The Travel Diaries |San Francisco April 2017

It’s been nearly five weeks now since I got back from one of the most fantastic trips of my life. I went travelling along the west coast of America and Canada and had the absolute time of my life. I spent 16 days with my best friend and we had so much fun. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to do such a great trip and I wanted to share plenty of pictures and highlights with you today! My first stop was San Francisco, a place I’d always dreamed of visiting and experiencing the Californian lifestyle.

I arrived in San Francisco on the 6th June after an eleven hour solo flight, a huge huge challenge for me! I was absolutely shattered so headed to bed at about 9 in order to make the most out of the next day. We decided we’d head to the infamous Pier 39 first to check out the sea lions and see what was going on in the Fishermans Wharf area. This is such a lively and bustling part of the city and a definite must-see if you head to the city. DSCF0188.JPGPier 39 has been inhabited by a large group of sea lions who like to show off to the crowds that flock to see them. They are such beautiful creatures and it was hilarious to watch the dominant males fight each other off the ladies! We were really lucky when one sea lion just happened to swim right up to where we were standing! DSCF0194.JPGWe spent the rest of the day doing what my Grandad would call ‘a recce’, sussing out the surroundings and deciding what we wanted to do on each day. I tell you one thing I didn’t know about the city, how bloody hilly it is! Literally the roads are almost vertical! We staggered up a particularly steep one to get to the top of Lombard Street which is the most insanely curly road! I would LOVE to drive down it at some point!DSCF0220.JPG

Day two saw some of the most glorious weather so we headed to see the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in the sun. It is such a work of art and look even more amazing in person than I can ever describe.DSCF0239.JPG The colour is such a vivid red and is so striking against the backdrop. It’s about a 1.5km walk across the bridge each way so we decided to walk all the way over and just sit for half an hour on the other side before heading back. We both managed to catch the sun that day and the walk across was lovely, there are plenty of points to stop and take pictures! Once we’d walked back we decided to check out China Town which was incredibly beautiful! Lanterns were strung down the middle of the street and shops sold authentic Chinese food and goods. I honestly thought we’d been transported to China! After a lovely day we headed out for some dinner at a restaurant called Puccini Pinetti for some good old Italian food and then went for cocktails afterwards at a bar called Benjamin Cooper. I’m telling you now, they were some of the strongest cocktails I have ever experienced in my life! It’s safe to say I definitely felt worse for wear the next day!!

The following day Emily had to drag me up as I felt like i’d taken a sledgehammer to the head! We plodded on in the heat to find the Cherry Blossom Festival which is a celebration of Japanese culture. It was full of stalls to wander around but I was a bit disappointed there was no actual Cherry Blossom! We carried on walking until we found the house that was in the Mrs Doubtfire movie!IMG_8886 I found it so weird that it is in fact just a house and we saw a regular family who now lived in it! I kind of hoped they would have kept it as a shrine for the movie but it really was a beautiful property! Back up the hills we went to see the painted ladies – apparently the first brightly painted row of houses in the city. They reminded me a little bit of the children’s programme Balamory but in entirely pastel hues! For the afternoon we wandered around the quirky Haight Ashbury and I did a little bit of shopping to cure my hangover whilst Emily headed to Golden Gate park. We of course needed some more sustenance in the evening so went to a beautiful restaurant called Tratto for a pick me up (sans alcohol this time!).IMG_8825

For our final day in San Fran we decided to start the day off American Style by heading to Pine Crest Diner for brunch. How I walked around for the rest of the day I don’t know as that was one huge pile of waffles and pancakes! We wanted to have a quick look around the Yerba Buena Gardens where the Martin Luther King memorial is. It’s a lovely water feature with a path around the back and quote etched into the marble walls, a really special tribute! We spent the rest of the day by the water front and basking in the sun. In the evening we decided to head to Buena Vista Cafe where apparently the first ever Irish Coffee was served in the city. The tables were actually shared so we had a lovely family sat with us who actually lived in San Francisco. IMG_8931To top off an incredible few days we headed back to the hostel in style… on a cable car of course! I think we got luck as our driver was hilarious and really added to the experience, joking with us all, singing songs and pretending that we were going at about 70 miles per hour! It was something I’d longed to do and definitely something I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.IMG_8946.jpg

Sadly that marked the end of our time in California and we went to bed to get up bright and early for our flight to Seattle, Washington. I’ll be continue the travel diaries as soon as I can with my Seattle adventure but in the mean time I really hope you enjoyed this post! Have you ever been to San Francisco? What was your favourite part if you have?love-from-san-francisco-art-by-linda-woods-linda-woods

Much Love

xoxo

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A Evening With LUSH Nottingham!

Last Friday evening, I was invited to LUSH’s Nottingham store to see what new goodies they have on offer. I’m going to be honest and say that’s not a huge LUSH fan as I find the products a bit too heavily scented, however, I was intrigued to see whether I could find some bits that I really liked!

Previously, the only LUSH product I have loved was the Lover Lamp Bath Bomb and this was of course limited edition! I always seem to do this, find lovely products that aren’t always available… Damn it! I am definitely a bath girl so LUSH should really be my jam, but getting the bleach out to clean brightly coloured stains off the bath before mum explodes in anger is totally not what I want after a relaxing bath! Oh and don’t get me started on the glitter clean up! All this being said, I went in with an open mind and tried to discover some new goodies! img_2400_fotor

We were greeted by a huge team of staff who were ready to help us out on whatever station we were interested in. My ears pricked up at the word ‘spa’ and so I headed off to there first to find out more. I can honestly say I had no idea LUSH had spas around the country and the lovely girl telling me all about them asked if I would like to try a mini treatment. Hell yes to that! I got to pick a massage bar, I chose the peace bar FYI, and she let me indulge in a hand and arm massage for the next ten minutes. It was such a lovely experience and I really liked the feel of the product! Definitely easier than body lotion and it was a really subtle smell too! DSCF0392.JPG

I can’t honestly say what happened for the next hour, except that it absolutely whizzed by! I did make a stop at the skincare section and I of course ate some of the amazing Doughnuts that they’d brought us from the infamous DoughNotts! The skincare section was something I’d been aiming to visit from the start and I did try out a few goodies. The girl demo’d the Ultrabland cleanser, which seemed to work absolute wonders, so I asked if I could take home a sample to try to see if it beat some of my favourites. I tried it out that night and was sadly incredibly disappointed! Although I loved the feel of it, it left all of my eye makeup on and I had to end up triple cleansing just to get it all off! Sadly a bit of a fail for me!

Not to bring down the whole skincare section, I did decide to buy some of the Tea Tree Toner Water, on recommendation from Sophie. So far i’ve been liking it a lot, although I’m not sure whether thats just because of the amazing spritzer or not! You do get a decent amount of product for just under a fiver but I do think you could recreate it at home. When it runs out I am going to try a DIY version and see how it compares, I’ll keep you posted!

The girls let us put together an absolutely brilliant goodie bag and I feel like these are where the real winners have been for me! We were asked if we preferred baths or showers and I immediately said baths. However, out of the corner of my eye I saw that one of the shower options was The Comforter Shower Cream and I almost went mad saying I had to try it. I have smelt that stuff so many times and it’s been the one scent that really really drew me in. So that was the first product in the bag and I made a great choice. It is DIVINE! Even Tom loves the smell and it really does linger on the skin after use.DSCF0422_Fotor

The next item in the goodie bag was a choice of one of the three items from the Fathers Day range. We could pick the bath bomb, the soap or the bubble bar. Having never tried a bubble bar, I opted for that and this one is called The Modfather, aptly decorated in the form of a mod logo. These are meant to last you a couple of baths but because I don’t like too strong a scent or colour intensity, this is easily going to last me 6-7. The scent is quite orangey, which I like and with a small amount of the bar the bath goes a gorgeous turquoise blue! The bubbles are also really fluffy and last well which is nice! I may do a whole post on this, it depends if I have time as I have a billion posts in drafts just waiting for my exams to be over! DSCF0417.JPG

The final item was something from their self preserving range. This is a range that contains no chemical preservatives and is just kept with natural ingredients such as salt. There were two to choose from, a scrub or a mask but me being me, I went for the mask. It’s the Mask of Magnaminty which I have heard so much about in the past. I have only managed to use this once so far but I loved the consistency and I really liked how soft my skin felt afterwards. In typical LUSH fashion, the scent was a bit strong for me, but for the short time it’s on my face, it’s something I can get over. DSCF0421.JPG

I did manage to bag one more sneaky sample of one of their most intriguing products, the Tooth Fairy Tooth Powder. This is a bit like using activated charcoal but had a bubble gum taste to it that took a bit of getting used to! I absolutely loved using the powder though as I found the grittiness of it helped my teeth to feel cleaner and smoother. I think I will actually buy another one of these but perhaps in a more refreshing flavour. The Ultrabast one sounds more refreshing (the wasabi does put me off slightly) so perhaps I’ll try that. If you’ve tried that one let me know what you think! IMG_2957

I just want to say another huge thank you to LUSH Nottingham for having me! I had such a lovely evening and felt very welcome. I have some new goodies to review for you all and my showers have never been the same since the new bae (The Comforter obviously) has been joining me in there!

Much Love

xoxo

The Gin Festival!

On Sunday I headed off to the Gin Festival in Nottingham with my Grandad and Mum. I’d bought the ticket months ago so I couldn’t believe that it had finally arrived! The event was held at the Nottingham Conference centre, part of Nottingham Trent University in the city centre. As three avid gin lovers we were quite excited to see what was going to unfold during the afternoon and whether we would discover a new favourite!

The event started at 12.30pm and we were greeted with a gin glass (something I was very excited about) and what I assumed was a brochure. Little did I know that it was actually something I am now naming ‘The Gin Bible’, full of hundred of different gins, what mixer to pair them with and how to garnish them. It is honestly incredible and I am going to be ploughing my way through that little book from now on! The tickets to the event were £9 each and I’m not going to lie, I thought you might get one drink included with that but alas, that was not to be the case!

Once inside you bought tokens for £5 each which got you a gin of your choice (single shot) from the extensive bible and it’s appropriate mixer and garnish. There were 4 bars to choose from, two british gin bars, one international gin bar and one flavoured and sloe gin bar. We decided we would each pick a different gin from each bar so that by the end of the event we would have tried 12 different gins and their mixers. My grandad and I also wandered into the Mason’s masterclass to hear all about their offerings too so we got to try some of the original Masons gin too, made just up the road from my grandparents in Harrogate! I have to say that the Mason’s gin was hands down my favourite gin for a regular gin and tonic, it was so smooth and like nothing I had ever tried before, it was a total winner for me!

There was plenty going on throughout the day including more masterclasses, live music, cocktail making and of course, lots of gin drinking! I didn’t think the price of £5 per drink was too bad but the £10 a cocktail sadly put me off, that is really quite pricey in my eyes! They also had a lovely little ‘off license’ where you could buy cute merchandise and even bottles of your favourite gin on the day.

We had such a fab time and I wanted to write a little post just in case the gin festival is visiting a town near you soon as it is an annual event and actually tours around the UK! It is well worth a visit if you like gin and makes a great afternoon or evening out with friends and family! I am 100% going to try and go again next year and perhaps start making it a little family tradition! Have you been to the gin festival before? What gin would you recommend that I try?

Much Love

xoxo

 

 

Review |Gousto’s Subscription Box!

When I was younger, despite being a picky eater, I used to love cooking. Now though, I just cannot be bothered! I want something quick and easy whilst still maintaining an acceptable level of nutrition, whilst ALSO being vegetarian. It’s a tough challenge that I usually leave to Mum or Tom! However, when I got offered the chance to try out a Gousto box*, I decided to man up and take over the cooking reins for a change!

The thing I liked the most about the whole Gousto ordering process was just how easy and straight forward it was! After signing up you simply decide how many people you are wanting to cater for (either 2 or 4) and how many meals you would like to order. I went for the 2 meals for 2 people option to give Tom and I two meals that were all ready to go. Gousto separates the recipes out to make it easy for you to find something that’s suitable. The tabs include vegetarian, low calorie and even family-friendly to ensure you pick something that’s going to be a good fit!

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On the left are the chilled ingredients in their mini cool bag and the rest are packed safely on the right!
I chose two vegetarian meals but I do think some of the meat meals could be adapted to suit both of us as I don’t mind separating portions out last minute or just popping the meat to one side for Tom. The week I ordered, two meals really jumped out at me: the Aubergine Parmigiana and the Four Veg Ratatouille Lasagne! As I’m writing this I’ve already made the Parmigiana but the Lasagne is still to come!

The box is scheduled to arrive any time before 5pm on the day you order it so it will always be in time for dinner! Mine arrived before midday which was great but don’t worry if you are out, you schedule arrangements for your box prior to delivery and you select the day too so you know when it’s going to appear. The boxes are also okay out of the fridge for up to 24hours due to the ice backs and insulation inside the box! The use recyclable ice packs and bags of sheep wool to keep the chilled ingredients cold! At 7pm when I started cooking, the ice was only half melted which was pretty impressive! I’m not going to lie, I got quite excited when the box arrived and rushed to open it to see all the goodies inside! I can honestly say that the veg was some of the freshest and most perfect looking veg I have seen in years! It was like they had just been harvested! Both my recipes were actually Italian as we love Italian food but the ‘store cupboard produce’ like the tinned tomatoes looked incredible quality (and later proved to taste incredible too)! Gousto had even popped in a wooden spoon which I thought was one of the cutest touches and I’m banning anyone from using it so it still looks perfect when I move out and add it to my own kitchen! DSCF0374_Fotor.jpg

Each recipe is printed on a card with step by step instructions and even pictures to guide you through it! This was something I found to be really useful as I often get a bit paranoid that what I’m making isn’t quite what the recipe is asking for! One thing I will point out is that the times printed on the cards are quite unrealistic. The aubergine parmigiana was meant to only take 35 minutes from start to finish but 10minutes in and I was still on step one! From opening the box to sitting down to eat it took me just over an hour, still not an unreasonable length of time in my opinion but it’s just something to be aware of, particularly if the recipes have slightly longer times on them!

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My First Ever Aubergine Parmigiana – FROM SCRATCH!!!
I have to say the recipe was easy to follow and the portion size for two people was actually pretty spot on! Tom is a big eater and I eat slightly under a normal person I would say and we had a tiny bit left after we were both full. There are only minimal ingredients that are not included such as olive oil, something I didn’t realise though and had to improvise at one point making my ‘pesto’ with butter instead. Not a disaster but definitely not what the chef had intended the pesto to look like! As someone that rarely graces the kitchen other than to open cupboards and ask mum what’s for dinner, I found the whole process really enjoyable and had Tom not been breathing down my neck the whole time desperate for food, I would have been quite relaxed! I can definitely see us using this service in the future as it would be hard to buy all the ingredients for such interesting recipes for much less than £27.49. We often end up spending a similar amount in Marks & Spencers just buying bits to chuck in the oven. It also takes a lot of the hassle out of food shopping and meal planning which I like and ends up preventing some of that panic last minute buying of pizzas and garlic bread that often happens to us. I don’t think I could be bothered to cook weekly as I often come in after 7pm, but I could definitely see us buying these once a month to try some new things.

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Even my ‘pesto’ bruschetta’s turned out alright in the end!
If you fancy trying Gousto out for yourselves then I have a code where your first AND second boxes could cost as little as £7.49 each! If you want a bigger box than 2 meals for 2 people (or 1 meal for 4 people) then it will cost a little more but the code takes £20 off the price of each box regardless, just input TORNADO at the checkout! There are so many amazing sounding recipes so let me know which ones you chose if you do try it out, they change weekly so if there’s not something you fancy this week then hang on till next week and check it out again! One final thing to note is just how easy it is to alter your delivery schedule, cancel your subscription or to just order one off boxes rather than subscribe. I like it when a company is transparent and Gousto is definitely that! There’s no hidden catches and no tie-ins, it’s just out to be as easy and beneficial as possible! I am planning to purchase one off boxes as we are always busy and always seem to be eating out or on the go so this will definitely fit in better for our lifestyle!

Have you tried Gousto before? What do you think of the concept?

Much Love

xoxo

*I was sent this box free to try but all opinions remain my own. I was genuinely intrigued to see if a kitchen hater like me could be converted and I really enjoyed trialling this out!

Makeup Masterclass |Tackling Glitter with Cabella

A few weeks ago I was invited to a makeup masterclass at Cabella in Nottingham specialising on glitter smoky eyes and contouring. I adore glitter and, having a rather round face, I should learn to love contouring too, so I jumped at the chance to see what they could show me! They were kind enough to let me take a plus one, so my bestie Lora came along too! Another of my local blogging pals Rebecca was also there with her sister which made for a really nice, small group!

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The Full Glam look on Charlie!

Having visited Cabella during the Snizl event, I already knew they used the likes of Glitter Eyes, LA Girl and Milani for the majority of their looks, all of which I either already use or have wanted to try for a while! The way the class worked was that there were two looks being demonstrated: a day time look and a more all out glam look, perfect for a night on the town. I mean I wear glitter whenever the hell I want but they did manage to make it look more subtle for the day time which was nice and totally something I’m going to try to recreate, especially on my Mum who has yet to let me attack her with the glitter! The girls (Dannica & Jordan) talked us through each step, starting with base and leading all the way up to the lips at the end.

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Daytime Glam on Jordan’s Mum!

As a huge makeup lover I did find that the majority of things that we were told were just the norm, however a complete makeup novice, or someone wanting to improve on the basics, would probably find all the hints and tips more useful. That being said, I found their tips for hooded eyes really helpful as I always feel like i’m working against my eye  shape rather than with it! Watching the looks take place was incredibly therapeutic and Charlie & Jordan’s Mum both looked gorgeous (even if they had only done half a face to show us a contrast)! I did get a lot of serious ‘buy me vibes’ from every shade of glitter though and it was lucky for my bank that they’d had a busy Saturday otherwise i’d have probably walked away with every shade!! They also sell their own brush sets, which I’m definitely going to go back and buy, for only £20 for 12 brushes!

Once the demo was over, we were given a chance to try to do the makeup on ourselves and I got to test out just how soft their brushes were. I already had makeup on but decided to just throw caution to the wind and start applying on top of what I had on. Surprisingly, I seemed to have good success and I was so happy with the end result! The look I followed actually used the Morphe 35O palette which I already own so it was nice to know I could create the majority of it at home with minimal new purchases! Something I found incredibly useful was the information we were given to take home. This listed every item used including shades and even brush names – perfect if like me you were too engrossed in the makeup application to listen to every precise detail!

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My attempt after the tutorial! FYI: Lipstick – “O” by MAC!

The girls even managed to convert me to the L’oreal True Match foundation despite me hating the previous formula! This one couldn’t be any different and they were only happy to colour match me! Cue a trip to Boots with Lora straight after so we could each pick up a bottle! The general vibe at Cabella is just relaxed girly fun and I could not believe how quickly two and a half hours passed by! Dannica & Jordan are hilarious and the banter between the girls ensured that it was a good laugh too! They have masterclasses running regularly covering all sorts of topics but I’d definitely recommend the glitter smoky eye if you love a bit of glam and sparkle! If you fancy a girly evening with some friends or family then definitely visit the shop to get booked in or visit their website to see what else they have on offer, you even get offered a glass of bubbly to go with your glitter, what more could you ask for?!

Are you a glitter lover or does it scare you off?

Much Love

xoxo

My Showcase |Latest Offers & Steals #2

Just before I headed off on holiday, another fabulous package arrived on my doorstep from the guys overs at MyShowcase! It was their latest box full of goodies for me to share with you and contained some of their best offers for the next period. The offers are usually open for quite a while so you get a good chance to make the most of them! This time all the offers are valid until the 30th June so you have ages!

The first brand that was in the box this month was Connock London, a company that i’d never heard of. What I like the most about MyShowcase is the fact that you get to try more niche luxury brands, yet still get good gift with purchase offers! At the moment, if you buy any two Connock London products, you get a free full sized hand cream* worth £15! The hand cream is a generous 50ml with a nice pump and lid to make for very easy use! The scent is quite strong but it’s actually quite nice and I’m very picky with fragrances! It soaks in nicely and doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy in the slightest! DSCF0111_Fotor.jpg

The other two products from this brand were the Kukui Eau De Parfum* (30ml for £35) and the Radiant Glow Body Oil* (125ml for £34). Firstly, the packaging on the perfume was so cute! The box with the lid was unusual yet chic and really did feel high quality! As i’ve said, the fragrance of these products is quite strong so a little really does go a long way! 30ml would last you a really long time! The first thing I thought of when I smelt this was the Givency’s Ysatis perfume as my mum used to wear it many years ago! It made me feel quite nostalgic! I have yet to try the body oil so I can’t really comment too much on that but it again has the same fragrance from the Kukui Oil and the packaging is nice and simple, following the same shaped bottle as the perfume which I liked!

This month, there is another New CID offer to take advantage of! When you buy one of the i-pout lipsticks and an i-gloss lip gloss you get a free Retractable Lip Brush* worth £16. Now i’m not going to lie, I hate the name of these products, they sound very childish when in fact they are pretty damn nifty! I had a gloss with a light in it years ago and it turned into a complete lifesaver on a night out! I have to say I really love the colour I was sent, it’s the shade tickled pink* and it just gives the lips the most amazing finish. It is slightly shimmery yet the glitter is in no way chunky and best of all, it’s not sticky! It feels almost balm like on the lips and, despite not actually being plumping, I feel like my lips look fuller when I wear it! There is a scent to the lipgloss that I can’t quite put my finger on but it’s fresh and subtle so I like it a lot! As you untwist the lid of the gloss, two little lights in the cap come on to make it easy to see what you’re doing on a night out, the mirror on the side of the tube is equally as handy and the brush applicator just finishes the packaging off perfectly. All in all a really great product!DSCF0113_Fotor.jpg

The final item I received was the i-pout Lipstick in the shade Desert Rose* (£18). Now unfortunately I seem to have received a bit of a dud with this one as my little light doesn’t work, however there is still a mirror down one side and the formulation of the lipstick is nice. The shade is the perfect my-lips-but-better shade and pairs beautifully with the lipgloss! It reminds me of a creamier version of MAC’s Brave and it’s very easy to wear!

Another great bunch of products from MyShowcase with my favourite probably being the lipgloss surprisingly! However, if you were to only get one product from them then I would urge you to pick up the Radiant Glow Mask* from last months selection as the more I use that, the more I fall in love with it! It’s simply divine! I’m actually enjoying the brand Evolve so much that I’m debating whether to pick up this amazing set, with a mix of their products in, what do you think? Which product do you like the sound of the most? DSCF0068_Fotor

Much Love

xoxo

*This post contains affiliate links. I am a Brand Ambassador for MyShowcase and get sent products to try. All products with a * were sent free of charge.

 

 

Travel Tips |How to Hack Hosteling & a Few Recommendations!

I’m a snob and i’m totally not ashamed to admit it. Sharing a room with complete strangers; sharing a toilet down the corridor and sleeping on a lumpy bunkbed.. hell right? Well despite being a snob, I am also on a pretty low budget whilst i’m finishing my degree so to be able to travel, a girl needs to lower her expectations regarding sleeping arrangements! Emily, my resident travel partner and all round bestie, convinced me to give it a good shot and I thought i’d tell you all about my experiences as, if I can hack it, you most definitely can!

I’ve stayed in a hostel twice before my US/Canadian road trip, however both times I stayed in rooms filled entirely with people I knew so it was slightly different. My first ever experience was in Barcelona (cue Ed Sheeran) where I only stayed for one night as a place to crash before heading off to Benicassim festival! As this was back in the summer of 2013 I had to do some investigating regarding where we stayed, but I’m pretty sure it was in the Barcelona BCN Go! Hostel and we had a four bed room with ensuite.

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Barcelona dorm rooms!

This was a pretty tame introduction to hosteling as it was so modern and I had bathroom facilities in the room, like a hotel, and my room was filled with my friends. Easy. If you are unsure then this is definitely the way to start as you are with people you know and have an ensuite so no bathroom sharing is required!

The second experience was back in 2014 in Stockholm where I stayed with two of my besties in a three bed dorm. This was a bit more of a jump into the hostel world as a) we had to share a bathroom down the corridor, b) the room was microscopic and c) THERE WERE NO BLOODY WINDOWS! Having said that, it was miles cheaper than any hotel options we could find and the whole bathroom sharing was actually okay! It was kind of like a swimming pool changing rooms with toilets and showers. All totally fine! When I went to try and find this hostel I drew a complete blank – Sorry!

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San Francisco Dorms!

So now, a few toe dips into the hosteling thing, I embarked on the proper hostelling! Now you have choices when booking your room, mixed or single sex dorms; the size of your dorms and whether you want an ensuite or not. All of these vary in price of course but I would say that the price difference between a mixed and a single sex dorm is usually only a couple of pounds so definitely go with what would make you more comfortable. We went for female only dorms and i’m glad we did! We also went for four person dorms which are slightly more than say 6, 8 or even 24 (I know ridiculous right) bed dorms but I felt a lot safer leaving my belongings in the room. We didn’t have an ensuite as the price difference was quite significant, but it was honestly no trouble at all in any of the hostels we stayed in. They seem to ply you with toilets and showers (all in single rooms with lockable doors!!) so I don’t think I ever had to wait!

The first hostel we stayed in was in San Francisco and was the HI (Hosteling International) Hostel Downtown and was great! We stayed for five nights and found the location to be perfect, the beds were comfy and they even provided a free breakfast! Admittedly it was a rather sparse array of food – bagels or bagels anyone?5023 Saying that it was nice to have the option and did help to line your stomachs for a day out sightseeing! Each dorm was equip with a sink and lockers for you to store your valuables but you do need your own lock, something I had completely overlooked! You did get towels and free wifi though so you can’t really complain for £30 a night!

One thing I would say is that your roommates really are luck of the draw. You could have completely rowdy people or lovely sociable solo travellers. It’s hard to predict but I would say look at how the hostel describes itself and that usually a good idea of the kind of people you may be put with. ‘Lively’ is usually a sign for lots of partygoers so if that’s not your thing, look for a more ‘friendly’ or ‘sociable’ option! We were very lucky in all our hostels and never had any issues with any of our roommates and actually had a good chat with a few of them! In San Francisco we had a lovely solo traveller from Melbourne and a quite quite Chinese girl who kept herself to herself.

Next stop on our hosteling adventure was Seattle and again another good hostel! It was the City Hostel Seattle and was definitely more ‘indie’ than San Francisco and seemed to have a lot of quirky characters in it. Each of the rooms has artwork on the walls, painted by local artists. Emily had previously stayed here and said that her room was incredibly creepy last time but we were very lucky this time with stained glass windows painted on to the walls

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Rather elaborate artwork in Seattle!

We had a variety of people staying with us, including two au pairs, a 60 year old woman and an asian girl who came in at 3am and slept in her full going out outfit. It was a real mixed bag but all of them were lovely! Again ‘breakfast’ was provided but we did get the choice of pineapple and bran flakes this time! This hostel had the most amazing bathrooms but the showers were ridiculously powerful, seriously if you’d turned around, you’d have probably lost at least one of your nipples.

The final hostel was by far the most unique one of the bunch and I LOVED it! This one was in Whistler and was called Whistler Lodge. It was all wooden, surrounded by trees and snow and even had a hot tub and sauna! whistler-lodge-hostelAgain for £30 a night you could not really ask for more! The hostel is very quiet at night which I liked and each ‘bed’ was a pod with a mattress, curtain and light – incredibly cosy and I slept so so well! It also had a cute ‘no shoes inside’ policy so everyone was padding around in socks which made it feel very homely!

Whistler-lodge-hostel-Dorm-Room
Whistler Lodge ‘Dorms’

So what would I recommend for you to do if you’re planning on staying in a hostel?

  • Do your research – Think location, atmosphere, dorm size, gender and price
  • Take a lock and a towel – unless you don’t mind renting them both for a small fee
  • Go in with an open mind – hostels are improving so much and many are just hotels with less stars as they have less facilities.

Finally, what are the pro’s and cons?

PROS

  • Incredibly cheap
  • You can meet new people from all over the world
  • They often have events you can get involved in

CONS

  • You don’t know who you’re going to be sharing a room with (some people do not share the same hygiene standards as you – don’t you brush your hair over the sink?!)
  • They’re quite basic
  •  You have to act like a child and sleep in a bunk bed!

Overall I would say I had a fantastic time staying in hostels, something which I NEVER thought I would say! I got to see some fantastic cities for a lot cheaper and I genuinely slept well and would stay in them again in a heartbeat. I felt safe, welcome and comfortable and enjoyed the whole experience! If you’re on the fence about it like I was then definitely give it a go! Have you stayed in hostels before?

Much Love

xoxo

P.s all photography in this post is not my own (found through Google) as I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures when I was sharing with people I didn’t know.