Holiday Inn Brighton Seafront review

Holiday Inn Brighton Seafront review

We have just returned from the most fantastic night at the seaside. It was wet and windy but the hotel was 100% what made it great for us. From the second we arrived to check-in, staff were exceptional. Fiona on reception was brilliant, asking us lots of questions and taking an interest in our journey. She told us that our room was ready a whole 3 hours early too which was music to our ears having a baby in tow!

We were directed to the underground car park and were met with two staff that had come down to help with our bags after being told my husband had a bad back. Our executive room was on the 5th floor and it was lovely. Very spacious with a king size bed, sofabed, coffee table, top of the range coffee machine, complimentary chocolates and drinks, a balcony and sea view. A travel cot had also been put in place for us which was a great help. The bathroom was also very large and modern, Austin loved crawling around on the shiny floor! We noticed how clean every area was and were very impressed by the little touches. There were choices on the bed between firm or soft pillows as well as very thick blankets, binoculars and a letter inviting us to take the blankets out to the balcony and use the binoculars to look out to sea.

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blankets, binoculars, cosy

The view outside wasn’t great at the time we visited as it seems the whole seafront is under construction! However, that’s absolutely nothing to complain about – the building work we could see wasn’t anything to do with the hotel – building work has to be done everywhere at some point after all! Here is the view from our balcony. I ignored the cranes and concentrated on the ocean.

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After unpacking we headed back downstairs for a walk along the seafront. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk to the Sealife Centre and we are Merlin pass holders so we took Austin to visit the fish. I have to say I was very disappointed with the aquarium. Having visited many Sealife centres around the country, this didn’t compare at all. It was very small and we’d done the whole thing within half an hour! If you’re going to make a trip to one I’d suggest their London version as it’s much bigger and has much more to see. Austin seemed to enjoy himself though while we were there.

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Austin got to touch a starfish!

fish crawl

After the sealife centre we went onto the pier, into the arcades and eventually made our way back to the hotel getting caught in the pouring rain for the entire journey! We arrived back to hotel completely drenched. Austin had fallen asleep in his pram under the rain cover so we decided to head to the bar and get a drink while we had some peace and quiet. We were greeted immediately by a lovely member of staff who made sure we had drinks and were comfy. We had a nice chat and retired to the armchairs in front of the TV. I didn’t know they had Sky Sports and BT Sports at the hotel, so when we realised my husband was very pleased!

Shortly after we’d finished our drinks, Austin woke up. We gave him some dinner and headed up to the room with our free Starbucks (yes, they serve Starbucks too! The staff were training so we got to try some for free).

Austin loved exploring the large room, there was so much space for him to crawl around. We were thrilled to see that the TV channels included CBeebies! He watched some of his favourite programmes, crawled around some more and then it was bedtime.

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He went to sleep with no fuss in the travel cot (we did bring an extra mattress with us as the standard ones in travel cots are always so thin and hard. Having said that, the one we were given was more padded than I’ve seen before so I think it would have been fine). Once he was asleep my husband and I had a long hot bath each, watched a film on the iPad and were asleep by 10pm.

In the morning we headed down for breakfast around 9am. The restaurant was quiet, clean and there was an excellent choice of well labelled food.

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As you can see there was something for everyone. Everything looked fresh and tempting. It was great to see something different to other hotels too – a pancake station! There were so many toppings and fillings to choose from –  I didn’t take advantage but wish I had. 

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We went for a variety of foods to fully test what was on offer. A fry up for us adults, a bowl of mixed cereal and dried fruits for Austin plus we all tried the toast and pastries. The food was lovely. The sausages didn’t taste cheap like they sometimes do in hotels and everything was piping hot which we were most impressed by. I can’t tell you the amount of luke warm hotel breakfast buffets I’ve previously endured, so this was a relief. Another thing I took note of was the salt and pepper grinders. There is nothing that winds me up more than sitting down to eat in a restaurant and having a shaker full of white pepper and powdery salt. It’s the cheapest corner to cut and really drives me mad. Black peppercorns and rock salt in grinders can boost even the worst food. White pepper shouldn’t even exist! Take note restaurant owners…

Checkout wasn’t until midday and I’m used to being booted out around 10am so it was a nice treat to be able to go back upstairs after breakfast, pack slowly and enjoy the last hour before heading home.

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As a parent this sign in the lift went down extremely well. Austin makes a horrendous mess when he eats, so this was a really nice touch to see that the hotel understands that kids aren’t clean and tidy!

Lastly I want to mention the outside of the hotel. Let’s not beat around the bush – it looks like somewhere I wouldn’t want to enter out of choice. It reminded me of a tower block in Peckham!

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However, it really was a very good lesson in not judging a book by it’s cover. As soon as we walked in to the modern, shiny lobby I realised the outside definitely was no representation of the hotel itself. There was a banner outside letting us know the hotel is having a makeover, so I’m sure improvements are being made! Either way, don’t let the outside fool you. The Holiday Inn Brighton Seafront was a fantastic hotel with exceptional service and great food. I would go back again in a heartbeat. If you’re heading to Brighton it’s definitely where I would recommend staying.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

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APH Gatwick airport parking review

Before I go into detail, let’s get this out there – I cannot recommend this company enough! I may have been given 2 spaces for a week for free of charge, but that has nothing to do with it. I have actually used this brand twice before over the years (paid for by myself) and have always received fantastic service.

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Before we arrived, we had been emailed a confirmation of our booking, plus a very detailed list of directions which we printed off for reference. We got to our parking site around 6am and pulled up right outside the office. I left Austin and Grant in the car and popped in to let them know we’d arrived. We were instructed to leave our key in the car and unload our bags. One great thing I noticed is that they wouldn’t take my house key on the car keyring – they said it was for insurance purposes but would I really want to leave lots of employees of any company with my home address and key?! I was pleased they reminded me to remove it and keep hold of it myself.

There were APH men milling around ready to move the cars into their own parking spot for the week, so we left them to it and jumped on the bus to the South terminal. The bus is right next to the office, so the rain didn’t trouble us as it was also under cover. The bus driver was helpful, lifting our bags and prams on for us and tucking them away. The journey was less than 10 minutes and was a pleasant ride right to the airport door. The driver helped us off again and from there we disappeared onto a plane and off to the Canaries!

Fast forward a week and we were home. We got on the bus, which arrived around 30 seconds after we got to the bus stop – they come so often you’re never waiting long at all. We had the same route back and an even more helpful driver than last time! He was chatty, interested in our holiday and had lots of questions about the babies too – really great service. When we arrived at APH site again, we popped inside the office and gave our names. They wouldn’t let my husband sign the car out as it had been me that signed it in. You may think that’s annoying but think of the security – these guys have your car, they need the same signature checking it both in and out and I totally understand why. After all you wouldn’t want anyone being able to stroll in and sign your car out now, would you?

We were absolutely exhausted but were finished in the office in under 2 minutes. The lovely ladies behind the desk let me feed Austin in there too, ready for the journey home. The car was waiting right outside – we hopped in and drove home. Absolute success. Our car had not a scratch, our odometer read the same, it looked exactly as it did when we left it. I would absolutely trust this brand with any car I owned, no matter how expensive the car was. It’s the 4th time I’ve used this company and has been so smooth and easy every time. Even with two 7 month old babies, the parking and bus journey were completely stress free.

If you’re heading abroad and don’t want to pay silly money to park in the airport grounds, contact APH now!

Thanks for reading!

hannah

Fisher Price Newborn-to-Toddler Play gym review

Even though Austin has been sitting up unaided for around a month now, he’s still a little wobbly. We were recently contacted by Mattel to as if we’d like to review the Fisher Price Newborn to Toddler Play Gym, so the timing was perfect.

There are three ‘grow with me’ stages and even though he is a little too old for the newborn setting, the stage 2 Sit and Play setting is great for his age. It has a comfy mat, plus has lots to do and play with to keep his attention. I’ve found it helps to keep him upright as he has more to focus on and hold on to.

Newborn stage 1 playmat setting

Newborn stage 1 playmat setting

The stand up stage looks good to – Austin will be tall enough to put the balls in the top and watch them roll down the sides – something I’m sure he’ll find hilarious! The dancing lights and great range of music is a fab feature. There is baby-activated short play music, or long play for up to 20 minutes of music. Another good thing to know is that the ball/chute game (if a little clunky and noisy) helps develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, balance & coordination.

stand up stage 3 toddler setting

stand up stage 3 toddler setting

Austin has had lots of fun testing out this product and I’m sure he’s going to love it for months to come!

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stage 2 setting

 

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stage 2 setting (large playmat is my own)

How do I rate this item?

This product all-round is pretty good, I’m a fan of the lights, music, soft mat and ball game. There are a couple of downsides for me though….

I think it’s quite pricey retailing at just under £50 and I’m also not sure whether I’d want to keep it up in my front room until Austin is walking – I think it would feel like an unnecessary piece of equipment unfortunately. He already has so many items downstairs – a playmat, toy baskets, sensory box, Jumperoo, ball pool, bouncer chair, V-Tech walker – the list goes on. He’s only 8 months but I’m already looking forward to being able to put things like the playmat, Jumperoo and bouncer up in the loft very soon – I have a large house but my lounge and dining room honestly look like a nursery!

I think the aim for a lot of parents is to eliminate big items that take up space as their baby gets older, especially by the time they’re walking. Once they’re up on their feet they are off discovering everything at their new higher level. For me, it’s a chance to clear away the baby gear and get some of my house back! Older children don’t need quite so many huge contraptions – I feel that by the time most people had a toddler, they’d probably want rid of play gyms and such which, for me, sadly leaves the 3rd stage of this product slightly redundant 😦

That is just my take on the 3rd stage though. If you’re happy to have a play gym in the house with a toddler, then it’s a lovely one to choose! Another thing to think about is if they’ve had it since very young and used it through the first 2 stages, I’m not sure that the 3rd stage offers enough to keep them interested. After a year of putting balls down the chute, the novelty may wear off a little. However if you plan to purchase it around Austin’s age then I think your little one would still find lots of fun to be had even at the 3rd stage.

Even though I’ve wrestled with a few of the main selling points – it being a newborn-to-toddler item, plus the size and type of toy still being in your home with a walker, I still think it’s a good product. I’d give it a score of 3/5.

Thanks for reading!

hannah

My beauty must-haves

Earlier this week I popped into town to pick up some of my favourite beauty items. They were running low and we can’t have that now, can we? If I let any of these items run out completely without having a spare to hand, I think I’d cry! In my eyes these are absolute must-haves.

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Every item is from The Body Shop and it’s where I buy absolutely all of my cosmetics and beauty products.

First of all we have the camomile waterproof eye makeup remover (do not get the gentle cream version, it’s pants). The waterproof one is an absolute god send and doesn’t sting your eyes at all. It feels like water but removes all traces of makeup very easily. I wrote a review of it last year which goes into lots of detail about it’s benefits and how to use. You can find that here.

97953m_lNext up is the Lightening Touch pen. It is basically exactly the same as the YSL Touche Eclat we all know and love but a whole lot cheaper. I have used both brands and I have to say there’s really nothing in it – especially not enough to pay an extra £11! (Lightening Touch £14, Touche Eclat £25) The Lightening Touch pen is a light diffusing concealer which works well on dark circles/bags, imperfections and even spots. It is my number one handbag item and I’m never without it.

9893m_lLastly we have the ginger anti-dandruff shampoo and banana conditioner. I first purchased these a few years back and purely because of their smell. The banana conditioner smells just like those sickly foam sweets  (or that bright yellow medicine we were all given as kids). The ginger smells just like ginger cake – but has a real root ginger smell, not one of a sickly ginger cake from the Co-Op. I don’t actually have any dandruff issues, but the smell drew me in all those years ago and I’ve never looked back. To my delight I found these two items to be fantastic for my hair! My hair has honestly never been so soft and shiny. I’ve been using these two together for a long time now and wouldn’t change my hair routine at all.

Do you have any products you couldn’t live without?

Thanks for reading!

hannah

Cosy winter clothing

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably starting to light the fire and pull out the old dusty blankets from the back of the sofa. The winter has been really mild up until now, but all of a sudden…Brrrrr!

I am always on the lookout for new styles and for me right now it’s chunky, cosy warm winter clothes. I hate the cold so quality is a must for me. Cheap, nasty polyester won’t cut it – but lambswool, merino or cashmere? Oh yes!

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I’ve found a fab new site that offers reasonably priced but really lovely pieces to wrap up warm in. Whether you’re after merino cardigans for women or a thick wool men’s aran sweater,  Woolovers is the place to head to. A lot of the styles online are probably for someone a little older than myself, but if you look through the sections you can find some seriously stylish bits for any age – I love this grey cardigan!

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If you’re looking to change up your winter wardrobe this year then what are you waiting for? Head to the Woolover website while they still have their sale on!

Thanks for reading

hannah

 

 

 

*I was approached to write this post, however all views are absolutely my own

Austin’s promo shots for Fred & Noah

Austin has been a busy boy lately – some lovely samples arrived at FTM HQ this morning and we were quick to try them on and get snapping! These will go live on the Fred & Noah Etsy page very soon and also on the sites of some well known online retailers too. We’re very excited to be partnering with such a fab brand!

****We are even more excited to be offering free shipping to all you lovely UK readers!! Head to the Fred & Noah Etsy page and type AUSTIN15 at the checkout****

Here is a little preview of our shots from today #bluesteel

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Aren’t they gorgeous?! Stay tuned for more awesome outfits very soon….

Thanks for reading!
hannah

Buggi Lights review

With the evenings getting darker, pedestrian safety adverts are all over the place – and quite right too! When I heard that a friend of a friend had invented these Buggi Lights I knew I had to get my hands on a set. They are cute, colourful and seriously safety conscious. Designed for prams and children’s scooters, you and your babies will never be missed in the dark again.

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Continue reading

It’s a Bing thing!

My nephew Charlie’s favourite programme is called Bing Bunny and lately he’s been enjoying reading the books and puzzles. If you’re not familiar with this show, it’s a lovely little cartoon featured on CBeebies. My son is 5 months old and it’s becoming a fast favourite of his too!Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 20.02.17I was sent some Bing products for review so of course I gave them straight to my sister and Charlie. The timing was fab as November was Charlie’s 1st birthday – you should have seen his face when he unwrapped them all! Continue reading

Little Austin the model

Today we received a very exciting email from one of our most favourite online brands. The owner had written to say she loves Austin’s pictures on my blog’s Facebook page and Instagram feed and would like him to model for the brand’s website. This really is one of our favourite brands so we were thrilled! They are a fantastic children’s company that appear over on Not on The High Street.Com – a fantastic opportunity for Austin to represent them on that website too.

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I am now awaiting a bundle full of lovely secret clothing to arrive at First Time Mummy HQ next week – yay! We can’t wait to get snapping some beautiful photos. Austin really loves having his picture taken – he’s started to grin whenever I hold my phone up! Not even 6 months old but he’s definitely a blogger’s baby…

All will be revealed within a couple of weeks with regards to who this brand is….. stay tuned!

Thanks for reading

hannah

The weaning diaries ~ Bowls, cups and spoons ~ In association with Oxo Tot

It’s time to find some real favourite utensils I’ve decided. Austin will be eating from plastic bowls and spoons for at least another year so I’d like to have some decent all rounders – ones that last, ones that fit in his lunchbox, ones that are easy to use and so on.

Oxo have always been a brand I’ve bought into – our household has many of their spatulas for example. I was asked if I’d like to try some products from the Oxo Tot baby range and I was very happy to say yes! I’ve been trying them out this week and I am really pleased to say that they are now a firm favourite when feeding Austin.

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I spent nearly a decade as a professional nanny weaning baby after baby so I feel like I know almost every bowl, spoon and cup ever invented. There are certain types you want, and certain ones you don’t. Continue reading