My summer holiday this year had to be as cheap as possible, but I wanted a decent enough break. Cardiff is relatively easy to get to from Reading by train (direct) and the weather there is not bad. So I took a look online for a decent enough deal, having a budget of about £500. Happily, I found a deal for 5 nights in a double room at this hotel for just over £300, excluding breakfast. Given the leisure facilities, I felt this was a really good deal. My only worry was that it was a bit further out from the city centre, but on a local bus route. The hotel website did not give this sort of information however, only providing useful information for drivers, apparantly free parking is offered.
Getting there (if you don't drive...)
As I say, information is provided on how to get to the hotel by car, and by the looks of it, it is quite straightforward. However, as I came by train, I needed to work out bus routes. On the first day, I used my PlusBus (£3.20), and was able to board both the 96, which stops a short walk away, and the X2, which has a stop a lot closer to the hotel. I later discovered that X buses are the Waler buses as opposed to Cardiff buses, so should I which to buy a day ticket, it would not be valid on them. Day tickets cost £3.40 in this area or you can get a week ticket for £15 but you need to get a card from the travel shop (not open Sundays) and I could not do this. Anyway the journey from the station was very long and not ideal if you want to get out and about a lot, so what I would say is really this hotel is not recommended if you are not driving.
Arrival and check-in
I was pleased to find that the hotel looked big and attractive and the check in process was quick and simple. I was offered help with my luggage, although this was not a problem for me. There are 2 lifts to the rooms and they were quite spacious, although the level 2 button (reception) did not light up.
The room was very big and spacious. There was a small compact dresser area (hairdryer and mirror) and a separate desk. There was no minibar or fridge - I actually phoned beforehand to ask about this as it is not stated on the website (I suppose you don't tell people the disadvantages!) because I wanted to keep a small bottle of milk for breakfast. The space where it should have been was therefore filled with my own mini fridge. Tea and coffee facilities were there, but with just one biscuit, which I found odd in a double room!
There was no safe, which I found quite disappointing in such a good hotel. but on the other hand nothing went missing so I can't really complain.
The bed for me was perfect, very big, firm mattress, skin-friendly materials and not too warm or cold. Firmer pillows were in the cupboard plus extra bedding that came in useful.
I was very pleased to find that this hotel had gym, swimming pool, spa pool, sauna and steam room. The gym is a leisure club, which means that it was mostly busy with regular members. Although I used the exercise machines on one day, this tends to make me nervous. However, one room overlooked a lake at the back of the hotel and this made the work-out experience more pleasant. What I thought was funny was that the rowing machines were in another room facing a wall. The gym didn't get too busy when I was in there, although I did have to wait for one or two machines and make do with the wrong ones for a short while, but it seemed to have the whole range.
The female changing rooms had ample locker (£1 coin needed) space and benches but only one private cubicle that had a lousy curtain to separate it.
The pool was not massive, with, as was no surprise, quite a large portion taken up by entry steps. However, it was also not very busy, aside from the odd swimming lessons, which I noted were conducted very strictly at one edge of the pool to keep out of the way of everyone else. There were some tables and chairs at the poolside, though I never saw anyone use them. Also the pool/spa area did also overlook the lake, although a bit low down to see it while swimming or relaxing. The spa pool was actually quite big, you could probably sit 6 people although it would get cosy at that point! It was automatic, I guess switching on for around 20 minutes and off for quite a while too. The sauna was not too hot but that was probably because it was the old style where you need to pour water on the coals to get it going. Personally I just love that woody smell, but I'm weird like that. The steam room smell was not so nice, more like dodgy vegetables, and not too steamy either, however I still enjoyed it as it was empty both times I went in.
I did not get to use the restaurant, as the one day set aside for it, it was already closed. I also didn't use the bar as it always seemed too busy for my liking. However, the restaurant prices were reasonable for the hotel, so having missed the restaurant, I ordered food to be brought to the room. I ordered a bread selection, which turned out to be a disappointing couple of mini garlic baguettes, slightly undercooked. Ordering at 11pm was probably not the wisest, but having been told first that it was fine to make the order, I was later informed that nearly all the menu items (prawns, goats cheese tart etc) were unavailable. However, I was able to get a salad for myself and a steak dish for my guest plus two lots of fries, all of which were very nicely done and delicious (thumbs up were noted for the steak).
Ordering was all a little awkward, with things not being available and for some reason a bad signal on the line even though we were using the hotel phone. To be honest this would put me off bothering again, because it all seemed a little too much trouble, but I wish I'd been able to try the restaurant (if only opening times were actually written somewhere..)
We had a bus to catch and only a matter of minutes left when we checked out, so I was very thankful not to have to queue and also to be dealt with swiftly. We asked the staff to keep hold of a couple of our bags and were grateful they did, but surprised not to be issued with a ticket and also to find that our cases were left in the front of reception until we returned. The person there at that point barely questioned us and just pointed at the bags asking if it was them. He dropped both cases, which was unsettling given that one had breakable souveniors in. It might be a favour to keep hold of them but I think better care could have been taken of them, and again I'd admit that really this hotel is only for people who drive.
Over all experience
This was not a bad hotel at all, and the facilities made it worth what we paid for our stay, at an average £60 a night. However, I would certainly not pay much more. For some reason it would have been £200 more for free breakfast included, so really this is probably a rip off unless you are served gold for breakfast! The hotel is definitely not for users of public transport and sadly the amount of time wasted on buses made this stay a little disappointing. However, set in retail park area with some pleasant surroundings to explore and great facilities it is not a bad place to kill time.
I stayed in this hotel at the weekend having got it for £40 (for the room only) on lastminute.com - a friend was running the Cardiff Half Marathon which is why we were staying in the City - the first thing I noticed is that the place is quite a bit outside the Centre, we lucky, had the car with us, but if you don't, i'd advise checking out the various ways to get into the centre.
Anyhow, customer service in this place is pretty good, to be honest we only had to visit reception once, to check in, but it was polite and efficent and when we asked if it would be possible to delay check out time by an hour on account of returning late from the marathon, this wasnt an issue and didnt cost us any more.
The room itself was very spacious and comfortable, if not a little dated, the double bed was actually two singles pushed together, which some people might have issue with but in I didnt mind as at the end of the day, its one massive bed isnt it. There is a good TV and Radio selection and the bathroom was clean and tidy.
My only criticisms of this place was that the decor in the room, while clean and comfortable, was a little 1990s and the shower was not very powerful, although, we could have simply got a bad room!
For the price, I thought this place was well worth the £40
I booked this hotel several years ok as a surprise for my then partner. I booked the honeymoney suite, at a cost of £250. When we arrived i wasnt very impressed by the look of the place, it was on a busy roundabout, about 10 minutes from the centre of cardiff. The carpark was pretty small, and the outside didnt look very impressive at all.
When you walk in, its a small lobby, that doesnt shout out luxury, this leads to a bar area and a door to your left which are the rooms.
We were shown up to the honeymoon suite, and i have to say for double the price I wasnt impressed. It was a standard size room with just a small extra dining area. The room seemed cold and unfriendly.
The bathroom was small, and the decor needed updating.
Anyway we carried on, and when down for dinner, we were told to wait for a table so in meantime we got a drink at the bar. We ordered 2 small glasses of wine, and i almost fell off my chair when they said that was £10!
Anyway, we were called through to have dinner, and the dinning room was quite crammed. My meal came, and it was cold, and uncooked, at this point i'd had enough, and we got up and left.
I have never stayed in such a poor hotel, its a 4 star, but does not live up to this. I wouldnt recommend staying here. I have stayed in other copthornes, but this is the worse.
Not recommended, over priced, small, poor restaurant.
You may well ask why I am writing about a hotel only 50 miles down the road from my house - well the alternative was to drive to Cardiff for a meeting on Monday lunchime then do the return jouney home in the rush hour and then return, again in the rush-hour by 8.45am the following day for another meeting, or stay over at someone else's expense - what would you have done? I opted to stay, and thats why you are getting this review. The Copthorne chain are owned by Millenium hotels, and not a brand I am particularly familiar with; I did stay in the Copthorne, Aberdeen for a number of weeks and it was good, but that was 15 years ago and time changes everything as I know to my cost. CHECK-IN I arrived at the hotel at exactly 12 Noon and standard check-in time being 2pm, I was given the opportunity to do so there and then, provided I took a smoking room, which suited me fine. The process was relatively quick and painless, and although someone else was picking up the tab, they took a swipe of my credit card to cover any added extras such as a glass of Coke from the bar :), a quick call to pick up my e-mails, or those lovely erotic movies on the TV (NOT). Reception is a rather grand affair with lots of high ceilings and chandeliers, despite the hotel being fairly modern. CHARGES Most will undoubtedly require a second mortgage if paying full rack-rates here; rates start at £175 per night for a standard room rising to £250 a night for a suite - very pricey, although no-one should be willing, or have to, pay full price for any hotel in this day and age with all the offer sites around. As we were attending in a large group I think we were charged an all inclusive rate for the room, conference and 4 meals of £85 per person, so as you can see there are offers to be had. LOCATION Superbly convenient, the hotel is situated probably around 8 miles from Cardiff International Airport and roughly the same distance from the city cen
tre, in an area known as Culverhouse Cross; if you are a big shopper, and fan of M&S you will be in Seventh Heaven, as CC has what I understand is one of their biggest stores and is in the process of being expanded. M&S is open daily until 10pm, except Sundays. There is also a local PC Store, PC World, Furniture Stores, Tesco, Mothercare, Comet and a Daewoo showroom within easy walking distance of the hotel. The site is about 5 miles from the M4, Junction 33 and 3 miles from Cardiff Bay. THE ROOM All decked out in a dark, oak like wood, it was bigger than your average room, with double bed, desk area, colour TV, trouser press, wardrobes, tea and coffee making facilities, some very large throne like chairs and a lit up vanity area and small stool with hairdryer and additional plug for a curling tongs etc. What there wasn't anywhere in the room was a normal chair, where on earth am I supposed to sit and watch the TV? Not that I did too much of that. The TV offered all the normal channels, plus local and national radio, Sky Sports 1,2 and 3, Sky News and Bloomberg and some other little known Digital channels. There were also the standard pay per view movie channels -£7.99 for 24 hours. The en-suite was fairly standard, with sink area, toilet, bath and shower with thermostatically controlled taps. The shower was appalling, fixed high on the wall, and with a jet-stream that resembled something more of a dripping tap than a power shower. Additional extras were kept to a minimum, with one small bottle of bubble bath and one of a combined shampoo/conditioner. Towels were provided and the bath one was more than sufficient to cover my ample frame with plenty left over. An iron and ironing board were provided and required a PhD in Engineering to figure it out, the legs were broken, nearly resulting in me decapitating my fingers and you actually plugged the board in rather than the iron, with the iron running off a timer attached to the iron
ing b oard - not a very pleasant experience. TELEPHONE CHARGES I mention these separately as they were appalling, during weekdays including evenings you pay £3 for a 5 minute local call, and £6 for a national one - I think the charge for calling a mobile was around £15 for 5 minutes - how on earth can they get away with this? The only plus side, if it could be called that, is you had a roaming freephone internet connection number, then you were only subjected to a £1 connection charge. I recently stayed in a 4 star hotel in Amsterdam and the cost for a 15 minute international call was a mere 3 Euros (around £2) - I think our hotels would do well to take a few tips from our European neighbours. The telephone rates in the Copthorne do drop to a somewhat more respectable £1.20 for a 5 minute local call and £2.40 for a national call from 6pm on Fridays and all weekend, but still a total rip-off though. Normally I wouldn't even consider checking the phone rates, but on this occasion I was waiting for a few e-mails and as I didn't have my super-duper kit for connecting to the internet, I had no option but to use the hotels telephone, in addition to the appalling costs, I had forgotten how ridiculously slow narrow-band connections are. THE FOOD I have seen so many hotel rooms over the last couple of years that I tend to measure the facilities on things other than the room, such as leisure facilities which I often don't get time to use, and food. The meals in this instance was a buffet lunch, which would have been very nice had I have liked the options chose, and the evening meal was a hot serve yourself buffet meal which consisted of: Starters * Salad * Coronation rice * Potato Salad * Cold Mushrooms * Soup * Juices * Bread Rolls And I have to say was extremely tasty and filling MAIN COURSE * Spicy Chicken (very with red chillies on top) <
br>* Salmo n * Veggie Pasta * A range of vegetables * Boiled Rice * New potatoes DESSERT I didn't venture into this but apparently the choice was a lemon pie or cheesecake - all washed down by a very pleasant tasting cup of black coffee. DRINKS Aaaggggh - definitely not cheap - a hotel for corporate business expenses methinks - £3 for a pint or bottle of lager and around £4 for a G&T, and their management should take a few lessons on how to look after lager properly, it was tasteless, seemed watered down and flat - even the barman commented that he wouldn't pay the prices, as the hotel is not really near the centre of Wales's capital city, I can only assume that they rely on business customers on expenses and their close proximity to the airport. BREAKFAST Of course this comes the morning after the night before, and what a night. Breakfast consisted of the usual range of cereals, fruit juice, bread rolls and croissants followed by the full English choice of: * Bacon * Mushrooms * Sausages * Fried, Scrambled, Poached and Boiled eggs * Baked beans * Hash browns * Fried bread All washed down by coffee and tea or toast. I was not offered a choice of brown or white toast. Some of my colleagues thought the breakfast was very tasty, personally although the bacon was evidently high quality cut, but undercooked and cold, and the hash-browns were indescribably appalling, LEISURE FACILITIES Unfortunately, the intensity of the two day visit did not really allow for a visit to the hotels extensive leisure facilities unless you wanted it at 6am, but I understand in line with company policy, the leisure suite,which was situated on the ground floor, consisted of: (from a website) * Sauna * Steam room * Snooker room * Swimming pool * Fully equipped gym * Spa bath and aerobics studio The hotel is apparently air-
conditioned, al though I didn't see any evidence of it during my stay and found it interminably warm, although I do remember two cases of customers contracting legionnaires disease there a good few years ago. I don't know if the manager was secretly anti-smoking, because despite having limited 'no-smoking' areas, including the restaurant, finding an ash-tray outside normal bar hours was impossible. WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? It is very difficult when you live so close to a city to know whether there is better to be had for lower prices, as normally I could not justify an overnight stay in a Cardiff hotel, but from my travel experiences to date, I would positively guarantee there is better around, although maybe without the leisure facilities I didn't use. It is unlikely that I shall be staying there again, as I don't have any romantic weekends in Cardiff on my agenda in the foreseeable future, but if I win the lottery, who knows? I have said I recommend it, but I would say that unless you can get a very good rate, this applies only to those with unlimited expense accounts. COPTHORNE HOTEL CARDIFF Copthorne Way, Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff CF5 6DH, Wales. Telephone: 02920 599100 Web: http://www.millenniumhotels.com/mc/hotel_description.jsp?hotelId=48