Most of us are now familiar with the term ‘staycation’ – a phrase that describes a holiday taken in your home country. This could involve a trip to the coast, the countryside, or another UK city worth exploring – but the most important element is that they take out some of the hassle, cost, and environmental impact caused by long-haul travel.
But what if you went on a ‘staycation’ even closer to home, say, in your own city for instance? I decided to give it a go, and took a ‘staycation’ in my own back yard – the centre of Cardiff – just before Christmas.
Whilst there is no doubting that is wonderful. It broadens the mind and feeds the soul; it’s exciting and (I think) essential for building open-mindedness, and awareness about the world around us.
That being said, travel is also costly, time-consuming and rather environmentally unfriendly. Whole days can be lost sitting in airports, on planes, or crammed on to trains and buses.
I decided to take a ‘staycation’ in my own back yard – the centre of Cardiff – just before Christmas, to see if you really need to ‘travel’ to enjoy an escape.
The Cardiff staycation
Our mini-break started off on a Friday night, post-work, by sniffing out a secret speakeasy in the city centre. The ‘White Rabbit’ is a pop-up, prohibition-style bar on Dumballs Road which had just opened up in mid-November.
At the time, there was a strict photography embargo at The White Rabbit in order to keep everything top secret, but if you’re planning on looking for it yourself, you can expect a dark and atmospheric little gin den; candle-lit and cosy, unlike anything else in Cardiff. It was perfect for a quick glass of celebratory bubbly before we headed off to venue #2.
Venue #2 was the Mercure Holland House Hotel. Being from Cardiff and having friends and family all over the city, it’s not very likely that I would ever need a hotel room here. But in keeping with the spirit of the mini-break, we wanted to live like tourists – so we checked in to our big, comfy double room before heading down to the bar for dinner.
The bar area in the Mercure HH Hotel has had a recent refurb and as a result it looks grand; all hipster bare-bulbs and chic, modern details – you can read more about the new design here. It was a lovely space to relax in on a Friday night and share a bottle of wine and some conversation.
The best thing about getting away is spending some quality time with your travel companion. So, after spending a few hours properly talking to each other for a change (with a phone ban and social media blackout because, as you can imagine – being a blogger, I am the worst company at dinner), I only managed to catch one snap of my food – a delicious trio of desserts.
And then it was off to bed, tipsy and full. There is always something exciting about sleeping in a hotel bed, isn’t there – even when you’re less than a mile from your actual house!
Before we knew it it was the morning – and we woke up to one of the best views of Cardiff I have ever seen.
We spent ages in bed with the curtains open, trying to spot the Cardiff landmarks, our friends houses, and all the major parks and green spaces – before munching on a breakfast of fresh fruit, and indulging in a morning dip in the heated pool.
After checking out and dumping our bags in the car, we spent the rest of the day wandering through a crisp and sunny Bute Park, and making a start on our Christmas shopping in the city centre. Miraculously, the weather stayed beautiful all day! It really was lovely.
I’ve done loads of little mini-breaks over the years, to Abergavenny, Dorset, London and West Wales – as well as further afield in Bruges, Amsterdam and Lisbon. I have always been obsessed with going somewhere – anywhere – other than Cardiff whenever I have a few days off.
It was eye-opening to spend a weekend enjoying my own city with the same excitement, enthusiasm, and commitment to ignoring my phone – indulging in a bit of ‘me time’ which I usually reserve for new places.
I’ve got a strong feeling that next time I’m in need of a recharge, I might be looking to stay a lot closer to home. Cardiff is a wonderful city to be in, after all.