my 5* stay at the sofitel st james and how you can stay luxe for less

I often get asked what I prefer when I go away – a hotel stay or a short term rental.

And whilst I love having a a full size fridge to store my 2 euro wine (what, that’s not the first thing you buy when you’re on holiday?!!), I’ve really started to appreciate a night or two at a super lush hotel.

That’s why when Booking.com asked if I fancied staying a night at the Sofitel London St James I had to enforce the ’10 min text back rule’ as to not scare them off by going ‘OF COURSE I BLOODY DO I’M OUTSIDE ALREADY CAN YOU LET ME IN PLZ BBZ’.

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Being a mere 35 minutes from my usual place of residence, this was definitely more of a ‘staycation’ but a quick google summarised the hotel’s 5 star credentials (restaurant and bar – tick, spa – tick, Hermès toiletries – TICK) meaning that this mere jaunt across town warranted a full face of makeup, a coiffed bouffant and an IRONED TOP (huge feat).

On arrival, the doorman took our bags and I had around 3.7 seconds to come up with my new ‘I always frequent 5* hotels’ alias (Tamara, interior designer, wears jodhpurs on the weekend).

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We were given a Luxury Room (the hierarchy of rooms goes Classic – Superior – Luxury – Premium Luxury) and all you need to know is that the bed was HEAVEN ON EARTH. James had to do a bit of a high jump backwards spring to get on and I thought I’d nearly lost him in the marshmallow folds at one point.

The next morning, we swanned down to breakfast and I was made up over the Veggie Fry Up (£14 – not too bad for a central London hotel) which someone had actually given some thought to. The sweet potato hash brown and overloaded avocado on toast were veggie brekkie EXCLUSIVE. Other breakfastaries (real word) take note.

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Being INCREDIBLY CENTRAL (basically the Queen’s neighbours) and pretty plush, this hotel ain’t the cheapest. In fact, when I rang up reservations to ask what price their rooms start at, I unwittingly entered a volley of dead end questions and was told “unless you know the date, I can’t tell you a price”. Thanks love.

Booking.com, however, were a little more forthcoming and online it states that ‘prices for upcoming dates start at £331 per night’.

Sofitel St James Booking.com

For someone who loves a good deal, that’s a lot of money (hell, I think I did three holidays for that last year) but more and more I’ve found myself planning getaways where I’m happy to stay somewhere less flash if it means that I can go all out for the last night or two.

So, what are my tips for staying somewhere glam AF without breaking the bank?

  1. Stay on a Sunday – with the weekend tourists packing back off home and the business breaks yet to begin, Sundays can often be the cheapest night of the week.
  2. Off peak – stay in a quiet period. For example, my Ma and Pa, always go away on the 1st January (it’s their anniversary the day after) and they always bag a great deal. Talk about starting the new year right.
  3. Book cheap and blag an upgrade – heading to a nice hotel but got the cheapest room? Story of my life. If blagging an upgrade doesn’t work (I speak about how to do this here), then try asking at the desk if there’s anything available. I tried this on a recent work trip to Mexico and managed to get a suite with late checkout for just £30 extra.
  4. Get a discount – if you haven’t used it already, you can still get £25 off your next stay at booking.com by using my referral link – I don’t get anything by you using the link, it’s just an actual, real life legit way for you to save money. As long as it’s over £50 and you haven’t used a referral code before (mine or anyone else’s), it’s an easy way to make your next luxuuurrrioussss stay that bit more affordable.
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The suite life

As always, let me know where you end up booking (or if you score any amazing 5* hotel deals) as I shall always endeavour to holiday vicariously through you all!


Booking.com gave me the room (THANX GUYZ!) and, having not written anything more than a YouTube bio in a while, I decided to blog about it. Therefore, here lie my honest thoughts, feelings and advice for you to enjoy your own luxury stay! 😄

the recap | most drunk, biggest fail & best accommodation

Do you remember at the end of each series of Friends where they did their ‘and here’s our best bits’ episode? Well, this is basically that.

Featuring most drunk, biggest fail and best accomm – oh, and James attempts to do the non-handed shot one last time…

WHY DOES THAT BOY NOT LEARN?!!

april short breaks for less than £150pp

My holiday withdrawals are too much.

So, to take the edge off, I’ve decided to do a monthly round up of some of the great getaways on offer in the coming months.

We’re talking weekend breaks (1 day off maximum) with decent flight times and well rated accommodation.

All prices will be based on two people sharing a room and I’ll tend to recommend hotels just so that you have a place to store your luggage before and after check in.

I’ll also be flinging in some NON-LONDON (😱) options every single month.

Right! Let’s kick things off with April.

FROM LONDON

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Where?

Copenhagen – the capital of Denmark

When?

Saturday 21st April – Monday 23rd April

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*Note that you’ll fly from Stansted and come back to Luton.

How much?

£36 with Go To Gate via Momondo, or you can buy directly with Ryanair for £44. Remember to use a private browser!

Where should I stay?

66 Guldsmeden

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  • 3 star
  • Close to the city centre
  • In Vesterbro, Copenhagen’s fashionable meat packing district
  • Great ratings
  • £113 a night via iloveecohotels

Total cost

£149 per person

Why Copenhagen?

Great food, great architecture and bloody lovely people. I recommend checking out Torvehallerne food market, Kanal Cafeen for smørrebrød and Tivoli for the world’s most aesthetically pleasing amusement park!

FROM LIVERPOOL

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Where?

Ibiza – Spain’s party island (before the party kicks off!)

When?

Sat 21st – Mon 23rd April (also available the weekend before for £2 more)

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How much?

£38 with Go To Gate via Momondo, or you can buy directly with Ryanair for £40.

Where should I stay?

OD Ocean Drive

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  • 4 star
  • Close to Ibiza Town
  • Great ratings
  • Roof terrace with sea views
  • Breakfast included
  • £99 a night via loveholidays

Total cost

£137 per person

Why Ibiza?

Ibiza’s clubs don’t open until May so if that’s what you’re after, hold off. However, spring is an amazing time to visit as the island is blooming into life. There’s plenty of restaurants still open if you base yourself near a main town and you’ll be blessed with near empty beaches when you go exploring. What’s more, with an average temperature of 18°C, it’s a great place to reacquaint yourself with a little bit of sunshine!

FROM GLASGOW

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Where?

Olhão – a small fishing town that’s just an 18 minute taxi journey from the airport

When?

Fri 20th April – Sun 22nd April

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How much?

£90 – I found the rate on Skyscanner, but you could also book direct with Ryanair

Where should I stay?

Hotel Cidade de Olhão

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Worth a mention also is Real Marina Hotel & Spa which would send you a whopping £7 over your budget – but it comes with breakfast and is a 5 star spa hotel 💅🏻

Total cost

£148 per person

Why Olhão?

Before going to Olhão for the first time, a Portuguese friend laughed and said ‘why on earth are you going there?’. Unlike its neighbouring Algarve towns, Olhão is not a tourist hotspot. Instead, you get a small fishing town that’s full of character and great, fresh food. Make sure you check out the local fruit and fish markets and take the ferry out to Culatra, a large sand bar island with a charming small village vibe. If you’re after loads to do, this isn’t the place for you, but if you’re after a chill in the sunshine (average temps are around 22°C by this point), then I’d definitely recommend it.


As well as booking holidays, I also LOVE hearing about them, so make sure to let me know where you end up heading this April!

we ran out of money | miami & key west | the final vlog

It’s here! The final one!

Featuring a road trip to Key West, lots and lots of beer (naturally) and what happens when you fly home on Christmas day…

Plus, did I actually manage to book 10 holidays for half the price the average Brit spends in a year?

WEL U CAN FIND OUT HERE:

gdańsk was the city i never planned to love

 

 

I really did just book this because it was cheap.

I mean, with £16 flights and £33 for 2 nights in a cute, polished apartment, there wasn’t much to argue with.

But I actually didn’t expect to properly fall in love with its amber peddling, quiet majesty and old town charm.

With an exceptional array of places to eat, drink and be merry, Gdańsk is now officially my go to recommendation to all in search of a short and cheap (emphasis on the latter) European break.

So what are you waiting for? Get on Skyscanner and find that flight!

holiday three | denmark for under £45

After a rather pricey trip to Doobz (what do you mean, no one calls Dubai that?!?), I needed to cash in a trick I was hoping to hold onto for a little while longer…

STAYING WITH A MATE.

And before you say it, it’s not cheating.

Why?

Because I said so.

(IT’S MY HOLIDAY CHALLENGE SO I’M MAKING DA RULEZ).

My mate Line is from Aarhus in Denmark, and we met 9 years ago (9 YEARS AH!!!) when we lived next door to each other when studying in Atlanta.

We always bang on about visiting the other, but we’ve been pretty pants in recent years so, teamed with super cheap weekend flights from Stansted airport, what excuse did I have?

holiday to dubai? add sri lanka, india or thailand from just £69 extra

If you’ve got your heart set on Dubai, there’s plenty of one stop options to get you there for less than £230 – I talked about these in my last blog post.

However, if you’re flying direct with a top class airline, there’s a great way to make the most out of your money by using Dubai as a stop off.

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Intrigued?

Dubai isn’t called the ‘gateway to the middle east’ for nothing – it’s a key hub for connecting flights, especially when you’re flying from the UK. Therefore, adding in an additional return flight to Sri Lanka, Thailand or India could end up only costing you an additional £69.

For example, here’s the straight forward return from London.

Dubai
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 16th Oct

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So, say we wanted to spend 4 nights in Dubai to explore the city, where could we head on to next?

As our chosen airline, Emirates, flies to over 150 destinations, it means that there’s a lot of choice when it comes to adding another trip on. All you have to do is search for a ‘multi-city’ flight, which is made pretty easy by sites like Skyscanner and Kayak.

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For example, if we were to add in a flight on Monday 9th October to another destination and then return back to London on Monday 16th October (which automatically would send us via Dubai), this is how much it would cost.

Mumbai, India +£69
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Colombo, Sri Lanka +£88
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia + £116
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctKuala Lumpur - £455.pngHong Kong, China +£117
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctHong Kong - £456.png

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam +£129
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Bali, Indonesia + £142
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th Oct
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Phuket, Thailand +£150
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And these are just a handful of options. The basic rule is ‘does the airline you’re originally flying with go anywhere else?’ If so, get searching for multi-city deals.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that this would be the cheapest way of getting to that extra destination, but it does give you a great option if you were heading somewhere anyway, or wanting to do 2 destinations in 1.

Good luck with your search!