Newport’s newest hotel is finally open, standing tall and proud in what is officially the city’s tallest Building.
Set in the heart of the city, the recently opened MERCURE NEWPORT is within walking distance of all of the must-sees in the centre, with shops, heritage, culture, walks along the banks of the River Usk and even a bit of theatre at the nearby The Riverfront.
We were invited along to take a look around the hotel, sample the food in the restaurant and stay for a night in one of their 135 rooms.
The Mercure Newport may have a big name behind it but it very much reflects the area in look, feel and taste, with a locally inspired menu, more of which shortly.
Getting to the hotel couldn’t be simpler, the best parking is in the Friars Walk car park, which is less than two minutes away from the Mercure. Finding the hotel is a breeze. As we said, it’s the largest building in Newport, so if you do get lost (which you won’t) just look up, spot the building and as they say in the song, ‘walk this way‘.
Before you even go through the doors, the Mercure feels special. The entrance is simple but welcoming and is a real surprise when you walk along the street and arrive at the front entrance. Once your’e inside, it’s even more so, with a large open space, unlike any other hotel reception I’ve seen.
The whole reception area is bright and welcoming, with a relaxed but impressive check-in desk.
For so many years we’ve grown accustomed to standing behind a bank style counter, puffing and panting after carrying our bags into the property. Not so in Newport. The check-in desk is just that, a place you can sit, chat with the receptionist while they go through the process of organising your room and key card. We really liked this touch and was a lovely start to our stay.
From the moment you arrive at the hotel there is no doubt you are in Newport. These are not generic pictures of some unknown beach or landscape on the walls, this is the city you are staying in and wherever you walk, sit or sleep, you have some incredible images of the historic city around you.
The hotel takes its inspiration from Newport’s iconic Transporter Bridge, the theme of this actually runs throughout the hotel with the images around the property. The local heritage is very much part of the hotel’s design, with industrial themed accents, the use of metal and timber materials and a contrasting colour palette of white, black and grey tones featuring throughout.
The hotel brought in Welsh artist CAROLINE REES to create an artwork inspired by the city’s famous Transporter Bridge as a tribute to the local area.
I’ve got to say, the design and artwork is really impressive and I love that it’s everywhere. Even lying in bed you look up at Caroline’s work, which was fun for us as we could see the real thing from our bedroom window on the 13th floor.
We’ve put together a short montage of our pictures and videos to give you an idea of what lies behind the building exterior.
The interior is adorned with modern, plush furnishings, which still feel traditional, there’s also a lovely al fresco space to soak up the sun while you enjoy a drink or catch up with friends. The rooftop terrace (on the 3rd floor level) is a really nice addition to the hotel, and the city itself, with non-residents more than welcome to enjoy the facilities. But I jump ahead slightly.
Our bedroom, on the 13th floor really had the ‘wow‘ factor, for two reasons primarily. First of all the space; I’m not only talking about the floor space but also the amount of room to put things on. There was shelves, tables and a massive window sill which was brilliant for someone like me who loves putting ‘stuff‘ everywhere – phones, tablets, aftershave and the like.
The furnishings themselves were also impressive, particularly in the bathroom. There are very few occasions I’ve wanted to transport hotel fittings straight to my home, but what they have put into the Mercure Newport I most certainly would. The bathroom not only looks great, but once again there is so much space. There are even cupboards under the twin sinks, which is great for putting your things out of sight, if you’re a bit of a neat-freak (like me).
And as for the shower – WOW! I have to admit I would always ask for a bath when I stay in a hotel, the shower here has now converted me. Incidentally, I had three showers in my 20 hour stay.
Just click on play to see what we mean.
When we arrived into our room it was incredibly warm, but within minutes the air conditioning had sorted it out and it stayed cool for our whole visit. We do have one tiny issue with the however, the bed is so comfortable, the sheets and pillows so luxurious we didn’t want to get up in the morning. Hands down it is one of the best ‘sleeps‘ we have had for quite some time.
Of course, when we stay in a hotel our mind, and stomach always turns to the food and drink and the the Mercure have got that taken care in their contemporary restaurant which sits on the third floor where you can enjoy a casual meal or pre-dinner drinks or cocktails. It was a lovely evening when we arrived so sitting out on the rooftop terrace was really pleasant. We also decided to eat outside, which was a great choice too.
The menu has been put together by Head Chef STEVE WHITE, a Newport born and bred guy with as much passion for the city itself as the superb food he and his team deliver.
On the subject of the menu – once again I was impressed by a new twist in this direction. We were handed a clipboard with a variety of A4 sheets of paper which each had aspects of the menu (starters, mains, desserts etc). It may only be a small thing, but I really loved this and enjoyed the simplicity of being able to follow it so easily, page by page.
The restaurant has been given a local name – NP20 BAR & KITCHEN. Which also applies to some of the dished they serve. which not only reflect the building, but also the surrounding area and people.
One in particular is FRANKIE LODGE who is one of Newport’s most well-known characters. Francis ‘Frankie’ Lodge was a busker in the city for more years than anymore cares to remember. He died four years ago at the age of 90.
Frankie was famous for entertaining shoppers from his favourite arcade location near John Frost Square. He was renowned for not knowing all the words to the songs he sang, but whether you loved his singing or not, he was most certainly a much-loved character. With that sort of reputation, why wouldn’t you name a dish after him?
Some of the others include…….
- NP20 Fully Loaded Burger
- The Chartist Burger
- The Frankie Lodge Burger
We had three courses including the burger, lamb, prawns, arancini, the chocolate tart and lemon posset. Every dish was beautifully presented and cooked and most importantly tasted great.
For those of you who have eaten in four star establishments, there may have been times when you have puzzled at the slightly reduced portion sizes. Don’t for one minute worry about that at the Mercure Newport, they are more than generous.
We sat down with the head chef STEVE WHITE to have a chat about the food they serve, but also the process of getting ready for the Newport opening.
Take a look at our interview below……..
Breakfast the next morning was excellent and everything you would expect after a long night of eating and sleeping.
The choice was comprehensive with cereals, cold buffet and of course the full works. The fruit juices were up to standard, particularly the ‘Vitamin Juice‘ which had a nice kick to it. My preferred drink is coffee and I have no complaints on that front with plenty of choice from their two drink stations.
The cooked option was well done and tasted great, I particularly enjoyed the scrambled eggs and the omelette (I know, two eggs hits in the morning).
Finally, and for me the most important part of this review – the staff.
No matter how impressive a place looks, how comfortable the beds are and how great the food tastes, it can all be tainted by staff who aren’t welcoming or helpful. Each and everyone of the team at the Mercure Newport was superb.
Now before you say – ‘oh yes you were there reviewing the place, so of course they were‘ I can tell you that the majority didn’t know why we were there. We were, and are, just regular guests and were treated accordingly.
To say the team are welcoming, friendly, helpful and fun, would be an understatement. Their knowledge about the food too is also impressive. What I really liked is how they enthused about what they enjoyed from the menu, but also acknowledged our own tastes and recommended dishes accordingly.
Steve should be very proud of his team out front in the restaurant, they are certainly doing his food justice.
As for the rest of the team members, from the moment we arrived, to the second we left, we were made to feel welcome and comfortable, which for me is the most important part of any hotel stay.
Whether you are visiting Newport for fun or business. If you live close by and just fancy a bit of R&R without all the expense of petrol and travelling, I can highly recommend a stay at the MERCURE NEWPORT. If you are planning a night, make sure you pack you gym gear so you can also use the excellent facilities they have to help you burn off some of the extra calories you will inevitably consume.
I would also say that if you are local, why not head up to the third floor rooftop terrace and enjoy a drink and some food, the atmosphere is excellent, particularly when we get more of this lovely summer weather.
In the meantime, to find out more about the hotel and check-out the latest deals before you check-in, go HERE.
You can also read our feature on the hotel, with some useful travel facts and figures HERE.