Hilton Garden Inn - Los Angeles Marina del Rey Review

At the end of our recent mega road trip on Route 66, the historic road from Chicago to Los Angeles California we ended it in with a stay in the Marina del Rey area of LA. The Marina del Rey area is a 10-minute drive from LAX airport and a 20-minute drive from Santa Monica Pier. Perfectly situated to see all that LA has to offer.

Our base for this stay would be the Hilton Garden Inn Marina del Rey, Thanks to the Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau who gave us a media rate on the hotel. All opinions are as ever my own.

The Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles Marina del Rey, is located just a block from the marina area but still supremely well located. A modern stylish hotel, it's location and facilities make it ideal for business or pleasure whilst visiting LA.

As I entered the hotel, I was immediately impressed with the lobby area which was large and consisted of two different seating areas. We were hot and tired after our journey from Las Vegas and I spied complimentary iced water which was very welcome after our journey. I also noticed a business area with a handful of computers and facilities to print out information.

Check in was quick and efficient, and before long we were in our room. The male check-in attendant was very cheerful and welcoming.

The Room

Before long we were in our room. The room was decorated in tones of creams, browns and greys - modern, contemporary and fresh looking. Everything seemed in great condition and the walls had no scuffs or marks, which is so nice to see.

We had two double beds in our room and a set of drawers with a clock radio and a phone between them.

A flat panel TV, fridge, microwave and Keurig coffee machine were on one unit along with some drawers for your clothes. Complimentary water was available if you were a member of Hilton Honours membership scheme which is free to sign up to.

Nice to see a Keurig pod coffee machine which had English breakfast tea pods too. 

Next to the unit, there was a table with another phone, information about the hotel and surrounding area and a room service menu with a selection of dishes. The menu sounded excellent and had a variety of dishes from a delectable sounding blackened Mahi Mahi to hamburgers, club sandwiches and steak.

The room had efficient air conditioning and was relatively quiet. We've stayed in some hotels in the US where there air conditioning was super noisy so this was a refreshing change.

The bathroom had a bath with an over-the-bath shower, sink and toilet. I don't know about you but I like my baths to relax in, so it was great to have a bath as well as a shower. Toiletries were from the excellent Neutrogena brand and as well as shampoo, conditioner and soap and body lotion, included a shower cap makeup remover wipes and a vanity kit.

The room also had a cupboard with decent hanging space, an in-room safe, iron and ironing board. The room was very spacious but there were also suites available if you wanted more space again and also a number of accessible rooms.

Other facilities

As well as the aforementioned business area, there was also the Marina Bar and Grill which was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a 'happy hour' every day with beer at 5 dollars and wine at 6 dollars - very reasonable for LA.  A patio area next to the restaurant was a great area to sit outside and socialise. A 24-hour fitness centre and swimming pool was also included within the hotel facilities. 

The dining area looked smart, yet the dress code was relaxed.

The patio area was perfect for sitting with friends over a drink and picking up some of the California sun, or maybe playing a game or two.

The fitness area although not large, had decent equipment from cross trainers to weights. Complimentary ear-buds were provided and were a great touch, so you could listen to your music whilst working out.

The business area had a couple of computers, a printer and a shredder. 

The pool was close to our room. We could see it from our balcony and consisted of a main swimming pool area and a small hot tub. It wasn't a large pool but it still was a reasonable size and had sun loungers and towels available to use complimentary.

All so far so good. 

That day we wandered around the area checking out what Marina del Rey had to offer, more of that later. That night we had a great night sleep. The Garden Sleep System® bed was very comfortable,  as the mattress conforms to your body in the night, providing excellent support.


We ate breakfast in the hotel the next morning. I was pleased to see that breakfast on the weekend is served until 12 midday. Most hotels serve breakfast until 10 or 11 on weekends, so this was a refreshing change. If you like to sleep in at the weekend then this is the place for you! The breakfast consisted of a hot and cold buffet, with a selection of fresh pastries, cereals, fresh fruit, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes. I noticed that they also had omelettes made to order included in the breakfast rate so I ordered a ham and mushroom omelette. It was really very good, I was really impressed with how tasty it was and not over seasoned.

Marina del Rey

Marina del Rey is an area of Los Angeles, with a marina waterfront, full of upmarket hotels and great restaurants. It also has an interesting farmer's market on a Saturday morning which we enjoyed visiting.

A short drive away is Santa Monica and it's famous pier, and you can walk to the eccentric Venice Beach and the trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard full of cool restaurants and shops. 

We really enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Marina del Rey. Would we stay again? Most definitely. It's a well-located hotel with great facilities and is perfectly situated close to Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier and Los Angeles LAX airport. If you come, it's worth paying for the breakfast in your room rate as it was very good and tasty too. Recommended.

Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles Marina Del Rey
4200 Admiralty Way, 

Marina del Rey, 
California, 90292, 
USA TEL: +1-310-301-2000

What To Consider When Buying A Bespoke Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home so it is little wonder that people try to make it absolutely perfect. With more and more people buying bespoke kitchens, there are plenty of different things to consider.

A bespoke kitchen has plenty of benefits but what are they and what things do you need to think about?

Get professional advice and inspiration before proceeding

There are plenty of online resources and known experts out there so you can get some fantastic inspiration on what you want your kitchen to look like. Maybe create a mood board and see what you like and what would suit your home. You could also visit various showrooms to get a good feel for it. Pinterest is always great for design inspiration.

It fits your lifestyle

When you choose a bespoke kitchen, you are choosing every single element so you are choosing it to fit your lifestyle. Sometimes you need some more storage space, sometimes you want a more sociable space - the good thing about bespoke kitchens is that they are designed to suit you, your wants and your needs.

It is built to last

If you are buying flat-pack, you are often buying mass produced stuff which may not be of the best quality and may lead to compromises being made. When you are choosing every element of your kitchen, the quality will be exemplar and made from only premium materials so is totally built to last.

It is an investment

A beautifully designed kitchen is always a worthwhile investment. Not only will you get plenty of use out of it with friends and family but should you ever choose to sell your property, a bespoke kitchen can be a fantastic selling point. Many people look to choose a home with a beautiful and practical kitchen.

There are no limits

One of the main benefits of a bespoke kitchen is that there are no limits to what you can do - you choose the design and it can be whatever you like. Your personality can really shine through - there really is limitless opportunity to design your perfect kitchen.

Have you ever considered investing in a bespoke kitchen?


10 Ideas To Improve Your Garden

Is your garden somewhat lacking and has been left to become a neglected jungle? There are some easy ways to improve your garden and make it into a beautiful part of your home that you can enjoy when the weather is good.

  • Before you start making improvements, make sure you’re starting with a clean slate. Cut back any overgrown plants. Replace any rotten decking or broken paving slabs on the patio. Hire a pressure cleaner to blast the patio and paths. Weed the garden, and tidy up any messy plants.
  • If you hate mowing the lawn with a passion, why not go for a fake? Artificial lawns, like LazyLawn, are easy to maintain and look quite realistic. No more dragging out the lawnmower to deal with overgrown grass.
  • Mark out different zones in the garden, like lawns and sitting areas, by creating borders. You could use flower beds or planters to create borders, or experiment with different fencing panels using various Fencing Supplies as dividers.

  • Upgrade your garden furniture. Choose pieces that you’ll get lots of use out of. If you love to have barbecues, choose a large table. If you’re more about relaxing, why not treat yourself to a smart sun lounger one of the many comfy hammocks for lounging in with a book or a glass of wine.
  • Fancy up your furniture. Add colourful cushions to garden chairs to bring up some visual interest, and some extra comfort. A patio table cover can have two jobs, keeping your patio furniture clean as well as adding a pop of colour to your patio area. 
  • Garden storage is often overlooked but can help you keep your garden tidy and under control. A storage bench or box that is waterproof is a good way to store soft furnishing for the garden or things like folding extra chairs. Add a shed to store the lawnmower or other gardening tools.
  • Make the most of your garden at night by using lighting. Put in lights at a range of levels, or in different colours to mark up different zones. Low lighting under plants can create a beautiful effect. Add lamps around places where you’ll sit, cook or eat. Wall lights or standing lamps work well for this. Add citronella candles near cooking areas to keep bugs at bay. Put lights next to doors and pathways to reduce the risk of tripping in low lighting conditions.

  • Cheer up a plain patio or deck with some brightly coloured plants in pots. Potted plants are easier to maintain than plants in flower beds. Use a mix of colours and plants that will look good at different times of the year so the patio stays looking pretty. Hanging baskets by the back door could be a fun addition too to add more colour.
  • Treat yourself to a smart barbecue. Whether you buy a good quality grill or build a custom brick barbecue, you’ll seriously upgrade your barbecue game. Host dinner parties outside in the summer and show off your beautiful garden space.
  • If you love to entertain, why not set up an outdoor bar? Make a rustic looking bar with DIY materials and outdoor safe lights. You can stay outside with your friends and keep entertaining without having to go back indoors every time someone wants a fresh drink. Stock the bar before people come over, and you can keep the party going outside all evening.

    *Collaborative post

Cophall Parking Review Gatwick Airport

Going on holiday can take a lot of planning. From the more exciting parts such as choosing the destination and hotel to the slightly more mundane yet equally as important aspects such as airport parking.

The cost of airport parking can range dramatically depending on the location and time of year. What most of us are looking for is a reasonable price, a minimum of fuss and of course, a secure location. We’ve all seen those TV reports of those less than reputable companies who leave your car unlocked in derelict industrial estates or simply on the side of the road.

So, for our recent 3 week trip to the USA (driving Route 66) we were offered complimentary parking with Cophall Parking Gatwick in exchange for an honest review of their Park & Ride service.

Cophall Parking is an off-site parking location near Gatwick and it’s open 24 hours a day. It's a Park Mark police accredited parking site which means it has effective surveillance, good lighting, a clean environment and quality management. 

The site was easy to find and the provided Sat-Nav location actually led us to the main car drop off area.  Checking in the car was quick and easy although after a long drive a little welcome smile would have been appreciated. However, we’ll give the receptionist the benefit of the doubt as she was on her own at the time, taking quite a few phone calls and seemed stressed as the internet was down.

The office was clean and there were toilets available. We waited less than 5 minutes for the transfer bus to the airport and the driver helped us with the bags, which was great. It was about 4pm in the afternoon and despite the rush hour traffic and the road works, the transfer to Gatwick’s South Terminal took just over 15 minutes. The driver knew all the short cuts which avoided the main delays.

The whole process from car park arrival to getting to the terminal was painless. Cophall Parking are a ‘Gatwick Approved Operator’ and they drop off at bus stop 7 or 8 at the South Terminal, the same location as pick up for the return trip. Although, you don’t want to think about the return trip when you’re going on holiday. 

So you’re off on holiday and you can forget about your car, safe in the knowledge that it’s parked securely and not being used as an unlicensed minicab. 

Unfortunately, your holiday will come to an end and you will have to return home. You will be probably land at Gatwick, tired and just wanting to be home so the quicker you can be on your way the better. A couple of years ago we did have a horrendous experience with another car park company where we had to wait over 3 hours for our car! Not something you want to endure after an 8-hour flight. So what would the pickup experience with Cophall Parking be like we wondered? 

We landed at around 11am and after collecting our bags rang for the car park pick up. We just missed one transfer so thought we would have to wait quite a long time for another but only 10 minutes later another van arrived for us. Our pick up driver was very friendly which was good, especially when the post-holiday blues are starting to kick in. 

On arrival at the car park, we just handed in our receipt to get the car keys and a token barrier for the barrier. Within 5 minutes we were on the road and heading home, we did get a smile from the receptionist this time. 

In summary, we would definitely use Cophall Parking again especially when taking a longer trip. We were initially concerned that parking off-site would entail a lot of fuss with long waits and transfers. Our experience proved these concerns to be completely unfounded with the return trip being far better than some on-site, more expensive parking. We would definitely pay to use Cophall Parking in future, if you want a cost-effective parking site within easy reach of Gatwick Airport I recommend you try them out.

Five Things To Do In London

If you’re visiting the city of London for the first time, it can be pretty overwhelming. There’s a lot to see and do, and if you’ve only got a short stay or even a long one, it’s important to know what needs checking off the travel bucket list. So here’s five things to do in London, whenever you go.

See A West End Theatre Show

London is a known hub for all things theatre, and one of the must-do’s is to experience a West End Theatre show. There is plenty on offer all year round, and even if you’re looking for something last-minute, there will always be something available to suit your taste. From musicals to plays, a great way of finding theatre tickets is to go through a site like TodayTix or with the theatre directly. Todaytix is particularly good because they’re discounted tickets and that helps save the pennies. You could also go to see a show like Mary Poppins, and then go on a movie location tour after in London.

Go Up The Shard

If you’re not afraid of heights and want the opportunity to see the whole of London, then The Shard has beaten The London Eye when it comes to 360° views of the city’s landscape. The Shard was built back in 2009 and is a 95-storey building fitted out with multiple viewing platforms, restaurants, a hotel and offices. So if you find yourself feeling a little peckish on the way down from the viewing point, you could always stop in for a meal at one of their renowned fine-dining restaurants.

Taste The Delights Of Borough Market

If street food is more your style, then Borough Market is a definite place to stop by during your stay in London. It’s a busy hub of retail and food that has been around since the 12th century. That’s a long, long time! It’s one of the oldest and largest markets in London and is certainly worth going to if you want to try a variety of cuisines and of course, to get a few bargains in the process.

Walk Along The Southbank

There are many beautiful spots in London to enjoy the sites, but one of the most popular places for tourists and locals to go is the Southbank. The Southbank sits alongside the River Thames and has a whole host of chain restaurants and bars to entertain you late into the night. It’s particularly beautiful in the evening, and you’re likely to see many a busker and street entertainer along the way.

Visit Free Museums

If you’re trying to save money on your trip away, there are plenty of free things that you can get up to around London. These freebies can still provide you with a wonderful experience and insight into London’s history. There are plenty of museums in London, of which the majority are free to enter. The main ones to visit are the Natural History Museum, the V&A and the Science Museum.

If you are looking for a well-positioned hotel in Paddington with easy train links then check out the Chilworth London Paddingtonwith its timeless elegance.

With five things to add to your list, your trip to London will certainly be one to remember. Enjoy all that this vibrant city has to offer!

*Collaborative post