Cordless easy cleaning with Vax Life Vacuum.

The Mrs and I have just moved house, a process that we hate the fuss and bother of, and is universally noted by many as being up there in a list of things that can be totally annoying. Especially when it comes to that 'final house clean' and you find all those spare socks under the sofa that your cat has dragged there like months ago. Not only that, my ancient henry hoover was just not on it's best form, and whilst the old house was all wood floors, the new is fully carpeted. So, with this in mind, and a new fluffy addition to the Biscuit household (blog post coming soon!), a good vacuum is exactly what we needed.

Now I am definitely the gadget obsessive in the house, and I love anything with some technical wizardry, so when we were asked to review the latest in cleaning technology, the cordless Vax Life Vacuum, I couldn't wait to try it out- and Mrs Biscuit was thrilled I was this excited about cleaning.

Lightweight, and unplugged, this upright vac is neat and much more streamline than what you would expect. It uses wind tunnel technology, and lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, as well as a super easy to empty bag-less system, to help make everything as convenient as possible. For the sensible among us, who wonder and muse about warranties and the like, this comes with a superb x6 year guarantee for total peace of mind.

The first thing we noticed with this vacuum, was how light and easy to manoeuvre it was. The base glides and turns effortlessly, although we wish there was a release switch or something that unchecked it from upright position, to moving. You kinda have to push it with your foot to get it to click back, and as soon as you tilt it slightly upwards it can lock back upright again.

It's chargeable battery is so easy to remove, charge, and simply fit on again, similar to the way the dirt container just clicks on and off to empty. Theres no changing plug sockets as you go room to room, and no worry about effectiveness as you go from carpet to hard-floor surfaces. There are x2 settings to adjust this which change with the flick of a switch, allowing you to move from kitchen tiles, to even the heaviest pile rug. We loved how great it was at getting tufts of cat hair off the carpet, but it is such a shame that it does not have a tube extension, or handheld attachment, as it's kinda difficult to do any furniture, fixtures, or fittings.

The battery is supposed to last for up to x20 minutes, or enough to do a complete sweep around of a house, yet in reality we reason it lasts up to x15 minutes on the carpet setting max. We almost do the house in sections now, and recharge to take it upstairs later (so light going up the stairs- would be great for the elderly or those who struggle lifting perhaps). A solution perhaps is to purchase another battery, which we've heard a few of Vax cordless owners are already doing.

All in all, it's just the perfect vacuum for those who have a flat, have no storage and still wish for an upright vacuum, or those who hate lugging heavy appliances. Thus as noted before, ideal for older people who don't wish to bend down to change the plug all the time, and maybe students. It's only real let down is the lack of handheld/tube attachments, as you can't get into the nooks and crannies that gather dust that easily, or skirting boards etc, so we'll be keeping another vacuum just for that.

Keep checking the Vax site for deals and special offers. At time of sending to us it came with a free steam cleaner, and at other times we've heard it can be reduced every now and then. With consistent free delivery, it's just a really great product, with a really innovative design. Thumbs up.

Where to stay in Dubrovnik part-3 - Hotel Excelsior.

Upon entering Hotel Excelsior, many things become very apparent. The most significant of which, are that it is clearly in an optimum position in the city, walking distance to the Old Town, and overlooking some beautiful coastline. Plus that it is a very beautifully designed hotel, exuding 5* luxury. Since it's opening in 1913, it has been a landmark venue for Dubrovnik, welcoming VIP guests, including royalty, famous stars, and celebrities.

We arrived at midday, a few hours early for our 3pm check in, so we went for a light lunch on the hotel terraces, and they are certainly something to behold. Indeed, it was a very welcome rest and quite delightful area, especially as this was actually the first hotel we visited after we arrived in Dubrovnik. The views are spectacular and stunningly picturesque, and every other guest we happened to chat to, said exactly the same. With 158 rooms and suites, all recently refurbished, it is the ideal place to relax, feel spoilt, and even indulge in a few spa treats.

We should have perhaps taken our swimming stuff out of the case so we could enjoy the private beach while we waited for official check in, but we simply reclined under the parasols, and worked our way up to the lobby to wait. We were initially concerned that our luggage and many others were just sat at the front door, but we soon noticed a member of staff watching them. Indeed the staff were polite and considerate, but perhaps not as efficient as possible, as we, and a few other couples we noted who were also waiting around in the seating area a few feet from the desk, kept checking on the status on our rooms every twenty or so minutes, for roughly an hour after the original time stated. The women who eventually gave us a key, was pleasant however, and when we went to the suite, it totally made up for any delays.

Spacious, luxurious, and totally gorgeous, our executive suite was really very lovely. The balcony that stretched the whole length of both the bedroom and lounge was wonderful, and the amazing bathroom (1of2) was outstanding with its views from the tub. It is quite simply really well designed, and quite homely. Only a few times on holiday have we been so in awe of a suite that we wished to spend more time in it than exploring, but we really did have to leave, especially as the sea looked so magnificent.

The private beach is a platform that sits adjacent to the sea, with steps going into the warm waters. There are plenty of sun loungers, and every now and then a helpful waiter will pass and take drinks orders. We spend a good while there, and loved chatting with fellow guests, before we went and admired the spa, indoor pool, and browed the various restaurants. We opted to go the short distance to the Old Town that evening, and had a meal out, but due to the ideal location, it was very easy to find when we wandered back in the moonlight, past the popular neighbouring sand and pebble beach.

Breakfast was included in our stay, and we thought the spread provided was really impressive. Whilst it was self-service, there was an array of cooked and continental options, including champagne should you wish to indulge. The staff were lovely and really looked after the guests, getting teas and coffees, and wishing everyone well. All in all, the hotel is really just great. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay, and recommend staying there if you feel like a special vacation, or city break.

Reservations can be made through their website here.

Pics copyright of @Whimbiscuit 2015.

Where to stay in Dubrovnik part-2 - Hotel Dubrovnik Palace.

The second hotel on our review schedule, is on the peninsula of Lapad, a mere 10-15mins from Old Town by car or bus- namely the resort of Hotel Dubrovnik Palace. Newly renovated, it's modern architecture and interior, oozes sophistication and elegance. The view from the lobby is breathtaking, with glass lining the whole back wall. With 308 rooms and suites, each with a sea view and balcony, it really is an exceptional venue for your stay in the city. Where it is slightly away from everything, it is the perfect 5* retreat for a professional couple, or business executive.

Award winning and packed with amenities, this hotel boasts x4 pools (both indoor and outdoor options), private beach (patio areas onto water), spa, tennis courts, Diving centre, and range of dining facilities.

When we arrived, as we were travelling from hotel to hotel, our check-out times from the previous hotel differed to check-in times to allow for cleaning. As such, if you are intending to tour like us- do ask if you can leave your luggage at the front desk safely. At Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, they have a store room just for this, so we felt happy to then relax by the bar, and quickly get our swim suits out of our case.

It wasn't the best day weather wise, but this was an anomaly in our week, and it was by no means cold. As you can probably note by the view of the sea below, it was a tad too rough to use the private beach patio area, although I did try, but only managed about half a minute of swimming into a rock. I then noticed the red flag on the shore and promptly returned slightly bewildered. There are lifeguards, however I am not sure if they monitor the beach. I had actually asked for directions to the sea steps, and they simply pointed and let me go on my way without mentioning it shouldn't be used. I was at the time, sporting a rather 'chic' snorkel set, so I presume it was rather obvious I was set on a swim.

We retired to the outdoor pool itself, which included a swim up bar- something Mr Biscuit always get strangely over-excited about, so we ordered some cocktails. Unfortunately compared to the wonderfully put together drinks we later tried from the lobby bar, these were a bit of a disappointment- especially with the grumpy staff- but none the less it does not detract really from the lovely pool itself, and general calm atmosphere. Indeed, we also adventured the indoor spa area, as we heard about the sauna, and we really enjoyed the great ambiance and quiet pool.

Our suite was set to be ready for 3pm, which is usual for most hotels, and it was delayed slightly so we waited in their tasteful minimalist reception. The staff were polite, yet did seem rushed and distracted, something that was consistent over our stay. None-the-less, they answered any questions we had, and we were soon given our room key.

Our executive suite was, quite simply, a delight. It was a mix of modern and retro, and had a choice of x2 bathrooms depending on whether you wished to use the walk in shower, or enjoy a relaxing bath. We loved the comfortable lounge and dining area, and the bed was just superb, like ridiculously comfortable, and it had such wonderful views of the coastline that we actually had an afternoon nap gazing out to the ocean. Unfortunately, the TV did not work (not that bothersome considering we weren't there to watch tv, but with 5* you expect everything to function), and the showers alternated between ridiculously hot and cold by themselves. The TV was fixed by a staff member who came up from reception, however we never did find out what was going on the the showers.

The views speak for themselves, so it made sense to utilise the waterside restaurant for dinner that night. The Maslina Tavern is just the first of the dining options available, but we wished for an a la carte experience overlooking the sea, especially as it happened to be Mr Biscuit's Birthday. We were well and truly spoiled by the wonderful staff team there- so much so, that we wrote all about it separately here.

Breakfast was included in our rate, and it was possibly the most abundant spread we ever did see. A full variety of continental options are available, from cereals, yogurts, fruit, and cakes. To cooked options and even an omelette station. It is self-service, but staff wander the tables to bring you fresh tea and coffee upon request.

Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, is a beautifully designed venue in a blissful location. There is a local bus stop directly outside the hotel which you can buy tickets for from the reception. A service runs every quarter of an hour during the day to get you to the Old Town promptly.

For more information, and to make reservations here is a link for your convenience.

Pics copyright of @whimbiscuit 2015.

Where to stay in Dubrovnik part-1 - Hotel Bellevue.

This is the first of our Dubrovnik hotel reviews, as we were fortunate to stay in a number of venues under the fabulous Luxury Adriatic Hotel group while we were there, so that we might best highlight the variety, and excellent accommodation that is on offer. 

Hotel Bellevue is situated literally on a cliff leaning over a bay, quite near to Old Town. It is a great location, mere minutes from the hustle and bustle of the tourist attractions by bus or taxi, yet the ambience and its positioning, makes it seem to be a quaint exclusive resort, or a more substantial boutique hotel. With 91 rooms, it is not a towering presence, but what it lacks in size, is made up for in amenities. It is one of a few hotels lucky enough to have a proper private beach. By that I mean that the coast line of Dubrovnik is mostly large rocks, and thus many other venue's private beaches are areas of rocks with steps lowering into the turquoise depths, rather than sand for example. 

We had checked in early, and rushed off to get some more attractions in over the morning, and we were delighted to find that our suite was prepared for us, and we didn't have to just leave our luggage by the desk. The reception staff were very friendly and polite, and when we finally did explore our rooms, and discovered the air conditioning to be broken, they sent a caretaker up within minutes to make it work. Every room has views over the bay, and is decorated in cooling creams and browns, scattered with eclectic artwork. Our balcony was a welcome relaxation break for the day after some hectic sightseeing, and we peered out over the the beach, and watched locals dive from the neighbouring cliffs. We stayed in an executive suite, which was compact for a suit, but reflective of the size of the hotel in general. It was however, well arranged with a lounge separate to the bedroom, and bathroom furnished with an in-bath shower. All of the Luxury Adriatic Hotel group seem to provide lovely L'Occitane toiletries, which I adored, Hotel Bellevue, offers a turn-down service, 24hr room service, mini-bar, and safe. The only thing missing, which really isn't an issue when you are on holiday, was a TV in the bedroom, but there was a TV in the lounge.

We were thrilled to have a treatment booked in the Energy Clinic spa, which is located in the wellness centre of the hotel, and we felt comfortable casually strolling along the corridors in cover-ups over our swim wear. Hotel guests are invited to use the indoor pool, jacuzzi and fitness studio for free, and we loved this idea for after the sun had set. Our treatment was a couples full body massage, which was a treat as in many spas, you and your partner have to go into separate rooms, so this is ideal for romantic breaks where you wish to enjoy as much time as you can together on holiday. We were welcomed by a couple of very friendly staff, who took us to the soothingly decorated spa room, and discussed our massage, before leaving us to get ready. It is sometimes difficult to review massages, as they tend to be a time of ultimate relaxation, a time when you can just switch off. Indeed, if you find yourself thinking about work and writing when at a spa, then really that is testament to how effective it is. About half way through, Mr Biscuit more or less voiced his opinion of the treatment, when I heard some quiet snoring from his side of the room, and I also started to feel any knots of tension fade away. Afterwards, in the fading sunset, we took in the horizon from the sand and pebble beach. The views are quite lovely, but there did seem to be a problem with rubbish floating in the sea. There were vast stretches simply filled with junk, all floating towards the shore, something we can only assume is due to the tides coming into the bay, and not really reflective of the hotel's cleaniness. By the morning, when we went for an early pre-breakfast swim, it was bright, clean, and clear again. 

Later that evening, we chose not to dine in any of the x3 hotel restaurants, and chose instead to book into a local place we'd heard great things about on trip advisor. The 'Taj Mahal' is not, what you would assume it to be- an Indian cafe perhaps? But instead is a venue specialising in Bosnian cuisine. It is located literally moments away from the hotel, with another popular branch being in the centre of Old Town. 

Breakfast includes continental and cooked options. There are some lovely additions like smoked salmon, and baked breads and muffins, but get there early to avoid missing out on most of the spread.

Hotel Bellevue, has the vibe of a venue suited to perhaps a demographic of young professionals, or families who still want a luxury vacation, with the amenities of a resort, but without the crowds or noise. The addition of the private beach means the water is shallower for a more nervous swimmer, as you'll find with other hotels, whilst the sea is still lovely, literally jumping in from rocks or a patio into deep water can be daunting to some. It is in an idillic location, and the service is very efficient and professional indeed.

You can find out more about the hotel, and make reservations here.

Pics copyright of Whim Biscuit 2015.

Greek Holiday in a 'nutshell'- The Greek Islands.

With a myriad of options to choose from, and inspiration from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ to ‘Mamma Mia!’- deciding where to go in and around Greece and it’s spectacular islands, can leave you feeling confused. So whether you’re a ‘dancing queen’ or need to consider your ‘money money money’, perhaps our suggestions can give you some helpful tips. There’s sandy beaches, turquoise oceans, delicious Mediterranean food and awe-inspiring relics galore. The holiday of your dreams awaits you.

Expect the imposing ruins and castles, set in contrast to vibrant waterside restaurants and bars. Skiathos offers something for everyone, proving itself as a popular destination. The perfect retreat for those seeking tranquillity, boat-trips, and café culture by day, and music, and dancing by night at the more lively resorts if you so wish.
Explore beautiful landscapes (including wonderful forests), and enjoy the promenades and marinas. Or wander to the hill side areas above the port to admire the charm of the plazas, churches, and gardened houses.
Skiathos has the ambiance you wish for during idyllic island holidays,. We’ve been recommended The Skiathos Princess Hotel, another trip advisor favourite, as a great place to stay – it is near the night-life of clubs and tavernas. but surrounded by magnificent and romantic beaches too.

Few places in the world will give you such an insight into ancient history as Rhodes. Even if architecture and archaeology are not on your holiday wish list, then this island has a multitude of attractions.
But the main attraction, is undoubtedly the natural beauty of the island, and its meandering coastline, where lazy days can be spent in an idyllic setting, while the adventurous can try their hand at sports and activities.  
As for the inland areas, why not wonder at the famous ‘Valley of the Butterflies’ or the magnificent mountain terrain that dominates the interior of the island. If you take a little time to explore, you will discover charming villages, and natural splendour, as well as the beautiful bays of southern Rhodes.
There are also several smaller islands that can be reached during a boating day-trip, that combines the wonders of antiquity, with peaceful Mediterranean lifestyle– a truly memorable experience.
Whether you prefer quiet indulgence, and natural beaches, night-life and night-clubs, or are looking for an adrenalin packed action holiday, Rhodes is bound to enchant.
Base yourself near all the attractions at the Atlantic Aegean Blue. It has a trip advisor traveller’s choice award, and is close enough to the city to ensure absolute convenience, yet far enough away from the urban hub of Rhodes to allow for relaxation.

How does a week or so of idyllic days roaming through olive groves, meeting friendly locals, enjoying boating adventures and sea swims sound?
The influence of many cultures has added to the ambiance of the island. Meditate on ancient times, and visit the streets and temples that have featured in works of art and literature from the Durrell Brothers to Edward Lear.
For those with a desire for action-packed water-sports and a vibrant night-life, there is no shortage of things to do. Even being compact in nature, Corfu packs in a lot of attractions ensuring that even the most discerning traveller will have a memorable holiday.

A location that’s close to the beaches, lush with greenery, and convenient to local attractions is the key to a great holiday. With many resorts to choose from, and great deals on resorts such as the Aquis Sandy Beach, with it’s good trip advisor reviews, you will have plenty of options.

Clean those hard to reach places with the Dirt Devil 360 Reach.

Designed to be light, quick, and equipped with a full bag of tricks, this handheld bagless vacuum is perfect for that fast clean around when you have those last-minute visitors. 

With it's relatively small scale, and 800w motor, it is a great deal for those who require a second vacuum for all the nooks and crannies that a conventional vacuum might not reach, or indeed perfect for those who have a small flat, mostly hard-floors, those who struggle with lifting, or a lack of storage room.

As a corded vaccum, it is literally plug in and go, and without a bag to replace it is very simple to use, although emptying will require a bit of fishing to pull out the compacted dust. Slightly top heavy, it's not really free-standing, but it does have a lengthy power cord and a significant 3 year warranty. 

When vacuuming a large pile of fluff or dust, as we had to when we had some laminate floor fitted, it does seem to clog the filters, which are washable, but quite tricky to put back correctly. They do seem to do very little in terms of blocking said dust and does seem to like blowing air back into your face as you clean unfortunately. It also is quite loud considering, but this might be a design choice to keep it lightweight, removing any noise softening tech.

With its numerous attachments, as a handheld, it does pack quite a punch compared to some of its weaker 'car-vacuum-esque' counterparts, and the crevice tool certainly does work in those hard to reach places. The upholstery tools fairs slightly worse, as it doesn't seem to pick everything up on the pass, but the general floor tool does do a good job all things considered. The only criticism being that when switching to the hard-floor setting, it does become more difficult to pick up dirt on the edges, and with a low front, any larger pieces of rubbish (like the odd cat biscuit in our kitchen) were pushed around for a while.

Overall, we will reserve this a great second vacuum for upstairs. Something you can get out when a light clean is needed, or indeed, if you're doing good spring clean and need to get all those curtain rails and picture rails dusted.

  • 4-in-1 Stick Vac
    Go from floors to ceilings to couches in seconds.
  • Cyclonic Filtration
    Cut through any mess with powerful suction.
  • Vac+Dust Ceiling Fan Tool with SWIPES™ Washable Microfiber Pad
    Vac and dust ceiling fan blades. Fits most fans.
  • Vac+Dust Hard Floor Tool with SWIPES™ Washable Microfiber Pad
    Pick up heavy dirt & debris while the SWIPES™ microfiber pad captures the dust.
  • Vac+Dust Above Floor Tool with SWIPES™ Washable Microfiber Pad
    Easily tackle vents, hard-to-reach corners, shelves and more.
  • Bottom Empty Dirt cup with MaxFill™ Technology
    Prevent dirt and hair from getting stuck in the dirt cup.
  • 6" Powered Stair & Upholstery Tool
    Adjust to cover every part of each step.
  • Extended Wand
    Stretch from floors to ceilings and catch everything in between.
  • 27ft. Power Cord
    Easily Clean your couch then your stairs without unplugging.
  • Reusable Quick-Rinse Filter
    Don’t bust your budget on expensive replacement filters.
  • Crevice Tool
    Get to hard-to-reach cracks and crevices.
  • Pivoting Extension Tool
    Pivot to get above the mess.
  • Storage Bag
    Easy and convenient storage.
  • 3-Year Limited Warranty
    Dependable quality. Expert customer support.
The Dirt Devil 360 Reach is available from here 

*Pics courtesy of Dirt Devil.

Spa break on a budget- Whittlebury Hall.

Sometimes all you need is a quick break to relax and rejuvenate, and often this is at times when you're stressed, overworked, or really really busy. It's great to book a lovely spa break and have something to look forward to, but what if you just need something a tad last-minute?

We all do it, check the comparison sites, the holiday deals, and the spa guides, all in the endeavour of getting some really great package for our budget. You look for something not too far away for a weekend break, but also somewhere unfamiliar to feel like you're actually on holiday. You also wish for something that everyone will enjoy- Whether it's for romance, for the whole family, or just the ladies, its difficult to find somewhere that will provide everything in a single place, for say, a single night.

Whittlebury hall is located in Towcester, Northampton, very near Silverstone race course. It is nearing the centre of England so very easily accessible. Driving into the venue, you are surrounded by the green of a golf course, and the atmosphere of a country setting. It sprawls across a few linked traditional buildings, giving the feeling of a resort or club. Do not be put off by the convoluted site when booking, it comes across as more of a business or conference facility rather than a spa and golf hotel. The lobby is stretched between the different aspects of the venue, from the spa building, to dining, and accommodation. It appears reminiscent of a cross between a country pub and generic hotel. It is clean and tidy, decorated with lots of motor racing memorabilia, but perhaps has a slightly dated feel. None the less, it is professional, and still maintains a comfortable ambience.

There are always several offers and promotions on the site if you search, these are especially good value, as you can technically get a full spa break with lunch, dinner, and breakfast for under £100 per person sometimes.

Check in for us was set early as we have access to the day spa, and upon arrival we were told they were not quite ready for us. We waited in the bar for a while before checking again only to be told our room was still not available. The manner of the staff is pleasant, although in the hour we waited it would have been nice to be kept in the loop rather than feel like we were consistently pestering them.

Our room is large and clean. It maintains the slightly old fashioned decor of the hotel generally, but the bed is comfortable, and the welcome tray of nibbles and drinks is much appreciated. It has all the amenities you would hope for, and includes many of the home comforts and toiletries you might forget to bring. The bathroom is meticulous in cleanliness also, and includes his and hers sinks, with a stand in bath shower.

We only have time for a quick change before heading in our bath-robes to the spa, where we have each have 25 minute back, neck and shoulder massages. When entering the spa entrance, we are told that you must either bring or buy your own flip flops, something we were not aware of, so we put them on the room tab. The waiting area for treatments is upstairs, a bright and airy space starting your relaxation journey. Our massages are wonderful, the perfect solution to soothing those aches and any weariness. Our masseuses are helpful and polite, adhering to any pressure requests, and giving helpful advice for further treatment or product options.

 The day spa is large and again divided into the pool room, and hot and cold experiences room. There are immersive hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, and the pool is large and spacious with an area of relaxing bubbles. It is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle, and offers a wide variety of facilities. Lunch options usually are from a buffet, and the informal atmosphere where you can relax in your robe make it quite casual. The selection is modest, but caters for many tastes from seafood to soup.

Dinner, when included in the package, is usually from a set menu from their more relaxed diner 'Astons' and will allow you to buy perhaps x3 courses if you stick to the more basic options. It also does not include drinks and the service charge, so remember that even if you think you'll stick to budget, its best to bring some extra. The food choices are restaurant quality, with a good variety although lack the finesse of say AA rosette cuisine, which you can find in their other restaurant 'Murrays'. Having such a variety of dining options supplements the feel of the report style venue, and is potentially a great idea if you are staying for more than a single night. We had a slight hiccup with our dinner experience when we arrived and they said we had already checked in to eat our set menu. This caused some confusion, especially when at the bar later, it seemed that you simply had to name your room number to add items to the tab, rather than present a key. All was resolved however, with a quick reassuring chat to reception to ensure we were not being charged for other peoples meals and drinks.

In all, Whittlebury Hall might not be the encapsulation of luxury, but it certainly is wonderfully good value. Don't expect the VIP treatment, but with friendly staff and a wide variety of things to do aside from the spa, the golf course, and local attractions, it certainly is a venue to consider.

*Some pics courtesy of Whittlebury Hall.