“ The Legacy Cardiff International Hotel is nestled just beneath the fairytale Castell Coch (Red Castle) in the village of Tongwynlais, just 15 minutes by car from Cardiff City Centre. „
After a couple of successful trips to Wales over the last few years we decided to take two of our children on a last-minute trip to Cardiff over Mothering Sunday weekend. Originally we'd been thinking about Travelodge or Premier Inn for a cheap and cheerful weekend away, but the prices for a family room in the area we wanted were far from what's advertised on tele and the facilities weren't really there either. Scrapping that plan I started looking at B&Bs, eventually finding myself on Expedia where they gave me the details of a family room in this Legacy Hotel for just £52 for two nights, this included breakfast so i jumped at it as other hotels in the area were working out much more expensive once I'd factored in various surcharges.
Booking online was simple, Expedia sent me through to the hotel's own site and it was a straightforward case of filling in my contact details as well as basic information about each person who would be staying. Payment was securely taken and I was then provided with a booking form which I could either print off or simply write down our reservation number, not being particularly internet-confident I printed it out so staff at the hotel could see a hard copy of my details in case there were any problems when we arrived.
Finding the hotel was incredibly easy (once we'd worked out which junction of the M4 we needed to come off at), I'd pooh-poohed the very basic looking directions provided on the reservation sheet but they turned out to be completely accurate as the hotel is located directly off Junction 32 of the M4 with just one large roundabout to navigate to find it. Once over the roundabout we saw the sign for 'Hotel' and luckily it was ours, there was no mistaking it really as the Expedia photograph had been taken from the entrance to the car park so immediately I could shout 'that's it' to sweeten Mark up and show him my directions weren't really as bad as I'd made out that day already! Incidentally, the Legacy Cardiff International Hotel doesn't come up when you programme it into the sat nav - we'd found and dismissed a listing for a Quality Hotel but we should have followed that route as that was the previous name for this hotel and would have got us there much quicker!
I'd been worrying slightly en route as to what the hotel was going to be like, after all the price was significantly lower than other hotels in the area so I was concerned that I was about to book into a flea-pit. Not so. The fairest way to put it is to say that the hotel is a little run down from the outside, but it's simply in need of a lick of paint (plus a few slabs being re-done!) and once we were through the revolving doors I could see I'd made an excellent decision. First impressions are of a large open plan ground floor; a well signed (and pretty obvious) Reception to your left and full view of the bar and restaurant area, comfortable seating is provided for visitors who are early (as we were) so we relaxed with a glass of something nice from the bar until our 2pm check-in time.
Check-in was a simple case of handing over our confirmation email and providing them with a credit card for any charges we may incur during our stay. The guy on reception was efficient and polite, I felt he could have been a bit friendlier actually but I suppose we can't all be pillars of sweetness and light! We were given directions to our room, catching the not particularly comforting 'the lift isn't working' as we were walking away. This comment surprised me as I'd specifically asked if our room was on the ground floor when I booked, but as we made our way to the room I realised it was actually down a flight of steps - this wasn't a problem for us as we're all able-bodied but the strange layout of the hotel means reception is on Upper Ground and the family rooms are on Lower Ground, which is actually the true ground floor when you look out of your room window. The fact that the lift wasn't working (and remained unrepaired for the duration of our two night stay) would have been a potentially holiday-destroying issue for elderly or disabled visitors.
The corridors and stairway leading to our room were all clean, maintained and well lit. There are numerous heavy doors to navigate so I was glad Mark was carrying the heavy luggage, I was worried for Hollie's fingers in a particular door at the bottom of the stairwell but the weekend passed with no accidents - which is always a bonus when travelling with kids.
When we got inside our room (no mean feat thanks to a fiddly and very dodgy key card) I was astounded. We've stayed in lots of family rooms over the years and for the price we paid I'd been expecting a small but comfortable Travelodge-style room, by comparison however this was a veritable suite. The room is separated into two bedrooms with a large bathroom and kitchenette between the bedrooms, the huge windows allow plenty of natural light into the room with it being spacious enough that all four of us could comfortably live there for the weekend without getting on top of one another.
You could tell some thought had gone into the furnishings as all our basic needs were taken care of. In 'our' room was a very comfortable double bed, a small table, armchair, desk/dressing table combo plus various side tables and leather topped stools. The kids room, while slightly smaller featured a double sofa bed (surprisingly plush and comfortable), bedside cabinets (very well received by Hollie who doesn't have one at home) and a matching desk/dressing table. With the exception of our bed, most of the furnishings were getting close to their use by date but as the general theme was polished wood the hotel just about gets away with it.
An under-counter fridge is provided and a decent sized sink and draining board made eating in our room an easy option. There was a bracket on the wall for a microwave but this was missing, something I complained about as it would have been handy for heating up snacks for the kids but apparently the hotel was in the middle of replacing the kitchenette equipment which is why we didn't have one. Would have been useful if they'd left the old one in place until the new one arrived though!
The bathroom was great; spotlessly clean with a deep bath and shower. A large vanity area with fully lit mirror made it look almost sci-fi in comparison to the slightly antiquated style of the bedrooms, water was hot and plentiful - I actually disappeared on the first night for a very long bath while Mark took the kids for a walk in the nearby hills and the bathroom was an oasis of calm. Until they came back and disturbed my peace.
The hotel boasts a full wi-fi service, unfortunately (like the lift) this wasn't working during our visit and it's got to lose brownie points for that as me and Alice ended up paying roaming charges so we could use the internet in the evenings. There was a smart flat panel TV in the room which picked up a small selection of cable channels, nothing to get too excited about even though the picture was extremely good. The remote didn't work though, which was annoying when Mark did his usual trick of putting the football on then going outside for a fag as I didn't know how to change channel without it.
The bar and restaurant area on the (Upper, bah) Ground floor is really nice. Expensive, but nice. The tables are all beautifully laid out (although the excess wine glasses were removed when the waitress noticed Hollie's interest in them) and as the restaurant was very quiet when we used it we were served quickly. The menu choices were varied and all sounded delicious, I wasn't overly impressed with the range of children's meals but as chicken nuggets and chips was an option I knew my two would be happy. Be aware though that portion sizes for children are very small, after Alice's dinner arrived I called the waitress back to order an extra bowl of chips plus a couple of starters as I knew the very small plate of food wouldn't satisfy her - even Hollie (who eats like a bird) polished her meal off within minutes and said she was still hungry. My fish and chips was honestly no better than I would have got in any of my local pubs, in fact the amount of batter in relation to the size of the fish fillet made it even worse value for money than I'd originally thought. You expect hotel restaurants to be more expensive than your average pub restaurant, but these three small and very average meals cost almost £40 including three glasses of Coke which I do think is taking the proverbial.
The continental breakfast included in our room charge was nice enough; a choice of around six different cereals as well as as much nicely cooked toast as you want. I'm not much of a breakfast eater at the best of times but managed a slice of toast while Hollie and Alice filled their bellies with their body weight in cereal, we could have opted for a cooked breakfast for an extra £5 per person but I felt this didn't represent good value for money considering how fussy kids can be at breakfast time. The cooked breakfast did look good though, I saw plenty of people eating them and the smell definitely made my tummy rumble a bit!
So, you've enjoyed a relaxing night in the hotel and the next day you want to explore the area. Using the Legacy hotel as a base this is extremely easy. We were using our car so the fact that the hotel is located at the side of a motorway junction was great (by the way, you'll not be disturbed by motorway noise due to the hotel being slightly laid back with very good windows!), there's a large ring road style roundabout directly outside the hotel and this is well signed so that you can find just about anywhere in South Wales from there. Cardiff City Centre is a straightforward fifteen minute drive away, slightly further on you've got the over-hyped (and very windy) Barry Island with lots of attractions and sights to visit in between. As we were having such a short visit we stayed quite local to the hotel but for the cheap price of accommodation I'd be happy to go again for a longer stay and visit more of the surrounding areas. Behind the hotel is countryside which was nice for a stroll in the evening, in my opinion it was a bit too hilly to be very enjoyable - but then again I can't really expect Wales to bulldoze all its hills for me. Although that would have been nice.
Overall I can't fault the Legacy Cardiff International Hotel. It's fairly local to the airport and business hub of Cardiff (making the lack of wi-fi slightly embarrassing for them) and has everything a casual visitor needs to make their stay a pleasant and relaxing one. I was impressed by the level of cleanliness in the hotel, it's like the management realise the building is a little shabby looking and they want to make an impression by proving that it's still spotless. Staff will clean the room everyday unless you tell them not to, and even if you don't fancy an early morning clean they'll provide a pile of clean towels along with fresh toiletries and tea-making products outside your door.