You may have noticed I've been rather MIA from the blogosphere recently; I finished uni a couple of weeks ago and have started a new temp job at Next in my hometown - I'm loving it so far! I also took a blink-and-you'll-miss-it celebratory trip to Cardiff with the bf :) A mixture of culture, shopping and yummy food made for one amazing trip and I'm sure you will love it too :)
We stayed at The Royal Hotel in Cardiff city centre. We made the reservation on hotels.com and from what I can remember, it was £25 per person per night, which was very fair - we are on a student budget, after all!
Here's me outside the hotel:
White tank (just seen) - Dorothy Perkins
Rust maxi skirt - New Look
Tan leather gladiators - Primark (see purchase)
Denim jacket - H&M
Black pashmina - H&M
Tan leather bag - Awear (see purchase)
The hotel had a huge double bed (though it was, strangely, much wider than it was length ways, which was fine for us as we're both quite small but might be a little too short for a giant!) It also had a walk-in wardrobe, a chest of drawers, bedside tables, massive plasma tv (with free freeview!) and obvs free tea and coffee, which we definitely made good use of!
The bathroom was pretty swish as well; reasonable sized bath, power shower etc!
The location of the hotel was definitely the best thing about it. Considering we were in Cardiff for only 24 hours, we wanted to make the best use of our time and the hotel was situated perfect for that. We were literally in the middle of Cardiff city centre (2 mins walk to the castle/a minute's walk to the shopping centres/a couple of minutes to the coach/rail station!) You can read my review of The Royal Hotel Cardiff on TripAdvisor here (under smoir).
We started our day by walking down to the famous Cardiff Castle :)
We were really lucky and had the sun on our side that day, which made it perfect for having a leisurely stroll around the castle grounds!
Rocking the *bux, you know how it is!
It was also SO quiet! It was half term but it wasn't very busy at all. Here's a pic from inside the castle grounds, beautiful huh :)
We then proceeded to climb up the mount (in the middle of the picture above)!
We had to walk up LOADS of stairs to get to the top, I was EXHAUSTED... hence the flushed face, lol!
Once we reached the top we had magnificent views over Cardiff. Here's the view over Cardiff city centre from the top of the mount. Can you spot the Millennium Stadium to the right?
and here's the views the other side of the top, stunning views over the countryside! Not a sight you'd seen in London town.
We then took a tour of the Royal Apartments in the castle, where the monarchy used to live. This was the regal dining room, ooh la la!
We also had a look at the royal library and other rooms, before heading to the Wartime Tunnels within the castle.
They added sound effects in the tunnel of old wartime radio broadcasts which really set the scene!
Here's a pic from through one of the wartime tunnel windows:
Lovely, such a beautiful day!
Overall it was time well spent, it cost us about £16 each as students but it was worth every penny!
Us on our land! :P
It was such a fun excursion! I look like a right peasant in my maxi skirt, lol!
Next we had a wander down to Cardiff's famous Millennium Stadium, which was situated just behind our hotel.
I'm not a massive sports fan but it was nice to have a look at Cardiff's national stadium - Nick loved it! :) I liked the thought of Gavin Henson playing behind those walls... ;)
We then began our evening plans and got ready together in the hotel!
Nick chose khaki chinos, tan brogues and a gingham shirt while I wore floral palazzo pants and a denim jacket. I'm wearing raffia wedges beneath but you can't see them, damn being a short arse!
Make-up wise I went fairly natural, we were only going out to dinner and it was quite hot so I didn't want it to all melt off! ha.
I'm wearing my new MUA lipstick in shade 11 and nails (just seen) are painted in Nails Inc Baker Street :) (thanks, Gem!)
We then caught the train down to Cardiff Bay for our evening activities :) It was a minute's walk to Cardiff Central train station, we then changed at Queen's Street before arriving in Cardiff Bay, it cost us like a quid and only took a few mins, so convenient!
We strolled through Mermaid Quay which is a waterfront complex of bars and restaurants, similar to Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays if any of you have been there :) It houses GBK, Wagamama and Cafe Rouge to name but a few!
But we chose to eat at the Italian restaurant Signor Valentino and boy, are we glad we did!
The food was DIVINE! The service was impeccable as well. We shared 'Funghi con Aglio' (mushrooms in a white wine and garlic sauce) and a basket of focaccia bread to start. They were so yummy, especially the focaccia - being Italian, I noticed the rosemary taste straight away!
I had the Tagliatelle Verona to start as it looked the most daring of the pasta dishes; it contained chicken, sausage and broccoli in a creamy tomato sauce and was so yummy! I couldn't eat it all, though - probs shouldn't have stuffed my face full of starters but what the heck!
Nick had the Pizza Fiorentina which was a traditional Italian thin-based pizza topped with salami, sausage, ham and olives (a proper "man's" pizza lol) but he couldn't finish it either! So I gave him a hand...
Obviously there's always room for dessert! Here's me after devouring 3 scoops of delicious Italian vanilla ice-cream topped with crushed chocolate biscuits. I was in heaven...
Nick had a belgian chocolate fondant with ice cream, no surprise we both finished our desserts!
Even the drinks were delicious! I had a rosé with lemonade, which tasted amazing, while Nick had a traditional Italian lager. Here's the view we had over Cardiff bay, isn't it beautiful?
Overall, we had an amazing meal, if you live near Cardiff I would definitely recommend a visit! At the time of going to press, Signor Valentino was the number 1 rated restaurant in Cardiff on TripAdvisor. You can read my review of Signor Valentino on TripAdvisor here under smoir. You can check out the Signor Valentino menu here!
We finished off our evening but having a lovely little walk along Cardiff Bay to work off all that pasta... yeah right!
White tank (just seen) - Dorothy Perkins
Floral palazzo trousers - F&F at Tesco (see purchase)
Cream pashmina - H&M
Cream leather bag - Primark
Wedges (not seen) - New Look
Belt - River Island
We concluded by walking to the Millenium Centre, which hosts events like the X Factor and BGT auditions, before making our way back to the hotel! :) We were surprised by how quiet the Bay area was, we were literally the only ones there!
3 words...shopping, shopping, shopping! Cardiff shopping, I've learnt, is amazinggg, it literally houses every shop under the sun!
We started at St David's, where we had a look in Waterstones (our favourite thing to do) as well as your standard H&M (picked up a tan purse), Apple store (perused the lovely Mac goodies I'll never be able to afford), Hollister (smells delicious but all overpriced) and L'occitane (Cherry Blossom, mmm!)
We then wandered over to The Capitol which is ANOTHER shopping centre in Cardiff city centre! Except this one was *extra* special because it housed a MAC!!! I browsed the products for about 15 minutes but left empty-handed. Most of the Surf Baby range was O/S but I tried the Fix+ which I quite liked the look of - it sunk in quickly which I liked because my ELF Mist & Set stays wet on my face for ages. I also swatched Creme Cup and Fanfare - CC was waay too bland for me but Fanfare looked more up my street, might have to add it to my wishlist *sigh*!
We also had a look in LUSH where the bf picked up some skincare items (namely Cosmetic Lad) using my 10% off voucher - I've got my eye on the Marilyn hair conditioner, Lemony Flutter cuticle butter and some kind of face cleanser for my blemished skin, perhaps Angels on Bare Skin... thoughts?
We finished off our day/trip in Mill Lane, which has loads of lovely restaurants like Wagamama and GBK and you can eat outside in the sun :)
We chose to eat at Las Iguanas, where neither of us had ever eaten before but which we'd heard good things about (mainly from my friend Helen!)
We were SO impressed by the service in this place, we literally rushed in and said we have 30 mins before our coach leaves can you feed us in this time?! They swiftly brought us out the lunch menus, brought us our drinks and voila! We were seated on our coach half an hour later!
I had the enchilada with roasted butternut squash, spinach, cheese and chickpeas, with refried black beans and rice (above) while Nick had the pulled pork and roast ham cuban sandwich with fries. Needless to say we both finished our meals, they were simply delicious :) It came to about £15 altogether overall, not bad whatsoever! You can view the Las Iguanas lunch menu that we chose from here.
Alas our trip was coming to an end, and we made our mark in Cardiff by buying a Big Issue for the journey home... We felt we were doing our bit until we realised it cost £2 and I only gave the seller £1. I was trying to do a good deed as well! Oh well, the mag was actually pretty good, much better then you'd imagine, pick one up if you've got a few quid spare :)
Whilst the city centre wasn't buzzing while we were there as it was a weekday, I can imagine it's a great place to spend a girly weekend, but if you're looking for a couples getaway like we were I'd definitely recommend staying in the week as it's so quiet you basically get the city to yourself!
Have you been to Cardiff? Thinking about it? What UK cities should we visit next?