An Overnight Stay at The Bull and Swan at Burghley

A little while back Oliver and I made our escape from the city for a relaxing overnight stay at The Bull and Swan at Burghley.

The hotel is ideally located in the heart of Stamford, a charming and quaint town a mere 20 minutes drive from Peterborough.

If it were not for the cars and some of the more modern shops and bars, it could be something straight out of a Jane Austen novel. There are  plenty of pretty stone fronted boutique shops, bars and restaurants to explore (I love The Cosy Club).

The town is also home to the sprawling estate of Burghley House, famed for the Burghley Horse Trials which start later this week.

An Overnight Stay at The Bull and Swan at Burghley

Upon arrival we were keen to drop off our bags and freshen up and headed straight up to our room for the night, ‘The Stag’.

The accomodation is described as being ‘quirky luxury’ on their website and I think they’ve summed it up very well there! The building is very old with uneven walls and period features, but it’s very well maintained. I felt rather like I was staying as the guest in someone’s stately home thanks to all of the beautiful wooden furniture and little details.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

The bathroom was stocked with The White Company toiletries, a big shower and bath and fluffy white towels, perfect for a spot of pampering.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

The bedroom itself was huge with all the mod cons you’d expect and decor to match its name.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Ready for our date night, we headed downstairs. From April to September, weather permitting, Thursday night is movie night!

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

They have a newly opened kitchen garden containing an open air cinema, as well as a Pizza Potting Shed serving up the ‘5 P’s’: pizza, prosecco, Peroni, Pinot and popcorn (amongst other things!).

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Luck was not on our side however. It had been drizzling earlier and no sooner had we sat down to watch the opening to Moulin Rouge, the heavens opened.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Whilst there are umbrellas and buckets containing cosy throws provided, the viewing area is not completely sheltered from the elements so feeling increasingly soggy, we decided to change our plans and head into the cosiness of the Bull and Swan’s pub for our meal!

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Oliver went for a freshly made pizza cooked outside to order in their pizza oven, whilst I enquired as to whether there were any suitable vegan options. Their chef was happy to suggest some recipes he could adapt to make dairy free, so I opted for a gnocci dish with pesto. It was beautiful, soft in the middle with an almost crispy texture outside.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

I was slightly confused when it came out with some shavings of parmesan on it though. I have a feeling they just forgot when adding the usual finishing touch to the dish. Since my veganism is not allergy related I didn’t feel it was worth raising and Oliver was happy to transfer it to his pizza. I know that a lot of places are still getting used to adapting recipes and satisfying special dietary requests so I appreciated the fact that they’d made the effort to be accommodating and was happy to forgive this little slip!

I skipped dessert but Oliver enjoyed honeycomb and icecream.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Following a lovely nights sleep in the super comfy bed (which I didn’t want to get out of the next morning) we headed down to breakfast, admiring the decor properly in the daylight.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Isn’t the wallpaper fabulous?

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Vegan options were limited but I always carry a secret weapon with me on overnight stays: dairy free spread! This meant that I was able to pick a vegetarian option and just request it without butter on the toast – perfect.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Oliver went for a classic full English.

An Overnight Stay at the Bull and Swan at Burghley Stamford

Feeling suitably relaxed and rested, we headed back to city life, happy to have discovered somewhere special with our overnight stay at The Bull and Swan at Burghley!

The Bull and Swan At Burghley

Address: St Martins, Stamford, Lincolnshire, PE9 2LJ

Cinema: Thursday from 7.30pm & Sunday from 1pm

Pizza Potting Shed: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 6pm-9pm. Sunday 12pm-6pm

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Our overnight stay at The Bull and Swan at Burghley was complimentary in return for an honest review.

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An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

When it comes to hotel accommodation I don’t ask for much, just 5 star luxury, the wow factor and a great location… at a price that doesn’t require remortgaging the house!

Let me introduce you to my newest discovery; an absolute gem of a find: The Exhibitionist Hotel, London.

I think you’re going to be as blown away by it as I was and I still cannot believe that I’d never heard of it before.

I’ll even let you know how much it cost and how I managed to afford it if you promise to keep it under your hat!

The Exhibitionist Hotel

The 5 star rated luxury hotel is located down a pretty street just five minutes walk from South Kensington tube station. Kensington itself is an ideal base for a London city break. It’s a wonderful area to explore in its own right with plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you entertained but it’s also only a couple of stops away from Knightsbridge and central London.

The reception room creates an immediate impact, thanks to the ornate chandeliers and high pannelled walls…

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

…but this is perfectly offset by modern, playful, contemporary art.

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

As the name of the hotel suggests, it doubles as an exhibition space, displaying an eclectic treasure trove of pieces that make it hard to sit still. I wanted to explore every corner of the place, there was so much to see!

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

Each month a different artist takes residence at the hotel. Right now it’s Charlotte Cory’s turn with the installation ‘Colour Me! Interactive Victoriana’. Her pieces lined the walls, mainly in black and white and we were encouraged to grab a pencil and help colour them in!

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

A Hotel That Doesn’t Take Itself Too Seriously

That’s just one of the many fun, unique elements we found at the hotel. The lift, for example, is lined from wall to ceiling with bright green strokeable astroturf and there are magnetic letters on one wall so that you can write out a message for the next guest who uses it (hands up if you’d spell out naughty words… oh… just me?!)

The bar is bursting with colour and makes a loud and proud declaration of the hotels luxury status via the Veuve Cliquot decor… and the drink prices. A small diet coke set me back £3.50 – yeowch!

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

The real reason I’d booked this hotel had nothing to do with the reception however. Whilst searching for good last minute deals The Exhibitionist Hotel’s ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous Suite’ had popped up in my suggestions and I’d fallen in love with it right then and there, for reasons that will soon become clear!

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

Sweets in the Suite

You enter into a large lounge room complete with a stylish low rise couch, the office space of my dreams (with fabulous artwork by Louis-Nicolas Darbon) and a mounted flat screen tv.

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

Complimentary healthy snacks are provided as well as various teas, a coffee machine and coffee/hot chocolate pods.

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

The bedroom beckoned me to lay down on the luxurious oversized bed dressed with crisp white linens, plump pillows and sumptuously textured throws and cushions. Not to be outdone by the lounge, on the wall hung another huge flat screen tv!

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

Impressed so far? I haven’t got to the best bit yet… drum roll please!

The Wow Factor

Behold, the private spa pool bathroom!

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

Yes, that’s right, in addition to the luxurious rainfall shower and a freestanding bath, there’s a hydropool in the bathroom!

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

The pool itself is constantly heated and so the bathroom has a balmy feel, not as hot as a sauna but still warmer than usual. I adore the heat so I LOVED this, especially as our overnight stay coincided with the arrival of ‘The Beast From the East’ and London was inches deep in snow and treating us to sub zero temperatures. The best part was that during our stay I knew I could just take a dip in the pool any time I liked…and I did!

The only slight disappointment was that it looked like the pool had jets to turn it into a massive bubbling hot tub but when we called reception to enquire about it we were advised that this feature wasn’t working. It really didn’t make any difference to our experience though, it just would have been cool to turn the bubbles on for five minutes!

Staying In

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

That evening we were so happy in our suite that we decided to cancel our dinner plans and order room service instead. Happily their menu contained well labelled vegan options so it was easy for me to pick something. I chose a pizza which I wasn’t blown away by if I’m honest, but the fact that I got to eat it in bed whilst watching Pitch Perfect on a giant tv made for a great end to the day.

An Incredible Stay at the Exhibitionist Hotel, London | Travel

I really can’t recommend The Exhibitionist Hotel’s Drop Dead Gorgeous Suite enough for a special stay in London. It certainly had the ‘wow’ factor and was an experience I’ll never forget.

Whilst I didn’t see any of them in person, I recommend having a look at the other rooms available at the hotel too – some are a bit cheaper and offering more standard accommodation and sizes compared to the suite we stayed in, but the penthouse suites look insane and there are some really quirky themed rooms too!

A few tips on how to afford a luxury hotel on a budget

Perservere! It took me two days to find this hotel by adjusting my search criteria across various hotel aggregator sites and then comparing these rates to the hotel’s own to see who came out cheaper. Then I looked for any special offers or discount incentives.

The suite cost £288 for a night through Hotels.com. It didn’t initially come up in my searches as the price was too high but I unlocked a discounted rate by signing up to their mailing list. For a whopping 55m2 suite in Kensington with a spa pool, I thought that this was exceptionally well priced.

I paid much less than this however thanks to a really good tip Oliver recently shared with me: You can exchange your Tesco Clubcard vouchers for 3x their value in Hotels.com vouchers, so £75 in Clubcard vouchers becomes a whopping £225.

And that, my friends, is how I transformed my Travelodge budget into enough to pay for a luxury 5 star hotel break.

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: This post is neither sponsored nor in association/collaboration with any of the companies mentioned, it was paid for in full by me, thanks to my habit of spending far too much money at Tesco on a weekly basis!

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My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

James Villa Holidays got in touch recently to invite me to share my favourite holiday dish. I was struggling to think of whether I actually had one that I could pin down, but then I saw that they have villas at destinations across the Mediterranean, one of which is in Fuertaventura.

Ah memories!

In my early twenties I went on a girly holiday to Fuertaventura and because we couldn’t afford much we went self catering, which ended up being a lot more fun than we originally thought! We’d get up in the morning and head to the local supermarket to pick up fresh ingredients, overfilling our baskets with goodies because we all lived with our parents at the time and hadn’t quite sussed out that it’s best to take a list.

Sun Loungers and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

After a day at the beach relaxing on sun loungers, talking about boys and reading chick lit, we’d head back to the apartment and cook together.

It was during our Mediterranean adventure that I first discovered sun-dried tomatoes and fell in love with the sharp, sweet, juicy taste. We used them as pizza toppings, on posh cheese and toast and in sandwiches. To this day whenever I see sun-dried tomatoes I smile at the memories of that holiday and have to pick some up.

My Holiday Dish

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Of course that was quite a while ago now and my cooking has come on a bit since then, so I thought I’d share an easy recipe using those lovely sun-dried tomatoes as well as other mediterranean vegetables as a tribute to that holiday abroad! It’s a breeze to prepare, doesn’t take long to cook and yet looks quite impressive and tastes delicious!

The leftovers will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, which work well hot or cold.

Easy Sun-Dried Tomato Tart with Mediterranean Vegetables

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/2 courgette
4 sun dried tomatoes
3 normal tomatoes (preferably from the vine)
4 tbsps low fat cream cheese
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsps parmigiano reggiano or parmesan cheese
1 puff pastry sheet
Dried oregano
Rocket (to serve)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Slice the courgette into discs, as thin as you can, and do the same with the vine tomatoes. Cut the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Gently toss the courgette in the olive oil until they’re all coated, then fry them in a large non stick pan on either side until lightly browned. It’s best to do this in two batches so that you can keep them spread out.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Line a tray with baking paper, then lightly grease it. Roll the pastry sheet out, then score a line 1 cm from the edge to make a border.

Next, mix the cream cheese, milk and sun dried tomatoes together, then grate in half of the cheese. Mix it all together and spread it onto the pastry inside the border. Layer on the courgette, then the tomatoes, and sprinkle the orgegano over.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Season with salt and pepper, then bake it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Finally grate over the rest of the cheese, top with rocket and drizzle over a little more olive oil.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Best served in the garden with a glass of something chilled! (Sun loungers optional).

I hope you enjoy my holiday dish, what’s yours?

LovedByLaura

*This post is written in collaboration with James Villas, who have shared their own holiday dishes over on their blog which you can find here: James Villas Blog. I’ve got my eye on the recipe for Prawns with Sherry and Chorizo!

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Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

When I was a teenager the magazines I read were full of articles declaring that to look like a supermodel I needed to cut out the carbs. It took me a long time to work out that eating pasta and potatoes as part of a balanced diet is absolutely fine… the trick is simply knowing when to stop! Thus when an opportunity arose to attend an intimate dinner party showcasing some of the great things you can do with Jersey Royal New Potatoes I jumped at the chance.

…did I mention that it was hosted by none other than Jimmy Doherty of Jimmy’s Farm? Yep, Jimmy and Jersey Royal collaborating to host a dinner party: foodie heaven!

I arrived at the Food At 52 culinary school and was greeted by none other than Jimmy himself. Soon I was having a drink with a group of fellow foodies as we listened to Jimmy talk passionately about why he supports the use of homegrown produce.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party 5

It’s quite simple really. Why buy potatoes grown halfway around the world when we have local farmers producing the freshest, most delicious potatoes right on our doorstep in the British Isles? Jersey Royals are in fact often referred to as the champagne of the potato world.

To begin our Jersey odyssey we were served canapes of the most adorably delicate little new potatoes. Add basil pesto, chimichurri and chive crème fraiche dips to the mix and they proved to be extremely moorish.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Heading downstairs we found a long table beautifully laid out for us with fresh flowers and sparkling dinnerware.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Enticing cooking smells wafted through from the open kitchen. As we talked the night away plate after plate of beautiful food arrived.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Our starter was a stunning Jersey Royal Spring Vegetable Frittata which was so fresh and light and delicately balanced that I’m pretty sure I made moaning noises in appreciation as I tucked in.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Next came a sausage pastie but *in my best Marks and Spencers voice* not just any pastie, a Jersey Royal cheese, onion and sausage pastie! It was meaty, it was hearty, the pastry was short and just the right amount of crumbly. It was accompanied by a quick tomato jam and halloumi and rosemary skewers which I’m going to have to recreate at home.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party 16

Our final course of the evening was a cheeseboard full of Jersey produce including Brie, Camembert and one of their most genius creations: Jersey Black Butter.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Any description I try and give here just doesn’t do it justice, so I’ll simply tell you that it’s a bit like a chutney with a decadent spiced apple sweetness to it. Think of Christmas preserved in a jar. Oh and you can get it in the supermarket now – do it!

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party 23

If all of that wasn’t enough, before we left we were offered some of Sue’s salted fudge, which turned out to be very similar to my most favourite of sweet treats, Scottish Tablet. It’s an insanely pure sugar hit that may be too sweet for some, but I just loved it.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

I think the funniest moment though was when we were chatting to Jimmy and one of the girls went to show him her Instagram feed. As he watched her open the app it became apparent that the last thing she’d loaded was his Instagram. Basically he saw his face, all over her phone! “Well that’s not awkward at all!” said Jimmy. It was hilarious. Pretty sure that could have been me… everyone goes for a little Instagram stalk before meeting people don’t they? 😉

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

It’s experiences like this dinner party that make me very thankful to have started writing my blog. Not only did I get to eat some sensational food but I also learned about Jersey’s history and got to meet some of it’s proud inhabitants. We even got treated to a goodie bag full of the wonderful produce that we’d tried that evening so that we could carry on the enjoyment at home.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

I’ve been hankering after a trip to France for a while now but having seen what the beautiful island of Jersey has to offer,  I think I might have found a new place to dream about.

This post is not sponsored but I did enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the Jersey Royal team. You can find out more about Jersey Royal New Potatoes here .

LovedByLaura

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A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

I was invited to a cocktail tasting in London a few weeks back so N and I decided to stop over in the city. The cocktail bar was in Farringdon, an area I’d discovered on our last escape to the city when we stayed at a gorgeously romantic hotel called The Rookery (review here). We could have stayed there again but I like go somewhere different each time I travel so this time we decided to try the Malmaison London hotel.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

I wasn’t actually planning to write about it on here since it was such a whistle-stop stay, but I fell so completely in love with the place that I took a tonne of photos and couldn’t help but share my find with you, so here we are!

The Malmaison London Hotel

The entrance to the hotel is rather discreet so when our Maps navigation delivered us successfully to the entrance we somehow decided it wasn’t the right place. We promptly retraced our steps, only to end up back at the same place 15 minutes later with me regretting having worn my heels for the journey! Luckily it’s got a pretty seating area outside so I was able to take a load off whilst N found our booking information.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

We noted that there was some building work going on in the green opposite the hotel but once inside we couldn’t hear it and the general area was quietly nestled down a side street.

The big reception area had funky brightly coloured chairs, a union jack rug on the floor, glossy black surfaces and tulips all around. We were soon checked in and on our way up to the fourth floor to find our room.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

Club Room

I’d opted for a Club Room because London hotel rooms can be quite small and my ‘Laura logic’ had set in. This is the part of me that tells myself that since I’m already paying a small fortune for the room an extra £30 wouldn’t hurt. I hadn’t expected it to be quite so big though – it was split into two sections connected by a hallway, with the first section being a lounge area.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

Across the corridor was a spacious bedroom with a beautiful Eames chair, a plush throw on the bed and a second flatscreen tv. In fact the whole place was so aesthetically pleasing that I could have done a little happy dance. I resisted the urge to Instagram everything in sight. (Actually no I didn’t, although I did manage to not post every single one all at once).

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

I love exploring hotel rooms and looking in the doors and cupboards for hidden treats and special touches. I couldn’t help smiling at the little details throughout this one. The door keycard said “Stick with me I’ll get you places” and the breakfast room service sign advised “unless you’re wheeling my bed downstairs I’ll eat in here”.

One thing that can make or break a hotel room for me is the bathroom and I was pleased to find that ours was spotless with a large walk in shower complete with a rainfall showerhead, a heated towel rail and a huge sink. Even the bathroom toiletries made me laugh.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

Posh Sandwiches and Trashy TV

We were starving but short for time so we ordered room service. No matter where I am, if I see fish finger sandwiches on the menu I have to order them. These were some of the poshest sarnies I’ve eaten with chunky breaded pieces of fish and lashings of tartare sauce and ketchup. N polished off a BLT.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

When we got back from the cocktail tasting (which I’ll post about later this week!) we decided that the best way to end the day would be to watch trashy tv in our very plush bed, so we ordered drinks up to the room. It was actually really nice not to rush around as we usually always try and cram 101 things into our stay. This time we chucked the itinerary out of the window and enjoyed mastering the relaxing art of doing nothing.

Chez Mal Brasserie and Bar

The next day we had a lie in and were so slow at getting ready that it was close to lunch before we checked out, so we headed downstairs to Malmaison’s restaurant, Chez Mal Brasserie and Bar.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

The price of the meals was a bit steep and I debated whether I could justify £11 on a plate of tomato, basil and mozzarella pasta, but when it arrived I had to admit that it was bloody good and tasted freshly made! N opted for a burger… he always does! I asked him for his review of the food: “Yeah, it’s nice.”

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

The Verdict

All in all we had a great stay. If you’re going to pay upwards of £200 for a nice hotel room then the extra touches count and this place certainly delivered. I think it’s rightly rated as a 4 star hotel as it doesn’t reach the all out decadent luxury of a 5 star, but it’s got everything you need.

Since I tend to get rather overexcited about things I asked N what he thought of the hotel so that I could give you all a balanced review: “Yeah, it’s nice.” he said. Men. I think if we stayed at Buckingham Palace I’d get the same response.

Please note that this post is not sponsored or written in collaboration with the hotel, I just thought it was worth sharing after a lovely stay!

Malmaison London Hotel

Nearest tube: Farringdon, 5 minute walk

Address: 18-21 Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6AH

Visit the website: Malmaison London

Do you enjoy mini hotel breaks? Let me know if you have any recommendations!

LovedByLaura

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