“ Address: Atlantic Wharf / Hemingway Road / Cardiff CF10 4JY / South Glamorgan / Tel: 0871 984 6424 „
At the beginning of this year, I applied to audition for a singing competition called 'Open Mic', so as soon as this audition was confirmed (it was to be in Cardiff, in August 2011), we knew we had better start looking for somewhere to stay for the night.
Being on a tight budget I came up with the idea of staying in a Travelodge as you only pay for the room rather than ridiculous amounts of money per person. I discussed it with the other two members of the group (there were three of us in total) and they too decided that it was a good idea.
As the competition was taking place in Cardiff Bay we decided to go for the 'Cardiff Bay Travelodge' rather than the 'City Centre Travelodge' as it was closer to where the competition was.
~ * Booking * ~
Booking a night's stay at the Travelodge was very, very simple. Simply, log on to the website www.travelodge.co.uk and follow their simple steps. We did it all on the internet which was good. Once we had given our card details, we received a confirmation via email. All we had to do after that was turn up!
~ * Where...? *~
The Travelodge is located in the Bay area of Cardiff.
Despite being in Cardiff Bay (I much prefer the city centre), I did think that the Travelodge was in located in a good place. It was near to all the main restaurants which was good.
~ * Checking In * ~
Checking in was simple. The staff were very friendly. Check in was fast.
Finding our room was simple. We were staying in room 525 which was on the second floor.
Our room key was the usual 'swipe card' kind of key.
~ * The Room *~
I was impressed with the room as I have stayed in Travelodges before and have found the rooms to be really horrible and 'old' looking. So I was please with our room; it was very big; plenty of room to move around and we didn't feel crowded or get in each others way which was great.
The bathroom was small but we weren't exactly going to be spending huge amounts of time in there anyway, so it worked out ok.
We had a bath/shower. The shower was ok- not the most powerful, but it was ok. The bath was quite small however and I couldn't 'stretch out' properly - I am short too! The shower didn't 'come off the wall' though. There was no shampoo although the Travelodge do say that they do this in order to be able to keep the cost of the room down, which is good as it's better to pay a few pence for a bar of soap to take with you than have to pay a few extra pounds to be able to have the luxury of a bar of soap in the room.
We were quite high up and our view was of the car park. We could see a bit of the stadium too. Despite the window not opening very wide (obviously a health and safety issue and not a fault of the hotel), the window was very large and so we had plenty of light in the room. We also had a big blind which covered the whole window which was great.
There were lots of different 'light options' in the room. You could have a main light, or just the 'lamps' which gave a really nice, cosy atmosphere.
We had a television where we had a good range of channels to choose from.
There wasn't a telephone in the lodge. We didn't mind as we had our mobiles with us anyway. However, if we had been in different rooms then we probably would have liked the free-room-to-room-calls, but on this occasion it didn't matter.
I hate to pick (I'm not really this picky honestly!), but the room wasn't that clean. I work in a hotel myself and so know how hard the staff work and so I hate to complain when I know how hard the job is...however; the room didn't look as if it had been hoovered, there was a lot of dust (on the heater, in the fan etc) and a hair in the bath. It was ok for the price though.
~ * Good Sleep * ~
Noooooo!!! I was sleeping on the sofa and as it wasn't set up, we couldn't be bothered to pull it out and put the sheets on, so I slept on the sofa. I couldnt sleep, it was too hot and I had a cold. It didn't help that we only had a pillow each - it wasn't even a big, fluffy pillow, it was as flat as a pancake. We could have requested another pillow, but it was too late by the time that we discovered how crap the pillows were.
The sheets were nice and crisp and clean.
It was so hot, that I opened the window, but then there was a lot of noise coming from outside (mainly drunk-party-people who were on their way back from their night out).
~ * To Eat.... * ~
There was a small restaurant there. You could have breakfast and dinner. When we found out about them doing breakfast we planned on having breakfast there (you had to pay for it - it wasn't included in the room price). So we asked if we could book for breakfast and the receptionist told us that they were fully booked.
I looked at the menu and thought that the dishes on there looked very appealing - well, they had pasta and I am a huge pasta fan so it was good enough for me.
The food was also excellent value for money; starters were around £3 each and mains around £6; so good value for money.
We decided to have a look around the area to see what the options of places to eat were like before settling for somewhere to eat. I am a huge fan of Italian food and there were plenty of these restaurants there, however my friends are really really fussy and doesn't like Italian or Chineese cuisine and so we decided to head back to the hotel.
By this point it was about 8:30pm. We went to the bar where we were greeted by a receptionist. We asked if they had a table for 3. The restaurant was half full (at a guess I would imagine that the restaurant could seat about 40 people, there only looked like there was around 20 people in there if that). She told us that there was a three and a half hour wait (!!!!). Obviously we weren't going to wait that long, although it made us wonder why was there a three hour wait (!!) and how did they know there was going to be a three hour wait and why didn't they just say they were fully booked (I mean surely the kitchen wouldn't be happy with tables coming in at 11:30pm at night!)
In the end, as we had been going round and round Cardiff Bay for around an hour and a half looking for somewhere we all wanted to eat, we were so hungry and tired by then that we just decided to go to Tesco's to see what we could get there, and then ate in the room.
There were vending machines in the reception area. I bought a 'treat sized bag' of maltesers for £2 which I thought was quite expensive, especially as you can get a larger sized bag for just over £2 in shops.
~* Staff * ~
We only came across three members of staff; two on reception who were very friendly and helpful and a housekeeper who we came across on the landing. All were very polite and helpful.
~ * Value For Money * ~
We paid around £72 for the room. There were three of us staying in the room and we paid £24 each which I thought was amazing value, especially as you can expect to pay over £72 per person per night in most hotels.
~ * Hints, Tips and Other Points * ~
Restaurant - BOOK EARLY! We thought we were booking early for breakfast (the afternoon the day before we wanted the breakfast) although this was too late. So book days, weeks, even months in ahead. Same goes for evening meal too.
There was no air conditioning in the room which was a bit annoying as the room was very warm and the window didn't open very wide (safety reasons etc as we were on a high-ish floor). They did supply us with a small fan which did help although was very, very dusty - Obviously fans do tend to gather dust, but this one looked like it had been shut in a room full of dust for years!
My bed was a sofa bed - consisting of a lovely red sofa. The sofa-bed wasn't made up and so we were left to 'pull the bed bit out' and make it up ourselves - the sheets were left in a pile on the sofa.
The sofa was very comfy and quite large - was nice to sit there and relax in the evening; made a change from watching television on the bed or a hard chair in usual hotels.
There was no hairdryer - luckily I took my own (as I always do) as my hair takes a long time to dry and I can't always be bothered to 'hold my finger on the button the whole time otherwise the hairdryer will cut off when drying and they're slow! So a good tip is to take your own dryer - I think you could have probably requested one from reception though (not sure if there was an extra cost - probably).
There were plenty of towels; enough to go around which was great. They were big, fluffy towels which were good. They had the usual system of 'if you put it in the bath, we'll give you a new one, if you leave it on the rail it means you are happy to keep that one'.
Apparently the lodge was fully booked - although we didn't see that many people and so it didn't feel 'stressful' or 'too busy' which was nice. We only saw one or two other guests.
I liked that the lodge was 'safe'. To get from reception to the staircase, you had to use your room key to open the door which I thought was great and meant that only guests had access to the rooms.
There were lots of tea and coffee in the room and plenty of milk (always a good thing!).
There was no-where to leave luggage which was annoying. We travelled on the train and check in wasn't until 3pm. As there wasn't anywhere to leave luggage (and we arrived at around 10am in the morning- we didn't want to go around the city with suitcases), so we had to go to the Tourist Information Centre who had a service where they looked after your luggage for you (it cost £5 though), although we knew that our luggage was safe.
You can request early check-in and late-check out at an extra cost of £10. I loved the fact that the check-out time was 12:00pm anyway, but you could have a late check out up until 2pm.
There was a bus-stop about a 30 second walk from the main entrance of the lodge; we didn't use this service although we did use a taxi which the reception kindly booked for us.
There was a large car park outside of the hotel - we didn't use this as we travelled on the train, although it's worth enquiring about if you are travelling by car.
It was a Saturday night when we stayed and we went down to the Bay (around 5 minute walk) and there was a great atmosphere; lots of people buzzing about, live music in the street, etc - just a really good atmosphere.
There are lots of restaurants and a cinema and bowling alley nearby- so there is plenty to keep you entertained, although I much prefer staying in the City Centre; I don't know what it is, but I always feel 'left out' when I stay in the Bay rather than the Centre.
~ * And Finally... *~
I know I sound really picky - but I'm not really like that. I would definetely recommend this travelodge as it is excellent value for money and is in a great location. I did enjoy my stay (although it probably doesn't seem like that from the amount of faults I have picked out).
Thanks for reading!
xd-o-n-z-x (also posted under xdonzx on ciao)