If I had a pound for every post I wrote about Harry Potter I’d be a very rich girl, but, here goes another! Last week I took a trip to Northumberland and stayed with the fabulous St Mary’s Inn, Morpeth (review found here). Making the most of the trip we headed over to Alnwick Castle. Alnwick Castle is located in the historic market town of Alnwick in the North East of England, the castle is INSTANTLY recognisable as Hogwarts but it is also home to the show Downtown Abbey and is set for many more TV shows and films. Alnwick Castle was built as a medieval fortress and has been the home of the Percy’s, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland, since 1309. Today, Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England as it is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and their family.
Alnwick Castle is open each year from April 1st to October 31st, during this period the trust sees an influx of 200,000 visitors. The castle has been a widely used film location but these days the castle draws most of its attention from Harry Potter fanatics. The castle was featured as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter movies filming flying lesson with broomsticks in the first movie, The Philosopher’s Stone, and Ron & Harry’s Ford Anglia scene from the Chamber of Secrets.
The castle offers a wide variety of activities for visitors, whilst there take part in your choice of guided tours of the castle and grounds, archery lessons, magic and wizardry with a Harry Potter theme and a Knight’s Quest. Harry Potter activities, my personal pick, include a Battlesticks to Broomstick tour, three sessions a day of Broomstick Training with Hogwarts prefects and Magic with Hagrid and Dumbledore. We were a little late in the sign up for Broomstick Training so my tip if you really want to try this out is to pre-book, particularly in the school holidays. Broomstick Training is available to all age groups so don’t feel silly if you’re wanting to give it a go!
Alnwick Castle offers so much for all ages and is most definitely my pick for anyone visiting Northumberland, whether you’re a Harry Potter Fanatic or interested in the local history you’re bound to have a great day out with Alnwick Castle. Don’t forget to hit up the Gift Shop before you leave, a wide variety of Film Memorabilia is available for purchase.
Rebekah Esme was invited as a guest of Alnwick Castle and The Northumberland Tourism Board, as always, my views are my own. Please also find my review featured on the Northumberland Tourism Board Blog here.
I love New Year, out with the old and in with the new, Auld Lang Syne & a glass of fizz, what more could we want? I’ll tell you, to travel and embrace new experiences in a multitude of diverse cultures. New Year is a special time and all parts of the world celebrate in various different ways.
I put together my top tip of places to see New Year in, if you’re still looking, get booked! If not then add them to your bucket list.
1. York, United Kingdom – Hundreds flock to York Minster for the 12 chimes, if you’re lucky (and early) you can go inside and take a seat! I’ve never been that early which means standing outside in the wonderful atmosphere surrounded by the wonderful Yorkshire Folk. If you’ve never visited York it’s a must for your travel calendar, Christmas is a magical time in this historic city.
2. New York, America – We move from a historic York to an ultra-modern New York! Counting down the seconds in Times Square is most definitely top of my bucket list for the near future! Having visited the city 5 times I’ve never been quite lucky enough to experience a New Year in the big apple.
3. Koh Panyang, Thailand – arguably a much more roudy New Year celebration but I spent this summer in Thailand and the people spoke of how fantastic the Full Moon Party is for New Year. Celebrations on the beach with a bucket is why this a top pick for me!
4. Sydney, Australia – we’ve seen the TV, how incredible does the firework display off the Sydney Harbour Bridge look! If I didn’t already want to visit Australia then I do now!
5. Tokyo, Japan – Shibuya crossing is the place to celebrate New Year, a little like New York you can find yourself surrounded by the masses ringing in the chimes!
I’ll leave you on a festive note, The World says Happy Christmas!
Have a great New Year everyone, looking forward to sharing my 2015 adventures with you all xx
Step out on the streets of Phuket and you instantly feel like you’ve entered another realm. Patong Bay comes is alive with the eccentric and the wonderful, it provided me with a bizarre experience which was partially down to Lady Boy culture.
Strolling down Patong Bay you are exposed to bars laced with Lady Boys and prostitution (one openly stating – Ladies upstairs, Lady Boys downstairs), this seedy vibe is undoubtedly reinforced by the hotels and merchandise, our mini bar came including a pack of Durex, not quite what I expected!
After a few hours strolling up and down the strip you became accustomed to the culture, it wouldn’t be so different to Blackpool (England) if it weren’t for the Lady Boys and glorious sun shine.
On a recent visit to Dublin I opted to stay at the Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street. Using both the powers of Trip Advisor and some general googling of the hotel location I made the decision to book. If you’re looking to visit Dublin, this dig comes highly recommended by me. If your looking to book make sure you shop around for the best price, visit Khalifas Hotels, Trivago and Booking.com for the best deals. Check out my experience and review of my stay below:
Stepping off O’Connell Street and into a blissful haven of luxury was one of my ultimate favourite experiences of the Gresham Hotel. The Gresham sits proudly in the heart of Dublin making access to the centre quite literally on your doorstep.
I opted for a twin room with views that looked out onto O’Connell Street. The room had amicable space and a spacious, well designed bathroom. The roll top bath was perfection, I even spent some extra time relaxing!
The Gresham hosts 3, yes 3, different restaurants. I found myself indulging in afternoon tea as I relaxed in the high top chairs in the lobby, the perfect excuse to sit back and relax after a long day sightseeing in Dublin.
Book this hotel if
This hotel is perfect for all. Although ideally designed for the older teen- adult, it really lends itself to all ages. And being located in the centre means no lugging children for miles to find the attractions.
Let’s admit it, everyone prefers a little luxury once in a while, and what’s to say you can’t have it whilst on your budget travels. I’ve spent much time comparing the costs of hotels against various sites/ travel agents and direct methods so I’m sharing my tips on the best ways to get your hotel for less.
Generally the first stop for all travel goers is the likes of Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Trivago.com, however, it’s important to bear in mind that these companies are all owned by the same holdings company, so make sure you compare against an independent travel site such as http://www.khalifashotels.ae/to make sure you really are getting the best deal.
An alternative site that I have recently discovered is secretescapes.com, they offer hotels and holiday deals at anything up to 80% discount of the face value. Check them out for your more luxury stays.
It’s wise to use discounted websites such as Groupon or Wowcher when looking for hotel deals. Although more restricted than the above, if you are looking for something last minute then you can usually find deals within the month span that are great to use.
Be willing to shop about, spend some time comparing and don’t be afraid to try out services that aren’t mainstream, these usually produce the best value but are overlooked by the larger competitors.
Happy Travels! xx