Spotlight on…Hotel Gotham

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Decadence; luxury; glamour. Just three of the words that spring to mind when I look back on our stay at Manchester’s newest bespoke hotspot, Hotel Gotham. From the valet parking and welcome cocktails, to the superbly sumptuous bedding and in-room butler martini service, we were wowed from the get-go.

Our first anniversary was always going to be a special time for us; in a whirlwind romance that saw us exchange ‘I love yous’ after five weeks, postcodes after six, and a blinging engagement ring a few short months later, this milestone was a chance to reflect on the happiness of the past year. And like everything else in our lives, it had to be done in style.

Living in a cottage (in a relatively sleepy area), a buzzing city break was the order of the day. And after a recommendation from one of the most stylish couples I know, Gotham jumped straight to the top of our ‘must-stay’ list.

Residing regally in trendy Kings Street (housing Manchester’s business district and designer shops alike), Gotham perfectly encapsulates the glitz and glamour of 1920s Manhattan. And despite a nod of its cap to the caped crusader in name, Hotel Gotham keeps it classy — with subtle references to its namesake (the swag bag was a particular favourite), and its former use as a bank (with gold bars dotted playfully throughout).

The bed was quite simply the comfiest creation ever conceived: the only downside being that we no longer enjoy our own bed. Or pillows. Or duvet. The next time we stay (there will undoubtedly be a next time) we plan on spending much more of our visit between the sheets…to bask in high thread-count heaven.

And then there’s the shower. Oh, the shower. Plenty big enough for two, the monsoon waterfall is a cascade of pleasure that we could have luxuriated in all the livelong day (if we didn’t have to check out by 11).

Since leaving yesterday morning, we’ve lamented the loss of that shower many times…

Everything about Hotel Gotham enhanced our anniversary experience to the full — including the affable bar staff. Our martini man (who skilfully whipped up wet and dry martinis in the comfort of our room) was also manning Club Brass that night (the hotel’s rooftop, £500-a-year, private members bar); he made an espresso martini (my go-to drink of choice) that trumped all others — London cocktail-hotspots included.

I’m about as fussy as they come (to which Mr Me & Thee will undoubtedly testify), and I couldn’t fault it. We enjoyed Club Brass so much that we managed to convince the obliging bar staff to host a gin lock-in. Unfortunately this lasted about ten minutes until I fell asleep at the bar and had to be taken to bed. But the hangover was well worth it. And so was the price-tag.

Hotel Gotham really does think of everything (including hangover and intimacy kits, and truly stylish umbrellas for those inevitable Manchester downpours). So if you’re looking for somewhere special to spend those naughty nights away, we’d recommend grabbing the bat phone and making a reservation pronto. You won’t be disappointed.

Love Emma (Miss Me & Thee) xxx

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Me & Thee…On Being Engaged

SHE SAYS: Getting engaged is pretty damn cool; for a start, people buy you presents, "ooh" and "aah" over that new bit of bling on your finger, and show an eager interest in everything from how he asked to when you're getting wed. But even cooler than that is knowing you've just embarked on the most loved-up, fun-filled, mind-blowingly exciting journey, with the most important, influential, and downright awesome person in your life.

It's also more than a little bit touching to know that someone (your someone) has put *that* amount of effort into showing you how they feel.

So, how did he ask?

I walked through the door of our cottage one balmy night in July to a sea of rose petals; candles filled every conceivable space, pink champagne waited expectantly on ice, and our wedding music (the piece he knew I wanted to walk down the aisle to) played softly over the scene. There was an ethereally lit white tree (complete with Alice in Wonderland playing cards that he'd made) hanging from its willowy branches, and my man was waiting, suited and booted, down on one knee. It was perfect. And of course, I said yes.

I was a tad worried that when the time came, I'd be distinctly underwhelmed. Now don't get me wrong, I knew that whatever Paul planned would be special — that's just who he is — but we'd talked all about getting engaged, and I knew it was happening soon. Would I be excited? Would I feel any different? Would people be at all interested?

Happily, the answer was yes, yes, and hell yes!

It was pretty damn magical. I felt insanely different. And people were bloody lovely. As soon as we’d visited the rents, sent the texts, and made the all important facebook announcement, the cards, presents and well wishes came pouring in. It was like Christmas, but just for us. I found a surprising amount of comfort in being a 'fiancée'; like everything was finally as it should be. Not in an I-need-a-man-to-complete-me sort of a way; it was more I've-found-the-person-I-was-always-meant-to-be-with-and-I'm-gonna-marry-the-f*ck-outta-him. And that feeling has only grown as the weeks have gone by.

We're now in the full swing of wedding planning, and so far, everything has been surprisingly easy. But we're not naive; we are fully expecting to lose our shit any day now — so please stay with us and help to keep us on track, looking forward, and most importantly, as sane as anyone planning a wedding can be.

Me & Thee

HE SAYS: The journey from boyfriend to fiancé is one of the most exhilarating adventures you’ll ever take — and coming from someone whose travelled the globe, that’s some pretty serious shit right there.

I had asked the most inspiring, insane and beautiful woman in the world to marry me, and for reasons known only to her, she’d said yes!

From the very beginning, planning the proposal was the best thing I'd ever done. Arranging a life-changing surprise for the person you'd do anything to make smile is bloody brilliant; the sleuth-like studying of her favourite things, the frantic seconds ordering that perfect prop, or the time spent researching a new idea while she's getting a drink or on the phone are all incredibly exciting.

Now don’t get me wrong, there's a certain amount of stress involved too. I’m not sure there’ll be another time in my life (excepting the big day) that I'll lose so much sleep over whether those faded pink rose petals are the best shade to display my affections, or whether 150 candles really say “I love you” enough.

But the planning paid off: I managed to hold back the emotions long enough to get through my why-I-have-to-marry-you speech (although excitable minds being what they are, there was a certain amount of ad-libbing), and after that, the excitement of planning was swiftly replaced with the excitement of being engaged — and there's nothing quite like it.

It is, quite simply, the most perfect sense of belonging I have ever felt.

You don’t expect to feel much different the next day; I mean, you still love each other the way you did the day before, and your lives are still the same, right? Wrong. It’s a brave new world.

Everything was somehow more comforting, more certain, more peaceful. I felt indestructible, with the deepest sense of knowing that my life was as it should be. I also realised that other people saw me differently: questions went from “are you going out this weekend” to “when are you having kids then”, and the aspects of life often deemed the province of adolescents suddenly stopped being part of my day-to-day conversations. It was the first time I had ever felt that people were looking at me as a grown-up.

It’s like I'd joined an elite club of people who've really got their shit together; of course, we haven't at all, but we do have an invigorating sense of purpose. And what a purpose it is. I get to spend the next year planning what will no doubt be a highly styled celebration of our love for one another, and the rest of my life showing that love to the person who's made my life the one thing I never thought it could be: perfect.

There are so many things I'm unsure of when I look ahead to next year, but there’s one thing I know for certain: it’s going to be one hell of a journey.

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