Saturday 30 August 2014

Hotel Review: (Newly Refurbished) Premier Inn, Portland Street, Manchester.

Last week we checked in a Premier Inn on Portland Street in Manchester. I've been to a handful of Premier Inn's before, so I knew exactly what to expect.

However, whilst checking in, it came as a nice surprise when the receptionist stated the hotel had been under new refurbishment. My mind instantly jumped back to a TV advert that I had seen a few weeks prior, stating that Premier Inn was changing its 'look'. I was immediately excited because everything became an unexpected surprise.

We entered our room and I was immediately impressed (Can I just say that I have sampled quite a wide range of hotels in the past few years, and have become quite fussy on where I stay!). The first thing that I noticed was the space.. admittedly I had booked a family room (at no extra cost) so these were going to be a little bigger than your average 2-man room. I love a hotel room with a decent floor space.

The bed was huge. When 2 people share a bed which results in you not having to touch, that's when you know you're in a big bed! (A nice bonus, may I add!). Both the duvet, sheets and pillows were just perfect. Premier Inn offer a good night guarantee, whereby if for whatever reason you didn't have a good nights sleep (within reason), they will give you your money back. Because of this scheme, they offer you 2 pillow options, 'fluffy' as I like to call them, and firm. The firm ones are hidden away in the wardrobe. They also had a new touch of ultra violet lighting round the headboard - I found this to look a little seedy when it was dark, so that didn't stay on!

The desk area offered ample space to work off if you were visiting for business, as well as offering you several ports for USB's, chargers etc.

The other side of the room was a sofa (which I assume turned into a sofa bed, although I never tried this). This too was ultra comfy, and when in the hotel, I spent most of my time sat on here reading my book.

There was also a mirror that lit up which I found helpful to do my make up in. Another full length mirror was attached to the wardrobe, which came in handy for outfit checks! There was ample storage space for clothes that needed to be hung up, as well as stored away in drawers.

The bathroom was nice, offering both a bath and shower, which I found to be pretty powerful. I don't think I have ever used a bath whilst in a hotel, but I know some like to. I found the toiletries to be lacking, and no personal touches were made by offering mini shampoos/conditioners etc. Instead, like many standard hotels now, Premier Inn appear to have adopted the soap in a dispenser that doubles up as a shower gel/shampoo. Something that I did find bizarre about the bathroom was that the towel rail was in the bath. Ok - not IN the bath, but on the wall above the bath. Once the shower curtain had closed, you were enclosing the towels in as well which I found bizarre. They didn't get wet, but if changing the angle of the shower then I'm sure they would. Bit of a design flaw there as there was wall space elsewhere for these.

The security of the hotel was pretty high - access into the hotel was only allowed if you used your hotel room swipe card. This applies when using the lift as well. I think more hotels should adopt this idea, there's too many weirdo's roaming about nowadays!

The location of the hotel was almost perfect. You have a variety of restaurants and smaller shops within seconds of leaving the hotel, however the city centre is a mere 5 minute walk away, passing both China Town and Canal Street on the way.

I can't comment on the hotel facilities, because as always, we never use them. Unfortunately the hotel does not offer car parking, however there are a large handful to choose from that are nearby. We parked in an NCP car park 3 minutes away which cost £18 for 24hrs. Don't forget to take this into account when booking your hotel, depending on how many nights you are staying! The receptionist did provide a 30% discount for our parking as we were checking out, however we parked in a different car park to the offer so were unable to use this. We will remember for next time should we visit again!

If you're taking a trip to Manchester anytime soon I'd definitely recommend this hotel!


Friday 22 August 2014

Travel: Weekend in Manchester | Ant & Dec

As part of my Christmas present from my boyfriend I received tickets to go and see Ant n Dec on their Saturday Night Takeaway Tour in Manchester. Its not everyone's ideal night of entertainment, but I love them. Fast forward 8 months and that night finally arrived last weekend.

I didn't book a hotel right until the last minute, and ended up with a simple (yet refurbished) Premier Inn on Portland Street. For a budget hotel, I was very impressed, and felt like I was in a 4* hotel. The room was huge (although I did book a family room for no extra cost). It even had ultra violet lighting around the bed frame (although some may argue this is a little seedy ;-)). I'll do a review on this hotel real soon.

We arrived mid afternoon on Friday, and after having a little rest from the driving up there, we refreshed ourselves and headed to Market Street in Manchester for a 3 course meal and a bottle of wine that I had won in a competition a few months ago. After stuffing our faces and Mike drinking the majority of the wine, we were pretty tired so took a slow walk back to the hotel for an early night #oldbeforeourtime

My starters

Silly Face
Saturday came and we hit the shops and stopped off at Nando's for some lunch in the Arndale Centre. I had a steak and philly burger with spicy seasoned chips with corn on the cob (I'm obsessed with those at the minute!). We did a little more shopping before heading back to the hotel so Mike could have a cat-nap (he'd done a night shift the day we left for Manchester so only had about 4hrs sleep!). I just read my book and got myself ready for that night. We walked to the Phones4u arena (which was a lot closer than I thought!) and waited for the show to start.

The show was just like it was on TV - Paddy McGuinness was the box host, Ashley Roberts was there and performed her new single (which I haven't a clue what the title is!). Kim Marsh and Antony Cotton from Coronation Street made an appearance as well as a few others. We watched Ant n Dec in a trial, we played ball games in the crowd and watched a celebrity wind up as well as 'win the ads'. I also saw Ant n Dec perform their famous Let's Get Ready to Rhumble! We even witnessed a live proposal in the audience. It was a really good night and made a pleasant change.

Ant V Dec

Ball Games!
After leaving the stadium we were hungry, but because it was late we decided to just grab a subway. We got lost on the way home too (Mike decided to blame me for that one) and instead of walking the 15min walk, it turned into a 45 minute walk.. oops! Safe to say I was glad when I was back in the hotel, subway in hand!

Sunday came and we grabbed a drink from Costa for breakfast. I kept seeing adverts for a new coconut and chocolate frappe that I just had to try - I'm not a huge coffee fan but this was so good! Thankfully the taste of coffee was not overpowering so it turned out to be a delicious treat! We attacked Primark (after a disappointing trip  day before!) before leaving for our next port of call which was Fallowfield, which is still in Manchester, just 3 miles from the city centre. I had won another competition a while back and the prize was a hotel stay, champagne afternoon tea, 3 course meal with wine, champagne in the room as well as breakfast the next morning (phew!), so I added this onto the end of our trip for a nice (free!) extended stay. We arrived mid afternoon and after quickly seeing the room, we headed straight back to the lounge area for afternoon tea which was yummy (review on this coming soon!). After devouring this, we headed back to the room.

Part of my competition wins

Because of the location of the hotel, although there were shops and restaurants around, the weather was looking a little unpredictable, so we just relaxed in the hotel room instead, played a few games and watched TV. Before we knew it, we were heading back to the restaurant for our 3 course meal. We had deliberately booked the latest sitting as possible, and because of this, we were the only ones in the restaurant! I tried to go for something a little lighter, and opted for pasta. I really couldn't fit pudding in as well so they kindly let us take it to our rooms instead. I'm so glad I did this as opposed to just declining pudding because it was SO good! I opted for chocolate fudge cake, and mine came with a bit of fudge on top! (Mike got a segment of Terry's chocolate orange on his). It tasted really good quality too. Yum.


Never thought I'd say this but after this, I was actually sick of the sight of food! I felt like all we'd done all weekend was eat!

The next morning was breakfast (argh, more food!) - I went for the fried breakfast but only had a little bit. After this, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Ikea in Manchester. We got so much for our money! I wish we had one nearby so I could visit more regular!

After our trip to Ikea we decided to visit a Science Museum in Rotherham called Magna. I'd seen a Youtube video of a couple that visited this last year and it looked quite good. When we got there we soon realized that a large chunk of it was about the steelworks, and I really wasn't interested in it. The building was split into 4 sections; Earth, Fire, Water and Air, each section being interactive to that element. A lot of it was designed more for children. It had a huge outdoor play area for children as well which looked fun, including a wet area, which looks good for hot summer days. Unfortunately it didn't float my boat but other children looked like they were having a great time! I'm glad I went to see what it was all about.

After this we were both starving so stopped off in Sheffield and went to Frankie & Benny's before heading back home.

All in all, another lovely varied weekend away, something I'm looking forward to doing again soon! I dread to think how many pounds I've put on over this weekend!

Friday 15 August 2014

August's Birchbox - 'Away We Go'

This month's Birchbox is based on the thing I love to do best - travelling! It includes some of their travel essentials, including a lifestyle item - Chapter 1 of 'The Proposal' by Tasmina Perry (which can I just say, I've read and it sounds pretty good - its made me want to get the full book now!).

First of all, lets quickly comment on the packaging.. usually all products come in the famous drawstring bag, which, whilst I'm on the topic - has anyone actually found a use for these yet? I find them to be one of the most un-useful things ever.. the best thing I've found to use it for is storing my dirty underwear in when I'm travelling (sorry for TMI!). They're piling up in my cupboard and I really don't know why I insist on keeping them!

Instead the drawstring bag was replaced with a plastic zip-lock bag which I may actually use for my next plane journey as I believe its within the correct measurements for my carry on liquids.

Lets take a closer look...

Supergloop CC Cream (x2) - Full size £32

This is very similar to a BB cream but instead this colour corrects your skin - it adapts to any redness or discolourations. CC creams claim to be lighter on the skin than BB creams, with a more air-whipped finish.
The Supergloop is pretty natural for me and doesn't cover my imperfections up as much as I would like. Maybe on good skin days this would be good but because I've gotten so used to full coverage foundation, I don't like any other now, and feel naked when using tinted stuff. I'll probably bring this to hotter climates with me when I try not to use as much make up.

Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect - Full size £20

This is a leave-in conditioning spray that claims to detangle and protect against heat and sun damage. As I've previously mentioned, I'm a pain for using hair products.. I use the bare minimum, simply cos I either forget or I'm too lazy to incorporate them into my routine. I'm really not a hair person! However I will bring this on holiday with me because I know how tangled your hair can get when on the beach/in the pool etc.

Wild About Beauty Crème Eyeshadow - £13

This claims to be a long-lasting, satin finish shadow from Louise Redknapp's range. I received a really nice medium brown tone in the shade 04 ('Matilda'). I love the compact it comes in, even with its own little mirror. I do have so much eyeshadow though so I may pass this on.

Vasanti Brighten Up! Exfoliating Cleanser - Full size £26

I've yet to try this but I do like using exfoliaters on my skin a few times a week to get rid of any grime that normal products struggle to remove. I love how exfoliaters leave your skin feeling baby soft too, and I'm sure this will do the same!

Nude Progenius Omega Treatment Oil - Full size £58

This is an oil that is rich in omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9 (who knows?!) and claims to hydrate and smooth your skin.
I've just finished something very similar to this that had a tightening effect on my face - I still can't decide if I enjoyed using it or not!

Overall, a nice varied box ready for those summer holidays you may have coming up!

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @kateld85 - I am posting everyday in August!


Wednesday 13 August 2014

Nail Art - Pastel Marble Watercolour

When I have a bit of spare time I like to dabble a little in nail art. I'm by no means a pro at it but love a unique design once in while as I always seem to get stuck in the ol' polka dot rut (lazy nail art girl alert!). I was attempting to do an ombre nail last night; I've done it before and it turned out pretty well, however last night it just wasn't having it. I removed a full set of nails 3 times, so 1+hr later I gave in and searched for something else.

I came across 'watercolour nails - no water needed' - Perfect, I thought, for late night nail art. It was almost my bed time so the less hassle the better! Some may argue, but I thought this was so much simpler and quicker than gradient ombre nails. (Ignore the random air bubble that seems to have developed on my forefinger!)

You will need:

  • White nail polish (I used a Rimmel one from Rita Ora's collection)
  • 2 or 3 nail polish colours of your choice (My selection were from the Barry M gelly line)
  • Cling film or a sandwich bag
  • Top Coat (I used Seche Vite)
  • Nail varnish remover
  • Cotton Buds (or Q tips if you're American!)

  • Give your nails a coat of white polish and allow to dry
  • Apply a generous blob of each chosen nail polish on every nail - (don't worry if 2 colours merge into one)
  • Apply clingfilm over the nail and press down until all the blobs have spread across the nail
  • Repeat on all nails
  • Allow to dry then apply a top coat
  • Once dry, tidy up any edges by dipping a cotton bud in some nail polish remover.
I can't wait to try this effect with different colours!


Monday 4 August 2014

Review: July's Degustabox

Who doesn't love receiving a subscription box through the post every month? I've received my fair share of beauty boxes over the last few years, and now I've been introduced to the world of food subscriptions. I'm a big foodie, always loved my food, always probably will (although my waistline isn't thanking me for it!).

Degustabox is a monthly subscription service that sends you a huge batch of full sized samples of food/drink through your door that you probably wouldn't give a second thought about on your weekly shop. I for one know how easy it is to get stuck in a rut with the same foods, whether it be for convenience or financial matters. These boxes help you to be more adventurous in the foods that you buy, which makes trying the foods a whole lot more exciting!

This sight excites me every month! Everything is always really well packaged in thick chunky bubble wrap, finished off with some brown wrapping paper and a sticker quote..

Lets take a look inside....

I love the variety that Degustabox offer every month. There is something in this box that suits almost every occasion.. popcorn for film nights, refreshing ciders for afternoons in the garden (or after a hard days' work!). Summery drinks to take on picnics, ingredients for baking, succulent spices and sauces to add to main meals.. the variety is perfect.

Hornsby's Blueberry Cider - £1.25 each
Honestly, I'm not a huge alcohol drinker at all - I've been on countless holidays, celebrated countless birthday's and christmas' and not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips, so when I say I'm not a big drinker.. I'm really not! However I'm a huge lover of fruity flavours no matter what the food/drink, so when I saw this was Blueberry, I was intrigued. I broke the habit of a lifetime and actually drank this on Friday night with my tea (and boyfriend!). The blueberry wasn't overpowering, but you could still taste it. It was light and refreshing and my body knew it had drank all of that 1 bottle of 4% alcohol.. I'm hardcore! It's difficult for me to say I enjoyed this because I don't like the taste of 99.9% of alcohol however I can say I finished the bottle.. and that's saying something ;-)

Maggi's Herbs & Spices - Approx 89p each
These were nothing new to me as we use these on a fairly regular basis. Although I think I've received a few flavours I haven't tried before. These are so convenient - We eat a lot of chicken, so to put the chicken in the bag provided for it to cook juicily in the oven amongst all the herbs and spices saves a lot of time than preparing some form of spice yourself. There's a few in there that I'll probably save for Autumn (i.e. beef & ale casserole) but these really are worth the money, and change a bland meal into something tasty.

Portlebay Popcorn - 79p each
The days of just toffee and plain popcorn are long gone. Popcorn now comes in every flavor under the sun. I have to admit when I first saw this flavor I was a little apprehensive - I'm not a huge fan of sweet and savoury mixed, however this seemed to just work, and once I opened the bag, I couldn't stop eating them! I've had some popcorn where the flavor is a little weak, however these were strong but not overpowering. I'd definitely be inclined to grab a bag of these in future. The other flavours that I received were chilli & lime, and sweet & salted. I haven't tried these yet but I'm sure they'll bring good things!

Zeo Drinks - £1.29 each
I'm always willing to try new drinks, especially fruit ones, so when I saw there were 3 Zeo drinks in my box, I was spoilt for choice on which one to try first! I was given 3 flavours; Peach & Grapefruit Burst, Citrus Crush and Lime Zest. I have drank all 3 of them and I'm on the bench with these - they were refreshing and light, and the 'fizziness' was not overpowering to the point of being gassy, which is always good. However I felt that the flavouring was fairly muted in each, and I just felt like I was drinking sparkling flavoured water. I did however love the tingling sensation that it gave, this added a little bit of uniqueness to the drink that I very rarely experience. As you can see I brought one along with me to a picnic today and it made a refreshing change from a typical can of fizzy drink or cordial.

The Berry Company White Tea (Peach) - £1.49
When I read this it instantly reminded me of iced tea, and to be honest, I'm not sure of the difference between iced and white tea, either way, they tasted similar. I was first introduced to Iced Tea at 15 years old when I was holidaying in The Maldives. That's all I ever drank there and got hooked on the stuff. Several years later when I attempted to drink it again (this time in a much less-exotic location!) my tastebuds had obviously changed because I didn't enjoy it whatsoever, so I was a little apprehensive of trying this. I don't know why but I had this as part of my breakfast (maybe I was subconsciously thinking 'cup of tea' so felt like it should be drank at this time of the day!). My first thoughts brought me back to those iced tea days, and I instantly tasted the tea in it, but the peach flavouring soon overpowered that and I adapted to it and actually enjoyed it. Also - the packaging of this tea; the colours, the style and the convenience, how cute? I saw a black tea with elderflower doing the rounds; that one looks a little more scary!

'Frank' Snack Bar (Blueberry) - 85p
This gluten, nut and dairy free snack bar I can safely say I won't buy again. I brought this along to a picnic with me and I really didn't enjoy it. I found the bar quite heavy and almost as if the ingredients were missing something (no doubt its probably because its gluten and dairy free of ingredients!). It reminded me of my cooking gone wrong. For those gluten/dairy intolerant people it maybe a blessing in disguise though!

Green & Blacks Lemon infused Dark Chocolate - £2.29
I'm a massive chocoholic but unfortunately dark chocolate just doesn't do it for me, however once again, the lemon infusion grabbed me (I love anything lemon!). I can normally do dark chocolate in very small doses (I'm looking at you, Bournville), however after a few chews on a square of this chocolate, lets just say I headed straight for the bin.. the rest maybe TMI! I've never once had to do that with chocolate. Ugh. However, being the type of person that hates to waste, I'm saving this for my baking days, hoping to find some use for it there.
Dr Oetker Eton Mess - £1.99. Violet Crystals - £1.29
I love looking at cake decorations in supermarkets, they're so pretty to look at! I occasionally bake so will definitely try to incorporate these somehow. I've already used Eton Mess in a recipe that isn't a cake, so keep your eyes peeled to see how I incorporate them into my mixture!
Overall, a good box. I loved the variety, and even though I didn't enjoy some of the items, I enjoyed the mini tasting adventure that it took me on. I try and view everything as an experience, even down to food I dislike. Although my tastebuds weren't keen, it was a positive experience in trying something new, and I'm glad I did.  
Introduce this monthly box of goodness into your life now, for only £12.99 p/m, inc P&P!
Click here to see more details!
Subscribe now and receive a £3 discount off your first box using the code SR15N
This box was kindly provided to me for review purposes

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