Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Radisson Portman Hotel London | Hotel Review

Radisson Portman London Review

London, London, London... I'm starting to feel like you're my second home! I go to London but I don't get the chance to stay over and see it, so going to get wedding suits sorted seemed the perfect opportunity to indulge in a hotel stay at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel.


Location

The Radisson Blu Portman Hotel is a short walk from Marble Arch underground station (on the central line) and a stroll to Hyde Park. The hotel is in amongst the buzz of London yet far enough away from the main action to be almost tranquil. It is set back off the busy high streets and nearby is a wonderful road full of boutiques and quirky places to wine and dine in the evening.

The Hotel

On arrival the first thing I noticed was how the hotel lobby was very open, yet inviting with a sea of comfy sofas and coffee tables that beckoned conversations and catch up sessions. Many guests were having afternoon tea or simply relaxing with the daily newspaper.  As reception areas go this one was certainly one I felt warm and welcomed into, I could of contently sat with a magazine and had a cup of coffee there. 

Staff

Throughout my entire stay I couldn't fault the staff.  It's very rare to find a team that appears to be content with everything running smoothly, regardless of whether it actually was or not. Everyone smiled and looked genuinely happy to be there with the concierge staff being attentive to anyone coming into the hotel. In some big hotels, particularly chains, you can often feel a bit forgotten as a guest but here that definitely wasn't the case. 

Meeting Rooms

The hotel is obviously a great location not only for those visiting the big city for a trip away but also for meetings and events. As I have previously worked in events management and venue finding I can appreciate what good conference facilities are. This is a rare hotel that has conference facilities all on one floor, ideal if you have a lot of delegates as you won't be losing any! They have 12 meeting rooms that can hold anything from 6- 600 delegates, so perfect for a big conference or just a small meeting.

Portman Square Gardens - EXCLUSIVE USE 
 
Around the corner from the hotel is the Portman Square Gardens. This is a place that provides an exclusive and very tranquil environment nestled among trees, sculpted garden island beds and green lawn. It can be the ideal location for a private BBQ or some kind of private outdoor party.  It is exclusive and only available on request.

Health and Fitness

There is a gym on site which is always handy however it's not very large, but it is the perfect place for a quick work out. I love my workouts but decided I'd get up early on the Saturday and join the rest of the locals and jog around the glorious Hyde Park as it wasn't very far away. 

Wifi

I must point this out because as I'm a blogger whose hand has slowly morphed into the shape of a phone... I'm always on the internet! When I go to a hotel and have no wifi or have to pay to use it, it can really put me off.  I was happy to discover that wifi is in fact free and accessible throughout the entire hotel - this applies across the whole of the Radisson chain too.



Bedrooms

The hotel has 11 floors, 10 of which can be accessed by the lift however if you are staying in any of the suites on the 11th floor then you'll need to get out at the 10th and walk up the small set of stairs. We happened to be in one of these rooms on the 11th floor which was a big treat in terms of space and view. 

We had a wonderful lounge area complete with a desk, television and of course two seater sofa to relax in front of the flat screen TV. There were a selection of magazines, a couple of DVDs to watch, along with some treats on arrival to toast our stay.


The bedroom was perfect for our visit as it separated all of our 'stuff', leaving the room simplistic and ideal to relax in. We had a double bed with two bedside tables complete with all the standard elements of a hotel room, there was a TV in a specific TV unit as well as the other TV in the lounge area. The decor was classic of a hotel like this, yet surprisingly wasn't old fashioned. 

The bathroom had a standard sized bathtub with a built in shower. It wasn't a power shower but as this sort of bathroom goes it was quite a powerful shower. There was a build in hairdryer (one of the very old ones but worked fine) along with a specific make up mirror and grand main mirror.  Toiletries can make or break a hotel for me but Radisson chain in general always come up trumps with their offerings in this department.  The this works range is often found in their hotels, sometimes I've found sleep spray on my pillow from this brand but I know their toiletries are of a good quality standard and were on this occasion. 


As we were in a suite we had our own kitchen complete with hob and fridge. I couldn't quite believe how fantastic this was because even though we hadn't got time to take full advantage of this, imagine you're in London for quite a few days? This would help save costs and allow you to create your own meals/store your own food. There was a delightful coffee pod machine but also a kettle with a select of teas and biscuits.  


Breakfast Time
 
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Getting a good balance at breakfast time is mighty important so there is a lot of pressure for the hotel to perform.  Served from 6.30pm until 10.30am gives everyone a good amount of time to come and dine at their own pace. 

Having stayed in a few London hotels recently and not been ecstatic about the spread at breakfast, this one was in a league of its own comparatively speaking.  Firstly eggs could be made to order (I had poached that were cooked perfectly), there was a delicious looking hot option with food that tasted of good quality.  There was fresh bread (including gluten free), a wide range of cereals including nuts and seeds to add to your muesli, and ready made porridge that you could add some extra fruit and honey to if you wished. 

I'm not a fan of cold meat and cheese at breakfast but some people love nothing more than to pop it in a croissant!  However there was a wide range and once again it all looked of a high quality standard... so much so that I actually had to try some!  You could even have smoked cheese!  

To summarise breakfast there was so much to chose from you were almost spoilt for choice!


I just want to point out that even though we didn't have our dinner at the hotel my partner and I were really impressed with the menu for evening dining. There was again a wide range available and at surprisingly reasonable prices.

Overall

The Radisson Blu venues do have a good standard throughout their hotels, which regardless of location I seem to have always had a good stay wherever I go.  As you will agree this can be hard because a chain hotel in one location could be polar opposite to another, but this particular Radisson Blu was worth every penny. I felt looked after, so much so I could really relax whilst having a busy schedule in front of my days. 
The only thing I would say is that I only got a taster of the hotel for one night, I would like to go back and stay longer because as I've discovered previously sometimes you don't always get to see the bigger picture after only a day or so. 

I say this rarely with any hotel I stay especially with London as I always want to try a different hotel each time, but both my partner and I agreed we will be coming back after we get married to enjoy a long weekend.  Rooms start from around £169 B&B and I do believe it's worth it for a good balance of sleeping well and relaxing but also being very close to all the hotspots that London has to offer.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Wedding Meltdown | Wedding Dress Panic

I'm getting married in July. Holy crap I'm getting married in JULY! I know you're meant to enjoy this delightful experience but right now I've sprouted so many grey hairs it's getting silly and it's all down to the wedding dress.


I'm about a stone heavier than I was last year. That's really hard for me to even say as I'm totally embarrassed.  I know the exact reason why and that's because I'm eating all the things I shouldn't and because I'm in a happier place.  When people put on weight you'll hear every excuse under the sun as to why it's happened or why they can't workout enough, mine is purely eating habits and the fact I'm no longer 'sick'.

You may or may not remember but I lost quite a lot of weight down to a small 8, but it wasn't healthy I was really poorly from my epilepsy after being recently diagnosed.  My tablets encouraged up to 5 seizures a day which always left me weak and without an appetite, lucky now I'm on tablets which seem to be working *touch wood* and only once in a while do I have a wobble.  So as you can imagine I'm over the moon and finally happy to be better.... but I've indulged so much more because of this... almost like when you get into a new relationship and you eat out all the time and put on weight, this is essentially just that.



I went wedding dress shopping with my Mum and felt so overweight and horrible I knew I needed to change.  I should of loved that whole experience but I came away feeling stressed and blue.  Not ideal hey?  I've struggled with image quite a lot of my life, my Mum and sister are tiny but I seem to have gained my Dad's genes and I'm that bit bigger.  So I know I'm no size 6 or will ever be, but I came away thinking I needed to do something and rather fast. 


It's not my exercising because I'm nice and active, it's my terrible eating.  Okay it's not terrible I'm just needing to switch some bits over and watch portion sizes.  I've ordered my wedding dress and the one I did get doesn't fit. I sat in a heap on the floor and cried.  How have I let myself get to this? Luckily the wedding dress company have got a bigger size but will get to the store in May, so I've held on to the other to do a swap then.  I have until the start of May to lose around 7 pounds basically.  

7 pounds may not seem huge amounts but this is a friggin' challenge because of my PCOS losing weight is 10 times harder.  I need to trim off a few inches around my waist so basically I'm not overly bothered what the scales say it's more about measurements.  I've lost a couple of pounds already just making some switches but I don't just want to lose weight for this, I need this to be a complete lifestyle overhaul.  But I'm not going to lie I'm crapping myself with worry... what the hell if the size up doesn't fit?! Arghhhh!!!!



I just want to look and feel fabulous so I've upped my exercise big time.  I'm trying to do a workout of 40-50 minutes in the morning to burn fat before I eat, then I know if I can't get anything else in that day then I've done something.

Any other brides to be like me having a slight panic? Or any or fancies a wedding buddy to encourage? Me and Remie from Remie's Luxury Blog have joined forces to help each other along the way. 


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Hiring your wedding suits from Debenhams

http://www.debenhams-formalhire.com/

My wedding is getting closer and just by typing this I'm beginning to panic about how much I have left to do! I'm getting married in July and the months are quite honestly passing by far quicker than I'd like.
It's not that I'm scared of the idea of actually getting married and having a wedding, (I love my fiance very much as we've been together nearly 8 years) it's the feeling of disorganisation that lingers and missing something important.

We have the venue, photographers, band, wedding dress, invites, hen do all sorted... so the main things are pretty much checked off but now we needed the men's wedding suits.  A task which I'm somewhat clueless about but decided to join Nick on his quest to find the perfect suit at Debenhams



Wedding Colour Schemes

It's taken me ages working out colour schemes but I finally came up with lavender blue and mint green as our main tones. I had originally chosen spring green but couldn't find anything to match, I also discovered lavender blue to be pretty awkward as well... trust me to choose two difficult colours! My bridesmaids will either be in mint green with lavender blue bouquets or in lavender blue, by the way lavender blue is the tone seen most commonly in a hydrangea. It's not as washed out as lavender and is much brighter.




To buy or hire a suit?

Colour schemes aside I knew time was running out of time to get Nick and his groomsmen suits sorted. At this point I was starting to fear the costs of it all too, as without knowing wedding costs can creep up regardless of having a budget. With this all in mind we decided to hire the suits as it's easier than buying and good grief, it's far cheaper too! Nick doesn't wear suits very often unless there is an occasion to do so, or I tell him, so it seemed daft paying out for something that wouldn't get it's wear.


Debenhams Formal Hire Experience

I've previously gone into Debenhams to try out wedding dresses and hunt for bridesmaids dresses before and whilst doing so spotted they had a hire service for wedding suits. Being honest I didn't really pay much notice before, however when Nick and I were discussing hiring I suggested we book and try the service out.

Most Debenhams stores offer a formal hiring service it's only the very small ones that don't. We were in London for a mini break from our hectic schedules so I organised for us to go in and see what the formal hire service was like. I don't know about other stores but the Debenhams Oxford Street has a specific area dedicated to the hiring of their suits, with a comfy sofa, a changing room and a display of everything they can do... including kilts!


I first spotted tailed coat jackets... I did start to panic a bit as to me that is totally not mine or Nick's taste.  We were shown a variety of suit colours and textures, but based on our other colours some kind of grey suit was what we were looking for. Men being men, Nick didn't really want to mess around he knows what he likes and what he doesn't, so it was an easy experience! Staff were on hand to help and give us (lots of) options and advice.


The Suits

Much to my surprise we were shown a variety of styles and colours that you could chose from, there were all kinds of sizes too which was good to know.


Waistcoats and accessories

Patterned waistcoats to me scream early 1990's... I had a dashing pink one my Grandma made me that I wore with jeans, (I was a cool child) therefore I don't really give them a second look, but they seemed to be on display as part of the hiring service.  Nick happily flicked through them all selecting the ones he wanted to try, it was then I started to realise this whole process was exactly the same as buying your wedding dress - you need to try them on! Sometimes items don't always look how they do on the hanger, which is exactly what Nick and I discovered.  Nick tried on a few waistcoats and one really stood out as it complimented our colours.

We looked at ties, ruches and cravats in the variety of colours on offer. Nick initially tried a ruche but felt it wasn't to his taste so decided on a tie with a cravat instead. We both agreed it looked very smart and Nick said he felt ready to get married!


The Groom's Review 
 
Nick was my main priority throughout this entire experience.  I hadn't enjoyed wedding dress shopping myself I felt really flustered and it only highlighted how unhappy I was with my figure, (which I'm working on) so it really put a damper on it all. I wanted Nick to love his suit shopping and feel good about himself.
He told me afterwards that he was genuinely impressed with how well made the suits were and the options available to him.  He also was really impressed with the cost by how cheap it was, how flexible the formal hire service was and how helpful the staff were. He appeared to be glowing when he had his suit on... and looking very handsome might I add!
 

Overall

With my fiance being content that was all I was bothered about, however being in the driving seat of the wedding (don't tell him that!) I was very happy with the entire experience. Price wise it's very reasonable with a standard two piece suit starting from just £35.00. 
I was concerned that each person from the grooms party would then have to come to this particular store to get measured, which could of been a real pain! Luckily Debenhams are clearly on the ball and have a system in place where your grooms party can go to their nearest Debenhams store and get fitted for their suit! Debenhams will have the booking on the system so they can simply be added onto that - clever or what?! Really, really impressed and to be honest I'd totally recommend the experience. 

If you want to find out more about wedding hire service click here.


I get married in July so I'll be sure to let you know how part 2 of the hire service goes. Also watch out for a vlog coming soon of Nick's experience wedding suit hunting in Debenhams!


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Blogger Party at Peter Pizzeria, Leicester


I decided to organise a little bloggers get together at Peter Pizzeria in Leicester.  There isn't a lot of blogger events in the East Midlands so I took it upon myself to create an event that could potentially be an annual meet up.  I'm a huge fan of Peter Pizzeria in Loughborough (who doesn't love fresh pizza!) so decided we should go to the new bigger Peter Pizzeria in Leicester and give it the ultimate blogger test!



It's a quirky venue that opened in February full of exciting designs and objects everywhere you look. If you love nostalgia in the form of film classics, cartoons and general childhood memorabilia, teamed with innovative interiors, then this is the perfect venue especially for us snappy happy bloggers!  Plus... who doesn't like pizza?! 

I'd invited local bloggers and some local companies to come along for the chance to network, establish new business relationships, make new friendships and of course see what Peter Pizzeria Leicester was all about!


I'll give you a bit of a round up of Peter Pizzeria and the night we had but I'm fully intending to head back and do a full tap dancing review. Even though I have a events background I've only dealt with public sector conferences, so as you can imagine this was a big difference! It was nerve wracking because as we all know us bloggers always have a strong opinion... and will voice it too!

 
We had an introduction from the social media boys from Peter Pizzeria explaining how authentically Italian Peter is, just by them chatting my tummy was rumbling! We all dived into the tasty anti pastis to begin alongside the melonade and lemonade before the freshly made pizzas arrived for us all to try.  Honestly I love this pizza so much it's weird because even though I know pizza is a 'treat', I feel better knowing I'm having good quality pizza... does that make sense?  

I had such great feedback after the event that I think people enjoyed themselves. I'd really like to host again and maybe even do a Christmas get together! Anyways a huge thank you to Peter Pizzeria Leicester for having us, and a big thank you to everyone who came along!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Fitness Trends | Yoga |

Bikram yoga Leicester

There are so many new fitness trends emerging it can be really hard to keep up. I don't know about you but I will often lose track of what's the must-do exercise class of the month.  Don't get me wrong I'm a sucker for advertising and will without a doubt have to try it, but would it last and remain popular? 

Do you remember when Zumba presented itself to the fitness world?  I recall trying it and feeling more sweaty from embarrassed of my uncoordinated hip thrusts than the workout itself.  However, that being said it has remained firm on a lot of gyms fitness itinerary but more similar workouts are joining that line up.  


I had the opportunity with L&G (Legal & General) to test out some new exercises classes that were deemed 'trendy'.  I'm a bit like an old lady sometimes and like to stick to what I know, so regardless of how hard this was going to make me work, I was out of my comfort zone from the get go.  

I headed to Leicester to tryout Bikram Yoga at the Leicester Bikram Yoga Centre.  Before I detail my experience, you may or may not remember but I've tried a class here previously... and dragged my fiance to join me in a 90 minute hot yoga experience.  This post makes me slightly sad as I was so much fitter and thinner... clearly I do need to mix up my exercise rather than sitting my fat bum in the same routine.

I tested out Urban Yoga which is a 60 minute class...but this place literally has so many variations of yoga it can be a bit mind boggling!  This is what they describe the class I did as... 

As its name suggests, it is a fluid, vigorous form of movement from one posture to another. The athletic warm up is followed by dynamic sequences that ensure you are prepared for the postures ahead. The postures and poses involved are familiar yoga poses. It's the most athletic form of yoga we offer with a high cardio output.  The warm-up for each pose is both dynamic and rhythmical; this ensures that our core temperature is increased and the chance of overstretching and injury is reduced. Dynamic yoga focuses on the self enquiry within each posture to feel the yoga connection (mind, body, spirit) to really feel your way into postures examining how the body feels each class.   It's a great workout.

I went along to the very welcoming centre and trotted down the corridor with my yoga mat tucked under my arm. I could see a Bikram Yoga class was taking place in the room next to our studio and I could immediately feel the heat, I started to panic a bit because I wasn't aware this would be hot too.  It was hot. Very hot.  


I was a sweaty mess after but everyone was and each class member was ever so welcoming.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt invigorated, stretched and challenged.  I forget how much I love yoga and only wish I could do more of it where I live. I did wondered what makes each yoga classes different as essentially they're all the same, no? They are different from the equipment used to the poses required.  If you were more flexible in my class there was a head stand pose... erm maybe next week? 



I was a touch sceptical about new fitness trends but after testing this out I can only see the positive.  It's adaptations of exercises that work and therefore these push us further to challenge our bodies.  A big thumbs up from me and I'll definitely go back and try out some more yoga classes.