Having lived in Cardiff for the majority of my life, I’ve never booked a hotel room in the city before. But when I was invited along to the Mercure Holland House Hotel and Spa on Newport Road, Cardiff to sample Urban Bar and Kitchen restaurant’s new Spring menu, I was more than happy to take up the offer of a complimentary overnight stay – I mean, it was that or waddle home like a pregnant duck in my heels after stuffing my face with food.
Owned by the Accor Hotels group, the 4-star Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel is one of over 700 hotels belonging to the Mercure brand worldwide. With 165 bedrooms and 15 meeting rooms spread across 15 floors, the hotel offers unrivalled views of Cardiff city centre. In addition, guests can enjoy a work-out in a fully equipped gym, or spend the day relaxing in the spa. Having recently undergone a complete revamp, the hotel’s classy new interiors have a nautical theme inspired by Cardiff’s rich docklands history.
Our spacious L-shaped bedroom had pictures of Cardiff Bay landmarks next to our comfy twin beds and the tall, wide windows meant that the room was flooded with natural light. There was a wall-mounted TV, a large wooden desk which could come in handy if you needed to get some work done or double up as a dressing table if (like me) you have a tendency to travel with so many products, they won’t all fit in the bathroom, and a seating area complete with a visitor’s guide to Cardiff.
In addition, our room included a classy en-suite bathroom with both a bath and a shower, a large wash basin accompanied by fresh flannels and a selection of toiletries including shower gel, shampoo and soap, sitting on traditional Welsh slate.
After checking out our room, we headed downstairs to the bar for a wine tasting session featuring a variety of wines from Mercure’s Flavours of the Cellar range.
As we sipped on the different wines, we nibbled on samples of the starters or ‘small plates’ from the menu. These included dukkha spiced goats cheese, soup of the day, tempura battered monkfish, lamb spring rolls and ham hock, honey and mustard terrine and my personal favourites; hot, juicy braised pork belly, and Scottish oak-smoked salmon roulade filled with herby crème fraîche, rye toast, micro fennel, lemon and shallot oil.
For our main course, we moved into the Urban Bar and Kitchen restaurant (pictured below in daylight) and sat at a table with the rest of our group, which included fellow bloggers and media professionals.
Considering the size of our party (there must have been at least 20 of us), the service was pretty efficient and all of our orders were served as requested. I opted for the poached and roasted chicken supreme; a succulent chicken breast stuffed with aromatic sun-dried tomato and mozzarella, accompanied by a chicken lollipop in crispy breadcrumbs and a smoked aubergine and potato croquette. I really enjoyed the spectrum of flavours in this dish and although it was presented in the style of fine dining it had a real ‘comfort food’ feel to it; the potato croquette evoked memories of dinner at my Nan’s house and school dinners served on plastic trays.
My guest ordered the braised and pressed Blyth Burgh Farm pork belly, served on a bed of roasted Granny Smith apple and spring onion mash, accompanied by braised savoy cabbage, Chantenay carrots, celeriac purée and gravy, topped with a crispy bacon rasher. This looked irresistible and if the pork belly we tried for starters was anything to go by, I’m sure this tasted divine.
For dessert, we tried miniature versions of the dishes available on the menu including lemon and thyme panna cotta, baked vanilla cheesecake and a cheese board complete with grapes, celery, quince jelly and spiced apple chutney. I was particularly fond of the cheesecake, topped with topped with a thick trail of caramel and served with fresh strawberries and meringue.
After retiring to our room to go to sleep after enjoying one too many drinks in the bar, we woke up feeling slightly worse for wear the following morning. Breakfast in Urban Bar and Kitchen was the perfect hangover cure. We could choose from a full English breakfast, freshly baked pastries, fresh meats and cheeses or cereals, as well as the option of dishes cooked to order, like Eggs Benedict. I couldn’t make up my mind so I went for a pain au chocolat, a croissant, a slice of Gouda cheese and cooked ham, followed by a full cooked breakfast (all that was missing was the black pudding)! Okay, so that was just slightly over-indulgent of me, but when in
Rome the Mercure Holland House Hotel…
After breakfast, we returned to our room and changed into our swimming costumes and the white robes and towelling slippers provided by the hotel, before heading down to the spa on the ground floor. We had a swim in the pool and I tried out the sauna and the steam rooms, but had to get out after about five minutes as I tend to get a headache if I stay in them for too long. We were looking forward to relaxing in the jacuzzi, but unfortunately it was out of use at the time of our visit.
We spent a blissful hour or so relaxing on the beds next to the pool, before heading back to our room and packing up our belongings in time for our check-out at 12pm. It was difficult to fault our stay at the Mercure Holland House Hotel and I would definitely consider staying here if I needed to book a hotel near Cardiff city centre in future. I’m also going to sign up as a gym member, which means I will be able to use the swimming pool and spa as well; after all, I need to burn off that big breakfast I demolished – and I am yet to test out that jacuzzi for myself!
To book a stay at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa, please click here.
Have you ever visited Cardiff? What did you think of the city and where did you stay?
Mercure Holland House Hotel and Spa
24-26 Newport Road
(029) 2043 5000
I was invited to the Mercure Holland House Hotel Cardiff as a guest and we received complimentary food, drinks and an overnight stay. However, I was not obliged to write a positive review of our experience.
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