Wait, the Easter Bunny is Coming…

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Happy Easter” by Karen Roe, licenced under CC BY 2.0

Easter in 2015 falls on Sunday April 5th, and you don’t need to feel guilty about thinking ahead. We realise it is not even Christmas 2014 yet, but thinking ahead is one of those things that can save you a lot of time and money. Come spring 2015 you might want to grab the kids during half term and jet off to Spain or somewhere sunny, but why not avoid all the travel expense and airport chaos and have a staycation?

Luxury at Home

You can enjoy a luxury trip to any corner of the British Isles and explore the wilds of the open countryside, take the kids to some fun historical attractions or simply relax with no worries. If you head to Edinburgh, The Dunstane is a welcoming hotel where you can chill in the surroundings of the city. You are only a stone’s throw away from Haymarket station making it great for arriving by train.

Mar Hall

Mar Hall is an incredible place set in luxury surroundings with a stunning landscaping. You will be able to completely relax and rejuvenate with the peace and tranquillity of this hotel. Mar Hall is a very short distance from Glasgow airport, so if you fancy a trip but don’t want a long drive then this is the place for you.

Perfect Manors

Perfect Manors have self-catering cottages and accommodations set around the country, as well as abroad. Their self-catering cottages give you the opportunity to experience the freedom of living a luxury life without having to adhere to a timetable.

The Kingsmills Hotel

If you are heading for Inverness, The Kingsmills Hotel has excellent family rooms. This welcoming and friendly hotel has award winning spa facilities, and you can use all the leisure facilities including the swimming pool during your stay. This gives you the chance to relax and kick back in a place where fresh air is on tap, and the beautiful surroundings entice you to come back every time.

Staycations are an excellent way to get to know your own country. The British Isles has some of the most breath taking and beautiful scenery in the world, and it is all at your fingertips. Enjoy Easter!

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Love Story in Inverness: Searching for the Perfect Highland Wedding

There aren’t spots in the UK more romantic than the Scottish Highlands. It is no surprise that each year thousands of couples flock here to tie the knot in a truly outstanding setting. Inverness is great because of how well connected the city is, bang in the centre of some of the most spectacular landscape in the whole country.

So if you’re looking for a true fairy-tale wedding in Inverness, one that marries tradition, elegance and contemporary style, then there are two venues that immediately spring to mind. Read on for some more information but these venues really do have to be seen to be believed.

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Achnagairn Castle – Perfect Manors, Inverness

Wow. Achnagairn Castle has absolutely everything on a Highland wedding tick list. The Castle itself is a breath-taking white walled early 19th-century mansion built in the classic Scottish style. The many bedrooms and mock-turrets look out across formal gardens and woodland onto a broad sweep of Highland scenery. The grand ballroom, which can be used for both ceremony and reception, is just as gorgeous. With abundant natural light, high ceilings, dark wood panelling and bags of historic elegance, it’s one of the best places for your special day.

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The Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness

The Kingsmills Hotel is a revelation. Set within several acres of beautiful manicured gardens and tree-lined avenues, the core of the hotel is a graceful old 18th-century manor house that preserves many charming original features. Attached to this is a state-of-the-art wedding suite that can accommodate up to four hundred guests. The real strength of the Kingsmills is their friendliness, hospitality and attention to detail. They will make you and your guests feel utterly pampered and looked after, which after all is the whole point of a wedding. Add to this excellent food, luxurious accommodation and sumptuous contemporary style, and the Kingsmills becomes a winning wedding venue in our eyes.

There are some great hotel wedding venues in and around Inverness. Take a look at some of the many wedding blogs which showcase this setting in a spectacular fashion. Happy hunting and congratulations!

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Christmas Shopping in London

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London” by PugGirl, licenced under CC BY 2.0

Christmas shopping in London used to be a long battle from one end of Oxford Street to the other, then a trek back to Oxford Circus to go up and down Regent Street. By then your feet were so tired you just wanted to jump on the first bus home. It took the fun out of it in a sense, but it was still an enjoyable experience. Over the years, London has changed in many ways, and some parts of the capital are barely recognizable compared to our first trip there in the 80’s.

East London especially has seen some serious additions and modernizations that have brought new businesses and homebuyers to the area. In turn, it has brought fresh new life to the area and completely rejuvenated it.

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Regent Street” by James Petts, licenced under  CC BY-SA 2.0

Shopping Capital

Despite the draws of online shopping, people still love the experience of walking down the high street and into the shops to touch and feel the presents they are buying for people. We all like to know that what we are buying has a nice feel to it or is something we would like ourselves. Nowadays it is fun to wander around the new stores and the markets that serve the people of West and East to find some unique presents.

The Hoxton Hotel, in Shoreditch—and another in Holborn—are great quirky places to stay if you intend on shopping in London for your Christmas gifts. London isn’t short of place to stay and we recommend The Bingham, Richmond and The Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington for a touch of luxury. Park Inn, Heathrow is also excellent if you are flying in or out of this international airport.

West and South West London have plenty of shopping areas to choose from, and Richmond has some terrific boutique stores, as does the Chelsea High Road. Of course, if you are buying for the kids, don’t forget the Harrods toy department and Hamleys – the most famous toy store in the world!

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International Spotlight – Adriatic Coast

Whichever country you choose to visit, you will not be disappointed on the the Adriatic Coastline. Both Italy and Croatia offer excellent destinations for unwinding during the long summer nights. Here are some of our favourite places to stay.

Croatia

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Trpanj” by Rudolf Getel, licenced under CC BY 2.0

Istria is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea making it the perfect place to bask in the warm sunshine. This charming area has a complex cultural history meaning you’ll find a variety of influences. Stay at the 5* Kempinski Hotel Adriatic and you will quickly relax! There are a number of towns to visit but our favourites are Pula and Rovinj.

Pula

This historical port town hosts an impressive Roman amphitheatre and other historical sites that have managed to stay well preserved over centuries. In fact, there’s not much evidence of Pula being a significant town until 177 BC when the Romans arrived and transformed the landscape. Today you can relax on the long stretch of rocky beach or sample the local delicacies in one of the many cafes whilst watching the world pass by.

Rovinj

Rovinj is one of the most charming towns on the Istrian coast. The town has an almost Italian feel with Veenetian-style houses and luxury yachts dotted along the harbour. Italian is in fact spoken widely here, with many of the road signs also in Italian. It is famous for its artists whose studios fill the Old Town and spill onto the main street, Grisia, on the second Sunday of August for an open air display.

Italy

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The Teatro Piccinni in Bari” courtesy of Wikipedia

Staying at the stunning Borgo Egnazia resort puts you in an ideal place to enjoy several of Italy’s most historic and fascinating towns. Each town has its own charm, characteristics and must see sites, but two towns in particular, Bari and Otranto, absolutely should not be overlooked when planning your southern Italy holiday.

Bari

The coastal area town of Bari is located about 65 km north of Borgo Egnazia, and like many of Italy’s most visited old towns, Bari is a charming labyrinth of narrow, clean, bright alleyways. Locals socialize outside where women prepare the local pasta, orecchiette, out in the open. Bari is home to a number of must see sites, including the breath-taking Basilica di San Nicola and several historic castles, including the Castel del Monte. However, if you are looking for an up close and intimate experience where you can casually socialize with the locals, Bari is hard to beat.

Otranto

Otranto is Italy’s easternmost town, so it sits as close to the water as one can get. The city offers so many things to do and see that it is well worth the 150 km drive from Borgo Egnazia. For example, the majestic Cathedral of Otranto is positioned at the highest location in town and is worth the visit just to see the spectacular mosaic floor.

Ocean adventurers can participate in a guided scuba diving adventure, where dives are done both day and night. For castle lovers, a place to visit is the Castello Aragonese. Current admission rates are €10.00 for adults, €6.00 for children 10-14, and children aged 0-9 go free.

A great perk about planning a holiday in southern Italy is that it can be planned to suit any type of taste or interest. Whether you are an architecture or history buff, a nature lover or are interested in getting to know the locals, southern Italy, as evidenced by the examples of Bari and Otranto, is the perfect destination.

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Best Places to Visit in Scotland This Christmas

Best UK Hotels wants to share with you some of our favourite options for spending an alternative Christmas somewhere other than at home. Maybe you fancy doing something entirely different this year and want to retreat to the quiet of the Scottish Highlands. Perhaps you want to give someone you love the ideal gift and send them to their dream Hogmanay over the border or maybe you want to take the entire family and just enjoy some Scottish traditions. Whatever you decide we have some ideas that might entice you to do something traditional without having to cook the turkey yourself.

Edinburgh-skyline

 

Edinburgh at a glance” by Dimitry B., licenced under CC BY 2.0

 

Skerries at The Dunstane

The Dunstane Hotel in Edinburgh offers some of the best local cuisine, including freshly caught seafood and locally grown fruits and vegetables. Their restaurant, Skerries, is highly regarded and recommended by some of the top food writers making it well worth a visit. If you plan to eat at Skerries restaurant or stay overnight at The Dunstane, you will receive a very warm welcome indeed and a chance to explore the gorgeous city of Edinburgh as the city comes alive during the festive season.

Kingsmills Hotel

As an ideal Christmas gift for a loved one, The Kingsmills Hotel is a great place to enjoy some festive cheer. In the heart of Inverness, The Kingsmills is known for excellent service, luxurious décor and some spectacular views of the surrounding area. Their cuisine is exquisite making a gift voucher for this hotel a perfect Christmas present.

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Beauly Firth from North Kessock Black Isle Scotland” by Dave Conner, licenced under CC BY 2.0

Perfect Manors Castle

Perfect Manors gives you the chance to spend quality time together in the peaceful surroundings of the Scottish Highlands. Explore the wide open countryside and the brisk fresh air as you enjoy a New Year’s Eve to remember.

Mar Hall

Mar Hall is set in 240 acres of sheer and utter beauty. You can experience life as a 5 star guest when you stay there, but you can also share the 5-star life with someone special when you choose to give a gift certificate as a present. Christmas is the ideal time to share the wonders of Mar Hall with a loved one.

Spoiling the people we love at Christmas is something most of us love doing. Giving them a gift like this is giving them a memory they can treasure for many years to come.

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International Spotlight – Lecce

The town of Lecce in southern Italy, is located about an hour’s drive from one of our favourite resorts Borgo Egnazia. It is the perfect place to take in the region’s most magnificent baroque and Roman architecture. From dramatic churches to towering ruins and world class museums, Lecce is a definite must see for lovers of history and architecture.

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Basilica di Santa Croce e Celestini Lecce” by Wikimedia, licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0

Basilica di Santa Croce

A wondrous and astonishing example of baroque architecture, the Basilica di Santa Croce in Lecce is a feast for the eyes. Meticulously built over the course of two centuries, visitors will appreciate every minute and exquisite detail of the columns and facades of this historic church. Admission is free, and the church is open year round to the public, though with fairly narrow hours of operation.

Museo Archeologico Faggiano

Lovers of archaeology will enjoy visiting Lecce’s Museo Archeologico Faggiano. Inside the museum, you will find countless intriguing artefacts that bring Lecce’s history to life. The museum currently charges €3 per person for admission. Hours of operation are from 9:30 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 20:00.

MUST Museum

Housing contemporary and modern art, as well as highlighting the history of Lecce, the Museo Storico Citta di Lecce, or MUST, is Lecce’s premier museum. Entrance is free, and the museum is open six days a week (closed Monday) at 15:30, but has varying closing times.

Roman Amphitheatre

The magnificence of the Roman Amphitheatre in Lecce can only be fully appreciated in person. Though it has been partially buried under other monuments, the size and scope of this architectural wonder is a triumph of Roman architecture. It is located near the Colonna di Sant’Oronzo and, as it is out in the open, it is free to explore the Amphitheatre.

With so many fascinating sites to visit, one can quickly get lost in time when visiting Lecce. As well as the places listed above, Lecce is also home to the Castello Carlo V and the Cattedrale di Lecce, among countless other breath-taking structures, most of which charge no admission fee. Make Lecce a part of your southern Italian holiday.

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