There are few things that make me happier than a weekend away, so when I was invited to visit Clarendon Royal Hotel back in July, I knew this was an offer I couldn’t turn down.

Clarendon Royal Hotel is located in Gravesend, Kent and overlooks the river Thames so isn’t too far from where I live in Essex. We stayed in the Pocahontas suite which overlooked the Thames and were lucky enough to visit on a sunny day so the view was beautiful.

The suite included one bedroom which had a beautiful four poster bed in (which was incredibly comfortable) as well as a bathroom and open lounge/diner. Our initial reaction to the room was the amazement at how large it was…it was bigger than our entire flat at home!

One of my biggest tick boxes when staying away is the cleanliness of the room so after a quick inspection, I was very pleased to give this a big tick.

In addition to staying in a beautiful room, we were also invited to dine with Clarendon Royal Hotel for dinner and then breakfast the next morning. The staff could not have been more accommodating or welcoming, taking the time to talk to us about the hotel and its history as well as the future plans.

All in all, we had a brilliant stay with everything from a luxurious room, delicious cocktails and a view to take your breath away.

Thank you Clarendon Royal Hotel, we’ll definitely be back.

 

*I was given this stay for free in return for a review on www.foodandfancies.co.uk however, all views and opinions are my own.

 

 

Being from Essex it only seemed right that when we visited Marbella last summer, we visited Elliot Wright’s restaurant, Olivia’s. Across social media and from others that have visited Marbella I’d heard brilliant things about Olivia’s  and the food and with the restaurant being only a stone throw away from where we stayed, we decided to visit three times during our stay.

During our first visit, we ordered a bottle of Moet to start (because if you can’t treat yourself when in Marbella, then when can you?). After enjoying some champagne, we went on to cocktails. The cocktail selection was brilliant and between the four of us, we made our way through the whole menu to try each one…and loved them all!

I’m very fussy when it comes to starters but as everybody else was ordering something I decided to give the crispy duck salad a try. I love duck but I’m also very particular about my duck and the amount of sauce it comes with. I find that there’s never the perfect amount of sauce so the duck is either too dry or soggy. However, Olivia’s is the first place that I’ve visited that has got this spot on. As a starter, it was beautiful. So much so, that I would order a larger version as a main.

For mains, I, of course, went for steak. The steak was an expensive one so I had high hopes that it would be of a high quality and taste amazing. Unfortunately, I was disappointed as I had a very fatty bit of steak and despite asking for it medium/well, it was very well done. However, I think that I was just unlucky with my steak as the others said that there’s was perfect so I probably should have complained at the time as I’m sure they’d have cooked another bit for me. My steak came with chunky chips and these definitely made up for the steak. The portion of chips was huge (much bigger than it looks in the picture) and beautifully crispy.

After dinner, we washed our meal down with even more cocktails until we couldn’t possibly eat another bite or drink another sip.

Have you been to Marbella? Where is your favourite place to eat?

 

Last June, I spent the weekend in Brussels with my colleagues and our partners. There was 12 of us in total and I was put in charge or organising the accomodation, travel and itinerary. After plenty of research, one thing became clear…when in Brussels, waffles and beer were essentials.

After lots of research, I found a beautiful house on Airbnb which we had for the weekend. It had plenty of bedrooms, a fantastic communal area for drinks in the evening and some outside space too. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Brussels in a big group, I’d recommend taking a look at the house here.

So we all travelled to Brussels via Eurostar on the Saturday morning and arrived at the house. After having a quick look around we headed out to enjoy some lunch before exploring. I was amazed with how beautiful Brussels is, especially the amazing buildings.

The itinerary was left pretty clear so that everybody could visit wherever they liked and explore the city as they fancied however I did book one thing; a waffle workshop. Tucked away in a small building in the centre of Brussels, we took part in a waffle workshop and got to create our own traditional Belgium waffles and add toppings etc. I was really impressed with how easy the waffles were to make as I definitely expected them to be a lot more complicated and tricky to get it right but I was pleasantly surprised.

As well as the waffle workshop, we enjoyed plenty of other delicious food throughout the weekend. One thing that really surprised me was the breakfast menu in Brussels. It seems that just about anything goes and a real mixture of food is thrown together which strangely worked really well.

And last but not least, the beer. I’m not a fan of beer but when in Brussels, it only seemed right that I at least tried it. We visited a beer cave which had loads of beer on tap with a selection of beers including fruity beers, which I decided to go for. The atmosphere in the beer cave was really cool as it was just tucked away on a normal street and is underground and even had a photobooth inside so of course, I was all over that.

Overall, Brussels was an amazing city which I would definitely recommend everybody visiting. Especially as it’s so close to the UK and so easy to get to via the Eurostar. There’s plenty to do and see and the food and drink is amazing.

Have you been to Brussels before? Brussels city centre Brussels city centre Brussels city centre - Waffle workshop

 

 

2016 for me, was amazing. It was full of travels to places included Dominican Republic, Brussels, Dublin and Marbella which I think both myself and Liam needed to get out of our systems before we become real adults and have to start paying for bills and being sensible with our money. Although, I have no doubt we’ll still fit in a cheeky holiday or two this year!

Out of all of our 2016 adventures, one sticks out the most…Dublin. On the August bank holiday weekend, a group of eight of us headed to Stansted airport early on Saturday morning to catch a flight to Dublin.

I’d done no research on Dublin prior to visiting (unless you count watching P.S I Love You 1027264 times!) but I’d had recommendations from friends and family to visit two places, Temple Bar and the Guinness Factory.

After arriving at the hotel and leaving our suitcases we headed into the centre for a bit of breakfast and stumbled across a traditional Irish pub full of a group of Irish men all drinking Guinness…I kid you not, it was like something from a film. After a couple of drinks in this quieter pub, we headed on to another local pub before deciding it was time to head over to Temple Bar to see what all of the fuss was about. By this time, it was about 1.pm and we were already all rather drunk. Temple Bar is basically a strip of traditional Irish pubs that attract tourists with traditional Irish museums and a constantly buzzing atmosphere. We found one particular pub that we all loved, the music and atmosphere were amazing and we ended up staying there for a few hours before heading home to get changed and come back for the evening.

What I loved most about Dublin was how friendly everybody was; whether this was the barman, the taxi driver or the local on the dancefloor with you. All of us agreed that it was the best weekend of our lives and I am now waiting for the perfect excuse to head back there. It’s something that I never thought I’d say but I’d choose going back to Dublin over a week in the sun.

Food and drink at Temple Bar are expensive and are a similar price to a night out in London but as long as you save in advance and prepare yourself I think it’s worth it and accommodation can be found very cheap. Additionally, to save some money you can eat and have pre-drinks outside of Temple Bar but for me, it was this atmosphere that completed the weekend.

After a weekend of drinking, eating and exploring I think it’s fair to say that Dublin has well and truly stolen my heart!