How much was I looking forward to a stay in a 4 star hotel in Cardiff? Tons! I had stayed at one of the Jurys hotels before, in Dublin, and it had probably been one of the best hotel experiences I have ever had.
We chose the Jurys in Cardiff for two reasons really. Firstly, it's location. We were due to see Alice Cooper in the Cardiff Arena across the street - and the prospect of merely having to walk out of the venue and fall into bed just sounded marvelous. In addition, we had managed to get an excellent deal: £82 for the night in a standard double, which included free parking and breakfast. And as a more minor point, the city centre is very close as well.
As we approached the hotel, I do have to say I felt slightly disappointed. The building is one of the ugliest I have ever seen - brown bricks that make it look more like a selection of council flats. But you can never judge a book by its cover - and so I did not let that spoil my mood at all.
The parking garage of the hotel is very small and dark - and laid out quite badly. There are quite a few parking spots that simply cannot be used unless you are an absolute ace at driving and have power steering. I strongly recommend arriving early if you have a car you wish to park for free.
The lobby of the hotel is very dark and grey - and resembles what you might expect from an entrance to a castle. There are plenty of seats to wait around on - and also a bar and a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Check-in was fast and easy - they offer you to set up an account to which you can charge any extras. We decided not to, as we had already prepaid our night's stay and did not intend to eat on the hotel's premises. They also offered us a free newspaper for the morning, before sending us up to our room.
Our room was actually very quiet by virtue of its location - rather than overlooking Cardiff, it overlooked the hotel lobby. Slightly odd in design, but I really did not mind that at all. The room was quite small, big enough for two, but short of overwhelming for a hotel of its class. All the usual facilities were present - a table with a section offering free tea, instant coffee and jammie dodgers, a couple of comfortable chairs and a double bed.
I had a bit of an issue with the bed. Even though it was very comfortable - with a duvet on the mattress making it feel like I was sleeping on clouds, it was actually not a proper double bed. Instead, it was two single beds pushed together. That may be normal for some establishments with fewer stars to their name - but in a hotel of this class, I did expect a proper bed - and not one that would come apart in the middle during the night.
The bathroom was very clean and tidy and sported all the usual hotel toiletries that women so much enjoy. However, there was only one large towel in the room. Reception was very prompt at delivering another one at my request, however, it should have been in there in the first place. As we do not have a bathtub at home, I tested it out immediately with one of my specially purchased Lush balls. The tub was alright - a little narrow and not long enough for tall people - but certainly clean and good enough to relax in.
We did look at the menu of the restaurant downstairs - it offers all the usual western food, such as Caesar salad, burgers and sandwiches. One of the things that made us laugh, however, was the number of spelling mistakes on the menu, for instance "Caesar salad" became a "Ceasar salad". There were others, too, and it were so many that I am sure they were not attempts to write in Welsh.
I had one of the best night's sleep in the room - it was really dark and quiet - until about 7.45 a.m. when we heard noises from the plumbing system and some drilling. But it was so annoying as to spoil the experience.
We had breakfast downstairs - ordinarily a continental breakfast would cost about £8.50 and a full English breakfast £10.50. It's better to get there early, though. Whilst the buffet selection of warm food (eggs, bacon and beans) was still rather impressive - a lot of the continental breakfast food and the fruit had disappeared. The food was certainly alright, however, it would not have been worth paying for.
We then decided that we would very much like to stay another night. As we checked with reception, we were told that they did not have any standard doubles left for the night and that they could only offer us executive suites at £125 a night. This did not even include breakfast. We politely declined and decided to look for another place to stay.
Leaving the garage was a bit of an issue. For some bizarre reason you need a code to exit the garage - not to enter it, to exit it! So I had to run back upstairs and get it before we were able to depart.
A little while later we surfed the internet for hotels in Cardiff - and to our great surprise found a standard double at the very same hotel being offered for £81 on lastminute.com. Naturally, we were a little annoyed and convinced the hotel staff had lied to us. Whether they really had lied is, however, doubtful at this stage, perhaps lastminute.com accidentally overbooked the hotel. When we arrived at 6 p.m. to check in, there was indeed a distinct lack of standard double rooms (and of parking spaces, we had to park next door for £12.10) - and after a twenty minute wait in the lobby, we were actually upgraded for free to an executive room.
And would the executive room have been worth the extra money? No, indeed not. The only difference to the standard room is an additional single bed, some extra biscuits and a bit more of space - otherwise it was exactly the same. And it also only offered us one large bath towel in the bathroom. As this is a room for three people, one would really expect to find a few extra towels in there.
The Jurys in Cardiff is a nice enough hotel to stay in if you get a good deal. The rooms are very comfortable, quiet and clean - the only real issue I had was with the bed. The staff is not the friendliest, but I was able to live with it. However, due to some of the problems we faced (lack of parking, long check-in upon our return, lack of gym or pool), I can only really assign three stars to this establishment instead of the four it has currently been given.
Mary Ann Street, Cardiff, Cardiff, UK, CF10 2JH
Tel: (+44 29) 2034 1441
Fax: (+44 29) 2022 3742
Check-in time: 3p.m.
Check-out time: 12 p.m.