I Don’t do Much Else but Stay in my Hotel Room
Riddle runs away to the St David’s Hotel & Spa at its Cardiff water front location
Review by Andy Barnham
Walking into the eight story waterfront atrium that is St David’s Hotel & Spa guests are welcomed by the smell of the spa. Triangular in shape, the rooms at St David’s are located on two of the three sides with the final side enclosed by glass. The result is that all the rooms at St David’s have a view of the Bay with the glass backed atrium offering plenty of natural light as well as a view inland onto the hills surrounding Cardiff, which is especially attractive at dusk with the sun setting.
Entering our deluxe room my wife and I were greeted by a good sized space containing a king sized bed and decorated in neutral colours, with a small elephant made of towels on the firm bed offering a cute touch. Opening the curtains (curtains in the rooms are initially all closed to help avoid the solar heating and keep the rooms cool) revealed the lovely view onto Cardiff Bay with the balcony available for those who like to breathe in the sea air. While this balcony was large enough to comfortably swing a cat, the larger suites at St David’s offer balconies with space available for furniture should guests want to sit and also dine al fresco. A broad mirror added to the feeling of space in the room while in the bathroom a large shower head ensured a comfortable shower during the stay. For those who cannot avoid the temptation of hotel mini bars, as a policy St David’s keep their room fridges empty apart from water, with the option to stock the mini- bar on request for £30.
The spa at St David’s is open to the public with a separate entrance adjacent to the hotel’s revolving doors. For guests who wish to go to the spa in a dressing gown and would feel uncomfortable going outside (albeit a short hop) to use the external spa entrance, there are dedicated internal lifts, with one per wing. In addition to the spa, there is an exercise pool (with temperature set deliberately cool), a hydrotherapy pool filled with sea water and a jacuzzi. For those waiting for treatments there is a lounge with free juice bar and a gym for those who wish to indulge in fitness activities. With a relatively low ceiling, there isn’t height in the gym to juggle weights, but the gym is mercifully free from the humidity that often affects workouts next to a spa.
Needless to say due to the shape of St David’s views of Cardiff Bar are available throughout the complex with the running machines thoughtfully positioned facing out to take advantage of the local scenery. For those who like their swims and gyms relatively quiet, it is recommended to use the complex before 5pm and offices empty, otherwise they may find their hydro pool somewhat cosy. In addition to the spa facilities, St David’s also offers conference facilities with a dedicated entrance, bar and syndicate rooms.
For those eating at St David’s, the hotel offers their Tempus at Tides restaurant and bar. Set close to the interior of the hotel, the bar’s high tables and booths are comparatively dark, before progressing to the restaurant’s dining tables close to the windows and waterfront views. Assorted breads, such as olive and tomato, are offered at dinner along with a select wine list starting at £20 with the most expensive bottle priced at £195 (Krug Grande Cuvee NV). From the set menu that covered the bases well my wife and I chose the duck confit and the crayfish. My confit was tasty, while my wife loved the crayfish, calling the amount of accompanying avocado ‘decadent’.
Moving to the mains, my wife opted for the cod (soft and flakey) while I give in to temptation and went for the jacob’s ladder (beef short rib without the bone) which had been wonderfully slow cooked. For desert we went for the cheeseboard and profiteroles. The cheese selection was a mild blue (good for people who don’t like the normal strong flavour of blue cheese), a lovely herb and garlic, a cheddar and a brie all from Snowdonia Cheese Company. The three profiteroles were large and filled with light cream, topped with chocolate and salted caramel sauce. Never normally one for this desert, my wife surprised herself with a small taste of the final profiterole before then going on and completely finishing it. The courses were all generous in size so a hearty appetite is a must.
Breakfast in the mornings finishes at 10am (10.30am at weekends), perfect for those who like a late start to their day, with a wide range of cold meats and cheeses, fruits, cereals and cooked breakfast to choose from. Fried and scrambled eggs are available from the hot plate with, virtually perfect, poached eggs available on request. For those who prefer to dine away from the hotel Mermaid Quay, with a large number of wide ranging cuisines, is a 5 minute walk away.
The staff at St David’s are very international (we counted at least Welsh, Polish, French and Romanian) and incredibly friendly. While the hotel is part of a chain, it does have a certain business atmosphere to it without being overly corporate and soulless. Situated on Cardiff Bay the centre of Cardiff is easily reached via a four minute train ride from the nearby train station or a 35 minute walk for those who would like to stretch their legs. For guests preferring to stay local during their stay, the Bay is home to the Wetlands Reserve and also the Wales Millennium Centre. Those driving to the hotel should note that the hotel car park is comparatively small with St David’s charging £15 for over night parking.
Enquiries: St David’s Hotel & Spa, Havannah Street, Cardiff CF10 5SD / 02920 454045 / www.thestdavidshotel.com/