A couple of months ago on one of those extremely rare Avril can function (at least a little) occasions, myself and himself decided to treat ourselves to an afternoon of fun. My god how I miss those fun-loving days where nothing else matters but being together. They don’t happen very often with me being sick but when they do I truly treasure every moment. I’m not going to lie we weren’t quite spontaneous in our plans as a certain amount of preparation has to go into getting me up, dressed and actually making it out the front door. I just can’t anticipate how I will be feeling at any giving moment. It’s a bit like being a real life ticking time bomb, my body ready to drop without any warning – I’m looking at you legs. So in anticipation of spending an afternoon together Kevin took an annual leave day from work so he could help me get ready to venture outside. We also made a couple of reservations a few days in advance as we had a little plan with regards what we wanted to do. I must firstly say a big thank you to Thomas and Kirsten who really went out of their way to make our day that bit extra special.
As most of you may be aware from looking at my Instagram feed or observing my ahem womanly curves, I do like to treat myself to a sweet treat or two. I justify this by reminding myself that I don’t smoke and rarely drink alcohol. I’m allowed to have one vice right? To be honest my idea of heaven would be to visit the kitchen/factory where they make the delicious Ladurée macarons. I would happily volunteer as a taste taster, you know purely for quality control purposes of course. If I could only eat one sweet treat for the rest of my life it would definitely have to be their vanilla macarons. I’m salivating here just thinking about them, drool! So of course a visit to Ladurée was definitely going to be on the cards.
Ladurée afternoon tea
We arranged to have afternoon tea for two in Ladurée’s beautiful little cafe and tea room located on South William Street in Dublin. It’s actually located in a prime location (a two-minute walk from Grafton Street) and brings back some wonderful memories for me. The very premises used to be a cafe called Munchies, somewhere I spent many a lunch break. My secondary school, Bruce College used to be located a couple of doors down but has since moved. The building is now occupied by the Peter Mark style club. There is something about afternoon tea that feels quite luxurious, a real treat especially when set in a beautiful relaxed environment. It’s not something you could afford to do regularly costing €45 for two people (€60 with a glass of champagne each) but it is a nice treat. The entire Ladurée store (cafe) is elegant, bright and welcoming. I especially like the beautifully presented seated area and how the decor pays homage to everything French. It is both inviting and timeless. It also has plenty of space between tables so you can have a nice intimate date with your other half without the fear of your neighbour listening in on your conversation.
The food menu has a very good selection of both sweet and savoury delights but our minds were firmly fixed on the afternoon tea. Our order was kindly taken – where we were asked our particular preferences regarding sandwich fillings, sweet treats and beverages etc. We then made ourselves comfortable and settled into our seats. Within ten minutes we had a beautiful silver tiered display of delicious food, silver tea pots, stunning cutlery and crockery adorning our intimate table for two. It really looked quite beautiful. Even the cakes looked too good to eat and I couldn’t get over the detail of the individually wrapped finger sandwiches – very posh. The afternoon tea for two consisted of two finger sandwiches each (with a choice of filling), a madeleine or financier each, a choice of pastry each (from the selection at the counter), four macarons (your choice) and a tea or coffee. I had chosen the cucumber sandwiches and Kev went for the ham. Pastry wise I picked a chocolate and hazelnut cake and Kev picked a raspberry tart.
All the food was delicious and as you can see from the above picture got well and truly demolished. I have two suggestions from my experience, one would be for Ladurée to maybe offer three finger sandwiches instead of two as they are quite small and the second to reduce the price of their afternoon tea as it’s quite expensive for what you receive. That’s if you are anything like myself and Kev having basically starved ourselves that morning so we would enjoy ourselves that bit more or should I say over indulge ourselves that bit more. We also got chatting to the store manager Thomas, a great character. He was extremely warm and welcoming and being honest I could have easily spent hours chatting to him. He was also extremely kind and treated us to some extra sweet treats, I think he knew the way to both myself and Kev’s hearts lol. We sampled two other beautiful desserts and a nutty madeleine which were yummy. I highly recommend trying the Ispahan dessert. It is both unique and decadent with a delicate rose flavouring and a filling of lychee and raspberries. I have also heard their croissant’s are a must try. I’ll have to pop in again soon for some coffee and croissants. If only they would deliver then all my problems would be sorted lol.
The Spa at the Shelbourne Hotel
For the second part of our adventure, we sauntered over to the Shelbourne Hotel, and no it was not for some more grub in case you were wondering. We had spotted a spa deal online on pamper.ie and decided to treat ourselves. When I contacted the spa to book in they kindly passed on their marketing managers details as I wanted to do a little write-up on our experience. I had wanted to ask her permission first in case they didn’t like me taking pictures etc. She was an absolute pleasure to deal with. We had a great chat back and forth over email and she very kindly offered my spa package complementary which quite honestly blew me away (Kev paid for his). The spa package was called the celebration package and consisted of a hot stone back massage, mini Elemis facial and a glass of champagne and priced at €139. I know €139 may not seem like much to some people but to me it does especially when I’m not working or taking in a wage. So you can understand my sheer delight and amazement when I was kindly offered a complementary package. I am beyond grateful for the kindness and generosity I received. It was definitely not something I had demanded or felt entitled to. You all know I’m not that type of person. The Shelbourne Hotel is just the epitome of luxury and being honest I would not normally be able to afford to get any treatment done there but the spa deal they were running was very reasonable. As we didn’t get a chance to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year or my birthday late last year we decided this would certainly make up for it.
Upon arrival at the spa we both met our assigned therapist and got led away to separate rooms for our treatments. The treatments lasted for an hour which was a nice amount of time. Afterwards I was kindly escorted to the communal relaxation room located at the front of the beautiful Georgian building. I can honestly say that within the space of an hour I was transformed from a frazzled ball of pain into an incredibly relaxed and glowing human. It was just what the doctor ordered. On the walk from South William Street to the Shelbourne Hotel my lower back completely gave way. The pain was unbelievable and as I didn’t want to let anyone down I desperately tried to relieve the pain by doing some stretches albeit in the middle of the street whilst it was pouring rain. If you see yoga in the rain kicking off it was me who started it ha ha. Kev had left something behind in the car so I was on my own when this happened. We had arranged to rendezvous at the entrance to the spa at the Shelbourne Hotel (located just a few doors down from the main entrance) but I had to call him to come find me. I then hobbled to the spa arriving five minutes late so we were rushed away quite quickly into our treatments which was my fault not theirs. To say my back was in agony is an understatement but the therapist really picked up on this and worked wonders on the affected area. She really helped loosen up the tight muscles at the base of my spine and I definitely felt relief afterwards. I loved the feeling of the hot stones on my muscles and the depths in which they reached. I also have to say the therapist chose a beautiful jasmine scented oil to use on my back that smelt absolutely heavenly. The facial itself was a mini elemis facial which I found lovely and relaxing. I have used elemis skincare products in the past and find my skin reacts well to them. As it was a mini facial it included a good cleanse, tone, mask and moisturise. Would I have liked more natural skincare products? Yes but I wasn’t going to cause a fuss after all this woman had freed me of my terrible back pain. Kev’s experience was similar to mine but instead focused on his upper back and shoulders. He also enjoyed his facial and his skin did look amazing afterwards.
The relaxation room is a lovely bright and spacious room with a high ceiling, gorgeous chandelier, reclined chairs and ample refreshments. I re-hydrated myself with a cool glass of their home-made berry infused water and nibbled on some dry banana chips whilst I waited for himself to appear. I happily perched myself on a comfy chair and gazed longingly out the gloriously big windows overlooking St Stephens green. Even a busy city can have places of pure serenity. I could have literally spent hours sitting there watching the world go by. Kev appeared about five minutes later with a big happy head on him also decked out in similar attire to myself. He looked extremely relaxed and really enjoyed his treatments. We then both received some refreshments which included sorbet, fruit and a generous glass of champagne each to enjoy. My god what pure bliss it was. I know far from spa treatments and champagne I was raised but it is nice to be pampered every once in a while. Trust me it was badly needed both for my body and my mind. It was also lovely to spend some relaxing time together to reconnect. We quite happily spent the best part of an hour in the relaxation suite before changing out of our comfy robes and returning to our normal clothes. If there had been a bed located near me I would have happily climbed into it and have gone fast asleep. I would love to stay over night some time in the hotel as I’m sure it would be a beautiful experience but that will have to wait until I win the lotto. Oh why do I like expensive things?
The reason I wanted to feature our afternoon of fun in Ladurée and the Spa at the Shelbourne Hotel is because I want you all to know that you should treat yourself to something lovely like this every once in a while. I know we may be sick but we still deserve to be pampered, have a break from our illness even for a short while and to enjoy ourselves. I know the likes of pamper.ie run some great offers on spa packages throughout the year so it is definitely worth keeping an eye on. I had got the idea of booking myself and Kev into the spa as I had treated my Mum to a spa package there a few years ago for her 60th birthday. She had thoroughly enjoyed her experience and raved about it so much that I promised myself a treatment there one day. The staff are also incredibly kind and very accommodating. They even let me use one of the treatment rooms to change back into my clothes as I needed help from Kev to re-dress myself, the joys of a debilitating illness.
Our adventurous day although exhausting really cheered me up. It is nice to know that there are places extremely assessable located in the city centre that I can visit and feel like a queen, even for a few hours. Both Ladurée and the Spa at the Shelbourne Hotel run special offers from time to time so with a little planning, you too could have a luxurious 5 star day out without paying the 5 star price-tag. I would highly recommend both Ladurée and the Spa for an afternoon of fun with the girls or a romantic treat for you and your partner. Unfortunately my illness and the medication I am on is taking so much out of me. I can’t plan any adventures too far away from home so anything located in the city centre is perfect for me. It’s also so good to be able to get out of the house and experience such wonderful things. It really gives you a new zest for life.