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This year, instead of booking a lovely dinner in London, we decided to do something a little different.  We had stayed at Wriggly Tins almost two years ago, and always said we would return… So when it came to choosing somewhere to visit for our anniversary weekend it was an ideal place to return!

Fast forward a month or so, and fast forward through the snow that no one really expected, and we were on the train to Wriggly Tins, eager for our return.

This time, we had booked Barrow, the brightest shepherd’s hut of them all. Barrow is the cheeriest of all huts, with its friendly, welcoming and very yellow exterior – especially when a gorgeous bunch of daffodils are left on your arrival. Just in case there wasn’t enough yellow..! The last time we stayed at Wriggly Tins, we had a wonderful weekend in Barrow… And I was excited to be able to see our first Wriggly Tin from our hut window.

It was just before the clocks changed when we stayed, so it was almost completely dark when we arrived that first night. Whilst camp fire cooking is a real treat, we’d known that we wanted something simple for supper and so brought a chilli I had made at home to heat up on our indoor fire. A night of cribbage, stoking the fire and planning our weekend… Before heading to sleep, cosy in our little shepherd’s hut and ready for a weekend in the Hampshire countryside.

As we woke with the sunrise the next morning, Andy jumped down to start the fire and warm up our little hut, as I lay in bed and read my book. With no electricity and very little phone signal at Wriggly Tins, it’s the perfect opportunity to slow down, relax and read for hours on end.

Barrow really is a little hut that is full of a lot of sunshine! As soon as you open those double doors, you’re greeted with sunshine yellow all around. On the left, the cosy double bed at the top of the hut, with a seriously snuggly duvet to keep you warm during the night… Patterned curtains to keep the morning sunlight out to let you sleep in on your weekend away…

You’ll be amazed at how well the space is used, since under the bed are drawers to store your many clothes, as well as an under bed cabinet for suitcases, cooking equipment and storing outdoor chairs!

And little pieces of decoration to really make your hut feel homely and sweet…

There’s a table which folds away to give you a little more space during the day, when you’re moving around… A small bench to allow you to enjoy your morning cuppa with a little more comfort… And even a wardrobe hiding beside the bed! Whether you’re there for a weekend or a week, you’ll certainly have enough storage even if you don’t pack light!

And to complete your little hut, there’s a kitchen cupboard with all of your basic essentials, and crockery too! Wriggly Tins even cater for the wine glasses! Finally, at your door, a mini stove to heat the tin as well as to cook on, with a small oven and a kettle (because everyone needs that first cup of tea before lighting an outdoor fire!)

I like to pack a pair of flip flops for dotting around the tin – and making any quick dashes to the cool box for a top up of wine! Otherwise, my Dubarry Galway Boots are a staple for this country getaway.

Assured that breakfast was cooking and more tea was brewing I hopped out of bed and took the chairs outside for breakfast. Being a little British about it all we grabbed our coats so we could sit outside that late March morning.

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That Sunday feeling: the feeling of being totally relaxed, having nowhere to go and nothing pressing that needs done. That sense of calm. I thought it was a feeling reserved purely for Sundays, but it turns out, that you also find the same feeling at The Pig Hotel (part of Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels), specifically at The Pig on the Beach, as I discovered when Angie and I visited for a weekend last month.

Angie and I have been lucky enough to have some amazing experiences together, like brunch on board the Belmond British Pullman, but we were excited to tick off a Weekends From London adventure that we had both long wanted to visit.  The Pig is a collection of five country escapes in England, though there are plans for more which I’m very excited about, which could also be said to be restaurants with rooms. Angie described The Pig as cosy luxury, which I completely agree with.

We’ve been saying we’ll do a weekend for a long time, but for various reasons it had never quite worked out. But over Christmas, I noticed that there was one weekend in the first part of 2018 where there was just one room available at The Pig on The Beach… A short WhatsApp conversation with Angie later and we’d booked to stay in the Bothy at The Pig on The Beach!

A little more about our gorgeous room… Well, it’s more like a tiny little thatch cottage all of its own. The Bothy is set away from the main hotel building, along a winding little bath and through a gate.  It’s actually right beside the kitchen garden, where many of the delicious vegetables served in the restaurant are grown, meaning you have a beautiful countryside view when you throw open the windows in the morning.

The room itself is round, with a gorgeous, large bed in the middle, a bathroom at the back, and a little TV cabinet and mini bar in front of the bed. I loved that even the fabric of the cushion covers had been chosen to fit in with the cosy, countryside feel.

The room itself isn’t huge, but the pitched ceiling gives a wonderful sense of space – though if you’re booking this room make sure you’re with a close friend as there are no doors to the bathroom; it’s a little open plan!

Speaking of the bathroom… There’s a gorgeous tub, with Bramely products as well as a double shower, if you’re on a romantic weekend away.

Though I think the best part of the bath is that it’s right in front of the fire, which the lovely staff kindly set for you each night.

I have a very soft spot for Robert’s radios, and I was very excited to see one in our beautiful Bothy!

I think the Bothy has to be one of my favourite rooms in England! Lime Wood, the sister hotel of The Pig Hotels, has long been on my Weekends From London list, but after a stay at The Pig on The Beach, it’s even higher up my list of hotels to visit!

It’s not just The Bothy, and it’s bigger sister The Lookout, that are lovely buildings, the main house of The Pig on The Beach is just as special. With 21 rooms in the main house, there’s just enough rooms for you to try and get a booking, but with that super cosy feel.

The bar feels very much like a cosy English pub, with a roaring fire, cosy sofas and a lovely wine list!

If the bar is a little busy and you’re staying, you can retreat to the residents’s snug, a little area for guests to relax, enjoy a drink and play board games. A word of warning to you all, Angie is a bit of a queen at both Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit!

Or, if you prefer, you can sit in the reception/living room area with it’s open fire, cosy seats and view out to the sea. I loved all of the fabrics, and was overall so impressed with the work of interior designer Judy Hutson, the wife of Robin Hutson, the creator of The Pig group and Lime Wood.

For weekends away, and for picking hotels, it’s the little things that really stand out.  I loved that The Pig had water stations around the communal areas for when you had come in from a walk, and had umbrellas and Hunter wellys for you to borrow for when the British weather inevitably turned against you. It’s almost like they had thought of absolutely everything, and catered just for you.

If you’re looking for a slightly different weekend away, I absolutely love the idea of Harry’s Hut and The Pig Hut. You have one hut which is your bedroom, complete with a double bed and log burner to keep you cosy at night, and the other being your bathroom, with a free standing bath.

But the rooms, and the lovely sea-side location of Studland is only part of the reason to visit The Pig on The Beach. The restaurant is absolutely a highlight of this cosy little hotel, and every meal from breakfast through to dinner comes with an array of wonderful options.

For me, weekend breakfasts usually consist of soft boiled eggs, and I was very happy to see I could boil my own eggs, and toast some sourdough to make soldiers! The cute little Smeg toasters added to the chic yet cosy vibe of the hotel.

Coffee, toast, cold meats and smoked salmon were out breakfasts of choice, served with a backdrop of incredible sea views and the most gorgeous floor tiles!

For breakfast, you can either order a la carte, or enjoy the breakfast table, with its cereals, cold meats and beautiful presentation. Simple, to the point, and ideal. I don’t like big breakfast buffets, and this was absolutely perfect.

The restaurant is really the conservatory of this old manor house, and in addition to the cute tiles, I loved the mis-matched crockery and tea cups hanging from the dresser.

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The best part of our short weekend in Bruges was discovering lovely little places: restaurants with simple but delicious food, the most beautiful Hotel de Tuilerieen and chocolate box little streets… Oh, and chocolate… One of the restaurants we stumbled into was Le Chef et Moi, a restaurant serving simple, perfectly prepared cuisine in a perfect location. 

As we walked in I looked around and loved the pastel pink tones and ornate decoration that was all pulled together with clean white table clothes and a simple, rustic feel.  We asked for a table for two, since, though we had been recommended to visit Le Chef et Moi and it was right next to our hotel, we hadn’t actually reserved a table.  The helpful waitress told us that we were welcome to have the table under the window, but that the restaurant only served a set menu at lunch.

Happy to trust the menu du jour which sounded delicious, we sat by the window, watching the passers by (and appreciating the radiator we were lucky enough to be able to thaw out by!) The set menu can either be a two course or three course affair, and since we were indulging all weekend, we tried to be good and order only two courses!

To start we had a cured Italian meat salad, served with generous, thick shavings of parmesan, basil and delicious olive oil… It might sound simple, and it was, but with very fresh ingredients and perfectly cured meats, it made a wonderful, light starter.

As we enjoyed our carafe of wine (which definitely helped to thaw us from the bitter January cold!), we admired our really beautiful surroundings.  Rustic wooden tables topped with white table clothes, and a restaurant lined with candles… It was almost as if it was from a fairytale!

I think it was around this point that I realised that the restaurant name also reminded me of a fairytale… or a Disney film… And that perhaps, this romantic little name held a little bit of truth in it, since for all the time that we were enjoying our lunch, we only saw two restaurant staff: the lady who served us, and the chef who popped his head out…

For main course, we enjoyed perfectly cooked cod, served with pasta shells, broccoli and all served with a light cream sauce. The dish was seasoned wonderfully and plated on stunning, individual blue plates which made a lovely setting for the dish itself.

The chef let each ingredient speak for itself, but plated with a little nod to beauty – a nod that’s echoed throughout the restaurant.

Being good, we ordered coffee instead of dessert – but I couldn’t resist nibbling at this cinnamon, raisin loaf as I enjoyed my caffeine!

Gorgeous, simple food, and beautiful surroundings: Le Chef et Moi Bruges makes for an ideal lunch by the canals, or a romantic date night evening.

Le Chef et Moi
Dijver 13 – 8000 BRUGGE CENTRUM

The post Lunch at Le Chef et Moi, Bruges appeared first on The Lifestyle Diaries.

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As someone who usually meticulously plans every holiday, weekend away and long-haul adventure, I’m not normally one for last minute trips! But before Christmas, Andy and I booked a day off in the first week of January (because I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle a four day week…) and a couple of weeks ago we packed our bags and headed to Hotel de Tuilerieen for the weekend!

We couldn’t decide whether to go to Edinburgh, Prague or Bruges, and it took us until 27th December to actually choose – but I couldn’t be happier that we ended up going to beautiful Bruges!

After jumping on the Eurostar from St Pancras, and then a short train journey from Brussels to Bruges, we arrived at Hotel de Tuierieen.  Still dressed up for Christmas, as the twelfth day of Christmas hadn’t quite passed yet, it was a truly enchanting welcome to this cute, boutique hotel.

Hotel de Tuilerieen is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, which if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know I’m a huge fan of.  For our boutique weekend away I had booked a Royal Executive Room, a category of room which is situated in the historic wing of the hotel.

The room itself was a great size, giving us enough space to unpack, relax and have two small seating areas.  Decorated with beautiful, neutral colours it made an ideal space to come home to after a day of exploring chocolate box Bruges.

The room itself, as well as the rest of the hotel, had a wonderful charm about it; the decor depicted the hotel building’s 15th century origins but with all of the modern touches (like wifi, TV etc) that you would expect of an SLH hotel.

I loved that our room was split into two distinct areas, with a small seating area and wardrobe on the level as you walked in and the bed a few steps down. It wasn’t quite a suite, but for a room of its size it was perfect for a short city break.  One thing I would say, however, is we were very close to the housekeeping supply closet and so it’s not an ideal room if you’d like a lie in on holiday.

I was ever so slightly obsessed with the chairs by the window, with the lovely light grey fabric…

The hotel itself couldn’t be better located; there was nowhere we wanted to go that was more than a 10 minute walk from the hotel, including all of the main sites. We popped into Duke’s Palace but were satisfied that we had made the right choice as we preferred the Den Dyver location of Hotel de Tuilerieen.

…And it was close to all of the restaurants we wanted to visit, too!

I really liked the slightly whimsical canine portraits on the walls, which nodded to the hotel’s history but also brought a sense of fun to the room!

The marble bathroom was large enough for a vanity and separate shower and bath.

With the hotel’s own toiletries and vanity kit.

The hotel has a wellness area, with a small swimming pool and sauna, which is ideal to refresh after a day of exploring.  If you’re lucky with the weather (or not visiting in January!) the terrace at the back of the hotel is a lovely little spot for a quiet evening drink.

The lobby is tiled with simple yet stunning black and white tiles and illuminated by a beautiful chandelier, which only added to the enchanting feel of the hotel…

And you’re not alone if you think Hotel de Tuilerieen is the place to stay in Bruges, as the entrance hallway is lined with photographs of famous faces who have stayed there before you. I’m always a little bit nosy about who has stayed in a hotel before me – and so I was glad to be able to have a proper look here!

For a small, boutique hotel I thought that the communal areas were a real highlight.   The beautifully decorated lounge was a quiet little have to relax, unwind and enjoy a drink in front of the fire and the Christmas tree!

If you’re traveling with more than just one other person, it gives you an ideal space to sit down and relax.

If there’s one word to describe this hotel, it’s cosy.  When you arrive, there’s a feeling of being home, of understated sophistication and warmth.  And the place that captures this feeling the most is the bar.

It really is a tiny little bar, but it has so much warmth in it. With soft, velvet furnishings…

Comfortable chairs from which to enjoy the canal views…

It really is a perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine after dinner (or before… or both!)

Or a mug of hot chocolate when the cold bites at your fingers!

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After our stay at The Dorchester last summer, I’ve completely fallen for The Dorchester hotel in London. The afternoon tea, our amazing suite, the gorgeous spa and restaurants and all topped off with the most wonderful service… You can see just why! And with it all lit up and decorated, I couldn’t wait to go back for a little Christmas at The Dorchester!

As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted with a stunning Christmas tree… Well actually, you’re greeted with the main Christmas tree and nine other beautiful trees, all elegantly decorated by in-house florist Philip Hammond and his team.

But I think the showstopper for me was the incredible gingerbread hotel which is a replica of The Dorchester! Made of around 8,000 pieces of gingerbread and decorated at the back with suites which are as beautifully decorated as the real suites. It really is the most impressive gingerbread “house” I’ve seen!

Having visited The Spa at The Dorchester when we stayed, I knew just how beautiful the area is, and I was really excited to head back.  This time, we were in The Spatisserie, a really lovely private space which has the aura of calm and relaxation of the spa, whilst also making a really fun space for private events. If you wanted to make a real day of it instead of a private event, festive or not, a morning at the spa followed by afternoon tea or a light lunch at The Spatisserie would be perfect.

As I arrived crisp glasses of Laurent-Perrier champagne were poured…

And warm mince pies and scones were served… I’d rushed straight to an early Christmas at The Dorchester from work, and it was a wonderful welcome!

I think you’ll agree, it’s just the most beautiful space!

The Spatisserie had been transformed into a festive floral studio for the evening with wreathes already set up and ready to be decorated for our evening of learning how to make the perfect wreath with Philip Hammond.

After enjoying a glass of champagne with Angie and Gulia, we sat down at our very festive work stations to begin!

The hard work had already been done for us, as our blue spruce pine wreathes had already been put together! Philip recommends using blue spruce pine as it holds its shape really well and will last a long time.

We were decorating our wreathes in a very traditional fashion with pine cones, oranges and stunning red baubles. While Philip told us there were no rules, I was very glad he showed us his recommended way of decorating!

Starting with twisting the wire through each of the decorations, we heard all about Philip’s career and all of the exciting things he gets up to as the in-house florist at The Dorchester.

As glasses were topped up with cool Laurent-Perrier, our wreathes came together so beautifully! Keeping the wreath symmetrical and spacing the baubles equally and surrounding them with the other decorations gave them such a tasteful, classic look.

And at the end – all topped off with a Christmas ribbon! Though I will admit, I may have asked Philip to tie mine for me!

I’d resisted the mince pies as first arrived, and was really pleased when they were brought back out of the oven where they had been warming!

I hadn’t been feeling particularly festive until then, but if this is a taste of Christmas at The Dorchester, it’s something quite magical. Next year, I’ve promised myself I’ll be a little more organised and book their Christmas Carols Afternoon Tea!

My wreath is now hanging pride of place on my front door and it brings me a great big smile of happiness whenever I get to my front door!

To toast (just one more time!) to our festive evening, we headed to The Bar for cocktails and nibbles. I picked a Dorchester 75th, a wonderful blend of Tanqueray gin, nettle cordial, fresh mint, fresh apple juice and champagne. Along with a few delicious nibbles, it was the perfect end to the evening.

Sadly though, at some point I did have to leave… And headed home with a few mince pies, a beautiful wreath and a mind full of happiness, memories and festive cheer that has lasted me all through December! Christmas at The Dorchester really is something else – and something I want to experience again and again!

We were guests of The Dorchester for the evening, but all festive cheer is my own.

The post Christmas at The Dorchester and Festive Wreath Making appeared first on The Lifestyle Diaries.

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Mexico had long been high on my bucket list, and so when we decided to visit this summer, I couldn’t have been more excited for our travels, the journey and to see a country I had always dreamed of visiting! After planning our trip for so long, I’m really excited to share our two week Mexico itinerary!

We flew straight from London to Cancun with Virgin Atlantic and as soon as I landed I couldn’t wait to order my first margarita, some nachos and take a dip in a pool to refresh after a long flight!

1. Cancun

For our first night we didn’t want to travel far from the airport, and so booked a stay at the stunning NIZUC Resort & Spa.

With two heavenly pools to choose from, Ramona for a perfect beach side date night, and an ESPA spa to relax in, I’d recommend spending at least two nights here to make the most of this beautiful resort!

Make sure you order some pool side nachos, too!

2. Tulum: Papaya Playa Project

Visiting Tulum was a real bucket list destination for me.  The white sandy beaches and the relaxed, fun atmosphere was something that had always pulled me towards it. And I knew just the two places that I wanted to stay!

Our first two nights were spent at Papaya Playa Project, a luxury eco resort which is built right alongside the sandy beaches and the jungle!  The whole ethos of the hotel has its natural surroundings at heart.  Every part of the hotel is built from local materials, and our room even had a beautiful private pool built around a tree!

Around the rest of the hotel, as you wind between the pools, the beach, the jungle and the sand, the natural materials surround you and so do the waiters serving amazing cocktails, and beautiful buildings at every turn.  There was a marked difference between the refined luxury of Cancun and the barefoot vibe that we had in Tulum, but that was all part of the fun!

3. Tulum: Azulik Hotel & Mayan Spa

After our stay at Papaya Playa Project, we ticked off an absolute bucket list hotel: Azulik Hotel & Maya Spa! Another eco luxury hotel, that was so close to Papaya Playa Project that we could still see it, this was one of the most amazing hotels I’ve every stayed in!

Each room is carefully designed with Mayan influences, bright colours and stunning outdoor baths, it truly is one of the most special places. Make sure you head up to Kin Toh for a very special tree top dinner and some cocktails whilst sitting on the nets! And with beachside cocktails, coconuts on tap and so much fun to be had, trust me – you won’t want to leave! Azulik is very much a hotel for couples and at its heart Azulik helps you to reconnect not just with yourself but with your partner, too. There’s just something about it that is more than a little special…

Next time (and there has  to be a next time!) I have my eye on the honeymoon villa…

4. Mexico City

After living out my Tulum dreams, we headed to Mexico City for three days to live out some of Andy’s dreams.  For accommodation, I’d recommend the Four Seasons Mexico City; we didn’t stay here, but we popped in for a drink and really loved the atmosphere and the perfect location. But there was another reason that we were in Mexico City… For us it wasn’t just about exploring the incredible history in this city, but to head outside and do something a little different…

Our hot air balloon ride of Teotihuacan was an absolute once in a life time experience, and has given me the bug for hot air balloons! It’s an absolute must for any trip to Mexico, and I can’t recommend our private hot air balloon enough!

5. Riviera Maya

After a few days of buzz and busy-ness in Mexico City, I was excited to get back to relaxing and spending some time on the beach. We had booked three nights at UNICO 20 87, a brand new all-inclusive resort that meant we didn’t have to think about a thing when we arrived. With a stunning spa, where we enjoyed a lovely couples massage, to plenty of restaurants to enjoy date night after date night, it was a little bit of beachside bliss in the Riviera Maya.

There are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from in the Riviera Maya region, but what drew me to UNICO 20 87 was the completely all-inclusive nature, including excursions (you can book a visit to Chichen Itza as part of your room package!) as well as food and drinks. We loved spending mornings taking a kayak out and afternoons by the pools… Before coming back to our stunning suite! It was a completely different experience to our beachside scene in Tulum, and it made for the perfect contrast!

And although UNICO 20 87 is a brand new resort, I loved the attention to detail in making sure that the little touches reminded you that you were in the Riviera Maya.  If you’re looking for an easy, fun and relaxing trip to this area, it’s a great resort to spend a week (or even more!) in!

6. Mayakoba

But there was one place I couldn’t leave Mexico without visiting… Mayakoba, and the Rosewood Mayakoba, was a dream hotel for me.  I loved the look of the stunning suites, the contrast between the lagoon and beach sides of the resort, it looked like somewhere that was completely out of this world.

And I couldn’t have been happier that we had the chance to stay at the Rosewood Mayakoba, and explore this stunning resort. From not wanting to leave our stunning suite, with amazing butler service (including delivering aloe vera to a very burnt me!)…

To relaxing at the two different pools and indulging in champange o’clock! The Rosewood Mayakoba couldn’t have been a more perfect end to our trip.

But if you don’t think the Rosewood Mayakoba is quite right for you, there are three other hotels in the Mayakoaba resort – all of which can be seen through a very special lagoon boat tour! Just look at how amazing the lobby of the Banayan Tree is!

And this is all before you’ve experienced the culinary delights that the restaurants of Mayakoba has to offer – from fine dining to delicious street food, there’s absolutely everything you could ask for, coupled with perfect cocktails or cool glasses of champagne!

It was the perfect two week itinerary: from having our toes in the sand to experiencing Mexican culture, and even seeing the Teotihuacan pyramids from the sky. We couldn’t have planned a better trip – so if you’re looking for an itinerary for Mexico, I think this is a pretty amazing way to go!

The post A Mexican Adventure: A Two Week Mexico Itinerary appeared first on The Lifestyle Diaries.

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The beauty of Mayakoba is that it isn’t just one hotel, or one resort, but that it’s so much more. The old saying that sometimes the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts rings true when you visit this resort, as each piece individually is perfect, but together – they’re pretty magical. To get to know the resort a little more, one morning we took a boat ride all the way through the lagoon and paid a quick visit to each of the hotels!

We picked up our boat, and our amazing tour guide, Maile, at the pontoon at the Rosewood. I quickly noticed that we were in a slightly different boat to the one had arrived at the hotel in, Maile quickly explained that each hotel has their own boats, which are as unique as the hotels themselves, and that the Mayakoba resort has another, separate kind of boat!

As we climbed on and we pulled away from the pontoon, I realised how excited I was to explore the rest of Mayakoba! Just like the Rosewood’s boat, we were traveling in a charming, wood paneled boat and were whizzing along the lagoon.

We passed through the Rosewood, passed our suite and out beyond the confines of our hotel…

But you’d never really know we’d gone from one hotel to another as we drifted into the Fairmont … The only change that we noticed was the change in architecture of the buildings and the suites. The Mayakoba resort was built to enhance its surroundings and not to change them, meaning that the lagoon is exactly as nature built it. In fact, Mayakoba are so committed to preserving the lagoon that there are teams of people who go round every day to make sure that it’s clean, healthy and that the plants and birds can continue their daily lives!

We were fortunate enough to be joined not just by our lovely captain and Maile, but by many of the indigenous birds who live in the Mayakoba lagoon. Mayakoba team member James Batt has produced the a beautiful book all about the birds who live in this area, and that and a pair of binoculars were perfect companions on our tour! In fact, Mayakoba kindly also gave us a copy to take home, and it now sits on our coffee table to remind us of our trip.

Not only does each hotel have its own boat, but do you remember La Ceiba that I told you about at the Rosewood? Each hotel in the resort has its own special dinner, meaning that no matter which hotel you’re staying in, you can experience an intimate dinner with other guests over a fantastic menu!

From our lagoon side view, the Fairmont entrance was a classic, modern hotel, and the two pools that we passed (one reserved as a quiet, adults only pool) looked like a relaxing home away from home. With lagoon side guest rooms…

And after seeing the Fairmont, we ducked back under many of the bridges which connect this seemingly endless resort… I say endless, but no matter where you are, you never lose the personal touch. We visited a couple of the other hotels, and whilst the personal service was excellent at all of them, the Rosewood was definitely the hotel which we remembered for its service.

On our first afternoon I was convinced that I’d seen a swimming bird… Andy was convinced I’d had too much tequlia! So you can imagine my delight when I explained this to Maile, and she said I was right! The wildlife at Mayakoba is so varied, and so wonderful that you should let your imagination run wild… And there will probably be something here which fits that description!

The El Cameleon Golf CouRse is the only course in the country which is host to the prestigious PGA TOUR during the annual OHL Classic at Mayakoba! I might be Scottish, but I must admit to being a useless golfer (even if The Old Course is one of my favourite hotels in Scotland!) but I was so impressed by all the thought and care that Greg Norman, the PGA golfer, has put into designing this marvelous course.

A course that winds between lagoon and beach, and all over this magical resort, I can think of worse places to play a round or two!

If you fancy being a little more adventurous, even though you can’t swim in the lagoon, you can take a kayaking lesson and explore the lagoon that way. I wanted to explore our hotel a little more, but on our last morning Andy took a guided kayak tour of the lagoon and said it was an absolute highlight of our stay. A very friendly, knowledgeable guide who he’d highly recommend a trip with.

We sailed on towards the next hotel in the lagoon, the Banyan Tree! A hotel brand that I’m familiar with having stayed with them in Bangkok, Thailand. The Banyan Tree brings Asian hospitality and clean, modern decor to the Mayakoba resort.

As you enter the resort from the lagoon, you pass the main restaurant, Saffron, which I can imagine is an ideal location for a date night, as you look across the water underneath those fairy lights.

The design of this hotel is unmistakably Asian and it made for one of my favourite hotel entrances in the resort.

With the same stars in the lobby as we had seen at the Rosewood…

Back onto the lagoon we heard about another animal that calls Mayakoba home – the crocodiles!

But don’t panic, there aren’t that many – and those that there are are quite small! In fact, we saw a couple very near to the Andaz, the newest hotel in the resort.

We returned to the Andaz for dinner that night, so more on that hotel later!

But there’s more to Mayakoba than just the hotels; it turns out, that if you can’t bear to leave, then you can actually live in Mayakoba at one of their residences! Each of the hotels have their own residences and being an owner entitles you to special discounts in the hotels as well as use of the hotel boats!

And just look how stunning the Rosewood residences are…

As we headed back towards our home for the weekend, Maile told us that while of course you can book a private tour of the lagoon, that if you want to just hop between hotels, there’s a shuttle service which you can hop on and off! Each hotel has its own dock at its reception and some, such as the Rosewood, have another at their beach side areas, so no matter where you are, you can go anywhere else!

And all too soon, we were back home… And headed back to the pool to relax!

Our boat trip was such a special way to see Mayakoba, and I can’t recommend it enough!

Just look at those happy faces…

We were guests of Mayakoba, but would happily return any day of the year!

The post Marveling at Mayakoba: A Boat Trip Down the Lagoon appeared first on The Lifestyle Diaries.

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Having spent the last two weeks in Mexico, we had been fortunate enough to try some incredible Mexican cuisine (which I think is a cuisine that London is sadly missing out on!), but as with the rest of our trip, we ended on a high at the Rosewood Mayakoba and their selection of impressive restaurants.

As I mentioned, dining at Rosewood Mayakoba is spread out all over the gorgeous resort, with some restaurants in the lagoon area and some at the beach. As we arrived at the hotel, our butler told us that the hotel was hosting guests for drinks in the La Ceiba garden that evening. I loved the idea of everyone staying there coming together for a couple of glasses of wine or cocktails.

As we arrived, traditional Mexican music was being played as cold glasses of wine were pressed into our hands. The La Ceiba garden apart from being the area where the weekly drinks are held to welcome guests, also doubles as the herb garden for the hotel’s restaurants.

With a warm fire and pretty little lamps hung from the trees it was a stunning location to chat to some other guests, some of the staff and the Executive Chef , Juan Pablo Loza about his visions for the menu, about visiting Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and about his latest venture, Aquí Me Quedo (but more on that later!).

The area is also home to the La Ceiba dinner, a very special experience of dining at Rosewood Mayakoba, were some guests come together around one central table and Juan Pablo Loza and his team put together an incredible supper, all paired with delicious wines and tequlia – of course! Sadly we didn’t have the opportunity to experience La Ceiba, but everyone that we spoke to had loved it, so I’d recommend asking your butler to try to get you a table!

After some delicious margaritas and a couple of glasses of wine – and even more importantly the top recommendations from Juan Pablo Loza – we wandered over to Casa Del Lago for dinner.

After staying a little too long at drinks we were late for our reservation, but our butler had told the restaurant where we were and so they very kindly held our table until we arrived. A couple of glasses of wine were ordered as we looked at the menu, just in case we wanted to deviate from the chef’s suggestions…

But of course we didn’t! Ever ones to enjoy a little bread, we snapped the crisp bread and tore the soft focaccia and enjoyed them with a little olive oil as we waited for our starters. At lunch time, Casa Del Lago is a simple, refined restaurant to enjoy classic Mexican dishes such as quasedillas and ceviche. Come evening, it’s the perfect restaurant for a formal dinner or a classic date night, and it makes that transition effortlessly.

To start Andy ordered grilled octopus; perfectly cooked and lightly seasoned to let the natural flavour of the fish come through. In keeping with the eco-friendly nature of the Mayakoba resort, all the fish for the Rosewood Mayakoba is caught in the locla Playa del Carmen area.

I ordered a fresh, light and zingy sea bass carpaccio which made for a perfect first dish.

Andy had been recommended the Kobe beef steak, which is served slightly charred giving it an absolutely wonderful taste. Andy soon declared it the best steak he had ever had – which for someone who loves steak as much as he does, is quite a high honour!

For me, Juan Pablo Loza recommended the mushroom risotto. But it’s so much more than just a simple risotto; made with a part of the mushroom which is typically not used in Mexican cuisine. It’s wonderfully flavoured which gives a twist on a classic Italian dish.

Casa Del Lago is also the home of breakfast at the Rosewood, and with this view…

Sitting out on the terrace…

You can enjoy a heavenly breakfast buffet… My recommendations would be the blueberry muffins…

And the entirely moreish pastries… As well as the endless fresh fruit, the yogurt and granola…

And if you’re feeling really indulgent – a donut or two!

Buffet breakfasts cana sometimes be rather hit and miss, but here, everything is delicious.

Take a seat outdoors and enjoy the first of the sun, as well as a steaming cup of tea or coffee…

And watch out for the locals! One morning when we were enjoying the last of our fruit, it turned out that we weren’t the only ones who wanted to try some!!

Or if you prefer, you can enjoy breakfast in the comfort of your own suite…

And order huge plates of fresh fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice served in beautiful little bottles…

Still warm pastries (you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re actually in France when you eat these!)…

Or poached eggs, asparagus and exceptionally crisp bacon! If we’d stayed a day longer, I had my eye on the waffles…! I loved eating on our suite’s terrace; with a view over the pool and out onto the lagoon.

Ok, and I couldn’t resist a little smoked salmon, too!

Heading down to the beach, there’s an entirely different feel, with more relaxed dining options, with Punta Bonita and Acquí Me Quedo.

Acquí Me Quedo is the newest dining option at Rosewood Mayakoba, its name translates into English as “I’ll Stay Here” – and frankly, I could have stayed there all day with their easy going food, incredible margarita menu and my feet in the sand.

Head away from the pool and into a quiet little corner, and you’ll find Acquí Me Quedo’s wooden chairs, tables and menus hidden in their little oasis.

The menu is simple, and is based on traditional Mexican street food, giving a totally different option to the refined dining at Casa Del Lago. Make sure you start with a cold beer, or even better a special mojito from their mojito menu as you decide what to start with…

Trying to decide what to have was harder than usual since we’d been recommended pretty much everything on the menu. Our waiter kindly suggested that we order a couple of dishes to start with and that you can always order more after, such is the easy going vibe you can order starters then mains and then more starters if you’d like!

My eyes immediately went to the ceviche and the guacamole, but I really wanted to try something a little different. The Caribbean fish and chips, which is the catch of the day served with plantain chips, served with a little salsa verde and oodles of lime for your fish.

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After checking into our stunning suite at Rosewood Mayakoba, it was time to explore the rest of the hotel a little, and if it was anything like what we had seen of our suite and the hotel, we were going to be in for the most magical stay.  Every time we waved to someone, or saw another part of the hotel, we couldn’t help but smile, and pinch ourselves that we were actually there!
When we had managed to pull ourselves out of the suite to explore the rest of the Rosewood Mayakoba, we wandered across the bridge, and across the lagoon back to the reception area, and found this gorgeous viewpoint overlooking some of the larger suites… Our little explore was off to a pretty darn good start! You can tell just how much privacy you have, in that each suite has its own distinct little area.

To get around the hotel, you can either ask your butler for bikes to be delivered to your door so that you can cycle round Mayakoba, or you can catch golf carts as they whizz around the resort, taking you wherever you would like – even into the other hotels in the Mayakoba resort. I loved the ability to move between the hotels so easily, to just nip to Banyan Tree for dinner, or to the Fairmont for some pre-dinner cocktails!

As you walk past the reception area, and past the dock where you pick up the boat to take you to your suite for the first time, you come to the more relaxed pool. This lagoon side area is one half of the hotel, which has the stunning pool, more formal dinning options, and the boutiques. Hop on a golf cart and you’ll quickly be beach side, with a more casual toes-in-the-sand dining option, bar and the other beautiful pool.

You can easily spend a day relaxing here, preferably with a good book and jumping between the many sun beds to make the most of the sun. By the side of each pool, the Rosewood Mayakoba has left large bottles of sun screen to make sure that if you’ve run out, or just left yours in your room, that you don’t have to risk any sun burn! Just one of the many little touches which make this hotel truly exceptional…

From some angles it looks like the pool flows right into the lagoon below…

And if you get too hot, but still want to relax and lie down, you can take a perch in the pool and listen to the water cascading down beside you…

Although the hotel is built in the Mayakoba resort, the Rosewood Mayakoba has maintained a real sense of place, and details all around help you remember where you are. From the carefully chosen plants, to the materials used to build this hotel, everything is built to bring out the best features of the Riviera Maya. But not just that, it’s been built with its surroundings and the environment in mind, to make sure that the lagoon and the beach remain just the way that they were built, too!

The Rosewood brand is known for its ‘Sense of Place’ and that each hotel is designed with local history and culture at their heart. And for this hotel, the lagoon is the heart and soul….

At the side of the pool is Casa Del Lago, an Italian restaurant whose cuisine has been inspired by Mexican flavours from the surrounding area. It’s a perfect spot for a dinner, or some tapas style nibbles during the day. I’ll share more about our dining experiences in another post, too!

If you don’t want breakfast in your suite, a splendid breakfast buffet is served at Casa Del Lago… But watch out for the monkeys!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the lobby area is open and allows you to look over the lagoon and beyond. With weather as good as it is in the Riviera Maya, doing away with walls and opening everything up to enjoy the sunshine is a perfect idea.

With artistic touches all around…

As well as comfortable soft furnishings…

And a gorgeous centrepiece, it’s a very chic and welcoming part of the hotel. Here too, you’ll find Agave Azul Sushi & Tequila, what looks like a very fun restaurant, with over 100 varieties of premium tequila!

Back down the stairs to the pontoon…

But I think it’s time to go to the beach… After a quick 5 minute drive you can have that wonderful sandy feeling and enjoy the hotel’s more casual restaurant, Punta Bonita. And with a mile long beach, there is plenty of sand for you to enjoy…

There are sun loungers which surround the pool, but we preferred to plant ourselves beach side, take a couple of sun loungers or a day bed and just relax…

But I think the best bit about this area of the hotel has to be champagne o’clock!

Around midday the staff will come round and pour a cool glass of Tattinger champagne for each guest! It’s an amazing perk, and not one I’ll ever forget! So take a sip of your complimentary champagne and drink in the view too…

The service here is just as intimate as it is in the rest of the hotel, and if you’d like to order any food or drinks, the attentive staff will happily bring it to you!

It’s not just complimentary champagne, but water too, with staff bringing ice cold water throughout the day to help you cool down and make sure you’re hydrated!

Never being one to be able to sit still, Andy couldn’t resist trying a little more stand up paddle boarding like we had done in Tulum. With much calmer water, it was a lot easier – and I think we both agreed a lot more successful!

Personally, I was more than happy to enjoy my book and those gorgeous white sands, before dipping in the water or the pool to cool down… At the end of an amazing trip, there was no where else I’d rather have been.

We were told that so many of the Rosewood Mayakoba’s guests are return visitors, and after our stay there – I can absolutely see why!

With cabanas also located round the infinity pool, you’re spoiled for choice for where to lay your head for the day…

With a wonderful spa… A lagoon side and a beach side, as well as some of the best service I’ve ever had, the Rosewood Mayakoba was the perfect hotel for our last few days in Mexico. But we still had to explore the rest of the resort…

Ctra. Federal Cancún-Playa del Carmen KM 298 Solidaridad
Q. Roo, CP 77710

We were guests of the Roseewood Mayakoba and Mayakoba.

The post Moments of Perfection at the Rosewood Mayakoba appeared first on The Lifestyle Diaries.

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Sometimes, just sometimes magical things happen. Bucket list dreams do come true. And the moment that we booked our stay at the Rosewood Mayakoba, part of the breathtaking Mayakoba resort was just that: a dream come true and a great big tick on my bucket list. 

It was our last stop on our Mexican adventure, which so far had seen us travel to Tulum, Mexico City to ride in a hot air balloon and back to the Riviera Maya – and I’d deliberately left the Rosewood Mayakoba until right at the end, as I knew that it would be the perfect end to an already amazing trip.

As we arrived we were greeted by the manager, the head chef and shown to our check in desk. Check in is a smooth, swift process – much helped by an ice cold drink pressed into your hand – and gives you a few moments to appreciate your incredible surroundings. And more than that – they had embroidered napkins with my initials, and even my blog logo (!) and had embroidered one for Andy, too – what a special memento!

Reception is an open area at the front of the hotel, which overlooks the quieter of the hotel pools and out into the lagoon beyond. The Mayakoba resort is very special, since it sits in between the pristine beach with its white sands and the lagoon, which not only acts as a natural protection to the hotels behind it, but makes for an incredible backdrop and contrast to the many beachside resorts in the Riviera Maya.

You don’t just hop into a lift or even a golf cart to get to your room the first time… It’s all about the very special touches at this amazing hotel, and so you’re escorted to the dock to take a boat to your room!

As you go along the lagoon, round the bends and under the bridges, you get to see the resort from a completely different angle. What I loved about Mayakoba is that this special collection of hotels are all connected by the lagoon, meaning you can float between them, eat at their very different restaurants, and get to know the personality of each hotel – without ever having to leave the resort.

I can’t wait to share all about the rest of the resort in a few posts which will follow, but for now, I want to share our amazing arrival at the Rosewood Mayakoba and our suite!

Mayakoba are committed to being as environmentally friendly as possible, and part of that is maintaining the lagoon so that it’s a haven not just for their guests, but for the animals that call the lagoon their home!

As you float along, you can see little pontoons, one for every room… And as we finished our cocktails and ate our fruit on the boat, I couldn’t help but think I was a little… Speechless! Which for me, is pretty much unheard of!

As we arrived at our deluxe lagoon suite, we were met by our butler – who was one of the happiest, most friendly people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet! We waved goodbye to the Rosewood’s boat and were shown round our incredible deluxe lagoon suite.

As you walk up the stairs from the lagoon, you’re greeted by a beautiful private pool and sun terrace, which are perfect for enjoying the glorious Mexican sunshine. Beach towels are already provided, so there’s no wanting for anything; you can quite happily spend your afternoon in your private pool or on the sun lounger with a book.

Or, like me, you can hop between doing both! (Or if you’re Andy… You can ditch the book and catch up on the sport you’ve been missing!)

Even though the pool looks right onto the lagoon, the boat traffic is so infrequent that you have this wonderful sense of privacy – apart from there are quite a few birds tweeting, flying overhead – and even swimming! And no, I hadn’t had too many tequila’s by this point – there are swimming birds!

In our room, to welcome us there were two margaritas, which our butler kindly poured for us before giving us a tour of the suite…

The best guacamole we had on our trip (and bearing in mind this is two weeks into eating our body weights in guacamole, I think that’s a pretty darn good compliment!), a portion of zingy, fresh salsa and perfect crisp breads to enjoy them both with. A wonderful welcome to a very special hotel!

Our welcome treats had been left on the dining table, where you can eat your meals if you’re ordering room service, or you have a little work to do.

The suite itself is completely open plan, meaning you can wander from the living area, through the sleeping area and on into the dining area, giving an already generous room the air of even more space. The room is furnished with neutral tones and wooden accents, against a background of limestone, which all combine to make a welcoming, homely environment.

Through the sleeping area you’ll find a dressing room, complete with a large vanity mirror and many, many wardrobes…

But there’s also something quite special about the bathroom… With large his and hers sinks…

All the amenities you could ask for, including a full-size body lotion and enough cotton pads for a week (something that I’m always looking for, as I never pack enough!), again, I was left breathless when we first walked in.

At the end of the bathroom, a circular bath tub is surrounded by full-length glass windows, meaning you can make the most of the stunning Mexican sun from the moment you have your morning soak, to the end of the evening.

With cotton robes which are changed every day…

Enough towels to make sure that you have a clean towel every time you shower – which for me when I’m somewhere hot is at least two or three times a day!

And wonderful, relaxing bath salts to make your evening bath even more wonderful. After two weeks in the sun my skin was a little more than sun-kissed and I was so appreciative that our butler had noticed I was a little too sun-kissed and as soon as she had shown us around, arranged for some aloe vera to be sent to our suite so I could look after my skin! If there’s one thing (apart from the breathtaking views) that I’ll remember from the Rosewood Mayakoba, and from Mayakoba in general, it’s the impeccable service and an appreciation for attention to detail on a scale that I’ve not really seen anywhere else.

The bathroom extends outdoors, too, with an outdoor shower, overhung by palm trees and baking in the sun.

One evening, when we’d gone to the bar for some drinks and housekeeping had come in for turn down service, they had even taken the time to hand Andy’s swim shorts up outside to make sure they dried for the next day!

With shampoo, conditioner and body wash all set up outside, it’s as easy to shower outside as it is in. As with everything else at the Rosewood Mayakoba, it’s all about what you want to do, and they make it as easy as they possibly can for you.

Through the outdoor bathroom, you’ll find a sweeping staircase which takes you to the top of your suite…

Where there’s a perfectly placed day bed for you to relax, listen to the birds around you, and enjoy a moment or two to yourself. You can also ask to have breakfast upstairs, and the staff at the Rosewood Mayakoba will happily bring a table upstairs for you.

If you can tear yourself away from upstairs (or you’re in need of some air conditioning!) if you wander back down the stairs, through the bathroom and dressing area, you’re back into the sleeping area…

With a king size bed that we (almost) never wanted to leave as it was so comfy (but then the call of the amazing resort and breakfast usually pulled me away…)

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