Finding Rejuvenation, Focus and Relaxation with Apex Hotels

Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, for days or weeks, hotels should feel like a little home away from home. It’s not always easy though, with unfamiliar surroundings affecting your sleep perhaps, or a lack of your normal amenities resulting in disruption to your everyday routine. Does anyone else find that hotel stays can sometimes feel a whole lot less relaxing than they’re intended to be?! The team at Apex Hotels have teamed up with Registered Dietitian and wellness coach, Celynn Morin, and have been working hard at changing this, ensuring all their visitors spend their time away from home feeling rejuvenated, focused and relaxed. I was lucky enough to experience their Warmer Welcome scheme last month, enjoying a much-needed night away from busy London.

The Hotel

A 15 minute walk from Bath station, a surprisingly speedy 90 minutes from London, you’ll find Apex Hotel City of Bath. Walking into the lobby, you’re greeted not only by friendly reception staff, but also a variety of places to sit and relax before exploring the historic city. Once checked in and settled into your room, you’ll find a plethora of things to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

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Nearly every hotel room in the world provides basic tea and coffee making facilities, and a mini-bar of crisps and chocolate, but the first thing I noticed about Apex was the different options available; a Nespresso coffee machine, a variety of teas, and in addition to the usual kit-kat and nuts, healthy snacks such as popcorn and nutritious energy bars.

A quick peek into the bathroom, and I was amazed to find not only a huge bathtub, but a large wet room style shower too! A good range of Elemis products is available for use during your stay, as well as a fluffy robe and slippers should you need them. However, I can’t talk about the bathroom without mentioning the very cool Apex Rubber Duck you can take home!!apex hotels, city of bath, rejuvenate focus relax, travel, wellness, warmerwelcome

A hotel in Bath wouldn’t be complete without a little nod to Bath’s most famous historic artefact, and the underground spa at Apex didn’t disappoint. With a spacious pool, various massaging jets, as well as steam and sauna rooms, I could have easily spent my whole visit relaxing in the warm waters!

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(Photo: Katie @ cakevsscales)

apex hotels, city of bath, rejuvenate focus relax, travel, wellness, warmerwelcome

(Photo: Katie @ cakevsscales)

Rejuvenate, Focus and Relax

In every room, you’ll also find the main focus of Apex’s campaign to make hotels more wellness orientated. Designed and created with Celynn to go alongside Apex’s new podcast, inside each little booklet are tips and tricks to make your stay at Apex as beneficial to your wellbeing as possible. Here are some of my favourites from their ideas:

Rejuvenate – Keep On Moving – It’s easy to let your usual healthy ways slide a little when away from home, and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break from your fitness routine, it’s still helpful to keep active on your travels. If you’re travelling for business, the temptation to haul up in the hotel room and work until all hours of the night can be strong. Finding time to have a quick workout in the gym, or going for a walk to explore the city, will stimulate the blood flow, getting more oxygen to the brain, and actually increase your alertness, and you’ll be more productive!

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(Photo: Katie @ cakevsscales)

Focus – Breathe – With so many distractions, staying focused in a busy hotel can be tricky. When everything a little overwhelming and the parasympathetic nervous system is overstimulated, taking a moment to simply breathe can settle things down, and help you find your focus again. Celynn recommends counting alongside some deep breaths. Inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3 and so forth, up to 10. If needed, repeat! I use this technique to help me quiet my mind if I’m anxious, and I find it works a treat.

Relax – Time for Tea – I find that having a quiet moment with a cuppa tea is one of the best ways to relax, and with a wide selection of teas on offer at Apex, you never know, you might find a new favourite! If it’s sleep you’re after, then chamomile or red bush is going to be your best option. It’s thought that even the ritual of preparing a warm drink helps to wind down after a busy day, preparing the mind and body for rest, so you can wake up rejuvenated!apex hotels, city of bath, rejuvenate focus relax, travel, wellness, warmerwelcome

The City of Bath

I’ve lived in the UK my whole life, and this was my first visit to Bath. It’s such a beautiful city and I’ll be sure to return one day. A gentle stroll from the hotel, and you’ll easily find yourself amongst the stunning buildings steeped in history. My favourite was the Royal Crescent and surrounding streets, not only because my favourite childhood musical, Oliver!, was filmed there, but because the sweeping architecture is wonderful.

(Photo: Katie @cakevsscales)

If you only see one thing while in Bath, I’d recommend the Roman Spa of course! For a reasonable £16.50 per adult, you can discover the history of the natural spa as you walk through the museum (audio tours are free), and walk around the ancient baths themselves. If you’re keen to mix the modern with the historic, then just around the corner is the Thermae Bath Spa, a luxury spa facility with both rooftop and underground baths. That’s on my list for next time! hotels, city of bath, rejuvenate focus relax, travel, wellness, warmerwelcome

So, a big thank you to Apex Hotels for treating me to a couple of days away from London. Not only did myself and the other bloggers have the most relaxing evening, but we also benefited from a morning wellness workshop courtesy of Celynn herself. I returned to London feeling like a new woman, ready to take on the rest of the week. If you’re keen to find a little more wellness in your life, whether you’re travelling or not, check out Apex’s new podcast series, with lots of helpful hints from Celynn.

I received a complimentary 1 night stay at Apex City of Bath in exchange for this post. All views my own. Photo credit belongs to me unless otherwise stated.


3 Beaches in Portugal That Aren’t The Algarve

Whenever I tell people I’m visiting Portugal, their first thought is usually The Algarve, Portugal’s Mediterranean coast, popular with sun seeking tourists, nightlife and hotel resorts close to the action. Or they think Lisbon; the vibrant capital full of colourful culture, shops, and plenty to see and do. While both those places are beautiful and special in their own rights, I want to share with you my favourite places on Portugal’s Silver Coast, where the land is shaped by the wild Atlantic Ocean.
My love affair with Portugal is a fairly recent one, as my father retired there just over two years ago. Since then I’ve visited many times, in summer, winter and spring. He lives in a small village 15 minutes inland from the beach town of Nazaré, but whenever I visit, regardless of the weather, I make sure I spend a bit of time at each of these beaches below, simply watching the world go by and finding my calm happy place.

travel, portugal, wanderlust, lifestyle, beachSo, if you’re looking for a quieter place to spend you precious holiday moments, where the pace is slower, the views are phenomenal, and the whole place has less of a ‘Brits Abroad’ kinda feeling, then here are my recommendations.


Arguably the surfing capital of Europe, if not the world, I’m not joking when I say that 100ft waves have been witnessed and surfed on the infamous Praia Do Norte in Nazaré. Caused by an underwater ridge and high cliffs, whether you’re a surfer or not, these waters will simply blow you away. If you don’t believe me, check out this video and see for yourself!

travel, portugal, wanderlust, lifestyle, beach travel, portugal, wanderlust, lifestyle, beachVisit in January and February for the epic waves and Big Surf competitions. The weather can be unpredictable, so pack layers, but you can also catch Nazaré Carnival, and one of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the area.

Head over in the summer for temperatures that soar above 30 degrees, a refreshing sea breeze and plenty of little shops and bars to explore on Nazaré’s beach front promenade. My favourite is the Farol Gin Bar, named after the infamous Farol de Nazaré (Nazaré Lighthouse) where the best waves can be viewed.

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Looking South to Praia do Nazaré and Nazaré Town

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Looking North to Praia do Norte (on a calm, no surf day)

Sao Martinho do Porto

Head South along the coastal road, through cute villages and aromatic pine forests, and you’ll end up at Sao Martinho do Porto, a small coastal town with a lot of charm. Beautiful, white sand stretches around the bay here, and while it can get busy with locals in the summer, the water is calmer than at Nazaré and perfect for a paddle.

The beach front is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants and there are always activities in summer to occupy children of any age. If you’re an intrepid traveller, on one end of the bay is a large caravan and camping site where all you need to do is cross the road and you’re on the beach, ready for a picturesque sunset.

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The Southern End of the Bay

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Sao Martinho from above.

Foz do Arelho

Finally, a little further South, after stopping at what I think are the most amazing viewpoints in Portugal, you’ll arrive at Foz Do Arelho, and more specifically, Obidos Lagoon. This is my absolute favourite beach in the region, and I will happily sit there in summer or winter.

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Taking in the view en route to Foz.

With just one restaurant on the beach, Cais da Praia, serving anything from snacks to steaks, in the summer I’d recommend taking your own picnic, pitching up an umbrella and settling in for the day. If it’s not too busy, give Cais da Praia a visit too, as the staff are always friendly and the food is great.

In the wilder winter days, you’ll find kite surfers at one end of the lagoon, and I’ve been told, there are also flamingoes in the area. Being a lagoon that, at low tide, you could potentially walk to the other side of, the waters are calm (most of the time) and shallow.

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Obidos Lagoon

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As Dusk

I’d recommend hiring a car to explore Portugal’s Silver Coast. All of the places I mentioned can easily be reached in an hour or less from Lisbon airport. There are so many more beaches and seaside towns to explore in the area whether you’re looking for a surfer’s paradise, a relaxing soak in the sun, or something a little more local and touristic.

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Sunset at Foz

So next time you’re looking for a mini break away and want something a little different, maybe have a look at some of these spots. Who knows, maybe we’ll be there at the same time!

This post is in no way sponsored by anyone! I just wanted to share my Portugal hotspots with you all. All photos my own.


How to Stay Sane When Injured

As you probably know by now, I am injury prone, and just had surgery to fix an ongoing problem in my knee. Throughout my career as a dancer, and now a fitness professional, I’ve faced various amounts of time off due to injures, and have slowly learnt to accept that when my body says stop, I need to listen to it. Being that my job has always been physical, time off often means a lot of time at home on my own, which can have a psychological effect too. Injuries can be so frustrating, but I’ve found some ways to stay sane when I can’t do the thing I love every day.Health, fitness, injury

Don’t Rush It

Hands up, who’s pushed an injury too far and needed to take more time off than was originally necessary. Yep, me too. As frustrating as it is, doctors and physiotherapists usually know what they’re talking about. If they say rest, then rest. By all means, smash out your rehab exercises, but don’t run before you can walk…literally.

Train What You Can

On the flip side of resting when you’re told to rest, do think about what you can do that won’t affect the injured part. For example, if you’ve broken your ankle, you can still do some light upper body work, maybe some core work too. If it’s a dislocated shoulder, then as long as you can keep your balance, get some lunges or squats in or pop into a static bike. Be cautious though, raising your heart rate can increase swelling in the injured area as blood rushes around the whole body. Keep an eye on it, and stop if you experience any throbbing or excessive swelling in the area.

Find a Non-Active Hobby

Take up something new, or dust off your old guitar, paint brushes, or knitting and practise something that doesn’t require physical exertion. You won’t just exercise your brain, but you’ll also find a means of distraction from pain, discomfort or boredom. If you’re really laid up, then something as simple as mindful colouring might be enough to stop the endless Netflix binge, just for an hour or two. If you can stand and cook, then try a new recipe, or bake a cake. You’ll be proud of your achievement, and who knows, you might discover a new talent.

Be Mindful

I don’t just mean be mindful of your injury, but be mindful of the world around you. If you’re forced to walk slowly, instead of being frustrated by this, take it as an opportunity to see the world around you as you walk. Take it all in, use all your senses and you might find a renewed appreciation for your local park, or even your daily commute. Practise meditation as well. If you’re stuck at home, potentially on your own, it’s going to be a time where anxious or negative thoughts are harder to dispel. Take 15 minutes each day to meditate, use an app if you need to, and you’ll find you can approach your injury and recovery in a more positive, health, injury

I’m trying to apply all these things to my current knee injury, and it’s not easy! There are days where I’m grumpy, frustrated and bored, but that’s ok too. Life isn’t always calm, serene and blissful, but if you try and roll with the punches, be kind to yourself and accept what’s happening, you’ll come out the other side calmer and able to see the positives.

Photo credit: Elle Linton.

The Reversible Revolution – Sweaty Betty

Sweaty Betty’s Reversible Revolution is here, and you can get two awesome looks for the price of one from leggings to bras and even a jacket! Reversible leggings have been in stores for years, and I’ve always loved them, but this season Sweaty Betty have really pulled out all this stops on their reversible range. Here are some of my favourites:sweaty betty, sportswear, fitness, yoga1. Iridescence – I love the subtle pattern on these, and the mesh panels are so flattering, SB always gets this right. A plain back on the reverse makes them super versatile too.

2. Euphoria – If you’re going for a striking pattern on both sides, these are the perfect choice for you. The bold, geometric print will make sure you stand out on the front row of your next yoga class!

3. Jelly Fish – There’s nothing more to say here. A jelly fish print. What more could you want?! You can get this print in a full length, 7/8 and a cute yoga short.

4. Jackie Reversible Embroidered Jacket – SB’s reversible range isn’t just about leggings, I’m lusting over this jacket! Embroidered with SBLDN on the beetle blue satin side, and a fluffy faux shearling on the other, it’d be a struggle to choose which to wear.

5. Strappy Yoga Bra – A pretty lilac on one side, and wear-with-anything black on the other, this will become a wardrobe staple for me. I hope they bring it out more colours!

With these reversible items, and lots more in the range, there are so many reasons to expand your workout wardrobe. Not that I ever need much convincing! Keep reminding yourself that you’re basically getting two for the price of one…and what’s not to love about that?

I am a Sweaty Betty ambassador and receive gifts/discounts throughout the year. All views  my own.

Preparing For Surgery – My Personal Guide

Despite my best efforts, unfortunately I’m no stranger to injury and injury related surgery. In my *almost* 32 years on this planet, I’ve been told my injury list reads like that of a 75 year old and I’ve had, as of yesterday, 6 surgical procedures. All bar one of those operations have been in the last 12 years. Through my own experiences, I’ve found a few things that have really helped me both before and after surgery. Now remember, I’m not a doctor, these are just my personal experiences and how they’ve worked for me.

Find Your Support Network

Firstly, you will usually be required to have a chaperone take you home from hospital, and that’s non-negotiable if you’ve had a full anaesthetic. Arrange this early on with someone you trust and who you are really comfortable with. You are going to be in the dozy post-anaesthetic phase, possibly feeling nauseous, in pain, and wanting to sleep or cry….or both. I’ve always gone to my Mum’s after each of my surgeries, there’s nothing better than Mum time, but whoever you choose, prepare them for a grumpy, soggy, cloudy version of you, possibly high on morphine as well.

Going back to before the surgery, it’s not required but you might want someone in hospital with you beforehand as well. My arrival time for this week’s surgery is an eye-watering 6am, but I know from experience that I won’t be taken into the operating theatre until at least 8am or 9am. Why so early? You might ask. Well there are potentially lots of people on the surgeon’s list that day, they all need their observations, a chat with the anaesthetist, a final check in with the surgeon, after-care explained (remember the post-anaesthetic brain fog), and to generally get comfortable. It can be a long, anxious wait, and unless you’re in a private hospital, you could be in a ward full of other people waiting too. Having someone with you to chat with will pass the time, and calm your nerves. I’m lucky enough to be having this done privately, meaning I have my own room with a TV, but company before the op will still be a welcome distraction.

After surgery, depending on what it is of course, you might need help at home with cooking, cleaning and maybe even showing and dressing. Grab your support network; friends, partner, colleagues, flatmates, those who you’re comfortable with, and ask them to be around in case you need anything. Don’t be afraid, don’t sit in pain, hungry and embarrassed to ask for their help. This is a time where you cannot do everything for yourself, despite being Miss Independent, especially if doing too much might hinder your recovery.

Plan Ahead

Most likely you’ll have planned all the technical things with your surgeon beforehand, but there are a few things I’ve found to be really helpful when I’m not so mobile and not so able to do things for myself.

Bulk cook food – Having a hearty chilli, bolognese, chicken stew or soup in the freezer is such a good idea. For the days when you perhaps can’t call on someone to help you, or you simply haven’t got anything to cook, popping a pre-prepared meal in the microwave is going to be a lifesaver. When your body is healing and recovering you need to be well nourished.

Clean the house – If you’re going to be on crutches, then you can’t be tripping over junk in the hallway or that pile of clothes at the end of your bed. If you can have a good tidy up before the day of the operation, and if your injury prevents you from doing that, then maybe treat yourself to a professional clean. Alternately, remember your support network? Pick the most ‘Monica-like’ and ask them to help.

Do your laundry – Bed sheets, clothes, dressing gown, towels. There’s nothing nicer than clean sheets when you’re not quite feeling yourself, so having all that done for when you return home will be so comforting. The same applies for your favourite pyjamas, and your comfy clothes. You’ll likely be living in these for a few days, if not more, so make sure they’re clean and ready.


The thing I’m most worried about is the general anaesthetic. I don’t like being put to sleep, not having control and going into this empty dreamland. I’ve also had bad reactions upon waking before which make me more anxious about the aftermath. On the flip-side of that, having a local anaesthetic isn’t my cup of tea either, so I’m not sure which I’d rather.

I’ve been practising some breathing techniques to help me cope with the nerves before surgery, and at the moment of being put under anaesthetic. Also, my therapist suggest a little mindfulness and visualisation as well, to help calm my head on the morning of.

Take deep breaths – The more anxious we’re feeling, the more shallow our breathing becomes. Taking three deep breaths can help to settle nerves, filling the lungs with oxygen and calming the parasympathetic nervous system. Think of breathing in for 4 counts, and breathing out for 6 or 8.

Visualise your happy place – pick a place where you have always felt calm and happy. That could be your bed, childhood home, a bath, or holiday spot. Mine is my favourite beach near my Dad’s house in Portugal listening to the waves crashing. Just as the anaesthetist starts preparing to send you to sleep, have this image firmly in your head and you’ll be in that happy place for the whole time you’re under.

Don’t Rush Recovery

This is one I really have to pay attention to myself. Listen to the doctors, physiotherapists and specialists when they tell you to rest, and recuperate. Don’t wait until you’re in excruciating pain to take your painkillers, and admit to yourself that you’ll have to rest for a while. The effects of the anaesthetic can be long lasting in some cases, and feeling groggy, emotional and weak comes hand in hand with that. It can feel very frustrating, but know that it’s only temporary.

Now I’m back home with my Mum and enjoying some R&R, I can see how each of the points above helped me through the operation. I’m looking forward to getting back to my flat in a few days because I’ve got lots of food prepped, clean towels and a tidy house all ready and waiting for me. I’ve got lots of friends offering to pop over for company and food, and the cat is always on hand for a hug. My recovery will be slow and steady, but if I am good with my physiotherapy exercises, don’t rush things and look after myself, I’ll be back on my feet in no time!

What I Learnt from Taking an Instagram Break

Social media is a huge presence in our lives these days, and the more I hear about the dangers of social media for young and vulnerable people, the more I hear of people taking time away from it too. The constant updating, notifications, liking, sharing, and everything else that comes with sharing your life online, can be overwhelming and at times intimidating. Whether you use social media as a simple communication tool, or if it’s part of your business as well, it can become a constant distraction and at times, a source of anxiety. In fact, research shows that the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to suffer from mental health issues. Multiple studies have begun to focus on the disturbing association between online social networking and a variety of negative feelings and psychiatric disorders such as low self-esteem, anxiety, feelings of inferiority and increased symptoms of ADHD (source).

I love instagram. I am a hugely visual person and use it for inspiration, amusement, research, and of course to see what my friends are up to around the world. Being a blogger, and now a PT, it’s expected that I share a portion of my life with the wider world, and even use the platform as a marketing tool for new clients. It can become an integral part of everyday life, and not always in a positive way.

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(Credit: Elle Linton)

After a particularly stressful end to 2017, the lead up to Christmas was an anxious time for me. I wasn’t feeling festive, and seeing everyone else’s seemingly happy posts about Christmas plans, romantic getaways and family gatherings filled me with both envy and sadness. Why wasn’t I feeling festive? Why is everyone so happy and I’m not? I’ll freely admit that I got caught up in the endless cycle of scrolling though instagram feeling that my life was rubbish and everyone else’s was great. Now, I know that social media is a tiny snapshot of someone’s life and that it should be taken with a pinch of salt, however, when you’re already in a low mood, it can be hard to find that rational voice in your head.

Feeling low, stressed, and generally overwhelmed, I decided to take a step away from the ‘gram. After a couple of days of feeling a little lost when I opened my phone, I soon enjoyed the break and only returned on January 1st 2018. With a better perspective on things, I now want to share with you what I learned with nearly 3 weeks away from instagram.

1. It’s a Habit That’s Hard to Break

The first thing I noticed when I deleted the app is that whenever I opened my phone, on the bus, tube, when I got home from work etc, the first thing I’d do is go to click on instagram. It’s purely a habit, much like checking the time, and checking my emails, and it took a while to break that. Instead, I’d tap on my favourite podcast, meditation app, or find some music to listen to instead.

2. The Reason I Took Photos Had Changed

I love photography. Since my teenage years I’ve always taken a camera on nights out, birthdays, family events, last days of term, even lazy days in the park as a student. I even took photography as one of my A-Levels.  I love having photographic memories of these events, and have piles of photo albums full of prints. Soon that changed from always having a camera, to always taking photos on my phone. No problem there, but when I deleted instagram, I realised that when I opened the camera on my phone, my thought process was to take a photo for instagram, not to take a photo to savour the memory. My reason for taking photographs had shifted. Over Christmas, I took photos that I wanted to cherish that might never appear on social media. One of my favourites being the three generations of women in my family….ok I did put that one on facebook eventually…but that wasn’t the reason I took it. Not to mention some hilarious photos of me with my nieces. Taking photos should be about the memory, not about the ‘instagram-ability’.

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3. Followers Come and Go

The burning question in your heads if you’re a blogger is probably ‘Did you lose a load of followers?’ – well the simple answer is yes…but not a lot. My following dropped by about 2%, that feels like quite a lot when I’m not a blogger with a huge following in the first place, but I really wasn’t bothered by that. The followers I regularly interact with were still there when I logged back in, my engagement didn’t take too long to return, and I expect most of the loss was from bots unfollowing a seemingly inactive account. Followers will stick around for fresh content from a calmer, less anxious me, and if they didn’t, well I don’t want them following me anyway.

4. Nothing Bad Happened

Taking a break from instagram didn’t ruin my career. I didn’t miss half a dozen events. I didn’t lose all my followers. I didn’t become an online outcast. Nothing bad happened. In fact, I found time and space in my life to meditate, have wonderful conversations with my mum / brothers / friends without the need to check my phone or photograph my Christmas dinner, or ‘insta-story’ our Monopoly game. Not criticising those who do that, AT ALL. This post is not about telling people they should spend less time on instagram. What I want to say is; if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the constant online stimulation, feel that you’re falling into the comparison zone, or simply need to step away from your phone….it’s OK!! If you do take a break, I’d recommend deleting the app to avoid temptation 😉

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(Credit: Elle Linton)

My instagram hiatus was exactly what I needed. Now I’m happy to not post for a day or two, happy to not spend half an hour each morning scrolling through posts in bed, and happy in the knowledge that while social media is a part of my life I enjoy most of the time, it’s also something I can step back from when I need to practice self-care. If you’re thinking about taking a break, give it a go!