Review: A staycation at the Mercure Holland House Hotel, Cardiff


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, long haul travel is also costly, time-consuming and environmentally unfriendly. Whole days can be lost sitting in airports, on planes, or crammed on to trains, planes and automobiles.

The perils of long haul travel - backpacks and back ache!

The perils of long haul travel – backpacks and back ache!

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. 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.

Artwork in the Mercure HH Hotel hallways!

Artwork in the Mercure HH Hotel hallways!

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.

Trio of desserts - creme brulee, apple crumble and chocolate brownie. Stuffed!

Trio of desserts – creme brulee, apple crumble and chocolate brownie. Stuffed!

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. 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 AbergavennyDorset, 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.


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