Hotel review

Hotel Review: voco St David’s Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff’s modernization is somewhat of a work in progress. Cardiff Bay Road is dotted with old industrial buildings, many of which have long been abandoned or converted into something else. But the Millennium Stadium andDoctor Who effect” have played a part in introducing many to the joys of the Welsh capital.

There’s a lot to enjoy in this city, with more to come, and voco St. David’s is a five-star base from which to explore it all.

why stay here

The voco St. David’s is an impressive building. It’s a bit too stylish to “weave”, but it’s certainly big enough to have a considerable presence. Basically, it looks like someone cut a piece off one of those oversized cruise ships and tied it to shore – and the result is a beautiful view of the water across the bay.

The exterior rooms have nice balconies (where you can, if you wish, please all your “king of the world!” Titanic fantasies) – plus a very elegant and spacious interior that is once again reminiscent of a vast ocean liner. Add a pool/spa, bar, extensive food court (again overlooking the water) and very charming and friendly staff and you have a modern five star that is very easy to explore from this bustling city.

The Admiral Restaurant & Bar

Eat and drink

The hotel’s bar and restaurant is The Admiral, a large but thoughtful space that, in the hotel’s words, is ‘eclectic’. As someone who has suffered multiple culinary disasters under this particular description, I am happy to say that is not the case here.

The menu, for the most part, is a list of classics that will please everyone and where possible celebrate the Welsh pantry, not to mention Welsh heritage. This is certainly the case with cawl croquettes served in brown gravy, which can be the perfect Welsh sea bass snack: fried, crispy and potato-based, with a rich filling of the classic local stew.

Elsewhere there are references to sources and purveyors, from Caerphilly cheese on grilled asparagus to enjoyable Pembrokeshire crab cakes and assorted meat dishes from Cefn Mawr Farm. Less successful was a Tandoori cod burger that had either seen inside the tandoor too long or sat under a heat lamp for many minutes before I arrived. Whatever the reason, it was less “cod burger” and more “coaster in a bun”. And, while this dish should never have come out of the kitchen, kudos to the excellent server who spotted my disappointment from afar, agreed with my diagnosis (hard not to when the burger doesn’t could not even be cut with a knife), offered several solutions, raised the issue of the kitchen and removed the item from the invoice.

Problems arise in busy kitchens, people; it’s how they are treated that sets restaurants apart and this was a great response. The accompanying fries are very nice, as are the broccoli (perfectly cooked) with smoked garlic and shallots. And the Bara Brith bread and butter pudding is a real bonus. In the morning, the space becomes the scene of an extensive (and decent) breakfast buffet.

Relax at the spa and pool at voco St. David's in Cardiff

What to do

As mentioned above, this hotel is an ideal location for exploring the city of Cardiff, as it is a short drive away – or, if you fancy, a 30 minute walk (along the river) – from the center or the Principality stadium. The immediate landscape – the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve – is also a pleasant space for a walk.

As mentioned above, the voco St. David’s has a rather fancy spa with a decent-sized pool and spacious sauna. There is also a wide range of treatments available, from beauty treatments (using ishga products) to slightly more intense massages, as well as a recently launched selection of treatments for men. I can highly recommend the ishga hot stone massage which was blissful 50 minutes. Or, indeed, 20 minutes of mindful bliss, and I guess/hope they did the extra 30 minutes while I was snoring.

Aerial view of Cardiff Bay

Getting There

The hotel is a relatively easy drive from the M4, a 20 minute walk (or a short taxi ride) from Cardiff Central Station and 21km/25 minutes from Cardiff Airport. And if you have access to a helicopter, Cardiff Heliport is only a ten minute drive away…

voco St. David’s Cardiff, Havannah Street, Cardiff CF10 5SD;

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