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A Mini-Break In Sunny LA

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Location USA, Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anika Reynolds
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COMMENTS

Hollywood Sign

From the Hollywood hills to the palm-lined boulevards and the quintessential Californian beaches, Los Angeles is a sprawling city of contrasts. Encompassing A-list glamour, relaxed beach vibes, urban hideaways and cultural fusions, there is so much to see and do, no matter what you and your partner enjoy.

I have selected five of my favourite ways to experience the city of angels. So, set aside a few days on your US honeymoon and start planning – California here we come!

Palms

Explore Hollywood and the Hills

Sometimes you have to surrender to being a tourist – otherwise you miss part of the experience! This is definitely true of Hollywood – yes it’s crowded with sightseers, but it’s also a must-see for first-timers to LA.

Wander along Hollywood Boulevard browsing the Walk of Fame, say hello to the celebrity (and superhero) impersonators and check out the world-renowned theatres, including the celebrity handprints at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Music buffs will enjoy taking a detour a few blocks over to the Guitar Centre to see some epic instruments, memorabilia and the Rockwalk – handprints of guitar heroes from today and years gone by.

Walk of Fame

Million Dollar Listing fans simply must take a Starline Movies Stars Homes tour. It’s a great way to get your bearings and travel around some renowned LA neighbourhoods while also admiring some super luxe real estate.

Beverly Hills is another essential stop on your LA layover. People watch on Rodeo Drive, wander along the cobblestoned European-style mall Two Rodeo Drive, and see the famous Beverly Hills sign at Beverly Gardens Park.

Rodeo Drive

Beverly Hills Park

Hike the canyon

For a holiday workout with a possible celebrity sighting, take a trek up the canyon. Runyon Canyon is a 130 acre city park situated at the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains and is easily accessible from Hollywood. It has a range of winding trails, loop tracks and steeper ascents to tackle depending on your fitness level, and its lofty position provides great views of Hollywood on a clear day. This is an ideal way to experience nature in the heart of Los Angeles and mingle with the locals! 

Visit the markets

LA locals love their fresh produce, making a visit to a farmer’s market an authentic experience. The Original Farmers Market is a delicious culinary stop, brimming with epicurean delights.

This market mainstay has everything; from meat and seafood stalls, to cosy restaurants and bars, fresh produce, decadent desserts and specialty stores. Foodie couples will easily spend a couple of hours here exploring, sampling and tucking into a good meal!

Farmers Market

Take a beach day

There are plenty of iconic stretches of sand near Los Angeles that are well worth a visit. Begin your coastal sojourn at the legendary Santa Monica Pier, and enjoy a throwback-style date with an OC vibe. Take a spin in the Ferris wheel and spot sea lions frolicking at the end of the pier before playing some old-school arcade games and grabbing burgers at Pier Burger – a must do!

Santa Monica Pier

Continue along the coast to Venice and cruise the boardwalk, watch the skaters and snap a photo of the chilled neighbourhood’s famous hanging sign. A little further along, you will find Venice’s remaining canals. This historic locale provides a fantastic photo opportunity and is bursting with charming and quirky homes.

Venice sign

Lifesavers hut

Stay at an icon

For an elegant accommodation option that oozes old Hollywood glamour, check in to The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel situated in the heart of the action. This stately 1920s Spanish-style hotel has hosted countless soirees and was once a go-to for superstars like Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.

Its sparkling palm-fringed resort-style pool is a frequent VIP venue and as guests you might just snaffle an invite to an event during your stay. Be sure to also drop into The Spare Room for a drink. This dimly lit bar features leather couches and boardgames – plus a vintage bowling alley! Perfect for people watching and classic cocktails.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Pool

All images by Anika Reynolds

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: With so many things to see and do, LA is such a fabulous spot for a stopover; the food markets and Hollywood Boulevard look like so much fun!

About Anika: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!

Romantic Staycations At The Mansion Hotel and Spa At Werribee Park

by | Honeymoons, Location Australia, Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Polka Dot Bride
0
COMMENTS

Werribee Mansion Panorama

Late last year, with our working commitments coming to an end for the Polka Dots, Mr. Polka and I set off for the weekend to kick-start the festive season with a weekend in the country. Our destination? The Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park. A place we were both so familiar with through photographs, bridal shoots and weddings but one that we have never had the pleasure of visiting ourselves.

Werribee Mansion Clock towerWerribee Mansion Flowers

Werribee Mansion Hotel Entrance

The quick hour drive from Melbourne city took us past working farms and wide open fields – it was clear a relaxed weekend escape was on the agenda. The atmosphere and feeling of the weekend was only enhanced as we entered the long winding driveway to the mansion itself, past the giraffes and rhinos in the neighbouring zoo. The road to the hotel, private from the rest of the park, is lined with leafy trees and is akin to driving up to the Australian version of a beautiful old English mansion.

We’re greeted at the door by the very dashing Cedric who whisks us through the beautifully decorated hotel lobby, past Joseph’s Restaurant and bar and through the long corridors to our suite – all the while telling us the history behind the beautiful estate.

Werribee Mansion Hotel Lobby

Werribee Mansion Hallway

With 91 guest rooms, The Mansion’s two wings marry old and new, with the heritage rooms being renovated students’ rooms while the newer rooms, located within close proximity to the spa, are newly built with all the luxury one would come to expect from a fine hotel. The building maintains historic features – arched doorways, elegant wooden balustrades and picture rails; the details are as rich and as fine as an episode of Downton Abbey.

Our room, a junior suite, is located in the Spa wing directly over the spa (for easy access!) and looks out over the stunning trees of Werribee Park from our private balcony. Our enormous king size bed (complete with pillow menu) takes centre stage with a well stocked mini bar, flat screen TV, coffee machine, lounge area, working desk and closet and bathroom with enormous spa bath (and Appelles toiletries, including body sponges, scrubs and body wash).

The finishing jewel in the crown of course was the bottle of chilled French champagne with handwritten note welcoming us to the hotel – the perfect way to kick off our weekend staycation.

Werribee Mansion Hotel Suite

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Werribee Mansion Hotel Room

Werribee Mansion Seating AreaWerribee Mansion King Bed

Werribee Mansion Bathrobes

Werribee Mansion Bathroom

I always think an amazing hotel like this can only be made into a complete weekend experience if there are good facilities, and the Mansion Spa is a winner. Located in the spa wing of the hotel, the Mansion Spa comes complete with couple treatment rooms (perfect for a honeymoon treat or a girls’ weekend away). Adding to the luxury experience, they’ve partnered with leading skincare brand Guinot – a true treat for your skin. Our candle-lit spa room with fresh flowers set the scene for an afternoon facial lulling us swiftly into relaxation mode for the afternoon ahead.

Werribee Mansion Spa Entrance

We couldn’t visit Werribee Mansion without seeing the actual Mansion, so in our slightly dozy state and with glowing faces we wandered in the sunshine to the historic building. Part of the perk of being a hotel guest is free entry to the house as many times as you like during your stay. The majestic building holds a multitude of stories within its walls and was decorated for Christmas on our arrival. The dining room table set with a richly toned Christmas feast, a grand Christmas tree twinkling in the corner of the living room. Garlands and wreaths hanging from the stairs and balustrades among the beautiful paintings and art.

Werribee Mansion Wedding

Werribee Mansion Historic Building

Werribee Mansion Dining room

Werribee Mansion Histroic StairsWerribee Mansion Tiled Verandah

Werribee Mansion Sunroom

Werribee Mansion Inside

Werribee Mansion Dining

Werribee Mansion Ballroom CeilingWerribee Mansion Ballroom

Werribee Mansion Billiard Room

My favourite part of the house though was the sunlight filled salon with its blue and gold trimmings, the vintage glamour of which left me dreaming of bands and balls and dancing the night away. This is truly a mansion of grandeur.

After enjoying a glass or two of champagne in our room, with the doors open, enjoying the soft breeze from the eucalypt trees, we made our way to onsite Josephs Restaurant for dinner. The restaurant, with its expansive windows, overlooks the gardens of the hotel and is situated right next to the hotel bar. Boasting Australian cuisine with an extensive Australian based wine list, we kick off our three course meal with dukkah-crusted lamb and perfectly cooked scallops as we sip on the beautifully toned Lindenwarrah Pinot Noir. For mains, we choose the special of the day – a chargrilled rib eye steak complete with crusty potatoes and salad (adding French fries is our favourite), the shared style of digging in together becoming a highlight of the meal.

Werribee Mansion Jospehs Restaurant

Josephs Restaurant

Chocolate and olive oil cake and a cheese platter filled our bellies ready for an evening treat. Tonight, the local Wyndham carols by candlelight are booked in front of the mansion. We get front row seats as we wander across the lawn and sit on the hotel side of the lawns, watching the Mansion light up and listening to the sweet tones of Christmas tunes drift across the gardens.

Werribee Mansion Carols

It becomes clear that the Mansion is the focal point of the hotel, and the next morning after we’re full from the delicious and freshly prepared buffet breakfast (offering delights like freshly blended smoothies with colourful paper straws, pastries, cheeses, fruits and the usual cooked and cold breakfast fare) we wandered out the door to take in the view. The Mansion sits proudly amongst the perfectly manicured lawns, the bright colourful blooms popping from the gardens, the glasshouses and the lake. I think this is my favourite time at the Mansion. The morning peace before the general public is allowed in the door, we have the gardens practically to ourselves in the cool morning air.

Werribee Mansion Hotel

Werribee Mansion

Werribee Mansion Grounds

Werribee Mansion Building

Werribee Mansion Gardens

Werribee Mansion Hotel and Spa

Some people love to get away and do absolutely nothing on a weekend break, while others love adventure and activity, and Werribee Mansion offers the rare combination of a tranquil, stunning surroundings with plenty to do. Hotel guests not only have access to the spa, indoor pool and gym, free entry to the Mansion and roaming of the grounds before they open to the public, but they also have free wine tastings at neighbouring Shadowfax Winery.

With the Werribee Open Range Zoo and State Rose Garden close by, it is easy to see how a weekend here could easily turn into a week without running out of things to do! The Mansion complex makes it the perfect way to spend a honeymoon at home, or a weekend away or even a wedding – the hotel housing the beautiful recently opened Refectory as well as the classic library theatre, Josephs Restaurant and pavilion for wedding receptions. With endless garden settings and on site accommodation, you and your guests can check in on Friday and stay the entire weekend with everything right at your fingertips.

As we check out, Cedric tells us that later in the day there’s to be a jazz concert on the lawns. A day on the green before an afternoon in the spa almost tempts us to stay in a haze of pampered relaxation. Our life calls us back to reality – but this hidden haven will call us back soon, for another weekend that only an hour away from Melbourne, feels like another world.

 Polka Dot Bride stayed at Werribee Mansion as a guest of  the Lancemore Group for editorial consideration in accordance with our disclosure policy.

Images by Polka Dot Bride.

One and Only Hayman Island

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Location Australia, Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ms Filigree
1
COMMENT

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Paradise. The only way to possibly describe the magic that is One and Only at Hayman Island. Having been lucky enough to enjoy the crystal clear waters and luxuriousness of One and Only for a week over summer, I was completely enchanted by everything that the resort has to offer.

Flying into Hamilton Island, you can opt for either the one hour luxury launch transfer, complete with sparkling and canapes, or a private helicopter flight to complete your journey to One and Only Hayman Island. From the moment you begin your stay with the One and Only team, it is clear that they want you to love this island they call home as much as they do.

After being shown to our ocean view room which overlooked the new Aquazure pool and restaurant, the island was our playground to explore and we wasted no time in doing just that. Here are some of our activity and dining highlights from our stay.

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Activities:

The activities on offer at Hayman Island will keep you entertained for any length of stay! With two stunning pools, motorised and non motorised sports, bush walks, an award-winning spa, Great Barrier Reef adventures and dazzling air adventures, there is something for everyone. Having experienced much of what this stunning island has to offer throughout our stay, two of our favourite adventures are detailed below:

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Whitehaven Beach Helicopter Adventure

The activities team at One and Only are absolutely exceptional and we were so thrilled that we took their advice with an air experience. There are both sea plane and helicopter trips on offer, but wanting something just for the two of us, we opted for a helicopter. Our day included flying over and then landing on the beautiful Whitehaven Beach where we enjoyed a beautiful picnic and walk along the beach. An unforgettable experience for you and your loved one.

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Non Motorised Sports – Catamaran Sailing

The beach at Hayman Island is perfect for non motorised water sports and catamaran sailing was one of our favourites! Never having sailed before, the watersports team guided us through the techniques and then we were free to sail throughout the beach area as we pleased. It was such a perfect way to spend the morning with sunshine and crystal blue waters.

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This really is just the tip of the iceberg with activities. We both absolutely loved the spa treatments, the Langford Island picnic (and turtle sighting) was wonderful, the bush walk down to snorkelling at Blue Pearl Bay was well worth the hike and honestly, every activity that we experienced was excellent and professionally executed.

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Dining:

With six bars and restaurants on the island, every dining experience you have will not only be unique, but also of the finest quality. On our first night, we enjoyed a romantic dinner on the beach from the fine dining Fire restaurant. With the sun setting on the horizon and our personal waiters bringing out a delicious three course meal, it was the perfect way to start our week.

Another very special dining experience includes taking a table at the Fire restaurant which is an exquisite choice for a very romantic night. With decadent red drapes suspended from the room and live music playing throughout the evening, Fire restaurant was definitely a highlight from the week.

We ended the week with dinner at Aquazure restaurant (where we had also enjoyed many long lunches with sunset cocktails) and the selection of beautiful seafood and contemporary dishes was a great way to end a perfect week.

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If One and Only has sparked your interest not only got your honeymoon but for your ceremony and reception too, there are some stunning areas that will create the ultimate luxurious wedding. Whether it is a beach, garden or chapel ceremony that you’re interested in, the One and Only team will work with you to bring your dreams to life. Starting your lives together at One and Only…what more could you want?

 

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: One and Only is definitely on my list: absolute heaven at our doorstep!

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