Dream Destination: The Laura Ashley Hotel

Often when I’m planning a trip away, one of my criteria when booking the hotel is that I love the interiors. I take pride in my home so when I go away I want the place I’m staying to be just as restful or inspiring. It’s no secret I’m a fan of Laura Ashley and so when I heard that they had opened a new boutique Manor Hotel in Elstree, Hertfordshire, I wanted to share it with you all.

Premium signature suite

The hotel has an exclusive restaurant, terrace bar area and 49 bedrooms, which I had to admit were the feature that caught my eye. For a relaxing break, often I enjoy just unwinding in my hotel room, catching up on TV or taking a long bath and of course getting ready for an evening out, so the luxurious interiors created by Laura Ashley using their own range of home furnishings and decor were right up my street.

Not only that, but there’s some serious interior decor inspiration for those of you looking to create some boutique hotel chic in your own bedroom for that relaxing feeling every day. I loved looking at these and seeing how Laura Ashley have interpreted their designs into real rooms.

For a bit of Laura Ashley luxury however, you can book a room from £150 (and the property will also host weddings.) Just log onto www.lauraashleyhotels.com

What do you think readers? Those rooms look so inviting!


Dream Destination: Easter getaways

When I came back from holiday a week ago I descended into the worst post-holiday blues I have ever exerienced, for no particular reason. Thankfully the prospect of another holiday isn’t too far away and I’m keeping busy planning our trip to South Africa, but if we hadn’t been, I’d have been snatching the 4 day weekend over Easter and making a break for the seaside.

I thought it would be fun to round up some of the most amazing stays I’ve spotted around the UK that still have availability for Easter in case any of you were planning a break and looking for inspiration. All have been chosen for their spectacular settings and stylish interiors. If not… when it comes to bank holidays, there’s always May!

1. Merlin Farm Eco Cottages, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall – iescape.com
Sleeping 2-4, these cottages look stylish and are situated on my favourite beach in Cornwall, Mawgan Porth (where The Scarlet is.) I think this would be perfect for friends – at £200pn you could splash out on dinner in any of the nearby fabulous restaurants in Padstow or at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, just down the road.

2. Kaywana Hall B&B, nr Dartmouth, Devon – iescape.com
If you love modern architecture this B&B bucks the trend for chintzy B&B’s in Devon. Based on the original building by renowned 1960’s architect Mervyn Seal, it’s a blast of fresh design amongst estuary air and modern style, only a 10 minute walk into Dartmouth. (£150pn)

3. Coillaibus, Islay, Inner Hebrides, Scotland – iescape.com
These new build eco cottages in the wilds of Scotland look ridiculously inviting amongst some of the most inspiring coastal scenery in the UK. With stylish interiors of Ercol furniture and specially commissioned tweeds, you’ll almost be tempted not to try the hot tub. The isolation looks so inviting. £220pn, the cottages sleep 2-4 in 2 doubles or a double and a twin room.

4. Llety Bodfor Hotel, Cardigan Bay, Wales. MrandMrsSmith.co.uk
During trips to The Drawing Room, Pete and I have really fallen in love with Wales. Pembrokeshire is high up on my list of places to visit on our own fair shores, but Cardigan Bay is a little closer for us and still looks very beautiful with the village of Portmerion nearby and all the outdoor activities that Snowdonia has to offer is the Coast becomes a little too bracing and blustery. £375 for 3 nights 29th to 31st March.

Are you tempted readers? Are you going away this Easter break?


Recommended: The Llawnroc, Cornwall

I love Cornwall. I’m not one of those people who has spent a lifetime exploring it – it’s Pete, my husband who has. His Mum is from Penzance and with teacher parents, he spent the whole of the summer holidays down there every year on the beaches. For me, it has been a slow indoctrination by him and being dragged down there. I had seen the pictures, don’t get me wrong – the turquoise clear waters, white sand beaches and crashing waves reminiscent of the Caribbean, I just didn’t really believe that that Cornwall existed for people like me who always bring bad weather on a UK holiday and prefer a nice clean pool over sand. Cornwall has however leached into my mind and now I frequently find myself uttering those well spoken words…  when the sun is shining, there really is no better place to holiday. So when I was invited to experience The Llawnroc, I relished the opportunity to share a new place to take a UK holiday in Cornwall.

Before going, I didn’t really know what to expect. I flicked through the website, saw it was close to the beach (very close, perfect!) had sea views and a lovely restaurant. I was sold. After a long drive down on what Pete calls ‘real Cornish roads’ we arrived at a very modern and smart looking small hotel and stepped into a foyer that wouldn’t be out of place in a city centre – all metallic glamour and chic touches.

The theme continued in our room as we were shown up to a beautiful suite with stunning decor and view that just out competed it – straight down a winding road lined with whitewashed houses to the sparkling sea.

Pete had asked me what I wanted to do whilst we were away and my answer was a very considered ‘nothing.’ After my recent workload I wanted to lie on the beach, soak up some sun, catch up on magazines and read a book – the holy grail of nothing-ness to me. So we headed straight out, down to the beach and sprawled on the sand, admiring the cloudless sky. The afternoon was punctuated with paddling, shell collecting and a wander across to the tiny harbour front to buy cornish ice cream.

When we returned to The Llawnroc we settled ourselves in the smart sofas outside and enjoyed a sundowner as the light started to fade from the terrace.  I loved that the outside area was huge – easily enough space for residents to eat and slouch whilst taking in the views and not feel in the least bit crowded – there are only 18 rooms.

We indulged ourselves by getting ready slowly then headed down to dinner to explore the restaurant and lounge areas. There were 2 restaurants – The Bistro for more relaxed dining and Gwinneas for fine dining. Mid-week and out of season we ate off the Gwinneas menu but in the Bistro restaurant area – a room surrounded by large floor to ceiling windows that would have been beautiful in the daytime making the most of the views and thrown open to the sea breeze. The food was excellent with a great selection of fish as you would expect on the coast and much of it from Megvagissey, the tiny harbour just along the coast. We fell into bed that night stuffed and happy, looking forward to another beach day.

We couldn’t have gotten luckier with the weather if we tried. The next day dawned with clear skies and still air, warm already at breakfast time. We took breakfast (the smoked salmon on english muffins with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce was so good I ate it two days on the trot) in Gwinneas, a much cosier but still glamorous setting that looked out onto the terrace, then rushed off to the beach again.

After a full days sunning ourselves, we headed into Mevagissey for fish and chips and took them to the harbour wall where we sat and looked out over the boats as the sun set. Compared to Gorran Haven? where The Llawnroc is, Mevagissy felt like a bustling metropolis, although it’s actually still a tiny coastal cornish fishing village. There were enough cute boutiques and cafes to entertain you for a rainy afternoon if the worst happened… but then again, does it ever rain in Cornwall? It was hard to imagine during the clear skies, still winds and balmy temperatures we enjoyed.

So would I go back? It seemed to me that The Llawnroc struck a perfect balance between luxurious retreat in a perfect location for a beach break if the weather and with the addition of PS3’s in the rooms and a DVD library, had enough touches that meant if the weather failed us, you probably wouldn’t even notice…


Disclaimer: Rebecca stayed for two nights as a guest of The Llawnroc, but if she wouldn’t recommend it to a friend, you wouldn’t be hearing about it here.

Dream Destination: The Gallivant

Todays ‘find’ isn’t somewhere I have been, but instead somewhere I would like to go. As it’s summer, although I’m not off galivanting (no pun intended,) I have been thinking about making it feel a little more like holiday season by taking some day trips. I’m always on the look out for cute independent hotels to visit and interesting restaurants, so the images of this one sent over to my by Anneli Marinovich grabbed my attention straight away.

Image Credit: Anneli Marinovich Photography

Despite the fact that I dislike the wind and the way it’s always a few degrees cooler at the seaside, I think I’ll always be a coastal girl at heart. You know what they say, when the weather is good, there’s no better place to be than England and I do love a sea view. The beach above is Camber Sands in Rye, East Sussex where you can also find The Gallivant, a boutique hotel with bistro and beach cafe. Aside from thinking it looks like a brilliant place to stay, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the coastal decor. Everything from the driftwood exterior to the shellfish prints and inky blue wall colours just feels so relaxing and reminiscent of the quintessential summer holiday.

Image Credit: Anneli Marinovich Photography

Doesn’t that shade of blue just look like you could fall into it forever? The crisp white of the picture frames pop against it yet still work beautifully with the more rustic aspects of the decor. The bleached and distressed wood and the salvaged lamps, instead of looking industrial, appear weathered by the salty sea-air.

Image Credit: Anneli Marinovich Photography

The hotel is a wedding venue too and they happened to be set up for one when Anneli was looking around – I couldn’t help but share the cute little nautical details she captured…

Image Credit: Anneli Marinovich Photography

The decor ideas don’t stop inside either, The Gallivant‘s exterior looks amazing, particularly the sand loving plants I grew up with in my back garden. If you’re looking for low maintenance plants and have sandy soil, you could take a ton of inspiration from the way the gardens have been designed and planted.

Image Credit: Anneli Marinovich Photography

So readers, have you been to The Gallivant or the surrounding area or have I made you want to?!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the decor too and if you’re feeling inspired this morning.


Recommended: Malmaison Leeds

A little while ago, when I was heading over to Leeds for the PenDo extravaganza, I needed somewhere to stay. It’s surprising how many places in the UK are devoid of boutique hotels and when that is the case, or I simply haven’t got the time to do the researching leg work, I tend to turn to the Malmaison group for a reliably stylish retreat.

The Leeds Mal wasn’t the first I have stayed in. I spent a brilliant weekend away with a group of work friends a few years back in Edinburgh and have frequented the Birmingham Mal too. They’re always in a great location, and often a notable building, lending character which is always nice.

The Malmaison Leeds was in a brilliant location for my visit, just a couple of streets away from a few of the places we frequented and really close to the station too.

What I like about the Malmaison is the decor. I love that ‘hotel chic’ look and the moody dark look to the public spaces. The bar was buzzing when I came back after a day out with the girls and I found myself looking longingly towards the restaurant and their Brasserie French food when my tummy was rumbling before dinner!

The room was, no exaggeration, massive, with a huge bed and a really warm but stylish look. The bathrooms are stocked with one of my favourite touches, large-sized toiletries that you are encouraged to take away (and I did!) After a long day and an appropriately tiring night it was heaven to sink into the huge bed and slip into a deep sleep with a lie in in the morning thanks to the super heavy curtains.

It was a tough call after THAT bed, but the highlight was breakfast. Again the brasserie was buzzing and I settled into a corner with my copy of the morning paper and a selection from the continental breakfast. I am partial to an egg when I have time for breakfast, so I opted for the eggs benedict. From now I’d like all my butter to come wrapped up in little packages like this please. One lovely touch was the locally sourced ingredients, including yogurts from a West Yorkshire dairy farm. It’s always nice when a chain hotel goes the extra mile to keep things local.

I had such a great stay that I’ll definitely be considering a return trip if I’m in the vicinity or if I’m visiting another city. There are Malmaison hotels in Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford and Reading if you’re looking for a city break and you can often get rooms for bargain rates by booking ahead. I think the Friday Wine and Dine is a brilliant deal – Room, dinner and a bottle of wine for £99. Go on, treat yourself…

Have you stayed or eaten at the Malmaison? I’d love to hear your thoughts as ever…


Disclaimer: Rebecca stayed for one night as a guest of the Leeds Malmaison, but if she wouldn’t recommend it to a friend, you wouldn’t be hearing about it here.

The Townhouse, Marbella

This morning, we’re transporting you all away from the gusty autumn weather we’re experiencing, straight to the sunshine with a Florence travel post by the lovely Rachie. The lucky thing jetted off to Marbella for some last rays of sun before the weather turned and has been kind enough to share her hotel review with you all – definitely one to bookmark for a future mini-break or get-away!

Hi everyone! I’m Rachie from A Chi Chi Affair and I’m so delighted to be writing for Florence Finds. I thought I would share a review of a short break we went on to Marbella in Spain a few weeks ago.

The weather was turning in the UK and with pretty much all hopes of an Indian summer dashed we decided to book a last minute break away. The criteria for the break were sunshine, good restaurants and general lounging so we decided on Marbella in Southern Spain. What with our upcoming wedding next year we’ve also been saving the pennies so opted for a budget boutique B&B booked via Mr and Mrs Smith called The Town House.

I’m not a fan of huge corporate hotels so The Townhouse suited us perfectly, and with only nine rooms it was furnished beautifully, all white washed walls, marble floors and antique furniture with Molton Brown toiletries. It seemed to have a very chilled out vibe. As we were there slightly out of season it was lovely and quiet too. On arrival we were greeted by the very friendly owner who checked us in promptly and recommended a lovely restaurant for that night.

We woke up in the morning to the sound of church bells feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep in the comfy beds (which had a mattress topper on – I asked!!) As per normal, I was looking forward to breakfast, (!) luckily served until 11. The Mr and I do like our lie-ins! Breakfast was a help-yourself affair full of different breads, cheeses, croissants and the best Serrano ham I have tasted. We took ours up to the roof terrace which we had to ourselves and admired the lovely views over the old town.

The Mr loves the beach and it was only a short walk away. Marbella has a long promenade which although was quite touristy was fun to stroll along, and we admired the Dali statues which brought back memories of Art at school! I would imagine it would be heaving in the summer but in the early autumn it was nicely busy. The Townhouse had recommended a beach club called Cappuccino where we spent a few days lying on the sun loungers reading, swimming in the sea and having late afternoon cocktails – Bliss!

The hotel is situated in the old town of Marbella full of narrow streets, boutique shops and restaurants. It’s so pretty and we spent many hours ambling around admiring the colourful buildings, the numerous orange and lemon trees and doing a bit of light shopping.

Nights were very buzzy, and we spent ours in the many lovely restaurants. I love the Spanish style of eating late and staying up to the small hours. We tried a great Italian, a rustic fish restaurant where I tried out my rusty Spanish and a traditional tapas place. Most nights we then retreated back to the roof top at the hotel for late night drinks where they had a very reasonable honestly bar with local cava and beers.

I would highly recommend Marbella for a short trip. It’s a mere 2 hour flight away so it’s great for an autumn break. Avoid the crowds and stay in old town if you can as it has so much character. We came back feeling rested and recharged ready for the great British winter.

Rachie xo

Thank you so much Rachie for sending this over – and even better, Rachie will be letting us into her packing tips next week! (It’s a real snoop inside the bag type of post – you guys with LOVE it!)

Now it’s time for me to put a request out. Florence Finds will often require guest posters and the travel section is no exception. This is your invitation to submit a review to me – just drop me an email on hello@florencefinds.com with your review or idea and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Your submission could be a hotel review like Rachie’s, or destination guide (UK, Europe and beyond applicable for both categories,) anything you think constitutes a fabulous Find for Florence’s readers! Think the best sights, hidden restaurants and stylish shopping.

Get sending peeps,


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