A change of scenery is always welcome, and while London will always hold the key to our hearts — a little winter couldn’t come at a better time. Because while some places come alive in the summertime, there are those that become truly magical in winter. Such is the case with The Cringletie in Peebles, where our girl Hannah Tan-Gillies spent an idyllic weekend, taking in the magic of the Scottish countryside.

Located in the picturesque Scottish Border town of Peebles, The Cringletie is a 15 bedroom country estate, that oozes personality and charm. The house is a 45 minute drive away from Edinburgh; but one step within its 28 acres of lush greenery and woodlands, and you’ll quickly understand why the drive was so worth it.

Outside, you can explore the historic walled gardens, or take a walk around the natural historical trail which goes for a mile around the estate. Inside, you can cosy up by the fireplace and enjoy the hotel’s classically beautiful interiors; which make plenty of design references to the house’s military history. We are told that the current tartan in the hotel’s grand staircase is a blend of the Wolfe Murray’s and the Sutherland’s; another clever homage to the Cringletie’s past.

Every inch of the house is thoughtfully considered, a personal manifestation of the estate’s history, and the colourful personality of Bill and Anne Cross, the custodians who has lovingly taken it under his wing.

We stayed in one of the hotel’s Luxury Rooms, which exudes a certain kind of timeless appeal. Our room was painted in a muted colour palette accented with rich textiles. It was the perfect balance of classic style and modern features and included a super king-sized bed, a cosy seating area, and an en-suite.

The hotel’s piece de resistance, however, has to be the Sutherland Restaurant. During our stay, the hotel had just received its first – and very well deserved – 2AA Rosette accreditation. Head chef Iain Gourlay certainly brings his 20 year of experience to the table at Sutherland restaurant. Using only the freshest local ingredients, Chef Iain Gourlay adds a creative flair to some classic Scottish favourites – and serves them up in true style.

We highly recommend starting with the Breast of wood pigeon on a puree of boudin noir, followed by the lightly smoked loin of Borders venison, and finishing off with the absolutely delectable Selkirk bannock souffle. We can assure you, that this culinary journey is one you won’t soon forget.

As the evening wears on, we sit by the warmth of the fireplace and delve into the estate’s extensive collection of fine whiskies. Finally ending the evening with warm hearts and revelling in the rare tranquillity afforded by being in beautiful and overwhelming isolation — in one of the most underrated destinations in the world.

For more information and to book your stay, please visit

What better way to escape the city than to hop into a fast car and go on a road trip? Or better yet, a doggy road trip. Because there is definitely nothing better than conquering country-roads with your four-legged best friend, TeamCocopup Charlie embarked on a doggy road trip to the Cotswolds for a weekend at the beautiful Bruern Cottages with Premier Cottages.

First thing’s first — wheels. We booked our ride with Getaround, which is Europe’s leading car share platform. Getaround has over 50,000 cars in six countries, and we booked our car quite literally a block away from our house. No need for any very bureaucratic rental offices either — because we unlocked our car using our smartphones. How convenient is that?

We set off. Driving past the M1 and across the beautiful landscapes of Oxfordshire and into the finally into the stunning Bruern Cottages. Bruern Cottages is part of Premier Cottage’s curated selection of dog-friendly properties. Premier Cottages have a collection of over 400 pet friendly holiday homes, where owners go the extra mile to welcome your pampered pooches.

From the outside looking in, Bruern Cottages looks like it’s been lifted from a John Constable painting. In this real life tableau, you will find everything from a wisteria covered driveway, a calming indoor pool, a cosy games room, and a lovely courtyard where you can play some fetch with your pup.

TeamCocopup Charlie and I stayed in the lovely Saratoga cottage, which is filled with all of the quintessential charms of a luxury English cottage — and then some. It is everything you could ask for in a luxury cottage and more, and takes the word ‘self-catering’ to another level. Inside, it is wonderfully cosy, perfect for two guests (and a pup), and even has its own private garden aching for a midsummer barbecue.

The Saratoga cottage is filled with plenty of delightful details: from white cotton damask curtains to a flurry of soft pinks, blues, and beige textures that create a classically luxurious palette. Upstairs, there is a blue and white faux bamboo four poster bed. Further down the room, you’ll find the small but lovely bathroom which has a raised bath, heated towel rail and shaving point too. Safe to say — we made ourselves home right away.

Unlike other self-catering cottages, (where you have to make the required trek to the local shop to get the essentials), Bruern Cottages provides you with everything you need to truly enjoy your stay. In your cottage, you are greeted with an absolutely delicious welcome basket filled with the very best local produce. This includes six cackle bean eggs, fresh milk, bacon and sausages from the nearby Paddock farm, Holmleigh dairy butter, freshly baked bread, Bensons apple juice, preserves, a chocolate cake, and a lovely bottle of Chateau Siaurac 2009 shipped directly fro a French chateau. Fancy some bubbles? You can also call ahead and request a bottle of vintage Monopole Champagne, which offers hints of citrus, apple, and subtle vanilla. Now this is luxury self-catering unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, venture out of your cottage and explore Bruern Cottages’ surrounding gardens. We promise that it’s definitely worth your while. The award-winning gardens at Bruern Cottages will make you forego driving anywhere else — and instead spend hours enjoying an idyllic picnic or taking photos in the grounds. Stroll through the Stable Yard and indulge in a game of croquet in the perfectly manicured lawn, walk through the roses, lilies, euphorbias, and clematis in the walled gardens, or gawk at the wisteria that is romantically draped over the arched driveways.

If you’re looking to explore outside of Bruern Cottages, there’s plenty to see within driving distance. Our favourite pit stop was the Cotswold Wildlife Park, which is a family run wildlife park that’s 100% dog-friendly. TeamCocopup Charlie got to meet some camels, giraffes, and even a rogue peacock that wandered into the cafeteria.

Alternatively, there are plenty of stately homes and coastal walks within driving distance too. But with all of the luxurious indulgences at your fingertips in Bruern Cottages – why would you ever leave?

About Premier Cottages

Premier Cottages’ collection features almost 1,000 four and five-star self-catering cottages across the UK. Properties range from small, romantic boltholes to large family-friendly country estates. The collection includes pet-friendly accommodation and the widest range of accessible properties in the UK. Many properties have onsite facilities like swimming pools, gyms, spas, indoor games rooms and children’s play areas.

A week’s stay in Bruern Cottages’ Saratoga Cottage which sleeps two starts from £803 and a two night weekend break starts from £517. (, 01993 830415).

Located in the heart of Spitalfields, The Gun London is a ‘classic’ London pub like you’ve never seen before. Occupying a former 17th century pub, and taken over by The East London Pub Company, The Gun London serves up everything from pints to champagne and all the ambiance you need whether you’re popping in for a casual boozy afternoon or a night out dancing.

On the second to the last day of Wimbledon, we ventured to The Gun London to try out a few of their Wimbledon specials ourselves, while watching Serena Williams and Simona Halep battle it out on the court to become the Wimbledon women’s singles champion.

First up — was the ‘Webley at Wimbledon’, which was a dusty pink conception that harks back to Wimbledon’s strawberries and cream aesthetic. The cocktail was a delicious mix of Bulldog Gin with Tequila Rose, strawberry liqueur, and Mozart white chocolate vanilla cream. Don’t let its sweet creamy flavour fool you, because this cocktail certainly packs a punch.

We followed this with a trio from The Gun London’s excellent crunchy bites menu. The fried chicken with Sriracha Mayo & Togarashi spices, the lamb croquettes with Montgomery cheddar & curried coconut yoghurt dip, and the corn & kale salad are all must-haves, and go perfectly with a glass of Rosé.

Our dessert followed the Wimbledon theme and we had the ‘Strawberries of All Sorts’ — a pink and white dessert made of smoked cream, vanilla, mint, and strawberries. The perfect way to end an afternoon of tennis — on a sweet note.

Now that Wimbledon is over, and you’re still in the mood for some pink coloured drinks – don’t fret because you can still enjoy The Gun London’s limited #RoseYourWay menu – which includes everything from champagne, sparkling and Belsazar frozé, and will be available all throughout summer!

London boasts a plethora of dynamic rooftop restaurants in the city centre. One that has stood the test of time is Galvin at Windows. Being situated on the 28th floor of the historic London Hilton on Park Lane, you won’t be surprised to find unimpeded views of London’s fascinating skyline.

Galvin at Windows: Dining in the Clouds

A Culinary Powerhouse Overlooking London’s Skyline

Chef Patron is Chris Galvin. Along with his brother Jeff, they’ve dominated the London restaurant scene for years with their Michelin-starred cooking skills at restaurants like Galvin La Chapelle. They famously opened the Wolseley restaurant in 2003 and Chris had already earned his first Michelin star at the Orrery back in the year 2000.

At Galvin at Windows, he has appointed talented Marc Hardiman as head chef. Marc had perfected his skills at the Ritz as Senior Sous Chef. Interestingly, Chris had worked as a commis chef at the Ritz back in the day.

With such power-packed CVs, you wouldn’t be surprised to find the food at Galvin at Windows is remarkably polished. Service is attentive yet discreet from the moment you step into the restaurant.

Indulge in a Luxurious Sunday Lunch Experience at Galvin at Windows

A great way to experience their menu is to try their Sunday lunch menu. For the quality of food and service and the views on offer, it is very reasonably priced at £59 per person for 3 courses. It is available from 12 pm to 3 pm every Sunday lunch.

Furthermore, they are dishes you readily pay a premium for, as the ingenious combination of ingredients is unlikely to be recreated at home. Think locally sourced Halibut paired with St Austell Museels, yuzu kosho, nori, Champagne and rose. It is rightfully decadent as you would expect dining at a rooftop restaurant in the heart of Park Lane.

Savor Exquisite Flavors: Must-Try Dishes at Galvin at Windows

Dishes I would recommend trying include a beautifully sweet heritage tomato salad. It has a beautiful zestiness due to the addition of ponzu dressing and has some weighty substance with the presence of moreish goats curd.

Their beef carpaccio was a delightful surprise. It had a real depth of flavour due to the fact it has been dry aged and they used the finest quality black Angus. It was very cleverly paired with artichokes, mustard seeds and a smoked egg yolk for added complexity.

Enhanced flavours were also the order of the day with the main courses. Cornish Brill had an extra umami kick with the inclusion of Porthilly oysters and coastal herbs. The extra ingredients are always given careful consideration on how they can enhance and support the main act.

Innovative Creations and Spectacular Views at Galvin at Windows

They had a very healthy take on the classic lasagne. The ‘lasagne’ sheets were made with celeriac whilst the filling was stuffed with meaty confit king oyster mushrooms. There was a hint of truffle used, but it was never overpowering. This is very much unlike less celebrated restaurants, which often use truffles to compensate for a lack of flavour in their dishes.

The highlight of their not-to-be-missed dessert section is the blackcurrant soufflé. Blackcurrants are incredibly underrepresented in fine dining menus. They have high levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants. The soufflé rose to just the right height and it had the perfect smooth consistency inside. It was paired with a delectable cheesecake ice cream and topped with crème de cassis to add to the blackcurrant notes.

Pairing the right ingredients to enhance the flavours is also evident in most of the other desserts on the menu. Case in point is the exquisitely executed white chocolate and blackberry crème brûlée. They’ve included a blackberry sorbet, so the tart and sweet notes come through even stronger. The texture was silky smooth along with the requisite crunchy topping. The dessert was finished off with a muscovado sugar shortbread.

When booking your table, check which side of the restaurant you might be sitting on. For example, when we visited for Sunday lunch recently, it was particularly glaring on the Hyde Park side. I would recommend booking for the Oxford Street side of the restaurant for Sunday lunch. You will still enjoy spectacular views of the London topography.

If you want a great recommendation for an apéritif or digestif, do check out their neighbouring bar, 10 Degrees Sky Bar. They offer some highly innovative cocktails and you can still admire the stunning views from the 28th floor.

For more information on the restaurant, please visit –

The furnishings have a mixture of vibrant greens, blues, and gold that transports you to the Jazz Age era. For those seeking a quintessentially British experience, indulge in High Tea at The Landmark London amidst this elegant setting. The grande dame of luxury 5-star hotels in London, The Landmark, has recently undergone a major £1.3m refurbishment. Part of that project is to launch a brand-new luxury Champagne Bar, nestled on a mezzanine level on their famous garden terrace. The vision of tropical palm trees and the eight-storey-high glass atrium recalls a bygone era of glamour and high society. The Champagne bar, designed by Alex Kravetz Design, is created to blend in with the luxurious surroundings, with the main bar hidden under a foliage-laden glasshouse.

High Tea at The Landmark London

Savor the Sea: High Seas High Tea at The Landmark London

Accentuating that imagery is their High Seas High Tea offering. The hotel offers a traditional afternoon tea at their famous Winter Garden Restaurant but at the Champagne Bar, it is very much seafood-focused. It is available every Saturday and Sunday between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm. You will also hear the melodic piano sounds emanating from the Victorian Winter Garden atrium. They use the term ‘sandwiches’ but what is served up at the beginning is more tartlets of umami delights from the sea. They offer a tartlet of Scottish lobster, a tartlet of poached langoustine, salmon pastrami, Cornish white crab and yellowfin tuna. Focusing on local produce, the freshness of the seafood is top-notch. The salmon and tuna exuded healthy omega-3 fattiness, whilst the shellfish had a gentle sweetness when you bite into the firm, fresh meat. Each creation has been carefully crafted to maximise the flavours of the seafood. For example, the yellowfin tuna is served with ponzu, black sesame, toasted rye, and fennel butter. The citrus notes from the ponzu are a match made in heaven with the enticing tuna.

Indulge in Exquisite Delights: High Tea at The Landmark London

The fruity flavours were very much in evidence with their scones and desserts. The scones were either freshly baked apple or raisin scones. All the condiments you would ever need were present from clotted cream to a plethora of jams. The options included Bergeron apricot, London marmalade, strawberry, rhubarb, redcurrant & vanilla and raspberry deluxe. Each scone was generously sized and I have no doubt, they would offer you a refill if you asked.

The desserts were exquisitely presented with a parade of appetising colours. If you are looking for something subtle and delicate, there is the tartlet of nectarine, ginger, mascarpone and raspberry gel. The nectarines were sliced with military precision and presented in an intricate rose shape. If you are looking for textural variety, there is the black cherry and pistachio bakewell. The key is all the creations were sweet without being overbearing. And they do offer boxes for you to take away anything you can’t finish. They only use the finest of ingredients from Valrhona dark chocolate in their choux to English strawberries in their Swiss rolls.

Elevate Your Tea Experience: Tea Selections and Evening Delights at The Landmark London

The tea offering also shines brightly in this regal afternoon tea experience. They have green teas, herbal teas, oolong tea and white tea. That includes very high-end options such as Snow Buds white tea. which is high-altitude-grown white tea made entirely of silver-haired tea buds. That creates an elegant, sweet-flavour profile with delicate vegetal notes.

The afternoon tea is available at £75pp or £88pp with a glass of Ruinart Champagne Brut.

If you visit in the evenings, they do still offer seafood-focused small plates, as well as heritage tomato tart and British cheese plates. They also serve a caviar selection that ranges from platinum caviar to the rare, golden osetra. They have a lengthy Champagne selection that includes on the top end, Krug, Grande Cuvée MV. They can offer a Taittinger Champagne flight, which is 100ml per glass which is great if you want to pair your glass of bubbly with your seafood.

If you want to impress friends or family with a special treat, do consider inviting them to a High Seas High Tea at The Landmark London.

To find out more about the afternoon tea, please visit

Our girl Hannah Tan-Gillies and intrepid doggy rePAWter TeamCocopup Charlie went for a blissful solo getaway to Burleigh Court, a Cotswolds Hideaway that’s anything but ordinary.

Burleigh Court is a chic four-star boutique manor hotel, housed in a Grade II listed manor, that is surrounded by captivating Cotswolds countryside in Stroud. The hotel, which has one of the most beautiful views of Stroud’s Golden Valley, foregoes the sometimes stuffy environs of other manor house hotels and instead opts for a vibe that is elegant, warm and inviting. Imagine staying in one of the lush country manors ala Bridgerton – minus all the pomp and circumstance.

Burleigh Court invites guests to go slow and escape the busyness of their everyday lives and get lost amidst beautiful Cotswolds countryside walks, in-room spa treatments and of course delicious food. There are plenty of cosy corners to enjoy a book, read or work – with the outdoor garden being the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy a glass of Rosé.

The best thing about Burleigh Court? It is that it is fabulously dog friendly. TeamCocopup Charlie was welcomed in most of the public spaces, with a dedicated area for doggy diners in the restaurant too. He absolutely loved exploring Burleigh Court’s expansive grounds and going on leisurely walks in the surrounding countryside.

Burleigh Court has 18, individually designed rooms with pet-friendly accommodation available in an adjacent coach house. Our room was incredibly spacious tastefully designed and ideally located in front of the grounds – perfect for late night doggy business. There was a dog bed, dog bowls and some treats too – which Charlie more than appreciated. The room décor was a love letter to Cotswolds charm and featured plenty of well-loved knick knacks, rich tapestries and even a delightful wall mural.

The food at Burleigh Court is definitely worth shouting about. The hotel has an award-winning two-rosette restaurant which maximises the flavours of locally sourced pr ingredients from the Gloucestershire countryside and the hotels’ own vegetable garden. Led by renowned British Chef Shaun Jones, every dish will make your taste buds tingle. Even more so when accompanied by one of the many vintages in the hotel’s impressive collection.

There is patio fireside dining, afternoon tea and a delectable dinner menu We loved the white asparagus and wild garlic dish and the trio of spring lamb which combined tender sous vide lamb and spiced lamb belly and served with punchy sagaloo potatoes and bunched carrots. Perfectly cooked and still memorable to this day.

After a whirlwind few months on the go, travelling to all corners of the world, this writer certainly needed that soul-enriching, life-affirming solo stay at Burleigh Court Cotswolds. From the warm hospitality of the staff, delicious food and beautiful Cotswolds countryside – there’s no better way to recharge than in this magical Cotswolds hideaway. When life once again gets away from us, we shall certainly be back.

For bookings visit

As my car turns onto the sweeping drive of Schloss Roxburghe it’s hard not to be impressed. This country pile in the heart of the Scottish Borders stands proud amongst pretty gardens and perfectly manicured lawns against a backdrop of lush green countryside and rolling hills.

Once owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, this quintessential country house hotel has undergone a full refurbishment and expansion bringing an additional 58 rooms, self-catering cottages, and a Finnish inspired spa facility to the property. The new extended Estate House is sympathetic to the rest of the hotel. The seamless extension boasts similar rich colours and textures to the main house that it’s hard to spot the old from the new. Tartans combined with oak, natural stone and plush textiles successfully fuse Scottish heritage with contemporary design. I checked into one of the new park view rooms that overlooks the championship golf course set amongst the grounds. The rooms in the new estate are spacious and modern, lots of white and teal dominate the colour palette with accents of gold. The bathroom has a large walk-in shower, heated floor and is loaded with Molton Brown toiletries.

Schloss Roxburghe is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. With over 300 acres of land including two and a half miles of the River Teviot, Trout Loch, beautiful parkland and Estate gardens, it is a fabulous place to enjoy nature. I spent an afternoon with the hotel’s very own Ray Mears, Ian Fairgrieve, to try my hand at some country outdoor pursuits. With an extensive programme of activities, you can find something to suit your preferences and skill level. First up for me was archery on the lawn in the front of the house. After a quick demonstration and advice from Ian I was firing arrows like Robin Hood. We then moved on to the lake for a bit of trout fishing. I’m a total novice when it comes to country pursuits but was instantly put at ease and was soon confidently casting for my catch. Shortly after I caught a trout, which was immediately sent to the kitchen to be cooked for my supper. However, my confidence was dashed at the shooting range as my hand eye coordination and reaction speed wasn’t hitting the mark. Despite not hitting one shot on target, I had great fun and learned some new skills.

After all the activities I was ready to relax. The new 1100sqm spa facility has floor to ceiling windows that look out to the grounds and a heated outdoor infinity edge pool. With a spacious indoor relaxation zone guests can unwind or book one of the spa treatments featuring Aromatherapy Associates and Kloris products. There’s an additional plunge pool, a Finnish dry sauna and an aromatic sauna.

Expect a warm welcome, the staff are the jewel in the Schloss crown bringing their relaxed, friendly Scottish disposition to your stay. The team are knowledgeable and quick to ensure you have everything you need to make your break enjoyable. In 1745, the hotel bar the resident mixologist will whip up something special using their own label gin, Lady Chatto Rose, distilled locally it includes botanicals grown on the grounds. You certainly won’t go hungry here, the food choice is extensive from loaded breakfast buffets to afternoon tea. Charlie’s, named after Bonnie Prince Charlie, who frequented the place in 1745, offers ‘Scottish bistronomy’, using the highest quality ingredients and gourmet cooking techniques. For those looking for something special then book the seven-course tasting menu at Sunlaws. Available with wine pairing it showcases fine dining at its best.

This rural retreat is a stunning Scottish hideaway, perfect for slowing down and unwinding. By the time I checked out, I felt every inch Lady of the Manor.

Rooms at Schloss Roxburghe are from £239 per night in a King Bed Estate including breakfast.

Introducing you to the Gara Rock hotel, Devon

What could be more thrilling than a sojourn to a secret escape overlooking the sea in the heart of Devon? Nestled in the rolling grounds of Gara Rock, an exclusive luxury hotel close to the picture-postcard village of Salcombe, is where you can live out your celebrity dreams.

Deemed as Devon’s coolest coastal hotel, Gara Rock is the epitome of rustic-chic. Situated on a cliff edge which affords the most spectacular sea views, Gara Rock’s remote location is ideal for those seeking a digital detox without compromising on luxury credentials.

There’s a variety of delightful places to stay at Gara Rock which include double rooms, cottages, apartments and suites throughout this boutique bolthole to check out which includes the Signal House and the Penthouse, but we stayed in the sumptuous Secret Suite – a luxurious hideaway for those seeking a romantic getaway.

Gara Rock Secret Suite
Gara Rock Secret Suite

Secret by name, secret by nature. You would be hard pressed to find it unless a member of the friendly team happened to accompany you.

The building the Secret Suite is housed in is literally ‘off the beaten track’. We won’t give away its exact location (why, you will have to check in and check it out for yourself!) but rest assured if you are looking for an escape away from the hustle and bustle of inner city life, then you will certainly find solace in the Secret Suite.

With an enviable location on top of the craggy clifftop, the Secret Suite offers panoramic views, sensational interiors that are oh so insta-worthy!

Taking inspiration from its nautical surroundings, the Secret Suite effortlessly fuses cosiness, style and luxury in one fell swoop with a soothing palette of dreamy hues and textures.

From its floor-to-ceiling windows where you can watch the sun rise from the comfort of your own bed to the immaculate interiors which include handwoven rattan lampshades, sheepskin rugs draped over elegant chairs and the beautifully styled bathroom with its super-sized bath tub.

The bathroom also has a double sink, a huge vanity unit and a tucked away double walk-in shower making this instantly insta-famous in our books.

Whilst it was increasingly difficult to tear ourselves away from the glamour of this rustic retreat, the hotel’s facilities were just waiting to be explored.

Just a short walk away from the Secret Suite is the large heated outdoor swimming pool which was sadly out of action during our stay. It makes for the perfect al fresco relaxation area though in order to catch some serious rays and laze around on the sun loungers.

For those seeking the ultimate indulgence, the hotel’s Elemis spa is simply sublime. You can enjoy all the usual treatments (which includes facials, massages and pedicures) enjoy a refreshing dip in the indoor pool, zen out in the jacuzzi or rejuvenate yourself in the sauna and steam room.

There’s also a private cinema room that you can rent for exclusive access and there’s no shortage of books and board games  are no end of books that you can enjoy in the open-plan lobby.

One of the main highlights at Gara Rock is the food and who could resist enjoying dinner with those spectacular views? Choose from starters like coal-fired heritage beetroot, Salcombe shellfish soup, lamb arosticini and a delicately-crafted crab tartlet.

The mains are equally diverse with fillet of beet, beer-battered fish and chips and lamb rack all making welcome appearances on the menu. All dietary requirements are catered for and coeliacs will adore the most exquisitely baked gluten-free bread.

For those looking to gara-on-the-go and make the most of the stunning surroundings, you can grab a snack from the cute ‘Garavan’ – a retro Citroën van which is parked on the cliff edge adjacent to the hotel.

Gara Rock makes for a spectacular stay and is without doubt, the South West’s coolest coastal hotel and you might just find it impossible to leave.

Shhh! Here’s our three favourite secret things to do whilst in Salcombe!)

Craft your own surfboard –  Whether you are a seasoned surfer or are just getting into the sport, why not try making your very own surfboard with a special course with Lignum Surf? You don’t have to have any previous woodworking experience, but what could amp up your cool credentials more with the refrain of ‘this old thing? I built it myself!”

2) Sup and well sup! – Why didn’t we think of paddle boarding and wine drinking sooner? Well, the good folk at Sharpham Vineyards have their eyes on the prize when it comes to paddling down the River Dart closely followed by some serious wine and cheese tasting – we’re in!

3) Go to gin school – Devon is known for its gin and if you can’t beat them, why not join them on your very own gin making course. You can enrol at the local Gin School, where you can learn the art of distilling with your own mini copper pot to make your very own 70cl bottle of gin! Cheers!

Check in: Double rooms start from £199 per night

Walk into the entrance of The NICI hotel and you are instantly transported to South Beach, Miami. Candy coloured prints, raffia beach bags and opulent gold touches are scattered around this stylish five-star destination resort. Unlike the dilapidated B&B’s that flank the Bournemouth seafront, The NICI is a cool, chic coastal gem that gives all the SoBe vibes.

My sea-view suite is a generous size and comes with a free-standing bath, a retro drinks trolley loaded with complimentary rum and an outdoor terrace overlooking the pool, ideal for sundowners. The room is light and airy with accents of green and further nods to the hotel’s art deco style. There’s 84 luxury bedrooms, many with spectacular coastline views, garden hot tub suites and family rooms. Each one comes with fluffy white bath robes and a supply of Malin+Goetz toiletries.

Relaxed dining is the focus at the hotel’s restaurant, South Beach. With floor to ceiling views of the pool and gardens as well as a terrace for alfresco dining, it’s the perfect spot for a late supper. The menu is versatile and caters for those who want healthy light bites as well as more substantial dishes. There’s an afternoon tea menu too.

Beyond the luxurious accommodations and outstanding dining options, The NICI excels in providing a range of exceptional amenities. Having undergone a £20m refurbishment, it is bringing a slice of style to the south coast. A 30m outdoor heated pool complete with pretty pastel striped loungers, cabanas and firepits makes it the most Instagramable spots in the town. The team behind the hotel has pulled out all the stops to make sure guests are catered for and have access to top notch facilities. The kids club and cinema room are great additions for the less sunny days. Wellness lovers can explore the ten miles of coastline using the complimentary bikes or hit the waves with one of the paddleboards and kayaks, all free of charge. The spa will also run a programme of outdoor fitness sessions from boardwalk runs, to exhilarating sea swims and beach fitness classes.

The spa facilities are an oasis of relaxation, offering a range wellness solutions designed to rejuvenate both body and mind. The NICI Spa features a 18m heated indoor pool and hydrotherapy pool, alongside a steam room and aromatherapy sauna. There’s also a fully equipped gym. With eight treatment rooms, including a treatment room for two, they have partnered with award winning spa brands, OTO CBD and OSKIA, to create a bespoke menu of holistic therapies, which includes bamboo massage, sound therapy and innovative anti-ageing techniques. The OTO Signature treatment is 90 minutes of zen, using a CBD oil tailored to your needs the therapist gets to work on releasing any stress or tension in the body while delivering the optimum amount of CBD. The spa is one of the hotel highlights and after my OTO massage I spent the afternoon on the crystal energy loungers, making the most of the opportunity to tune out.

What truly sets The NICI apart is the level of personalised service. From the reception team to the restaurant staff, they all have the knack of making you feel like a truly valued guest and ensuring your stay exceeds all expectations.

Rooms from £230 per room, per night. Visit

Nestled on the outskirts of the nucleus that is Cambridge city center in an unassuming residential area, a casual ten minute stroll through Jesus Green until you reach the hubbub of the university city, sits The Fellows House. An aparthotel that promises a home away from home for both short stay city breakers and long haul business trippers. With an array of on site facilities such as 24/7 gym, pool complete with sauna and steam room, coffee shop, restaurant and a luxe bar area, it is easy to see why.

With four categories of room on offer, ranging from standard and studio through to apartments and duplexes there is something to suit all budgets and purpose of travel. Nearly all the rooms are equipped with kitchenettes including hob, combi oven and fridge plus coffee machines, kettles and toasters – perfect for an in room brekkie in your complimentary fluffy robe and slippers. Most rooms also include sofa beds, large flat screen TVs in both bedroom and living space – no TV control arguments during any family stays – rainfall showers and the pièce de résistance, huge, sumptuous king size beds with premium linen, waiting to envelope its inhabitant(s) for a night of uninterrupted slumber. Well thought out additions such as cook books, books on the nightstands and White Company toiletries really do turn these hotel rooms into an extension of your home.

On site coffee shop, Sage is a great addition that sits at the front of the hotel and is perfect for a spot of remote working or a quick caffeine hit before ambling into the city. The barista’s know their stuff and the onsite patisserie chef ensures counter tops are laden with enticing pastries and cakes with a solid vegan offering. I like to do my due diligence on these sorts of things and can confirm I tried every cake available, all sublime, all worth the extra notch on the belt.

The hotel’s restaurant – Folio Bar & Kitchen offers all day dining, including continental and hot breakfast for guests on the B&B option. You can definitely feel that the American military audience are being catered to with towers of fluffy pancakes and streaky bacon being replenished every five minutes – no complaints from me, I just wish there had been a jug of maple syrup to drown it all in.

The restaurant’s aesthetic is impressive – flooded in natural light from both the huge overhead skylight and glass doors that open out onto the courtyard, it’s a great setting to plan your day of exploring. Bold black and white floor tiles are complimented perfectly by muted sage green booth seating and dark wood furniture. Exposed brickwork and a plethora of plants bring the outside in and a fiery open kitchen with chefs bustling about their business creates the perfect backdrop. At night, the vibe changes, the lighting is low, the flames of the open kitchen are bright and what by day felt like an oasis turns into a cosy, decadent atmosphere – encouraging it’s dwellers to sink into the comfy seating, order another glass of wine and while away the evening.

Chef Kiran Selvarajan boasts to be doing very exciting things with plant based cooking, emphasising a reduction on food waste, using local ingredients and putting contemporary twists on British classics whilst keeping things healthy and nutritious. Dishes such as tofu prawn cocktail, bean risotto and cottage cheese steak pepper the menu. And so, with all these innovative plant based offerings up for grabs, what did I order? Scallops and a steak. You see dear reader, I went with good intentions. I had an assignment to fulfill and I had every ambition of doing so but it seems this carnivore turns primal at the sight of an open grill and all will power flies out the window.

The scallops were fantastic – perfectly seared, sweet and plump, adorning a heady lobster bisque and crowned with crispy sage, this was the standout dish for me. The steak was ok – perhaps the universe laughing at me for ordering the meatiest option available – it was cooked well but lacking that char I was hoping for. A side of wilted baby gem with tahini and dukkah, a welcome accompaniment. Given my menu choices I can’t really comment on the exciting vegan offerings chef is putting forward but what I can tell you about is the chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the fellow journalists who actually stuck to the brief, an audible gasp was heard when the person next to me took her first bite of marinated tofu steak and so, I am planning my return as we speak and this time I promise to stay away from the cow… maybe.

Adjoining the Folio Kitchen is the bar, a gorgeously moody space that gives gentlemen club’s vibes but one where all are welcome. Book shelves are lined with carefully curated works from Cambridge Fellows and scholars alike, artwork of the great academics looking down on guests as they sip perfectly mixed cocktails – lethal but perfect – and nods to the discovery of DNA in the paneled walling. These design features that make the hotel so unique and truly deliver its USP, marry perfectly with atmospheric lighting, low level furniture and a  pool table taking center stage. The bar and cocktail menu proving another highlight  – not because I could be considered a lush but more because the atmosphere was so welcoming and the menu so well designed. Each cocktail nodding to a fellow, exquisite detail such as hand painted bees on top of creamy foam and a martini as dirty as you like.Given the long stayers within the hotel there is a community here and being in the bar felt similar to university halls but a very, grown up classy version. The concierge team greeting people by name, the pool sharks winding down after a day researching goodness knows what, bar tenders remembering drinks of choice – I’m into it.

The onsite leisure facilities are simple yet effective – a long pool perfect for morning lengths that also doubles up as relaxation pool, a submerged shelf sitting just below the surface lined with jets ready to bubble, flanked by loungers for those who are more of the sitting than moving camp, a steam room and sauna a mere waddle away and should be that way inclined a compact yet functional gym space complete with Peloton bike and squat rack.

With such a plethora of facilities on site plus specially curated activities for both hotel residents and the local community alike such as ‘Cork and Canvas’ art classes and wine tastings, you would be forgiven if you couldn’t pull yourself away from The Fellow’s House but pull yourself away you must – be it by amble or by bike (complimentary from the hotel), Cambridge is itching to be explored. Be it a walking tour to learn the history of the city, a gentle punt on the River Cam complete with picnic and prosecco or shopping the day away with some of the highstreets best plus a great independent scene plus an exceptional foodie landscape, this city really does have something for everyone. The concierge team at Fellow’s House will go above and beyond to ensure you see the best of the city, they will even laden you up with aforementioned picnic and help you book a punt or a tour. And if that isn’t enough, Visit Cambridge are helping drive traffic to local businesses within the city with their ‘Love Cambridge’ card, a pre loaded gift card that can be used in an abundance of shops – the perfect gift if you have friends or family visiting and want to ensure they can have a drink or dinner on you.

And if that’s not enough to entice you, you can check out the best Cambridge eateries here.

To find out more about The Fellow’s House, you can visit there website here.