Meet Laura-Ann Barr - the host of Sleepovers at Novotel

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Sleepovers at Novotel on balancing work, wellness and family - hosted by Laura Ann Barr

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Laura-Ann Barr is a savvy businesswoman, as well as a mum to three gorgeous boys. Based in the Irish countryside, she shares snapshots of her family life, fashion and home design via her Instagram and TikTok channels.


Laura-Ann is also the host of Sleepovers, a new podcast series from Novotel, designed to help listeners relax and unwind from daily stress. Over the course of four episodes, Laura-Ann expertly navigates discussions with guests, centred around living well.


We sat down to speak about her vision of wellness, favourite sleeping rituals and top tips for travelling as a family with Novotel.


The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


What does wellness (or living well) mean to you personally?


As a family of five, structure and routine are very important. We love to get outdoors and walk as a family every day, whatever the weather. Another priority for us is sleep, although with three young kids that can be a bit of a challenge!


Nourishment has a double meaning in our household: yes, we include lots of fruit and vegetables in our daily diet but I also believe that surrounding yourself with uplifting people has a positive impact on your day to day actions and how you feel in yourself.


We end the day on a positive note at the dinner table, with everyone sharing three favourite things about their day.


What are your tips on finding a balance between work, family and life?


Good time management is key for me. One positive of being self-employed is that I can work around the kids. So, getting up early in the morning or after I’ve tucked them into bed. However, on the flip side, I do have to remind myself to wind down and switch off.


I think that letting go of “mum guilt”, which many of us feel, frees up a lot of head space. Just accepting that there will be days when nothing goes to plan.


Asking for help is another important element–it takes a village. I’m grateful for the supportive network of friends and family around me and love it when they reach out for help. None of us can pour from an empty cup, right?


When you schedule some “me time”, what does that look like?


There’s a great quote from Novotel that resonates: “When you're on top of your game, your business and personal lives thrive too”. I’ve noticed that “me time” always has a positive impact on both my family life and professional projects.


I’d start the day with a cup of tea and listen to a favourite podcast or audiobook.

Then I’d sit down to do some travel planning–we love to travel as a family–because it is key to things going smoothly. Potential destinations, Novotel hotels, family-friendly activities to do there–I enjoy the planning part as much as the holiday itself!


I’d then head to a reformer Pilates class, which I started a couple of years ago. I want the boys to see me prioritise exercise in my weekly routine. And then schedule time with friends. Having a proper catch-up (without the kids) with girlfriends is such a luxury.


When you need some creative inspiration, where do you look?


Nature! I run a faux floral company, so nature is a huge inspiration for me. Also, a good night’s sleep is key to me staying on top of my creative game.


What do you love about sleeping at a Novotel hotel?


Novotel’s passion for wellness is clear. Their attention to detail helps the stress to float away as soon as you step inside their hotels.


One thing I love about each Novotel stay is how well I sleep, thanks to the comfy mattresses and nice, crisp bed linen–there’s no better feeling.


Their bedside reading lamps are so practical. If the kids are staying in the same room as us, we can read in bed without interrupting their sleep.


Oh, and the Rituals products in the bathroom! The scents are so relaxing.


The Novotel breakfasts are brilliant. There’s such a great variety of food, with plenty of healthy options available. I always order the green smoothie when I’m at the London Bridge location. On holiday, the boys definitely indulge in waffles and maple syrup some mornings.


What are some of your top sleep strategies after a long day? (at home or on holiday)


Part of my winding down process involves planning the next day. At home in Ireland, that looks like warehouse visits, calls with the suppliers and school meetings. On holiday, that’s having an idea of where we’ll head after a delicious Novotel breakfast.


I also have a no phone rule 30 minutes before lights off. I’ll read a few pages of a book before settling down to sleep. (Laura-Ann’s current read is Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty, which she recommends).


And I do like a pillow spray. The hubby laughs at me but I love the power of a relaxing scent.


What kind of traveller are you?


We love to travel as a family. Because Chris and I both work full-time, travelling is such an important moment where we like to switch off and create amazing memories together.


I’d say we’re a combination of adventure and culture travellers. For example, we recently went to Barcelona for a long weekend. The Novotel hotel has a great central location (and a rooftop pool, which impressed the boys). The mix of city life and the beach really suited us, as you get the best of both worlds.


Something else I loved about the Novotel hotel in Barcelona was the dedicated kids area–so practical when you’re waiting for your taxi or giving the map one last check in the morning. The boys could pull out a book or keep themselves busy with a toy while they waited.


Any top tips for travelling as a family?


Here are a couple of things that I have learnt along the way, travelling as a family of five!


Pack light: the extra baggage will, literally, weigh you down.

Slow down: when you’re travelling with kids, you can’t see and do everything. Accept that you will do less but savour every moment spent as a family.

Eat breakfast: can you tell I’m obsessed with the Novotel breakfasts? It will set you up for the day.

Adjoining rooms: we love Novotel’s 50% discount for adjoining rooms, so the boys can have their own space while staying close. But some nights, we create a sleepover vibe in our room, which we love!

Give the kids a camera: it is amazing to see what they capture.

Down time: trust me, everyone will be happier and you avoid over-stimulated children.


Travel or wellness trends you’re excited to try in 2024?


I'm going to be enjoying more slow travel. No expectations, loose plans, and coming back home feeling well-rested and nourished.


And more Novotel breakfasts: green smoothies, granola and porridge, here I come!


Countries or cities that you want to visit in 2024?


Amsterdam is high on the list. I’d love to go during tulip season.


As a family, we have our eyes on Italy. Specifically, Milan, and then some hiking in the Dolomites.


We have family in Scotland, so we will go visit them and squeeze in a trip to Edinburgh on the way there or back.


We don’t usually go away for Christmas but we’re thinking of doing that this year. Somewhere warm, like Thailand.


And I’d love to have a romantic weekend in Paris with Chris this year.


What are some memorable moments from recording with the Sleepovers guests?


I loved chatting to all of the guests and hearing their life stories and experiences. They lifted the lid on some important topics, which listeners will get a lot out of–I certainly did.


Lauren McDermott shared some great wind-down tips for your evening routine. She also had a very funny book recommendation for bedtime reading, which I won’t spoil for you.


Estera Pawlak was so inspiring. She’s been through a lot on a personal level and spoke about the importance of her health and wellness journey.


Jack McCann is a cool creative, who shared tips on slowing down when on holiday and how to get great travel pictures.


I’m quite in awe of Nicole Corrales, who moved from Brazil to the UK to raise a family. She shared some wonderful advice on how to nurture relationships with your family when they’re so far away.


Honestly, with each guest, we forgot we were recording a lot of the time. The Novotel team had to politely ask us to stop talking! I think this natural, chatty vibe will make each episode an easy listen for people.

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