Novotel Bourges

The location

As with a lot of Novotels, this hotel is located in a soulless industrial estate, in the periphery of a city. Even if you experience none of the charm of the medieval city centre of Bourges, you will however enjoy a convenient stopover right in the middle of France, for the hotel is located very close to the A71 motorway.

The room

We checked in a superior room, and we liked the supremely comfortable bed as well as the relaxing sense of space. We were also most impressed by the quietness of the room, seeing as the hotel is located very close to the motorway and as our room was directly giving onto the swimming pool. We also liked the free wifi, but not so much the dated bathroom.

The breakfast

A surprising mix of expensive, quality offerings (Kusmi tea, fresh orange juice) and disappointing options (dreadful looking sausages).

The price

90 euros for the room, which is reasonable. €15 each for breakfast, which is farcical. I would however recommend this hotel as an easy, comfortable stop during a long car journey, even if I may be looking for other options in future. Also be aware that the hotel is very popular with families, with kids under 16 going free.

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Blue Bell Hotel, Neath

The location

We arrived on a very hot July afternoon in the little town of Neath, which seemed quite empty on a Sunday. We were lucky enough to get a space at the hotel’s underground car park, for it would be a real challenge to squeeze more than two cars in there. Luckily for us, the hotel was quite empty, perhaps due to its odd location. I would however recommend trying to get into the car park (more of which later).

The room

We were quite suprised by the quality feel of our spacious room, which was all nicely set up with a sitting area and a desk, as well as a large bathroom. Wifi is also available for free. All pointed towards a comfortable night, were it not for the fact that the window had been left open (due to a complex system I only noticed the next morning), despite the room being air-conditioned, which allowed us to ‘enjoy’ the active Neath nightlife fully. We had felt when we arrived in town that it was quite impoverished. This feeling was even reinforced at night thanks to the arguments of some of the local population. With the central government in London bent on cutting even deeper into public services, you wonder what communities like this one are going to become.

The evening meal

We dined in the large brasserie downstairs, “La Mancha”. The food was not exceptional, but decent enough and provided in large quantities. The espresso was also good.

The breakfast

An excellent cooked breakfast is on offer. On top of the bacon, eggs, mushrooms, black pudding and other delicacies, I had cockles and loved them. Do not attend if you are into continental breakfasts though.

The price

Accommodation for one night, a meal for two and two breakfasts came to a total of £120 (€143). This is exceptional value for money, so despite the hotel’s slightly odd location, I would heartily recommend it, for it can be a nice starting point to enjoy Wales’ natural beauty.

Lincoln House, Cardiff

The location

We enjoyed a couple of very nice days in Cardiff, which gave us time to enjoy the city’s shops (although the lack of independent retailers is always something we bemoan about the UK high street), the bay and the beautiful collections of the National Museum. We were also to enjoy Welsh hospitality at the Lincoln House, which was reasonably easy to find and offered parking at the back.

The hotel is located in a leafy residential area of Cardiff, but eateries also abound. Coming from France, we always welcome these tasty, innovative and inexpensive dinner options.

The room

After a friendly welcome, we were led upstairs (no lift) to a spacious but slightly dated room, which was also far too hot on that day, although this level of heat is really exceptional for Cardiff. There was also a problem with water evacuation in the shower. Nevertheless, the room was clean, the bed comfortable and wifi available.

The breakfast

Definitely the highlight of the stay as far as I am concerned, as it is cooked to order. Make sure you try the laverbread.

The price

£180 (€210) for two nights and four breakfasts. This is quite good value for money if you are looking for a quintessentially British experience away from the international chains, which also offer reasonable options in Cardiff.