If you haven’t heard enough about it already, James and I had two holidays booked this year that fell through at the last minute, and for some reason, we’ve not really booked another one since. But until we save up for another dream vaca, we’re trying to take every opportunity we get to have a little time away, even if its something as simple as day trip to the Lake District.
So when Emirates Old Trafford invited us to kick start the party season with one of their legendary Christmas parties and a stay in their brand new on-site hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, we didn’t even try it play it cool. We hit the ‘reply’ button after caps-locking our response, which was a rather inappropriate “HELL YEAH!”
We dropped the dogs off with James’ mum and drove over to the Emirates Old Trafford ground, home of the Lancashire County Cricket Club, and parked up outside the Hilton Garden Inn, their brand new, built just this year, four star hotel. After checking in, being shown around the lobby and restaurant and being told about their awesome little snack bar that housed popcorn, crisps, snacks, sandwiches and drinks (which we totally raided both, before and after the party!), we went upstairs to our room on the first floor to relax and get ready for the party.
I’ve stayed in my fair share of hotels over the past twenty eight years, but while some tend to have rather dated decor, the Hilton Garden Inn was absolutely spot on with its clean lines and grey, white and neutral interiors with beautiful black and white images on Manchester in the rooms and iconic moments in sporting history at the Lancashire County Cricket Club in the hallways.
Our room and bathroom were modern, minimalistic and the perfect size, with all the eseentials we could possibly require. The bed was just perfect (which is always something I check for first, with my not-so-great back), we had free wifi, a little fridge, a wardrobe with ironing facilities and a bathroom stocked with toiletries (which was a huge relief considering I’d forgotten to pack shower gel and would’ve had to either skip showering in the morning, or go home smelling like a man after using James’!)
We were told we’d have a balcony that overlooked the pitch, which we were both really looking forward to seeing. However, what we were NOT prepared for was jusy how big the balcony was! I could’ve easily thrown a party for 20 people on there (I learned later that they take the beds out and convert the rooms on the first floor into private boxes when big matches are on. How cool!) I stepped outside just as the the snow started to fall and it was the most perfect, magical little moment to pour ourselves a glass of the Prosecco we brought and toast to a wonderful night ahead.
My personal favourite touch was this gorgeous book on Manchester they leave in each room, so visitors from out of town (or people who haven’t lived here long, like ya girl) can familiarize themselves what this incredible city has to offer. Its just an example of how much thought the Hilton Garden Inn put into every little detail. Remind me to get myself a copy for my own coffee table later k?
We spent so long ooh-ing and aah-ing over everything between sips of Prosecco, that before we knew what, it was time to put the finishing touches on my makeup and slip my dress on for a night of glamour, dancing, champagne, dressing to impress and everything else I absolutely live for this time of year.
I had originally planned to include some #OOTN shots in this post, so you could see what I wore, but the pictures I shot turned out so nicely, they deserve a post of their own! I’ll be posting them right after this one, so keep your eyes peeled for it over the next couple of days. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of my dress which I could not love more! I bought it to wear to my annual NYE celebration last year, but then decided a gown was more appropriate. I’m so happy that it has gotten to have its moment in the spotlight at such an amazing occasion, so it was definitelty worth the wait!
We gulped down the last of the Prosecco and sauntered over to The Point where we were greeted with more Prosecco (Yay! In case you haven’t already guessed, there’s no such thing as too much Prosecco in my book!). We milled about and I immediately got ‘street style stalking’, taking in everyone’s glitzy dresses. Clearly, everyone had put a lot of effort in tonight, which I love, because the venue was so worthy of it, as you can tell.
In case you didn’t already know, Emirates Old Trafford open its doors to the public at Christmas time, with a series of fabulous Christmas parties called ‘Magical Christmas Time‘ with live music, welcome drinks, a three-course meal followed by luxury cheese and coffee after, a light-up dancefloor and the works! Tickets cost between £35 and £58 per person, including private parties, which is great value and competitive pricing considering the iconic venue with easy transport links, everything the night has to offer, the high quality food and drink, electric atmosphere AND the fact that there’s an on-site hotel where you can book a room so you don’t have to stress about making it back home after a legendary night. Overall, it should definitely be up there as one of your top choices if you’re trying to organise a Christmas night out for a group of friends or colleagues. We’re already planning on coming back next year with our group of friends.
The first thing I noticed as we sat down at our table was that we had the whole table to ourselves and that it was in my name! Talk about a #VIPMoment. Careful, guys! All this special treatement’s gonna go to my head! The next thing we noticed wasthis crazy cool centerpiece. I mean, if this isn’t an excellent decorating idea for your home at Christmas, I don’t know what is. Honestly, if I could squeeze it into my tiny clutch bag, I swear it would be sitting atop my dining table RN. No jokes. The rest of the decor was super festive, too, with cool Christmas tree profections on the walls, twinkly lights and sparkle everywhere. Trust me, if you hadn’t been feeling festive yet, you’d definitely be feeling festive now!
A wander round the venue when it was time for a makeup touch-up led us to discovering other sources of amusement such as a fun reindeer game and a selfie mirror which was very popular, guessing from the size of the queue leading up to it.
It wasn’t long until dinner was served. All the options on the pre-order menu they had sent us prior to the party sounded incredible (yes, even the vegetarian options!) But in the end, I went with the duck liver and candied orange parfait with pea shoots and balsamic onion salad served with a rosemary crostini to start, followed by the oven roasted turkey breast wrapped in pancetta, herb stuffing, thyme infused fondant potato, honey glazed winter roots and redcurrant gravy as my main. And let’s not even talk about how quickly I devoured the butterscotch toffee pudding with Bailey’s custard afterwards. Oh, my tummy is rumbling just thinking about it RN! Can somebody invent a time machine to take me back to this meal? Please and thank you.
Food positively INHALED, it was time to work it off on the dance floor. The resident DJ, Paul Atkinson spun out some classic Christmas tunes while we ate, followed by epic chart toppers after. Under The Covers, a six-piece Manchester band soon came on, giving us some all-time favourite party classics. If there’s anything I love more than blogging, its dancing (okay, and mayyybe Prosecco!) and in no time, I was shaking my thang to Tina Turner faster than you could say ‘Proud Mary’! We danced so much we completely forgot about the cheese and biscuits and coffee being served in the Mezzanine bar, but hey ho. That’s the sign of a goooood night, am I right?
One of my favourite things about this party was that a lot of the songs the band played were the same as the ones that played at the evening celebration of our wedding, so for a moment, time stood still and I was transported to the happiest day of our lives. I always say that dancing with James on our wedding night is my happiest memory till date, and being able to relive that with him here made the night even more special.
Sophisticated Prosecco was soon replaced with jagerbombs, a disco ball and some questionable dance moves and before we knew what, it was almost 2am and time to say goodnight. I wished it could have gone on forever, but in all honesty, I don’t weather the nights out like I used to in my early twenties, and James had been on another night out the day before, so by this point, we were so ready to collapse into the dreamy bed waiting for us at The Hilton Garden Inn a mere minute and a half’s walk away, and just melt into the covers. What. A Night!
I’d love to be the sort of person who awoke bright and early the next morning and squeezed a workout in at the hotel gym whilst Instagramming a picture of my perfectly constructed yogurt, berry and granola bowl (actually, no I wouldn’t – this type of person annoys me and we would never be friends). Instead, we both had foggy heads and hit the snooze button more than a few times. Luckily, the hotel offers a relatively late checkout (whoever decided it would be 12pm just GETS me).
We were both a bit more awake after hot showers – can we just take a minute to talk about two important shower-related things hotels I’ve stayed in just do not understand? (a) an easy-to-use shower that doesn’t take ten minutes to figure out and (b) strong water pressure. I was so relieved that our hotel had both (honestly, the water pressure was unparalleled) because I did NOT have the bandwith to deal with either after our night of drinks and dancing.
We packed our things and made our way downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast (AKA a carb overload which was my sole motivation for getting out of bed). I’m pretty sure the breakfast buffet didn’t know what hit it after I’d finished loading my plate with a good ol’ fashioned Full English and then some, accompanied by a strong black coffee, for which my need was practically dire at this point.
I was pleasantly suprised to discover they also had a DIY waffle station, and somehow, I managed to make some room for those, too. Like I always say, if there’s room in the heart, there’s room in the stomach. Wink wink!
Soon, it was time for us to go back to reality and kiss out cheeky night away from it all at Emirates Old Trafford goodbye (for now, anyway. Wild horses coudln’t stop be from coming back with James or the girls). I’ve always taken great pride in being the sort of blogger who posts really honest reviews, and in the nspirit of I’m being honest, I’ve thought long and hard for a negative point or something they could improve upon, and I haven’t been able to come up with a single one. The hotel may have been four star, but it was just as nice, if not nicer than a fair few five stars we’ve stayed in. Overall, we’ve both had the best time at Emirates Old Trafford and couldn’t recommend visiting this fantastic, multi-purpose haven in the city more.
If you need any more info, check out the Emirates Old Trafford website for all the details on their Christmas parties and the Hilton Garden Inn. You can also follow their social media feeds here – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. By the way, if you do go to one of their parties, be sure to use their custom Snapchat filter and share your picture with it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and Snapchat, duh) using the hashtag #EOTChristmas to win a free stay at the Hilton Garden Inn! See you at the next post! xx
**This post is in collaboration with Emirates Old Trafford however, all opinions are entirely my own.