel
bathroom in suite 57 sudbury house hotel
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breakfast at sudbury house hotel

Imagine staying in a hotel suite the size of a penthouse flat, wouldn't that be dreamy?

Dreamy and certainly unexpected that's for sure!

Staying at Sudbury House Hotel

I was recently invited back to one of my favourite places in the country, the beautiful Oxfordshire, to Sudbury House Hotel, a four-star hotel nestled on the edge of the Cotswolds between Oxford and Swindon. The hotel has an enviable central location with easy access from the M4 and M40 and is the perfect base to stay for exploring the nearby countryside. 

Our visit was timely as the hotel recently underwent a complete refurbishment and renovation in 2015. The hotel boasts a large floor plan with 50 ensuite bedrooms, including two luxurious suites and plenty of car parking space for all visitors!

On arrival, we made our way across the car park to the main entrance of the hotel. The lobby area is very spacious and airy, with high white ceilings and a light-filled atrium. We didn't realise that the hotel is made up of both a contemporary main unit, as well as the characterful old house which is connected via a corridor. As we were staying in the newly appointed "Suite 57" aptly located above Restaurant 56 we were asked to make our way over to the old house to be checked into our deluxe suite.

There is also a huge garden and outdoor seating area, ideal for alfresco dining in the summer, at the rear of the property which we noticed while making our way through from main to old building.

Suite 57 at Sudbury House Hotel

In the old section of the house, above Restaurant 56 is the hotel's newest addition to their luxury accommodation offering, Suite 57. Suite 57 is a new Deluxe suite situated in the Grade II Restaurant 56, boasting peaceful views across the landscaped gardens. 

On arrival into the old house we were warmly greeted by a staff member from Restaurant 56 who swiftly led us up a flight of stairs to the suite entrance. All three of us shimmied inside, as soon as we entered I had to hold myself from gasping at just how HUGE and luxurious the suite was. 

It was like walking into our own apartment - the suite had three separate rooms! Firstly, there was a spacious double bedroom with king-size bed, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the private, landscaped gardens, with plenty of floor space, cupboards and drawers all around. Following through from the bedroom was a separate lounge area complete with three sofas and a flat screen TV - the ideal chill-out room or family living area! 

On the other side of the bedroom, there's a huge well-appointed bathroom which features a stand-alone bath and monsoon shower all doused in white-washed walls. 

As you'll have seen from the photos above, the suite was extremely lavish with all the right decorative touches - the warm honey lighting throughout made the suite feel cosy and warm; a home away from home (although a much more elegant and lavish one!).  

We had a lovely time relaxing for a couple of hours before dinner downstairs, it helped that we were able to help ourselves to our own mini-bar, housed in a beautiful SMEG fridge, with a large selection of alcoholic and soft drinks to choose from. I thought I would pay hommage to the nearby scenic Cotswolds with a locally brewed cider. 

8 Course Tasting Menu at Restaurant 56

As we were located just above the restaurant, just before 8pm we swiftly made our way downstairs to dinner - what a luxury this was! 

Before I go into the details of our delicious dinner allow me to give you a little bit of background about the dining options first... 

If dining at Sudbury House Hotel then you have a choice of two restaurants, either the Magnolia Brassiere, a relaxed and informal dining space with a feature open kitchen and wood burning stove in the main hotel (this is also where breakfast is served in the morning), or alternatively, there's Restaurant 56, a unique fine dining restaurant which is situated in the Grade II listed building serving elegant a la carte and extensive tasting menus (five, eight or 10 courses) with optional matching wine flights.  

Restaurant 56 holds an impressive reputation with three AA Rosettes and was also named Oxfordshire's best gastronomic restaurant. 

On this occasion, we were booked in to sample the eight course tasting menu with a matching wine flight. Neither of us have tried a menu with matching wine pairings before so we really excited to sample delicious food with delicious wines that would best compliment our food choices. 

We were quickly greeted and were informed that aperitifs and canapés were to be served to us in the adjoining lounge before being seated for our tasting menu, which was a lovely touch and provided us with an initial taster of the delicious food ahead of us! We were also treated to a complimentary glass of champagne to accompany our canapés. 

Dinner was absolutely spot on. Our waiters wine knowledge was impeccable and he spent a good few minutes before presenting each wine informing us of its origin and why they had chosen to pair with each dish. The tasting menu was an indulgent affair - I tried lobster bisque for the first time, lusciously rich and creamy. 

Other menu highlights included:

  • Beetroot served three ways - super light and refreshing but oozing flavour too! 
  • Quail - one of my favourite meats, this was served both as a crispy scotch egg with oozy middle, topped with grated truffle which was a combination to die for!
  • Red mullet with lobster bisque - as I mentioned above, rich and creamy in perfect quantities!
  • Pan fried duck - need I say more? Soft and served the best shade of pink.
  • Homemade rhubarb and custard marshmallows with rhubarb sorbet and jellied rhubarb - refreshing, sweet and full of flavour. 

After a faultless three/four hour dinner and quick slouch in the chairs in the adjoining lounge we made our way to bed. There's something so satisfying about being able to just head upstairs into a luxurious hotel room after a wonderful dinner - no designated drivers in site! 

After a wonderful sleep in our ridiculously large and sumptuous bed, we were excited for breakfast. 

Who would have thought that eight courses the previous evening wouldn't have been enough!? 

Breakfast was served in Magnolia Brasserie in the main hotel, an open-plan informal restaurant which has a large selection of buffet and a la carte items you can order directly from the menu. 

We had the most loveliest stay at Sudbury House Hotel and were treated extremely well by all staff - we would not hesitate to stay again or recommend to family and friends when visiting the local area. 

If you too want to fell like celebrities for the night, why not treat yourselves to a Thursday Night Prime Booster with an 8-course dinner in Restaurant 56 (£70 per person) and an overnight stay in Suite 57 (£85 per person) - now that's affordable luxury! 

Sudbury House Hotel 
56 London Street
SN7 7AA 

To make a reservation, call to book: (01367) 241272 or email stay@sudburyhouse.co.uk

(*) Our overnight stay and food and drink at Sudbury House Hotel were 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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Food & Drink: The Bear in Oxshott Review

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beef wellington for one
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80z fillet steak signature dish
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the bear oxshott refurbished interior
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Dining at The Bear in Oxshott, Surrey 

Recently I was invited down to a pub called The Bear which resides in a rather affluent area of Surrey in Oxshott. In November the pub relaunched as a trendy gastro venue after a huge renovation and extension project and I was excited to visit the pub and experience its new-look. 

The pub features classically designed interiors with rich fabrics and finishes throughout, there are plenty of cosy seating areas nestled around the bar itself, as well as a private dining area and plenty of tables with trendy mismatched seating for dining throughout. 

There is also a decent outdoor dining space which would be ideal for the warmer, summer months with a glass of fizz or refreshing mojito in hand. 

On arrival, you immediately enter into the bar which is decorated with wood and is surrounded by sunken Chesterfield sofas and blazing log fireplaces. 

Food is fresh, seasonal and British, on the menu you'll find classic dishes like the Bear's beef burger and beer battered cod, along with more contemporary items like our delicious starter; crispy pork fritters with a homemade chili jam (£5) as well as an extensive wine list to suit all tastes. I'm always pleased to visit a trendy pub with a small but selective cocktail menu on offer too. 

We were seated in a cosy booth by the window complete with fabric patterned seats. After a long day at work and a short drive over to Oxshott (about 40 minutes from West Sussex), I was in need of a refreshing cocktail - a mojito was just what the week ahead ordered. 

We quickly settled upon sharing the Crispy Pork Fritters with Homemade Chili Jam (£5) as a nibble before setting our sights onto mains. 

A steak lover through and through, I ordered the 8oz Aberdeen Angus Fillet steak, served with triple cooked chips, roasted vine on tomatoes and a Portabello Mushroom (£30). My lean cut of beef was juicy and lean and I ordered with a creamy peppercorn sauce for £1.50 extra. The triple cooked chips were fluffy and melted in the mouth. 

Alex opted for the Beef Wellington for one special (£28) which also came as a sharing option for two at £50. When the Beef Wellington for "one" arrived we were both surprised at how large the wellington portion for one was. I can't imagine what the sharing portion for two would have looked like! 

Alex received three large cuts on his plate, which were HUGE (as you can see from the photos). Unfortunately, Alex really struggled to get through the whole thing and he mentioned that the portion was too big (that's rich coming from someone who eats a hell of a lot) so he was unable to enjoy the dish to its full capacity.  

The staff at the Bear did mention that it was the first time the dish had been offered as a special and the portion size was likely to be reduced as they had quite a few people returning the dish unfinished. Although credits to the chef for his generous portion sizes! 

The food was very enjoyable and we'd love to go back and try one of the sharing boards in the sunshine.

The Bear, Leatherhead Rd, Oxshott, Leatherhead, KT22 0JE. Tel: 01372 842747 

For Surrey scotch egg fanatics - see my review of The Stag on the River in Goldaming.

(*) All food and drink at The Bear in Oxshott were 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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Travel: Italy Destination Guide - How To Spend 72 Hours in Italy

italy destination guide
day trip to capri by boat from sorrento
exploring the island of capri
fiat 500 italian car driving the amalfi coast
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Postiano amalfi coast
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seafood dishes in capri italy
the isle of capri by night
walking the streets of capri

If you work full-time like me and LOVE to travel, you will know it is always a difficult affair deciding on how best to use and spread out your annual leave across the year. 

You might not believe me but on a recent weekend break to Italy, in under 72 hours we managed to visit Naples, drive past Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, had two overnight stays in Vico Enquense, plus a visit to Sorrento, a day trip to the isle of Capri and an afternoon driving the Amalfi coast, finishing our trip off with a stop in Positano. Did I mention amongst all this, we got engaged too?!

The best bit? For this long weekend break, I only needed to deduct x 1 full day from my annual leave! 

So, where did this all start? In October, I was lucky enough to be whisked away to Italy for the weekend by Alex for my surprise birthday weekend. With our flight on Friday afternoon from Gatwick to Naples and a flight home late Sunday evening we had less than 72 hours to explore and experience as much of Italy as possible.  

Our trip wasn't meant to be exhaustive or overwhelming, ideally, we wanted to both relax and explore, which I can assure you, is definitely more than possible!

Not only was it the best European city break I've ever been on, we enjoyed plenty of downtime for indulging in Italian food, wine and gelato treats and experienced beautiful scenic sites and romantic spots at every corner. 

So, what did we get up to and how do I recommend you spend 72 hours in Italy? Let's start with Naples.


Our trip first started when we landed in Naples, the largest city in Southern Italy. We arrived after a direct flight from Gatwick Airport, flying with British Airways, which took approximately 3 hours. Upon arrival at Naples airport, we made our way out of the terminal and hopped on a brief shuttle bus (it's free!) over to the airport's hire car area. 

For the weekend in Italy, Alex had booked us a hire car to ensure we could get from A to B in style, and of course, in true Italian style, we hired a classic black Fiat 500 which made the trip all the more magical. Navigating the Italian roads was initially a little stressful, let's just say the Italian's drive like madmen and there were a few moments where I genuinely feared for my life. 

However, after about 30 minutes getting used to navigating the roads (and the people!) the route was pleasant and we even drove past the famous Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii on route to our hotel in Vico Enquense. 

Unfortunately, we didn't get the chance to spend much time in Naples itself, only drive through on route to our next destination. If you love pizza - I highly recommend that you dedicate a couple of hours for Naples as arguably, it's meant to be the pizza capital of the world! 

Estimated time needed: 2-3 hours

Vico Equense 

Our stop for the night? Vico Equense! Vico Equense is a coastal town and comune in the 
Metropolitan City of Naples located in southern Italy.  

For the duration of our short weekend in southern Italy we stayed in a beautiful, five-star boutique hotel called Hotel Capo La Gala, which Alex had booked through the exclusive travel company, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The hotel was an ideal base to stay, only a short driving distance from both Naples and with Sorrento only a mere 10-minute drive away. The hotel was absolutely stunning with its scenic, cliff-side location.

We also had the most amazing "Paradise Room" complete with private terrace and outdoor jacuzzi overlooking the fantastic gulf of Naples. The room itself was awash with bright white walls and nautical blue and white tones throughout and shells and seahorse ornaments were scattered and dotted about. This is where Alex proposed on the Friday evening - you can read all about our engagement in my previous post.

Estimated time needed: 1 hour - ideal lunch stop from Naples to Sorrento


On Saturday, after the excitement of the night before, we woke up around 9.30am with beaming smiles and headed downstairs for breakfast overlooking the beautiful gulf of Naples. Our morning started off quite lazy but granted, we were still in a fuzzy warm haze from the night before. At around 11 am we grabbed a free shuttle from the hotel (it is basically a private taxi) into Vico Enquense where we took a train direct to Sorrento. The train will cost you around €7 for a return. 

When we arrived in Sorrento the sun was warm on our backs and our cosmopolitan surroundings oozed warmth and sophisticated class. We walked down the hill towards Sorrento's historical center. 

Sorrento's center has a buzzing atmosphere and is the ideal place for shopping, from the seafront to the narrow streets leading to the main area, there are thousands of souvenirs that can be found. 

We wandered around the town and markets before climbing down the stairs from Piazza Tasso to reach Sorrento's Marina Piccola port. It's a short climb, however, can be strenuous due to the steep steps down and difficult on the return trip back up but it is worth the climb! If you'd rather not walk there is the option to take a shuttle bus running to Piazza Tasso or the elevator to the Villa Comunale. 

Ferries depart for Capri from Sorrento's Marina Piccola port around every 30 minutes during the summer months. 

Estimated time needed: Half-full day

The Island of Capri

Capri was arguably the most romantic part of our trip. In the afternoon we caught a high-speed ferry from the port of Sorrento over to the Island of Capri, which took around 30 minutes. We booked round-trip tickets which enabled us around six hours on the island. 

The island itself is made of limestone rock and is very picturesque and has long been a favourite with Roman Emperors, artists, writers and the rich and famous. It is known to be one of the most popular destinations in the Mediterranean and I can most certainly see why; it is visually stunning! 

My favourite place in Capri was Marina Piccola, mainly for the breathtaking 40-minute walk from the center of Capri. When you reach the marina you'll be in awe of its glistening turquoise waters and sheltered sunny cove. Located on the sunny south side of the island, Marina Piccola is sheltered from the wind by a steep wall of rock and the bay is almost always warm. 

Don't miss the wonderful seafront restaurants where you can grab an early afternoon seat next to the water's edge for the best dining spots. I would recommend Restaurant Torre Saracena and Restaurant da Gioia for a beachside setting. The ravioli is to die for! 

It may be small but during your trip you must visit Capri's famous Piazzetta, a fashionable meeting place for both locals and visitors. Today, Capri's celebrity-packed Piazzetta provides the perfect hunting ground for camera-clicking paparazzi, eager to capture images of the rich and famous, and holidaymakers hoping to brush shoulders with their favorite Hollywood star.

Then why not drift towards the fancy lanes full of fashionable designer shops, if you can't afford to touch, just browse with an ice-cream in hand :)

If you have time and the weather is fair, I'd recommend you take a boat over to the Blue Grotto - its only around €13 and is something me and Alex really wanted to do, but unfortunately didn't have time. 

Estimated time needed: Half-full day

Amalfi Coast

On Sunday, our final day, we needed to check out of our hotel and with our little Fiat in tow and our flight home not until the late evening we thought this would be an ideal afternoon to navigate the coastal and cliff-side roads from Sorrento towards the Amalfi coast. 

Driving the Amalfi Coast is very magical and something everyone should experience. Make sure you make time for a quick stop to the wonderful town of Positano. 

Seen from the sea, Positano is set in a dramatic vertical panorama of colors; the green of the Monti Lattari, the white, pink and yellow of the Mediterranean houses, the silvery gray of its pebble beaches and the blue of the sea.

Spiaggia Grande is the heart of sea edge at Positano with its beach 300 meters long, it is one of the largest on the Amalfi Coast, and one of the most glamorous too, attracting a fashionable crowd of artists, actors, and celebrities.

You'll likely be hungry by now, so I'd recommend a sea-facing dining hotspot, The Covo Restaurant. 

The restaurant of Covo Dei Saraceni is a splendid terrace on the sea facing Positano spread along the sandy beach and is the ideal place where the pleasures of the table blend with those of the landscape and of the hospitality of the restaurant staff. 

Estimated time needed: Half a day

For more information on Naples as your starting destination in Italy, take a look the Liverpool John Lennon Airport website for their informative Naples destination guide and plenty of direct flights into Italy. 


I absolutely adore Italy! When can I go back?

Annual leave requirement?

Completely do-able across Friday-Sunday with 1-day full annual leave taken.

(*) This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Liverpool John Lennon Airport. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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Lifestyle: Movie Nights at Home - My Essentials

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the perfect movie night at home
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My Movie Night Essentials

I don't know about you, but these days, I much prefer a movie night at home over going to the cinema. Of course I do enjoy the odd cinema trip now and then but personally, now I have my own home, there's nothing better than getting snuggled up at home with Alex and Mia, sticking my favourite movie on and indulging into lots of naughty treats. 

For me its always a special treat and a great "date-night in" idea. 

So, if I'm having a movie night at home, what are my essentials for the evening? 

Popcorn & Sweets

First of all, its a given that I've got to be stocked up on popcorn - Sunbites sweet and salty is current favourite of mine. Sweets? Chocolate raisins always go down a treat, although I do have a habit of eating these far too quickly, otherwise some mini marshmallows will do! 

My Favourite Film

The most important part? You need your favourite film to watch. Luckily we've got the movies package with Sky so can pretty much find any of our favourites in their movie library. 

I know the screens are usually huge at the cinema but you don't fret, I still think you can get that home movie sound and picture experience, especially if your watching on a HD 4K TV. 

Check out the range of Ultra HD 4K TVs from Panasonic for your own home movie experience!


If you follow me on Instagram you'll notice that I have a huge obsession with candles, they are literally everywhere in my living room. 

Recently I've been experimenting with moving furniture and homeware decor around in the living room and stumbled across these gorgeous marbled stone (kitchen) accessories in John Lewis which I have been using as a foundation for my candle arrangements. 

Lighting all of the candles creates a cosy, warm ambience that you really can't recreate anywhere else but home. 


Having a mid-week movie night? This is where those small 187ml wine bottles come in handy! If I'm having a movie night I'll always grab my favourite red wine tipple from the supermarket on my walk home from work. This is definitely one home movie experience you can't get in the cinema! (unless your going to an Everyman Cinema of course). 

Cosy Blankets

Do you ever feel super cold in the cinema? Whenever I go to my local Cineworld its actually bloody freezing! I end up watching the film shivering hidden under my coat. At home, no problemo! 

There's nothing I love more than pulling on my warmest slipper socks and snuggling down with a fluffy, oversized throw. 

A Companion 

Movie nights home alone are alright, but its much more enjoyable when you've got a companion, or two! Mia (the cat) will always get cosy with us which is super cute and again - this is something I definitely wouldn't be able to have in the cinema!

What are your movie night essentials? Do you prefer trips to the cinema or movie nights at home?


(*) This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Panasonic and their new line of Ultra HD 4K TVs. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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