Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Valentine's Day Weekend


Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

Last weekend we celebrated our first Valentine's Day in 6 years. It has always been about Abby birthday ever since she was born, but we really wanted to do something for the whole family this year. After a quick research, we decided to go for Mercure Dunkenhalgh Hotel in Blackburn's Valentine's Day package, which includes a night in a family room with late check out, a box of chocolate, 3 course dinner for 2, 2 glasses of champagne and breakfast. Kids eats free for breakfast, and we get to use their facilities as well, ie we will be enjoying a lovely swim in the hotel's pool.


Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

As we arrived after check in time (2pm), we assumed that our room would be ready by then but it wasn't, which was a bit disappointing from a 4 star hotel. We left our luggage with the staff and took a short walk to their Fitness Centre to check out the swimming pool. We had a light snack (2 soup and bread to share), and hubby decided to check in to our room and get our swimming gear while we ate to save time.

The pool was warm even for babies, and there was a Jacuzzi and sauna room as well. Although the hotel welcome their guests to use their facilities, we noticed that the fitness centre's members weren't entirely happy about it. There was also some misunderstanding (we blame it on the odd grumpy staff) but otherwise the swim was enjoyable.


Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

We found a lovely box of chocolate on the table waiting for us when we got back to our room for a wash and snack, and it's soon dinner time.


Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel
Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted by very friendly staff (opposite of what we have encountered at the Fitness Centre), and the manager was ever so patient and tolerant, allowing us to swap a dish in our 4 course (not 3 apparently!) meal from their standard menu. Every single dish, from the look to taste was impressive, and we left the restaurant really happy and satisfied. We had:


2 glasses of Champagne - We don't really know how to appreciate wine and bubbly, but even we think that the Champagne was lovely and easy to drink. It's actually sweet!

1st Course:
Melon Salad - quality ingredients, even the fruits we thought were gonna be sour was sweet. Loved every bit of the plate (if the leaves were edible I would have eaten them too!)!

Children starters:
Soup of the Day - extremely delicious soup.
Garlic Bread - I didn't try the garlic bread but it looked great too!

Nibbles:
Calamari Rings - No we weren't that hungry but we were simply tempted by our favourite Calamari! And it was perfect!

2nd course:
Duck Liver Pate - generous portion, you might want to order more bread for it! Hubby said it's like eating Foie Gras!
Prawn & Crayfish Cocktail - Really lovely starter! Cucumber parcel and cress made lovely decoration and went really well with the cocktail. Abby had at least a 3rd of my starter!

Children's Main:
Fish Bites, Chips and Mushy Peas - Fab in all aspect, and very generous portion for the kids too!
Cheesy Tomato Pasta - Poorly Clay fell asleep after his first course, otherwise he would have loved it. It was really tasty even though it seems plain.

3rd Course:
Grilled Sea Bass Fillet on Chorizo Risotto - wow! This was amazing and so impressive!

4th Course:
Abby's birthday surprise treat (even though she said no dessert) - the chef has really made Abby's day by giving her a special birthday treat! Thumbs up to the thoughtful staffs at Mercure!
White Chocolate and Gingerbread Panna Cotta - Hubby said that it was really nice, though the odd pieces of stem ginger (?) was a bit strong
Ice Cream Trio (Clotted Cream & Vanilla, Salted Caramel and Oreo) - really lovely ice cream served at perfect temperature.


I think the last time we had such an impressive meal (both taste and look wise) was at L'Enclume (Michelin 2 stars restaurant and The Good Food Guide 2014 Top Best Restaurant) for our 1st Wedding Anniversary!


Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel
17th Century Staircase
Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel

Lately we have moved both kids out of our room, and to take advantage of staying in the same room at the hotel, Abby has kicked her daddy off to one of the side bed and took his place in our King size bed. Clay had no objection when we put him in the sofa bed since he's fast asleep. I can't really say that the beds were comfortable though. I think we had better sleep in any Premier Inn we visited, but I would have done this again as we don't always visit hotels like this. It's absolutely beautiful with at least 700 years worth of character. To top that, the hotel also came with a ghost story!

Rumour goes that a White Lady named Lucette haunts the nearby field where she commited suicide and occasionally the hotel itself as well during Christmas time. I'm not sure whether it is real or not, but it's certainly intriguing and gives the hotel a mysterious feel!


Mercure Dunkenhargh Hotel, Blackburn 4 star hotel, Lancashire Haunted Hotel


The next morning we enjoyed a 4 star full English breakfast at the restaurant. Again, we couldn't fault it. I never liked ready brewed coffee from restaurants as they are often burned and tasted bitter. Mercure's coffee was strong but nicely brewed, and I even had seconds! The breakfast was buffet style so you can go back for as much as you want. The food quality was good, easy to eat as they weren't soaked in oil, and they even served Artisan bread with good salted butter!

We initially planned to have another swim after breakfast, but we rather not spoil the rest of our stay (just in case), so we just hung around our room and had a short nap before we checked out at 2pm. We have also picked up a fish tank and bits and bobs on our way home, just because we felt like it (we have actually considered for a long time but decided to stop thinking and just do it)! It's now being prepped, and hopefully we'll get to move some fishies in on Wednesday!


Overall we have enjoyed our Valentine's Day weekend, and since it's half term, we are looking forward to a few more days of relaxation!