Girly East Anglia Staycation

In the current climate when travelling is so uncertain and loaded with potential issues staying a little closer to home has been the best option.

Whenever I get time off work I always want to get as far away from home as possible (usually by plane) and that leaves lots of places super close to home left unvisited!

Being a bit of bargain hunter and with so many businesses offering great deals at the moment to entice customers back in, I managed to plan a luxury, jam packed itinerary for some great prices!

We started our adventure in Cambridge on Tuesday! Cambridge- stunning architecture, great shops, lovely food, punting, history, museums and culture! There’s a lot to offer!

We parked at The Grand Arcade which until the end of October is £1 per hour! So super cheap in the shopping heart of Cambridge for the whole day! The Grand Arcade is such a lovely, modern shopping centre with a huge selection of shops. We were really lucky to have picked a gorgeous sunny day so walking around was so pleasant. Outside you’ll find the market square which has daily market from 10am-4pm selling a huge range of goods and food and then arts and crafts on Sundays!

Coffee is always a must when you’ve had a little road trip and I had read and heard endless rave reviews about Bould Brothers Coffee! These guys now have 2 locations in Cambridge due to their success and I can vouch it is bloody nice coffee AND the team are REALLY nice! Great to see them using Strangers coffee which is local to Norwich.

 

Cambridge is hugely famous for punting; punting is a guided river tour of Cambridge by water, you can do it in groups, privately or have a go at chauffeuring the punt yourself! We went with the AMAZING Let’s Go Punting who kindly gifted me the experience for my first time with my mum! We had a shared punt which is divided by clear Perspex screens to keep people distanced safely with new Covid measures. I absolutely loved the experience, being on the water is so tranquil, the knowledgeable chauffeurs regale you with facts and information about your surroundings on the tours, all whilst your eyes feast on the backdrop of architectural grandeur of the iconic colleges. You glide under historic bridges, surrounded by wildlife and absorb all the beauty Cambridge has to offer. I can’t wait to visit again when it’s chilly and wrap up warm with a hot drink and see the colours of a new season. This experience was so special with my mum but would be great for a date or a group trip (up to 6) and I saw lots of doggies enjoying the punting on my travels too!

As a real foodie I always do my research of where I’m going to eat when I go away. I don’t like to visit chains and want to know we won’t be disappointed (yes I  am a control freak), after a few recommendations I decided on Six which is located on the sixth floor of the very trendy Varsity Hotel and Spa and to my delight when I booked on their website they had extended the Eat Out To Help Out concept and offered 50% off food up to £10 per person! We requested an outside table which is on an a terrace with panoramic views over the rooftops of Cambridge and hanging colourful flowers overhead as you look up to the sky, there is also a retractable cover to protect when required from the elements so your experience is never interrupted!

They have such a gorgeous bar in this restaurant and a huge range of gin and cocktails that I would love to sample but I didn’t because my mum was driving and I didn’t wanna be an annoying drunk on the way to Newmarket!

There is a truly varied menu with something for everyone, we shared the scallop and smoked salmon starters then I had baked cod and mum went for the king prawn and chorizo skewers, we each had a soft drink and an alcoholic drink and after discount the bill was £73.50.

On the very top floor there is another large roof terrace space with a bar where you can soak up the sun or wrap up under the stars. I would definitely love to stay here!

Our day in Cambridge had come to an end so we hopped in the car and took the journey down to Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa in Newmarket. We booked their ‘Gourmet Getaway’ offer, which for £220 which included room, usage of the leisure centre (not the spa which is separate), £30 per head towards an evening meal in the award-winning Squires restaurant, a bottle of house red or white wine and breakfast the following morning.

It’s a beautiful and impressive venue with lots of racing memorabilia around to earmark its location and history. The hotel public areas are well maintained and very clean and so was our room. We booked a twin room and due to Covid restrictions it was still nice to see the inclusion of robes, Molton Brown toiletries and lovely tea and coffee facilities as I know some places have decided to remove these amenities for safety but I feel that would definitely have impacted the feel of the stay (please note if you want to use leisure facilities you need to take towels from the room and the showers are not open). The weather was just lovely so we went and sat outside for some drinks and the atmosphere was great as there was lots of people and a lovely buzz!

 

We had wine, champagne and cocktails and just had a giggle until our meal in the restaurant. I carried on my fishy theme and had a prawn cocktail and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, the food was really lovely and the restaurant has a modern décor with dimmed ambient lighting which creates a nice mood. We finished the evening off with an espresso martini outside before hitting the hay.

Go to sleep full and wake up for more food, that’s what it’s all about right?

These days there is almost an awkwardness to know what’s what and in a hotel with a continental and cooked breakfast option its a bit like “Ooooh, what am I allowed?” So, I’m sure this will be the situation in most places, the continental options are available to order and you can have as many as you choose- like a buffet, then you have the cooked breakfast option of which you choose one. It was a lovely breakfast. Great coffee, my fave oat milk too! They have a signature green ‘Bedford Lodge Smoothie’ which was fresh and contained wheatgrass for a pick me up. We shared some Baron Bigod cheese and ham charcuterie off the ‘continental’ menu and I had the Bedford Lodge Full English and mum went for the sourdough toast with avocado and poached eggs. Breakfast was exceptional as was the service and it’s always a pleasure to see a venue sourcing as many local ingredients as possible.

The spa at Bedford Lodge is in a separate building to the main hotel and unfortunately is not open Mondays and Tuesdays so we couldn’t use it but we did go and have a look around before heading off on Wednesday morning. This is a PROPER spa, finished to an extremely high standard, lovely main areas in the hydro pool, an extensive treatment list, a lovely seating area where you can enjoy light bites and beverages and the staff were so welcoming and accommodating despite only looking around. They open evenings too for twilight deals so if this sounds up your street have a look at their offering here.

The ‘Gourmet Getaway’ deal is only on for September but do keep a look out as given the world at the moment; businesses are definitely having to adapt with deals for a new clientele.

From Newmarket we moved onto Bury St Edmunds, Bury is a short and simple drive from Newmarket and is a beautiful town rich in history with a lovely shopping centre.

We parked at Ram’s Meadow which set us back only £2.30 for the whole day in a large open air car park so one to remember if you plan a visit.

We headed straight from there to the beautiful Abbey Gardens ‘the abbey was once one of the richest and most powerful Benedictine monasteries in England. Its remains are extensive and include the complete 14th century Great Gate and Norman Tower, as well as the impressive ruins and altered west front of the immense church.

The relics of the martyred Anglo-Saxon king St Edmund, whose remains were moved to this site in 903, and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. The abbey itself was founded in 1020 and grew in power and wealth up until its suppression in 1539.’

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an archaeologist so ruins are always a huge treat for me! The gardens are kept immaculate by volunteers and they were in the process of changing over to the winter plants!

Even after a long walk we were still full from breakfast so we tried to get as many steps in as possible before our lunch which was booked for 2 at the gorgeous Angel. We explored the grounds of the cathedral and found a nature reserve walk with lovely little goats! We then headed to The Arc shopping centre and rummaged through the sales and got some bargains then on the way down to lunch we hit every charity shop too!  I managed to get a lush black Hugo Boss blazer for £9.99! The Angel is a hotel and has a bar and restaurant and is a stunning and huge ivy covered building in the heart of Bury. The Angel are still extending their Eat Out to Help Out too for September which was a bonus when booking but we were still so full we couldn’t manage a full meal which also meant no Lottie’s waffles after either!! The restaurant is just stunning though, I adore the decor with different touches of modern art and the colour palette in this room. We just had soft drinks and shared a lovely antipasti board for 2 which was just enough! The perfect end to a lovely 2 days!

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