“ Address: Greyfriars Road / Cardiff CF10 3AL „
A couple of weeks ago I was in Cardiff with work visiting some projects which we have funded in the area. A colleague had booked rooms in the Park Plaza in central Cardiff for all 11 of us and on our work allowance I wasn't expecting too much from the hotel!
=== First impressions and checking in ===
We had spent the day in a meeting at our Cardiff office so all made our way to the hotel together. From the outside the Park Plaza was fairly ordinary on a quiet street with a few bars and restaurants nearby. It was tipping it down with rain as we walked through the revolving door but were happy to see that the reception area was lovely with big sofas and marble floors. I was one of the first through the door so one of the first to check in which was a fairly painless process. I was asked to fill in some personal information and sign a form before I was handed my keycard and given information about breakfast and the gym facilities. I waited for a couple of the others to find out where their rooms were and was impressed that the two ladies on reception managed to check us in so quickly.
=== Dancing in my room and the best shower ever ===
My room was on the first floor so I took the lift up and opened the door. I always get quite excited about staying in a hotel so was hoping for the best as I walked in. I didn't need to worry at all as I was greeted by one of the nicest hotel rooms I've ever had! The room was huge with tonnes of room to put my bags and still jump around! I found out early that the bed was very comfortable from jumping up and down on it. It was at that point that I saw the big flatscreen TV on the wall which I turned on to find that it had lots of channels to choose from (I think it may have been the Freeview channels). I turned it on and watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory as I got changed for dinner! There was a nice wooden desk in the room and a comfy chair to accompany it. I didn't really use them (I was there for work but didn't intend on doing any at the hotel!) but it was nice to have the space to put my hairbrush and lotions and potions on.
The room was decorated very simply and it still appeared to be quite a new building which gave it the modern feel. Despite the simple look, it didn't feel basic like Travelodge and Premier Inn hotel rooms, it seemed quite classy. There was a kettle with a tray of tea, coffee and shortbread biscuits, which went down very well as I was starving when I arrived after a whole afternoon of walking round a park! There were also a few different varieties of herbal teas which didn't appeal to me but I know many do enjoy them!
The bathroom was lovely and modern in black and white marble. A huge mirror, good lighting and a big sink make a good bathroom in my opinion and this did not let me down! There were two massive towels which were white and fluffy and two smaller hand towels. I was really impressed with the 'Dead Sea Body Minerals' toiletries in the bathroom as I had only remembered to bring shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. There were two small soaps in fancy wrappers and a travel size shampoo, conditioner and shower gel which I used both times I showered and there was only just enough.
The shower had two knobs; one for the bath and one for the shower. The shower one was quite confusing but after a bit of turning I was greeted with the best shower I've ever had! The water pressure was fantastic, the shower head was big and could be angled so that the water could either spray my whole body or spray down straight from above the head.
=== another expensive hotel bar ===
Before going out to eat, a few of us met for a drink in the bar. It was only 6.00 p.m. on a Wednesday night but the booths were already full of well-dressed people drinking wine. Luckily the bar was quiet so we went up and ordered our drinks. Well I wish I hadn't! My small glass of house white wine was £5.50! If you've read some of my latest reviews you'll know that wherever I go I seem to get charged a fortune for drinks, but £5.50 for a small glass seems absolutely horrendous for anywhere, even London. It was a nice glass of wine but sadly I didn't have much chance to enjoy it as I was the last of the group served and then we realised that we only had 5 minutes until we had to leave promptly for the restaurant.
The bar had an extensive cocktail menu with all alcohol cocktails priced at £8.00 which again I didn't expect to pay in Cardiff. They had all the classics like a Cosmopolitan, Mojito and Long Island Ice Tea although I didn't opt for one because of the price! The bar also served a range of bar snacks, teas and coffees.
=== The facilities ===
Before we stayed at the hotel I had checked out their website and found that there was a gym and swimming pool. I'm not really the type who would usually care about these facilities, but I'm no longer a member of a gym (mine closed down!) so decided to pack my gym clothes and a swimming costume. I didn't get to go in the evening at all because I chose to go to the bar instead, however when I woke up early the next morning I really impressed myself by heading straight to the gym! The gym was quite small but with decent, modern equipment and all the things you would need for a work out. There were a few treadmills, exercise bikes, cross-trainers, free weights and lots of weight machines including a leg press and chest press. There were only two others in there at 7.00 a.m., one of which was having a personal training session with a fitness instructor. I hadn't realised that the Park Plaza's health centre, 'Laguna Health and Spa' was also open to the public so I was pleased that it wasn't busy! I didn't get chance to visit the 20 metre swimming pool although a colleague did remark that it was quite impressive and beautifully lit up. The spa also offers beauty treatments including massage, manicures, facials, wraps and tanning.
=== Breakfast at the Plaza ===
I went down for my breakfast around 8.00 a.m. which I expected to be a busy time but I was reliably informed that on week days most are in there around 7.00 a.m.! There was only our group (who has mostly finished) and one other couple which was great; I wouldn't want to queue for my food! The kind lady who greeted me as I walked in asked if I would like coffee or tea. I went for the tea and it was on the table by the time I had returned with my food. Those who know me will be surprised that I didn't go for the Full English option but instead started with two rounds of toast. I was delighted that they had mini jam jars which I absolutely love! I took one to spread on my toast and one for my bag, to go! I got to use the fun toast maker so I enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed my toast and then moved on to a bowl of bran flakes. There were four different types of cereal, options of fruit juices, yoghurts, pastries and fruit, along with the usual cooked breakfast items including sausage, bacon, eggs as you like them, beans, hash browns and tomatoes. I took a pastry and an apple for the road and quickly ate a banana and drank some fresh orange to keep me going as we had to rush out to our meeting. It was all very nice, everyone enjoyed the food and the variety, the service was good and it was a really nice clean, well decorated restaurant.
=== My experience with the staff ===
I've already touched on the lady behind the bar and the lady at breakfast but I had a couple of other experience with the staff at the Park Plaza.
When I got back from a meal with colleagues that evening, I fancied a cup of tea. The room had all the equipment but only UHT milk pots which make me feel sick. I rang down to reception to ask if I'd be able to collect some fresh milk from the bar and the kind lady on the phone said she would get some sent up to me! It took a good 20 minutes but I was grateful when it arrived. I was able to keep it in the mini-bar fridge and use it again in the morning which was ideal because I can't wake up without a cuppa!
The keycard for my room stopped working in the morning and I couldn't get back into my room after the gym. I had only gone and managed to cancel the coding by trying two different doors when I couldn't remember my room number! I went into the beauty salon who called down to reception and they brought a new one up to me within minutes!
=== Overall experience ===
I was really impressed with my stay at the Park Plaza, especially the room; the most important part. It was as comfortable as any hotels I have stayed in and I was impressed with how clean and modern it was. The staff were great which always helps to improve a stay and I liked that there were lots of channels available on the TV as it can often be boring when you are stuck in a hotel room.
I met the rest of my colleagues at breakfast in the morning and all we talked about was how great the rooms were and how well we had slept in the comfortable beds! The fact that all 11 of us thought it was brilliant and there wasn't a single complaint tells me it was an excellent hotel. I always take the value into account when I rate hotels and for the price we paid of £90 each I couldn't be more impressed. If you book in advance or last minute you can get some great deals at the hotel but I know that we paid the full rate as the hotel was already quite full when we booked. I would give the hotel an excellent 9 out of 10 but I'm going to be really generous in this instance and give the Park Plaza 5 stars! I would recommend to anyone and would definitely go back again! I'm even considering sending them a copy of this review just to show them how great I think they were... but obviously I would take out the line about stealing their jam! ;)