Hi everyone, I’m back from the most amazing holiday and can’t wait to tell you all about it. After 14 years together my husband and I took our first ever ‘proper’ holiday lasting a full 5 nights. Yes, even our honeymoon didn’t last that long! Last week we toured from the west coast to the east coast, staying in gorgeous hotels and enjoying the best visitor attractions that Britain has to offer. Today I’d love to share some photos of the highlight of my trip with you – a visit to The Blackpool Tower Ballroom. If you’ve been reading my blog over the past 6 months, you’ll probably have noticed that I’ve mentioned The Blackpool Tower Ballroom a few times. I’ve written a couple of blog posts (what an understatement!) about learning to dance ever since I started taking swing and lindy hop classes last June and I’ve mentioned my first ballroom lessons earlier in the year. And in pretty much every post I’ve written about dancing, I’ve also chatted about my ambition to strut my stuff on the dance floor of this famous ballroom.
So when we decided to take a trip up north during the half term holiday, I was determined to visit The Blackpool Tower Ballroom and make my dreams come true! I booked in for afternoon tea over the Valentine’s weekend and I excitedly planned my outfit – just what does one wear to such a prestigious venue? Is it all glitzy sequins or would it be holiday-makers in casual clothes? Was there an actual dress code at all?
I did my research and found out that ballroom shoes were not required to dance on the famous sprung dance floor, and I was confident that my choice of a vintage-inspired tea dress by Trollied Dolly would be suitable for the occasion. It was dressy enough for a formal dance, it was pretty enough for an afternoon tea date with the love of my life and, most importantly, the skirt flared out nicely when I twirled around in it!
You may have spotted a blog post last week about packing up my suitcase and I don’t mind admitting that I was all packed and ready to go 4 days early, with my new nightwear from Debenhams for Valentine’s Day, dancing shoes and even my toiletries packed! So when Saturday came, I was super-excited to be driving north and we loudly sang along to The Beatles (hubby’s choice) and The Disney Experience album (you’ll never guess who chose this one…) on the four-hour journey to Blackpool.
After checking in to The Imperial Hotel on the promenade we took a tram ride along the seafront to The Blackpool Tower Ballroom and hopped off right outside the famous landmark. To celebrate Valentine’s weekend, the tower was lit up with a rainbow-coloured heart illumination and the excitement mounted as we rode the lift up to the ballroom level.
Having only ever seen the ballroom on TV before, I couldn’t have imagined what it was like in real life. All I can say is that it is breathtaking! Ornate, delicate and downright glitzy is the best description I can come up with for the ballroom – just look at these photos and you can get an idea of how flamboyant the decor is!
We were led to a front row table for our afternoon tea and steaming pots of coffee and tea were promptly delivered, with three tiers of cakes, scones and sandwiches arriving soon after. Of course, I didn’t let hubby tuck into the food until I’d taken a couple of snaps, but I couldn’t hold off for long myself, and we were soon munching on chicken sandwiches and carrot cake. The scones were irresistible with real clotted cream, and my favourites were these delicate posh fondant fancies.
It was fantastic entertainment just to watch the dancers on the floor while we indulged in a delicious afternoon tea, and the Wurlitzer music was mesmerizing. I’ve never felt so very British in my life! After watching about an hour of dancing – and some very serious dancing at that – we decided that we couldn’t hold off any longer. We wanted to get on the dance floor and throw some shapes.
So with butterflies in my stomach, my husband led me onto the dance floor and took me in his arms. I would love to say that we waltzed around the ballroom like a pair of professional dancers, gracefully rising and falling, and doing effortless turns. However, the reality was a few false starts as we waited for a space, and when we got to the corners we sometimes needed to stop and start again, rather than sweeping around the floor! We also got stuck in the dance floor ‘traffic’ a few times and ended up in a bit of a pile-up at times, but at least we didn’t fall over or lose a shoe – although what a Cinderella moment that would have been!
Luckily, the music changed to a fast quickstep and we could head off the dance floor and get back to watching how the professionals do it. It was really interesting to watch young ballroom dancers who were training and developing new complex routines. And it was equally intriguing to watch couples who had clearly been dancing together for a lifetime and could glide around the dance floor with very little effort at all. One day that will be me and my husband, but for now we were sticking with the foxtrot and a slightly wobbly waltz.
There was only one non-sequence foxtrot while we were there, and this is the dance we’d been learning the most, so we didn’t really get to ‘show off’ our moves much, but we did improve our waltzing massively. Okay, we’d only ever had one half-an-hour waltz lesson before attempting it at the Tower Ballroom, but after that first stumble around the dance floor we managed to work out a rhythm and by the end of the four hours we spent at the ballroom, we were able to waltz around the room and I felt like a proper princess!
I don’t know if I should admit to this, because I’m not sure it’s the ‘done thing’ at The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, but we actually danced a little lindy hop in the middle of the dance floor! As the Wurlitzer started pumping out a jive tune, my husband’s eyes lit up and we realised that this was the perfect beat for swing dancing. So, even though we were a little worried that we might get kicked out, we jumped up and flung ourselves around the ballroom for three minutes. Luckily, no-one seemed to mind, and we finally felt like we’d had a ‘proper’ dance on that famous dance floor.
That evening we retired to our seafront hotel and enjoyed a little luxury at The Imperial, Blackpool. We were welcomed in a very grand lobby filled with chandeliers and even a trip to the ladies ‘powder room’ was suitably grand! The hotel overlooks Blackpool promenade and is close to the famous north pier, so it’s only a few minutes walk away from the town centre and visitor attractions. Again, I felt like a princess as we headed up the sweeping staircase to our first floor room overlooking the sea.
We were lucky enough to be staying in a suite, so on top of the king-size bedroom (that was in fact bigger than our living room at home!) we also had a little living room. This lounge area had a dining table, sofa and even a fireplace so we were able to put up our tired feet (from all that dancing) and chill out for the evening.
The suite that we were staying in had a long history of famous residents, including Sir Harold Wilson, Lord Sebastian Coe, and iconic singer Vera Lynn even lived in the suite for months while entertaining the town during a summer season. I can see why such famous names would have stayed in this suite for prolonged periods of time; I would be quite happy to live in this dual aspect apartment for the foreseeable future!
The famous residents are listed outside the room, but while my husband and I were showing my mum the list on Facetime, we accidentally locked ourselves out of the room. Explaining that at reception was a little embarrassing, but they reassured us that it happens all the time. In fact, the hotel is so proud of its history and former residents that it even has a ‘Library of the Stars’ containing biographies of all the famous faces that have stayed in the Imperial over the years.
After a restful night’s sleep in a bed so vast that I wasn’t sure my husband was even sleeping in it with me, we got up for a morning swim and Jacuzzi in the hotel’s spa. No, we didn’t use the gym – we’re on holiday! But we did enjoy a huge cooked and continental breakfast before checking out and heading to the Lake District on the next leg of our trip.
The next part of our holiday will have to wait for another blog post, I think I’ve shared enough for one day – it’s almost as if you’ve been there on holiday with me! Let me know what you got up to for Valentine’s Day this year, and please get in touch if you too have been to the Tower Ballroom – what did you think of it? And did you get up and dance??
Enjoy an overnight stay at The Imperial Hotel in a double room from £51 per person, based on two adults sharing.
Alternatively, stay in a Suite from £115 per person, also based on two adults sharing.
For more information or to book, please call The Hotel Collection on 0800 652 8413 or visit www.thehotelcollection.co.uk