East Haugh House Hotel

East Haugh House Hotel

Located on the outskirts of Pitlochry in Perthshire is the 17th Century built East Haugh House hotel and restaurant. Originally erected as part of the Atholl Estate, it was converted into a hotel in 1989 by the McGown family who still run the four-star hotel today. Their personal and dedicated approach has won the hotel numerous awards including fishing hotel of the year for 7 years running, best country sports hotel and Best Hotel In Scotland (under 50 rooms). Having previously stayed in the hotel over Hogmanay I couldn’t wait to go back in order to share my experience with you.

Driving into the hotel grounds you immediately notice the hotels stunning stone Victorian façade with turreted roof and quant sash windows. As soon as you walk into the entrance you instantly feel the relaxed and comfortable ambience. The thick tartan carpet leads you to a small reception area where warm and friendly staff check you in to one of the lovely rooms. There are numerous rooms to choose from; Small double/twin, Classic double/twin, Superior double/twin, superior room with Jacuzzi bathroom, Four poster room with Jacuzzi bathroom, Superior suite with movie room and Jacuzzi bathroom and Deluxe superior with open fireplace and Jacuzzi bathroom.

Superior Room with jacuzzi bathroom

As the hotel is surrounded by some of the best areas of fishing such as the River Tay and River Tummel, each of the rooms are named after classic salmon fishing flies. On this occasion I stayed in their recently renovated Superior Suite called the Red Drummond located on the top floor of the hotel.

The Red Drummond Suite

The Red Drummond Suite was open and spacious and was split into three large rooms over the one floor. The first room was the beautifully decorated bedroom which oozed the traditional charm of the surrounding countryside along with some contemporary touches. The slanted roof, dark ceiling beams and unique shape of the room gave the room a quirky style and the décor cleverly accentuated these original features.

Double Bedroom

Two ceiling windows allowed light to flood into the space allowing you to enjoy the view outside and catch glimpses of the turreted roof that brings so much character to the building. The room contains a large super king double bed, lots of storage space, bottled water and tea/coffee making facilities.

View from Suite

Off the landing is a very large bathroom with a luxurious Jacuzzi bath. Again the sloping roof adds so much charm to the space and the addition of a vibrant print wall covering carries the fish theme and also adds a touch of humour.

Large bathroom

The small window allows you to take a bath while looking out towards the expanse of green and I thoroughly enjoyed the selection of luxury toiletries along with the fluffy white bathrobes and towels.

It’s all in the detail

What makes this suite stand out is the addition of a separate movie room which contains a 49’’ TV, DVD player and is connected to Netflix. The room also has its very own sofa bed and a fully stocked mini-bar and is a great space to chill out and relax before heading to your bed. There is also a TV in the bedroom but trust me you the bed is so comfortable that all you will want to do is sink into it and enjoy the quiet surroundings of the hotel. 

Movie room

 

What really stood out for me in this hotel is the food, and it is no wonder that the restaurant is recommended in the UK’s Michelin Guide and gained numerous awards. Their Chef Patron, Neil McGown along with Sous-chef Steven Fleetham heads a team of very talented chefs who produce dishes with ingredients that are both locally sourced and freshly cooked to order. The restaurant itself is located both in the bar area and a larger space that has been added to the building.

Restaurant

The bar area is small and cosy and a roaring fire makes it the perfect place to relax, enjoy one of the many delicious drinks and of course make your way through the tantalising selection of food.

Bar area and restaurant

We started off with one of their renowned cocktails, the aptly named kilt lifter! Not being a huge fan of whisky I was pleasantly surprised with this cocktail, so much so that I had to get the ingredients so I could make it myself.

Kilt Lifter

For the first course I tried the Seared west coast scallops with Chorizo, Cauliflower puree and pickled Cauliflower which were succulent, fresh and full of flavour.

Starter – West Coast Scallops

I then opted for the delicious Roast best end of Perthshire lamb, Champ potatoes, crushed minted garden peas and rosemary jus. The lamb melted in the mouth and the infusion of flavours were simply to die for.

Main – Perthshire Lamb

To finish I had a refreshing take on Eton mess, this time with banoffee. It was light and creamy and the perfect dish to finish such a beautiful and varied dinner. 

Dessert – Banoffee Eton Mess

 

Although I didn’t experience it the hotel also offers an array of activities and country sports, so much so that it has gained the accolade of Best country Sports Hotel at the Scottish Hotel Awards. With numerous packages available to suit everyone’s taste, you can take part in shooting, hunting and fishing to name but a few.

East Haugh House hotel has that traditional highland welcome and customer service that I long for when travelling around Scotland. Its relaxed ambience and comfortable rooms provide an excellent base to explore Perthshire and the surrounding areas. I love that it’s a family owned business and you can truly feel the passion from each and every one of them. It’s no wonder they have so many returning guests and I myself wouldn’t hesitate to book again when visiting the gateway to the Highlands. 

Blu Blazer Guy Rating:

Location – 4/5 – Easily reached by car and close to Pitlochry.
Customer Service – 4.5/5 – Warm and Friendly.
Accommodation – 4.5/5 – Traditional, comfortable and quirky.
Cleanliness – 5/5 – Spotless and immaculate.
Food and Drink – 4.5/5 – Varied menu and fantastic quality.

 

Cringletie – Sunday Lunch

Cringletie – Sunday Lunch

Amidst the rolling hills, fields and woodlands of the Scottish Borders is the impressive Cringletie. Conveniently located just 15 miles south of Edinburgh and two miles north of the Royal Burgh of Peebles, it is perfectly placed for a relaxing stay or a visit to their renowned restaurant for a delicious heartwarming meal.

I recently visited to try out their tantalising Sunday Lunch menu devised by their head chef Iain Gourlay, which was launched early in 2019 and has received some fantastic reviews. It was a cold and windy day just before Christmas when I arrived but as soon as I walked into the hotel’s beautiful entrance I was immediately greeted with a welcoming roaring fire. Walking up the beautiful staircase I couldn’t help but notice all the stunning architectural details but it is the dining room that truly surprised me.

As soon as you enter into the lavish room you are greeted with the most beautiful views of the gardens from the large sash windows that are voluptuously draped in heavy luxurious curtains. The opulence continues as you look up towards the ceiling where a beautifully painted mural sits. Although the room was large and airy it retained a homely warmth partly due to the deep-coloured thick carpet and the crackling fire.

I was seated next to the window at one of the many tables draped in white linen with comfortable chairs which fitted perfectly into the rooms décor.

The three-course Sunday lunch menu features an array of locally-sourced produce which includes roast beef from the Tweed Valley and also contains a number of vegetarian and vegan options. As it was a typical cold and crisp Scottish day,  I immediately gravitated towards the warming Chicken Broth with Chicken Dumplings for my first course and it immediately hit the spot, deliciously rich and full of flavour. In addition to this, the menu also delights with a Trio of Scottish Salmon or a Ham Hock & Gremolata Terrine.

Being a Sunday lunch I could not bypass the delicious selection of roasted meats. These were brought to the table and carved in front of me by the chef, and even before the food was placed upon my plate my mouth was salivating. I opted for a slice of all of them; roast beef, pork and turkey.

These were served alongside a selection of honey roasted vegetables, goose fat potatoes and greens. The meats were exquisitely succulent and full of flavour and paired with the side dishes, it was a perfect traditional roast. If these don’t take your fancy, there was also a fish dish of pan-seared fillet of Atlantic cod or another meat dish of slow-cooked pork belly, again with a selection of perfectly paired side dishes.

Dessert is always my favourite part of the meal and I always go for the sweet options rather than the cheese which was available on this menu. I went for the Chocolate & Hazelnut brownie with chocolate shards and yoghurt sorbet. Although deliciously decadent and moreish I did wish I had opted for something a tad lighter (due to the previous course) but who can resist chocolate and hazelnut together!

I really enjoyed my time at Cringletie House and it was a great little escape from the city buzz of Edinburgh. Its accessible location and scenic drive makes it the perfect place to combine some country walks along with an exquisite lunch or dinner. I myself am not a big fan of roast dinners but the delicious selection of food along with the ambience of the building made this meal truly enjoyable.  My only wish was if I could have stayed longer and enjoyed more of that crackling fire, however that only gives me an excuse to visit again.

Priced at £35 per person with a £7.50 supplement for cheese.

Blu Blazer Guy Rating:

Location 4/5
Service 4/5
Food 4/5

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With Will Sturgeon – Personal Trainer

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With Will Sturgeon – Personal Trainer

After a long absence from the gym or any fitness-related activities in that matter, I sought out a personal trainer to help me get back into a sustainable fitness routine. I discovered Will Sturgeon owner of Will Power Personal Training located in Edinburgh’s prestigious hotel, The Balmoral. You will have seen in my previous blogs what the gym and spa facilities in The Balmoral are like. I thought I would catch up with Will to ask him about his company and what it offers.

Hi Will, can you tell us a little bit about yourself; What your journey has been and how did you get into Personal Training?

I have my primary school to thank for a life of sport. It was incredibly small but focused heavily around sport. It led me to play football, golf and table tennis to a high national level. I always wanted a hands-on job in the fitness world. Becoming a personal trainer was an obvious step.

When did you start Will Power Personal Training, and can you tell us more about it?

Will Power Personal Training was created at the turn of the millennium at David Lloyd health club, where I was offered a freelance trainer opportunity. It was shortly after that we moved to our current residency at The Balmoral hotel after being headhunted by the manager at the time. We currently have 3 in our team, Akwa, Hajni and myself. All with our own unique skill set, but all experienced, friendly trainers.

Despite the obvious, what other ways do you think Personal Training helps with an individuals fitness goals?

Personal training is largely about showing people what intensity they should be training at, and how to maximise the time you invest in exercise. We all know how to be fit, and exercise where possible. We show you a more efficient way to train, and show you how to push your limits sensibly.

Will putting me through my paces

You use the Balmoral gym as a base for Will Power Personal Training, as well as being in a fantastic location and such a stunning historic building are there any other reason you chose this particular hotel?

Actually yes. It is a stunning location, but more than that, it fits our training ethos perfectly. We chose not to constantly chase clients in a busy gym where you have to wait for equipment and have a high turnover. We have a quiet modern equipped gym where we can focus exclusively on our clients and really connect with them without always competing for space. As a result, we have a very loyal long-standing client base. On average we have clients with us for 7 years, with a few clients up to 14 years.

For those people out there who are perhaps a bit dubious about reaching out to a personal trainer to help them with their fitness goals, what can someone expect on their first meeting with you or a member of your team?

We are a team of friendly trainers well experienced at putting you at ease. We want you to enjoy yourself. We’re not here to bark orders and be intimidating. We always invite people for a complimentary session to start. Either to go through some measurements or just to show you the facilities and to chat over a plan.

Many people will be starting the new year with a fitness-related resolution, what advice can you give that will help keep them on track?

Without a doubt, the most important thing is to make that exercise time available. After a few weeks of fitting in a workout, it will become routine. Once it’s routine, it will last. Adding something new into your day can be awkward at first, but perseverance will pay off.

Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand when trying to sustain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. With so many unhealthy temptations around what is your advice on maintaining a healthy diet and having a positive relationship with food?

They sure do. I don’t rule with an iron fist with a clients nutrition. We take a very pragmatic approach. We all love a nibble of something sweet, or the odd overindulgence. That’s ok. Generally, I work with the old rule of “Breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; dinner like a pauper”. Carbs morning, protein evening.

Is protein a must when working out and if so what are the benefits?

Protein is the building block to muscle. It’s vital in its function. Most workouts should involve some muscle work. Protein is key to  toning, building and maintaining that muscle

For me and I suppose many other people, working out is not an easy task and requires dedication and persistence. What advice can you give to maintain that will power in order to reach their goals?

Don’t get too caught up in detail. Whilst it can motivate some, being too specific and detailed takes away the spontaneity and enjoyment. Your energy levels fluctuate with hydration etc. See how you feel on the day. You don’t have to hit your personal best on the chest press every day.  Chat to the trainers on what variations you can do. Keep it fresh, not driven by numbers.

Finally, there is an abundance of personal trainers and gyms out there, what makes Will Power stand out from the crowd?

Anyone can become a personal trainer now. At least on paper. But a great trainer has the attitude, knowledge and personable nature to go with it. There is a reason we have clients stay with us for years. Did I mention we’re also the best price? Haha

Thanks a lot Will for taking the time out to do this. If you want to find out more information or even what to come in for a consultation you can contact Will here, he doesn’t bite, I promise!

Will Power Personal Training – The Balmoral

Will Power Personal Training – The Balmoral

After a very indulgent festive season I feel like I need to recalibrate my fitness and get back in the gym. For this, I have listed the help of Will Power Personal Training who are based within the 5-star spa at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

Will Sturgeon

Will Sturgeon, the owner (and my personal trainer) has a wealth of information and expertise and it comes as no surprised that he has many VIP clients under his belt. After playing a number of sports, attending college and university and working in previous health clubs, Will decided to start his own business in 2000, thus leading to the birth of Will Power Personal Training. It is at the Balmoral Spa where Will Power has emerged as an acclaimed industry success. After gaining VIP clients such as international rugby players, politicians, bankers, CEOs and several celebrities, Will Power was awarded ‘Fourth most recommended personal trainers in Scotland’ in a National newspaper poll. 

After a long absence from the gym or any fitness-related activities in that matter, I was a tad nervous about my first day but Will has that magic ability to instantly make you feel at ease. The Balmoral gym itself is located next to the swimming pool and is split into four different zones: two cardio areas, one free weight area and one machine weight area.

We first started off with an initial consultation which explored my concerns, my goals and also my dreaded measurements (which are only taken in order to measure progress). 

I decided to ease myself into the process and carry out two sessions per week. I am not usually good at being told what to do but Will’s positive enthusiasm is like a breath of fresh air. He also has extreme patience, which is good when you are training someone like me. I have only been attending for a few months now but have found each session to be invaluable. After a slow start due to my lack of fitness and a few “I’m going to vomit” moments, Will has continued to push me in the right direction and after each session, I am feeling fitter and stronger. I still have a long way to go but Will has instilled the importance of carrying out the right techniques at a pace that is right for me to reach my desired goals. Will has got the three P’s; Positivity, Patience and Perseverance which in my eyes is all you need in a great personal trainer.

Here are some of the typical exercises you will experience at Will Power Training (of course this will differ due to each individual and goals discussed with your personal trainer).

Chest

 Shoulders

Arms

Back 

 I caught up with Will Power to find out more about him and his personal training company so keep your eyes peeled for my next “Blu Blazer Guy Chats with Will Sturgeon” blog post. 

 Also check out my previous blog post on the fantastic spa facilities at The Balmoral which really help you recover after a good workout.

The Balmoral hotel – Spa Facilities

The Balmoral hotel – Spa Facilities

The Balmoral is one of my favourite hotels in Scotland and I have previously spoken about it in my article for Guild Magazine. It may be known for its elegant rooms, commanding architecture and its prominent mark on the Edinburgh skyline. However what people may not know is that beneath its floors lies a treasure trove of wellness and recuperation. Descend the hotel’s golden elevator and the doors open to reveal a tranquil retreat that both residents and non-residents can enjoy. The small reception opens up into a spacious spa with a swimming pool, gym, treatment rooms, steam room and sauna.

Swimming pool, Steam room and Sauna.

The recently revamped state of the art steam room and sauna located at the far end of the swimming pool is the perfect place to unwind. Situated adjacent to each other and separated by a shower area, the steam room and sauna have been an utter godsend for yours truly. Not only do they help ease my muscles, but they are great for circulation which is fantastic at this time of the year.

Relaxing in the sauna

The new décor of navy blue and gold accessories have added a more contemporary flair to the area.

The new look sauna and steam room area

The 15-metre swimming pool is perfect for relaxing in or swimming laps. What I love about this swimming pool is that it is always at the perfect temperature.

The surrounding lounge beds provide such  comfort, enabling you can lay back and relax or read your favourite book or magazine.

I especially enjoy the tranquil seating area where you can enjoy numerous complimentary hot drinks, Scottish mineral water infused with seasonal fruit and an array of smoothies, drinks and food that can be purchased via the reception. 

Treatment Rooms

Within the wellness area are numerous treatment rooms offering an array of treatments catered to your every need. Even though these rooms seem to be in close proximity of the central area, each room is a tucked away so that you can enjoy your treatment without hearing the outside world.

With soft music in the background, glimmering candles and an array of scents that linger in the air, these rooms provide a tranquil safe haven that are the perfect place to de-stress and unwind. There are two main skincare brands used within the spa. Firstly, Irene Forte skincare which is a range of luxury natural products handmade in Italy and created by Wellness Director at Rocco Forte Hotels, Irene Forte. As well as renowned brand Ishga who use seaweed sourced from the Hebridean Islands of Scotland.

Treatment room

I chose a a bespoke facial using the Irene Forte range. The Irene Forte Facial is a personalised facial tailored to suit your skin’s needs. There are three to choose from: Forte Purifier, Forte Brightener and Forte Hydrator. If your skin requires a combination then these treatments can be adapted. 

After completing a consultation and discussing it with my therapist we decided to go for the Forte Hydrator, because my skin felt a tad lack-lustre and a little dry. My therapist gave me chose of two oils to smell. I had to choose which I preferred to be used in my treatment, I of course chose orange blossom.   With the candles lit and my body settled into the comfortable bed I already felt my tensions ease away. Due to the fact that the Irene Forte skincare is inspired by Sicily a small Sicilian bell is rung before the facial, which is said to calm and relax the mind, it certainly made me feel extremely relaxed. 

Cleanse: Firstly my face was cleansed with Irene Forte Almond Cleansing Milk. This hydrating cleanser contains Almond, Olive, Rose and Jojoba Oil along with soothing Aloe Vera juice. It was great to take in the beautiful aroma as this was massaged onto my face and the nourishing texture really sunk into the skin.

Tone:  The Irene Forte Helichrysum Hyaluronic Toner was then used. This toner prepares the skin for the remaining products and includes Hyaluronic Acid which is an ingredient known for its hydrating skincare properties

Exfoliate: Irene Forte Almond Face Scrub was gently massaged onto my skin. Unlike some other exfoliators that can feel too harsh on the skin, this felt nourishing and very moisturising. The Almond Face Scrub is filled with Almond and Hazelnut granules, Aloe leaf juice, Hyaluronic acid as well as Olive, Avocado and Shea oil. This was then followed by my previously chosen Orange Blossom Face oil which is used to brighten and tone the skin. 

Mask and Massage: The Irene Forte Pistachio Face Mask was layered on the skin and felt immediately comforting. This age-defying mask is full of Antioxidant-rich ingredients and replenishing oils and again has a fragrance to die for. This was accompanied by a relaxing shoulder massage using the Orange Blossom Body Oil.

Moisturise: A trio of different product was used as the final part of the treatment. The Hibiscus Serum was applied first which lifts, hydrated and minimises fine lines and wrinkles. This was followed by the Prickly Pear Face Cream full of rich nutrients and anti-oxidants and finishing with Almond eye & lip cream.

I found this facial extremely relaxing and it was a great introduction to the Irene Forte skincare brand. I especially loved choosing my desired oil at the start, which added a sensory interactive experience to the treatment. The additional shoulder massage was a great way to include a relaxing aspect to the facial and left me feeling very de-stressed. My skin felt extremely supple and glowing afterwards and it’s definitely one I would do again, especially in the winter months when my skin suffers the most. 

After a long period of not visiting the gym, I thought I would also sign up to there in house personal training, Will Power Personal Training. Keep your eye on my next blog post to find out how I have been getting on. 

Christmas Gift Guide 2019 – Hotel Stays

Christmas Gift Guide 2019 – Hotel Stays

I hope you enjoyed my previous unisex fragrance Christmas gift guide. The next part of my Christmas gift guide is Hotel Stays. One gift I love to receive at Christmas (or at any time of the year) is a surprise night away in a hotel, even if it’s within the city I stay in. Edinburgh has an abundance of stunning hotels catering for everyone’s needs and I have been lucky enough to stay in some of them. Staying in a hotel for the night allows you to escape day to day life and create memories that will last a lifetime. So go on, treat your partner, friends or family to a lovely evening in the Scottish capital and if you’re finding it difficult to choose, here are my top favourite hotel choices.

Lane Hotel – Bruntsfield Boutique

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Situated in the exclusive area of Morningside in south Edinburgh is The Lane Hotel; an exquisite boutique hotel owned by Mark and Amy Kerr. Housed in two beautifully renovated Victorian buildings, there is a choice of individually designed classic, deluxe and luxury rooms to choose from. This small but impeccably formed hotel makes the perfect base for a city trip, whether you are a tourist, business traveller or simply need a little treat to escape the hustle of everyday life.

Read more on my previous blog post.

Price rating: £

House of Gods – Beige Is Blasphemy

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Boutique hotels are not usually synonymous with the Cowgate area of Edinburgh’s Old Town. A new addition to the Edinburgh hotel scene has set to change all that. House of Gods celebrates the dark mysterious side of Edinburgh with an unapologetic decadence. This hotel takes pride of place in Edinburgh’s old town with its exterior housing a large neon sign inviting you in and giving you a playful glimpse to what House of Gods has to offer.

Read more on my previous blog post.

Price rating: £

The Bonham – West End Elegance

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Overlooking the elegantly leafy and picturesque Drumsheugh Gardens in the West End of Edinburgh is one of the city’s hidden gems; The Bonham Hotel. Originally constructed as three separate townhouses in 1872, the 19th Century property has witnessed many transformations over the years. It wasn’t until 1998 that it was turned into the lavish Bonham Hotel, introducing the city to the boutique hotel concept.

Read more on my previous blog post.

Price rating: ££

Market Street Hotel – Old Town meets New

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Situated on the fringes of Edinburgh’s iconic old town, Market Street Hotel takes pride and place in its new home. Surprisingly its contemporary exterior blends perfectly into the historic surroundings. Stone sourced from within 90 miles of its location was used in order to create this seamless integration of old and new. As it towers above nearby Waverley station you cannot help but notice this crowning glory.

Read more on my previous blog post.

Price rating: ££

Fingal – A Floating Luxury

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Fingal, a former Northern lighthouse board ship is a new £5million development by The Royal Yacht Britannia’s trading company: Royal Yacht Enterprises. Set in the historic Port of Leith this beautiful ship has been meticulously transformed into Scotland’s first luxurious floating boutique hotel.

Read more on my previous blog post.

Price rating: £££

Yotel – Contemporary Queen Street Marvel

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Located centrally in Edinburgh on Queen Street is the newly opened YOTEL. This contemporary hotel is located only a stones throw away from the city centre and is a perfect choice if you are visiting for business or pleasure.

Read more on my previous blog post.

Price rating: £

Thank you for reading and keep your eyes peeled for my next Christmas Gift Guide.

 

House of Gods

House of Gods

Boutique hotels are not usually synonymous with the Cowgate area of Edinburgh’s Old Town. A new addition to the Edinburgh hotel scene has set to change all that. House of Gods celebrates the dark mysterious side of Edinburgh with an unapologetic decadence. This hotel takes pride of place in Edinburgh’s old town with its exterior housing a large neon sign inviting you in and giving you a playful glimpse to what House of Gods has to offer.

As you enter the hotel, you walk through the exuberantly trendy bar. Here you clearly notice the cleverly constructed decor merging together different styles to create maximum impact.

Dark wooden panelled walls are brought to life with Japanese style art, all framed by neon lights and it’s very own disco ball dripping in pink. House of Gods somehow manages to capture the essence of Edinburgh and the Cowgate area, yet blends it seamlessly with a little smudge of Amsterdam and Japan thrown in for good measure.

As you arrive at the quaint reception area, friendly staff check you in. Wandering along the hallway towards your room feels as if you have stepped into the Edinburgh underground scene. The dimly lit corridor is adorned with rows of doors embellished with lavish decorative material.

There are 30 rooms in the hotel split into three categories: The Cabin, The Classic and The Suite. I stayed in the classic room number 106 which was cosy and intimate. The hotel’s motto is “Beige is Blasphemy” which is clearly evident throughout. The interior decor is dark, opulent and sexy exuding a naughty but extravagant side. The first thing you notice is the beautiful four-poster bed which is draped in a deep red velvet lined with an elaborate floral design.

The ambience is ramped up by the switch next to the bed, which when flicked, illuminates the bed with red neon light.

Neon Nights

The bed was small but very comfortable and due to the fact that there was no exterior window, I felt like I was in my very own cocoon and managed to have a perfect sleep.

The flow of the interior design is undisturbed by modern technology, cleverly camouflaged to utilise space as much as possible. Within the adjacent mirror is a cleverly concealed TV, the bedside cabinet doubles as a minibar, a safe is located under the bed and behind a small mirror is a Nespresso coffee machine.

Bedside cabinet

A custom hand-built bar in beautiful dark wood contains all you need for a delicious in-room drink. Pre-made cocktails, a bottle of wine and gold bar accessories really add a special flair to the room.

In-room bar area

The bathroom is more of a contemporary affair, all clad in marble with stainless steel accessories. The underfloor heating is an added bonus and the monsoon shower was to die for. I must say I was a tad disappointed that the bathroom didn’t continue the elaborate decor of the bedroom, however, the contrast provided yet another quirky side to the many personalities that House of Gods has to offer.

Other rooms in the hotel offer the same opulent vibe, each with a slight twist so there is something new to explore each time you stay.

The Suite

The suite even contains your very own brass roll top bath and a few additional cheetah friends to keep you company during the night.

The customer service perfectly represents what the hotel is all about; friendly, laidback and professional. A clever touch, which I personally liked, is that you can simply send a message via WhatsApp to the hotel reception if you require anything. I used the service and it was quick, easy and very convenient.

There is no restaurant located at House of Gods, but due to its proximity to the city centre, you are surrounded by an abundance of great places to eat. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff were happy to recommend different places for an evening meal.

Nearby restaurant, OX 184.

The cocktail bar; Lilith’s Lounge is definitely a cool place to hang out! It serves a range of cocktails ‘inspired by the fables of Rock n’ Roll’s hotel debauchery’. Mixologist Joey and his team are great at whipping up one of the many cocktails in no time at all.

My favourite was Rock N’ Rosé which includes Tanqueray No. Ten, Pomegranate & Rose syrup, Lemon Juice, Belsazar Rose and Brachetto D’Acqui.

House of Gods is certainly different from any other Edinburgh based hotel that I have stayed, which is one aspect I really liked about it. It has a unique and interesting style in both its interior design and customer service. House of Gods doesn’t conform to the norms of the Edinburgh hotel scene. Like marmite, it may not appeal to everyone’s liking or may not be your first choice but all I can say is give it a go and you will be thoroughly surprised.

Blu Blazer Guy Rating:

Location – 4/5 – Located in Old Town within easy reach of all tourist attractions.
Customer Service – 4.5/5 – Friendly and laid back. 
Rooms – 4/5 – Unique, cosy and full of character. 
Cleanliness – 4/5 – Spotless
Drink – 4.5/5 – Fantastic range of unique cocktails 

Yotel Edinburgh

Yotel Edinburgh

Located centrally in Edinburgh on Queen Street is the newly opened YOTEL. This contemporary hotel is located only a stones throw away from the city centre and is a perfect choice if you are visiting for business or pleasure. I was recently invited to stay at the hotel to check out its cabins (Yotel’s lingo for rooms) and the hotel’s amenities. 

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Queen Street, Edinburgh.

Firstly I was welcomed by a fresh and contemporary designed foyer. The self-check-in kiosks provided a quick and easy way to check-in without all the hassle of waiting in queues. I was very impressed with how efficient it was. All I had to do was enter a few details and before I knew it my room and key cards were ready. Don’t worry if you’re a technophobe, their mission control (Yotel’s lingo for Reception) is located directly across from the kiosks and the staff are there to help you 24/7 if needed. 

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Self Check-In Kiosks

The hallways leading up to the rooms give you an insight into the contemporary design that YOTEL is known for. Their design and concept of geometric carpet and slick white walls provides a modern flare.

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On entering the cabin, the first thing that surprised me was the size of the room. It was bright and airy with a relaxing palette of whites and greys, which was right up my street. The large windows flooded the room with light and I loved how the use of mirrors gave the elusion of more space and light. I especially admired how the old historic buildings outside contrasted against the modern interior of the room. 

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YOTEL’s signature adjustable smart bed was the focal point and I couldn’t wait to jump into it… lets just say I wasn’t disappointed! The cosy white duvet and plump pillows were luxurious (I’m all about the thread count) and the fact you could adjust the bed made it even more special.

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The large smart TV and adjustable mood lightening were also a fantastic way to chill at the end of the night. Small reading lamps and USB ports meant that you had everything at your fingertips,. The only thing I needed was my YOTEL Butler…okay they don’t have that yet but you never know! 

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I liked that the shower, toilet and wash basin were all located separately, making it more convenient when you are sharing a room with someone that takes ages to get ready in the morning. Don’t worry, both the monsoon shower and toilet are encased behind frosted glass.

 

The wash hand basin takes pride and place in the room with the added bonus of a large illuminated mirror and luxury toiletries from Urban Skincare Co., specially selected by YOTEL to help guests counteract the impact of urban living on their skin and hair.

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KOMYUNITI is a central area in the hotel where you can lounge around, socialise, eat and drink. Their reliable WiFi would make it a great area to work as well.

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It’s a large open space located off the foyer echoes the playful design of the rest of the hotel. Its large front windows allow lots of light to stream in and it has a fantastic ambience at night.

If you opted to have breakfast (which of course I did) then head through the sliding doors through to a designated area. The breakfast is a self service buffet style of continent style and also traditional scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages etc. The highlight of breakfast was not the food but the 360 degrees projections under the ceiling. 

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Also attached to the hotel is the very Instagrammable Kohi Coffee shop which runs along the front of the hotel. Again large windows allow light to flood the area providing a bright and airy space to enjoy their seasonally selected coffee.

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I didn’t try it during my stay as I enjoyed my coffee at breakfast, however I can’t wait to head back and try it in the near future. 

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I had always known of the YOTEL brand but never stayed in any of their hotels before and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I had one of the best nights sleep and was very impressed that the room was so quiet despite it facing onto the busy Queen Street. From the funky contemporary design, the excellent amenities and the great customer service, I wouldn’t hesitate to book into one of their many hotels around the world in the future. 

YOTEL’s mission statement sums it up perfectly “We are social to the core, refreshingly inclusive and actively create a sense of community for work and play. We disrupt the world of hospitality through technology, design and our people. We deliver extraordinary value in sought after places.” 

Prestonfield House – Rhubarb

Prestonfield House – Rhubarb

Situated only five minutes from Edinburgh city centre is the impressive and renowned Prestonfield House hotel, owned by hotelier-restaurateur James Thomson OBE. This historic building sits within its own 20 acre garden, its white baroque exterior standing proud against the rugged backdrop of Arthur’s seat.

As you turn into their impressive driveway, the city noise fades away and you are greeted by the hotel’s resident peacocks that wander aimlessly around the grounds. The adjacent field is also home to some large and hairy resident highland cows aptly called Toffee and Treacle.

Toffee, The Highland Cow.

The quant entrance to the house is often strikingly decorated to reflect the ever changing seasons; billowing with pumpkins in the autumn, twinkling with Christmas trees in the winter and beautiful displays of fresh flowers in the spring/summer.

Autumn Display

Here, you are always greeted with the most attentive and friendly members of staff who constantly strive to make your visit extra special. As you enter the foyer, the space opens up into a beautiful staircase and hallway of deep rich hues whilst the air is filled with the scent of fresh flowers which are impressively displayed throughout.

I love to visit Prestonfield House for their famous afternoon teas where you can sit in one their numerous antique filled rooms.

One of the many antique filled rooms

It is here you enjoy a delicious selection of savoury bites, sandwiches and scones, all washed down with a lovely pot of tea or if you are anything like me, a little glass of champagne.

If you long for something more substantial however, their in-house restaurant Rhubarb is the place to visit.

Their renowned restaurant is appropriately named due to Prestonfield House being the first Scottish estate to propagate Rhubarb, which still grows in their garden today. Situated in the heart of this beautiful building, Rhubarb spans over two large adjoining rooms. Each room is adorned with high ceilings, sash windows and walls of beautifully restored historical paintings. Again, the décor echoes the rest of this estate with antiques, historic architectural features and lavish materials.

Sitting at one of their large circular tables, adorned with a crisp white table cloth accented with long black candles, I always enjoy perusing through their extensive red leather bound menu. It comes to no surprise that their the menu has been carefully curated, providing a delicious choice of Scottish produce with a contemporary twist.

For my starter I chose the delicious Prestonfield smoked salmon accompanied with cockles, dill pickled cucumber, scurvy grass & samphire. It was a fantastic tangy, salty and smoky concoction providing the perfect opening to the meal.

I then opted for the slow cooked blade of Scotch beef en croûte, which was to die for. The meat was extremely succulent and melted in the mouth. The accompanying dripping roast carrots, sprouting broccoli, onion confit and basil pommes purée was a marriage made in heaven.

I couldn’t resist but try try their renowned Rhubarb that grows on site, so for my dessert I chose the apple and rhubarb crumble. The tartness of the rhubarb was well balanced with a smooth vanilla custard and a ginger ice cream adding another dimension to the dish.

This restaurant is the perfect place to escape the hurried city centre and provides an opulent sanctuary with a delicious selection of food. The portions are perfectly balanced, the service is impeccable and of course the impressive surroundings make this place extra special. I have enjoyed several meals at Rhubarb and also recommend their traditional Sunday roast.

Prestonfield at night.

I especially love to visit Rhubarb as the sun goes down and the restaurant transforms into a sumptuous and luxurious space. The grand chandeliers look more luminous and the dispersed candles add a sense of opulence, calm, romance and drama. Whatever time you visit, you are sure to be enchanted by the magic of this beautiful hotel.

Blu Blazer Guy Rating :

Location – 3.5/5
Customer Service – 4/5
Ambience – 4/5
Food – 4/5
Drink – 4/5

Dubai – A contemporary oasis

Dubai – A contemporary oasis

Dubai – it rises proudly out of the desert, a symbol of its success and a monument of excess. As you race towards the city along the main Sheik Zayed road the towers of skyscrapers get closer and closer and before you know it your surrounded by an array of awe inspiring architectural wonders.

Everywhere you look makes you feel as though you have been catapulted into the future and the best part is that it’s still evolving. If you’re looking for fantastic weather, five star Arabian service, shopping and luxury hotels then this is definitely the place for you.

Here are my blublazerguy recommendations;

La Mer

There are numerous beaches around Dubai, with most of them belonging to the five star hotels that line the shore. However there are some that you can visit including the expansive Jumeriah beach, JBR and La Mer. My favourite was the newest area called La Mer which was filled with beautiful shops, restaurants and facilities.

La Mer eluded a tranquil and laid back vibe, reminding me of Miami with its aura and also its hip street art mirroring Wynwood art district in Miami.

Apart from the beach itself, a highlight for me was the Nitrogen Bar. Here you can choose from an array of different flavoured ice cream, made right in front of you using Liquid Nitrogen. I tried a few of their flavours, including their frozen Cheetos and Nitrogen coffee.

Albeit La Mer is the newest beach resort, it can get very busy, there I would recommend to arrive early if you want a sunbed!

Armani Cafe

You cannot go anywhere in Dubai without gazing at the tallest building in the world – The Burj Khalifa.

If you are heading towards the Burj Khalifa, make sure you have a visit to the delightful Armani.

Whether it’s one of their many restaurants or simply just for a drink, this luxurious hotel caters for your every need. In true Arabian style, I tried the renowned Gold Cappuccino; a delicious strong coffee decorated with real 23k gold with the addition of some Armani chocolates. It was a tad indulgent but when in Dubai that becomes a regular occurrence.

Gold on 27

For an extravagant experience head to the world’s only 7 star hotel – Burj Al Arab. The Burj Al Arab is Dubai’s most iconic hotel and you cannot visit Dubai without indulging yourself here.

Hotel Entrance

There are vast restaurants to cater for your every need and it is here that you will find Gold on 27.

This beautifully decorated gold bar is located on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab and is home to Dubai’s most unique cocktail menu. Your are presented with 24k gold ipad menus housing an array of over the top cocktails while you looking out onto the beautiful shoreline and city view.

I chose the Dubai Frame cocktail which contains homemade saffron and Jasmine Gin. This was a very unique and lavish experience, which I throughly enjoyed!

 

Dubai Frame

Recently opened Dubai Frame is a must when you visit Dubai. This impressive 150 metre tall golden structure is found near the star gate of Zabeel Park.

Take a lift up the frame to their observation deck and explore the history of this amazing city from old to new.

Ensure to take a daring walk across a glass floor which automatically changes from frosted to clear giving you a glimpse of the world below you.

 

 

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Housed in a large hotel complex the Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a great place to visit for a fantastic selection of shops and restaurants. The Souk itself combines traditional Middle Eastern shopping with a mix of fashion, jewellery, Arabian fragrance and souvenirs.

This fantastic place to visit for an evening stroll in the comfort of much needed air conditioning. It also boasts over 25 different restaurants with cuisines from across the world some of which are lined along the beautiful waterway which connects each of the areas in the resort. I enjoyed traditional Middle Eastern cuisine at the Time of Arabia restaurant.

 

Dubai Desert

Looking for some time outside the city and a little adventure? Take one of the many trips out into the desert. Here you can experience the scary but thrilling dune bashing, a camel ride, falconry, quad biking and sand boarding.

As the sun dips below the sand dunes you are whisked away to a desert camp where you can enjoy an evening under the stars with some Arabic food and entertainment such as belly dancing, flame throwing and traditional Middle Eastern dancing.

 

Miracle Gardens

As Dubai in within the UAE, there isn’t a lot of natural greenery. Therefore if you fancy an injection of colour, head to the beautiful Miracle Gardens.

This garden is filled to the brim with exquisite flower displays and wanderlust of colours and sculptures.

Being in Dubai you cannot simply expect low key flower displays… here you will the largest and most famous flower structure in the world in the shape of Emirates A380 plane.

 

Dubai Mall

If you like shopping then this is the place for you! One of largest shopping mall in the world, Dubai Mall houses some of the biggest and best names in fashion, food and entertainment. Home to the iconic Dubai Aquarium and The Waterfall featuring a number of diving sculptures, you can spend all day here.

If your feet are weary, in true Arabian custom simply hail a taxi (yes that’s right)! As Dubai Mall is one of the largest in the world, you are able to take a taxi around fashion avenue getting off anywhere you wish.

Here you smell the amazing selection of Arabic perfumes or simply just enjoy walking around this expansive mall. In the evening, sit in the one of many restaurants that look over the Burj Khalifa.

If you time it right, you can see the renowned high-spirited fountain display and the impressive light display without being surrounded by crowd of people.

 

Dubai Creek

If you need to escape the sometimes overbearing skyscrapers of the new town then head to the old town.

Here you will find more humble and traditional architecture, a selection of gold, spice and perfume souks and the Dubai Museum.

It is here where you can truly see and enjoy the history of the old city and appreciate how it has transformed into today’s marvel.

For a very small price you can take a traditional boat ride across the river, again providing a different aspect to the place.

If you want an abundance of history and culture then Dubai probably isn’t the place for you. Like a new born child it’s still growing and developing and although it has moved forward architecturally and financially there is still so much more that Dubai can offer. This is precisely what makes Dubai exciting as every time you go back, there is a new district, building or area for you to explore. Even though there is an air exuberance and grandeur there is still a heart to this amazing contemporary city which is why a visit to this luxurious destination is a must.

Only a few hours from Dubai is the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi. Keep your eyes peeled for a future blog post on 24 hours in this beautiful city.