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Best spa hotels in Cardiff for a relaxing 2023 city break

Whether it’s a couple’s retreat or family-friendly fun, the Welsh capital should be on your radar for a spa break

Ross Clarke
Wednesday 26 April 2023 15:51 BST
Hydrotherapy pools and other restorative treatments will make for an enviable city staycation
Hydrotherapy pools and other restorative treatments will make for an enviable city staycation (Lewis Fackrell Photography)

The Welsh capital might not be the first place that comes to mind for a well-earned spa break, but with plentiful green spaces, historical sights, cultural activities, an innovative food and drink scene, and stand-out spa hotels, Cardiff is well worth adding to your list.

Easily accessible by plane, train and road, Cardiff is the ideal spot for getting away from it all while still being in the heart of the action.

The city centre is compact, and all major sights are within easy walking distance, from Cardiff Castle to the Principality Stadium, Cardiff Bay to the Cardiff International Arena.

Over the past few years, Cardiff has also blossomed into a gourmet hotspot, thanks to a raft of independent restaurants, cafes and wine bars filling the pretty Victorian arcades and historic streets. Add to that the city’s impressive live music and sports scenes and you’ll be sure to find something to keep everyone happy, leaving you time to sit back, relax and enjoy these top-notch spas and health clubs.

Best hotel for a little luxury: Voco St David’s Cardiff

Neighbourhood: Cardiff Bay

The 142 rooms and suites overlook the water (

With its iconic sail (or is it a wave?) roof, Voco St David’s has taken its place on the roster of architectural symbols – alongside the Millennium Centre, Pierhead Building, and Senedd – that define Cardiff Bay. What was once an industrial dockland, Tiger Bay (birthplace of singing superstar Shirley Bassey) has been transformed over the past 30 years into an exciting neighbourhood for lifestyle and the arts, with the BBC Roath Lock Drama Village and Welsh National Opera positioned here among shops, bars and restaurants. Standing proudly on a promontory in the barrage-made lagoon is Voco St David’s, where 142 rooms and suites overlook the water.

When you’ve suitably exhausted the delights of the Bay – don’t miss Cadwaladers famous ice cream – take respite in the hotel spa. It has a swimming pool, hydrotherapy circuit and a range of relaxing treatments using Ishga natural seaweed products for a powerful boost of minerals. Need to refuel? Head to Tir a Môr, the hotel’s recently relaunched restaurant, which serves modern Welsh dishes using locally sourced ingredients, such as fig and balsamic onion tartlet with Pant-Ys-Gawn goat’s cheese, and Wye Valley Farm sirloin steaks.

Best hotel for couples: Holm House Penarth

Neighbourhood: Penarth

The spa includes a hydrotherapy pool, relaxation room and more ( Lewis Fackrell Photography)

What else would you expect to find in an upmarket, handsome, Victorian seaside resort than an equally chic boutique hotel and spa? Built by the son of a fishing fleet magnate in 1926, Holm House looks out over the Bristol Channel and the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm – giving a clue as to where it gets its name. All the hotel’s 12 rooms are individually styled, some with freestanding baths and spectacular views. Guests have complimentary access to the spa, which features a hydrotherapy pool, relaxation room, steam room and a range of restorative treatments from the Elemis brand.

To continue your relaxation, take a stroll along the seafront promenade and down the majestic pier, or head into the local town where you should book (in advance) to enjoy Michelin star meals at Home by James Sommerin. Alternatively head for a romantic tapas tasting at nearby Bar 44 – legendary in these parts.

Best hotel for family fun: Vale Resort

Neighbourhood: Hensol

With family rooms available, there’s enough to keep everyone busy (

Just outside Cardiff, in the Vale of Glamorgan, you’ll find the Vale Resort. This 650-acre estate has 143 rooms, including family rooms and interconnecting rooms for those staying with older children who want a bit of independence. There’s plenty to keep all family members busy, with two distinct golf courses that make the most of the natural surroundings, a state-of-the-art health and fitness club with gym and classes, tennis courts and even art and craft workshops for little ones.

The spa is multi-award winning and it’s pretty easy to see why. Sure, it has the prerequisite indoor pool, hot tub and sauna, but there’s also a dedicated slumber room where you can cosy up under a duvet and zone out, while children are being cared for in the crèche. The treatment menu is extensive, but we like the Temple Spa glorious mud experience – a 50-minute lymphatic body-brushing, and warm vitamin and mineral-rich mud wrap. Don’t be surprised to see a professional rugby player treating themselves to a bit of TLC – the Vale is the official hotel for the Welsh Rugby Union, as well as a training ground for other professional teams.

Best hotel for budget stays: Mercure Holland House

Neighbourhood: Cardiff city centre

Mercure Holland House’s pool stretches across 18m (Mercure Holland House)

What was once a tired office block on the edge of the city’s main shopping street was cleverly transformed, several years ago, into a luxury hotel and spa. It means that not only do you have all the relaxing facilities of a four-star hotel but the added perk of being just a short stroll from all the action of Cardiff city centre. Guests in the 172-bedroom hotel can take a dip in the 18m pool or relax in the sauna and steam room. Treatments come in all forms and use Ishga products. Try the 30-minute moment of tranquillity scalp massage, to set you up for a night on the town – or to revive the day after.

Best hotel for grown-up vibes: Lanelay Hall

Neighbourhood: Pontyclun

An outdoor vitality hydrotherapy pool and tranquillity pods await at Lanelay Hall (@the.content.creators)

There’s been a house on this lush green site since the 1500s, although the current manor dates from the 19th century, and it’s been used as a family house, the headquarters for the fire service and latterly a glorious boutique hotel. Just a short drive from the centre of Cardiff (about 20 minutes by car), the hotel has 19 distinct rooms, many with large freestanding bathtubs – perfect for soaking away stress – and super-king beds for nights of unadulterated shut-eye. The spa has a relaxation pool and some delightful “tranquillity pods” for supine slumbers. The best bit is the outdoor vitality hydrotherapy pool. It’s heated to 38C and sits in a serene garden, allowing you to enjoy the fresh Welsh air in cosy comfort.

Best hotel for shopping: Park Plaza

Neighbourhood: Cardiff city centre

Park Plaza Cardiff is perfectly placed for retail therapy and cultural activities (

The Park Plaza is somewhat of a stalwart of the Cardiff hotel scene and it’s easy to see why. Its location, next to the New Theatre and between the National Museum Cardiff and Queen Street – the main shopping thoroughfare – means you’re ideally placed for cultural activities and hitting the shops and legendary Victorian arcades packed full of independent shops, cafes and wine bars.

The Laguna Spa in the hotel has all the wet facilities you could need for a proper spa break, including a 20m spa pool that’s heated and treated with UV filters (they’re apparently kinder to hair and skin than just classic chlorine alone). Try the 50-minute aromatherapy “ultimate de-stresser” massage to soothe weary legs after traversing the shops.

Best hotel for foodies: The Parkgate

Neighbourhood: Cardiff city centre

The Sorting Room restaurant recieved high praise in the Michelin Guide (

Housed in what was once a post office and county court buildings, The Parkgate is one of the newest luxury hotels in the city – and its already making waves. Just a year after opening, the hotel restaurant The Sorting Room got a mention in the lauded Michelin Guide as one of the inspectors’ favourite new restaurants. During the day, you’ll find classic afternoon teas, but dinner is the real star.

Sidle into one of the chic booths and feast on cheesy Glamorgan sausages, grilled tiger prawns, Welsh rarebit cauliflower pie, and Welsh côte de beouf. But before you tuck in or imbibe at the chic bar, we’d recommend winding away a few hours at the rooftop spa that has views over the city and the Principality Stadium. There’s a thermal suite plus a herbal steam temple, as well as a host of indulgent treatments – many using Elemis products.

Best hotel retreat: Miskin Manor

Neighbourhood: Pontyclun

Expect grand rooms with imposing four-poster beds you won’t want to leave (Miskin Manor Hotel)

Miskin Manor can trace its roots back to the 12th century – although the current house dates to 1864 – and it’s thought its name comes from the Welsh “Maes Cun” meaning “lovely plain”. Any visitor will instantly see why this is so plausible, as the family-run Grade II-listed property sits in 25 glorious acres of Welsh countryside. Rooms and suites are grand, many with the sort of imposing four-poster beds you won’t want to leave. Although we’d strongly recommend prising yourself out from under the duvet if only to do a few laps in the indoor pool, relax in the sauna or with a “refresh, renew and rehydrate” facial.

Price: Doubles from £136, Miskin Manor

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