Cardiff is steeped in history – Cardiff Castle has stood over 2000 years of change in the city – but it is also moving with the times. It is a fascinating place to explore, especially before heading out to explore the natural beauty of the Welsh countryside. The former coal docks of Cardiff Bay are now home to enticing harbour-side bars and restaurants as well as the Millennium Centre and The Welsh Assembly. The city offers plenty of entertainment for visitors: sport fans can catch a game of rugby at the Millennium Stadium, art lovers can look at the world-renowned collection of Impressionist paintings in the National Welsh Museum, while telly addicts can enjoy the Dr Who experience.
Perhaps because the city has only more recently begun to present itself as a leisure destination, the boutique hotel offering in Cardiff itself isn’t as extensive as in other locations. The accommodation option is mainly split between larger hotel chains or more traditional Bed and Breakfasts, all providing different benefits to a traveller.
Jolyon’s Boutique Hotel is Cardiff’s best-known boutique hotel option. It is housed in a former seaman’s lodge in Cardiff Bay, with some of its six bedrooms lucky enough to have great views across the bay. Each room is individually decorated using traditional Welsh materials – think dark wood, slate and sumptuous textiles. The hotel has an award-winning restaurant, while their cellar bar, ‘Bar Cwtch’ (meaning ‘cosy’), more than justifies its name with squashy sofas and the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
The opening of a second, slightly bigger Jolyon’s hotel suggests an increasing demand for boutique hotel accommodation in Cardiff. Jolyon’s at no. 10 (****) is located in the heart of the city in a very smart former Solicitors building. There is a range of room sizes available but no matter which you go for, like the original hotel, each room has its own unique mix of period furnishing and contemporary luxury. The building has been renovated to include lots of special touches, such as the plunge-pools or whirlpool jet baths in each bathroom. Suite rooms even have their own kitchenettes to make it feel like a real home from home.
Not quite a boutique hotel, Lincoln House Hotel (***) describes itself as a ‘modern B&B’ and offers high standards of accommodation at a reasonable price. This family-run business offers classic and comfortable rooms as well as a warm welcome. Its full Welsh breakfast, served each morning, gathers high praise. Rooms range from a simple double up to a penthouse suite, complete with a kitchen and dining area.
To enjoy the contemporary face of Cardiff, Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel – one of two Mercure hotels in the city – offers the facilities and convenience you would expect from this hotel chain, including a spa, a heated indoor pool and gym. The smart looking building has been designed for the wants and needs of visitors, with considered details such as the panoramic windows given to rooms overlooking the city to maximise this already dramatic view.
For a more intimate stay in the Welsh capital, check out the boutique B&B Ty Rosa (***). This charming gay-friendly bed and breakfast (Ty Rosa is Welsh for Pink House) is run by Stuart and Paul with help from their dog Max. The property’s interiors exude style and attention to detail with each of the five guest rooms, all named after castles, having their own individual furnishings. Start the day in the right way with a gorgeous breakfast served in an attractive dining area. A self contained apartment located across the road is also available.
For a taster of the city’s rich history, the Royal Hotel (***) is not only one of the oldest hotels in Cardiff; it’s one of the oldest grand hotels in the world. Built in 1866, it was extended in 1893 but, more recently, it was refurbished in 2001 to bring the hotel up to twenty-first century standards. Modern touches include natural limestone bathrooms and pocket sprung beds. With a convenient location right in the heart of the high street, this is a relaxing base for a city centre stay.
Author: Frances Ambler