Pages

Search This Blog

Popular Posts

Solo trip to Aberdeen
The photos in this post were taken as part of a press trip but this post was not part of that collaboration.

Solo travel isn't something I ever thought was for me. I guess I've 'travelled' alone many times. To Istanbul each year since I was a child, Singapore and back, European cities to visit expat friends and even to Australia from the UK a few years ago. However, someone always met me at the other end and the only solo portion was the journey, which was fine.

I have never even had a weekend away completely on my own, other than for work, but that doesn't really count as I'd be meeting colleagues for meals and social activities. I just didn't think it was for me. When I was a lot younger I'd actually feel sorry for people travelling alone, thinking 'what a shame, have they not got anyone to go with?!'

Then as I got to my 30s, I started to really enjoy following the adventures of inspiring solo travellers. Bloggers such as The Wandering Quinn, and While I'm Young who thought nothing of spending quality time with themselves made me think: am I actually missing out here? Their experiences certainly didn't sound like they had nobody to go with, or that they had a sad time on their own, in fact it looked absolutely liberating!

My first experience of solo travel in my 30s

Solo trip to Aberdeen
The photos in this post were taken as part of a press trip but this post was not part of that collaboration.

Solo travel isn't something I ever thought was for me. I guess I've 'travelled' alone many times. To Istanbul each year since I was a child, Singapore and back, European cities to visit expat friends and even to Australia from the UK a few years ago. However, someone always met me at the other end and the only solo portion was the journey, which was fine.

I have never even had a weekend away completely on my own, other than for work, but that doesn't really count as I'd be meeting colleagues for meals and social activities. I just didn't think it was for me. When I was a lot younger I'd actually feel sorry for people travelling alone, thinking 'what a shame, have they not got anyone to go with?!'

Then as I got to my 30s, I started to really enjoy following the adventures of inspiring solo travellers. Bloggers such as The Wandering Quinn, and While I'm Young who thought nothing of spending quality time with themselves made me think: am I actually missing out here? Their experiences certainly didn't sound like they had nobody to go with, or that they had a sad time on their own, in fact it looked absolutely liberating!
Centre parcs lodge without kids
Centre Parcs is one of those places that brings back nothing but fond memories for me. It's somewhere we visited annually when I was young, and the memories of riding my bike with my Grandad around the woodland make me so happy. I stopped joining the family on their trips when I was about 16. Sadly I just got to that age where it's "sooo uncool" to holiday with your parents and you'd prefer to sulk at home. As a side note, I'd now give anything to holiday with my parents more. Funny how things change!

Roll forward 16 years and I haven't ever been back to Centre Parcs since! It's not because I don't love the place, clearly, but it's because I always ask myself the same question...

Is Centre Parcs Really Worth the Money Without Kids?

In my mind the main plus points for a trip to Centre Parcs are: the safety of no vehicles being around, the fabulous swimming pool included in your stay and huge variety of family-friendly activities on offer. All things that are amazing if you have children, but do you need all that if it's just you and your partner or a group of mates? I've just always felt that I'd rather use that extra cost to stay at a fancy spa resort or swanky hotel for the weekend instead.

Then this year it was my auntie's big 5-0 and she kindly booked for us all to head back to Centre Parcs for the weekend. It was an ideal location for her peaceful birthday break, especially as it was my Grandad's favourite place and we sadly lost him last year. In April, a group of 6 adults headed to Centre Parcs Sherwood Forest for the weekend and I was really looking forward to seeing it again. I was excited to see if it was worth the money without kids - had I been missing out for the last few years?

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids

Is the lodge at Centre Parcs worth it?

It's amazing how small things come back to you, even after 16 years, and the lodge layout was so familiar to me. It was a decent size with nice, neutral decor, and all the facilities you could need for a long weekend stay. The good thing about going to Centre Parcs as a group of adults is that the cost of a lodge isn't as expensive when shared amongst the group.

It's lovely to have a base for everyone to stay together if you're in a group, and we loved being able to decorate for my auntie's birthday. I noticed that Centre Parcs also have the option to order a party package and have the lodge decorated for your arrival, which is a nice touch for a big birthday or other occasion.

The living area is cosy with plenty of space for everyone to gather round the built in fire.

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids - living area

The lodge wasn't decorated particularly for children and had a nice, homely feel so I definitely feel that it's worth it for a group of adults to get together. I read that hen parties were banned but we saw a few there, so it may be worth considering for a quiet hen or stag do but make sure you double-check if you are able to wear veils / sashes etc.

I have since had a look at studio apartments for us to visit as a couple since a whole lodge cost split between two can be pricey. An amazing tip I picked up from the Money Saving Expert is to check for last minute deals on the official Centre Parcs site here as some absolutely cracking bargains pop up if you can visit on short notice!

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids - bedroom

Are the activities at Centre Parcs worth it?

Over the course of the weekend we mainly visited the swimming pool, some of the group hired bikes and we had some nice walks around the grounds. Bikes are pricey so it's best to take your own if you have them. Whilst the pool is mainly aimed at a younger audience there are some decent rides which definitely appealed to the big kids in us and we had a really good laugh there. I wouldn't visit for the pool alone as an adult, but it's definitely worth a look if you like water slides.

We had a game of bowling one night and some of the group played badminton. I sat out of that as I am absolutely shocking at any sports which require hand-eye coordination! There was football on and we sat in the sports bar afterwards which had quite a grown up atmosphere, definitely not all about kids although there were some families around.

There were so many other activities we could've booked and I wish we'd got round to crazy golf. I was surprised to see how many adult-friendly activities there were to book. On reflection I'd say the activities are definitely worth the money without kids in tow, and this would be the reason to book a stay at Centre Parcs rather than somewhere you'd go to just completely relax.

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids

Is the food at Centre Parcs worth it?

We had a few meals out and the food was nice and varied but definitely not a huge plus point of the stay as a group of adults. The restaurant prices are inflated, taking advantage of the fact you're a captive audience, but you are able to purchase your own food at the on-site supermarket and cook, or bring in a food shop from a cheaper external supermarket as we did.

One main exception to this was the pancake house which we absolutely loved, even though this is probably the one restaurant which is probably aimed at kids. I felt like it hadn't changed a bit since I was younger and I thoroughly enjoyed this plate of salted caramel deliciousness!

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids - pancake house
I do feel like you are paying a premium for the fact the restaurants are all so child-friendly, easy to access and with simple menus, so I am not sure that the food makes a visit to Centre Parcs worth it if you are child-free. I've heard nothing but positive reviews of the Indian restaurant, which also does takeaway, so this is definitely worth a try if you are visiting Centre Parcs without kids.

Is the spa at Centre Parcs worth it?

Now I've saved the highlight until last, of course. The Aqua Sana spa at Centre Parcs Sherwood might actually be my favourite in the UK. I am hesitant to make that bold statement as I love Brimstone in the Lakes (review coming soon), Rockliffe Hall, Ramside and Seaham Hall (read my review here) plus many more. However, it was truly something else! 

I didn't get photos as it's always difficult in the spa without disturbing others (and I really wanted to switch off) but imagine a tree top sauna looking out over the forest, countless different thermal rooms and a heavenly pool, and you've got it spot on.

This part of the weekend was by far my favourite and this is when I decided that Centre Parcs was definitely worth the money without kids! I'd go back purely for a spa break, and would totally recommend this to anyone visiting. 

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids
Our lovely terrace and BBQ area - perfect for summer

In summary: Is Centre Parcs worth the money without kids?

If you're looking for a fun-filled weekend of doing different activities, then I'd absolutely say Centre Parcs is worth visiting without children, and is definitely worth the money. It wouldn't be my first choice for a very quiet weekend, but it was fantastic for a group of adults looking for a fun weekend, and I will definitely visit as a couple in future if I manage to bag one of their last minute deals. 

I'd try the Indian restaurant next time, have a full day in the spa and make sure I take a full supermarket shop which I'd pick up outside the complex. I'd love to know your thoughts, do you think Centre Parcs is worth it without kids?

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids - pinterest

Is Centre Parcs Worth the Money Without Kids?

Centre parcs lodge without kids
Centre Parcs is one of those places that brings back nothing but fond memories for me. It's somewhere we visited annually when I was young, and the memories of riding my bike with my Grandad around the woodland make me so happy. I stopped joining the family on their trips when I was about 16. Sadly I just got to that age where it's "sooo uncool" to holiday with your parents and you'd prefer to sulk at home. As a side note, I'd now give anything to holiday with my parents more. Funny how things change!

Roll forward 16 years and I haven't ever been back to Centre Parcs since! It's not because I don't love the place, clearly, but it's because I always ask myself the same question...

Is Centre Parcs Really Worth the Money Without Kids?

In my mind the main plus points for a trip to Centre Parcs are: the safety of no vehicles being around, the fabulous swimming pool included in your stay and huge variety of family-friendly activities on offer. All things that are amazing if you have children, but do you need all that if it's just you and your partner or a group of mates? I've just always felt that I'd rather use that extra cost to stay at a fancy spa resort or swanky hotel for the weekend instead.

Then this year it was my auntie's big 5-0 and she kindly booked for us all to head back to Centre Parcs for the weekend. It was an ideal location for her peaceful birthday break, especially as it was my Grandad's favourite place and we sadly lost him last year. In April, a group of 6 adults headed to Centre Parcs Sherwood Forest for the weekend and I was really looking forward to seeing it again. I was excited to see if it was worth the money without kids - had I been missing out for the last few years?

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids

Is the lodge at Centre Parcs worth it?

It's amazing how small things come back to you, even after 16 years, and the lodge layout was so familiar to me. It was a decent size with nice, neutral decor, and all the facilities you could need for a long weekend stay. The good thing about going to Centre Parcs as a group of adults is that the cost of a lodge isn't as expensive when shared amongst the group.

It's lovely to have a base for everyone to stay together if you're in a group, and we loved being able to decorate for my auntie's birthday. I noticed that Centre Parcs also have the option to order a party package and have the lodge decorated for your arrival, which is a nice touch for a big birthday or other occasion.

The living area is cosy with plenty of space for everyone to gather round the built in fire.

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids - living area

The lodge wasn't decorated particularly for children and had a nice, homely feel so I definitely feel that it's worth it for a group of adults to get together. I read that hen parties were banned but we saw a few there, so it may be worth considering for a quiet hen or stag do but make sure you double-check if you are able to wear veils / sashes etc.

I have since had a look at studio apartments for us to visit as a couple since a whole lodge cost split between two can be pricey. An amazing tip I picked up from the Money Saving Expert is to check for last minute deals on the official Centre Parcs site here as some absolutely cracking bargains pop up if you can visit on short notice!

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids - bedroom

Are the activities at Centre Parcs worth it?

Over the course of the weekend we mainly visited the swimming pool, some of the group hired bikes and we had some nice walks around the grounds. Bikes are pricey so it's best to take your own if you have them. Whilst the pool is mainly aimed at a younger audience there are some decent rides which definitely appealed to the big kids in us and we had a really good laugh there. I wouldn't visit for the pool alone as an adult, but it's definitely worth a look if you like water slides.

We had a game of bowling one night and some of the group played badminton. I sat out of that as I am absolutely shocking at any sports which require hand-eye coordination! There was football on and we sat in the sports bar afterwards which had quite a grown up atmosphere, definitely not all about kids although there were some families around.

There were so many other activities we could've booked and I wish we'd got round to crazy golf. I was surprised to see how many adult-friendly activities there were to book. On reflection I'd say the activities are definitely worth the money without kids in tow, and this would be the reason to book a stay at Centre Parcs rather than somewhere you'd go to just completely relax.

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids

Is the food at Centre Parcs worth it?

We had a few meals out and the food was nice and varied but definitely not a huge plus point of the stay as a group of adults. The restaurant prices are inflated, taking advantage of the fact you're a captive audience, but you are able to purchase your own food at the on-site supermarket and cook, or bring in a food shop from a cheaper external supermarket as we did.

One main exception to this was the pancake house which we absolutely loved, even though this is probably the one restaurant which is probably aimed at kids. I felt like it hadn't changed a bit since I was younger and I thoroughly enjoyed this plate of salted caramel deliciousness!

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids - pancake house
I do feel like you are paying a premium for the fact the restaurants are all so child-friendly, easy to access and with simple menus, so I am not sure that the food makes a visit to Centre Parcs worth it if you are child-free. I've heard nothing but positive reviews of the Indian restaurant, which also does takeaway, so this is definitely worth a try if you are visiting Centre Parcs without kids.

Is the spa at Centre Parcs worth it?

Now I've saved the highlight until last, of course. The Aqua Sana spa at Centre Parcs Sherwood might actually be my favourite in the UK. I am hesitant to make that bold statement as I love Brimstone in the Lakes (review coming soon), Rockliffe Hall, Ramside and Seaham Hall (read my review here) plus many more. However, it was truly something else! 

I didn't get photos as it's always difficult in the spa without disturbing others (and I really wanted to switch off) but imagine a tree top sauna looking out over the forest, countless different thermal rooms and a heavenly pool, and you've got it spot on.

This part of the weekend was by far my favourite and this is when I decided that Centre Parcs was definitely worth the money without kids! I'd go back purely for a spa break, and would totally recommend this to anyone visiting. 

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids
Our lovely terrace and BBQ area - perfect for summer

In summary: Is Centre Parcs worth the money without kids?

If you're looking for a fun-filled weekend of doing different activities, then I'd absolutely say Centre Parcs is worth visiting without children, and is definitely worth the money. It wouldn't be my first choice for a very quiet weekend, but it was fantastic for a group of adults looking for a fun weekend, and I will definitely visit as a couple in future if I manage to bag one of their last minute deals. 

I'd try the Indian restaurant next time, have a full day in the spa and make sure I take a full supermarket shop which I'd pick up outside the complex. I'd love to know your thoughts, do you think Centre Parcs is worth it without kids?

Is Centre Parcs worth it without kids - pinterest
Ad - This was a paid press trip with Visit Aberdeenshire and Loganair

When someone mentions Aberdeen what do you think of? Oil and gas will probably come to mind, or perhaps you picture grey buildings and not much colour. After all, Aberdeen is known as the 'glittering granite city'! I knew it was somewhere I would love to visit eventually but I didn't know if it was convenient to get to from Newcastle.

When Visit Aberdeenshire contacted me and asked if I would like to visit Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for the weekend with Loganair I jumped at the chance. I was so excited to see what it was like as I didn’t know what to expect but I always love the chance to explore somewhere new.

Getting to Aberdeen from Newcastle with Loganair

Loganair launched a new direct flight route to Aberdeen this month, making it easier and more convenient than ever to visit Scotland's third largest city. The airline offers up to fifteen flights a week, with standard fares including a generous baggage allowance and complimentary drinks and snacks.

My journey with Loganair was so fast and efficient. It was one of those flights where you seem to be fastening your seat belt for landing about three seconds after you have taken off! Overall it was a very easy and relaxing flight, with us landing in Aberdeen within 50 minutes of taking off. The journey back was even more speedy, with the pilot announcing that flight time was expected to be 27 minutes! I loved the views from the plane, it felt like being in my own private helicopter.


With the added bonus of no baggage to wait for as I decided to just take hand luggage, I was through the terminal in less than 10 minutes. I was kindly picked up from the airport but there is a very convenient bus route. The 727 runs frequently from the airport and costs from as little as £3.70 to get to the city centre.

My Aberdeen Accommodation

I stayed in the beautiful Sandman Signature for the weekend, which is a 4* hotel ideally located in the city centre. I had a large corporate suite, which had a business feel with beautiful, minimalist decor. I loved having plenty of space to work on my blog when I finished my daily activities.

The bed was gigantic and so comfortable. There is something so luxurious about having a huge hotel bed to yourself! I was pleased with how quiet the hotel was at night which meant that I slept well.

The breakfast was a hot and cold buffet with plenty of choice. I definitely filled my boots and even had the obligatory helping of haggis one morning. When in Scotland!


I must mention how aesthetically pleasing the communal areas of the hotel are. I got tonnes of interior inspiration and absolutely loved this umbrella decoration in the lobby. It really was a lovely place to stay and I looked forward to getting back to my room each day.

Exploring Aberdeen's city centre

Marischal College

The first stop on my self-guided walking route, planned by the lovely folks at Visit Aberdeenshire, was Marischal College. This stunning building dates back to 1593 and was once Aberdeen's university. It is the second largest granite building in the world, the first is in Madrid.


The first thing I noticed about Aberdeen is how quiet the city centre was for a Saturday which was a huge bonus. I love being able to see popular sights and take photos without too many people around. Within five minutes I knew the rumours about the city being a sea of grey weren't true when I spotted these beautiful rainbow steps just near the college.

Nuart Street Art Walking Tour

As part of my trip to Aberdeen I was lucky enough to catch one of Nuart's free walking tours to appreciate the fabulous street art which has popped up around the city. It has been running since 2017 and features some of the most acclaimed and progressive street artists in the world. It celebrates art as being accessible to all and displayed for everyone to see, rather than being hidden away in a gallery. I could write a full blog post about this tour alone but here are some of my favourite pieces we saw and why I loved them so much.

This work is by Hush who is from my hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This was a huge wall and to get the outline of the design just right, projectors were used to project the image onto the wall at night when it could be seen more clearly.

This work was created to symbolise the fight for Scottish independence. I loved hearing the stories behind the artwork and there was a clear passion shown by the different artists.

This was definitely my favourite piece of art we visited. The artist painted this free-hand using spray cans, just looking at a reference photo! It is painted on Primark's wall. They donated this wall to the Nuart organisation, on the condition that the artist didn't paint the facial tattoos. He ignored this and painted them into the design, but it has never been questioned by Primark!

Exploring Old Aberdeen

I don't like choosing favourites, but I really did love the older part of Aberdeen and this sticks out for me as the nicest part of the city. You will know by now if you follow my blog and Instagram that I really love seeking out beautiful houses and the small, winding streets of Old Aberdeen were packed with them.

It was so nice to just wander aimlessly, choosing all the houses I would buy if I won the lottery. The weather was ideal; I worried it would be cold, but it was sunny and dry all weekend. To get to this part of the city I took a bus from near my hotel, but it is possible to walk in about 25 minutes.


Aberdeen University

I didn't know what to expect from the university but I didn't expect it to be quite so beautiful. I spent a long time photographing this building as I loved it so much and it made me really excited for autumn. It's really such a beautiful university, and with graduations being held at the stunning Marischal College I shared above, I can understand why students would choose to study here.


I happened to stumble across a Chinese event where I was invited inside for a tea ceremony which was lovely. It was nice to see the university making such an effort to be diverse and make their international students and visitors feel welcome.


St. Machar Cathedral

This fifteenth century cathedral is the oldest building actively used in the city. I wandered inside and spent a few moments listening to a singer and marvelling at the world-famous, beautiful ceiling. I stuck to outside photos as I don't know about you but I never feel quite right taking photos inside a church, especially when there is a service happening!


Seaton Park

My next stop was Seaton park in Old Aberdeen which isn't far from the cathedral. It is lovely and peaceful, with just a few dog walkers about when I visited. I didn't know Aberdeen had so much green space so it was really nice to see such a lovely park for locals to enjoy. It was Saturday afternoon by this point but I was still impressed at how quiet the streets around the Old Town were. It really is a great area to visit if you want to relax as part of your trip without fighting off hordes of tourists.


Aberdeen Food Discoveries

My main love in life has to be food, so I was very excited to see what the culinary scene of Aberdeen had to offer. This is just the selection of restaurants I tried, I saw some other lovely options which I would definitely like to come back and try. There are a great number of independent cafes I have my eye on as well when I have more time.

Moonfish Cafe

On my first evening in Aberdeen, I went straight to Moonfish Cafe from the airport. The chef was a runner up on Masterchef and this quality shines through in the dishes he serves. The dishes were all very colourful and tasty, with an emphasis on local produce and British cuisine with a twist.

I had a smoked haddock risotto which was delicious but absolutely huge! It isn't one of those fancy restaurants where you leave feeling as hungry as when you got there. I was already full before my main came but I really enjoyed it: halibut and pork belly with sides of minted green vegetables and potatoes.

What I loved most about this restaurant was the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. All too often when you get food of this standard the atmosphere can be stuffy and unwelcoming, but it wasn't at all like that. The chef came out to greet us and to check we enjoyed our food which was a nice touch, and all the staff were friendly and helpful.


Brewdog Castlegate

Lunch on my second day could only be at one place: Brewdog, with its headquarters in Ellon, Aberdeenshire and three venues in the city centre. I went to Castlegate where the staff were very welcoming. I had a plate of their buttermilk deep fried chicken wings and a beer flight with beers selected for me to wash my food down.

I really enjoyed sampling different flavours and would recommend the beer flight if you visit Brewdog. My favourite, on the right-hand end of the photo, had a hint of melon and was really nice and fruity to balance the spicy sauce on the chicken wings. It's called 'hazy' if you want to give it a try next time you are in Brewdog.


Vovem Meat & Liquor

My second evening meal was at Vovem which is a beautiful steak restaurant in the heart of Aberdeen. The basement houses 21 Crimes, a 1920's speakeasy which requires a passcode for entry. I didn't manage to make it down this time, but I always like an excuse to re-visit a city and I will definitely try out this bar when I return to Aberdeen. If you have been please let me know what it's like.

I opted for the sirloin steak and my server recommended sides of truffle mac'n'cheese and cabbage with pancetta. It was all delicious!

Somehow I managed to squeeze in a creme brulee for dessert which tasted nice and home made. I was so full after this epic feast that I had to go straight back to my hotel for a lie down! I was worried about eating alone at Vovem but once the waitress realised I wasn't waiting for anyone she went out of her way to chat to me and look after me, so I really appreciated that. It's clearly a restaurant which goes the extra mile and looks after its customers.


A day trip to Stonehaven

On my second day in Aberdeenshire, I got the train to nearby Stonehaven which took less than 20 minutes. The views were outstanding! I would take this journey again for the views alone.

When I arrived in Stonehaven, I made my way straight down to the beach where I spotted a number of metal sea-themed sculptures. The identity of the sculptor has never been revealed, which reminded me of the mysterious Banksy, and I got the impression that art is really important to Aberdeenshire.


Stonehaven Harbour

After following the coastline for a while I ended up walking up to Stonehaven Harbour, which is everything you could want from a picture-perfect seaside location. I spent a while admiring the various restaurants and B&Bs lining the edge of the harbour, and made friends with a couple of lovely cats.


Coastal Walk

From the harbour I made my way up to the coastal walking route which takes you all the way around the Stonehaven coastline to the castle. It is approximately a 50-minute walk and not too tricky but you do need good mobility as some areas are slightly rocky and you need to walk through dunes. 

It was a very relaxing walk with the lovely sea breeze but I can imagine it being quite chilly in winter! There was an abundance of wide-open space to my right and waves crashing to my left which made for absolutely stunning views.

I loved the aerial view of the harbour on my way into the castle. It was an ideal resting point about half way along the route.


Dunnottar Castle

At the end of the walk I reached the stunning Dunnottar Castle. The rock on which the castle now stands is 440 million years old! In 1925 it was purchased by the Pearson family who lovingly restored it and opened it to the public. 


Dunnottar Castle is now a popular visitor attraction. It took me about 30 minutes to explore but I could have spent longer relaxing there and taking in the sea views if I had more time. There is a handy car park which means you can visit without the bumper walk that I did, although I would recommend that for a full day out.


The Bay Fish and Chips

I ended my weekend in Aberdeenshire as all good weekends should end, with a good old portion of fish and chips! I visited the award-winning fish and chip shop, The Bay, which has been ranked as one of the top food experiences in the entire world by Lonely Planet.

I had a standard portion of haddock, chips and mushy peas which was plentiful but not too filling. I am quite fussy about my peas but The Bay got them spot on, and the fish was lovely and light without that greasy feeling you often get. The chips were light and fluffy in the middle and crispy on the outside. It was lovely eating them down on the beach!

Just like that my short but sweet time in Aberdeenshire came to an end with a quick and easy Loganair flight back to Newcastle. I had the loveliest weekend exploring the area and I can't wait to go back to see more of it. 

I would definitely recommend Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a weekend break from Newcastle and it was a pleasure seeing everything the city had to offer. This was yet another reminder that we do not need to travel far to see amazing sights, try fantastic food and soak up culture! I am already looking forward to my next visit.

For more information and to book your trip to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, just visit NewcastleToAberdeen.com/Loganair


A weekend in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire with Loganair

Ad - This was a paid press trip with Visit Aberdeenshire and Loganair

When someone mentions Aberdeen what do you think of? Oil and gas will probably come to mind, or perhaps you picture grey buildings and not much colour. After all, Aberdeen is known as the 'glittering granite city'! I knew it was somewhere I would love to visit eventually but I didn't know if it was convenient to get to from Newcastle.

When Visit Aberdeenshire contacted me and asked if I would like to visit Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for the weekend with Loganair I jumped at the chance. I was so excited to see what it was like as I didn’t know what to expect but I always love the chance to explore somewhere new.

Getting to Aberdeen from Newcastle with Loganair

Loganair launched a new direct flight route to Aberdeen this month, making it easier and more convenient than ever to visit Scotland's third largest city. The airline offers up to fifteen flights a week, with standard fares including a generous baggage allowance and complimentary drinks and snacks.

My journey with Loganair was so fast and efficient. It was one of those flights where you seem to be fastening your seat belt for landing about three seconds after you have taken off! Overall it was a very easy and relaxing flight, with us landing in Aberdeen within 50 minutes of taking off. The journey back was even more speedy, with the pilot announcing that flight time was expected to be 27 minutes! I loved the views from the plane, it felt like being in my own private helicopter.


With the added bonus of no baggage to wait for as I decided to just take hand luggage, I was through the terminal in less than 10 minutes. I was kindly picked up from the airport but there is a very convenient bus route. The 727 runs frequently from the airport and costs from as little as £3.70 to get to the city centre.

My Aberdeen Accommodation

I stayed in the beautiful Sandman Signature for the weekend, which is a 4* hotel ideally located in the city centre. I had a large corporate suite, which had a business feel with beautiful, minimalist decor. I loved having plenty of space to work on my blog when I finished my daily activities.

The bed was gigantic and so comfortable. There is something so luxurious about having a huge hotel bed to yourself! I was pleased with how quiet the hotel was at night which meant that I slept well.

The breakfast was a hot and cold buffet with plenty of choice. I definitely filled my boots and even had the obligatory helping of haggis one morning. When in Scotland!


I must mention how aesthetically pleasing the communal areas of the hotel are. I got tonnes of interior inspiration and absolutely loved this umbrella decoration in the lobby. It really was a lovely place to stay and I looked forward to getting back to my room each day.

Exploring Aberdeen's city centre

Marischal College

The first stop on my self-guided walking route, planned by the lovely folks at Visit Aberdeenshire, was Marischal College. This stunning building dates back to 1593 and was once Aberdeen's university. It is the second largest granite building in the world, the first is in Madrid.


The first thing I noticed about Aberdeen is how quiet the city centre was for a Saturday which was a huge bonus. I love being able to see popular sights and take photos without too many people around. Within five minutes I knew the rumours about the city being a sea of grey weren't true when I spotted these beautiful rainbow steps just near the college.

Nuart Street Art Walking Tour

As part of my trip to Aberdeen I was lucky enough to catch one of Nuart's free walking tours to appreciate the fabulous street art which has popped up around the city. It has been running since 2017 and features some of the most acclaimed and progressive street artists in the world. It celebrates art as being accessible to all and displayed for everyone to see, rather than being hidden away in a gallery. I could write a full blog post about this tour alone but here are some of my favourite pieces we saw and why I loved them so much.

This work is by Hush who is from my hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This was a huge wall and to get the outline of the design just right, projectors were used to project the image onto the wall at night when it could be seen more clearly.

This work was created to symbolise the fight for Scottish independence. I loved hearing the stories behind the artwork and there was a clear passion shown by the different artists.

This was definitely my favourite piece of art we visited. The artist painted this free-hand using spray cans, just looking at a reference photo! It is painted on Primark's wall. They donated this wall to the Nuart organisation, on the condition that the artist didn't paint the facial tattoos. He ignored this and painted them into the design, but it has never been questioned by Primark!

Exploring Old Aberdeen

I don't like choosing favourites, but I really did love the older part of Aberdeen and this sticks out for me as the nicest part of the city. You will know by now if you follow my blog and Instagram that I really love seeking out beautiful houses and the small, winding streets of Old Aberdeen were packed with them.

It was so nice to just wander aimlessly, choosing all the houses I would buy if I won the lottery. The weather was ideal; I worried it would be cold, but it was sunny and dry all weekend. To get to this part of the city I took a bus from near my hotel, but it is possible to walk in about 25 minutes.


Aberdeen University

I didn't know what to expect from the university but I didn't expect it to be quite so beautiful. I spent a long time photographing this building as I loved it so much and it made me really excited for autumn. It's really such a beautiful university, and with graduations being held at the stunning Marischal College I shared above, I can understand why students would choose to study here.


I happened to stumble across a Chinese event where I was invited inside for a tea ceremony which was lovely. It was nice to see the university making such an effort to be diverse and make their international students and visitors feel welcome.


St. Machar Cathedral

This fifteenth century cathedral is the oldest building actively used in the city. I wandered inside and spent a few moments listening to a singer and marvelling at the world-famous, beautiful ceiling. I stuck to outside photos as I don't know about you but I never feel quite right taking photos inside a church, especially when there is a service happening!


Seaton Park

My next stop was Seaton park in Old Aberdeen which isn't far from the cathedral. It is lovely and peaceful, with just a few dog walkers about when I visited. I didn't know Aberdeen had so much green space so it was really nice to see such a lovely park for locals to enjoy. It was Saturday afternoon by this point but I was still impressed at how quiet the streets around the Old Town were. It really is a great area to visit if you want to relax as part of your trip without fighting off hordes of tourists.


Aberdeen Food Discoveries

My main love in life has to be food, so I was very excited to see what the culinary scene of Aberdeen had to offer. This is just the selection of restaurants I tried, I saw some other lovely options which I would definitely like to come back and try. There are a great number of independent cafes I have my eye on as well when I have more time.

Moonfish Cafe

On my first evening in Aberdeen, I went straight to Moonfish Cafe from the airport. The chef was a runner up on Masterchef and this quality shines through in the dishes he serves. The dishes were all very colourful and tasty, with an emphasis on local produce and British cuisine with a twist.

I had a smoked haddock risotto which was delicious but absolutely huge! It isn't one of those fancy restaurants where you leave feeling as hungry as when you got there. I was already full before my main came but I really enjoyed it: halibut and pork belly with sides of minted green vegetables and potatoes.

What I loved most about this restaurant was the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. All too often when you get food of this standard the atmosphere can be stuffy and unwelcoming, but it wasn't at all like that. The chef came out to greet us and to check we enjoyed our food which was a nice touch, and all the staff were friendly and helpful.


Brewdog Castlegate

Lunch on my second day could only be at one place: Brewdog, with its headquarters in Ellon, Aberdeenshire and three venues in the city centre. I went to Castlegate where the staff were very welcoming. I had a plate of their buttermilk deep fried chicken wings and a beer flight with beers selected for me to wash my food down.

I really enjoyed sampling different flavours and would recommend the beer flight if you visit Brewdog. My favourite, on the right-hand end of the photo, had a hint of melon and was really nice and fruity to balance the spicy sauce on the chicken wings. It's called 'hazy' if you want to give it a try next time you are in Brewdog.


Vovem Meat & Liquor

My second evening meal was at Vovem which is a beautiful steak restaurant in the heart of Aberdeen. The basement houses 21 Crimes, a 1920's speakeasy which requires a passcode for entry. I didn't manage to make it down this time, but I always like an excuse to re-visit a city and I will definitely try out this bar when I return to Aberdeen. If you have been please let me know what it's like.

I opted for the sirloin steak and my server recommended sides of truffle mac'n'cheese and cabbage with pancetta. It was all delicious!

Somehow I managed to squeeze in a creme brulee for dessert which tasted nice and home made. I was so full after this epic feast that I had to go straight back to my hotel for a lie down! I was worried about eating alone at Vovem but once the waitress realised I wasn't waiting for anyone she went out of her way to chat to me and look after me, so I really appreciated that. It's clearly a restaurant which goes the extra mile and looks after its customers.


A day trip to Stonehaven

On my second day in Aberdeenshire, I got the train to nearby Stonehaven which took less than 20 minutes. The views were outstanding! I would take this journey again for the views alone.

When I arrived in Stonehaven, I made my way straight down to the beach where I spotted a number of metal sea-themed sculptures. The identity of the sculptor has never been revealed, which reminded me of the mysterious Banksy, and I got the impression that art is really important to Aberdeenshire.


Stonehaven Harbour

After following the coastline for a while I ended up walking up to Stonehaven Harbour, which is everything you could want from a picture-perfect seaside location. I spent a while admiring the various restaurants and B&Bs lining the edge of the harbour, and made friends with a couple of lovely cats.


Coastal Walk

From the harbour I made my way up to the coastal walking route which takes you all the way around the Stonehaven coastline to the castle. It is approximately a 50-minute walk and not too tricky but you do need good mobility as some areas are slightly rocky and you need to walk through dunes. 

It was a very relaxing walk with the lovely sea breeze but I can imagine it being quite chilly in winter! There was an abundance of wide-open space to my right and waves crashing to my left which made for absolutely stunning views.

I loved the aerial view of the harbour on my way into the castle. It was an ideal resting point about half way along the route.


Dunnottar Castle

At the end of the walk I reached the stunning Dunnottar Castle. The rock on which the castle now stands is 440 million years old! In 1925 it was purchased by the Pearson family who lovingly restored it and opened it to the public. 


Dunnottar Castle is now a popular visitor attraction. It took me about 30 minutes to explore but I could have spent longer relaxing there and taking in the sea views if I had more time. There is a handy car park which means you can visit without the bumper walk that I did, although I would recommend that for a full day out.


The Bay Fish and Chips

I ended my weekend in Aberdeenshire as all good weekends should end, with a good old portion of fish and chips! I visited the award-winning fish and chip shop, The Bay, which has been ranked as one of the top food experiences in the entire world by Lonely Planet.

I had a standard portion of haddock, chips and mushy peas which was plentiful but not too filling. I am quite fussy about my peas but The Bay got them spot on, and the fish was lovely and light without that greasy feeling you often get. The chips were light and fluffy in the middle and crispy on the outside. It was lovely eating them down on the beach!

Just like that my short but sweet time in Aberdeenshire came to an end with a quick and easy Loganair flight back to Newcastle. I had the loveliest weekend exploring the area and I can't wait to go back to see more of it. 

I would definitely recommend Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a weekend break from Newcastle and it was a pleasure seeing everything the city had to offer. This was yet another reminder that we do not need to travel far to see amazing sights, try fantastic food and soak up culture! I am already looking forward to my next visit.

For more information and to book your trip to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, just visit NewcastleToAberdeen.com/Loganair


Blog Archive

Social

Follow

Subscribe to new posts

Copyright @ Melis Living. Blog Design by KotrynaBassDesign