Friday, 24 October 2014

Village Urban Resorts Cardiff

It doesn't happen very often that Daddy and I get a weekend to ourselves, and actually have something to do with our time.  Squeaky does visit my parents for sleepovers, but normally we've got nothing planned other than a swift pint in the local, and an undisturbed lie in.  However, some times, things just come together, and so it happened that we had the opportunity to visit the Village's Cardiff Urban Resort.  Even better when school announced an inset day to coincide with our trip, so Squeaky got longer with my folks, and we got more time to enjoy the facilities.

Now, I've eaten here a couple of times, but never had the chance to stay overnight before.  It's pretty close to home, but who says an escape has to be a long journey?  A retreat on your doorstep can be a really valuable concept.  And so, the Village.  The part of me that lives close by wonders why the hotel is just off the motorway, and just off the dual carriageway that forms my main route into the city centre. But then the sensible part of me remembers that hotels are located in places that are accessible for people who are travelling to them, and so the location is actually pretty much spot on.  It's a couple of miles out of the centre of Cardiff, which means it's not going to fill up with party-goers running up and down the corridors all night looking for their friends (and I've stayed in enough of those kind of hotels over the years), though it is a popular wedding venue, so it can get quite busy with groups over the weekend.

I love these cushions

We checked in on Friday lunchtime, and found plenty of parking space - always a good sign, and something of a rarity for city hotels, another bonus of being outside the city centre.  The hotel is pretty popular for business conferences and training events too, and they've clearly planned well with the large car park.  Our room was ready for us, even though we were earlier than the advertised check in of 3pm, and I was worryingly excited about the fact that we were staying in the "adults only" Upper Deck - the second (and top) floor of the hotel, with upgraded rooms, sky movies, a Starbucks hospitality tray, and lots of little touches to make this a real treat.  We don't get a night away from Squeaky all that often, so it was great to be just ourselves.  The room appeared newly decorated in a subtle modern style, and had everything you'd expect from a quality hotel - large flat-screen TV, plenty of seating space, hairdryer, an iron & ironing board, even an iPod dock, and a very special little welcome.

What a welcome
We set off from our room to experience the Viva spa, situated in the lower ground floor (I'm sure these floors used to be called basements!).  Due to errr, privacy, child protection, and risk of damage to your eyeballs, there are no pictures of me having a massage or in a swimming costume.  But just to make you jealous, I had a glorious 40 minute Lifesaving Back Treatment, my therapist Jessica was friendly and made the world of difference to my aching shoulders, and I floated out on cloud nine in a waft of Espa scented oils.  Life is good some days.  From the spa it was a couple of steps, wrapped up in my fluffy robe to the Velocity health club.  A gym (but I was really not feeling that energetic), pool, with jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.  I could spend all day in a steam room, given the choice.

That sadly wasn't possible, for the best reason, of course.  Dinner.  Our dinner reservation in the Verve restaurant had me slightly confused because there seems to be some rebranding between Verve and Vinny and Vito's, and I can't quite tell which way it's going.  Anyway, Verve is what our reservation said, so Verve it is.  The menu was kept simple, but with loads of intense and varied flavours.  With at least 4 vegetarian starters and main courses, there was a good choice, and I couldn't wait to get stuck in.  I opted for the caramelised onion & feta tartlet to start with, and couldn't have picked better if I'd been in the kitchen.  (At this point I have to apologise because I really couldn't take photos of Daddy's dinner across the table before he tucked in.)

Caramelised onion and feta tartlet
The buttery pastry of the tart, along with the generous amount of cheese was washed down with a crisp, dry New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, as I eyed up the meals arriving at the tables around me. The steaks definitely appeared to be popular, Daddy opted for the sirloin steak and chips which he declared to be perfect, whilst I pretended to be health conscious and chose a salmon fillet with new potatoes.  I was quite torn before I ordered this as the salsa contains coriander, and I'm really not a fan.  I'm glad I did though, because the coriander was light and didn't overpower the other flavours, giving the salmon a fresh edge and a really attractive presentation.

Salmon fillet with mango, coriander and chilli salsa
After a very relaxed night's sleep, we headed back to the Verve restaurant for breakfast.  I was only disappointed that I couldn't sit within view of the toast machine, because that is by far my favourite thing about buffet breakfasts.  However, the clientèle of the Village seemed to be a touch more competent than most, and there wasn't even a hint of flame coming out of it.  There was, on the other hand, a lovely selection of cooked breakfast, plus cereals, pastries, fruit, yogurts, and mini chocolate muffins which seemed to be going down a storm with the younger guests.  I was worryingly excited to be sat under one of the quirky light fittings I'd spotted the evening before, and took the opportunity for a cheeky photo.  Now I want to redecorate my kitchen.  I need these lights in my life.

Cool lighting
The Village is in a great location for exploring the scenery to the north of Cardiff. As well as being a spit away from Daddy's former employers, and only a mile away from his current work, it sits in the shadow of Castell Coch, a 19th Century Gothic Revival castle built on the ruins of an older castle on side of the mountain, and a regular location for TV filming.  Dr Who, The Worst Witch and Merlin have all filmed there, amongst others.  It rises up like a red fairy tale (Castell Coch is Welsh for Red Castle, you can see why) from the trees, and never fails to take my breath away.  Caerphilly is also only a stone's thrown away, as well as the sights of Cardiff, and the Brecon Beacons slightly further north.  And if you head that way, call in for a cuppa on your way past my house, and I'll tell you all the best places to go for bargains and cake!

Castell Coch
I loved the consistency of the V theme throughout the hotel. something that could be cheesy. but it's so well done with a hint of humour, and carried on through hashtags on their twitter feed as well.  A little bit of fun goes a long way.  We had a great night at Village's Cardiff hotel, and I'd be absolutely over the moon to go back, now I just need to find an excuse!

Disclosure: I was invited to be a guest at the hotel free of charge, and provided with a spa treatment and meal in the restaurant for the purposes of this review. I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme and will not receive reward for their use.

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