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Review: voco St David’s hotel, Cardiff

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This is our review of IHG’s voco St David’s Hotel in Cardiff.

The hotel website is here.

voco is the newest hotel brand from IHG to launch in the UK.  voco St David’s in Cardiff is one of the first voco in the world, but IHG has big plans for the brand and you will soon be seeing it everywhere.

We wanted to take a look at what sort of quality you should expect when you visit a voco and asked IHG for a free night. HfP paid all other expenses. Here is my review.

voco has been set up by IHG as a “conversion brand”, aiming squarely at Hilton’s DoubleTree or Marriott’s Delta brands.  It is designed to make it easier for existing hotels to join IHG since there are no firm specifications for voco hotels.  Unlike, say, Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza hotels you are not guaranteed anything apart from a relatively premium experience.

As an example, as Rob found out when he visited Kimpton Fitzroy recently, all of IHG’s Kimpton hotels have to have flavoured water in the gym as well as plain water.  The level of standardisation runs that high. 

There is no such list of requirements to become a voco.  You can read more about voco and what it means to be a conversion brand in Rob’s helpful article here.

review voco st david's hotel cardiff hotel

I think I’ve heard of the St David’s Hotel?

Formerly one of the Principal Hotels properties that IHG recently acquired, the St David’s Hotel sits on the Cardiff Bay waterfront.  It was originally built by Rocco Forte Hotels in 1999 but was sold to Principal in 2007.

The acquisition increases IHG’s presence in Cardiff to five – there are three Holiday Inns, including an Express, and an Indigo, IHG’s slightly more boutiquey 4* leisure offering. The voco St David’s is now IHG’s most premium hotel in the area with a five star rating.

The hotel itself is a little out of the way on Cardiff Bay. It is slightly further around the bay than the Millennium Centre, the Welsh Assembly and the other key attractions in the area.  It is a five minute taxi from Cardiff Central station or a 20-30 minute walk if, like me, you enjoy stretching your legs on sunny days!

voco st davids cardiff reception

Inside voco St David’s

The architects allegedly modelled the hotel on a cruise ship in port, and you certainly get that impression in the atrium.  It stretches the full height of the building – here is the view from the fourth floor down to reception:

voco st davids cardiff atrium
My room was not ready when I arrived so I was given a free drink voucher to use at The Admiral, the restaurant bar in the hotel:

voco st davids cardiff the admiral restaurant

The rooms at voco St David’s

I was given a premium room, with a larger bed and slightly nicer furniture than the entry level ones.  The room comes with a very large desk which is a rare sight these days. With floor to ceiling windows facing either the Penarth Marina or Cardiff Bay, the room was extremely light and airy which I loved. You also have access to a balcony, which is nice for some fresh air.

voco st davids cardiff premium bed


voco st davids cardiff premium room

There is also a stocked mini-fridge which is free for use – and comes with some soft-drinks, beer, cider and a Kit-Kat.

However, both standard and premium rooms have the same floor space overall – here is a standard room:

voco st davids cardiff standard room

Premium rooms come with a bidet but otherwise the bathrooms are roughly similar, with a shower / tub configuration:

voco st davids cardiff shower


 voco st davids cardiff bathroom

IHG has gone eco-friendly with the toiletries and offers large bottles rather than single-use minis. On the whole this is a good idea since the minis are very wasteful. To combat theft, the bottles have been priced and would presumably be charged to your room if taken …

voco st davids cardiff toiletries

Toiletries are Aveda-branded Rosemary and Mint scented and can be found in both premium and standard rooms.  Using it to wash my face was a bad idea since the strong mint wasn’t so gentle on my eczema!  Whilst the bathroom was very smart, the Aveda packaging and product didn’t feel quite as premium.

Dinner at voco St David’s

The restaurant offers its own menu as well as a smaller bar menu if you are looking for something more casual.  I have to say the service here was excellent, with very attentive staff. The main menu is Asian-fusion, with a focus on local Welsh ingredients – an interesting combination! I went for the Satay Chicken starter (I accidentally started eating before I took a photo as I was so hungry!):

voco st davids cardiff chicken satay

When in Wales, you get the Welsh lamb shank:

voco st davids cardiff welsh lamb

Finally the ‘take’ on apple crumble, which isn’t really apple crumble at all:

voco st davids cardiff apple crumble

I was warned by the waiting staff that this was ‘inspired’ by apple crumble but I thought I’d try it anyway. It appears to be a hold-over from the Christmas menu and I have to say it’s a bit of a gimmick. It’s hard to top a real homely apple crumble …..

voco St David’s spa

The spa is open to hotel guests from 5pm until 10pm, so I made my way down there after dinner.  Just to be clear – you cannot use the spa for free before 5pm because the hotel runs it as a dedicated facility for locals.

These photos were from when it was still light during the day:

voco st davids cardiff spa

There is a sauna concealed behind these showers:

voco st davids cardiff spa

I tried it out in the evening and whilst it must have been during the peak time for hotel guests, it certainly wasn’t crowded. The spa also comes with treatment rooms at an extra cost as well as a lounge and gym:

voco st davids cardiff spa lounge


voco st davids cardiff gym

The spa offers a pleasant way to relax in the evenings but the interior design is a little plain.  It’s a shame they don’t really make use of the view since this is on the ground floor.


Breakfast is hosted in The Admiral, with both a continental and hot breakfast served. All the standard items, of course, though unfortunately no smoked salmon.  Is that odd for a five star hotel?

voco st davids cardiff breakfast


voco st davids cardiff breakfast


I suspect one of the reasons that St Davids Hotel joined the voco brand, as opposed to InterContinental or Crowne Plaza, is its unique proposition.  I can imagine that the Welsh Assembly is a little disappointed not to get a more flagship brand into the city, as this is theoretically the highest rated city hotel in Wales.

The voco feels like a cross between a business and leisure hotel.  Its location and proximity to the waterfront make this a good choice if you’re staying in the area but there are more central hotels if you are here to shop or catch the rugby, including IHG’s Hotel Indigo.

The hotel does have some conference facilities and I was told it was possible to book the entire property for an event. It certainly feels a little more ‘conferency’ than leisure despite its location on the waterfront.  That said, if you are looking to spend some time in Cardiff then this is a very smart hotel with great views.

As voco is a conversion brand, there is nothing specific about this hotel which you can rely on seeing at any other voco. There wasn’t even much yellow around, which I had thought from the voco brand website – see here – was going to be a common feature.  What I can say is that, if the quality of hotels continues to be as high as this, you can be assured of a premium experience.

A weeknight stay in March at voco St David’s can be had for around £90 for a standard room, which seems very good value for money.  The same room can be redeemed for 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points which I can’t recommend.  Given Rob’s valuation of 0.4p for an IHG Rewards Club point, it makes little sense unless cash rates are nearer to £200.

Thanks to IHG and the voco St David’s team for letting me stay and showing me around the hotel.  You can find out more, and book, here on the official website.

IHG One Rewards update – June 2023:

Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is not currently running a global bonus points promotion.

New to IHG One Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.

IHG One Rewards is offering an 80% bonus when you buy points by 7th June.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (67)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • rotundo says:

    Looks very nice but I can’t get past the bidet, in a hotel built as recently as 1999… is it just me?

    • Kfitzat says:

      It’s called being civilised

      • Shoestring says:

        Brits don’t (and won’t ever) get it. I must say that our one out at our place in the sun gets more use cleaning dirty shoes than its intended purpose 🙂

        • Matt says:

          I don’t get why the British think that washing your bum after a poo is an alien and weird activity!

        • Peter K says:

          A friend of mine who has stayed in Pakistan a few times reckons a combo of water and toilet paper is best.
          I’m surprised no one has done a research paper on the relative merits of each 😁

        • Axel says:

          Errr…. 3 or 4 generations ago the Brits didnt have paper and a bidet would have been a luxury.

        • Will says:

          In the Middle East and many parts of Asia it’s normal to have a shower head type attachment next to the toilet to give yourself a quick squirt.

          I must say that’s the best solution I’ve experienced, I’m yet to try out a proper Japanese toilet though.

        • Alex Sm says:

          It definitely is, especially if you have hair “in there”

  • Bagoly says:

    Excellent review – answers all the questions I can think of.

    • Mike says:

      +1 Rhys does a great review and I always find they cover everything I could/would/should want to know. Well done again Rhys.

      • Shoestring says:

        +2 great review there, Rhys.

        A bit disappointed you didn’t drink the fridge dry

        • Rhys says:

          Unfortunately I didn’t realise that the fridge was complimentary until about 10pm when I called reception to check…but I did try my best!

        • Shoestring says:

          Well I think it’s up to Raffles to send you to another hotel review where there’s another free drinks fridge, then!

  • Worzel says:

    rotundo 08:28: Not just you. The bidet takes up unnecessary space-I manage to get things sorted whilst performing a handstand in the shower! 🙂 .

  • John says:

    A determined thief brings their own bottles

    • Mr Dee says:

      Of what?

      • Andrew says:

        Empty ones to refill from the products in the bathroom. The Aesop handcream in the CX lounge at LHR is always tempting!

  • Vasco says:

    That “apple crumble” gave me a good laugh as I started my day.

    • Alex Sm says:

      I still didn’t get what was inside the fake apple… Cream?

  • Jimbob says:

    Wasn’t overwhelmed when I went there, and service was poor.
    Our restaurant bill had someone else’s bar order on it, and took a while to get taken off, and the breakfast buffet was poorly stocked, and had run out of some basic items with nearly an hour of serving left.

    The only redeeming feature was that Tom Jones was at the table next to us

    • Alex Sm says:

      It’s a good recommendation if the most famous Welshman in the world stays there!

  • BP says:

    OT: Best travel pushchair and travel cot?


    • Shoestring says:

      any variant on this type is much of a muchness ie the same design principle and perfectly good,default,pd.html

      same price on Amazon if you get the 10-13.5% discount that a lot of us here use

      • Matt says:


        I wish I got Tesco coupons – haven’t had any like that for years, even the “25 extra points when you buy X” happen less than once a year

      • Nick_C says:

        @Harry. Buyng GCs at Tesco with a MOC. Do you / can you do this at self check out? If not, then how do you manage it, as the MOCs say they can’t be used on GCs?

        • Shoestring says:

          I don’t use self checkout tills. The ladies on the tills in my Tesco don’t care but I always buy some milk or something at the end, maybe that helps.

        • Shoestring says:

          Don’t forget the £4 off coupon at Amazon I mentioned a few days ago – it’s about setting up a Wish List on Amazon & they send you a £4 off voucher when you but £25 of stuff from Amazon. So google wish list on headforpoints & you should find the link.

          Used it twice yesterday for some basic stuff, added to the 15% off I get for my Amazon giftcards, I guess on £25 I am getting £4 off (so £21) plus 15% off = total £17.85 instead of £25 🙂

        • Alan says:

          Can only buy GCs at self-checkout with Morrisons (use the ones that don’t have the scales to make it easier).

          For Tesco I’ve never had an issue but always put the GCs at the start of my shopping and never buy them by themselves.

    • Louise says:

      Babyzen yo-yo, but lots of others now on market that fold down as small for travel push chair

    • New Card says:

      I honestly can’t recommend the Doona travel pushchair enough. It converts straight into a car seat (without taking baby out of the seat), which is invaluable when getting in and out of taxis/cars, etc. It doesn’t have such a high profile in the UK but it’s literally the only pushchair you see around New York, for this reason.

  • TGLoyalty says:

    “Voco has been set up by IHG as a “conversion brand”, aiming squarely at Hilton’s DoubleTree or Marriott’s Delta brands. It is designed to make it easier for existing hotels to join IHG since there are no firm specifications for voco hotel.”

    I feel like this isn’t quite true. There must be some brand standards around colour schemes, linens, amenities etc as the look and toiletries are very similar or the same as what’s going on at St. John’s Solihull

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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