Newest Review: ... 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 li... more
Surrounded By Nettles
Copthorne Hotel (Cardiff)
Member Name: Ayesha-`
Copthorne Hotel (Cardiff)
Advantages: Great facilities, retail park and nice surroundings
Disadvantages: Too far out of town, expensive with breakfast, tricky room service ordering
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.
Summary: A good place for a short break but only worth it if you drive!
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