Where to stay in Zurich

The Hotel That Has It All: 25hours Hotel Langstrasse Zurich

I’ve stayed in some pretty cool and quirky hotels in all my travels, from the fabulously over the top Venetian in Las Vegas to a tiny vintage shepherd’s hut in the Kent countryside. But none have been quite as cool as the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse in Zurich where we had the opportunity to stay for a night during our trip to Switzerland.

From the second we walked through the door I knew I was going to love it here. Colourful trinkets filled the shelves in the reception area, the staff looked trendy as hell, and travel paraphernalia was dotted about everywhere with giant globes hanging over the entry way to travel related signs and quotes adorning the walls, which of course had me totally hooked and feeling like I belonged.

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Where to stay in Lucerne

A Room with a Mountain View at Hotel Continental Park Lucerne

I was a little bit apprehensive about our journey to Switzerland. We’d been up since 3am and even though the flight from London to Zurich was a short one, we still had an hour’s train ride at the other end to get to Lucerne, the beautiful mountain and lakeside city that would be mine, my sister’s and Evie’s first stop on this trip. It turns out I didn’t need to worry at all as, even with a baby, the journey couldn’t have been any easier, and we were walking through the doors of our accommodation in Lucerne before it was even midday.

Just a few minutes walk from the train station and a few minutes more to Lucerne’s Old Town, Hotel Continental Park couldn’t be in a better location and our arrival couldn’t have been any friendlier as we were greeted with refreshing fruit tea while we checked in, which was much needed after our travels, and our room was ready nice and early for us.

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Princess afternoon tea London

Feeling Like a Princess at Afternoon Tea at the Tea Terrace

I remember the days fondly when I used to get lost in a book on the train to work, carefully paint my nails with colours to match my outfits, and binge watch the latest Netflix series. My Friday and Saturday nights were spent trying different restaurants or sipping cocktails in bars and Sundays were always reserved for a new adventure.

But over the last eleven months or so, my me time has somewhat diminished. Or, to put it more aptly, completely disappeared. Unfinished cold cups of coffee can be found scattered around the house; I have no idea what the latest place is on the food scene (and even if I did I wouldn’t be able to get the dish that I actually wanted anyway because my choices now revolve around the new boss); I’m yet to get through the second series of Stranger Things; and I’m lucky if I’ve rinsed all the conditioner from my hair before I have to dash out of the bubble bath that I’d so lovingly dreamed of all day.

As much as I absolutely adore my little Evie, a baby leaves very little room for time to yourself which is why, when my sister told me she was taking me to a surprise afternoon tea treat for my birthday last month, I cried. Like literally burst into tears. The exhaustion of being a mama combined with the thought of all that cake was just too much for me to handle!

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Essentials for travelling with a baby

Gift Ideas for Travelling Mamas and Babies

I won’t claim to be an expert but I’ve travelled with Evie a fair few times in her 8 months on earth so I like to think I’m at least a little bit of a pro when it comes to travelling with a baby. We’ve been on all sorts of adventures from train and plane rides to road trips and cruises and now we sail through customs (mostly) stress free!

With Christmas coming up I thought it was a good time to share some things I’ve found super useful when travelling. I’ve included a whole different range of ideas from the essentials and the practicals to some that are just plain cute and simply needed.

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Shepherd's Hut Kent

A Girly Getaway to Clavertye Shepherd’s Huts

It’s no secret that I love a road trip and when we’re not travelling abroad I like to make the most of exploring a bit closer to home. Even though I passed my driving test well over ten years ago I have only just got my very own car last month and this was just the excuse I needed to plan a mini adventure with just me and my girl.
Clavertye Shepherd’s Huts was the perfect place. Set on a huge farm in the countryside near Canterbury just over an hour from home, meant that it wasn’t too far for me to travel alone with a (possibly screaming) 6 month young baby. Luckily for me Evie slept away soundly in the back of the car for the entire journey so when we arrived at the farm nice and relaxed and I spotted our tiny little hut far away in the distance at the top of the valley, I knew this was going to be a wonderful getaway.

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A Blissful Baby Friendly Holiday with Tots To Travel

Going away with a baby was always going to be more stressful and manic than when it was just the two of us and even though we’d already taken Evie to Paris when she was just nine weeks old, our trip to Mallorca would be her first flight, her first beach holiday and her first taste of the summer sun.

I’m not usually much of a worrier but it can be a bit daunting when you have to remember to pack different factor sun creams for all three of you, swimwear for every occasion (one to keep baby warm, another to keep baby protected from the sun and one to keep any leaks out), plus a pram, travel cot, car seat and the kitchen sink.

Enter Tots to Travel who seriously made our trip so much smoother and stress free, not only by sending us to a brilliant baby friendly destination (although it was still hard to pick where because they have so many dreamy ones to choose from) but also by providing anything we could possibly have needed when going away with a little one.

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Guide to Las Vegas

The Non-Gambler’s Guide to Las Vegas

If you read my previous post on 5 reasons to love fabulous Las Vegas you can probably tell just how much I loved the city.  There is so much to keep anyone entertained and I don’t just mean whiling away the hours gambling.  We did spend a bit of time in the casinos where I will admit that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.  Playing a game of Snap is about as far as my card skills go!  After a while of watching others in a state of utter confusion, Mr Ayla eventually taught me how to play Blackjack and I actually found myself having some fun!  I was very happy with my $5 winnings thank you very much.

But I was surprised at how much there is to do in Las Vegas for the non-gamblers who, like me, want to spend more time seeing the city rather than being stuck inside a bright, smoky casino with no idea what time of day or night it is, and these were the things that made me and the city such fabulous but unexpected friends.

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Where to stay in the Big Sur

A Big Sur Escape at The Blue Dolphin Inn, Cambria

Although our American trip was almost a year ago now, we had such a brilliant time that I still have so much to write about even so long after.  I still haven’t written about all the amazing sights on our road trip through the Big Sur, I’ve not told you about everything there is to see in Vegas even if you don’t like gambling, and I’ve still not shared the details of our funky campervan adventures, so I thought it was about time the blog got back onto the USA.

One of my favourite parts of the adventure was our road trip along the stunning Big Sur coastline so I thought I’d start off by sharing one of the best places to stay along this part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

We had spent the previous night in Carmel-by-the-Sea, one of the prettiest little towns in California.  There is so much to see and do through the Big Sur, from national parks and magical waterfalls to famous bridges and sandy beaches, plus more viewpoints along the coastline than I can mention in one blog post, each with a more gorgeous view than the last.  We knew it was going to be a long day and wanted to take it slow so we would have time to fit everything in, so we decided to spend the next night in Cambria, a little beachfront town at the southern end of the Big Sur.  The Blue Dolphin Inn was right on the seafront broadwalk, just steps away from the sand of Moonstone Beach, and I loved the idea of going to sleep and waking up to the sound of the waves.

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Sensimar Marmaris Imperial

All-Inclusive Luxury at Sensimar Marmaris Imperial

If you know me at all you will know that all-inclusive package holidays just aren’t my thing.  While the idea of my pasty skin turning a lovely summery bronze is very much welcome, the thought of lying still on a beach for days, eating the same repetitive buffet food all week and not seeing more than the walls of the resort for the entire trip, makes me shudder.

But when Mr Ayla pretty much begged me for a relaxing summer holiday this year without all the constant sightseeing, the tiresome walking for hours and the endless research and explorations, I kind of felt like I should indulge him for a change. Trust me when I say this doesn’t happen often. 

Of course I still put in hours of research – because I’m not just going to go to any old place – and despite my initial horror at a break that involved nothing more than slapping on some sun cream every day, I eventually came across the Sensimar Marmaris Imperial Hotel.  This picture perfect hillside resort along the Turkish coast jumped straight out at me as somewhere that looked like it would suit us both.  There were sun beds galore and food and drink on tap for the Mr, while still looking beautifully traditional for me with the most beautiful views (obviously I have to consider my Instagram pics when I book any trip) and a nearby town for exploring for when my feet got fidgety as they no doubt would.

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London Gatwick airport parking

Airport Parking Made Easy with Purple Parking

Airport parking is never something that is high on my radar when booking a trip.  I’m much more interested in researching our new destination, scoping out sights off the beaten track and the best viewpoints in the city, or finding a cosy airport hotel to stay in before an early morning flight.  So usually we simply opt for one of the cheaper parking options.  Yes, the car parks always seem to be down the most difficult to find country lanes and there is the annoyance of a 15/20 minute bus ride to the airport, but I would rather save that extra bit of money for eating as much of the local food as I can once we’ve left London (and our car) behind.

But on our recent trip to Turkey, we tried out the meet and greet service at Gatwick airport courtesy of Purple Parking and I think it may have just swayed me into paying that little bit extra in the future.

There was no bickering as we tried to figure out where the car park was, no checking the car in, no waiting around for the next shuttle bus and no extra journey to the airport.  We simply drove straight to the drop off point right outside Gatwick’s south terminal and, with a quick phone call to Purple Parking to let them know we were there, a few minutes later a friendly chauffeur came to meet us, checked our details and then whisked our car away.

London Gatwick airport parking

I was left thinking that surely there was something else we needed to do.  But nope – it really was as easy as that and we wandered the few steps into the airport without any stress or worry and, least of all, not a single bit of rushing about.

London Gatwick airport parking

After a sunny and relaxing break in Turkey, returning to the airport would have been nice and easy if it hadn’t been for someone (not mentioning any names – but it wasn’t me) leaving our tablet in security on the way out.  This meant that when we arrived back at Gatwick airport just after midnight, we had the hassle of changing terminals and making our way to lost property (and paying a ridiculous £20 lost property admin fee in the process).

With a quick phone call, Purple Parking were extremely helpful in meeting us with the car at whichever terminal was easiest for us and, just a few minutes later, we could see the Purple Parking chauffeur in his snazzy purple jacket along with our car already sitting and waiting for us as soon as we stepped out of the airport doors.

London Gatwick airport parking

At this time of the morning when I had to be up for work in six hours, we were so grateful that there was no waiting around for a shuttle bus and hauling our bags about, no bus ride full of crying children and tired adults, and no having to wait in line to collect the keys to our car.  This was by far the easiest and most convenient airport parking we have ever had and, as the Purple Parking representative handed our keys over to us, it couldn’t have been any more welcome.

Have you tried a handy meet and greet airport parking? Let me know what you thought in the comments below or at:

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Big thanks to Purple Parking for taking care of our car while we were off relaxing on holiday!

Need an airport hotel?  Take a look at my favourites at Gatwick airport:

The Perfect Way to Start a Holiday: Bloc Hotel Gatwick

Smart Luxury at Yotel London Gatwick