Our long weekend was the perfect balance of selfish (but oh so important) grown up time and beautiful family time with our gorgeous boy, Bert.
Our weekend kicked off on Friday night when we headed down to Surrey to my Mum's house - my mum, stepdad and my twin sister Jo had offered to babysit Bert for us all day Saturday, Saturday night and most of Sunday, so Liam and I could get away together for some grown up time, much needed when you're the parents of a super-busy toddler!
Life flashes by so fast sometimes, and Bert of course takes up much of our time and energy - we have found that it becomes so easy to forget about your roles as 'wife' and 'husband' because ultimately, being Bert's parent is always at the forefront of each day, the priority. So being given the chance to escape from being in charge of Bert for a few hours meant we could relax and enjoy each other without our little dude to distract us.
Luckily for Bert, my lovely family had planned an amazing little trip away for him too - they took him down to Pagham on the south coast on Saturday and stayed in a caravan for the night, visited the beach, the swimming pool, and a big soft play centre - he got treated to a dinner and lunch out, and was spoilt rotten with gifts of a new bucket and spade, and big new bouncy ball - what a lucky boy! He didn't even have a chance to miss us!
After catching up with my family on Friday night, we got up on Saturday morning and said goodbye to our gorgeous boy before we headed off to London for operation #grownuptime.
We were excited to arrive at our hotel - The Premier Inn Victoria and check out our room. I haven't stayed at a Premier Inn for around 10 years, so I was intrigued to see what the rooms would be like, how good the breakfast would be and wondered how we'd rate the hotel overall? Premier Inn offer the guarantee of a good night's sleep, and I was really hoping they would deliver. I was a bit nervous...I so wanted everything to be perfect for our time away. I find that I always have that jittery feeling when staying somewhere new - what if it's really awful?
Luckily for us, we were so happy with our room, and our overall stay with Premier Inn was just brilliant!
We chose the Premier Inn at Victoria because of its brilliantly central location - just a five minute walk from Victoria train station, a short walk to Buckingham Palace, and just half an hour or so walk to Piccadilly it couldn't have been situated in a better location for our weekend plans. We arrived at Victoria station in the beautiful sunshine, and headed round to our hotel for 2pm to check in. The staff were friendly and checked us in really quickly, we were in our room with the kettle on by 2.15pm, you can't ask fairer than that!
Our room was really great - spacious, very clean and well decorated. Usually with chain hotels I've stayed in in the past they have been tatty, and badly in need of updating - but our room was bright, airy and modern. The bed was big and very comfortable, we had two pillows on the bed, with two extra pillows stored in the wardrobe (which was great as hubby and I both sleep with two pillows each) - we really couldn't fault it.
The room facilities were fabulous - we had a kettle with complimentary tea, coffee, sugar, sweetener and milk, a hairdryer, a desk with lamp, phone, wardrobe, and plenty of plug sockets for chargers etc. The room's free wifi worked instantly and stayed connected the whole weekend - we didn't have to keep signing in and the signal didn't drop once! Perfect!
There was an in-built bottle opener attached to the wall, which was a nice touch, and there were various lighting options, with handy little reading lights built in by the bed: it seems as if Premier Inn really have tried to think of everything when it comes to your satisfaction and comfort.
I liked the decor of the room and hallways: they used the recognisable Premier Inn colour-scheme of purple, yellow and white throughout. Everything was in brilliant condition - the carpets looked brand new! Everywhere we went in the hotel was freshly hoovered, and smelt clean and fresh.
The bathroom was really clean, and had everything you could need for a night away: bath with shower above, toilet, basin with complimentary hand soap and a wall pump full of hair/body wash to use if you didn't bring your own cosmetics.
We bought our own bottle of red wine to drink in the room, along with some chocolate and other snacks to enjoy at lunch time. Once we had unpacked we just enjoyed chilling out together in our room - a well earned rest from the hustle and bustle of life as busy parents.
At around 6pm we got dolled up and headed out for an evening of fun together. Liam and I have a pact about any time we spend in London: we have vowed to always walk around London rather than get the tube or buses. Not only do you get to see a lot more of London than you would if you travelled by tube, but the pace of your trip slows when you have to walk from place to place, which for us, makes the time we spent in the capital much more pleasant. Also, there's the added health-benefit - it's amazing just how many calories you can burn when you clock up the mileage around London. So, with that in mind, and in the beautiful sunshine, we walked the 40 or so minutes across London to Regent Street and Piccadilly, and headed to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co (in the Trocadero) for dinner.
I've been wanting to eat at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co restaurant ever since it opened, and had heard such great things about it. Anyone who has ever watched and loved the film Forrest Gump will know and understand the restaurants' heritage. A perfect homage to the amazing film, this restaurant is so much fun and so well designed.
The decor is just amazing, and the food is TO DIE FOR.
I ordered the Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp and fries, which comes with a side of fries, coleslaw and a mustardy/oniony/orange marmalade dip which was delicious. Liam went for the Shrimper's Paradise, which was a selection of battered shrimp, hush pups (kind of like fishcakes) fish goujons, fries and loads of dips - there was SO MUCH FOOD but it was so good we had to eat it all and order dessert!
Well, it was treat night after all.
For dessert I went for Mama's Bread Pudding with ice cream, and boy was it good! I've never seen Bread Pudding on the menu anywhere else, and the only one I've ever eaten is my own mum's recipe (which I LOVE & is my favourite thing she bakes!) but I have to say (sorry Mum!) that this bread pudding blew all other bread puddings out of the water. Served smothered in a syrup with a strong taste of cinnamon and allspice, it was warm, slightly gooey, and oh so decadent.
Hubby opted for the giant pudding selection platter which was reminiscent of an episode of Man Vs Food! Ha! He did really well and almost ate it all, he said it was totally delicious - and I had a taste and can vouch that it was really very good. With full tummies and totally raving about this fab restaurant we then took the short walk round to Regent Street to visit ICEBAR LONDON.
Our friends Danni & Charlie had kindly gifted us a £50 voucher to spend at ICEBAR LONDON and we were excited to be able to fit this into our weekend away - booked in advance into the 9:30pm slot, we couldn't wait to see what the ICEBAR had to offer.
After donning our super-warm hooded robes and thermal gloves, we headed into what can only be described as a nightclub made completely from ice!! It was a truly incredible experience.
Walls of ice, a bar of ice, sculptures and even the glasses we drank out of were made of ice - I've never seen anything like it! However, anyone who really suffers in the cold, beware! Despite the robe and gloves it really is quite cold (mainly on your hands and legs)...still, you only stay inside for a 40 minute slot, which is the perfect amount of time, I wouldn't have been able to cope with any longer, but any shorter time and I wouldn't have been able to take in everything. We slurped down 2 totally delicious cocktails each, and marvelled at the amazing icy sights: we took loads of photos - we were pre-warned by other friends that ICEBAR has it's own photographer who will take 'official shots' of you whilst you're inside, but they will charge you £12 each photo if you want to download them online, ouch! Luckily, they don't stop you from taking your own photos, so we had fun snapping away and got some great photos to treasure.
We stumbled back to Victoria after a lovely evening of decadent food, cocktails and icy-fun, and had the best nights sleep ever! The hotel room was so peaceful - we didn't hear any noise from outside, or from other rooms, and it was hard to drag ourselves from our slumber in the morning.
One of the only downsides to our stay was the unfortunately timed fire alarm that went off at 7:45am on the Sunday morning, oh dear! We jumped out of bed faster than the speed of light - luckily, it wasn't anything serious, and the alarm stopped after a minute, so we clambered back into bed and managed another hours sleep before getting ready and heading downstairs for a Premier Inn breakfast.
We both had showers and got ready for the final day of our London adventures, unfortunately, we only managed to get lukewarm showers, which was a shame. The shower pressure was absolutely fine, but it just wouldn't run hot: maybe due to the high demand of showers at this time? But still..it was a shame for hubby as he loves a really hot shower.
We loved that at Premier Inn they serve breakfast until 11:30am on the weekends, as it meant we could enjoy a 'proper' lie in, without worrying about missing breakfast. So at just after 10:30am we trickled down to a blissfully quiet breakfast. I was so impressed with the beautiful restaurant situated downstairs, called 'Thyme'.
Thyme was very tastefully decorated, and again looked brand new! The restaurant was the perfect environment for a chilled out, leisurely breakfast with Liam.
Honestly, for me, one of the best things about staying in a hotel is the breakfast.
As a major foodie I love a big English breakfast, and the fact that someone else cooks it for you and does all the washing up is just an amazing treat! I'm always pretty impressed at just how much I manage to eat at breakfast time - it's definitely my hungriest time, and is always my favourite meal of the day, so I was really excitedly anticipating a breakfast feast!
Their was a fully stocked cereal bar with plenty of choice, plus a variety of different milks to choose from. Their was also a fresh fruit salad, yogurts, fresh fruit, pastries, muffins, toast with jams/honey etc and a selection of fruit juices to drink.
We literally cannot fault the Premier Inn breakfast, it was the best one I've ever eaten in a chain hotel ever! In fact, it was so good that hubby had two plate's full of Full English!! I had one plate of Full English, followed by a delicious bowl of cereal, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, yoghurt and honey. And wow - we were so full up we didn't eat again until 9pm (seriously!)
Tea and coffee was literally on-tap: you could help yourself to a variety of teas, and there was a Costa Coffee station where you could make anything from an espresso, to a cappuccino at the press of a button! Hubby was in coffee heaven.
It is also worth noting that had we had Bert with us, he would have eaten breakfast for free! All kids breakfasts are free when you book with Premier Inn, how great is that? The perfect choice for families. I definitely wouldn't hesitate to visit again with Bert in tow.
We ate our breakfasts until we could barely breathe, and then packed up and checked out at 12pm. The kind staff members offered to look after our luggage for us while we went off and explored the city a bit more, and the check out process took seconds, literally!
We cannot fault the hotel and its staff - they were so attentive, and nothing seemed like too much trouble: a kind hotel staff member even replenished my tea/coffee/sugar/milk supplies at 11:30pm on Saturday night when I'd run out! Brilliant!
As we left we noticed this sign posted on the door in reception, and we truly appreciated their apology for the fire alarm that morning, luckily, no harm was done, and we soon got back off to sleep.
I would highly recommend the Premier Inn Victoria to anyone wanting to stay in Central London - it ticked all the boxes and more for us, and we had a really great stay! We would absolutely agree with their #GoodNightGuarantee - as we had a sound night's sleep in beautiful and uber-comfortable surroundings!
Thank you to Premier Inn for putting us up for the night!
Premier Inn rates vary but our one night stay including breakfast should have cost around £156, absolute value for money right there.
After leaving the hotel we headed across London to Southbank, where we happened upon the most amazing little food market situated outside the Royal Festival Hall: it was a good job we'd just eaten a delicious breakfast otherwise we would have definitely been tempted by all these foodie delights! Photos had to suffice this time as I was just too full to contemplate any more food, still, it was amazing to walk around and see what the market had to offer.
We finished our day in London with more walking, taking in the sights, and a coffee and kindle reading for a few hours in a coffee shop near Victoria. We then headed back to Surrey to join one of my bestest friends Carmi for a drink in a lovely little pub called The Home Cotage in my old home town of Redhill. It was great to catch up with her properly sans Bert - as we got to have a proper chat, which isn't usually possible with Bert in tow! Although she did miss seeing her little B-Man, naturally.
We had lots of fun playing with my new selfie stick over the weekend too - a kind and very funny present from my lovely sister, Liam and I are total selfie-stick converts, and think it's a brilliant piece of kit!
Of course, it was magic to get home to Bert - who'd had a whale of a time with his Nanny. Grandad and Auntie - we missed him so much, but came back feeling really refreshed and ready for loads more adventures with our gorgeous boy.
Yesterday (Monday) hubby had booked an extra days holiday from work and we had a morning of getting jobs done like taking Bert to get a much-needed haircut, and I had to visit the emergency dentist (boo) due to an infected wisdom tooth (not so fun!). In the afternoon we headed back into London along with my mum, to super-sunny Richmond, to take Bert to see In The Night Garden Live, in Richmond Park.
We headed up there a bit early with a picnic in tow and enjoyed the sunshine before the show started at 2pm. Bert absolutely loved the show, despite being a little overwhelmed and nervous at first. He got so excited when he saw his beloved Makka Pakka and Upsy Daisy in real life! It was a truly brilliant show, pitched perfectly for toddlers, and he was literally dancing in aisles. Bert was talking about 'Daisy' all the way home, I even caught him kissing his Upsy Daisy soft toy when I glanced back at him in the wing mirror in the car on the journey home. Adorable!
It was a perfect weekend from beginning to end, and I'm left feeling so lucky! It's amazing what a great nights sleep, good food, great company and some down time can do for the soul. Time away from the everyday grind is so vital for health and happiness, and Liam and I are so lucky to have had the opportunity to do such wonderful things and stay in such wonderful places.
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Disclaimer: We were gifted a one night stay in a double room with breakfast at Premier Inn Victoria for the purpose of this review. All words, images and opinions are my own.