TRS Yucatan Hotel Mexico
The infinity pool at the TRS Yucatan

Following a glorious week spent in the Maldives last year, I was keen to get another beach holiday in this year. With just a few criteria on my list (adults only, beachfront location and reef accessible from the beach), I started looking at Kenwood Travel who I booked with last year, before I came across some great deals on the Blue Bay Travel website.

TRS Yucatan Hotel MexicoOur private pool

The thought of going to a bustling tourist hot spot like Cancun did little for me, but when I came across the adults-only luxury 5* TRS Yucatan Hotel further down the Yucatan peninsula that was offering a free upgrade to a Juniour suite with a private pool and butler(!), I set to work, trying to convincing myself that Mexico was for me.

Helios Beach Bar, Mexico
Helios beach bar and restaurant

After reading up on the location I was sold and snapped up the all-inclusive special offer, which happily came in well below my budget.

Continue reading here.

Staybridge Suites Manchester Hotel Review

Where did we stay?

Staybridge Suites Manchester
30 Higher Chatham Street Manchester, M15 6ED United Kingdom
King Bed Suite £158

Booked through Expedia

Need to know

Inside the suites you’ll find a king size bed, free WiFi, 43-inch Smart TV, kitchen with fridge stove, microwave and dishwasher, bathroom with large double shower.

The check in staff were very friendly and helpful and both check in and checkout were fast and efficient. Breakfast is included (though we missed it, preferring a lie-in instead), but we made good use of the Nespresso machine in the suite.

Staybridge Suites Manchester Hotel Review

Our Stay

When it comes to finding reasonably priced hotels in major cities like Liverpool and Manchester, unless you bag a special deal booked well in advance, you’ll be lucky to get change out of £200. The Staybridge Suites came in at £158 for a Saturday night, and provided a bright and modern interior which looked ideal for my recent weekend away.

It’s possible that hotels were more expensive due to Neighbourhood Festival taking place at venues all over Manchester city centre that weekend, but after having priced up my usual preferred hotels in Manchester (Malmaison, The Midland and ABode), I realised that I’d be looking at at least £200 for the night. For a romantic weekend away, that’s no issue, but on this occasion all I was really looking for was somewhere to have a shower, get changed and sleep for the night.

Staybridge Suites Manchester Hotel Review

I’m already a member of the IHG club (Intercontinental Hotels Group which owns the likes of Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo), though a recent stay at the funky Holiday Inn, Media City had sadly wiped out my accumulated points balance, it did mean that when I searched their site, I came across the Staybridge Suites.

A bit of detective work told me that it was close to Manchester University which made it an ideal base for Neighbourood Festival, and parking was close by too. I booked through Expedia, but first went through Quidco to get cash back on my stay and the next day I was off to Manchester.

Inside The Room

The hotel was easy to find, and absolutely lovely. The room is more studio apartment than hotel room as it includes an extremely well equipped kitchen. I always like having a fridge in my hotel room (I always bring wine with me…yeah I’m cheap and what of it?), but it was a surprise to have a full kitchen complete with a dishwasher.

For me the bed is always the most important part of any hotel room, I like a big and fairly hard bed, and the bed in the Staybridge Suites was fabulous. Lighting is also something I find important in hotel rooms. I can’t stand harsh lighting and the first thing I do when entering a hotel room is turn off the ‘big light’ and hit the side lights instead, and the room had plenty of lighting options that provided gentle diffused light.

Staybridge Suites Manchester Hotel Review

The room itself is big, airy and the decor is fresh and modern using a muted colour palette that’s immediately calming. The bathroom was lovely, with a great double size shower. Paying for WiFi really angers me at hotels, so access to free WiFi was a real bonus and connecting was a simple matter of signing in with my existing IHG login details.

Checkout time is 12 which is brilliant. There’s nothing more infuriating than having a late night out, and then being expected to get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning to vacate the room. The generous 12pm checkout time meant, although we missed breakfast (which was free), we did get to have a nice lie in and a very relaxed morning, spent sipping coffee whilst looking out the huge window out across the city of Manchester.

Staybridge Suites Manchester Hotel Review

It’s rare to get truly good views from many hotels, but due to the height of the hotel, we had superb sweeping views over the city and could even see out to the hills beyond.

Having never come across Staybridge Suites before and not really knowing what to expect, I was definitely impressed and wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again next time I’m in Manchester.

Staybridge Suites Manchester Hotel Review

Our Rating

  • Location 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • Bedroom comfort 5/5
  • Hotel ameneties 4/5
  • Checkout time 5/5
  • Staff 5/5

Find out more or book through Expedia here.

Wigwam Holidays Brecon

Where did we go?

Wigwam® Holidays, Brecon
Cilgwyn
LD3 9ND

Tel: 01874636387 / 07811350573
Web: www.wigwamholidays.com

Need to know

  • From £85 per night for 2 people
  • Arrivals between 2pm and 6pm, departure by 11am
  • Cabins all have heating and electricity
  • Running water deluxe cabins sleep up to 4 people and include a kitchen and bathroom
  • Bedding is not provided but is an optional extra
  • Take your own saucepans for cooking
  • Dogs are welcome
  • On site recycling bins provided
  • Don’t forget coals for the barbecue/firepit
  • No phone signal at all on most networks, WiFi available for a fee

Wigwam Holidays Galmping in Brecon, Wales

The accommodation

We arrive at Wigwam Holidays, Brecon after work one balmy Friday evening following a hectic week. Having already exchanged emails with owner Rebecca, we know which of the 6 cabins we’ve been allocated and head straight over to it.

Wigwam Holidays Galmping in Brecon, WalesOur very own private hot tub which proved to be blissfully relaxing

Pulling up outside the cabin we’re eager to get out of the car and have a stretch and are immediately struck by the sense of stillness and peace. All we can hear are the gentle reassuring sounds of nature as the last of the daylight warms our faces.

We start unpacking and are greeted by Gavin who gives us a warm welcome and explains how to operate and take care of the hot tub, a beautiful wood-fired beast that looks mighty inviting, even more so after several hours stuck inside the car.

Inside, the cabin feels light and airy, and I’m reminded of just how spacious and well-appointed this particular style of Wigwam cabin is, providing even more space than I remember having stayed in several different, and much smaller cabins in recent months.

Inside the cabin

As well as finding our bed made and a pile of fresh fluffy towels waiting for us it’s impossible to ignore the enormous homemade chocolate and strawberry cake taking centre stage on the table. We continue making ourselves at home, finding a use for almost every storage nook and cranny then I start to fill the fridge. Delighted, I find a nicely chilled bottle of Prosecco waiting inside, which of course I immediately open, my intention being to finish it in the hot tub a little later on (an objective I proudly achieve).

The kitchen and bathroom inside the cabin

On site

The site itself is glorious, like an oasis in the rolling countryside set within the grounds of a working farm, surrounded on all sides by woods, endless green fields and hills. The site is the ideal place for children to scamper around carefree and safely. There’s an open grassy area for ball games, easily visible from every cabin so parents can keep a watchful eye on their offspring as they do what kids should be free to do more of.

Wigwam Holidays Brecon

There are 6 Wigwam cabins on site, all of them ensuite, 2 of which have their own wood-fired hot tubs. Each cabin has it’s own gravel patio area containing a wooden picnic bench and firepit/barbecue along with solar powered path lights and a homely planter of flowers.

Ponies from the adjacent farm openly grazing

Out and about

I visited the area a couple of years ago with my daughter and was keen to go back to lovely Llangorse Lake for a paddle, so after a lazy Saturday morning which involved another dip in the still-surprising hot hot tub and reading languidly in the sunshine with an enormous bowl of granola, we set off for the lake.

Kayaking on Llangorse LakeKayaking on Llangorse Lake

It takes around half an hour to get to Llangorse lake from Wigwam Holidays, Brecon, and it’s a lovely place to take to the water. We hire kayaks and spend a wonderful couple of hours out on the lake in blazing sunshine. If kayaking isn’t your thing, SUP and rowing boat hire is also available at the lake, but if taking to the water really doesn’t appeal there’s plenty to see and do in the region.

Having researched the area before we arrived, I was aware of nearby Llangorse Multi Activity Centre, and had noted down the postcode intending to make use of the indoor climbing centre there in case of bad weather. As luck would have it though, the sun never stops shining the whole time we are there.

Book shop in Ross on WyeThe quaintest most ‘book shop’ looking book shop I’ve ever seen in Ross on Wye

The popular peak of Pen y Fan is also close by, and had we the luxury of more time, we’d definitely have headed for the hills. Alas this was but a flying visit, albeit it an intensely relaxing and renewing one.

We decide to stop in picturesque Ross on Wye on our way home for a bite to eat and to bimble along the banks of the river Wye in the sunshine, in a desperate bid to delay the return home and hold on to the feeling of content relaxation that has crept over us both.

Ross on Wye

Ross on WyeWild flowers snapped whilst wandering down the riverside in Ross on Wye

The verdict

Friendly owners Rebecca and Gavin have got the attention to detail just right, and even though on our visit the site had only been open a month, everything appeared to be running smoothly. The cabins are truly luxurious, more like a miniature log-cabin than the ubiquitous basic timber pods that have popped up at so many campsites, and the addition of the wood-fired hot tub made the stay extra special (and super romantic!).

Wigwam Holidays Galmping in Brecon, Wales

The countryside location is simply stunning and because Brecon is 1 of just 9 Dark Sky Zones in the world, the night sky is breath-taking. You truly know relaxation when you are sat next to a loved one in a hot tub, a glass of Prosecco in your hand and an endlessly twinkly array of stars looking down on you.

With heaps of things to do within a short drive from the site, for us, Wigwam Holidays Brecon ticks every single box and we couldn’t have wished for more enjoyable or relaxing stay.

Highlights

  • Arriving to find some lovely thoughtful extras waiting for us
  • Taking every opportunity to make the most of the wood-fired hot tub – a definite win and well worth the premium
  • Romantic, relaxed evenings soundtracked by nature
  • The big comfy bed, lovely ensuite, compact yet functional kitchen and enormous fluffy towels
  • Finding ourselves so relaxed that it was gone 11pm on Saturday night before we cooked over the firepit and ate dinner under the stars
  • Kayaking together for the first time in the sunshine on Llangorse Lake
  • Strolling down the side of the river Wye and spending far too much money in the book shop there

Prices start from £85 per night for a deluxe cabin sleeping up to 4 people.

You can stay in a deluxe cabin with a private wood-fired hot tub from £140 per night.

Find out more

Wigwam Holidays Brecon Glamping Review

Thank you to Wigwam Holidays who invited us to stay.

Caretaker's Cottage Llanwrst Conway, Under The ThatchThe back of Caretaker’s Cottage

Where?

Tŷ’r Gofalwr (Caretaker’s Cottage)
Llanwrst
Conwy
Snowdonia
Wales

Our stay

Essential info

  • The cottage comfortably sleeps 4 in two large double bedrooms
  • Modern downstairs bathroom and large spacious kitchen
  • Wood burning stove in a spacious living room
  • Stunning period features, antiques, artwork and heaps of personality
  • Located within the grounds of a country house with art gallery and cafe steps away
  • Great location for attractions like Surf Snowdonia, Bounce Below and Aber Falls

The accommodation

This was my second time booking a cottage with Under the Thatch and I found the whole process easy and straight forwad, though with so many quirky and stunning properties on their website, it can be difficult narrowing your choices down!

Inside the Caretaker's Cottage Llanwrst ConwyThe spacious yet cosy living room inside the cottage with beautiful parquet flooring and wood burner

I’d already decided that I wanted to stay in Snowdonia, so my main requirements for a property other than locatoin, was period character and a wood burning stove and the cottage didn’t disappoint. The standard of the interior was truly stunning, from the beautiful William Morris wallpaper to the ecclectic array of artwork throughout, the cottage was perfect with an extremely homely feel that made us feel relaxed and settled the moment we arrived.

Main bedroom upstairsOne of the two large double bedrooms

William Morris Wallpaper

When we arrived we thought the bottle of wine, brownies and flapjacks waiting for us was a lovely touch, and we didn’t waste much time pouring ourselves a glass of wine and drinking a toast.


We planned on self-catering, and the spacious modern kitchen was extremely well equipped allowing us to prepare elaborate meals, and whilst it was just the two of us, catering for more would be a doddle thanks to the generous dining table.

The cottage provided us with not only a very comfortable stay, but the perfect location from which to explore the North Wales area.

Caretaker's Cottage Llanwrst BedroomThe second bedroom

In the area

Whilst in the area we spent some time exploring the charming little town of Llanrwst. I recommend a poke around in Pickwicks Antiques and crossing the bridge to walk over to the park to see the somewhat incongurous modern stone circle.

Aber Fall Circular WalkAber Falls about a 20 minute drive from the property

We also traveled a little further afield for a number of walks, including a 7.42km Aber Falls circular walk, a visit to the Neolithic burial mound at Bryn Celli Ddu and a fabulous day spent at Newborough Warren Nature Researce and Llanddwyn Island on Angelsey.

Cross Statue Landdwyn IslandLlanddwyn Island on Angelsey

As well as countless superb walks, attractions like Surf Snowdonia and Zip World are also close by, making the location of the cottage perfect for exploring North Wales and the Snowdonia region.

The verdict

I found the entire stay faultless, and as is often the case, my only gripe was that the stay wasn’t long enough! We have already made a pact to return to stay at the Caretaker’s Cottage again next year as we’ve never felt quite so at home and comfortable in a holiday let. The area has so much to offer that we’d not hesitate to return and we look forward to doing so, and hopefully staying even longer next time!

I’d recommend booking as early as possible with Under the Thatch as popular properties do get booked up months in advance.

Inside the cottage

Further information