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Luxe for Less

Luxe for Less Travel

5 ways to save money when visiting France

Last year, I spent quite some time planning a small road trip around France. I found that it was quite easy to have a luxurious French holiday on a low budget. If you hope to visit France, these are my top tips for making the most of your money.

 

Tip 1: Shop around to find good deals

My Dad seems to pretty much always find the best rates for hotels when he makes his reservation directly with the hotel. Hotels often have deals available on their own websites. However, I usually find I can get better prices when I use different sites, so I always shop around.

For our trip to France, I used Booking.com to book all of our budget hotels. I found that their prices beat those offered everywhere else and they had added bonuses too, such as being able to cancel our reservation for free very close up until the day we were staying.

You can find some great value budget hotels that don’t feel like they’re a cheap hotel at all. Possibly because it was a little way out of Lille itself, the Mercure Lille Metropole Hotel was a great price and felt very modern and comfortable.

I found an amazing deal for a chateau in rural France by using Secret Escapes. Their price was a great deal cheaper than the price offered by the hotel themselves. We also had breakfast every day included, which would have been an extra cost if we booked through the hotel. In addition to this, we had free unlimited access to the chateau’s spa, which was a fantastic facility to enjoy whenever we liked. We also received a box of chocolates in our room on arrival, which was a simple but really nice extra.

I’ve seen other great value deals for luxury hotels in France on Secret Escapes many times, so it’s definitely worth checking on there to see what they are offering. They also sometimes provide deals that include Eurostar travel, so that’s worth bearing in mind if that is how you would like to travel.

 

Tip 2: Stay at both budget and luxury hotels

If you’re planning on visiting a few different places in France and you want to watch how much you spend but you also want to enjoy some luxury, mixing budget and luxury stays is a great idea. I employed this technique on our road trip, as did my Mum and Dad when we travelled to a few places in France years ago.

When we stayed in cities, or nearby, I booked cheap budget hotels. When you are visiting a busy area where there is lots to do and see, it’s often the case that you’re going to only be sleeping in the hotel, so it makes sense to book somewhere cheap. I then booked a luxury chateau stay for a few nights in rural France.

I found it was a really nice mix to stay in some cheap hotels to keep to a lower budget, with a luxury stay to look forward to later in the week. This way, you’re still indulging in some luxury but keeping your overall spend for the holiday down.

 

Tip 3: Travel for free on the Eurotunnel or ferry

We wanted to take our car to make it easy to travel around France, so we decided to take the Eurotunnel. If you have a Tesco Clubcard, you can save up your vouchers and use them to pay for Eurotunnel tickets, or for the ferry. Tesco vouchers are currently worth triple the value for these partners, so vouchers can go a long way. It’s an easy way to get free or very cheap travel to and from France.

We found the Eurotunnel to be a really easy and quick way to travel. There is a terminal to visit before you board UK-side with places to get food and a duty-free shop. When it’s time to board, you simply drive up and wait in your allocated lane, then drive onto the train when boarding opens. The journey only takes about half an hour and you drive straight off the train and onto the French roads. We couldn’t believe how much easier than flying it was!

 

Tip 4: Find the free attractions 

There are so many free things to do in France. A good tip is to search on TripAdvisor for things to do in the area you are wishing to visit. By doing this, you can find good ideas of what attractions you can visit for free, plus helpful information from other visitors about the sights and activities. I found several free places to visit for our road trip, including parks and gardens, a cathedral and even a zoo!

Planning your visit to coincide with free admission dates provides another way to have free days out. Throughout France, there are many tourist attractions you can visit for free on the first Sunday of the month. An example of this is the Chateau de Fontainebleau, which is usually costs 11 Euros per person to visit.

 

Tip 5: Have a picnic

France is renowned for it’s plentiful fresh bread, delicious cheese and wonderful cakes. Instead of going out for lunch every day, having a picnic is a great way to save some money. In my opinion, it can be just as enjoyable as visiting a restaurant. So much of France is picturesque and green that it’s often easy to find scenic places to sit and have some lunch.

We saw several people doing just this in the grounds of the stunning Pierrefonds chateau. I mean, you can’t get a backdrop like that for a lunch date very often!

 

I hope these tips will be of some help if you plan to visit France at some point. Let me know if you’ve been to France before and if you have any tips!

Lifestyle Luxe for Less

My favourite easy and affordable luxe rituals

I am a great believer in adding touches of luxury to your lifestyle, to make for a life that feels joyous and blissful. There are so many easy and super affordable ways to bring luxury into your everyday life, luxe hacks if you will. Here are some of my personal favourites:

 

Bring a fresh bouquet of flowers into your home

I have always been someone who thinks carefully before making any purchases and I used to think that buying flowers for my home was a waste of money. I guess it was the slightly frugal aspect of my personality creeping in, telling me I shouldn’t spend money on something I don’t need to buy. However, I’ve come to realise what a super easy way it is to treat myself. When you consider that they are something you will see and appreciate every single day, they are so worth buying.


The cost can also be so small – you can pick up a bunch for around £3 from the supermarket. When I take good care of my flowers, I find they sometimes last for up to 2 weeks.

 

Bring out the bubbles

If you enjoy a tipple in the evening after work or at the weekend, why not treat yourself to some fizz? I have recently started buying myself a bottle of something fizzy every week and I find there’s nothing better to add some luxury to my evening.

You can go all out and splurge on a bottle of champagne, by all means, if that’s well within your budget. My top tip is to buy a bottle of prosecco, cava, or mabye try asti spumante if you enjoy sweet sparkling drinks, all of which you can find for around the £5 mark. I really recommend Aldi’s cava and asti spumante, for fantastic value for money.

I use a bottle stopper* designed for champagne and sparkling wines, which helps to make a bottle last. By using this, I can enjoy a glass of fizz over several evenings.

It feels so luxurious to come home from work, slip into something more comfortable, and sip on a glass of bubbles.

 

Take a full-on luxe bath

One of my favourite ways to relax is to take the time to have a really luxurious bath. I find that I’m always rushing around trying to get so many things done, so I make sure I’m going to be able to take my time in the bath, without constantly thinking I need to get out to do job x,y and z. Worrying that I need to get out soon to get whatever job needs doing completed does not equal relaxation, so creating free time is of the utmost importance.

Bath creams that create bubbles are, of course, a key part. I’m currently loving the Imperial Leather Marshmallow Bath which smells utterly divine.

Candlelight in the evening adds a beautiful warm glow and provides a calm and relaxed vibe.

I have heard some people say that they find sitting in the bath boring, and so do I, which is why I never sit there alone with my thoughts. That is certainly not the best thing for an overactive mind like mine! Instead, I load up a Youtube video or inspiring audiobook, lie back and close my eyes, whilst occasionally reaching for my aforementioned glass of fizz, of course – sheer bliss.

 

Have candles in the house? Light them!

I remember seeing someone on Twitter tweet that they own lots of candles but they never light them because they feel bad using them! So many other people responded saying they did exactly the same thing. I used to be this way too, not wanting to use up candles because I liked them too much. However, a few months ago, I decided that this was such a waste.

Now, I love nothing more than coming home and lighting candles in the living room and sometimes in the kitchen when we’re cooking too. There’s something so relaxing, romantic and luxurious about spending the evening surrounded by candlelight.

If you have some candles that you really don’t want to use because you love them so much, you can always go and buy some cheap ones. One of my favourite places at the moment to get great value candles is Matalan. I also used to love getting the vanilla scented candles from Ikea. Oh how I wish there was an Ikea closer to me!

I often find cheap candles and candle holders in the sales too – I found this glam gold candle holder (I think it may have been a Parlane one) in the clearance section of a local garden centre and it provides such a beautiful glow when I light a tealight inside it.

This evening, try lighting some candles and turning all the lights off and enjoy!

 

These are some of my favourite ways to add a touch of luxury to everyday life that are so easy and super affordable. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can make your day feel special and you deserve to have every day feel special and luxurious.

 

*Affiliate link – provides me with a very small commission to support the costs of running this blog. The price of the product is in no way altered by this.

Home & Interiors Luxe for Less

A quick and easy way to transform your wardrobe

Living in a small house with limited room for storage means that I’m always on the lookout for new ideas to make the most of the space we have. I’ve always struggled with the amount (or lack of it) of hanging space there is in our wardrobe.

When I did my big declutter using Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying*, I ended up folding lots more clothes up and storing them vertically. However, I still had lots of items that couldn’t be folded and so needed to be hung up. My wardrobe still felt cramped and like there wasn’t enough space.

Previously, I’ve always used hangers that are provided by shops when you buy clothes. I didn’t see anything wrong with using hangers that came for free. Why would I need to purchase something when I get that item for free all the time and they do the job just fine?

I first looked into getting slimline black velvet hangers some time ago now. Hearing that they were really good for saving space in your wardrobe meant that they really appealed to me.

I searched around trying to find some with good reviews. When I found these velvet hangers* with lots of great reviews from Amazon, I decided they were the right choice for me. At less than £20 for a box of 50, they sounded like fantastic value for money (plus, if you are a student, you can get 15% off!).

I was worried that slimline velvet hangers wouldn’t be strong enough to hold my clothes, particularly heavy jackets and maxi dresses. Whilst I wouldn’t risk hanging very heavy items on them, I’ve found that they hold my maxi dresses and all of my jackets perfectly fine. The only item I’ve decided it would be best to use an old hanger for is a heavy leather-style jacket.

According to Amazon, the hangers can hold up to 4.5kg, so they should be fine for most items.

They have swivel hooks so that they can be faced whichever way you want them to be, notched shoulders on each end for hanging straps, and a trouser bar. Amazon also sell the hangers without a trouser bar, but I preferred to have them so that I can hang my trousers on them too.

I’ve found the velvet means that clothes don’t slip off – they stay perfectly in place.

I took a really quick photo just before I changed the hangers over so I had a ‘before’ photo. I’m sorry that the quality is terrible! I felt I should include it to give you an idea of the huge improvement the new hangers have made.

And here’s how my wardrobe looks with the new hangers.

Using my new velvet hangers has transformed my wardrobe. No longer do I have a complete mish mash of hangers that looks messy. Instead, I have hangers that on the whole all match and that are the same height. The black velvet with chrome hooks provides me with a wardrobe that is much more appealing to the eye and rather chic! The velvet also makes the inside of my wardrobe look much more luxurious. In addition, I now have more space on my rail. No longer are clothes all squashed tightly together, which makes taking clothes out and putting them back much easier.

A super quick and easy way to breathe some space and luxury into your wardrobe for a tiny price. Luxe for less at it’s best!

 

*Affiliate link – provides me with a very small commission to support the costs of running this blog. The price of the product is in no way altered by this.

Home & Interiors Luxe for Less

Luxe for less: new home accessories from Matalan

When my favourite scented candle ran out, I made a trip to Matalan to replace it. They didn’t have the coconut and vanilla candle anymore (sob) but I found another candle I liked the smell of.

The Calm Fragranced Jar Candle has a sparkling citrus and sea salt scent. It has a wooden wick, which provides a crackling effect too.

Blue doesn’t really match the colour of my living room, but I mean who cares really. It’s a great size scented candle for the price.

I had a look at the rest of the homeware section and found several nice items; all good quality and all for a great price too.

This Ombre Effect Glass Hurricane Tealight Holder is possibly my favourite out of everything I bought.

I love the cut glass effect that gives it a glam feel, and when a tealight is lit inside, the cut glass detail throws out beautiful shapes. The perfect romantic vibe for a cosy night in.

I’ve been eyeing up these Heart Embossed Tumbler Glasses for quite some time and decided to finally buy one. I drink lots of water throughout the day, so I’m always on the lookout for glasses that are a decent size. I bought some Villeroy and Boch Boston tumblers* while we were on holiday in France (that I still haven’t photographed to show you!), which I adore. These Matalan glasses were a little larger, so very useful for filling up with water for every day.

This tumbler is a really good size and it is really heavy so it feels like good quality. I’m also a sucker for anything with a heart on it, so I love that detail.

Dan has been wanting a clear latte glass for a while, so we picked one of those up too.

The drinks made from his Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machine* fit perfectly and a caramel hot chocolate does look very tempting in his new glass mug! (If you have a Dolce Gusto machine, you’ve simply got to try the Caramel Chococino pods* – they are utterly delicious).

I also bought a Salter handheld spiralizer, which has proved to be really easy to use and a great way to make vegetable noodles. I didn’t want something that would take up too much room in the cupboard, so a small handheld version was a good idea, and great value for money too.

I’m impressed with the quality and prices of home accessories at Matalan –  a great place to find new additions to your home for a very reasonable price tag.

 

*Affiliate link – provides me with a very small commission to support the costs of running this blog. The price of the product is in no way altered by this.

Home & Interiors Luxe for Less

How to make your home feel luxe for less

For me, having a home that I adore is so important. We spend a great deal of time here: it’s where we wake up and get ready for the day ahead, where we sleep for hours every night, where we eat meals and spend family time and, for some of us, it’s the base for our work.

It’s where we should be excited to return to every day, a sanctuary, a place to relax and enjoy.

This is why I’m all for investing money in making your home as fabulous as it can be. Sometimes though, when you get your first home or you’re saving up for something else, you need to be careful how much you spend on your home, I get it, and there are plenty of ways to make your house more luxe for less.

 

SHOP AROUND

My favourite thing to do is to shop around for good quality items at affordable prices. Sometimes it pays to be patient and to take your time researching where to buy when you have a particular piece that you would like to buy.

There are so many shops that have sales on homeware and you can often make a great saving. Next have a nice variety of good quality furniture and accessories and their sales can produce wonderful finds. I’ve purchased several decorative pieces from them over the years, as well as more useful items like laundry baskets, and I find their sale prices can provide excellent value for money.

I happened to spot this canvas from B&M last week in a clearance section and loved the pretty flower detail and the colours. It’s only small but when I saw it had been reduced to just £1.99, I thought it was an amazing price for a lovely piece of artwork. The colours go so well in our spare room, but it’s a little small for the wall I’ve placed it on temporarily, so I need to think where it’s permanent home can be.

One of my recently discovered finds is Homesense, a sister company of TK Maxx. We don’t have a Homesense store nearby, but after seeing so many lovely items people find there, I made the trip to the closest one when on a day out. The items they stock changes regularly and they often only have 1 or 2 of many pieces, so it’s really pot luck as to what they have in store when you visit! I’ve found the prices to be such good value though. I also quite like to rummage a little – it’s like a treasure trove and you never know what you’re going to find.

I’ve been looking for a nice tray for my perfumes and Dan’s aftershave for quite some time and I recently found this mirrored tray with cream edging at Homesense, which is a perfect fit and looks lovely on my dressing table. I think it was less than £10 too.

Sometimes you don’t even have to shop for new items, which leads me onto my next point.

 

LIY (LUXE IT YOURSELF)

There are so many ways you can update furniture and other items you already own that are much cheaper than buying new, and the change can be just as dramatic.

A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to transform a piece of furniture. We had an old storage unit in our living room that was looking very tired and old. We painted it white, added some seagrass baskets that fit perfectly to store items out of sight and then accessorised with a glass table lamp, a cream clock, some fresh flowers and candles. It looks like a new piece of furniture and just for the price of a tin of paint.

Switching drawer knobs and handles from the ones they came with is another easy way to really glam up an old piece of furniture. When we built a cupboard in our spare room, we used the doors and drawers from an old desk and wardrobe and replaced the mismatched handles with a new set of matching good quality handles.

Spray paint is another great way to bring new life into something old. I’ve spray painted various items in my home, including my BBQ! I’ve also sprayed various decorative accessories gold and silver to glam them up a little. I’ve seen people spray paint all sorts of things from furniture and vases to lamp bases and even lamp shades!

 

FINISHING TOUCHES

There are little things you can do to make a home feel cosy and luxurious that cost very little.

Candles can be super cheap and they instantly add a touch of luxury when dotted around a room in the evening, bringing a warm glow. One of my favourite things to do on a cold Winter’s evening is to watch a film surrounded by candlelight with a mug of hot chocolate – bliss!

Something that I now regularly treat myself to is a bunch of fresh flowers. I used to feel they were a luxury item I shouldn’t really spend money on every week, but when you can find small bouquets for just a few pounds in the supermarket, it seems like a very small cost for something that brings me joy to look at every day. I now have flowers in my living room every week.

Choosing small things that bring you joy that you use every day can make a big impact to how luxurious your home feels. Using a mug for your tea or coffee every morning with a quote that speaks to your soul is going to be an amazing start to every day. I found this mug when I was browsing the home department at Next the other day and nearly bought it. Classy and fabulous – a perfect combination.

I picked up this gorgeous glass bowl on my last trip to Homesense for around £8 and I use it to store my cotton wool in the bathroom. Glass bowls and pretty trays are a great way of storing small items around the home that you can find quite cheaply and they also add a touch of glam to any room.

I love Molton Brown handwash, but it certainly isn’t cheap. I’ve found a great way to make washing your hands just as luxe without the price tag is to buy a handwash dispenser and use much cheaper handwash, that does just as good a job of cleaning your hands. I’ve seen many lovely dispensers for less than £10 and they can really finish off a bathroom well. I got mine for around £4 in a sale at B&Q a few years ago, but I would love to find a more glam one, so I’m definitely on the look out!

 

There are so many ways to bring a touch of luxe to your home for less that can make all the difference.