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Perfect base from which to explore city (Travel Review)

Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne Airfield

It is quickly apparent that the hotel’s new interior design has drawn inspiration from Cardiff itself, a contemporary city with its roots in history. With nods to Cardiff’s Millennium Centre, Bay and Castle, the theming is permeated with Welsh copper and slate incorporating copper pendant lighting, slate feature wall and Welsh woollen upholstery.

I’m assured the refurbishment has completely transformed the public spaces. It has cleverly created intimate seating areas and uses stand-out design and reclaimed timber effect flooring to deliver a stylish and airy environment for eating, drinking, dining or lounging.

The experience gets off to a reassuring start with a warm welcome from friendly staff in the new open-plan lobby. We soon felt assured that we were in for a relaxing stay.

Dinner time gave us the perfect opportunity to sample the hotel’s new dining area. The Urban Bar and Kitchen is another open-plan space which doesn’t fail to impress. The statement booth-style seating is offset by a magnificent circular bar.

Developing the local design concept further, dock-inspired rope installations pervade the contemporary surroundings whilst marine waterways and bay enthused artwork sit alongside historical photography adorning the walls.

Inspired by a metropolitan and trendy feel, The Urban Bar & Kitchen menu pays homage to the street food revolution and the increasing influence of Asian dining. But they've still been careful to ensure there is something for everyone with specialty dishes including five spiced duck breast and tiger prawn linguini alongside welsh steak cuts and inventive burgers.

Small plates include gypsy style eggs on toast, pancetta wrapped king prawns and Pembrokeshire crab spring rolls for those looking for a delicious quick bite. Guests are encouraged to pick from the Flavours from the Cellar wine list, which includes three handpicked wines available across the Mercure Hotels in the UK carefully selected by the BBC Saturday Kitchen Masters of Wine, Susie Barrie and Peter Richards.

Ferocious appetites fully satisfied, it was time to relax in our spacious family room. The hotel offers a range of accommodation across its newly renovated 165 bedrooms, including eight corner rooms on each floor boasting floor to ceiling windows which afford terrific views across the city landscape. Unfortunately however, should your stay be within the next few months, your view from one side of this hotel will be disturbed by building site scenes as work continues to turn an old university building into housing. This won’t be in their promotional literature! No work was actually taking place on the weekend of our visit so it’s difficult to conclude whether noise pollution is a potential issue here.

Continuing the strong design feel, all bedrooms have been refurbished with quirky artwork paying homage to iconic figures linked to sporting events, including Henry VIII holding a cricket bat and the Mona Lisa clutching a rugby ball!

Each bedroom is equipped with a TV including international satellite channels; 24-hour room service and free Wi-Fi access, which is also available throughout the hotel.

The hotel is also home to the newly repositioned Spa offering therapeutic treatments, spacious 16m indoor pool, thermal suite, fully equipped gym, sauna and steam room.

Returning to the restaurant in the morning, a friendly and efficient service ensured our breakfast experience was a perfectly satisfactory one. There was a hearty and extensive selection of hot and cold foods, readily replenished. So, at the end of our very enjoyable stay at Holland House we were sent off on our way both refuelled and refreshed, ready to tackle the busy day ahead exploring the rest of the city.

This hotel has a lot going for it. Its central position, family-friendly vibe and comfortable surroundings make it the perfect base from which to explore Cardiff. Be warned though, there is limited (paid for) hotel parking.

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