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! 😄

go karting around tokyo is a REAL THING

Our first two days in Tokyo included yakitori in piss alley, maid cafes, the golden gai and even a whizz around the city that in no way resembled nintendo’s mario kart…

 

here begins the epic japan holiday vlogs!

Everyone loves to talk about how expensive Japan is and so I thought it would be a great chance to flex my money saving muscles and rustle up an epic trip of:

  • 10+ nights
  • A bullet train tour of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto
  • A lush last night hotel stay
  • Oh, and let’s throw in going at the PRICIEST time in the Japanese calendar – cherry blossom season!

First up, it’s all about the flight. AND WHAT A BARGAIN IT WAS!!!

chatting travel with matt and tom

Matt and Tom, off of the YouTubez, invited me onto their Park Bench series to talk all things travel for which I was MORE THAN WILLING.

Due to their well deserved popularity, I also smashed through 1,000 subscribers on my own channel (WHOOP WHOOP) so it’s official, it’s not just my Mum watching (hi Mum, I know you’ll be reading this and yes, I am very grateful for your loyal, unwavering support and no, I can’t make it home for Mother’s Day sorry).

The video features loads of travel tips (with a load I’d never heard of before – WHODATHUNKIT?) so give it a watch and make sure you subscribe to the wonders that are Matt and Tom as well.

Lovely.

the holiday breakdown – how much did it all cost?

So yes, yes, I went on loads of holidays last year however, I realised today that I’ve actually yet to post all of them, along with their costs, in one easy-to-find place.

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Remember the rules?

I had £1709 (half the price the average Brit spends in a year) to go on:

  1. At least 10 holidays
  2. Trips must be 2 nights or more and two must be 5 nights or more
  3. Only use 28 days of annual leave
  4. At least 3 continents
  5. At least one flight must be business class

The holidays

1) Valencia, Spain

easyJet flights – £62pp
1 night – Bloc Hotel Gatwick – £32.72pp
2 nights – Hotel Balandret – £75pp
Total – £169.72pp

2) Dubai, UAE

Qantas/Emirates flights – £279.83pp
4 nights – Princess Tower Apartments (similar) – £184pp
Total – £463.83pp

3) Aarhus, Denmark

Ryanair flights – £43.33pp
2 nights – friend’s apartment – free!
Total – £43.33pp

4) Dublin, Ireland

Stena Line ferry & petrol – £14pp
2 nights – Mec Hostel, Dublin – £65pp
Total – £79pp

5) Benidorm, Spain

British Airways Business Class – £216pp
3 nights – Pierre & Vacances Benidorm Levante – £72pp
Total – £288pp

6) Margate, UK

Southeastern train – £13.30pp
2 nights – Airbnb – £25pp
Total – £38.30pp

7) Paris, France

Eurostar snap – £50pp
14 nights – Nomador catsit – free!
Total = £50pp

8) Gdańsk, Poland

Ryanair flight – £16pp
2 nights – Little Home – Prestige – £33pp
Total = £49pp

9) Timisoara, Romania

Ryanair flight – £20pp
2 nights – NH Timisoara – £35pp
Total = £55pp

10) New York & Miami, USA

British Airways return flights – £358pp
2 nights – New York apartment – £45pp
Frontier flights to Miami – £32pp
3 nights – Miami Homestay – £40pp
2 nights – Miami Airbnb – £40pp
1 night – Shelborne South Beach – £66pp
Total = £581pp

Overall total = £1817.18
Cashback = £112.73

Final total = £1704.45