USA ROADTRIP – COMING SOON

USA ROADTRIP – COMING SOON

I will be giving you top tips on the destinations and attractions we visited and honest hotel reviews too.

I also have lots of pictures to share with you.

Look out for the post on driving tips for the USA.

We’ve been driving in the States for over 20 years now and we learnt a few things this time from the local sheriffs!!

Watch this space….


  

Renaissance St Pancras Hotel, London

Renaissance St Pancras Hotel, London

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The California event I attended last week was held at the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel and this hotel has certainly got the WOW factor. It’s attached to St Pancras International Station making it the perfect hotel to stay in before  setting off on the Eurostar.

When you walk into the lobby it had such a great feeling to it. Although it was morning it was busy with people sat either working on laptops or just relaxing drinking tea. It stayed this way all day and by the afternoon, guests were arriving for afternoon tea. It was a warm bright lobby and I sat there for a while just taking in the atmosphere.

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The Booking office is a great setting for breakfast, snacks or dining. There is an all day menu and again is just a great place to sit and soak up the atmosphere while looking at the great architecture. This also leads straight out to St Pancras Station where there is a great array of shops.

The Gilbert Scott restaurant is operated by one of Britains most celebrated chefs, Marcus Warring, who has just been announced as the new judge on Masterchef.

I got a quick peek at the St Pancras Spa with six beauty rooms, a fully equipped gym, Steam and Sauna rooms and a relaxation pool along with the relaxation room. It certainly looked very impressive to me.

There are two different parts to the accommodation here. The Chambers and The Barlow House. I got to see one of the great Chamber Suites on my tour and oh my. When I stay at this hotel The Chambers is where I will be resting my head. You have access to the Chambers Club where breakfast can be taken, light snacks are available throughout the day. You also have access to a Hotel Butler who will be able to assist you with practically anything.

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Did you know that this is the only hotel in the world who has immigration clearance to escort you from your hotel bedroom to your train?? Pretty impressive.

Historic tours of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel run throughout the week and most weekends and last just over an hour. This would be a great way to see and learn the history of the hotel that originally opened in 1873

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Did you know apart from the famous staircase featured in the Spice Girls first video ‘Wannabe’ in 1996 many scenes from films have also been shot here including Batman, Shirley Valentine, Bridget Jones and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

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Next time we travel on the Eurostar I will definitely begin my trip a day early and stay here. I recommend you do too. Please get in contact with me for rates and availability.

Have you already stayed here or been here for afternoon tea?? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh

Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh

 

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We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh in March when the cold spell was still strongly present. The hotel has recently undergone a luxurious £24 million refit to bring this landmark Scottish property into line with other Waldorf Astoria Hotels.

‘The Caley’, as it is known among Edinburgh locals, is situated at the west end of Princes Street, this former Victorian railway hotel nestles in the shadow of the historic Edinburgh Castle and is just two minutes’ walk from the designer shops and trending bars of George Street.

We checked in at the new reception area, quickly and efficiently and took the lift to our room. Upon opening the door we quickly realised we were in a Twin bedded room not a Double as we should be. We rang down to Reception and was advised they would look into it and call us back which they did and we were taken to another room with a Double Bed. However this room was completely different to the first and to be honest was more of a box room. The bathroom was pretty chilly too but thought it would warm up now the room was being used. When we awoke the next morning the bathroom was icy and was so cold I was literally hopping from one foot to the next trying to keep warm. We went to reception and advised them of the situation and asked for something to be done. We were told they would certainly look into this straight away. We were out exploring the castle and sights and returned to get ready for a Gala Dinner only to find it was still freezing nothing had been done. It was too late to reiterate the situation to reception again. When we checked out the next morning I explained the situation again and was told that Guest Relations would contact me in due course. I waited 3 weeks long enough I thought, then contacted them myself.

The hotel is beautiful and had our room problems have never happened it would have been a great stay. There is clearly a lack of communication between different departments at The Caledonian. This lack of communication unfortunately made our stay unenjoyable.

The hotel features a gym with brand-new equipment, as well a wet area featuring mixed sauna and steam rooms, pool and jacuzzi. There is also a Guerlain Spa available, it’s the only one in Scotland.

The original Waldorf and Astoria hotels in Manhattan were connected by a corridor named ‘Peacock Alley’. Now, every Waldorf-Astoria has a Peacock Alley although not just a corridor now, this is the name traditionally given to the lounge area. In The Caledonian, its Peacock Alley is a huge, bright area which incorporates the former stations ticket office in. We sat in the lounge to use the free WiFi available, as its chargeable in the bedrooms. We also meet here in the evening for drinks before our Gala Dinner. I must mention The Caley Bar, even if you’re not staying in this hotel come and have a drink, they make a mean Martini!!

Overall, the hotel is in one of Edinburgh’s most prime locations and the refit of the hotel has left with a true luxurious feel to the main areas. (sadly not our bedroom though)

Would I honestly stay here again? If I could guarantee a room without the arctic temperatures in the bathroom then yes. However there are plenty of other hotels in Edinburgh and working in the travel Industry it’s always nice to try a new hotel and see what we think. Just like we did when we stayed here.

I have been in contact with Guest Relations regarding our issues during our stay and they have apologised but nothing can change that first impression. All we wanted was the room we paid for. At nearly £200 a night I would and I’m sure you would to expect a warm bathroom. If you have any problems with your room or any other aspect of your stay always let someone at the hotel know immediately so they can hopefully rectify the situation while your there. If you don’t say anything until your home it’s often too late to change.

Have you ever stayed at The Caledonian? Have you been disappointed in the room you have been allocated at a hotel. I would love to hear from you.

 

South Lake Tahoe and The Alder Inn, California

We are starting to plan our next West Coast Road trip and it has bought back fond memories of our last one in 2012.

Sometimes I think its harder planning your own trip than helping others. It takes me forever to decide on which hotel we should stay in!!! Normally the higher star rating the more guarantee of a splendid hotel.

However this time when deciding on accommodation at Lake Tahoe I trusted the reviews on Tripadvisor as The Alder Inn was rated 1st in South Lake Tahoe. Its actually classed as a Motel and believe me I hesitated for ages before booking but I’m glad I made the decision and followed the reviews. It’s family run and the advice they give us as it was our first visit to the area was outstanding.

We were checked in and shown to our room The Audrey Hepburn Room. I love these colours and felt right at home here. As you can see from the pictures everything is colour co-ordinated even the bathroom matched!!

The Motel is a great location for walking to the Lake, going to nearby Heavenly and seeing the outstanding views from the top of the Mountain after riding the cable car. We even watched an open air concert and saw a paddling boarding competition.

We hired a speedboat to cruise around the Lake and was so impressed we went back and did it again the next day.

You can hire bikes and follow the trail, eat ice cream at the local ice-cream parlour or just relax on the local beach.

We did it all!!!

It’s on our list to visit again on the next road trip. It’s such a peaceful place to stay and we really didn’t want to leave to continue our trip.

I will leave you with some pictures of the breathtaking views.

I think you will agree the pictures speak for themselves.

If you need any help planning your road trip whether its in the USA or the rest of the world then please get in touch. I’m here to help.

 

The Hilton Hotel, Gatwick Airport

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Last month we started our holiday with a stay at the Hilton Hotel at London Gatwick Airport. This is the only hotel attached to the South Terminal by a covered walkway. The North Terminal is only minutes away by the monorail.

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I don’t know about you but I always like to spend the night before a flight at an Airport hotel if our flight is in the morning. Over the years we’ve had a few near misses of nearly not reaching the airport at all. An exhaust pipe falling off and abandoning our broken down car to catch a taxi spring to mind!!!!

We were travelling as a family of four and had booked a Family room. This was the biggest family room we have stayed in. As you can see we had plenty of space especially good with older children.

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We walked into the South Terminal via the walkway and had a drink and meal at The Beehive. We had a quick look around the shops before heading back. There is a Bar and Restaurant in the hotel that were both being used by lots of guests. The bar area had a great buzzing atmosphere, all those happy holidaymakers finally relaxing and starting their trip in style.

All rooms have wi-fi access although it’s not complimentary. This is standard throughout the Hilton Chain unfortunately. You can receive complementary wi-fi in the lobby. A few grumbles were received when Facebook couldn’t be used before bedtime!!

There is a gym in the hotel. I didn’t get a chance to use it although I peeped in on the way to check in the next morning and it was very busy. It’s on the reception level on the way to the walkway. The front is all glass so everyone can see you as you walk past. Not too keen on this to be honest, I like to workout in private.

Would I stay here again? Definitely, it was a great way to start our trip. The staff were friendly and the rooms were clean and fresh.

Got an early morning flight or just fancy relaxing the night before your holiday begins. Need a hotel?? Then the Hilton Hotel is what you need. Get in touch with me below and I can assist you. If you’re not travelling from Gatwick don’t worry I have another recommendations for you.

Watch out for more posts coming soon. Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Service is it worth it? And lots of details of making your Florida dream holiday run like clockwork…

All my reviews are my own honest opinions. If I don’t like something don’t worry you’ll be the first to know!!!

The Gleneagles Hotel

The Gleneagles Hotel is approximately an hours drive from Edinburgh Airport. We hired a car and drove the scenic route to the hotel through the countryside, a lot better than driving on the motorway. I love seeing the snow on the mountain tops.

Check in was pleasant and there was no queue. Our luggage was taken straight from our car and taken to our room. It arrived the same time as we did and we were shown around our room. More importantly we were shown how to use the fire, how I love a fire in a bedroom. The wind was howling outside and I was warm and cosy in my room snuggled in my luxurious bathrobe.

On our first evening we had dinner over in The Dormy Clubhouse. The clubhouse is just under a 10 minute walk from the hotel. We decided to get a lift as it was very cold and didn’t want to ruin my heels!! Good excuse don’t you think.. We started with Whiskey cured smoked salmon with lemon jelly, Heritage potatoes and basil cress. Our main course was 28 day aged Scotch beef, a jumbo prawn with garlic butter and lastly we had a buffet dessert which included Rhubarb-Apple Crumbles, Mini key lime pies, Choux buns – Salt Caramel, Exotic fruit pavlovas and much more. Just in case you wondered, I didn’t eat all the desserts shown below!!!! The food was delicious.

Breakfast was taken the next morning in The Strathearn Restaurant. I loved this restaurant as it felt very homely and we sat by the window and had the morning sun beaming in. I ordered a smoked salmon omelette with a side of mushrooms and my daily peppermint tea.

After breakfast we took a leisurely stroll around the grounds, we saw the golf course, watched the Falcon flying around and even saw a maze in the gardens and then it was time for lunch!!!

As all I seemed to have done is eat and chill by the fire I decided to check out the gym. Nice to see plenty of towels, water, fruit and headphones to borrow too.   Great equipment, there was everything I needed and more and I had a good workout.

We were lucky enough to experience a traditional Scottish Dinner in The Gleneagles Suite.  It started with the Haggis being brought into the room by the chef. He read a poem and then we toasted the Haggis with Whiskey. We started with Haggis – neeps – tatties – whiskey sauce. I will always try something once, but its the thought of whats in the haggis thats very off putting. But as its a traditional dish of the country I had a taste. After another fine dinner we were escorted into The Ballroom where we were entertained by the lovely Lulu for the evening.

Before we left the next morning I had to have another smoked salmon omelette, delicious. It’s so nice to sit and relax over breakfast, something that rarely happens at home.

We had an Estate room in The Braid House. I really loved this room. A massive bed, a separate shower cubicle and a claw foot bath, perfect. There was even a balcony with a table and chairs (a little cold to be using though) and don’t forget the fire too. Wifi was compliematary and fast even in the bedrooms. To get to the Braid House its a quick walk through the little arcade of shops. (Good excuse to keep popping in the shops) Apparently the US Ryder Cup team will be taking over the Braid House during their stay.

The five million pound refit has just been completed on The Club. I saw the pool on the way to the gym and it looks great especially the loungers with their thick plush cushions. I didn’t get a chance to visit The Spa but definitely next time it will be on the top of my list.

Have you ever stayed at Gleneagles? I can highly recommend this hotel. It’s good for a romantic getaway, a golfing break or even a girlie spa weekend. If you want to check out their prices and availability don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.