Review: Boutique at Botaniq

Last year, after lockdown and to escape that locked-up madness, we booked a week’s break down on the coast. I had saved a fair few euros from doing nothing and splashed out on a week at Botaniq Beach Hotel on the playa in Mojacar. Previously I had spent only a night in Mojacar and hadn’t seen much of it. So we booked the dogs in with lovely Liz, hired a car and headed to Almeria.

I first spotted Botaniq on Booking, having ran a search for “hotels AND beach”, and really fell in love with the reviews and guest pics there. I am a bit of a beach bum, and require some time each year for the sea and surf to round off my spiky edges, like a pebble.

First off, they have a really awful website, full of computer generated pics that don’t resemble it in the least! Here’s their Insta page instead. It’s pricey, but it is right on the beach, is low level with just fourteen rooms, and has a sustainable edge. The sound of water, bamboo chimes, low level muzak, and the scent of herbs in the Asian inspired garden are your first impressions. As is the wait, the looong wait to be checked in.

Sleeping quarters

Our room was a suite comprising entrance into a sitting area with TV and fridge, sofa and table, straight off a wooden deck with sofas and comfy cushions and filled with trees (and biting midges aplenty)

On past the extensive wardrobe area to a large bed, another big screen TV, and a window with a view of a fence dividing the loud apartment block situated next door. Off one side was a windowless bathroom, with double power shower, and a fabulous poured cement freestanding bath. There were plenty of toiletries and soft towels, including big beach towels, robes and slippers. There was no sign of the promised teapot and kettle so my herbal tea stayed packed.


The pool area is small, just six wooden steamer loungers, but there are Bali beds and other areas to relax around the gardens, including a hammock for two. The pool is salt water and tiled green, and very pleasant.

The view is straight onto the beach and the sea, some Botaniq reserved loungers and shades are situated halfway down in front of the hotel. First come, first served. Staff wander around asking if you would like refreshments, the cost added to your room number.

Food and drink

The food is sublime at Botaniq. The restaurant is called Xmile. No, I have no idea how you say that, either. Breakfast (included) was a choice of eggs, fruit, bacon, croissants, the usual fayre. Lunch and dinner: Grilled octopus and soft mashed potato was a favourite, small portions of deliciously fresh and local food elegantly served. Think fresh tastes, little foams of this and that, scented smoke. If you’re Desperate Dan you might want to have the breakfast and head up the playa for something substantial. Cocktails to start, wines to pair with the menu, take a nightcap back to your room. Pricey enough, the few times we ate certainly racked up the final bill.

Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup

Service, meh, not so great. Let’s start with the great, the maid was lovely and shouted greetings to us outside of the hotel and in. The waiter, an Italian chap, was simply lovely, knowledgeable , friendly, and poured an excellent Martini. The cook was friendly, and his food a work of art as well as delicious. You could say that the breakfast girls were not morning people. Clientele were a bit stuffy. The hotel is adults only but we spotted a few families there. The owner/manager is a helicopter, constantly hovering over staff, but not great in a crisis – our fridge was broken and he couldn’t manage to swap it, although he stood over it for quite a while! He did offer a bottle of Cava as an apology which was appreciated and provided the boasty beachy Insta bore shot.

What’ll it cost me?

Budget it ain’t. End of June for 2022 will set you back 213€ to 305€ for the top room facing the sea per night. Breakfast is included. Meals and drinks add up fast, for a week we had a couple of cocktails, a bottle of wine, two nightcaps, two lunches and one dinner and added about 300€ to the bill. Would we revisit? Probably.

The author was not paid for this review and all observations are personal opinion.

5 of my 2020 Highlights

Nope, not gone mad, not yet. Despite the rollercoaster ride that 2020 decided to be, there were good points, and it’s worth reflecting on these instead of dwelling on the shitshow that the year was for many of us. Here are my five 2020 highlights…

1.The C Word

Well, that one sure took on a new meaning. I am grateful that COVID 19 did not personally touch any family members or close friends in 2020, and despite the impact on the economy, that I still have a ‘day job’ to work, being used to remote working anyway.

2. Lockdown

We all had to get used to living in close quarters, and unless you’re a submariner then you probably found it stifling, and those little things that niggle us all about those we live with soon came under a magnifying glass. For me, I was lucky enough to share our small townhouse with MIck, my son and his friend Julie AKA Nan, 2 cats and 2 dogs, and we all managed fine, quickly adapting to life under lockdown. Quiz nights, silly nights, foodie nights, blindfold taste nights, and sometimes just finding our own corner away from everyone on the roof was the right recipe. I am so grateful to have had and spent that time with the people I love, and actually quite liked the arrangement!

3. A Full Table

If you know me well you will also know I love a full table, both food and guests. My own aged dining room table, if it could walk, it would stagger – from past and present gatherings. Mick’s birthday in September brought us two weeks worth of guests including both kids, making me wish again I had loads of children and had not stopped at two. We extended the outside dining area, and together with some lashing rain, enjoyed a night with family and friends, food and wine and laughter. Let’s do it again, when we can.

4. Survival Skills

Do we have inbuilt survival skills or is it down to luck? Who knows. When our car flipped off the road that fateful October day and provided the most terrifying sixty seconds of my year, something kicked in, whatever it was I am grateful for it, and more so for the fact we had dropped Issey and Alex off just beforehand. Mick was not as lucky as we thought, and a month later saw him undergo serious brain trauma surgery, so far so good, and fingers are crossed for his appraisal and scan in early 2021. A car is just a car, and money is just money. Josh survived his own health crisis this month, a lengthy bus ride and an ensuing hug from his Mam helped (I think!) and he is also on the mend.

5. Friendship

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
— Oprah Winfrey

A short three years has seen the making of the most amazing friendships and this past year has tested the mettle of those, as our friends stepped forward with lifts, a welcome sandwich and a banana 🙂 , dog and cat feeding, chocolate cake, calls, texts and ‘sod the social distance’ hugs. What should have been a lonely time was filtered and sorted and made so much easier. You all know who you are, I am grateful for each and every one of you, and yes, I am still buying the damned euromillions tickets!!

Social Media Matters?

I have to be honest, I don’t know whether to Be Kind or Wash my Hands. I am sneezing into my elbow here as I write but I think it’s due more to the blossom erupting everywhere than COVID-19.

A celebrity presenter died recently. She had clearly had enough of the gutter press rags and social media backlash and her personal life seems to have descended into freefall. Suddenly we’re all experts on depression, suicide, and Facebook has become a pulpit from which to preach.


Is it me? Am I perhaps being unkind? The celeb in question was clearly distraught. However, she knew what she was doing. Anyone who decides to end it all is getting off the bus because they want to stop it. Stop the pain, stop the hurt, stop the mess their own life has become. I do know what I am talking about. She had the right to do that and I hope she is at peace.


However, I really object to the preachers. I am kind – I think – but I don’t need to be told to be by a keyboard warrior with a halo. It’s giving me unkind thoughts! Help someone who is homeless, spend time with a lonely person, be nice to your kids, be a faithful partner, and stay the feck off Facebook.


Coronavirus is making the world we live in resemble a bad disaster movie. We’re all a little paranoid. However, a €150 mask (€1.50 last week) isn’t going to do the trick, apparently, and neither is buying all the Vitamin C down in Holland and Barrett. Continue to share your tapas with those you love, kiss your kids, but stop the handshakes with strangers and wash your hands. We all know it – we’re grown up and all – but again, I don’t need Facebook to tell me. Nor do I need to read scare stories and invented ‘facts’. The viral fiction is moving faster than the infection.  Everyone’s an expert….

Maybe I should stay off Facebook….there’s an idea!

Hotel Review x 2 – Spanish Costa Weekend – Budget and Luxury

You might be wondering about the title: it’s simple really. We chose to stay at two properties for a coastal break in one Spanish coastal destination, picking top-rated properties at both ends of the scale, budget, and luxury. What did we find? Read on!

Scoring high


Ever use the rating system on these booking websites? We do, in fact, we tend to book depending on other people’s views and recommendations. Word of mouth is better of course, but choosing somewhere new to go means we rely on this little 8s and 9s – in fact, I would not book anywhere not in the top 20%. It doesn’t always work – we have stayed in several squeaking bed ‘suites’ that have left a lot to be desired!

The destination


Salobreña was the point of the pin on the map back on a very hot late May weekend, and we rode the Harley down from our home in Granada to the fresh and breezy Costa Tropical. Previously only for a stretch of the legs on the Málaga airport run, a trek up to the castle, or to see my daughter dance in the Traditional Trovo group from Murtas. Up to now, Salobreña featured as an away day rather than a layover type of stop – but Mick and I love a weekend away and it’s nice and close. With a history stretching back 6000 years, old and new towns to explore and 5 beaches to ramble – it’s a good choice. Coming from Málaga? It’s just a bare hour along the usually empty A7, and still remains typically Spanish so is a nice alternative away day from the bustling and touristy Costa del Sol.

Choice 1 – Budget: Hostal Jayma


Score on Booking: 9.4

Small and family-run, Hostal Jayma is situated in the Old Town, and parking is a bit of a nightmare, there is none at the accommodation. Having said that, it’s easy enough in May to find a space in town – it might be a little more frustrating in high season. 10/10 for friendliness, the hostal owner is helpful and chatty – he also speaks English if you need it. Our room on the first floor had Wifi, a small flat screen TV, and a decent bathroom with toiletries and towels aplenty. The room was clean and quiet, had a little balcony to sit on at the front, and although a bit basic and tired when it came to decor, was not unpleasant. The hostal is central, a few minutes stagger to local bars and restaurants, and for that all-important Spanish breakfast of coffee and Tostada con todo times two. Would we return? Yes, for the odd night it’s perfectly fine and reasonably priced from just €50.

Hostal Jayma

C/ Cristo 24
18680 Salobreña
Granada, Spain
(+34) 958 610 231

Choice 2 – Luxury: Hotel Miba


Score on Booking: 9.2

The next morning we had that leisurely breakfast and checked out. Harley parked up, boots off and flip-flops on and a morning spent on the beach and a 2pm chiringuito fresh fish lunch a few steps from our sun loungers (which served as storage for the boots, helmets, bags and all the ‘stuff’ a ride down brings!) At check-in time we put back on the leather and took the short ride up to Hotel Miba for the second leg of the weekend.

Hotel Miba is fairly new – I remember driving past as it was built a few years back and wondering if I would ever stay there. Sometimes you get what you wish for! We booked the best room, the larger of the two suites (Queen Suite) for the ultimate luxurious experience. Oh My! It was everything you might expect. Parking is free in front of the hotel which is directly off the A7, perched right at the top with views over the sea. Reception staff are chatty and helpful. Our room was priced at €180 (with drinks, dinner and breakfast about €300ish) and worth every single cent. It was big – 65 m² – with two large double beds together to make an ocean of a bed. The roll-top bath was in front of the (not overlooked!) expansive terrace doors, the fridge has Cava to drink, perfect in the bath 🙂  there was a separate large luxury bathroom with a shower to fit a party of 10 (no, I didn’t!) and the terrace was all around the suite. The decor is funky ethnic, there are a rooftop Skybar and pool (which we had all to ourselves) and both breakfast and dinner were phenomenal. The quality of food and service is outstanding, and dinner was the best I have had in Spain. Any drawbacks? Could be a better choice of toiletries at that price – maybe some really good bath foam for that fabulous bath? Would we return? Yes, in a heartbeat…!

Hotel Miba

N-340, Km. 325,

18680 Salobreña,


Contact form

The reviews in this article are not paid for or sponsored  – views are my own.

Reinstate wellness at Camino Recovery, Spain

Of all of the proven methods for recovery from addiction and stress, the most reliable has to include a healthy dose of sunshine! Knowing that you are on your personal Camino – or road – to solid recovery can only be made better by a superb location underneath the Spanish sun.


Selection: Why choose Spain for recovery?

What are the other factors for choosing Spain as a destination for your walk back to happiness and wellness? It’s about much more than that warm and relaxing weather. Factor in the relatively short hop from the UK or Ireland – you can be here in just a couple of hours. Trust is paramount – the quality of clinical care has to feature high on anyone’s list – and the level of professional healthcare in Spain is rated very highly, in fact, the 7th best in the world, and is what you can expect with a stay using the superb facilities at Camino Recovery.


Arrival: A tranquil setting

Sunshine-filled and peaceful surroundings are the calm and dignified frame that greet you on arrival at the picture-perfect destination of Camino Recovery, found nestled beneath the Sierra de Tejeda mountain range in Andalusia, in a location that oozes a sense of secret seclusion. Rest assured that the luxury location is matched perfectly by cutting-edge treatments and well respected, world-class clinical staff. 


Treatments available

Those cutting-edge tratments are just the ticket for a variety of issues you may be curently facing. Dealing with life has it’s downs as well as ups, and a decision to reinstate wellness at a respected residential Recovery centre might be for a whole host of reasons:

Perhaps you (or your loved one) have decided to give up alcohol and need a little support.

You may be suffering from addiction; drugs, alcohol, gaming, eating disorders, unresolved trauma, anxiety, depression – the list of reasons is endless, and we all need a hand occasionally to get back onto the right track.


Stay and be cared for

A residential stay in one of the superbly appointed suites is favourable as it provides you with a total immmersion away from the world of tempation and is an intensive treatment with high results. There are never more than eight clients at any one time, ensuring a personalised and high quality treatment, adapted entirely to your needs.

There are many different approaches to therapy, one being intensity. For some the positive benefits of being removed from their immediate environment are immeasurable. 

Alhambra Suite - Camino Recovery

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Horses for courses? Horses can respond to the emotional state of humans, without need for verbal communication. They can sense fear, anxiety and respect, and they react accordingly without the preconceptions that exist with human interaction. Therefore the Equine Assisted Therapy is one of the most successful treatments at Camino Recovery, and it’s one of the world’s leading centres. Worried about riding prowess? There’s no horse-riding involved – watch the video here. Instead, it uses activities and tasks to bring the horse and patient closer together in a gentle environment from the ground and involves no riding of the horse itself.


The perfect time to book

Christmas is fast approaching – for some of us it’s a festive season to be greeted warmly, but for others it’s far from the season of Goodwill – handle it knowing that you’re looking forward to a New Year and a new you in the form of a 2020 stay at Camino recovery – a vacation with long-lasting and life-changing results.

Review: Kathmandu Nepali, Torremolinos

Heat, spice and all things nice await at Kathmandu. You won’t even have to head for the Himalayas, either. Situated just around the corner from Dealz in Torremolinos, on Calle Antonio Girón, this little restaurant pleases every time.


Torremolinos is a busy, big summer resort, full of kiss-me-quick souvenirs, badly poured beer and bellies a-plenty. It’s loud, brash and cheap. It is what it is! Winter, however, turns the centre into an altogether quieter place, with the only British voices likely to be long term residents, and many of the more raucous establishments have shutters drawn. It’s warmer than up here at altitude, there are bargain out of season rooms to be had. We did just that en route to the airport last week, and planned a trip to Kathmandu too.

Mixed starters to share, plus popadums and dips – all proved top class fare. Mains of fall-apart lamb, charcoal flavour and sizzling hot with onions on a cast iron slab, and accompanying hot curry sauce, plus a tasty king prawn bhuna filled us up, as we mopped up with a Peshwari naan –  a little sweetness to offset the heat of the curries. Chilled Cobra beers washed it all down…we were suitably stuffed. Total bill just 44€ for everything. Service was friendly and fast.

Find Kathmandu here




Hotel review: Casa Federico, Granada

Rolling back to last winter for this overdue review. It’s hard now, with the mercury rising so quickly, to even imagine cold, wet winter days, with easterly winds and a bite to the air. But, that’s what it was like in Spain last winter. To break up one such weekend, we booked a night in Granada, to take advantage of someone else’s heating and hot water. The budget was set for a reasonable place to stay, it had to be central, and with a little bit of character. I would rather stay at home than do a run of the mill awayday.

A good fit

So, on paper, Casa Federico looked like a good fit. It is. Set just a few steps from the cathedral, the great value price did not reflect a budget hotel stay in any way and we enjoyed the location, excellent decor, and friendly atmos.

Rooms and decor

Named after our favourite Granada poet, reasonable parking is a block away. Upgraded on request to a superior room, it was a large-twin-bed-pushed-together scenario. Plenty of storage, spotlessly clean, room to walk around, a corner bath in a spacious bathroom, and quirky touches such as Moroccan decor, and headboards fashioned from old shutters. There were two full-length windows, and balcony views to the front, and to the spires and tiled rooftops of Granada.

The reception staff were friendly and helpful – and there’s no stuffiness. My only gripe was leaving behind a piece of sentimental jewellery and no reply to my Facebook messages. Otherwise, I say go ahead, book Casa Federico for great value, and a lovely place to stay in a convenient location.

*This review is independent and was not in exchange for a free stay.

Hotel review: Centauera Boutique Hotel- Alanya, Turkey

As a travel writer, Tripadvisor content writer, and reviewer, I am always pleased to discover somewhere new, that’s really worth shouting about. In May, I was treated to a week in Turkey, ostensibly to chase some warmth, as Spain was fighting off the remnant of a hard winter, and I was pretty well burnt out and in need of some respite.

The destination

A five-star treat was in store in historical Alanya, at the Centauera boutique hotel, nestled below the ancient impressive fortification, which towers over the resort. This traditional stone house in Tophane’s historic district offers just a handful of luxurious rooms, with 24-hour room service. There is a spacious garden terrace with amazing harbour views, where you can relax and enjoy breakfast, lunch or an evening meal. Feed the local cats at your peril, they are tenacious! Or just sit with a tea, listen to the rhythmic call to prayer from one of the many mosques, just relax and read a book, gaze across the harbour, or lazily study the in-house geckos as they hunt.


The inside info…

Including free Wi-Fi, the air-conditioned rooms at The Centauera come with satellite LCD TV. All rooms have traditional stone walls and are named after Turkish flowers. Some rooms offer sea views.

It’s a 10-minute walk downhill across the ancient cobbled streets, to reach Alanya’s city centre with its many eateries, bars and restaurants, as well as some superb shopping. Top Tip: Bring an empty suitcase…

This 24-hour accessible boutique hotel – with a high 9.9 rating on Booking –  is situated just five minute’s walk from the beach. Free parking is available in the immediate surroundings of the property.


Well run, impressive service with a smile

Koray Orhunoz is the owner/manager, and after meeting him, you will understand why the hotel has such a high rating. Friendly, helpful, personable, with a huge personality, we felt as though he was family after just a week’s stay – but very nice family at that! Nothing is too much trouble; ice cold Ayran (that refreshing, salty buttermilk drink) was whipped up on request for breakfast and served alongside huge platters of cheeses with preserved fruit, honey, eggs, fresh leaves, a selection of local breads, and Turkish Chai or coffee. Koray organised a trip for us on request and was even open to lifts and late night drinks and chats.

We managed to stay in two rooms, taking advantage of an upgrade halfway through our week, but to be honest, both rooms were fantastic, the second having a claw-footed roll top bath to make it even more special. Would we return? In a heartbeat.



Contact Koray via his Facebook account. Tell him I sent you!

Browse the website directly to make a booking.

*This trip was paid for as a very kind and welcome gift, and this is not a free review for staying at the hotel.

The Irate Irishwoman -What NOT to indulge in during divorce

With Valentine’s day coming up, I thought I would add to the love fest by sharing some of my experience on good old divorce. Victim of a twit-attack? Save your sense of humour, grab some legal advice, and remain calm. Simply follow my tried and tested guide to what NOT to indulge in, during divorce.

It’s actually NOT your fault

When he happens to have fecked off, don’t faint, and don’t fall. You haven’t failed ANYTHING or ANYONE, it’s all his miserable failure. Every last bit.  Ditch the self deprecation. Stop self-bashing. Remember that one, write it on the mirror in lipstick if you don’t mind frightening the dinner guests – and remember, there will be guests again. Just because there’s one less lush at the table doesn’t mean anyone has forgotten you’re a damned good cook, they’ll still be there. In fact, now they don’t have to listen to him banging on, they won’t bloody go home. Have a taxi number handy. Practise your best yawn.

images (3)

Stop typing, proofread at the thinking stage

Oh dear God, I have never been good at this one. So you’re in shock, then hurt, then sad, then – the good bit – bloody furious. Got a great vocabulary? Yeah, me too. It’s a curse. Don’t do it, think it for sure, say it if you like, scream it, sob it, but don’t write it down. Kick something instead. Better. It’s all gonna come good in the end, the truth has a way of seeping out. Here’s one of those sickening inspirational quotes to laugh at…



Don’t listen to everyone else – they’re not you

Take all the advice given  – there will be LOTS – and weed it as carefully as you would a bed of herbs. Which reminds, me, smoke some herbs if you can get your hands on any, whatever helps with the inducement of calm. Reject the prosaic platitudes, keep the good stuff for later – the advice, not your son’s mates’ drugs –  and for going back over when you need it, and dump the rest like a gleeful trip to the bottle bank after a party.


Stop with the doll and the pins – put them down

Easier said than done. Don’t obsess. Not over what you did wrong (er, nothing, we have covered that, remember?) not over what you might have had (yeah, it’s a whole new future, and it’s a bit scary, but eventually it will be fun) and certainly not over the person you donated your used toy to…So he only jumped because someone available was oh so ready and waiting to catch him, Quelle surprise. Because really, she won’t be all that – once you have examined the close up of the one carelessly published unfiltered photo whilst drinking your second bottle of afternoon Lambrusco –  and for sure, he will have replaced you with someone less intelligent, who tells him what he wants to hear. You cannot hate her either, she’s just not that important…As my newly-gay, lovely best friend drily remarked “Jesus, Carol, I really cannot see the attraction….in either of them…”

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Don’t head for the chocolate

Embrace the break up diet. OMG the skinny-minny bit, it’s worth the split – a hundred times over. As you slide on those size eight jeans remember to smirk just a little. Yeah, you look HOT. Know it, wear it – whatever you damned well WANT – use it. And of course, when you’re ready, it’ll all help with that new and improved sex life. Just imagine, no need to fake bake it any more ladies, or pretend you’re asleep…well, it wasn’t like you didn’t know that short play inside out…you can choose where, when, with whom, and how often 🙂  – Okay, so maybe the last bit is wishful thinking for me, but I do find lately I seem to get exactly what I deserve 🙂

So, if you’re like me, and you’re a bit of a handful, just think of all those really good men –  with two hands.

Walking in the Alpujarra area of Andalusia

The rolling foothills of the Alpujarras region of Andalusia are still a pretty well-kept secret. Step away from the sand of the Costa Tropical and wind your way uphill, where a patchwork quilt of open countryside – most of it unchanged since Moorish times – unfurls before you, as far as the eye can see. Most first-time visitors describe their worries and stresses falling away as quickly as the coast drops below them. Roads where you’re unlikely to meet another vehicle snake up and around the mountainsides, calling you to explore more…


Carol Byrne

Pack and go

Pack your boots, sensible layers of outdoor clothing and come and join our recommended Walking Tour operator Spanish Highs, as they show you around this time-forgotten area, and introduce you to a traditional Spanish area you will unlikely forget. Make some memories that last long beyond the suntan, and meet a destination you will wish to return to, time and again.


The walking routes

With the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea at your feet, way below, and the Sierra Nevada mountains as the snowy frame, walking in the Alpujarras is a visual pleasure. Your senses will be instantly revived also, with the scent of fresh mountain herbs trampled underfoot, and the clear, clean air.


Come on an Alpujarras Escape Walking Holiday

  • 5 days of the best walking and hiking tours in the Alpujarras!
  • Any dates between September and June (inclusive)
  • 7 nights in 3* hotel accommodation in Lanjarón
  • Choose between 2 fine hotels
  • Experienced local mountain and walking guides
  • Most days can be extended or shortened as necessary to suit the group
  • Shorter breaks available on request.
  • Optional (May to Oct) is an ascent of Mulhacén, the highest mountain in mainland Spain (3482m)

Level of challenge

Expect altitude gains of about 400m to 850m ascent and between 5 and 7 hours of walking per day. Bring sensible clothing and good hiking boots. Hiking poles are useful. Sun hats, sun glasses, sun block and a water bottle are essential.

Want to know more? Contact us: via our Contact Page or Tel +44 7505 753259 by prior appointment (email) only please.