“ Premier Inn / Hotel in Wales „
Last summer we thought it would be a good idea to take a trip over to Wales and see Great Grandma. We had a lovely day out in Cardiff. We walked along the Bay and ate Welsh cakes until I wanted to POP! As there are four of us we were never going to fit into great Grandma's house so I had booked us a family room at a hotel. Originally I had looked for a hotel in Cardiff but they were either extremely expensive or fully booked. I had looked for hotels over 6 months in advance so lord only knows why Cardiff was so booked up. I eventually found a family room at a Premier Inn about a 15 minute drive away from Cardiff in Caerphilly. The room was £46 for the night (when we arrived we added breakfast on the bill so we ended up paying about £60)
Arrival & Parking:
We set off from Cardiff and arrived at the hotel really easily. The roads there were all main ones and well sign posted. I turned at the roundabout and found parking right by the door which was a bonus with two children and loads of gear. It was about 5pm when we arrived and the kids both spotted a Pizza hut down the road. Leave it to them to find food in an instant. We decided we'd book in and get the room sorted and then go eat.
We were greeted by a lovely lady at the front desk who was smiley and welcoming. She interacted with the children and even helped us get our travel stuff to the room. You know how sometimes you can tell when someone really takes pride in what they do? Well you could feel how much she cared about doing her job to the best of her ability which was really nice. Before she left us to settle in she told us about the pub/restaurant that was attached to the hotel. We had booked a breakfast in the morning so she told us where to go, what time it was open and that there was an indoor play centre in there for the kids.
We got a family room which was perfect for the four of us. The room was clean and when I put the television on there was a kids movie playing so my two were happy. I had put on our booking form that we would need a double bed, a single bed and then we would be bringing our own travel cot for the baby. The room had a double bed and two single beds set up. My other half and I figured out that one of the beds was a trundle bed so we folded it down and pushed it under the double bed. After we'd done that we put the travel cot up in its place and then the room was ready. The bathroom was a good size which is especially good when everyone seems to pile in there in the mornings. There were fresh towels set up on the side but not enough for a family of four! Problem solved! There were extra towels in the wardrobe by the door. About a year ago I stayed at another major hotel in the same sort of catagory Premier Inn falls into and the room felts very business-like and not overly inviting whereas the Premier Inn Caerphilly Crossways was very warm and inviting.
I wasn't overly convinced with the choice of Pizza Hut for dinner so we got into the car and drove a mile into the centre of town to see what else was on offer. We drove around and found this amazing Castle. We parked up and went to investigate. An elderly lady walking past us heard us talking about it and she asked if we had visited the Big Cheese? I gave her a funny look as I had no idea what she was talking about and she proceeded to tell us that we should come back tomorrow when the castle is open. Apparently there was a big carnival going on. You could just about here some carnival noises coming from the other side of the castle but with two young children we weren't going to go over there then. I finally gave in and we headed back for Pizza Hut. As we ate dinner we decided that we would get up early have breakfast and then see what this carnival thing was like. The kids would enjoy it no matter what and our eldest (and us parents) wanted to see the inside of the castle. We finished eating and drove over to the hotel parking lot. As we got out the car we looked to the mountains in the background of the hotel to see the fog rolling in. It was an amazing view. Sad I know but we stood there for a good 5 minutes watching the fog literally roll down the mountains.
There was a noisy family in one of the family rooms across the hall from us and for some reason they thought it was ok to let their children run the halls at 9pm. Just as I had worked up the courage to get them dealt with I stepped into the hall to find that nice lady from earlier was still on duty and was asking the kids to stay in their room with their parents. Hooray for her! I ended up seeing her again later on when I found that I had lost my toothbrush and hair brush. Thankfully Premier Inn have little kits available from the front desk (there was a leaflet in the bathroom) that give you a toothbrush, toothpaste, sewing kit, condom, floss, comb and a few other bits. There's a Him and Her kit and I think the main difference between them is that the Her one comes with a tampon. For £3.50 it was a little lifesaver and as the kit itself is a nifty plastic carrier it now lives in my travel bag for future use.
I'm a bit weird about sleeping on different beds and have many times woken up after sleeping over at a friend's house or staying at a hotel with back ache. Thankfully I woke up feeling fine and ready for the day ahead.
Breakfast is run by the Brewers Fayre on site. We walked in and found we were one of two families up at the start of breakfast time. Quite nice because it meant that things were relatively quiet and calm. We had signed up for a hot breakfast. I could see all the cold stuff, breads and drinks but I couldn't see stuff like bacon or sausages! A waitress came to the table and I asked her how breakfast works and she proceeded to tell us that we had the hot breakfast and thus we could order what we wanted from her and also have our choice of the things on offer at the cold tables. I'm used to hotel breakfasts being like a buffet but I guess when you don't have a large hotel it's maybe more economical to cook as people order. I asked for some eggs and bacon and then got a plate of fruit. The boys and my other half also ordered some eggs and then some bits from the cold table. The only thing that would have been a bit nicer is if I could have ordered a full fry up. Yuck I can feel the calories now! He he he! Now and again a full fry up Is much needed and I like that the toast on the plate can soak up some of the tomato and egg whereas here you get the hot stuff and then go to the bread area to pop some toast in. it was a good breakfast don't get me wrong just wasn't exactly what was expected.
The waitress checked on us towards the end and asked if we'd been to the Big Cheese. I said we were headed that way next. She smiled and said were we sure to have a great time.
I took the baby to the restroom and came out to find my other half and elder son had left. I stood there for a moment not sure where to look. The waitress caught my eye and pointed to the rear of the restaurant. I wandered back there to find them BOTH jumping around and sliding into the ball pits in the indoor play centre. There were two areas to allow the young ones to play away from the rougher older lot which is always nice and we had it all to ourselves. We spent about 20 minutes playing before heading off.
Now I've already told you about some of the nearby places but there's more! There's a McDonalds 2 minutes walk away which is worth knowing if you don't want to pay out for a hotel breakfast or are in a hurry. I needed petrol big time and thankfully there was a huge Asda just a 5 minute drive from the hotel. Very handy and the petrol was much cheaper than the last place I had filled up so bonus!
The Big Cheese:
Finally we find out what the Big Cheese is. We parked easily in a car park across the road from the castle. There was a gift shop on the edge of the car park selling things like post cards, drinks, Welsh dragons, magnets and so on. The ladies in there were really bubbly and told us all about the Big Cheese and gave us maps of the castle and what was on at the event.
We entered the castle to find that there was no entry fee, staff were all dressed in medieval costume, there were mock jousts going on in the fields, childrens choir was performing in one area and the castle on its own was enough to bring the imagination out.
Aside from the castle being open and brought to life there was a huge fun fair in one direction and in the other was literally a massive cheese festival. All kinds of cheese, wine and fun were available for tasting and purchase. At one stall my eldest son got a chase to try his skills at milking a cow! He was so happy. His dream is to run a farm when he's older and milking a cow was his idea of a dream come true.
We came home with all kinds of cheese (thankfully we have a Halfords in car fridge thingy - small but it was just big enough!).
With a car full of cheese and two very hyper children we got our bits from the hotel room and started on our way home. It was a lovely couple days away.
As we drove off my son was flipping through a leaflet from the front desk and started talking about Fireman Sam. It took a while to figure out what he was going on about until we looked at the address of the hotel (Pontypandy!). I was amazed that he'd read that by himself! Later on my other half was looking at the same leaflet and started telling me things about Tommy Cooper. After about 5 minutes it dawned on me that by the car park at the castle had been a big statue of Tommy Cooper! I reminded him of this and he said, "Do you never listen to me? I just said Caerphilly is where Tommy Cooper was born!".
Premier Inn Crossways Business Park, Pontypandy,
Caerphilly CF83 3NL
T: 0871 527 8184
Sounds a bit silly but I drove past a local Premier Inn just the other day and my son asked if we could stay in one again because he liked it. I told my other half and we both decided that as we are getting married this year and there won't be a big holiday due to that we will instead have a weekend away in Caerphilly for the Big Cheese.
Grab a slice of the cheese and stay with stay at the Inn
© oioiyou 2010
Update: Stayed again this year and found one annoying thing. We took the Ipad my hubby uses for work and we found you have to pay to get the WiFi code. Seems a bit harsh as normally places like Starbucks and even our local library offer their codes free. We just used the 3G for the few times we looked stuff up.
© oioiyou 2011