I left university quite a long time ago now, but every now and then, I still miss it. Especially when the sun shines - I studied in Exmouth, on the Devon coast, so on a weekend like we've just had, I'd be on the beach like a shot, or basking in the sun by Exeter Cathedral.
I was long overdue a trip back that way, and so when I was asked to review a Mercure Hotel somewhere in the UK, it wasn't hard to pick the location. So off to Exeter we went for the weekend, and the weather gods were smiling on us too as it was absolutely beautiful weather! Exeter is one of those towns that's great for shopping, but also just nice to potter around, with beautiful architecture from Tudor and Medieval times and the lovely Quay just a few minutes walk from the centre.
When we got to Exeter on Saturday, we found a street food market by the Guildhall and enjoyed cider and paella (chicken and chorizo for the seafood hater over here) in the sunshine, then wandered down to the Quay for a spot of Pimms. It was pretty much the perfect day - doesn't sunshine make everything better?
Back at the hotel, I seized the chance to explore which meant a quick swim and sauna in the spa downstairs. The pool was lovely, a decent size, although my measly 10 lengths made me realise how out of shape I am... so I spent the next couple of hours exploring my hotel room. It might have looked like I was slumped on the king size bed watching Enchanted, but no, it was definitely exploring. Honest.
We were in a Privilege room, which included a fancypants coffee maker, a minibar (the contents of which were included in the cost of the room - even though it was only soft drinks, I was pretty impressed - and I really enjoyed my Diet Coke on Sunday!), a huge bed, lush en suite bathroom and complimentary toiletries. I LOVE complimentary toiletries!
We went to the hotel's restaurant in the evening for dinner and I have to say, the food was the only thing I was a little disappointed with. Our starter was great - we just got nibbles, so we shared a bread basket (sounds dull - actually really great, especially the super fresh rosemary bread) and handmade crisps and fondue (I'm all about dipping stuff in cheese). But we both felt a little let down by the steaks we both ordered for mains - they were underseasoned and overdone. My rare steak was more medium, and Matt's medium steak was definitely well done. The chunky chips on the other hand were a little bit undercooked, too. It was a shame, as everything else about the hotel was so great, I think it actually made us more critical of the food.
I'd like to say we went out and painted the town red, but we were lame and tired and ended up going to bed early! But not before filling in the room service card and leaving it on our door for the morning - as someone who stays in a lot of cheaper chain hotel, getting breakfast delivered to my room is a rare treat! I slept really well, and I'm a really light sleeper who is reknowned for never sleeping well in hotels, but the bed was so comfy and it was really quiet, too.
Breakfast was awesome. We totally over-ordered, but they were fine with that (kind of wish I'd ticked all the boxes now...) and I'm never going to complain about breakfast in bed. We had to pay £5 for the room service but breakfast was included - I really don't think that's much to pay for getting breakfast delivered to our room.
Even though our stay was paid for by Mercure in return for posting a review, I had a look on the website to see the cost and was pretty shocked. You can get a room at the Mercure in Exeter for under £100 a night (obviously the prices dip and rise depending on day, season, extras etc) but for a hotel this nice - and it really was - that's really reasonable. Maybe I'm jaded by living in the Home Counties, but I've paid that for a shabby B&B in the past. And as the weekend reminded me how much I miss Exeter, I'm already thinking about a return trip. I'd definitely stay there again - it felt like a real treat being in such a plush hotel, but also I now know it wouldn't break the bank.
Thank you so much for an amazing stay to everyone at the Mercure Southgate Hotel in Exeter - can we come back and live there please?