When I learned of the opportunity to review a hotel in the city of Exeter, I knew I had to take it. I’m a massive fan of the Devon city, as it’s full of historical sights, dainty tea rooms and plenty of independent shops – all perfect for a weekend getaway! I had been invited to stay for the night at the Mercure Exeter Southgate Hotel and after a long week of working a bit and socialising a lot, I was in need of a rest. I arrived into the hotel’s lobby and was immediately impressed. The reception is grand, with some funky oversized chairs and lots of space. I was greeted by a very friendly receptionist, who gave me my room details and also asked if I’d like a morning wake-up call – obviously, she had no idea that I wake up for no one, but it was a nice gesture. I was also informed that the Tongan Rugby team was staying in the hotel and I later spotted them milling around in their flip flops – if this place is good enough for international rugby players, I think it will (just) be good enough for me.
I was staying in the Bampfylde Suite at the hotel. The suite was very spacious and decorated with a green and white theme (as well as a green and blacks chocolate bar that went down a treat!) Particular highlights included the two plasma televisions and the king size four poster bed that I had all to myself – there are some perks of being #foreveralone guys! The whole room was very well presented and impeccably clean. Plus, the bathroom contained one of the biggest showers I’ve ever seen and my enjoyment of it is probably shown through the fact I took three showers during my 24 hour stay. Once I had tested out the dressing gown and slippers and watched a bit of television, it was time to go down for my dinner reservation.
The hotel’s restaurant is lavishly decorated in purples and greys and also has an outdoor seating area for when the weather’s nice. A very polite waitress informed me that the restaurant offers set menus as well as an a la carte menu. I was first served bread rolls with butter and a balsamic dip. I was a particular fan of the herb-filled roll, which tasted great with the dip. For starters, I had tiger prawns in filo pastry. These were a nice light start to the meal, served with a side salad and the pastry was nice and crispy. For mains, I enjoyed tandoori chicken, served with rice, salad and naan bread. The chicken was juicy and the tandoori sauce was just the right amount of spicy. Unfortunately, the naan bread was a bit too dry for my liking and could have been a touch warmer. Finally, for dessert I had the chocolate brownie with ice cream. The waitress was more than happy to cater to my request to swap out the coffee flavoured ice cream for vanilla and the brownie was really filling, with the chocolate marble top layer being an added perk. After my three course meal, I was left pretty much unable to move, which can only ever be a good thing. I was able to retire to my room and make the most of my 4 poster bed though…it’s a tough life I live.
The hotel also has a state of the art fitness centre, a heated pool and Jacuzzi as well as an 18 hole golf course. These fun facilities act as the perfect follow up to the Hotel’s breakfast. Breakfast runs from 7:30am to 11:30am, which is later than most hotels and which I was eternally grateful for, as who doesn’t love a lie in on a weekend away? The breakfast is exactly as you’d expect from a hotel, offering up a cooked and a continental buffet. The pastries (which I definitely didn’t have three of) were warm and came with an array of spreads, including the inimitable Nutella. In terms of the cooked option, all the usuals were on offer including sausages, bacon, beans and hash browns. One thing that puts the hotel a cut above the rest is that they also offer a cooked to order breakfast menu, if you’re craving a particular dish. On that menu was eggs benedict, omelette and smoked kippers. I stocked up on breakfast before checking out a bit later.
I really enjoyed my brief stay at the Mercure Exeter Southgate Hotel and would definitely recommend it as a good place to go for a city getaway, either with friends, family or lovers (see: heated Jacuzzi). While the hotel is upmarket, the prices are definitely worth it for the service I received and the facilities available. Plus, there are opportunities for rugby player spotting if you book fast enough!