Earlier in the year, I decided to take a break in Cardiff and use the chance to see an old friend who had moved to Wales. I found a good deal of two nights for just under £120 on lastminute.com. Arrival and check in I realise now there are actually quite a few pictures of the building that I ought to have looked at before heading there. Instead I had a Google map to go on, but nonetheless found the place quite easily, positioned close to the railway station, castle, stadium and city centre. In fact it felt as though most places were around a ten minute walk away and during the stay I found shorter routes to the shops and restaurants. To be honest I was worried as the street didn't smell great (like shallow drainage) and I was picturing a dingy entrance. Actually the building was on the end of the street and looked much nicer than the other buildings. The doorway was on the corner and the entrance was quite grand. Inside the reception was tucked away on the side, but they greeted us immediately. Check in was reasonably speedy. I noticed that the hotel had a bar but never intended to use this as there were shops nearby and I guessed the prices in hotels are always a lot more. In contrast to wide, grand stairs, the lift was small and creaky, but at one point it did fit four people with luggage. I also felt that the floors were a little creaky in the corridors and that the walls were a bit thin. The room Apprehensive because of having read a few bad reviews before we arrived, I was relieved to find that the room was very nice, spacious and clean, if a little dark. The bed was very comfortable, sufficiently firm and there were some spare blankets if needed. The room had a wide screen television, chairs and coffee table and large wardrobes. There was a much needed fan as the room did seem a bit hot, a hairdryer that took a while to dry the mop on my head, and also an iron although I didn't need this. There were the usual tea and coffee facilities, which were nice brands. The hotel has WiFi access but you do have to pay to use it. Personally I think by now that most decent hotels ought to provide this for free. The view from the window was not one of the castle views but was also not anything unsightly. I could hear street noises outside but it was not that busy so noise was not a problem for me. I do think if the hotel was busy or had loud guests staying on the same corridor as me then that might have been heard. The en suite bathroom was a little small, but we had the usual complimentary toiletries of shampoo and shower gel, and nice large towels. The mirrors were also very good. The shower temperature was thankfully just right. Breakfast I felt that the atmosphere in the breakfast room was a little cold. However, we were offered tea and coffee so it was not lacking in service. I got the impression either the hotel was not very busy or not all bookings include breakfast as there were hardly many people at breakfast at all. I stuck with pastries and cereal, but there was a full cooked breakfast available for those who wanted it. Personally I don't have these often any more because they are a bit too on the oily side for me. Other Facilities I do notice now, looking at their website, that the hotel offers free access to a nearby gym for guests, although I doubt if had known or if this was even the case at the time I would have bothered to visit. I prefer the comfort of being able to get straight back to the room to freshen up, but it is advertised as only being a 5 minute walk away so may be worthwhile for some. Check out Check out was swift and I was asked about my stay, which I did appreciate. I didn't have anything extra to pay and there were no surprises. If anything, I was sad to know my trip was over. Conclusion I found this to be a perfectly situated and fairly comfortable hotel and although I think 4 star is arguably generous, I don't really have reason to fault the hotel and would happily stay here again. I'm due to visit Wales next spring and this hotel will be on my shortlist.
As a lot of you will know my partner, Dave, now has to travel quite a bit as part of his job and I occasionally go along with him to keep him company, especially if he is going somewhere nice! Last week he had to travel to Cardiff and whilst looking for a suitable hotel I suddenly remembered that, as members of the Leisure Break Club, we would have the chance to take two nights for the price of one at The Angel Hotel owned by the Paramount Group. Leisure Break members always have the chance of this offer during January, February and March each year. I found the brochure and discovered that two nights for the two of us at The Angel Hotel Cardiff, which is a four star hotel, would cost £102 for bed, breakfast and evening meal! That works out at just £25.50 per person per night, needless to say we booked it! By the way when we actually got there and looked at the prices in reception a double room for the night only was £150 or thereabouts! I have only ever been to Cardiff once before and that was in 1975 to see a concert starring 10CC in the grounds of Cardiff Castle and it poured down all the while we were there so I hadn't seen much of Cardiff and certainly not at its best, so I was looking forward to my break. The Angel Hotel is situated on the A4161 in between the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Castle. It is easily reached from the M4, is five minutes from Cardiff Central Railway Station and about 12 miles from Cardiff Airport so it is certainly convenient. On entering the hotel we found ourselves in a huge circular room with an imposing staircase sweeping down from the first floor, where there was a gallery landing complete with sofas. There was a single large Waterford crystal chandelier in the centre of the ceiling - I wouldn't like the job of cleaning that - and a further seven smaller chandeliers around the gallery. The rooms leading off this main foyer (for want of a better word) were the receptio n, cocktail bar, dining room and lounge. The lift also left from here to access all floors. Incidentally the notice in the lift said that it would take a maximum of 8 people. Dave and I just about got in with our luggage so I reckon if 8 people were going to travel in the lift they would have to be VERY friendly! The reception area was well staffed and our check in was speedy and efficient, whilst being friendly too. We were each given a key tab to our room, which is something I have never experienced before - usually its one per room and you have to make do! We were told our room number and given directions on how to get there, after refusing the kind offer of help from the porter, as we didn't have much luggage. The hotel has 102 air-conditioned en suite rooms and ours was on the first floor in one side of the five-sided clock tower. On this landing there was a central room, which was the Clock Tower Suite (I would have loved to have seen that!) with a further room on each side of it and ours was one of these. Our large secondary glazed window overlooked the road junction, unfortunately, but we could see a bit of the castle grounds from our window and also the end of the Millennium Stadium in the other direction. Depending on which side of the hotel your room is you may well get a lovely view over the castle grounds. The room was an unusual shape owing to its situation in the tower but the space had been used to best effect. We had a double bed with a bedside table and bedside lamp on each side, a desk with a reading lamp, a low table with the kettle and tea things on it, a good sized wardrobe with hanging space and shelves and a standard lamp in the darker corner of the room. There was a TV with in house movies to rent and facilities for alarm calls, bill and hotel information. There was also a hairdryer and a trouser press, and extra blankets and pillows in the wardrobe, together with lots of special hangers for hanging trousers and skirts as well as ones for the 'normal' stuff. The telephone had a computer socket in the side making it easy for Dave to access his mail via the laptop without having to scramble about on the floor looking for the socket! The bathroom had a bath with shower over, a toilet and a sink, so this was pretty standard. It was spotlessly clean, as was the rest of the hotel, and had plenty of towels and a heated towel rail to put them on! There was a selection of toiletries together with emery boards and tissues too. When we went down to evening meal we went first into the cocktail bar for a pre dinner drink, well you have to be sociable don't you? That's my story and I'm sticking to it! The bar was well stocked and the members of staff were friendly and helpful. The dining room was open and airy with views out over the castle grounds and lots of large mirrors around the walls adding to the illusion of space. The tables were not too close together so it didn't feel as though people were watching you eat, which I must admit is something that I don't like! The meal in the restaurant was a three course meal and was all served to the table. The first night I had melon, poached salmon and tiramisu and Dave had salmon and prawn, Welsh lamb and sticky toffee pudding. The second night I had melon, baked salmon and lemon cheesecake and Dave had salmon, roast duck and raspberry charlotte. I have stuck to basic descriptions here but all the courses had a sauce or a jus of some description with some really inventive flavours. I will just say that the food was divine and there was plenty of it too. Breakfast was a self-service meal, supplemented by tea or coffee and toast served by the waitress. There was fresh fruit, yoghurt, fruit juices, cold meat and cheese in the chilled service area. There was a good selection of cereals, rolls, croissants, muffins and pastries on the table, an d there was a hot (and I mean hot!) buffet consisting of eggs (fried and scrambled), bacon, sausage (pork and vegetarian), hash browns, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pudding, fried bread and baked beans. I didn't actually go into the lounge but I could see through the doorway that it had plenty of easy chairs, which looked very comfortable, in fact just the place to relax with afternoon tea! There was also a secure car park at the back of the hotel, with spaces for about 50 cars. So there you have it; The Angel Hotel in the centre of Cardiff is convenient, friendly, luxurious and for us reasonably priced!