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My Dubrovnik Bucketlist, Croatia’s Crowning Jewel

 

Croatia has been a popular European country for decades, with harbour front resorts, cosmopolitan cities and busy shipping ports at every corner. Croatia is famed for its blue skies, turquoise waters and charming heritage, but its crowning jewel has got to be the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Rising in popularity due to its recent appearances in the blockbuster Game of Thrones series, Dubrovnik is one of the hottest places to visit in 2018. Luckily, I’m going to be there for the first time this summer when I embark on a cruise around the Mediterranean, and I can’t wait to explore this pretty place. So when villa rental company James Villas,who offer fantastic Dubrovnik villas in the city, asked me to put together my Dubrovnik bucket list, I jumped at the chance to create my own itinerary…

 

10.00 – Arrive in Dubrovnik 

 

 

I’ll be arriving in Dubrovnik on a flight from Manchester in the early hours so am pleased that I’ll be able to make the most of having a full day in the city. Once our luggage has been safely delivered to the ship and I’ve refreshed from my flight I’ll be ready and raring to explore the first stop on my cruise!

 

 11.00 – Head to the Old Town

 

The amazing Old Town of Dubrovnik ~ Photo @ccr135

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Nothing screams history like an old town, and if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know how much I love exploring a good ancient area! As Dubrovnik has been high up on my bucket list for ages, I’ve got a good idea of what I want to see, and this historic area is definitely the right place to start. I plan on heading to the market square to look at the stalls, food halls and little cafe’s and shops and will go from there. I’ve heard it’s a cultural hub with incredible architecture and endless cobbled streets, so I can’t wait to kick off the day and explore this area.

 

12.00 – Walk along the ancient City Walls

 

Just magnificent! @miikkanevalainen #dubrovnik

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Dubrovnik is famed for its city walls, and rightly so as they wrap around the entire old town and stretch to over 2000 metres in length. Dating back to the 7th century, the fortifcations were built to defend the city from hostile forces and offer a wealth of history. I’ll be walking as far along the walls as I possibly can in the short amount of time I have and am really looking forward to seeing the city from an elevated position, I think it’ll really help me to get my bearings and get those all important Insta pics of the iconic red roofs and stone buildings!

 

2.00 – Stop for lunch at trendy restaurant Nautika

 

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A regular haunt of VIP’s and a host of celebs, I’ve heard this restaurant is the place to be to enjoy a spot of fine dining. I’m not sure if my budget will allow it, but I hope to pop by and scout it out whilst I’m in Dubrovnik. Apparently the roof terraces offer the most incredible panoramic views over the crystal clear waters below, so I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of that whilst I visit, even if I don’t end up getting a table! I’m sure there will be plenty of other places to eat though, so I can refuel ready for a few more hours of exploring afterwards.

 

4.00 – Take the cable car up Mount Srd

 

 

I’m not sure I’ll have time to do this one, but I will certainly try my best to fit it in! Cable cars are a brilliant way to see a new city as they offer wonderful views from above and are an exhilarating experience at the same time. I’ve heard it’s a little pricey, but am sure it’ll be worth it when I get to the top and the buildings turn to tiny dots as the Adriatic sea dominates the skyline. There’s also a restaurant/cafe at the summit too, which will be just perfect for snapping as many pics as I can and taking in the incredible 360 degree views… Ahhh I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

 

6.00 – Take some time out on Banje beach

 

 

This will probably be a luxury thing and something I’ll only do if I have time to spare as I’d much rather run around and explore the city instead of laze around on a beach, but this one looks really beautiful and I hope to at least take a few pictures of it, even if I don’t get the chance to soak up some rays. With it’s gorgeous white sands, bright turquoise waters and rocky cliffs, Banje beach looks like a sun worshipper’s haven and I can certainly see why!

 

8.00 – Sink a sundowner whilst watching the sunset

 

Chase the sunset 🌅 Photo @dubrovnikboatcharter

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Watching the sunset is without doubt one of my favourite things to do when exploring a new city, and I know Dubrovnik is going to be an amazing place to do this! I’m going to try and head to a bar with a panoramic roof terrace and grab a cocktail or a glass of fizz whilst watching the sun go down as it casts its orange glow over the buildings and the sea shimmers below. Sounds totally dreamy, doesn’t it?!

 

10.00 – Return to your cruise ship ready for departure

 

 

Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about this itinerary! After a busy day of exploring I’ll be ready for a good sleep during my first night at sea and will probably welcome a day of rest on the ship the next day. I’ve certainly packed a lot in, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do all of it, but I’m going to try my best to see as much of Dubrovnik as I possibly can and I think it’ll be a great way to kick start my Meditteranean cruise.

 

So this is what my Dubrovnik bucket list currently looks like, and I’m hoping it’s as every bit jam packed as this when the day comes! As you can see, I literally have 12 hours to explore this Croatian gem and want to see as much of it as I possibly can during my time there. Our cruise starts and ends in Dubrovnik, so I may be able to squeeze in a couple more hours of exploring before I head back to the UK, but here’s hoping I can leave with some wonderful memories from my short time in the city. Have you ever been to Dubrovnik before? Let me know if there are any places I’ve missed that should be on my bucket list itinerary! And if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the city, don’t forget to check out Dubrovnik villas with James Villas for a luxury alternative to a traditional hotel break!

NB. This post was sponsored by James Villas, but all thoughts and comments (and this itinerary!) are of course my own.

 

Ready for a sunday walk around the Old Town? Photo @unsettledown

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Hotel Review: 25 Hours Hotel, Vienna, Austria

Currently writing up my #review from my time at @25hourshotels in #Vienna last week and can't wait to share it with you all! 🏨

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Just over a week ago, as part of my mini European adventure with Lucy, the two of us were invited to stay at one of the quirkiest hotels in Vienna: 25 Hours Hotel at Museumsquartier. We stayed on a bed and breakfast basis for two nights and had the most amazing stay. Part of a chain, with other properties in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin and Zurich, this hotel is a tourist attraction in it’s own right and boasts it’s own rooftop bar, restaurant, garden, gift shop and an actual, real life mermaid’s cave. Yep, you heard me right, this is what dreams are made of! If you’re looking for an edgy, quirky, extraordinary place to stay on your next trip to the Austrian capital, the 25 Hours Hotel is an absolute must…

The Location

The edgy, quirky district of #Museumsquartier made the perfect base to explore #Vienna 😍 @viennatouristboard

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The hotel is in the perfect location for exploring all of Vienna’s famous landmarks and is situated in the 7th district, Museumsquartier, one of the largest cultural neighbourhoods in the world. Home to an abundance of shops, restaurants, bars and, yep, you guessed it, museums, this place was seriously cool and you could easily spend a whole day here wandering around the parks and checking out all the fantastic buildings! Positioned between metro stops, tram stops and bus lines, the location of this hotel enables you to see everything that you could wish to see in the Austrian capital. We mainly used the metro to get around, and hopped on and off the trams whenever we got the chance, but with the nearest metro stop (Volkstheater) just 300m from the front door of the hotel, it was super easy to whizz around the city using this method of transport.

The Room

Oh my goodness I don’t even know where to begin! This room is hands down the coolest, funkiest, most frikkin’ freakiest room I have ever stayed in and I absolutely LOVED IT! I am used to staying in really lovely hotels whenever I travel, and I generally go for 3-4* mid range properties with a touch of luxury, but this place was something else altogether! I wouldn’t say it was because it was particularly luxurious, there were no silk linen duvets or duck feather pillows, but it was luxurious in that it was big, bright, modern, spacious and extraordinary and, for me, all of those things add up to something even better than luxury.

With a grand total of 217 rooms laid out over 7 floors, the 25 Hours Hotel is made up of M, M+, L, XL, Suites and Panorama Suites which are the equivalent of Economy, Standard, Luxury, Extra Luxury etc etc, you get the idea. We were staying in the M room, so the most basic of them all, and even that was a real treat and unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. With a colourful headboard, Bluetooth sound speakers, LCD flatscreen TV, workspace, wardrobe, mini bar and safe, the room was fitted with everything we could ever need and more.

I miss my super cosy room @25hourshotels #vienna – can I just be back there already pleaseeee?! 🏨🏨

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The smart bathroom, with incredible power shower, complimentary toiletries, hairdryer and little look-through window (cheeky) was just right for us in every way and was deceptively spacious. Lucy and I shared a double bed and it was so big that we didn’t have to worry about who was nicking the covers (or snoring in each others ears) and the pillows and duvet set were super comfy. We were also greeted with lovely goody bags from The Vienna Tourist Board and from 25 Hours Hotels themselves – thanks for making us feel so welcome!

The Breakfast

Breakfast each morning was served in the 1500foodmakers restaurant just next to the reception area on the ground floor. We were seated promptly and could then go back and forth to the buffet as many times as we fancied. With a whole host of yoghurts, fruits, cereals, breads, cakes and hot and continental items on offer, as well as juices, water and hot drinks, the breakfast was plentiful and set us up really well both days. I’ve gotta be honest though, as I always am with all of my blog posts, I don’t think I would have paid for this breakfast if it wasn’t included as the price is pretty steep. Although the food was great, the cost would set you back £16pp per day and, for me, it just really isn’t worth the money. Maybe it’s because I’m not a big breakfast eater, even at home I barely manage a slice of toast, so when I go away I usually just stay room-only and opt to get something small from the nearest café or shop when I start feeling hungry. Having said that, it made a really nice change to have breakfast included, so if you like your continental then GO FOR IT!

The Facilities

When looking for accommodation I always make sure there are facilities onsite to maximise your hotel experience, and the ones at 25 Hours Hotels certainly don’t disappoint! The property in Vienna was home to a super cool reception area complete with Apple macs, pinball game station, swing bench, photobooth and a gift shop/kiosk selling a range of quirky items. At the very top of the hotel you’ll find Der Dachboden, their rooftop bar, with views across the entire city that seemed to stretch for miles. The rooftop bar was incredibly busy during our stay, probably because the weather was so good, but also because its super popular with residents and locals alike, so get there during the early part of the afternoon if you want to reserve a seat! Outside and to the left of the hotel you’ll find their very own garden area complete with Burger de Ville, it’s very own burger van serving fast food to eat onsite or to take away with you, perfect if you want to grab something and go! As partners of Mini, 25 Hours Hotels also offer complimentary bicycle and Mini car hire to all of their guests, such a cool idea and it would have come in so handy, but sadly Lucy and I didn’t get chance to take these out for a spin during out visit!

The Mermaids Cave

Ok so this thing deserves its OWN PARAGRAPH and I don’t even care if it makes this post too long I just have to write about it and share it with you all! The mermaids cave, aka the sauna, steam room, gym, relaxation area, whatever you wanna call it, was single handedly the BEST thing about this entire hotel. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it ALL, but this place was just extra special. Located in the basement, the mermaids cave is kitted out with showers, a sauna, steam room, gym, workout area, relaxation hideaway and giant swings where you can be a child and put your hands in the air (and wave them around like you just don’t care – literally, I did this).

You can also soak your feet in large wooden tubs if you need to chill out for a while, and you can help yourself to hot drinks, bottled water and fresh fruit too. There’s toilets and washrooms for your convenience,  as well as lockers for your valuables which will save you going back and forth to your room. Both times Lucy and I visited the cave (around 8pm-10pm) it was completely empty and it we had it to ourselves which really made us relax and totally zen out for the duration of our time there. It really was the most magical place and, for me, it was the total highlight of the entire hotel – if you’re thinking of going anytime soon you HAVE to check this place out!

The Verdict

Room 309 – our little home during our time in #Vienna 🏨🏨 @25hourshotels

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Overall we had a fantastic stay at the 25 Hours Hotel and I would highly recommend staying here on a mid-week or weekend visit for a really cool and quirky stay in the heart of the Museumsquartier. Every aspect from the brilliant location to the buffet breakfast, amazing facilities and colourful bedroom made our stay such a pleasant one; the staff made us feel so welcome throughout the whole of our stay, from the minute we arrived at check in, to the second we checked out, nothing was too much trouble. They were super helpful when we were asking about public transport, and about how far away all the major sites were, and they even helped us sort out our train back to Bratislava upon check out – thank you SO much for really going above and beyond, you guys were amazing!

So there we have it, my full review of the wonderful 25 Hours Hotel. I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough for those looking for a stylish and comfortable stay in the heart of the Museumsquartier district – thank you to the lovely staff for making our stay so wonderful, we will most definitely be back! For more information or to book a room please visit their website directly.

NB. I was a guest of 25 Hours Hotel for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are of course my own.

Don’t forget, we are all mad here…

Charming Cotswolds Escape

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Hi everyone,

I can’t believe it’s June already, the rainy weather we’ve been having over here in South West England certainly doesn’t reflect the time of year at the moment which is super depressing! I have however just returned from a lovely family weekend break at nearby Bourton on the Water, a pretty village nestled in the heart of The Cotswolds. Although its only around 30 minutes drive from home, we were meeting family for a special anniversary get together and wanted to pick somewhere that wasn’t too far for a party of 15 to travel to! Bourton provided the perfect location for us and offered plenty to see and do whilst giving us the relaxing break we had hoped for.

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We booked 7 rooms at the gorgeous Chester House Hotel right (http://www.chesterhousehotel.com/) in the centre of the village and had a brilliant stay, all the staff were so welcoming and the rooms were lovely. The interior of the hotel is very pretty and we loved the old fashioned Victorian decor mixed with impressive new mod cons such as power showers and flat screen TVs. Most of the rooms are located in the main part of the hotel, but there is also an area referred to as The Coach Houses which offer a mixture of larger ground and upper floor rooms and have a more self contained/studio feel. All of these rooms are located outside but are adjoined to the hotel and the ground floor rooms are dog friendly should you be bringing a furry companion! Our stay included bed and breakfast for two nights, and the breakfasts were plentiful and so filling- you could choose from either cooked breakfasts or cereals, fruit and pastries.

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With so many eateries in Bourton there are plenty of places to go for dinner, but as there was such a large group of us, we decided to eat in two of the hotel’s restaurants on both nights. The Croft was a restaurant serving traditional pub food whilst L’Anatra was an Italian restaurant serving authentic Italian cuisine. We had to pre-book our meals as there was such a large group of us, but the quality of food both nights was very good and I’d highly recommend the Italian in particular.

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In terms of tourist attractions, there are plenty of things to see and do in Bourton; we only had one full day there so didn’t fit everything in (although I’ve been many times before!) but it does get extremely busy especially during the summer months. The weather was good on Saturday and the sun was shining, so hundreds of people flocked to the village to enjoy a picnic on the riverside! The Dragonfly Maze, Model Village, Motor Museum and the brilliant Birdland are all popular attractions and provide families and couples alike with plenty of fun. There’s also the pretty St Lawrence’s Church situated towards the end of the village along with a number of B&B’s, hotels, cafe’s, restaurants and shops. Don’t forget to take part in the hourly Duck Race on the river- pick a duck and if yours wins the race you get a prize! Great fun for all the excitable children running up and down the river bank egging on their chosen ducks!

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We had a lovely relaxing family break in Bourton and I’d highly recommend the village to anyone looking for a relaxing break in the charming Cotswolds. People flock from all over the world to see Bourton on the Water; with its meandering river, pretty bridges and lovely countryside it’s easy to see why!

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Have you ever been to visit The Cotswolds or stayed somewhere similar? I’m lucky enough to live in the area so am on hand to answer any questions you might have.. I’d be delighted to help!

Love Jess x

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The day I became a tourist in my home city: Oxford!

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Hi everyone,

So last weekend I was in my beautiful home city of Oxford doing a bit of Saturday shopping and had a few spare hours to kill whilst waiting for a friend. I wondered whether I should wander aimlessly round the shops trying on dresses that I couldn’t afford, or whether I should do something more useful and get some cool photos for a brand new blog post and so, naturally, I chose the latter option! Firstly I headed in search of the famous Radcliffe Camera which is one of the must-see sights if you are visiting Oxford. After a short stroll off the high street and past Trinity College I came to the Bodleian Library and was in awe of the incredible architecture of this beautiful building.

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The Bodleian Library was home to The Hogwarts Infirmary in the blockbuster Harry Potter film series, and there were Harry Potter tours being carried out while I was there that I was trying to ear wig on! The surroundings really are stunning, so it’s hard not to see why it was chosen as a location for one of the country’s biggest films. IMG_30579857334588IMG_30572826134741 IMG_30618858017206

Next I found myself on Magdalen Street walking past the famous five star Randolph Hotel; what I would give to spend a night of luxury there! Directly opposite The Randolph is the beautiful Ashmolean Museum which is one of my favourite attractions in Oxford. Having been on plenty of school trips here when I was younger I know they it’s home to some of the best historical artefacts in the world . Entry is free so make the most of it and while away a few hours in this incredible building when your visiting.

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Finally I strolled back up towards the high street and past the Carfax Tower before catching up with my friend and going for dinner on the way home. We headed to Jacobs Inn, Wolvercote which I’d heard great things about and couldn’t wait to try for myself! I had the chicken pie and my friend opted for a burger – the food was great and the atmosphere was lovely, a spacious nut warm and welcoming pub right on the river Thames. We couldn’t have picked a better spot to enjoy some early evening dinner! You can read my review on Jacobs Inn here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g186361-d4606454-r253493733-Jacobs_Inn-Oxford_Oxfordshire_England.html#REVIEWS

I had a wonderful day being a tourist in my home city and can honestly say it’s been one of the most refreshing things I’ve done in a long time. It just goes to show that sometimes you don’t need to travel far to have a great day out.. things can be on your doorstep and, of course, life is what you make it! So next time your on your daily commute or are visiting somewhere you’ve been 100 times before just stop and spend a few minutes pretending that this is your first visit and see where your travel instinct takes you!

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Love Jess x