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The Oxfordshire Golf Hotel and Spa – Hotel Review

The Oxfordshire Golf Hotel and Spa – Hotel Review

A while back I went to the UK and stayed at the The Oxfordshire Hotel and Spa, which as you guessed is situated in the heart of Oxfordshire (so it’s not just a clever name)

The Oxfordshire Hotel, Golf Hotel and Spa

The Oxfordshire Golf Hotel and Spa is situated in the heart of the Chilterns. It is located about a 1 hour drive from Luton airport. This vast Estate / Resort Hotel is a luxury 50 bedroom Hotel and Spa. It also boasts a Championship Golf Course if you are so inclined. This course has hosted some high profile golf tournaments; including the Benson & Hedges International, Andersen Consulting World Championship and Ladies English Open.

The Oxfordshire Hotel : Review

Approaching the Oxfordshire Hotel you drive along a well maintained entrance with the golf course on either side. There is plenty of free car parking and a handy drop off area which should suit everyone. Checking in at the hotel is very quick and done with a smile. We were offered spa and pool times as well as an option to book a time at the restaurant.

The food in the restaurant is superb, very well cooked and plenty to choose from. Whether you are a steak lover or a lover of fruits-de-mer the menu will suit your needs. The restaurant offers fantastic views over the golf course and is lovely at sunset. Service was friendly and efficient. I was very impressed with the depth of flavours in the food.

The rooms were comfortable, spacious and had very good air conditioning. The rooms also had a nice terrace / veranda which was accessed via sliding doors. In room hair dryer and safe for your valuables was good to have also.

Oxfordshire Hotel, Golf and Spa, Oxfordshire, UK - Hotel Review

Room photo at The Oxfordshire Hotel

The Breakfast next morning was varied, hot food was tasty and was actually hot (which some hotels can learn from). I also availed of the delicious fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereals and muesli which were also on offer.

The hotel is an ideal base for visiting places like the university town of Oxford and the Oxfordshire countryside. You could also enjoy punting on the Thames in Oxford or a visit to the Harry Potter Studios in Watford. If you are interested the village where the Vicar of Dibley was filmed (a small town called Turville) is located near by. There are many other great places, gardens and country houses to visit nearby also.

The Oxfordshire Hotel : Accolades

The Oxfordshire has had some recent accolades including the top 50 places to Stay & Play voted by Golf Monthly magazine, Top Golf Course in the county voted by the Top 100 Golf Courses in England and awarded 4 Bubbles by The Good Spa Guide.

The Oxfordshire Hotel : Conclusion

I did not know what to expect on booking (via but was more than happy in the first minute inside the doors. The Oxfordshire is a well serviced, clean and friendly hotel which I have bookmarked and will certainly return to in the future. I had a very enjoyable stay and look forward to returning to the The Oxfordshire Hotel and Spa at some point in the future.

The Oxfordshire Hotel : Contact Details & Map

The Oxfordshire Hotel, Rycote Lane  Milton Common, Oxfordshire OX9 2PU, United Kingdom

The Oxfordshire Golf Hotel and Spa

Travel Packing Checklist | What To Pack for Holiday & Vacation – Pack like a Pro

Travel Packing Checklist | What To Pack for Holiday & Vacation – Pack like a Pro

Packing for vacation? Getting ready to travel?  Take a look at this travel packing list so you pack the important items for your vacation or holiday. The holiday and vacation packing checklist is all you need, whether this is your first vacation or you’re a seasoned globetrotter. This is a helpful packing checklist.

One of the most stressful things you have to do before you even get into the car to head to the airport is packing for your holiday or vacation. This handy holiday packing checklist might help you before you actually start packing and it might help you ensure that you don’t leave home missing essential items to pack into your suitcase for your holiday.

This list is not complete nor will it suit everyone or every type of holiday since a checklist for a city break will be different from a packing checklist for a 3 stop long haul trip.

Simply cross out items you don’t need then tick off the items from the list by your suitcase as you pack for your holiday.

The travel packing checklist below does NOT include clothes as everyone is different. Hopefully, this travel and vacation packing checklist will help with the other items which you may wish to bring. If you spot any omissions please make a comment and we can add it to the list.

Packing Essentials

Passports (ensure they are at least 6 months in date)
Drivers License (should you wish to hire a car)
Airline Tickets
Visas if required by your destination
Wallet – Debit and Credit Cards
Cash / Travelers checks
Emergency phone numbers
Hotel, rental car, confirmation details
Copies of your travel insurance

Guidebooks & Maps
Contact numbers to report lost credit

Electric Plug adapter
Cell Phone adapter
iPod / iPhone Charger
Books and magazines
iPod Earphones (ideal for the flight)

Personal Items / Toiletries

Travel alarm clock and batteries
Glasses, sunglasses and contacts
Birth control
Anti-bacterial hand gel or wipes
Hand lotion
Small first-aid kit
Travel pillow
Shampoo and conditioner
Hair Brush
Cosmetics & Soap
Razor and shaving cream
Sunblock & After Sun
Insect Repellant

Extra Items

Locks for your Luggage (and keys!)
Luggage name tags (include phone and email)
Sewing kit
Hiking Boots (make sure they are very clean prior to packing if traveling to Australia or new Zealand)
Camera, Flash & Lenses
Camera Mini-Tripod (for the photo enthusiast)
Camera Battery Charger (e.g. Canon DSLR type)
Extra film or memory card
Memory Card Holders (to keep them safe)
Journal and pen (if you like keeping notes on where you were)
Sweets for the Journey
Finally is the house locked and is the heating off and everything plugged out?

I hope this holiday packing checklist helps you on your vacation

Remember to pack all liquids and gels into your checked luggage.
Don’t forget to check that there are no sharp items packed into your hand luggage.
Perhaps ask a neighbour to check in on your house when you are away.
Have a good time on your trip.

Updated March 2018

Enjoy Your Holiday!

Hotel Review of Elysees Mermoz Hotel, 30 Rue Jean Mermoz, Paris

Hotel Review of Elysees Mermoz Hotel, 30 Rue Jean Mermoz, Paris

There seems to be a Joe Bonamassa theme about some of our hotel visits and this one is another. This time we were going to the Paris concert in April 2012 and booked the Hôtel Élysées-Mermoz or Elysees Mermoz Hotel based on good scores and hotel reviews. It was also just 15-20 minutes to the music venue, The Rex.

The Elysees Mermoz Hotel is about a 5-minute walk from the Champs Elysee and nearest Metro stop. There are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby so you are really at the heart of Paris here. The Elysees Mermoz is a very nice, bright and modern hotel with very friendly staff who speak good English, even though I did my very best in French but to a point. (It always takes me a few days to get my French into gear, but the effort is worth it)

The rooms at the Elysees Mermoz Hotel are spacious for Paris (as I have stayed in some Paris hotels which were tiny) and with a very nice compact bathroom. The bathroom featured excellent products and a great power shower.  One of the nice touches was Free WiFi – I feel that in this day and age any hotel these days not offering Free WiFi normally won’t get my business!!

The beds are very comfortable and you will get excellent sleep here, which is important if you are out all day walking the streets of Paris. We chose not to avail of breakfast on this occasion as we prefer to find local restaurants for a more authentic Parisienne morning experience.

As it happened I actually left something at the hotel and they managed to get it back to me in Ireland. I thank the staff and management of the hotel for that kind act.

The Hôtel Élysées-Mermoz is certainly a hotel which I will come back to for my next stay in Paris, not only for its great central location and friendly staff but also for the comfort and luxury of the accommodation in the heart of Paris.

Elysees Mermoz Hotel – Hotel Information
Elysees Mermoz Hotel, 30, rue Jean Mermoz | 75008 Paris | +33 (0)1 42 25 75 30

Elysees Mermoz Hotel

Elysees Mermoz Hotel

This Hotel Review of the Hôtel Élysées-Mermoz / Elysees Mermoz Hotel Paris is not a sponsored Hotel Review. I have not received​ any payment or gratuity for this review.
This Hotel Review is based solely on my experience​ during my stay at the Hôtel Élysées-Mermoz Paris.

Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square – Christchurch, New Zealand Hotel Review

Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square – Christchurch, New Zealand Hotel Review

Having flown 12 hours from Hong Kong to Sydney in business class with Cathay Pacific, we arrived at Sydney airport for an unavoidable 8 hour layover before flying to Christchurch. Unfortunately our flight was delayed by about 90 minutes and we didn’t arrive in Christchurch until about 11:50pm.

Our hotel for the stay in Christchurch was the Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square. Having already stayed in the Novotel Century Hong Kong we knew Novotel had a good reputation. We eventually got a taxi from the airport and managed to get checked in about 12:40pm.

The Room

We had a very quick checkin and got a nice room on 10th floor of the hotel with a nice view of the city suburbs. The room was very nice with a comfortable bed and a nice bathroom (however the bathroom was a little strange in that the washhand basin was outside the toilet and it doubles up as a sink for tea and coffee preparation. I would prefer that such a sink be located in the bathroom).

Room at Novotel Cathedral Square, Christchurch, New Zealand - Hotel Review

The sleep quality is very good and Novotel must invest in quality beds as our Hong Kong experience was also very good. The rooms are quiet and also have good entertainment options with cable tv and large flat screen TVs.

Location & Sightseeing

The hotel is very central in the city and is very near to a lovely shopping mall which houses the ticket centre for the tourist tram. The tram itself is very much worth going on.

The city was very badly damaged in the earthquakes which hit the city and many areas are still blocked off with much of the citys buildings having been demolished or in repair. You might ask, why visit? – In one answer “Because it we met THE nicest people in Christchurch and it has a wonderful atmosphere amongst the rebuilding”. The people of Christchurch were warm, chatty and welcoming. We went to one convenience store near the bus station and there was a girl serving – we ended up chatting there fore 45 minutes. Next evening we met people very near this location and chatted to them for nearly 30 minutes.

Christchurch is just a wonderful location and I look forward to revisiting again in the future.

I am going to have a follow up post to this which will focus on ‘Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand‘.

Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square – Conclusion

Overall a lovely the Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square is a very nice hotel.

Plus points :  Great Staff, Lovely Room, Laundry on-site is very good and great value

Negative Points :  No Free WiFi – I had to sign up to the Novotel loyalty club just to get a very limited free WiFi access. (I try to restrict my booking of these types of hotels as I do like free WiFi)

Recommended : Yes

Hotel Location : 
Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square ,  52 Cathedral Square, Central City, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand

Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square , 52 Cathedral Square, Central City, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand

Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square ,  52 Cathedral Square, Central City, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Novotel Century Hong Kong – Hotel Review of the Novotel Century Hong Kong

Novotel Century Hong Kong – Hotel Review of the Novotel Century Hong Kong

Novotel Century Hong Kong Hotel Review

The Novotel Century Hong Kong is a hotel we stayed in back in 2010 en-route to New Zealand. We decided to return in 2014 based on our past stay there and again this year in December 2017 when we visited for a 7-day stay. This review of the Novotel Century Hong Kong is a culmination of all 3 visits and the things which we liked about this great hotel.

Hotel Review - Novotel Century Hong Kong


Hotel Location

The Novotel Century Hong Kong is located in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island, very near to areas such as Central and on all the major MTR and tram lines. The easily accessible cation of the Novotel Century Hotel is one key advantage. You can walk to the ferry, the MTR or the tram lines in 5-10 minutes. The Neighbourhood is safe and we have often gone for a late night walk when jet lag was affecting us.

Novotel Century Check-in

The check-in process here is always speedy and friendly. The accommodation we had in 2014 was a very nice large room on the 17th floor with excellent air conditioning and this year we were in room 1913. Both times the view was towards the inner city nothing to write home about, but it’s not a big issue since you will probably be in the room just to sleep. Hong Kong is so amazing to visit this is not a big deal. The bathroom was good with the best steaming hot power shower you could get. The bathroom and the room was bright and clean with and good products in the bathroom.


Hotel Facilities

In 2014 on the first night we enjoyed a swim in the rooftop pool. This is one of the key selling points of the hotel. The pool was great with helping with the effects of 13-hour flight. The gym is also excellent – visit the InBalance gym and pool via the lift with towels and lockers available. The only issue was, that on our visit this year (2017 and into 2018) the pool closed on January 2nd and we were never told, so we missed out on a swim on this occasion which was a pity.

In 2014 you had to pay for the WiFi, now, it is totally free. The Wifi is speedy and always reliable. I held a few Skype calls to Ireland and they were 100% perfect.  Free Wifi is a must for me in hotels and I was delighted to see that the Novotel Century had this available.


The Novotel Breakfast

The breakfast buffet is stunning, the second key selling point of the Novotel Century – you might just stay here for the breakfast alone. An amazing array of foods from all over the world. Everything from Congee and Dim Sum to fresh fruit and western style breakfast. I always chose the asian steamed dumplings! The breakfast is served from 6am and we were there most days at 6am to enjoy this amazing feast of asian dishes. You could enjoy everything from Shui Mai to Pork Steamed buns. Delicious !


Breakfast at the Novotel Century Hotel Hong Kong
Breakfast at the Novotel Century Hotel Hong Kong

There is also an Italian Restaurant and a bar. However get to the bar before the stated 1am closing time as it should really state that last orders is 12:30 closing at 1am.

Beds are very comfortable and you can be guaranteed a good nights sleep. Sometimes you stay in bed that bit too long as they are ridiculously comfy beds !




Overall the Novotel Century Hong Kong is a lovely hotel within walking distance of MTR and Trams and about 15 mins walk to the Star Ferry terminal.  A really great hotel to stay at if you are visiting Hong Kong.

Related Pages: Things to to in Hong Kong




Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic – London to Hong Kong Review

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic – London to Hong Kong Review

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review – London to Hong Kong

I have been to Hong Kong on 3 previous occasions. In 2002 I went with British Airways in Economy class. On the next occasion in 2010 I flew Qantas but went in Premium Economy. In 2011 I flew with Cathay Pacific Premium Economy. This year I flew with Virgin Atlantic from London to Hong Kong in Premium Economy on flight VS206 and return on VS207  I had never flown with Virgin Atlantic before. Another first was flying on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Check-in and Pre-Flight

Because you have a Premium Economy ticket you do get to check in ahead of the Economy section. On arrival at your seat, you find an amenity kit. This kit includes socks, sleep mask, toothbrush, toothpaste and earplugs. A neck pillow and blanket are also provided for your comfort. The kit is very useful on the long flight and you will appreciate the toothbrush around 7 hours into the flight (nice touch).

As part of the VIP Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy service, you are also treated to sparkling wine or orange juice before takeoff.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Boeing Dreamliner Awaits
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Champagne Welcome

Your seat on board Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

The seats in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy are that bit wider than standard economy plus they recline further. They are very comfortable and combined with the quality leg rest, you can get into a decent resting position.

I managed to get about 4 hours sleep on the flight which is good for me as I usually end up watching movies on board. The neck pillows were a little soft so I had to double it over and use as a normal pillow.


The In-flight Experience & Comfort

Take off in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was powerful and smooth. The Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine delivers 80,000lbs of force to take you elegantly into the skies.

During the flight the Virgin on-board entertainment system, “VERA”, has much to offer. It has movies, box sets, music, games and done extra features. The movies were all recent releases including IT, Despicable Me3, Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde. Music included albums from the greats such as Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Bob Dylan and many more. One notable omission was that Queen was not included much to my disappointment. However, it was nice to see Joe Bonamassa included in the listings. The box sets were varied including Big Bang Theory, Veep and Game of Thrones – but only a limited number of episodes are included. On the games, these are good but basic. Kids will enjoy the soccer and breakout games.

Other functions of the VERA entertainment system include a flight tracker showing current position, speed and altitude. You can also chat with other seats and use USB keys for media playing.

During the flight, I found it very comfortable to watch the VERA screen. You can tilt it to suit your needs and adjust brightness and volume easily.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The VERA onboard entertainment system

The Food in Premium Economy

The dinner I had was a chicken dish with rice. It was very tasty but a little spicy to be served at almost 11:30 pm (about 2h 30 into the flight) for my body clock.

As a Premium Economy flyer, your meals are served in proper bowls with a napkin and a choice of any beverages you wish. You can also avail of snacks from the galley, we were told to help our selves. The only comment I would have is that the snacks are all crisps and munchie style. On Cathay, there were noodle pots, a 5-star version of Pot Noodle, and they were a delicious alternative to crisps or biscuits. Qantas also offered ice creams (small choc-ices) as part of their galley snack offering which I also thought was nice.

Breakfast next morning was served at around 5:30 am GMT with about 2 hours to landing. It was waffles with blueberry and vanilla cream. The waffles were very well cooked and tasted great with the blueberry compote. However, since I don’t like custard or cream I had to leave the half which had been coated in the vanilla cream sauce. The alternate was congee, a Chinese porridge – not an option for me.

Overall the food was very tasty and was served well but certain elements didn’t pass the premium test. On the return leg, there was a pudding described as light and fluffy – it was tough and difficult to cut so not as described on the menu. For me, it would be great to have a third option.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has no window shades

The Premium Economy Service

From start to finish the service was excellent. We were well looked after at all times. The staff are friendly and had time for you. On disembarkation, we were thanked by about 4 staff leaving the Dreamliner.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The Dreamliner is a beautiful aircraft. Previous to this flight I had flown in all the Airbus and Boeing aircraft with the exception of the Dreamliner – so it was nice to cross it off my list. As you enter the Dreamliner the mood lighting is very cool and gives a very sophisticated look to the mood and ambience inside the 787.

The flight was smooth with only a little light turbulence. One feature I was impressed with was the lack of window blinds. Instead, the Dreamliner can tint the window so that no light gets in. This stops the annoying instances of people opening a window blind on a night flight as morning approaches. The tinted windows really worked and although it was 3 pm outside (7 am GMT for our body clocks) the inside was still very dark.


Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review – Overall

I really enjoyed the return flight from London to Hong Kong with Virgin Atlantic. I would have no hesitation on flying with Virgin again as there were no major faults or issues. However, for the extra money paid for Premium Economy, it didn’t wow me as much as Cathay or Qantas previously; The biggest difference being the food.

I have outlined my scores below taking into consideration the commentary above.

Service: 9/10

Food: 6/10

In-flight Experience: 8/10

Comfort: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

If you have any questions on my Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy review and experience just drop a comment below.


The review is my own opinion of recent flights on 28th December 2017 and 5th January with Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy. No promotion, payment or upgrade was received in return for this blog post. This content is my own thoughts on this flight based on the events, service and food on my flight.