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A Travel Guide to Cheddar Gorge, Somerset: Top Things to See and Do in Cheddar Gorge

 

 

 

Despite having visited Somerset a few times before, it took me until the ripe old age of 25 to visit Cheddar Gorge for the first time, and my first thought upon arrival into this pretty village was… WHY ON EARTH HAVEN’T I BEEN HERE BEFORE??!! I visited Cheddar for a festive getaway with my family last week to see out 2018 and welcome 2019 in style. We stayed at Cheddar Woods Resort and Spa, located about a 5 minute drive (or a 20 minute walk) from Cheddar Gorge. Our resort was in the perfect location from which to explore some of Somerset’s best loved highlights including Wells, Axbridge, Weston Supermare and the Mendip Hills. We had a lovely 4 days relaxing in our lodge on the resort and seeing some of the nearby area, so I thought I’d put together a travel guide for you all as I’d love to start sharing some more UK content on my blog! Here’s what we got up to, and what I would recommend you see during your time in pretty Cheddar too…

 

Visit the Gorge and Caves

 

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*NEW BLOG POST* ((Link in bio)) A travel guide to Cheddar Gorge, Somerset 🧀🇬🇧 🌟 If walking, caving, rock climbing, hot tubbing, cheese tasting and pub lunching sounds like your kind of thing, you will feel right at home down in Cheddar Gorge. 😍 I spent the last few days of 2018 indulging in some fresh air and taking part in some outdoor activities whilst spending quality time with my family before seeing in the new year from our little cabin in the woods. 🏡 This post tells you all you need to know about pretty little Cheddar, and what you can expect from your trip there too. Have you ever been before? I'd love to know what you thought of it! 🌏 #VisitSomerset #LoveSomerset #Somerset #IgersSomerset #Cheddar #IgersCheddar #CheddarGorge #VisitEngland #VisitBritain #LoveGreatBritain #England #UK #BBCBritain #UKPics #GBPics #England_Insta #WeLoveEngland #Travel #TravelBloggersofIG #Wordpress #NewPost #Travelgram #InstaTravel #InstaGo #GirlsLoveTravel #DarlingEscapes #TravelPhotography #DarwinEscapes #CheddarWoods #WeekendAway

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The main attraction, and the main reason for most people’s visit, is the wonderful Cheddar Gorge and Caves. With over 500,000 visitors per year, this exhibition is listed as a world famous Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is Britain’s biggest gorge. Dramatic cliffs reaching a depth of over 450ft and eerie caves filled with pre-historic stalactites make for a fascinating discovery, and the interactive audio guides make it easy to navigate yourself around the caves. We loved Gough’s Cave and the Aladdin’s Caves as both were truly stunning and filled with ancient stalactites and stalagmites! Your ticket price includes access to the caves as well as entrance to the Museum of Pre-history (located opposite the caves), Jacob’s Ladder, the interactive Dreamhunters exhibition, and the cinematic Beyond the View experience. We did all four of the individual experiences and really enjoyed them – it took us around 4 hours to do everything, but you could spend as little or as long as you wanted on them! We particularly liked the Dreamhunters exhibition which allowed you to walk through Cox’s cave and follow the story of early man as he battled through the ice age some 1.2 million years ago.

Open all year round (apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day), tickets for Cheddar Gorge and Caves can be purchased on the gate or online in advance – save 15% off your ticket price if you book online! The full prices are £19.95 for adults, £14.95 for kids and under 5s go free.

 

Climb Jacob’s Ladder

 

 

Included as part of your Cheddar Gorge and Caves ticket, climbing Jacobs Ladder is an absolute MUST when you’re in Cheddar. It’s a steep 274 steps to the top, but if you can make it that far, the views of the surrounding Mendip hills and the famous gorge below are well worth the climb. I would recommend stretching yourself that little bit further (just 48 more steps!) and climbing up the Lookout Tower too if you can manage it. Sadly it was closed for refurbishment when we went, but I’ve heard the panoramic views from the top are INCREDIBLE! The clifftop walk at the top of the ladder takes you on a 3mile loop around the top of the caves and is not for the faint hearted, but the views and fresh air alone are totally worth it; on a clear day you can see across the gorge and surrounding countryside for miles!

 

Walk around the Mendip Hills

 

 

Walking/hiking is one of my favourite things to do, especially when I’m away, so I’m pleased to report that Cheddar Gorge has a number of walks and trails that you can follow to keep your legs exercised during your trip. We did loads of hikes around our resort as there were nature trails and woodland walks to follow, and we also did a big loop around Cheddar Gorge itself too. The clifftop walk that can be completed after climbing Jacob’s Ladder will give you some stunning views of the gorge and surrounding countryside below, but I really enjoyed wandering around the Mendip Hills as well. The natural stone walls which make up the gorge are fascinating to look at, and to walk around, but beware for the free roaming goats that can be found dotted around the caves!

 

Buy some famous cheddar cheese

 

 

Taking its name from the village, Cheddar cheese originates from Cheddar itself and is famous the world over, with records of cheese making in the village dating back to the 12th century. The caves in Cheddar Gorge have historically been used to mature the cheese, and this is still something which is in use today. The caves provide the ideal humidity and steady temperature for maturing the cheese and a section of the Gorge exhibition at Gough’s Cave will tell you all about this method. Cheddar cheese traditionally needs to be made within 30 miles of Wells Cathedral in order for it to be classed as official Cheddar from Somerset. Today you can buy Cheddar cheese in just about any supermarket in the world, but you’ll only find the best of its kind down in Cheddar village. There are lots of little shops and cafés in the village selling the cheese, and I’d recommend heading to The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, the only cheesemakers left in Cheddar, where you can go along and watch the various stages of the cheese being made and enjoy some free tasters too!

 

Where to stay

 

 

We had booked to stay at Cheddar Woods Resort and Spa, which is a Hoseasons site located just a 5 minute drive from Cheddar village. As a family of 5 we sometimes struggle to find accommodation big enough for us all, and now that we are all adults we like having our own rooms. As separate hotel rooms can be notoriously expensive, we opted for a shared lodge and found this to be the perfect solution. We stayed in a 3 bedroom Axbridge Premier Lodge with a hot tub (it was amazing – well worth the extra money!), private decking with outdoor seating and a parking space. Although Hoseasons are often known for being overrun with kids, we didn’t actually find this to be a big problem during our stay (despite staying over the New Year’s period) and found there were plenty of couples and groups of adults staying too. The site itself was equipped with a restaurant and bar serving food and drinks almost all day. There was a games room with a bowling alley and snooker corner as well as a well-stocked shop selling all the essentials. There was also a spa and gym on site with a large heated swimming pool, sauna and steam room. We booked massages each and enjoyed these on the morning of New Year’s Eve before spending a couple of hours in the gym and pool area and making the most of our last day of 2018! There were plenty of activities for the kids that could be booked and the daily schedule looked so fun – I wanted to be 10 years old again! The grounds were stunning too, with most of the lodges offering views of the surrounding Mendip Hills, and there were woodland walks dotted around the site, as well as a tennis court/football pitch and a trampoline/aero ball section too. I’d definitely recommend this place for anyone looking for a base from which to explore the best that Cheddar and the rest of Somerset has to offer.

 

Where to eat and drink

 

 

Cheddar is home to an abundance of cute little pubs, cafes and shops all waiting to make you feel welcome. The village itself is pretty small and you can walk from one end to the other in around 15 minutes. As we visited the Cheddar Gorge and Caves first we parked there and started in that area, making our way through the streets and along the river, before ending up at the waterfall which was at the other end of the village. We passed several café’s, the most famous being The Lionrock Tearooms which can be found directly opposite part of the Gorge which is known as the Lionrock due to its striking resemblance to a rock that looks like a lion! The cute Mousehole Café caught our eye as it looked like something out of Disneyland, and we were also told that the Waterfall Café is a hit with tourists too due to its riverside location. We were looking for somewhere that did a traditional Sunday Roast after working up an appetite climbing Jacob’s Ladder, so chose the White Hart Inn which was located in a small area known as The Bays, right at the bottom of the village. There were plenty of places to choose from though and you’re certainly not going to be spoilt for choice for somewhere to eat here in Cheddar!

 

We had such a lovely few days down in Cheddar and it felt amazing to say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019 whilst on holiday and away from home. If we’d have had more time we definitely would have visited the nearby towns of Wells and Axbridge as both looked picturesque and well worth a stop, but we chose to make the most of our time on the resort rather than driving around or venturing further than we needed to. I’d really recommend Cheddar Woods Resort and Spa for all ages, particularly if you’re travelling in a group, as there was so much going on that you barely needed to leave the resort! I feel like I did everything I needed to in Cheddar Gorge though and I’m not sure I’d go back, but I would definitely stop off to visit Wells next time I am passing through. Have you been to Cheddar Gorge or other areas of Somerset before? I’d love to know what you thought of it too!

Love Jess x

 

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Travel Guide to Sofia: The historic Bulgarian capital

 

Standard ice cream shot whilst on a sunny city break 🍦🍦 Look at those blue skies 😍😍 #Sofia #Bulgaria #visitsofia

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OK so this is post is waaaaaayy overdue, but better late than never, right?! I visited Sofia back in May after snapping up flights with Ryanair for £30 return. Yep, you heard correctly, £15 each way for the 3hours it took to get from Birmingham to Bulgaria. This trip was totally unintentional and completely unplanned, but when my lovely friend Toni and I decided to frantically browse Skyscanner for cheap flights to anywhere, we realised this bargain was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Fast forward seven days and we were sat on our flight heading across to the furthest Eastern European country I have ever visited! Here’s what we got up to during our time in Bulgaria, and I’ve listed my top highlights for this cultural capital city…

 

Take a FREE walking tour

 

 

I absolutely LOVE free walking tours and feel they are the best way to discover a new city for the first time, especially as they help to get your bearings when you’re wandering around like a crazy person trying to find out where everything is. The free walking tour in Sofia begins outside the Palace of Justice, right in front of the steps, and departs every day at 11am. Our tour guide, Vasil, was so friendly and informative throughout the whole event, which lasted around an hour. Within that time we saw pretty much every important landmark within the city centre, and got to make some brilliant photo stops along the way. Although we didn’t have time to go inside the churches etc during the tour, we got a good idea of the places we wanted to come back to and explore a little later on. Thank you Vasil for an amazing first couple of hours in Sofia!

 

Visit the Alexander Nevsky cathedral at night

 

 

This is probably the most famous landmark in Sofia and, in my opinion, definitely the most beautiful! As soon as I knew I was heading over to the city I made it my mission to visit the Alexander Nevsky cathedral as soon as possible. We actually walked past that place a number of times during our stay, it’s an incredible piece of architecture and looks good from every angle, especially from the inside. I particularly loved it when it was lit up at night though, as it literally glowed in the dark and made for the most beautiful picture! Sadly my camera couldn’t do it justice, so this picture is from my lovely friend and fellow travel blogger Allison who is currently spending some time in Sofia and calling it her temporary home… Thanks Allison!

 

See the ancient remains of Serdica

 

 

If you’re in to your history, you will LOVE ancient ruins, artefacts and crumbling remains as much as I do. Did you know that Sofia is over 6000 years old?!?! Nope, I didn’t either until I got there and took the fantastic walking tour. The city was known by many names until it became the Sofia we know and love today, and the ancient remains of Serdica date back thousands of years. Wander towards the metro station and you’ll find ruins that were discovered when the council started digging and building the metro line back in 1998. There’s also a brand new hotel (Arena de Serdica) that has just opened and original Roman ruins that were discovered during excavation can be found in the lobby, where an exclusive exhibition housing the 3rd century Roman Ampitheatre has been made. Learning about the history of Sofia was one of my favourite things to do in the city and it made me fall in love with it even more!

 

Explore the many different religions of the city

 

 

There aren’t many cities where you can find a Mosque next to a Catholic Church, but in Sofia it’s something that’s pretty normal! The city is home to a whole host of different religions, from Muslim and Jewish to Catholic and Protestant, but there is no divide present in the city whatsoever, it feels very united and everyone really seems to come together, no matter what their religion. We spent time wandering around the churches and admiring them from every angle. My particular favourite was the Church of St Nicholas, with it’s tiny crypt underneath welcoming visitors into it’s Wishing Room. I did make some wishes, and I do hope they come true!

 

Climb Mount Vitosha

 

 

So we didn’t exactly climb Mount Vitosha, and the tale of how we got up there in the first place is a pretty ridiculous one!! To cut a long story short, we got in a taxi hoping to head towards a rooftop bar with panoramic views for drinks and cakes before our flight home, but the taxi driver got a bit lost, didn’t speak good English and wasn’t sure where he was going. After an hour we arrived at said rooftop bar, only to find that it was CLOSED and was most definitely not in use! Luckily there were a few staff members on site who allowed us to access the roof terrace in exchange for a few Bulgarian Lev – I am sooo glad we did this as it was well worth the hours taxi and the views from the top were INCREDIBLE. Obviously I would have liked to have climbed it properly, but it was an adventure and an experience and was worth all the taxi hassle. If we had more time we would have actually hiked the mountain, and explored the nearby Stone River and Golden Bridges too as this looked super cool, but there’s always another excuse to come back!

 

Stay in a central hotel 

 

Central Hotel Sofia

 

We stayed in a brilliant hotel. right in the heart of the city, and it had everything we needed and more. As the name suggests, Central Hotel Sofia was exactly that, slap bang in the middle of everything and the location couldn’t have been more perfect. The hotel is a 4* and has all modern amenities you could wish for. It was clean, smart, and excellent value for money. We paid £30pp per night for a good size twin room with en-suite bathroom and had a really comfortable stay. I’d highly recommend this hotel to anyone looking to stay somewhere central, modern and affordable in the heart of Sofia.

 

Eat just outside of the city

 

 

Everything is so cheap in Sofia, that meal times are an absolute steal and you can taste some wonderful food without paying a small fortune. Although the central boulevard is brimming with restaurants, bars and cafe’s, I’d recommend getting a taxi a little further out of town to see where else you can eat. After a recommendation from a local friend, Toni and I decided to jump in a cab and make our way over to Pod Lipite, a small restaurant just 5 minutes from the city centre that serves traditional Bulgarian food and hosts traditional Bulgarian singers and dancers who play every night for their guests. This place was super cute and cosy and served the most amazing food from salads and soups to chicken and beef dishes. We both had an incredible meal, with an alcoholic drink each, and the bill came to just £17!! It’s little places like Pod Lipite which really allow you to take in the culture that a city has to offer, and this meal out was definitely one of the highlights from our trip to Sofia.

 

So there we have it, my Sofia travel guide in a nutshell! Despite spending just 2 nights/3 days here, we saw pretty much everything we wanted to see and I definitely think it was enough time. Obviously we could have spent hours more properly exploring each of the churches, or taken a full day to hike Mount Vitosha, but a 2 night stay will give you enough time to see a lot of the city and worked really well for us. Hopefully this post inspires you to think about choosing Sofia for your next city break, even though it might not be an obvious choice it’s a real hidden European gem. Have you ever been to Sofia before? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments on this charming place!

Love Jess x

 

Had the best time exploring the beautiful city of #Sofia with my wonderful friend of 10 years 💖

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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…

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48hours in Miami- A guide to the US party capital

Palm trees, skyscraper hotels and a beautiful harbour.. It can only be M I A M I 🇺🇸🌴 #Florida #Miami #wanderlustwednesday

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Hi everyone,

On my American Adventure this summer I had the chance to explore the US party capital of Miami, somewhere I have wanted to visit for months and months! I only had two full days to explore whilst on my Contiki Grand Southern trip, but I definitely made the most of my short time there and it lived up to my crazy high expectations – Miami was INCREDIBLE! Two full days actually gives you enough time to see the main sights, although I would love to have embraced the beach life for a few days longer! Here is my list of must see’s and my guide on how to make the most of your time in the city…

 

Hit Lincoln Road Mall for the ultimate shopping experience

 

#tbt to M I A M I 🇺🇸🌴 #America #USA #contiki #grandsouthern #noregrets #throwbackthursday

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Lincoln Road Mall was the first stop of my Miami trip and it was the best way to get acclimatised to the city. We strolled up and down the boulevard checking out all the stores, picking up souvenirs and stopping for drinks whilst people-watching til our hearts were content! This place is THE premier shopping mall in Miami and stretches for miles with stores selling everything you can think of. I loved that the streets were lined with palm trees and there were market stalls on every corner – embracing the true Miami lifestyle was so much fun and it was one of the best shopping experiences I’ve ever had!

Take a thriller speed boat ride to Star Island

 

BRB, just gonna move in to ma new house 🌴🏡 #Miami #Florida #wanderlustwednesday #housegoals #agirlcandream

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This was an optional extra on my Contiki trip and I am SO glad I did it! I am usually really  bad with boats, or any kind of water based activity, as I suffer badly with both travel and sea sickness, so I really thought I’d struggle on this one, but the boat went SO FRIKKIN FAST that I don’t think my body even had time to start feeling sick! We sped across the ocean and sailed around Biscayne Bay before making our way over to Star Island to ogle at all the famous people’s houses that were on site! The 90 minute tour took us past amazing homes belonging to Will Smith, Julio Iglesias & Gloria Estefan before making our way back to the harbour where we were placed firmly back on the ground and came back to the real world! The boat tour was a really fun way of seeing Biscayne Bay – tours run every 2 hours departing from the harbour – and I’d 100% recommend it to anyone wanting to explore Miami from the ocean!

Embrace beach life

 

I'm in Miami bitchhh! 🇺🇸🎉🇺🇸🎉 #noregrets #grandsouthern #miami

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Miami is suuuuch a cool place and it has some of the best beaches I’ve ever seen! Both Miami Beach and South Beach were my faves; they were framed by skyscraper hotels, art-deco buildings and white sands with the bluest sea I have ever swam in! Beach life is a massive part of Miami, and these beaches are known to attract top celebs all year round – I tried my best to spot some A-Listers but sadly didn’t see anyone during my trip! After a hectic week exploring Florida it was so nice to just chill out on the beach and spend some time people-watching and seeing those ocean waves roll in… what I would give to be back there right now!

Take in the awesome skyline

 

 

So this kinda goes without saying, but as soon as you arrive in Miami you won’t be able to miss the incredible skyline that is present across the entire city. The best way to see it is by boat, look behind you and just gaze up at the sheer size of those buildings – they’re so iconic and you’ll pinch yourself to check whether you’re actually there or whether you’re just day dreaming! I know I did that, and I still can’t believe I’ve actually been to Miami, even four months after I got back!

Party like a local

 

Miami rooftops 🎉🇺🇸 #saturdaynight

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You can’t visit Miami without partying at least once, so go out like a local, hit the clubs and dance the night away! We had drinks on the rooftop of our hotel (Hotel Croydon on Collins Avenue – would highly recommend this as a place to stay) then headed out to the main strip and went in a few small bars first before getting into the clubs which were HUGE! Drinks and entrance charges were really expensive, think Vegas prices, but the venues are so luxurious and there’s no where else quite like Miami so it definitely has to be done at least once on your trip!

Sail around Miami Harbour

 

🇺🇸🇺🇸 #Miami #florida #contiki #grandsouthern #noregrets #starttheadventure #takemeback #traveltuesday

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So this was organised as part of my Contiki trip, but if you get the chance to hop on a party cruise and sail around Miami Harbour I would definitely recommend it! We saw the whole of the Miami skyline lit up at night which looked totally amazing, and sailing around the bay was sooo dreamy. Our big American flag flew proudly at the rear of the ship, and we had an on-board bar with our very own DJ which made for a brilliant party atmosphere! I know Miami is big on clubbing, but a party boat is suuuuch good fun and a really good way of getting to meet people if you’re travelling alone or in a small group, plus it’ll be cheaper than the clubs and less busy – winner!

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Miami in a whirlwind 48 hours! Immerse yourself in the buzz of the city, visit the sites, relax on the beach and embrace the party vibe that is present throughout for the full Floridian experience. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to Miami? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

🇺🇸 M I A M I 🇺🇸 #wanderlustwednesday

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🏙🌊 #Miami #Florida #takemeback #wanderlustwednesday

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Hotel Review: The White Horse Inn, Duns Tew (Oxfordshire) – A wonderfully cosy stay at the heart of the Cotswolds

Another day, another hotel review! Wonderful stay in the heart of the #Cotswolds – full review and blog post coming soon! #Oxfordshire

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Last weekend I was invited to stay overnight at The White Horse Inn, a glorious pub with 11 cosy rooms nestled in the sleepy little village of Duns Tew in Oxfordshire. Located an hour away from London, and just 20 minutes drive from both the dreaming spires of Oxford and the world famous designer outlet of Bicester Village, The White Horse Inn boasts the perfect location from which to enjoy some the Cotswolds’ finest tourist attractions. Here’s my full review of this gorgeous property…

The Location

 

 

The White Horse Inn really is at the heart of the Cotswolds; close enough to explore everything this beautiful area has to offer, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities and towns, so that you can get a perfect night’s sleep and a true taste of village life in Duns Tew. As mentioned above, both Oxford and Bicester are a 20 minute drive away, whilst other places of interest, including Chipping Norton, Burford and Woodstock (where you’ll find the stunning Blenheim Palace), can be reached in under 30 minutes.

The Room

 

 

The Inn boasts 11 cosy and comfortable rooms made up of standard, classic and premier doubles, king superiors and king twin beds. Three of the rooms are over the pub itself, up a small staircase at the rear of the bar, whilst the rest of the rooms are separate to the main building. Each room boasts an en-suite bathroom, with hot shower and bath tub, central heating, LCD flat screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities and there is free WIFI throughout. Our double room was located in the main building, on top of the bar area, and was so cosy and warm. The bed (and the pillows!) were super comfy and the hot shower was amazing – we had a great night’s sleep and really loved the homely feel to our room; it was cosy and full of character, as well as fitted with all the new mod-cons I would look for in a hotel room.

The Bar

 

The cosiest of bars welcomes you to The White Horse Inn #cotswolds #oxfordshire #hotelreview

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This 17th century property is full of charm and the bar and dining area complement each other perfectly. The bar is well stocked with every drink you can think of, and the large flag stones and cosy log fire make it the perfect place to unwind. The dining area leads just off from the bar and is equally as characterful, with plenty of space and a fantastic food menu, with locally sourced produce, which changes daily. We were both so looking forward to dinner after a busy day’s shopping at Bicester Village (on Black Friday, might I add!!) so couldn’t wait to tuck in to some hearty pub food.

The Staff

 

And my table literally had my name written all over it! #Oxfordshire #Cotswolds #hotelreview

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The staff made us feel so welcome throughout the whole of our stay, from the minute we arrived to check in, to the second we checked out the next day. Upon arrival we were welcomed by Alex and then shown to our room by George and told what time to head down for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. We were then welcomed at dinner by Alex again, who showed us to our table which quite literally had my name written all over it! Throughout the evening we were served by George and James, they looked after us really well and nothing was too much trouble. The next morning we were served by George again for breakfast and he checked us out upon departure too. I cannot thank the staff enough for making our stay so enjoyable, thanks guys!!

The Dinner and Breakfast

Although this is a pub, the menu and the whole feel of the place felt more like a restaurant, in a really good way! The atmosphere was still as relaxed as the pub/bar area, but the food was mouth-wateringly good and on par with what you’d expect from a restaurant, so we felt that the Inn offered the best of both worlds in that respect. We opted to skip starters and went straight for the main courses, choosing the cheeseburger and the 10oz rib-eye steak respectively. Both main courses came with fries (cooked to perfection) and we really enjoyed our meals!

 

For pudding we chose the homemade apple crumble and the chocolate truffle torte, both of which were AMAZING! I’m such a pudding girl and I love all things chocolate, so my dessert was heaven on a plate, whilst the apple crumble was delicious too. Every aspect of our meal was wonderful, we just wish we could have chosen more food from the amazing menu, although we were suitably stuffed once we’d finished eating!!

Breakfast the next morning was really good; we both opted for the Full English (obviously) and enjoyed freshly cooked sausages, bacon, eggs and mushrooms with thick toasted bread. The breakfasts totally set us up for the day ahead and we left feeling well and truly full up!

The Verdict

 

 

Overall we had a really wonderful stay at this gorgeous hotel right in the heart of the Cotswolds. I would highly recommend staying here on a mid-week or weekend visit to this part of Oxfordshire for a cosy and comfortable stay. Every aspect from the warm and welcoming staff to the fantastic dinner and gorgeous room made our stay such a pleasant one, and I would recommend the Inn to anyone looking for a place to stay in the Cotswolds.

So there we have it, my full review of the wonderful White Horse Inn. I cannot recommend this place highly enough for those looking for a comfortable stay in the heart of the Cotswolds– thank you for making our stay such a pleasant one! For more information or to book a room please visit their website directly.

NB. I was a guest of The White Horse Inn for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are of course my own.