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!!

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.

Lettuce Pray

Those words I always thought the priest uttered at Mass on soft Irish Sunday mornings – I was an almost-adult before – like many song lyrics – I realised I had it all wrong. Young folk have no idea how lucky they are that they have lyric sites at the swipe of an iPhone – and that they’re not bullied into Mass, for that matter.


But this post is neither religious or musical, though I suspect a Mel Brooks-style treat is being hastily scribbled in the wings.

I ask you to to forget about world hunger. Begone Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and those irritating refugees looking for non-essentials such as shelter and water. The new kid on the block is Britain. Yes, in true OLIVER style, the begging bowl is out. The supermarkets are bare and the Sun editor is doing back-flips. It’s the scoop of the century. There is no lettuce. In February. That’s winter, right? But there’s no use whining and begging. Spain is NOT for sharing.

So, let’s consider the great #LettuceGate scandal of 2017 as a great hunger, perhaps even a Famine. Ah yes, we knew we’d have you eventually, landowners and bigwigs. You thought you could get us with our own potatoes when the chips were down.


There’s a monumental disaster afoot and it’s caused by a lack of Lactuca Sativa.

What if #LettuceGate has the same consequences as the Great Famine? Starvation. Disease. Lettuce is a rich source of Vitamin K and Vitamin A. It’s a source of Folate. The National Health Service will crumble.

There’ll be mass emigration. The fact that no-one will want you is a bridge you’ll just have to cross in search of Iceberg, Cos or your next bag of Looseleaf.

What’s the solution? Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP might like to know that it’s possible to wait until lettuce is actually in season and grow her own.

Remember one more thing, Britain. Where did all the Irish go after An Gorta Mór? Oh yes, but now, sure, isn’t that ‘just desserts’?

Percolated happiness coming right up

It’s a drip feed, isn’t it? Happiness I mean. Not just happiness, all feelings, all emotions. A sort of osmosis from outside influence.

Peer pressure

We are so easily swayed these days, by adverts, by song lyrics, by reading a book or watching a decent film. Open your Facebook account and be instantly irritated by someone you have never actually met, feel emotional and sad at someone else’s bad luck, or warm and fuzzy from a cute kitten/puppy video. We’re all total suckers for it, really.



So there I was, minding my own business, when HAPPY MELLY suggested I get happy for a week; Go Positive they said. Easy, I thought. I’ll just post ‘nice’ things, and curate some positive stories. I can do that. Simple.


Hard work

It’s not, actually. My social media (personal and pages accounts) are full of some really bad shit, and I hadn’t truly taken note. I found myself SEARCHING for good news stories, and really, it was pretty trying. Forget the newspapers and media pages for a start. My ‘friends’ do like a good moan! Avoidance of 😦 reactions is also harder than you think.


So, I gaily skipped and scrolled past the RIP posts, the dead dog posts, the FFS posts and the general angst. No Angry, Sad, or even Like  (your angry mood)  responses from me – nuh-uh. I’m not on your bus, sister.

Feelgood factor

Then something odd happened. I found my finger hovering back over those Bad News stories, looking for something positive to say. That’s better, I thought. The OP would ‘like’ my comment, and I’d feel even happier.


9 September at 11:27 ·

All done and not a word of thanks from management. Not even a goodbye. Thankfully students were grateful for my efforts. #wontbeback




Carol Byrne The students are the important ones, your raison d’etre. Good that they were grateful 🙂

Like · Reply · 1 · 9 September at 12:33


I started to do the same OFFLINE. What’s all this? A new me? No, probably not. That would take some sort of miracle.


But a slow, drip-feed of happiness? Yes. like the best coffee, a sort of percolated happiness. It tastes pretty good too…want a cup?

Spanish exploring for spring

Hey – it’s warming up, isn’t it? It’s always a bit later here at 1115m in the high hills of Andalucía. But there they are.Those first clues – the floor tiles underfoot don’t make you flinch as you climb out of bed, orchids showing up and showing off in the campo, jasmine buds tentatively unfurling in the garden, and the birds getting, well, all jiggy. Speaking of our feathered friends – the Swallows are back on our terrace this week, having made their long journey back to us – they’re looking fat and well, and are always happy to chat while we hang out the washing.


Speaking of journeys, we will set off this weekend to Valladolid, ostensibly to watch UD Almeria get totally obliterated by the local football team, it’s part of the 21st birthday treatment for The Boy, currently here on his Easter break from student life in Wet Wales.  We also booked a stay in Toledo on the way back – love it in that hill top walled city of swords and Kings, El Greco, and from what I remember – great cake! Expect plenty of photo fodder on our return.


Himself and myself will be celebrating a wedding anniversary of many moons this June, so we have decided to mark the auspicious occasion (we don’t, normally) with a trip. He suggested Rome  – I meh-ed a bit and  shrugged. Then we both thought of magical Marrakech, considered it for about, oh, 2 seconds, and promptly booked bargain flights and a splendiferous Riad to go with them. I cannot wait. A stopover at Córdoba  (ida) and Sevilla (vuelta) will complete the trip.


A weekend in May before that, to wish my mother a happy birthday and take her for a G&T, will complete my tinker travels for the first half of this year – I was there in January but she’s getting on and I am a bad, careless and vagrant daughter.


So, sit down here beside me, and tell me; how is your spring shaping up?