23 January 2017

A Mercure Stay At Christmas

Is it just me or did Christmas fly past so fast this year?
It literally seems like my house decorations were up for a day and back down the next (they weren't by they way, they were up for almost all of December actually).

Christmas this year started on a massive high, which I will explain in a minute, but it ended on a massive low with a few emergency calls to the hospital when Willow became quite poorly and at one point I reallyvdid think I'd lost her when she was lying helplessly in my arms, and it has really knocked me for six and is going to take quite a while to get that image out of my head.

I don't want to talk too much about those lows because our Christmas started great and we had a fun-packed family weekend just before Christmas when the lovely people over at Talented Talkers invited us to spend a day and night over in Manchester at the Mercure Hotel.

It's not often the Baker Bunch get to go away for weekends anymore, what with myself working or Charlie playing rugby, but this weekend we had nothing planned so we jumped at the opportunity and to be honest if we had of had something planned we would of cancelled anyway.

Not only did we get to spend the night over at the hotel, we also got a family ticket to the Winter Wonderland being held at the Trafford Centre that weekend too.

So let's start with the hotel, like I said it's in Manchester - smack bang in the centre of Manchester to be exact - which is a great location if you are wanting to spend a bit of time browsing around the vast amount of shops and bars the city has.

In my old job I used to do a lot of work in Manchester so I know the area quite well and knew exactly where the hotel was which was handy because town centre driving can be a big pain in the backside if you are not familiar with the area.

Manchester is booming at the moment and to be honest it's where I get most blog event invites to so trust me when I say it's definitely worth the travel over.

Now the hotel is located next door to the bus station and is only a short walk from the nearest train station with is great, but because we were heading over as a family I decided to drive and made use of the hotels on site parking which costs £15 for an overnight stay - very reasonable for the location.

We arrived at the hotel a little before our book in time but the staff made a few calls and let us into our room early, which was very nice.

I think we had a family room and it had a nice king sized bed, a sofa bed and they also supplied us with a travel cot for Willow.
The room was very spacious and Willow enjoyed whizzing around, exploring on her hands and knees.

The lovely people at the hotel left us a little supprise too and I'm not ashamed to say that we didn't leave a single crumb - us Bakers do love a bit of chocolate.

And we also love the odd glass of Prossecco.

 (Please note Charlie did not help us drink this!)

As a group, we were treated to a guided tour of the hotel by the manager so that he should show us the different things the hotel has to offer and I was shocked by the sheer size of the function rooms.
They were huge!

And with it being Christmas Party season it was the perfect time for us to walk around really, we had the chance to see staff setting up for a huge party for that night and, I may be wrong here, but I'm sure the manager said the main function room holds a massive 600 people.

Now that's one hell of a party.


There is also an onsite gym too for guests to use and I could tell you that I got up early and smashed out a big gym session in the morning but that would be a big fat lie.
What I can tell you though is that the gym had plenty of apparatus and was very well looked after.

And so, as I said earlier we had tickets to head over to the Trafford Centre to check out the Winter Wonderland, which is what we did after the tour.
We were all very excited but after spending around an hour there we left quite disappointed really, I wasn't a fan at all - I think Willow was a little too young for everything and Charlie was a little too old - and to make matters worse I dropped my camera whilst we were there and broke my lens - which I still haven't had fixed because Christmas made me skint.

But we couldn't leave with out Charlie sampling one of the amazing smelling crepes they had on offer - one filled with his favourite Nutella of course.

Oh and we also had to take a few selfies to show off my amazing new Christmas jumper

But we soon headed back to the hotel so we could go for some lovely food in the hotel's restaurant, well so we thought anyway.

With it been quite late and far past Willow's bed time we always knew it was going to be a struggle to keep her awake for a late meal, and we were right, she was falling asleep when we were all freshening up in our room

Sadly Simone stayed in the room with her whilst myself and Charlie went and ate food, but because the hotel staff are quite amazing they said they would let Simone order and would take it up to our room for her which I thought was a great gesture.

If you want to know what she ordered you can read her post Here! too.

And this may sound strange but one of the hardest things I find about blogging is writing about food, I just never think I do good food justice, I'd rather just tell you it was good or bad and try let the pictures do the talking.

So that's what I'm doing.

First up we both choose the butternut squash soup with a slice of garlic bread to dip in which is a firm favourite in the Baker household anyway - it's usually a Slimming World special I make and we all love it.

This soup tasted just as good as my own I must admit.

Next up was the easiest pick of the menu for me, it was Betty's Famous Hot Pot. 

If you're a Corrie fan then you will have seen many a person order this in the Rovers Return, and if not, well just think of a Lancashire hotpot made by your Gran!

It was packed full of flavour, the meat was super tender and melted in the mouth, the potatoes were nice and crispy on top but if I had one criticism it would be that there just wasn't enough for me - it was quite a tiny portion - but other than that I couldn't fault it. 

Charlie definitely takes after his dad when it comes to eating and it's very rare that he will order from any children's menu these days, but at the hotel there wasn't anything he fancied on the main menu so he opted for the cheese burger and chips on the kid's menu, which was a great choice actually because it was huge. 

And last but by no means least - pudding.
We both choose Sticky Toffee Pudding and ice cream and yeah, it tasted as good as it looks

We didn't leave a drop and could quite easily licked our bowls clean - but the restaurant looked very posh so there was no doing that.

After food we headed back to our room to see Simone and watch a bit of TV an 10 minutes later I was asleep on the sofa bed and stayed there until Willow woke us in the morning.

We also had breakfast at the hotel that morning but being the blogger who thinks with his belly I totally forgot to take any photos.
I was too busy stuffing my face with Cornflakes, a full English, muffins, fruit, and everything else they had to offer.

I do eat quite a lot of cooked breakfasts I have to say (it goes with the job...kind of...) and this one was up there with the best of them. 

So all in all, myself and the Baker Bunch had a great time at the hotel - it was certainly one of the best parts of our Christmas 2016 experience anyway.

Don't forget to check out what offers the hotels have on at the moment too.

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