by Fiona Duncan-Steer

Recent Posts

Waterside Bar + Kitchen Nottingham

Waterside Bar + Kitchen Nottingham

Exciting new venue Waterside Bar + Kitchen has now launched to Nottingham’s infamous Trent Bridge.  Part of the iconic Waterside development overlooking the river Trent, this spacious newly refurbished site is the perfect location for local workers from both West Bridgford and the city centre […]

Gleddoch Hotel, Spa & Golf, Glasgow

Gleddoch Hotel, Spa & Golf, Glasgow

When one of the most prestigious spa hotels in Scotland invited me to spend the weekend with them over the Christmas period, I couldn’t refuse. The independently owned boutique hotel nestled within the beautiful Scottish countryside,  half an hours commute from Glasgow City centre and […]

Spotlight Bar & Restaurant & Lets Rock! The Retro Winter Tour, Motorpoint Arena

Spotlight Bar & Restaurant & Lets Rock! The Retro Winter Tour, Motorpoint Arena

Motorpoint Arena’s previously known Platinum Suite situated on level 4, has recently undergone an exciting transformation, taking itself from a generic conference suite to a vibrant and stylish bar/restaurant aptly named ‘Spotlight’, open for all events, Nottingham Panther’s games and also available for private hire…

The huge space houses an impressive fully stocked bar upon entry, with covers for 130 diners to the rear made up of 60 tables.  The restaurant offers floor to ceiling views of the city’s skyline and the brand-new state of the art kitchen delivers both a-la-carte and bistro menus, according to the shows on offer.

My first impression of the venue was that of a warm and welcome feel- I visit many bars and restaurants in my line of work and it’s the ones that have that cosy home from home feel about them that resonate with me most.   The kind of place you end up staying (often unintentionally!) for way longer than planned, purely because they are so comfortable, offering that relaxed atmosphere and soft ambience.  

The lighting certainly contributes to this feeling of warmth due to the hundreds of varying ceiling lights from rose gold, to cream coloured to grey spotlights, hanging lights at different heights, all contemporary in style creating a beautiful effect and atmosphere over the bar and tables as you eat.  The decor is soft blush with a fantastic area to the entrance housing artwork featuring some of the arenas past performers surrounding a neon sign stating’ All the Worlds’ a Stage’. 

The bar offers a selection of brands, as well as large jars of nuts pretzels and other bar snacks.

The furnishings are plush and comfortable within the bar area with a few bar stools and the tables both surround the edge of the restaurant, some within booths and others to the centre.

The menu is accessible to all, offering a tasty selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. As a vegetarian I was pleased to see a classic Vegetable Strudel served with warm baked goats’ cheese and a tangy tomato-based sauce- very satisfying and in fact the envy of my neighbour at the next table who stated she was toying with the idea of going for it, but in the end went for the chicken.

My dining partner went for the Pan Fried Supreme of Chicken served with veg and we finished the set two course dinner with dessert- attempting to be moderately healthy by ordering one fruit salad with deliciously refreshing mango sorbet and one lemon meringue, shared between us, washed down with a glass of Prosecco.

Other options on this particular menu included Fillet of Cod and the Beyond Meat Mediterranean Burger which is a beetroot based vegan burger and very popular I hear.

I noticed the Chocolate Torte was also a popular choice on other tables, however the menu will differ depending upon the shows they are packaged with, which are suitably named;

 ‘The Spotlight Experience’, to include a 2-course pre-event meal, drinks and seats in close proximity to the stage.

The Timings will differ per show, but to give an example we arrived for dinner and drinks at around 6.15pm ready for the show start time of 7.45pm, however once again you will be notified of this at the time of booking.

Some shows that are child friendly will also offer a more child friendly or themed menu, so always best to check ahead what is on offer when making your booking.

Our chosen show was the Lets Rock! The Retro Winter Tour which celebrated everything great about music in the 80’s (or as much as could be packed into a 2.5-hour live concert which actually overran to almost 4 hours- but we didn’t mind!

The show reminded us of some of the classics we all know and love from Doctor and the Medics, who kicked the show-off to a great start, to the sounds of Boney M who still have the moves, to Toyah, Sonia and Altered Images.  Highlights for me were not only Boney M but the evenings headliners, Nik Kershaw Jimmy Somerville and of course who doesn’t love a bit of Gold – Tony Hadley.  Marc Almond, Tony and Jimmy received the most raucous applause from the audience with clearly a huge fan base present.  

As we were based in a VIP suite or ‘box’ as often referred to, you will have the pleasure of waiter service, so there is never a need to queue at the bar and miss any snippets from the shows.

The toilets are never too far away from the suites, but should you be so inclined you do also have a bar nearby serving all evening, as well as snacks and a hot food menu of burgers/hot dogs/nachos which can also be ordered from the comfort of your suite and bought to you during the show.

The view was impressive from the box, overlooking the entire arena and the atmosphere is quite something with no viewing obstructions and plenty of room to sit comfortably or dance the night away accordingly.

Having attended several shows at Motorpoint Arena many; of which many have been from a suite I can’t recommend the venue enough for entertaining – whether it be with friends and family or as part of a corporate /business package and now with the welcomed addition of the beautifully executed Spotlight bar/restaurant, there really isn’t a need to venture anywhere else for a great night of entertainment in Nottingham.

The Spotlight Experience can be booked online here:

Upcoming shows on sale for Spotlight packages include:
• Kaiser Chiefs – 17 January 2020 from £89.50
• James Blunt – 20 Feb 2020 from £148.50
• …and many more.

More information can be found on:

The Sleepy Vegetarian.

Bottomless Brunch at St James Hotel

Bottomless Brunch at St James Hotel

Bottomless brunch is becoming something of a trend right now in many bars and restaurants, however St James Hotel is the first UK independent hotel I have come across to offer such thing and so when invited to try it out I was pleasantly surprised […]

Birchover Residences presents…Bridgford Hall

Birchover Residences presents…Bridgford Hall

Described as the ‘jewel in their crown’, Birchover Residences’ most recent development located in the heart of West Bridgford, Nottingham was refurbished and opened in May 2017. The well-known and popular Bridgford Hall is steeped in history dating back to 1768, having been family homes […]

Birchover Residences presents: Juniper Court

Birchover Residences presents: Juniper Court

Located on the edge of Nottingham’s Park Estate, notably one of the most affluent areas of the city, the recently refurbished Juniper Court offers a home from home stay in their luxury self-catered apartments…
The high ceilings are first to be noticed, giving character to the building, alongside the carefully chosen furnishings and décor, which combines clean modern living with a touch of the traditional.
Having stayed at Birchover Residences previously at other sites, it appears that they consistently offer a very efficient self -check in service, which is confirmed both by email and then by text message closer to the time, giving all door codes and safe key areas in order to gain access to your chosen apartment. Parking is always provided on-site which is a bonus and the buildings are always so quiet and inviting with feature entrance halls and receptions.

Our living area was open plan to the kitchen, with a comfortable teal corner suite, television on the wall and table and chairs for four (we were in a two-bedroom suite).
The kitchen has all mod cons including a large dishwasher, washing machine and fridge freezer. Upon investigating all cupboards and draws, we saw that nothing was left out and all basic cooking equipment was provided enough to cook up a storm, as well as an easy to use electric cooker and hob which heated up in an instant.
A nice touch was the discovery of milk and tea bags provided– it’s all in the detail.
The bedrooms are modern and the beds very comfortable, giving me a much-needed undisturbed night’s sleep, with no outdoor noise considering we were located on a fairly busy road.

Our apartment-with two bathrooms, one en-suite and in true Birchover Residences style; the bathrooms are a strong feature in the apartments, being very modern and bright with a large shower. I am always grateful for shelving /storage in bathrooms for overnight toiletry bags etc. when staying away from home as so many hotels often overlook this feature.
Nearby within walking distance there is a Sainsburys express and an award-winning ala carte restaurant offering tasting menus and wine parings virtually next door. The city centre of Nottingham is a short three -five-minute drive from the court, plus if you feel so inclined the popular Savoy cinema is also a short walk away.
We decided not to leave the apartment once settled that evening and simply enjoy the comfort and facilities by cooking and watching Strictly! An ideal way to spend an evening whether you are on business, visiting a new city or just fancy a night away from home in luxury surroundings.

Booking can be made online at –

The Sleepy Vegetarian

Sunday lunch at The Tap & Run

Sunday lunch at The Tap & Run

The Tap and Run is the latest venture from the Cat & Wickets Pub Company, owned by Dan Cramp and England cricketers, Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney. Aptly named, the venue itself offers a cosy, home from home atmosphere, something you’d come to expect from […]

The Wine Room, Mapperley

The Wine Room, Mapperley

The Wine Room Mapperley is a welcomed addition to the Nottingham bar scene, aimed at; as its name suggests those who have a passion for wine.  Co-owners Debbie and Peter both share a love of everything related to the vino variety and so welcome to […]

Playa Day Club & Restaurant, Nottingham

Playa Day Club & Restaurant, Nottingham

Playa Day Club is a brand-new concept bought to Nottingham by the Mellor’s Group in the form of a trendy pop up bar, club and restaurant located in the Old Market Square.

The feel is that of something you would typically find in Marbella or Ibiza with its day beds, pool booths and DJ sets, where the décor is light, bright and colourful. 

They have a strong brand which was one of the first things I noticed upon arrival and the colours throughout reflect this with its aqua and pink furnishings, wooden seating areas and sporadic flamingos.

Playa organise various DJ nights and themed events which are posted to the calendar over the Summer season, so essentially there is something for most with chill out nights, Summer anthems, Ladies nights and Supper clubs to name a few, so whether you are heading out for after work drinkies, a night out with friends or a relaxed wind down as a couple, this place covers it with a fully stocked bar and food platters aplenty.

Within the pop- up complex is also the restaurant, ran by 2018 MasterChef: The Professionals winner Laurence Henry and his team.  The vibe in the restaurant is cosy- the kind of place you could pull up a table with friends and hang out the entire evening, think rustic long tables, grey and dusky pink interior, oversized hanging light bulbs – very Oliver Bonas style with a splash of Moroccan influence within the furnishings.

The open kitchen allows you to observe the chefs at work with flames arising and the smell of food wafting over every so often, all allowing for an overall pleasant experience. 

The menu itself focuses on the concept of small plates and offers both hot and cold options including snacks, meat, fish and vegetarian selections. Think edamame beans, salted Padron peppers, and ham croquettes to begin with, followed by meat dishes such as glazed belly pork, which I was told was pretty good, steak and a good burger if that’s your thing.  For the fish lovers, you could opt for a yellow tuna fish teak or crab salad and as a vegetarian myself I enjoyed the BBQ aubergine with a sticky miso glaze and a colourful tomato and burrata salad as a side. 

If you are looking for something a little different (and most certainly ‘Instagramable’) in a chilled out atmosphere, with the feel of being on holiday over the UK Summer season then Playa Day Club & Restaurant is the place to head down to, but be quick it closes at the end of Summer!

Find out more or book your table/booth at:

The Sleepy Vegetarian

One The Brayford, Lincoln

One The Brayford, Lincoln

My recent stay at the stunning self-catered apartment, One The Brayford in Lincoln was made all the more special when I discovered just where it was located- adjacent to the waterfront known as Brayford Wharf with a spectacular view overlooking the harbour. A stroll along […]

My Diary

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle has been on my list to visit for years and so when I was recently invited for a tour of the castle and gardens this June, I was delighted to accept…

My fiancé and I checked the weather leading up to our Sunday visit and were pleased to see a scorcher of a day was forecast, so we planned a picnic with our new wicker basket, complete with china crockery and napkins – well if you’re going to do it, do it properly!

After checking into the ticket office, we walked through a tree lined pathway, which led to the crossroads to which you could choose which garden/trail you visited – we opted to do ‘The Duchesses Garden’ and a good choice it was to, as this turned out to be our most favourite of them all and the destination choice of our picnic a little later in the day.

The four acre garden (rediscovered in 1970 by Frances, the Dowager Duchess of Rutland) is within a valley with stone steps leading down to a small pond with an elegant statue at the foot and beautiful flowers, plants and trees along the way.  The top of the hill featured an unusual structure- ‘The Moss House’, built in 1818 and restored again in 2014.

We then found ourselves in ‘The Hermits Garden’, a seven acre plot adjoining ‘The Duchesses Garden’, which we were pleased to learn had just undergone a huge clearing, regeneration programme, which is clearly an ongoing project and something we look forward to revisiting in years to come, when it has matured.

After doing a U-turn, we then found ourselves in ‘The Japanese Woodland’, aptly names due to the amount of Japanese and Chinese plants in the area.   As the area is again within a  valley dip, it provides a natural shelter for many exotic plants that thrive there.

A steep walk led us to ‘The Rose Garden’, where for the first time the astounding first sight of Belvoir Castle is awaiting- what an impressive view!

Various statues live in the grounds of Belvoir, including the striking statue of ‘Winter’ by Caius Gabriel Cibber and a further six statues in ‘The Rose Garden’, which amazingly are some of the oldest statues in England and the current roses you see there were all planted by the current Duchess of Rutland- Emma.

The pathway from the rose garden then led us around the castle, offering beautiful views over Leicestershire, eventually leading to the castle entrance…

Pre-booked tours of the castle do take place regularly (timings are all on their website), however we opted to take a leisurely walk around ourselves and there were several friendly tour guides along the way to offer assistance or answer any questions, advising the best route to take to ensure you didn’t miss anything.

Interestingly the family of Belvoir have resided in the castle unbroken for almost a thousand years and is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland.  The land was a gift from William The Conqueror and many works of art and portraits don the walls of past kings and queens, giving you a real feel of history as you wander around the ornate rooms.  My most favourite room was the ‘Elizabeth Saloon’, intended for ladies to reside to after dinner.  With gold gilt, plush cherry red and coral fabrics and extravagantly designed furniture, including of course a chaise longue or two.

It was also nice to see modern photographs of the current family in each room, giving you a real feel for the families who have resided there through the ages. Interestingly the castle was given its French name ‘Belvoir’ meaning ‘beautiful view’ (now pronounced ‘beaver’).

At the end of our tour, we visited the castle gift shop and naturally bought some Belvoir shortbread to take home, however there were also a lovely selection of homemade jams- made by the Duchess herself as well as several country style items on sale.

A tea room can also be found at the end of the tour offering afternoon /cream tea and a selection of refreshments and lunch items.

As mentioned we opted for a picnic in the beautiful surroundings of the Duchesses garden and the weather did not disappoint, we managed to sunbathe as did a few others in the area and thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Belvoir, which most certainly won’t be our last.

Entrance into the castle and gardens on a combined ticket costs just £15 for Adults and £8 for children aged 4-16 (children under 3 are free).  It is also possible to just have garden tickets at a cost of £8 for adults & children are free.

Fiona Duncan, RSViP