Tuesday, 27 February 2018

City Breaks

Whether it be home or abroad, there is nothing like an extended weekend to take you away from the stresses of working life.

Living in Nottingham provides a fairly good location to commute to most U.K locations whether by car or train, also having an airport within a 20 minute drive is handy for European exertions.

Despite not working in a manual or labour intensive career, managing a large recruitment agency branch takes its toll, especially when dealing with the demands of my clients and the constant changing environment presented by temporary workers. It is more a taxing of the mind, which when not fully charged or rested can make the weeks seem that bit longer.

Last year we made a vow to not waste time, and enrich our lives where possible. We don't make life easy on ourselves, having bought a new house last year, we are spending money on that where possible, with decorating, furniture and accessories throughout. Attempting also to put money aside for a wedding that we hope to plan for 2019, not helped by the aforementioned house, our weakness for shopping, nice holidays and occasional city breaks.

This year it looks like we are on course for a minimum of three mini breaks, although if Beth gets her way, it will be more.

They are great ways to experience new places for longer than a day at time, a lot of us have the distress of long commutes and constant battles with traffic, so where possible I find it essential to try and at least get one night away in a hotel when visiting a U.K city, otherwise it could be a very early start to make the most of your time away from home.

In the world we live in too, there are so many avenues to discover and gain opinion on not only the best places to visit, but also where to frequent when you are there too, where to stay, to tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, idyllic walks and maybe a bit of shopping, just maybe of course. Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloggers, Trip advisor, tabloid paper travel sections - the only problem you can have is too much to research and compare against.

Happily from experience some of the finest places we have visited that you may want to research further are.


A must on on most peoples list I am sure anyway, but this city is just incredible, always something to draw your attention and to keep you entertained no matter the reason for visiting. A place that needs visiting on more than one occasion because there is literally so much to do and see.

Where to stay in London?  - The Hoxton Holborn - A stunning boutique hotel, with unique styling throughout, with a fantastic bar and restaurant to suit all sort of reasons for your visit.

Favourite restaurant in London - Gaucho  - Amazing Argentinian Steak, such a wide choice and great service in a very cool setting, have visited both Chancery & Charlotte Street Restaurants.

Favourite attractions to visit in London -

The Lion King Theatre show - An emotional and mesmerising experience - a must whether a fan of the film or not.

Madamme Tussauds - The world famous wax works of celebrities past and present - I've just seen that they have added Tom Hardy to the collection which surely means another visit soon. - highly recommend getting your tickets in advance here as the queues are substantial to say the least.


One of the friendliest places I have had the pleasure to visit on a number of occasions, this city has so much to offer during the day and night.

Where to stay in Liverpool

Hope Street Hotel  - Chic hotel with interior styling made up of solid wood and exposed brick work.

Favourite places to go in Liverpool

Albert Dock - A waterside hub of bars, restaurants, galleries, museums and shops, a must visit while here.

The Beatles Story - A brilliant museum and archive of the story and music of the global phenomenon that was the greatest band to come out of this city.

The Cavern Club - This is a true bucket list for me, although I have visited this iconic venue, it wasn't for a gig, I can only imagine how good a venue this is to see a band playing. Even without that, you can still feel the history and what an iconic place this is.

Cheshire Oaks  - A McAthur Glen outlet, its huge, and a great place to visit on the way to or from Liverpool, a great place to pick up some bargains from last season or discounted items from the likes of Ralph Lauren, All Saints, Ted Baker, Jack Wills among many more.


This city is one that I would happily return to time and time again, the vibe, the culture, the people, the food, the architecture is outstanding. A snippet of places to go to below, but you can read a much more in depth guide to Barcelona that I put together last year and can be found at Barcelona City Guide. 

Where to stay in Barcelona

The Andante Hotel - A stones throw from the Las Ramblas, this ethical focused hotel is a  comfortable and quality base for Barcelona.

The best restaurants in Barcelona

Flax & Kale - For Breakfast you can't go wrong here, an all vegan & gluten free menu leaves you spoilt for choice, but totally satisfied and feeling great after.

Bar Lobo - A vibrant and cool setting, allows you to feel at ease as you watch the night pass by, indulging in a vast and tasty tapas menu.

Places to visit in Barcelona

Parc Guell - Essentially an outdoor art gallery made from the incredible mind of Gaudi, a great day out also offering incredible views over the city.

Sagrada Familia - The building that never seems to be close to completion, an imposing structure from the mind of Gaudi, inside and out you will be openmouthed. The detail and magnitude of this place is truly amazing.

Camp Nou - Football fan or not, I would urge you to visit this unique stadium and immerse yourself in the Catalan club, a tour will take up a couple of hours but it really is worth it.


We've made this historic city a stop off on the way to the North Yorkshire Lodge we stay in, but in just 3 years we have visited York on 4 occasions. Its a wonderful city with so much to offer.

Best Hotel in York

Hotel Indigo - I love this brand of hotels, they are unique in their styling in each and every city, often taking influence from the culture or history of the area. This particular one is designed in a way that very much appeals to our taste and has actually provided influence to elements of our house, in particular with the amazing tiles they have thoughout.

Best places to eat in York

Bettys - The iconic tea rooms, keep me in constant supply of quality tea and I'm a happy boy, and this is the place to come for the best brew around, a little afternoon tea is a delightful way to top off the visit.

What to do in York

The Shambles - The famous cobbled street of buildings leaning everywhich way in beautiful tudor styling, made up of cracking individual shops, like a real life Diagon Alley.

York Minster - I am a sucker for stunning buildings and historic architecture in particular, I am wowed by the skill and techniques used to create building likes this, especially considering they are from an age without high tech machinery that we are used to now. York Minster is beautiful inside and out and right within the city,  if you are feeling fit you can climb the steps to see a stunning view of the city.

York Dungeon - Not one for the faint of heart, hence why Beth won't let us go, however as a youngster I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of York's dark history, now it has become a more interactive experience.

So you've decided to look at a city staycation or European hotspot, here are my top tips to make the most of the experience.

* Book direct where possible - I will often use booking.com to locate the best hotels that a city can offer, you can read reviews, get a range of pictures and a very competitive price guide. However on most occasions I have found that contacting the hotel direct will get you the best price. Even if you are determined to use a site such as booking.com, don't assume you are always provided the lowest price, I have often found, revisiting the site either later in the day or another day will result in a lower price being offered.

* Don't waste money on parking - This has mainly been a factor for London, but try to find a hotel that either has its own parking for free, or as we found with the Hoxton Holborn, we got a heavily discounted price at a car park only a few minutes walk way because we had said we were stopping there.

*Booking flights, again as when finding accommodation, be sure to do your research, can you be flexible with the dates of the trip? if so, ensure you look at dates close to your intended one and see if there are cheaper flights available. It might sound cheap, but from my point of view, money saved on the travel and stay can contribute to a great meal or attraction admission fee.

*Plan - It may sound boring, but creating an itinerary is vital to a city break, especially when wanting to make the most of a short break. Look at the location of your hotel, where you want to visit and map out where else is close by to ensure you aren't wasting time and energy. A great App to download is Sygic, which allows you to store hotel and destinations you want to visit. It also enables you to use it offline too, so you don't get stung on data usage.

*Substance over style - It wont be often you hear a term like this from me, but particularly after Barcelona, we learned the hard way about footwear to wear for a city break, we walked a total of 19 hours across 3 days, make sure that the footwear you have is suitable for plenty of walking, you don't want a trip ruined by blisters or painful limbs, despite that this may be an excuse for a massage to relieve the pain.

* Take plenty of pictures - Fair enough, not everyone in this world is a blogger or big on taking selfies etc, however its great to be able to look back on visual memories, but also to be able to put pictures to the words when you are recommending on where to go.

*Enjoy it.

I would love to hear from my readers the places that they have visited and what they enjoyed about them.

Our next trip is to Krakow in April, I cant wait to bring my post to you about that trip.



  1. I love your post and the photography is great - I have shared your link on my regular feature on PainPalsBlog "Monday Magic - Inspiring Blogs for You!"Claire

  2. Thank you so much Claire. So glad you enjoyed it, it makes it even more worthwhile to get comments like that.

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