United Arab Excellent

So, my laptop having the world’s biggest meltdown has meant that I haven’t blogged in a while. Which meant that I never got to tell you about my super awesome post-Australia stopover in Dubai. It has now been over a month since this actually happened, which means that the acceptable bragging time has probably now passed.

BUT I DON’T CARE. The two days we spent in Dubai were probably the most entirely instagrammable days I’ve ever had, so you’ll all just have to deal with it.

We arrived at the luxurious Kempinski hotel, located on the palm of Dubai, in the early hours of the morning, following an eleven hour flight from Perth, so I didn’t really appreciate how beautiful it was, beyond the exquisite comfyness of a bed after an entire night on a plane. So my jaw pretty much dropped when I woke up the next morning to this:

DSCF0446Now, I know there are plenty of travel bloggers out there who probably stay in rooms like this all the time, but you guys, I have never stayed in a hotel room like this in my life. It made my Gleneagles room look like a Travelodge. I totally played it cool by screaming, doing three circuits and then sitting in every single chair to ascertain exactly which one made me look most like Princess Grace of Monaco.

Once we had all shaken off our jetlag a little, we headed down to check out the hotel’s private beach. Obviously.

kempinski dubai beachWe were each given a towel, allowed to choose a sun lounger, and then had a member of hotel staff drag it around until optimal sun exposure/city view/water proximity had been reached. I’ve never been waited on like that before, so I felt consistently awful asking the staff to do things, but they were so lovely about it and made me feel really at ease.

I’d love to say that we went and explored the city, or took advantage of the hotel’s watersport programme, but I just lay on that lounger all day, reading the Time Traveller’s Wife and trying not to get my ginger, freckly self burnt.

We headed back up to our absolute palace of a room and I had a long, hot bath, because when you don’t have a bath in your flat, every opportunity has to be seized. Even if it is 35 degrees outside. Once we were all feeling a bit fresher, we headed down for dinner, which was served in one of the hotel’s private beach cabanas. Again, obviously.

kempinski dubai beach cabana restaurantI don’t think I’ve ever eaten in such a beautiful place. The colourful lights of the city, reflected in the still water made a stunning contrast to the warm, dim lighting of the cabanas. After the food, we headed a little further down the beach to warm up by the flickering light of a fire pit.

kempinski dubaiIf I could have, I’d have sat there all night drinking cocktails and watching the stars come out, but between the beanbags, the crackling of the wood, the heat from the fire, and of course, the unmanageable jetlag, my eyelids soon started to feel pretty heavy. We headed back to the room, stopping to admire how gorgeous the hotel grounds looked by night.

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Can we just talk about how cute this photo is for a sec?

kempinski dubaiBut the jetlag did have its advantages. It meant that come 5:30am, I was awake and ready for one of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen. I feel like there’s been a lot of “best I’ve ever seen” in this blog post, but that’s just Dubai. It doesn’t do things by halves. Me, mum and Sophie pulled on our clothes and headed down to the beach to watch the sun rise over the city.

I’ll never do this justice, so I’m gonna go ahead and let the photos do the talking here.

DSCF0509 DSCF0538 DSCF0540Once the sun was high in the sky and the temperature started to climb, we went back up to the room for room service breakfast on the balcony. This was also the first time I ever got room service, and it’s totally awesome. The guy brought it on a big silver tray and everything.

DSCF0548Look at that breakfast. I ate so much pineapple that I actually started to worry about burning my tongue. Amazing. Another couple of hours lying by the pool and on the beach and it was time to head back to the airport, all too soon.

The hotel was genuinely incredible. If you’re looking for somewhere to totally relax, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. We were there for a full day and a half, and never felt like we had to leave the hotel. And there were loads of things that we didn’t even try! We didn’t get massages on the beach, or hit the spa, or go swimming in the pool, or smoke shisha pipes in the big squishy armchairs by the fountain…if you’re looking for somewhere to make you feel like a total princess, this is the place.

A Little Slice Of Heaven

Last weekend, I got a little glimpse of how the other half live at the utterly incomparable Gleneagles Hotel. And when I say incomparable, I mean I have literally never seen anything like it in my entire life. The father booked us a little overnighter as part of Sophie’s 18th, and we’ve spent the past month frantically counting down days and scouring our wardrobes for something suitably sophisticated to wear to dinner.

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I think the word you’re looking for is “Unffff”.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The weekend didn’t get off to the greatest start, with every train between Edinburgh and Glasgow cancelled for the entire day. This meant that while the rest of the family chilled out up there, I got to spend an hour on a stupid bus, and then another hour taking in the beautiful scenery of Falkirk.

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Not quite the same. BUT. Gleneagles Hotel then picked me right back up again by having me collected at the station by this baby:

Ermehgerd.

Ermehgerd.

Check that out. And the driver didn’t even openly judge me for taking a photo of his car. The next day was so incredible that even including the horrendous bus ride and 2 hours spent in a Tesco cafe in Falkirk, it would still average out as one of the greatest days I’ve had.

For one thing, mine and Sophie’s room looked like this:

IMG_0226It had a balcony and a fire with a remote control. I just can’t even…

Once we’d stopped jumping around, we immediately settled into the lifestyle.

IMG_2757 IMG_2760And then immediately settled back out of it again when we discovered there were robes.

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Seconds before this picture was taken, I remarked that I looked like Roger Federer.

Seconds before this picture was taken, I remarked that I looked like Roger Federer.

IMG_2771After a couple of glasses of bubbly and a lot of silliness, we changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the spa.

I obviously couldn’t take my camera into the spa with me, so I’ll try and paint you a little picture, although I’m not sure I have the words. We were greeted at every turn by relentlessly lovely staff who gave us the grand tour of the spa and its facilities. After the first room, I abandoned all attempts at pretending I wasn’t impressed and openly gawked at the wonders they had in store for us. First, we sampled each of their glorious showers, luxuriating in warm mango and papaya oil, braving the cold peppermint shower and then warming up again in an enormous jet shower. We jumped into a darkened steam room, and watched the twinkling constellations of lights change for a while. Then, we headed for the vitality pool, where warm jets of water pummelled and bubbled away any tiny tensions we had managed to hang onto.

As a treat (as if the whole weekend wasn’t a treat), the three ladies had been booked in for facials as part of our spa experience, so after a brief lounge in the stunning indoor courtyard, we were whisked away to be pampered. I’ve never felt so relaxed in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I dozed off during my facial. In the hands of the very capable Nina, I emerged glowing, softened and utterly chilled out. We were sent to recover in the relaxation room, which was an absolute dreamland of soft beds, fluffy blankets, fruit teas and dimmed lights. However great I’m making this sound, triple it. I could have spent the entire weekend in the spa and emerged a new woman.

Eventually, we dragged our sleepy selves from the spa on the promise of dinner and cocktails. We put on our party dresses and our most sophisticated smiles and high tailed it to the restaurant.

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Oh, just Sophie being THE MOST BEAUTIFUL.

Oh, just Sophie being THE MOST BEAUTIFUL.

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The food was incredible, the cocktails were even better, and once again, we were treated like royalty all the way. Seriously, why are you even still reading this and not looking up when the next train to Gleneagles is? They’ll send you a car. Because they’re awesome.

Exhausted after a very difficult day of living out our princess fantasies, Sophs and I retired to our room to relax by the fire.

IMG_2811We did intend to go back down to the bar and sample some more of the cocktail menu, but as soon as we sat on that big, cushiony bed, it was game over. Before we knew it, it was time for breakfast.

Breakfast.

Oh breakfast. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…Seriously, I could have devoted an entire blog post to how good the breakfast was. My dad ate five courses. Only my puny stomach stopped me from doing the same. On a side note, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve watched an 18 year old girl demolish an enormous cut of roast ham at 9 o’clock in the morning. A sight to behold.

What's that noise? Oh, just some angels singing.

What’s that noise? Oh, just some angels singing.

After breakfast, we were all in serious need of some fresh air and some exercise to work off the monumental food babies we had accrued. So while Karla went in search of a candle to make her house smell like the spa, Sophs, Kiera and I went to play in the beautiful, sprawling grounds of the hotel.

IMG_2832 IMG_2835 IMG_2839 IMG_2860 IMG_5396As 12 o’clock drew nearer, Sophie and I gave everyone the slip under the guise of packing, to enjoy one final glass of fizz on our balcony.

IMG_2853The day was perfect, and the hotel went above and beyond my expectations in every single way. If you’re looking for some serious luxury in your life, get on the website and book a night here, you won’t regret it.

Scones, Sleep and Mummy Sheep

This weekend, Niall and I decided to run away to the Dryfesdale Hotel in Lockerbie for a few days of unwinding and doing absolutely hee haw. After all, one of us is working on a thesis and the other is a lazy layabout, so I figured we deserved a break.

The weekend didn’t get off to the best start, with a series of unfortunate events leading to us walking down a motorway in the pitch dark in the worst weather I’ve ever experienced for an hour. This was definitely in no way my fault. Definitely. Don’t listen to Niall, he’s a madman.

We arrived at the hotel throughly drookit, and after an admission from Niall that if he was ever going to murder me, it’d be right now, I decided it was best to start plying him with alcohol immediately. We checked in, headed up to our room and filled the bath with cold water and booze, like the classy folks we are.

We may have gone overboard on the vino. Or maybe that's just our regular photo faces. Who knows?

We may have gone overboard on the vino. Or maybe that’s just our regular photo faces. Who knows?

The next morning was blustery and grey, but dry after the world shattering storm of the night before. Since he was the one who actually needed to relax, I left Niall sleeping and went for a wander around the scenic hotel grounds.

That's the hotel, hiding at the top of the hill there.

That’s the hotel, hiding at the top of the hill there.

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Look at the little laaaaambs!

Look at the little laaaaambs!

News of my walk earned me nothing but ridicule from the boy, who insisted that my fondness for lambs marked me out as a clear townie, and that there was really no such thing as a “mummy sheep”. Much hilarity involving mummy sheep and gentlemen sheep transpired, all at my expense. Despite his unsporting mockery, I allowed Niall to accompany me to afternoon tea, mainly so I could snaffle his glass of prosecco.

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No word of a lie, I would go back to this hotel for the restaurant alone. Comfy couches and chairs lined a wall entirely made of windows, which offered completely breathtaking views of the nearby hills. As a resident country bumpkin, Niall was less impressed than I with the scenery, but even he conceded that it was “grand, I suppose”. We ate breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner in this same room, and the views looked different every time. I could have spent the entire weekend curled up on one of those couches with a cup of tea and left happy.

Niall admiring the views. Me admiring Niall.

Niall admiring the views. Me admiring Niall.

We took a much less traumatic walk back into town, a journey which in the sunlight only took about 20 minutes. After months of being battered by freezing cold and rain, passing each other like ships in the night thanks to work, uni and various other shenanigans, walking along hand in hand in the sunshine was as good a holiday as I could have hoped for. He even picked me a handful of daffodils, because he’s a big sap, really.

But more importantly, our jaunt into the town allowed us to replenish our vital stocks for the room. Armed with strawberry pencils, bags of popcorn and yes, more alcohol, we headed back to the hotel, just in time for the rain to start pelting down again.

So we did what any normal couple would do. Hunkered down for the night and watched a veritable bumload of CSI. Brilliant.

Seriously, if anyone is looking for a relaxing little weekend, this hotel is awesome. The scenery is to die for, the rooms are nice and comfy, and the staff are stupidly friendly. Like, crazy friendly. But in a good way. We arrived back in Edinburgh all smiles, feeling utterly replenished, and with me already thinking about where we can go next…

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