Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa Review

2 weeks ago I decided that it would be a bloody good idea to take my best friend away for her 50th birthday (lol Adele I'm so funny). I also decided that I would quite enjoy a little spa break; present for her, present for me! I was off for a week of annual leave after the wedding so I decided that I'd look for somewhere we could go for the night for a bit of a pamper sesh.

I used http://www.spabreaks.com/ and decided that I would look for a venue in Cardiff, mainly because I grew up there and would have a rough idea of how to get there easily and where to go once we arrived. I settled on the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa; the hotel was in the city centre with a Revs nearby and it had an in-house spa. The deal that Spa Breaks.com offered was amazing; an overnight stay, a 25 minute spa treatment, a 3 course evening meal AND breakfast included the next day. I paid less than £200 for both of us which quite frankly is an amazing deal.

We arrived at the hotel in really good time (straight down the M4 from Reading to Cardiff) and the hotel was really easy to find. It had a carpark on site (which, coincidentally, showed as "Full" but we entered anyway and there were loads of spaces) and elevators straight up to the lobby.

Check-in wasn't as quick as I'd like, however the hotel staff showed us to a seat and we were able to pop our bags down while we waited for the other guests to be processed. I think there was some sort of conference on at the time which I imagine slowed the process. The lady who checked us in was lovely, and even recommended some good bars for us to visit that evening when we asked her what was around.

Our room was plenty big enough for two and was spotlessly clean. I think we ended up with a disabled access double room rather than the twin room I had requested. This didn't bother us immensely as we realised that the toilet had a handy holding-rail next to it which made drunk peeing very much safer when we got back from town. I'm considering installing one at home.

We checked in at 2pm, dropped our bags off and headed down to the spa for our treatments at 3pm. I'd booked us in for facials. The spa was a DECLÉOR spa and, from what I saw, exclusively used DECLÉOR products. I'd never used them before but I have to say it was fantastic. The lady that did my facial was absolutely perfect- she asked me lots of questions about my skin and my skincare regime and chose her products based on my answers (combination skin, cleanse and tone at night). She recommended that I buy some night-moisturiser (which I've since done!) and gave me tips throughout the facial. When she finished I felt so absolutely relaxed and my skin felt incredible. I really wish I could remember her name, I think it began with a G? If you read this, "G", I hope your white water rafting went well!

The facilities at the spa were impressive. We were handed some lovely robes and slippers and taken to a Relaxation Room which was a calm, darkened room full of huge lounger beds and blankets. We were shown to a free tea and coffee machine and were told we could relax in the room all day if we wanted to. After our facials we popped down to the pool which had a gorgeous Jacuzzi attached to it. Being pasty and white, I soon found the Jacuzzi too hot and stepped into the pool instead. It was very clean and very quiet (no kids!) and I would have loved to have stayed in the spa longer.

We popped back to the room to shower and get ready for dinner. Dinner was served in the hotel restaurant and we had a set menu to choose 3 courses from. I had duck to start, a chicken dish for main and sorbet for dessert. The food was gorgeous and we watched it being prepared and freshly plated up by the Chef as the front of the kitchen is open so that you can see the meals come together. In some cases where you have food included in a package I've found that it is very limited in terms of choice and is often quite dull and rushed. This was all freshly made and piping hot, and with immaculate attention to detail. We headed into Cardiff town centre after dinner and I'll skip past the next 6 disgusting, wine-fuelled hours.

When we got back to the hotel we decided that we wanted to eat everything that the hotel would bring us. We ordered room service (a few sandwiches) which arrived promptly. One thing I would say is that we paid £18 for 2 sandwiches (this includes a £5 service charge for room service) and what we got was certainly far from value for money. The crisps weren't real crisps (vegetables crisps aren't crisps Mercure!) and the sandwiches could have been from a Sainsbury meal-deal packet. However, it is standard for hotels to capitalise on a late-night order so I expected to pay a lot; I just wished we'd received a little more food on the plate.

The next morning we headed down to breakfast which, thank GOD, was a full fry up. I think that serving a continental breakfast to guests who have "Breakfast Included" is borderline fraud. Thankfully, the Mercure served an amazing full hot breakfast along with toast, name-brand cereals, yoghurts, fresh fruit, croissants and eggs. We compensated for our £18 sandwiches by emptying the breakfast cart and checked out very easily and swiftly.

The Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa (bit of a mouthful guys!) was such a welcome break and I came home feeling totally relaxed and also like I'd got a great deal and treated my friend to a fun birthday night away. I'd love to head back to that Relaxation Room; I'd really recommend booking via Spa Breaks to get the package deal as our expenses were so low once we arrived. Job well done, Mercure! We can't wait to come back!

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