May 3rd, 2018 | Rachel Parry
What are the necessary requirements for chilled out girly trip? For us it has to be comforting and stylish surroundings, delicious food, one or two glasses (ok, bottles) of wine and, of course, access to some pampering facilities. We were therefore delighted to be invited for an overnight stay at our fabulous Sponsor venue, the stunning Titanic Hotel Liverpool, last month, which offers all this – and a whole lot more!
Given it’s uber cool location at Stanley Docks, the gorgeous boutique style hotel offers a tranquil haven away from the immediate buzz of Liverpool’s city centre but is just a few minutes’ cab ride away should you want to mix some city, culture and bar hopping into your escape.
Perfect for a pre-wedding getaway, perhaps to shop for the last minute big day bits with your other half, or an indulgent girls-only get away with your mum, sister or bezzie – or get all in tow for a sophisticated hen do – the Titanic houses a contemporary bar, restaurant and accommodation all under one roof, plus its Maya Blue Wellbeing, complete with fitness, pool and treatment areas. Oh, and did we mention they do weddings? But more on that later.
For now, let’s fill you in on our experience of this dreamy hotel. Arriving mid-morning we checked in and took a seat in the impressive Rum Bar lounge, with original exposed brick and large steel pillars mixed in with modern décor and soft furnishings giving a New York loft apartment vibe, which is echoed through all areas of the hotel. As a nod to its rum warehouse heritage and location on the docks, the spirit is the tipple of choice at the Titanic, though at 11am we felt it a little too early to start on the alcohol, and so settled in with a large latte as we took in the surroundings before being given a full tour and rundown of the hotel’s facilities.
In the midst of a hectic but truly epic wedding fair season (don’t forget it’s our annual WEDSTOCK’18 Wedding Show in Harrogate this Sunday, 6th May) we decided to make our trip one of relaxation, enjoying some much-needed magazine time and a visit to the Maya Blue Wellbeing. As mentioned, those visiting could easily venture into the city centre during their stay, where there are shops, museums, tourist attractions, bars, cafes and restaurants galore.
We broke up our day with lunch in the bar area before checking out our spectacular accommodation. Boasting 153 rooms in total, the options range from classic double rooms to superior and presidential suites. All are light, airy and spacious, with rich furnishings and luxurious bathrooms.
April 5th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
Waking up to more snow on Easter Monday only drove home how epically long winter has felt with the relentless cold weather affecting not only our heating bills (we dread to think!) but also our skin and energy levels – both of which could do with an almighty boost.
As a newly-engaged bride-to-be I’m also feeling the effects of trying to keep on top of the early wedding planning, while keeping all in the loop – oh and plan my brother’s stag do and assist on my best friend’s hen do as well. So, all in all a lot on, which super exciting but a little depleting on the batteries.
The perfect remedy for a change of season and busy schedule though has to be a spa break, and so when Staffordshire based Moddershall Oaks got in touch with the offer of an overnight stay to switch off from the outside world and restore balance, I took it up quicker than Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing can tell a girl he’s falling in love with her.
Situated in a rural location near the market town of Stone, Moddershall Oaks is a country spa retreat and idyllic wedding venue – so it could tick two boxes for those of you still on the venue hunt. Whilst there I did get to view its stunning and flexible spaces for weddings – including a gorgeous oak gazebo surrounded by tranquil woodland for beautiful outdoor ceremonies – and would certainly encourage couples planning to wed in the Staffordshire area to pay this place a visit.
Though not particularly worn out from the wedding planning (though he must be exhausted from all the stag do preparation – a number one priority from grooms it would seem *rolls eyes*), my fiancée Andy was lucky enough to join me on this getaway. We arrived at Moddershall around noon on a Wednesday and was welcomed by a warm atmosphere, friendly staff and a strawberry Bellini (start as you mean to go on, right?)
Having filled in a few quick forms we were given a run through the facilities and our (very relaxed) itinerary for our stay, before being shown to one of the gorgeous ten 5* boutique bedroom suites to drop off our bags. The room was comforting, spacious and beautifully decorated, plus there is access to a shared hot tub, should we want to continue the pampering after visiting the main facilities.
Amazingly, we fell on a gorgeous spring-like day with clear blue skies (I will add that it had snowed either side of our visit) and so we wasted no time in heading to the crème de la crème of Moddershall, its outdoor heated vitality pool. Here we enjoyed bathing in the bubbling hot water in the open air made complete by a countryside views, oh and a couple of glasses of prosecco delivered direct via waiter service – this was our kind of spa!
We were joined in the courtyard area by other couples, as well as a few small groups of women and a couple of (I assume) mothers and daughters, which demonstrated how perfect the spa is for a romantic getaway as well as much-needed girly time.
After drying off in the Kelo sauna, also located in the courtyard, we retired to the relaxing lounge area indoors to recline on big sofas next to a warming fire and filled up on afternoon treats of cake and coffee.
Next it was treatment time – having only just managed to convince Andy of the benefits of moisturising daily, it didn’t surprise me that he passed on this, but the metrosexuals out there will be pleased to hear that Moddershall has blissful treatment options for both males and females.
The options ranged from massage, detox and body therapies, carried out by experienced therapists in the cosy treatment rooms, to a full range of beauty treatments undertaken in The Snug. This gorgeous area is available to hire privately for hen dos, birthdays and the like and, for Moddershall brides, it can also be taken over pre-wedding for big day pampering and preening, complete with nibbles, bubbly and music.
November 9th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
As temperatures continue to dip, we think it’s only right to dispel any forthcoming winter blues with a holiday-related post.
A fairly recent phenomenon, the not-so-humble minimoon fills the gap for lots of couples between a big blowout honeymoon at a later date and the need for some serious downtime after the wedding planning whirlwind. Maybe you’re leaving the Caribbean until after the stormy season has passed, or you’re putting off that trip to Iceland until you’ve got a decent chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Or perhaps after following Rachel’s recent advice and splashing your cash on the dress of your dreams, you’ve simply got some pennies to save. Either way, a minimoon can be the perfect way to chill and indulge a little if money or time is short.
So, to help inspire where you can go for a little romance, rest and relaxation after the big day, here’s our round-up of top minimoon ideas…
There’s little more indulgent than a spa, and in the UK you’ll have plenty of luxury day or spa hotels to choose from. Many spas have specific minimoon packages, meaning you’ll get a great deal too. Also, you’ll have flexibility – a couple of nights with ‘basic’ access to the sauna, steam room and swim facilities is a great way to unwind, or you can treat yourselves with a bespoke Mr and Mrs. Just gown up, lay back and float away…
The seaside is synonymous with holidays, and so where better to head for your minimoon than the UK coast? Reluctant grownups can release their inner big kid at the beach, heading for the arcades and the candyfloss stands, running wild on the sand or paddling in the balmy (OK, perhaps ‘icy’ is more realistic, but bear with me) waters. Long romantic walks, plenty of opportunities to write your new married names in the sand – plus, what tastes better than real fish and chips with lashings of salt and vinegar out of a paper, especially after a pre-wedding healthy eating campaign? I rest my case.
We actually did this – three days after getting hitched, a ‘proper’ minimoon in Northumberland coming up and a big honeymoon in India on the horizon in winter, we headed to the local campsite for a post-wedding night away. And I can recommend it on the following basis: camping creates the instant sense of an uber-romantic adventure. There’s just the two of you alone with only the elements and a starry sky for company – plus, you know, the convenience of an electric hook-up and local pub. There’s also the opportunity to test the strength of your newly-forged marriage by putting a tent up together. If you can survive that one, readers, you’re onto a winner.
November 26th, 2015 | Julia Braime
image via rusticfolkweddings.com
A honeymoon has predominately always been a holiday exclusive for the newlyweds following their big day, but in recent times we’re seeing the invite being extended to family members, and even friends, in some cases too.
Behold the rise of the familymoon and friendmoon. While the very thought of such might make some brides and grooms wince, others are fully embracing the the more the merrier approach, which gives them the opportunity to share their holiday of a lifetime with more than just a plus one.
So what’s it going to be – ticket for two or invite a few?
image via praisewedding.com, Photography by Ashley Kelemen
rachel says – all aboard
While I don’t see familymoons and friendmoons becoming as popular as minimoons (what will they invent next?), I do think these new honeymoon concepts could catch on. For there are some couples who can simply grow a little bored of just each other’s company after a few days, even if they are still basking in ‘just married’ love.
On mine and my boyfriend’s recent holiday to Crete for example, we both agreed after a few days that while it was nice to get away from everything (and everyone), it would also be cool to have a few travel companions in tow to share the fun with us.
So perhaps there’s nothing wrong with inviting a few close friends to carry on the wedding party with you abroad? Or, if you’re parents you may well want your children to be a part of the special holiday too. Furthermore you could invite your parents (aka babysitters) along, that way you can enjoy the best of both worlds – family time and alone time, with trusted child care on hand!
Another way of looking at it is that planning a wedding doesn’t come cheap, so combing a honeymoon with the usual friend or family getaway could make better financial sense to some couples too.
Not that they’re short of a bob or two, but the idea of a honeymoon entourage clearly appealed to Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, following their secret LA wedding earlier this year, as they invited several of the A-lister pals to join them on their luxurious post-nuptial holiday in Bora Bora. Speaking to the press about their decision to do so, Justin said that they thought they could either do a ‘normal’ honeymoon just the two of them, or invite friends along to “keep the party going, relax and have fun”.
Well if it’s good enough for Jen!
image via missheatherette.tumblr.com
julia says – two’s company
Now I’m all about inclusivity and I love a group adventure, but to me, a honeymoon should be a party just for two.
Your honeymoon (especially if taken straight after the wedding – another thing I would definitely advocate) is much needed alone time for newlyweds: time to decompress, relax and get romantic! I think it’s vital that you do this as a twosome, rather than inviting along the world and his wife. You need some time in that lovely ‘just married’ bubble – to enjoy the moment and create some very special memories – just the two of you.
Even if you’ve already got children, I’d also recommend leaving the little ones at home in the care of a much loved grandparent or auntie. Yes, its lovely to spend time as a family, but this moment is all about you and your other half. It’s a time to cherish and enjoy, and after all, it will only be the two of you left in the end when the chicks have flown the nest.
If you can afford it, I’d recommend honeymooning for at least a week, and would suggest using the opportunity (and maybe a little bit of gift money) to do something really memorable. Lying on a beach is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but step out of your comfort zone together and do something worth writing a postcard home about – try open water diving, a safari, sightseeing in your favourite city, or taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.
Married life is a new beginning, take some time to celebrate it together, and as to where you decide to do that, well, the world is your oyster…
image via jenhuangblog.com
what you said on facebook
Kate says: “We’re definitely going away just the two of us – we can’t wait for some alone time after all the wedding planning”.
Emma says: “We are combining the best of both worlds, a week on our own and then a week with our two kids”.
Emilia says: “We’re taking my parents with us, so they can baby sit our 6 month old and also enjoy a relaxing break themselves.”
August 5th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
When in need of a little R&R sometimes a day away doesn’t quite cut it, and so an indulgent overnight stay is required to truly unwind.
Thankfully as I built up to a week’s annual leave to recharge the batteries away from Brides Up North HQ (hey I love my job, but we all need a little rest now and again), I was offered the opportunity to visit the fabulous mill wheel spa on the edge of the Staffordshire Peaks for an overnight break with my partner in tow. How’s that for timing?
All in the name of work (I’m so dedicated to the cause) I took up the kind invitation knowing the venue would provide a perfect subject for a Blissed Out Bride post, in which we explore ideal places for our readers to enjoy some pre and post wedding pampering, as well as girly hen dos. My assumptions were right, as once again we’ve discovered a tranquil retreat in the north of the country for brides and grooms to put on their ‘to do’ list.
The journey from South Yorkshire took just over an hour, passing through picturesque areas such as Ladybower, Castleton and Buxton before arriving at The Three Horse Shoes Country Inn in rural Blackshaw Moor, which houses Mill Wheel Spa.
A family run business since 1981, the hospitality is among the warmest I have ever experienced as we were greeted by Katie Kirk who tends to the inn, alongside her husband and brother- and sister-in-law. Though the level of care, pride and customer service has clearly remained throughout, it soon became apparent that the inn itself has undergone quite a few changes over the years in order to deliver something special to its guests.
Among its most recent additions is Mill Wheel Spa, which offers a wide choice of day and overnight spa packages, including those specifically designed for hen dos, husbands and wives-to-be and newlyweds.
The Mini Moon Break package that we were invited to experience included use of the spa facilities with a rasul and ‘beach hut’ experience, a three-course evening meal in The Stables Restaurant, overnight accommodation, breakfast and a treatment each before departure the following day – boy were we in for a treat!
First to drop the bags off – we were staying in one of the inn’s top garden rooms, complete with four-poster bed and private outdoor hot tub. After a look around we headed to the spa making a mental note to return to the room in enough time before our evening meal to try out that hot tub.
The spa’s facilities focus on a number of hot and cold experiences to clear out the pores and awaken the senses and so we followed the suggested route to get the most out of our visit. First on the agenda is the visual centre piece of the spa, and a UK first, The Mill Wheel Shower, which pays homage to the history of the James Brindley Water Mill in neighbouring Leek and Cheddleton Flint Mill, which were once an important part of the area’s local industry and economy. The large revolving mill pours out water from its shovels in intervals, alternatively warm and cold, a bit like a tame game of Russian roulette.
We are then advised to use The Peak District Stonebath for a ‘steam bath experience’ followed by The Farmers Sauna, with a quick dip in The Cedar Plunge Pool in between (refreshing but freezing!). Next our rasul treatment in a special chamber made for two. We were instructed to smooth mineral rich mud onto our skin while the room heated up, which provided a lot of entertainment as we came to look like we’d emerged from a swamp. The results however were fabulous – at the end of the 30 minutes water rained down washing the mud away and revealing hydrated, soft skin.
By this point the sun had made an appearance so we ventured outside to the spa’s garden for some refreshments, including a little fizz. Here there’s also a three metre square hydrotherapy pool set at an inviting 36 degrees, so we had to have a quick dip. Like much of the inn, this area enjoys stunning views over the Roaches and surrounding countryside, which enhanced our already chilled out mood.
July 2nd, 2015 | Julia Braime
Last month, I was delighted to be invited to visit the internationally acclaimed Sharrow Bay Hotel. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
My parents are from a foodie background, and I remember them talking with great enthusiasm about the times that they had visited this small but perfectly formed place. My hubby’s birthday happened to fall around the time of the invitation, so we decided to take the chance to celebrate, just the two of us (our toddler safely deposited with the grandparents).
And what a spectacular treat was in store!
Images by Sarah Kay Photography.
As it says on the hotel’s website, Sharrow Bay is unique; “the epitome of English country living in an unrivalled location surrounded by snow-topped mountains and fells, right on the shores of Ullswater, widely regarded as the most beautiful lake in the country.” They weren’t kidding! The views at this place are absolutely incredible.
Upon arrival, you are immediately aware that you are somewhere special. A gorgeous blue and white set of buildings (which I was later to learn house the Hotel, it’s Garden bedrooms, it’s Lakeside Restaurant and soon to open beauty rooms) sit quite literally right on the edge of a huge expanse of glistening water, surrounded by lush green hills (or are they mountains?).
We were privileged to be staying over for dinner, bed and breakfast, so after a quick tour of the facilities with the lovely Events Manager Ellie, we were shown to our beautiful bedroom for the night, “Silver” (that’s it in the pictures, nice eh?).
During the tour, Ellie explained just how special Sharrow Bay can be for a wedding (and we think it would also be great for a honeymoon, anniversary or even a pre-wedding de-stress getaway). Suited to weddings of 50 or less, the hotel can quite literally become yours for the duration of your celebration.
If you are looking for complete privacy, the hotel can be hired in its entirety on an exclusive use basis where the only people in the hotel are you and your guests. It’s a home from home for your wedding day – only way, way, more impressive.
The pretty village church is just a short drive from the hotel and three beautiful rooms are licenced to hold civil ceremonies. With all your guests on site, you can choose to hold your civil ceremony overlooking Ullswater or in the hotel’s beautiful Garden Lounge, before drinks on the terrace and a delicious (trust me, I’ve tried the food) wedding breakfast in the hotel’s private dining areas.
What I took away from the tour is just how personal the staff at Sharrow Bay can make your big day, how they will work with you to arrnage and use the available rooms in a way that will suit your vision for your wedding and how much they care about your experience. Weddings at Sharrow Bay are quite literally bespoke.
If you are a foodie couple looking for an intimate dream day in a unique, quirky and beautiful location, you might want to call off the search now.
Sharrow Bay blends decadence, old fashioned luxury with more modern styling perfectly. It’s also utterly tranquil, and the views aren’t bad either! Just think of the wedding photographs!
But back to our stay. Having checked in to the beautiful Silver bedroom, had a bounce on the four poster bed and made a mental note to leave time for a soak in the deep tub in the bathroom, we set off in search of nourishment. Knowing we were eating in the hotel’s Lakeside Restaurant later that evening, we asked Ellie for recommendations of local lunch spots and she was more than happy to oblige with some great recommendations.
Full of food – and a few sneaky glasses of cold Sauvignon Blanc – we headed back to our room where another treat was in store, a couples in-room treatment from Sharrow Bay’s on site beauty team, ICON Beauty. I adored the in-room service, which felt super luxurious.
The room was spacious enough to take two huge massage beds and with relaxing music playing and True Grace candles giving off the most fantastic scent, we settled in for an hour of blissful pummeling. After an intense season of back to back wedding exhibitions, this was pure magic.
All we were fit for afterwards was the aforementioned soak in the tub, then a cheeky forty winks. Emerging two hours later, we dressed up for dinner (well, why not? We were celebrating after all) and tottered downstairs for a fantastic four course dinner in a secluded bay window overlooking the lake. Prosecco to hand, we marvelled at just how many special spots one place can have.
Apparently, Sharrow Bay’s award winning Head Chefs “are passionate about developing menus that use the finest, freshest, locally-sourced ingredients; the dishes served in the restaurant are the epitome of years of cultivated talent, passion and the best local produce.”
All I know is that the food was to die for.
After a blissful night’s sleep, another quick bath, and more delicious grub (the breakfast here doesn’t disappoint either), it was time to say our see you later’s. We’ll definitely come back to Sharrow Bay in the future as paying customers – whether for a weekend getaway or perhaps to bring friends and family to celebrate a big birthday. I’m just kicking myself that I’m already married…
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