FOR a country mouse like me, the thought of driving through a bustling city centre at rush hour fills me with a particular kind of dread.

Add to that a shiny, brand new car (my first ever) and the prospect of tackling Bristol at night and in the rain was not one I was looking forward to.

So to be able to pull off the motorway into the quiet, leafy seclusion of the Aztec Hotel and Spa’s car park, and know I was still within easy reach of all the city has to offer, was a huge relief.

My partner and I made our first crossing of the now toll-free Severn Bridge earlier this month, travelling from sleepy west Wales up to the ‘big city’ to see the Russian Siberian State Ballet’s Swan Lake.

As well as being within easy reach of the M5, the Aztec is also on the new Metro Bus route, so we were able to ditch the car (and the stress of traffic) and were in town within 40 minutes.

Sadly - as much as I love the artform - the performance left me a little cold, but thankfully our stay at the Aztec was as cosy as can be.

When we arrived, a glamorous wedding party was also making use of the hotel’s facilities, but aside from occasional glimpses of cocktail dresses we were barely of aware of the ongoing festivities.

Staff at reception and in the bar were polite and attentive, with plenty of information about the on-site restaurant, bar and spa, which is open until the evening – perfect for those wanting to unwind after a long drive.

Having savoured some Korean street food in the city centre, we retired for cocktails and desserts in the bar - a coffee crème brulee for my partner and an unctuous caramel and banana bread pudding for me.

Our room was a comfortable double, with crisp clean bedding and a ‘pillow menu’ for choosy sleepers.

The usually depressing choice of hotel hot drinks was replaced with a pod espresso machine and fresh milk in the fridge, little touches which gave that extra sense of luxury.

Modern art pieces inspired by the Bristol area also adorn the walls, so much nicer than the generic stuff found in some hotels.

After a restful night’s sleep – the Aztec’s sound insulation is to be commended, you would never believe you were so close to a busy road – it was downstairs for breakfast.

I often wish I was one of those mature hotel guests, who is happy with just a coffee and a piece of fruit, but let’s get real.

Breakfast is my absolute favourite meal, and given the rare luxury of not having to cook it myself I very much made the most of the treats on offer, polishing off a delicious full English and a plate of freshly cooked waffles with crème fraiche and berry compote.

Top marks for the scrambled eggs – a difficult dish to get right en masse, but these were fluffy, buttery and yes I went back for seconds.

After all that hard work, it was off to the spa, where we were handed soft comfy robes straight out of the dryer.

My usual complaint with spas is that the hot tubs are NEVER hot enough, but thankfully this was no tepid jacuzzi, and coupled with a powerful steam room and delightfully hot sauna my chilly February bones were warm in no time.

The spa was clearly popular with families, with plenty of little ones running around and enjoying the baby pool, but the main pool was thoughtfully sectioned in two, meaning couples and dedicated swimmers could enjoy their exercise without worrying about swimming headfirst into a tot.

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My 25-minute treatment – a back massage – was incredibly relaxing, with the therapist taking the time to ask about my preference for pressure and any specific complaints I might have, and I was grateful not to be rushed back to consciousness once it was over.

Renewed and reinvigorated, we enjoyed a final round of steam and sauna, before heading home.

Motels – which I suppose technically this is – get a bad rep, but Aztec combines the comfort of a rural hotel with the convenience of its location.

Perfect for business travellers, or for friends and family from different parts of the country wanting somewhere to meet half-way, or just for nervous travellers like me.