Travel: St David’s Hotel, Cardiff

The St David's Hotel, Cardif
The St David's Hotel, Cardif
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For eldest child and me this was a first, a whole weekend away, just the two of us. Our destination was this striking 142-room hotel which resembles a ship’s sail and occupies a great location offering panoramic views of Cardiff Bay and Penarth Marina.

The St David's Hotel, Cardiff

The St David's Hotel, Cardiff

Budget or boutique

The only AA five-star rated hotel in Cardiff, the St David’s is boutique all the way, with fine dining at the Tempus at Tides restaurant, the high end Marine Spa and stylish, elegant rooms with all mod cons and views to die for. Staff were attentive, efficient and helpful at all times and the facilities were faultless. The Marine Spa was a highlight, with children allowed to use the 15m pool between 8am and 11am and again between 3pm and 6pm. The hydrotherapy multi-jet marine pools contain water that has been treated to replicate sea water: rich in minerals and sea salt and heated to body temperature, they feel fantastic. There’s also a poolside sauna, a dry flotation tank and 11 treatment rooms, in which a range of marine-themed beauty treatments are on offer using Thalgo products.

Worth getting out of bed for

Though the beds were comfortable, we had a lot of adventures to squeeze into our short visit to Cardiff so a long lie wasn’t an option. As we had arrived late at night when it was dark, we positively bounded out of bed to enjoy the jaw-dropping views from our room’s floor-to-ceiling windows and private balcony. Fortified by a delicious continental breakfast at Tempus at Tides, we headed out to explore.

Cardiff Bay is a vibrant part of town, with Mermaid Quay home to many restaurants and bars and there’s plenty of entertainment in the Bay for children of all ages. Our first stop was Techniquest, the fantastic science discovery centre with hundreds of interactive exhibits to keep everyone entertained.

Next stop was one of the most eagerly anticipated highlights of the weekend: our visit to the Doctor Who Experience. The BBC studios where they film Doctor Who are a stone’s throw from the attraction, which adds to the excitement for fans. Beginning in the Gallifrey Museum and journeying to the heart of the Tardis, the interactive experience is engaging and fun.

After the guided part of the tour is over, there’s a lot to explore as The Doctor Who Experience also hosts the world’s most extensive collection of original Doctor Who props and artefacts. Eldest child was in his element and could happily have stayed among the exhibits for hours more than we had to spare. The future of the Doctor Who Experience is uncertain as the lease on the building ends this summer, so I urge any Whovians who have yet to visit the attraction to get to Cardiff and enjoy it while you can.

Though we could have stayed in the Bay area for the whole time, a visit to Cardiff wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Castle and the Museum which are both in the heart of the city centre. We travelled from the Bay into town on the Aquabus ferry, which felt very decadent, very James Bond. Water buses run on the hour from Mermaid Quay to Bute Park, a 56-hectare green oasis situated adjacent to Cardiff Castle.

Wining and dining

Tempus at Tides restaurant and bar serves local and seasonal fare in a beautiful setting, which makes the most of the hotel’s panoramic views – the surrounding terrace is a fabulous place to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and is great for people watching. This is a real destination restaurant, for hotel guests and locals alike, and it’s easy to see why it is so popular for celebrations. On this occasion we didn’t get to try the hotel’s renowned afternoon tea so we’ll just have to make a return trip to put that right.

Little extras

The Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom made my stay and eldest child was delighted with the elephant towel on his bed.

Guestbook comments

If you plan on dining at Tempus at Tides in the evening booking is essential (especially at weekends) as the restaurant is popular with both hotel residents and non-residents so it can get very busy.

Bethan Hughes

Flybe operates flights twice daily between Edinburgh and Cardiff, from £30.29 each way. www.flybe.com. The St David’s Hotel, Havannah Street, Cardiff CF10 5SD (02920 454045). Rooms start from £97 per night. www.thestdavidshotel.com