It's that time of year again. When the cold winds of winter bring only Instagram-stories and Facebook check-ins from your friends scattered across a European summer. Oh, you're in Greece while I battle rain-soaked commuters on the train? Great! Oh, while I drink my third coffee of the day, you're sipping Aperol Spritz in Spain? Love that for you!
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But even if you can't afford to take two months off work and hoon around Croatia on a yacht, it's still important to take time out for yourself in winter. Chilly weather, driving rain, and bleak skies can play havoc on our moods, and seasonal depression and burnout are rife at this time of year.
The great thing about a staycation is there's no travel time, it's less expensive, and you can arrive back at work on Monday without taking any annual leave - but feeling just as rested. Perhaps even more so; how many times have you said, "I need a holiday from my holiday!"?
I got to take my own little staycation recently, thanks to Accor Hotels and their 'wintervention' promotion, (yes, my job rules, please ignore me) and it was fab. Here are my recommendations.
Staying at a hotel is usually something reserved for work trips or overseas vacations, but barely ever in your own city. But leaving work on a Friday knowing I was heading to the Pullman rather than my own Grey Lynn home put a shine on the whole day. It felt like I was going on holiday - but without the anxiety about getting to the airport five hours early (standard for me).
Revel in it all - the fluffy robes, the Nespresso machine, the little chocolates left out for you. It's your getaway weekend - enjoy it!
Eat at your hotel's buffet breakfast and take no prisoners. Honestly - how often do you get to enjoy a buffet? Take five plates if you want - it's only one weekend so forget calories even exist. At the Pullman buffet, there's a chef who literally will make you anything you want (within reason) - leading to a bizarre mix of eggs, sausages, pancakes, oatmeal and mini-pastries on our table. My favourite thing about a buffet is you can eat all of the CHEESE at BREAKFAST. A revelation.
I also indulged in a little room service - even as an adult the novelty of ordering food to my bed has not left me. Of course, if you do so it's a requirement you eat an entire pastry basket to yourself. Look, I don't make the rules.
Be a tourist in your own city! Forget errands and jobs and friends you've been putting off seeing exist. Make a list of things you've always wanted to do in your own town, but never done. Go up the Sky Tower, or hit the zoo.
Don't be afraid to take advantage of the amenities. At our hotel, there was a gym which I went for a brief foray into (not required), but also a pool, sauna and steam room. It's a novelty to have those things at your fingertips, just downstairs!
Even though you're in your home city, when you're kicking it solo in the sauna, you could be anywhere in the world. We were also treated to an indulgent couples massage, and honestly, a deep tissue massage with coconut oils is the best way to warm up on a grizzly Auckland day.
Again it's one weekend - and splashing out on some pampering is still cheaper than the cheapest of overseas economy flights.
Sarah and her partner stayed at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland and enjoyed a Wintervention, thanks to Accorhotels.com. Book a mini-breakaway somewhere in NZ and get $25 off per night plus $1 hot breakfast.