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Best hotels in Cardiff 2023: From city-centre luxury to budget weekend breaks

These are the hotels to suit every budget and activity

Kerry Walker
Wednesday 22 March 2023 12:10 GMT
<p>Stay central if you want to shop and party, while expansive views can be found at the Bay </p>

Stay central if you want to shop and party, while expansive views can be found at the Bay

Ever since a millennial wand was waved on the Bay, turning it from stinky wasteland to the shiny modern face of the capital of Wales, Cardiff has steadily been upping its game hotel-wise.

A quick Google search reveals a disproportionate number of cookie-cutter chains, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find lush boutique B&Bs and charismatic hotels fusing style and history increasingly muscling in on the scene. And, this being Wales, they don’t cost the earth either.

Nowadays, you can snuggle up in a cool converted coal exchange, a slickly designed spa hotel by the waterfront, a Victorian arcade or a luxuriously revamped post office. There’s really something for everyone when it comes to places to stay.

Stay central if you want to shop and party, head to the Bay for expansive views and attention-grabbing architecture, or stray off-piste into corners such as Pontcanna and Canton for indie cafes, bars and restaurants, and a mellow neighbourly vibe.

The best hotels in Cardiff are:

Best spa hotel: Voco St David’s

Neighbourhood: Cardiff Bay

This hotel comes with dreamy views across the water

Cardiff Bay’s most eye-catching hotel is this sail-topped, glass-walled, five-star number, with dreamy views across the water all the way to Penarth. The rooms play up clean, modern aesthetics, with a breezy palette of coastal blues, floor-to-ceiling windows and artworks singing of the sea. They are terrific for exploring the regenerated Bay and its architecturally striking landmarks  it’s just a 10-minute stroll to the Senedd and Millennium Centre.

The hotel has impeccable eco credentials, recently awarded the Green Key for sustainable measures that include EV charging points, OVO e-bikes to rent (£2 for a 30-minute spin), waste reduction and an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. They’re family-friendly, too, with staff going out of their way to make kids feel welcome.

The spa is the clincher, however, with a jetted hydrotherapy pool, waterbeds, sauna and an enticing array of seaweed-based ishga treatments, from hot-stone massage to salt-and-oil scrubs. Nice and relaxed, you can head to the bar terrace for sunset views and cocktails (try a Bara Brith sour with Devil’s Bridge spiced rum). Tir a Mor is a cut above most hotel restaurants, with big Bay views and an inspired menu riffing creatively on Welsh ingredients in dishes such as Pembrokeshire crab cakes with lime mayo, and Carmarthen ham-and-leek pie.

Best boutique B&B: Parador 44

Neighbourhood: Castle Quarter

Rest up in the terrace garden with a Spanish wine or beer from the bar

Slip down Quay Street near the Principality Stadium and thank your lucky stars you booked a room at this little ray of Spanish sunshine, which has swiftly carved out a niche as Cardiff’s sexiest boutique B&B since opening its doors in summer 2022. Step in and you’ll find meticulously styled, Andalusia-inspired interiors, dressed in snowy whites and reclaimed wood. The look is light, natural and understated, with carefully sourced fabrics, intricately carved Spanish doors and shutters repurposed as headboards, photos of Spain and the odd designer flourish lending detail and interest.

With just nine rooms, it feels more like a friend’s particularly stylish home. After whizzing around the sights (the castle and Bute Park are just a couple of minutes’ walk away), you can rest up on the terrace garden with a Spanish wine or beer from the honesty bar and enjoy the calm. Nespresso coffee, loose teas and homemade sherried Welsh cakes are complimentary. And there’s no need to stray far for food: Asador 44 serves charcoal-grilled fresh fish and dry-aged steaks in cosy, brick-walled surrounds.

Best hotel for history: The Coal Exchange

Neighbourhood: Cardiff Bay

From the grand hall to stylish bathrooms, The Coal Exchange screams lavishness

Once the beating heart of Cardiff’s shipping and coal-trading industry, this dashing Renaissance Revival building on Mount Stuart Square has been given a new lease of life as The Coal Exchange hotel. Its lavish centrepiece is the Grand Hall, once the busy trading floor, with its wooden balconies, frescoes and chandeliers.

Rooms, meanwhile, offer a slice of style at sensible prices, with a decadently playful mix of flamboyant wallpaper, padded velvet walls, modern backlighting and antique furnishings, and bathrooms with spa baths for a post-sightseeing bubble. The Presidential Suite is deliciously camp, with its pink bedspread, vibrant blue wood panelling, exotic wallpaper, crimson red sofa and gilt furniture.

Hungry? Head over to Culley’s kitchen and bar for a bottomless brunch, classic dishes from steaks to fish and chips, and cocktails spiked with seasonal Welsh ingredients, such as Candy Floss Fizz with Aber Falls rhubarb-and-ginger gin.

Best off-the-beaten-track hotel: No 73 by CoffiCo

Neighbourhood: Riverside

This charming Victorian townhouse B&B is right on the doorstep of the Sophia Gardens

If you want to see the real Cardiff, slide away from the city centre to neighbourhoods pulsing with newfound cool and creativity, such as Pontcanna and Canton. The ideal base for doing just that is No 73 by CoffiCo (formerly Cathedral 73), a charming little B&B in a Victorian townhouse right on the doorstep of the Sophia Gardens in Bute Park.

Price doesn’t mean sacrificing style here, with historic features from wood floors and stucco blending seamlessly with baby-blue walls, streamlined furnishings and brass planters sprouting foliage. Done up in soft dove greys, the light, high-ceilinged rooms and suites come with pleasing touches, such as espresso machines. Go for breakfast in the coffee shop before a mooch around. The surrounding area is packed with indie delis, craft breweries, cafe roasteries and ethnic restaurants.

Best budget hotel: Sleeperz Hotel Cardiff

Neighbourhood: City Centre

At Sleeperz you can get a room for as little as £50 (breakfast not included)

Yeah, we know – it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but who cares? If you want to save a bob, this no-nonsense chain hotel near Cardiff Central station does the job nicely. Light, modern, wood-floored rooms, with splashes of primary colour, swing from compact ‘cabins’ to more generously sized superior rooms and family rooms (a double and bunk bed). Accessible rooms are also available. The beds are comfortable, the wifi is fast, and showers work well in the wet-room bathrooms – not bad given rooms go for as little as £50 without breakfast.

You might want to crash and grab a bite to eat in the lounge bar or restaurant, but probably you’ll head straight into town. The castle is just a 10-minute toddle away.

Best luxury hotel: The Parkgate Hotel

Neighbourhood: Castle Quarter

The deluxe junior suite has a balcony and it’s close enough to hear the rugby fans roar

Parkgate came waltzing onto Cardiff’s hotel scene in late 2021, raising eyebrows with its stunning conversion of the historic post office and county court. Close enough to the Principality Stadium to hear the rugby fans roar, the hotel wings you back to a more glamorous era, with a proper shot of luxury in cleverly reimagined interiors that spin together vintage flair and modern comfort. Cue 170 rooms with geometric patterns, parquet flooring, muted retro colours (grey-blues, mustards, taupes) and elegantly arched or floor-to-ceiling windows framing the cityscape.

The icing on the cake is the sixth-floor spa, with a skyline-gazing hydrotherapy pool and luscious Elemis treatments. And with its columns, Art Deco wood panelling and chandeliers, the grand Sorting Room bar and restaurant has a real sense of occasion. Stop by for afternoon tea, champagne or dinner. Dishes such as Monmouthshire-reared pork and sage Scotch egg and trio of Brecon lamb with charred leeks are brilliantly Welsh.

Best family hotel: Clayton Hotel

Neighbourhood: City Centre

A central location and family rooms mean this is the perfect place when you’re travelling with kids

If you’re travelling with your kids, you want to be right in the thick of things. Sidling up to Cardiff Central station, the Clayton is a sure-fire family pleaser, just a 10-minute toddle from the city’s fantasy castle, the vast open spaces of Bute Park (check out the woodland play trail) and the dock for boats along the river to Cardiff Bay, where kids can be kept amused for an entire rainy day at whizzy science centre Techniquest.

As for the hotel itself, it’s perfect for families. The rooms are nothing fussy, granted, but they are modern, functional, well-spaced and keenly priced. Family rooms come with a double and single bed and extra beds and cots can be added. The higher you go, the better the view. Mealtimes are hassle-free, too, as the grill restaurant does a children’s menu.

Best hotel for shopping: Hotel Indigo

Neighbourhood: Castle Quarter

Many of the hotel rooms gaze out over the city

If you’re in Cardiff to shop, there’s no better base to do so than Hotel Indigo in the Dominions Arcade on Queen Street. Here, you can easily dive into Cardiff’s loveliest Victorian and Edwardian arcades, harbouring an enticing mix of indie boutiques, cafes and bars trading in everything from gin to boho couture, second-hand books and Portuguese pastries. Built in 1921, the Dominions Arcade is the youngest and smallest of the lot, emblazoned with street art murals of Welsh legends such as Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Roald Dahl.

Hotel Indigo encapsulates the age and sends it fluttering into the future, with Art Deco panache, bold artworks, a pinch of cool and a whole lot of Wales. Bottle-green metro tiles, brightly patterned fabrics, colours that pop, and headboards refashioned from Welsh blankets create an individual, memorable look. Many of the rooms gaze out over the city and the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse has a roof terrace for cocktails and views as Cardiff starts to twinkle.

Best hotel for nightlife: The Royal Hotel

Neighbourhood: City Centre

The central location means you’re only a short walk away from Cardiff’s hottest bars

Squished between the Principality Stadium and Cardiff International Arena, this hotel is not quite as regal as it sounds, but it’s a safe gamble if you’re after a night on the town. The ultra-central location means you’re close to Cardiff’s hottest bars – The Dead Canary (1920s speakeasy vibes and decadent cocktails); Pennyroyal (apothecary-style cocktails and hip-hop in a Victorian emporium), and Lab 22 (bonkers cocktails in a prohibition-era speakeasy) are all within easy staggering distance.

Built in 1866, the hotel itself has seen grander days, as testified by the oak-panelled breakfast room, where Captain Scott held his farewell dinner before his fatal Antarctic expedition in 1910. Now, rooms are fresh, contemporary and a steal, given the modest price tag. Triple rooms are ideal for families, deluxe rooms come with perks (bathrobes, wine, etc), while themed cinema rooms are best for movie fans, with Netflix and big screens. The rooftop bees make honey for breakfast and beeswax for candles, balms and soaps. You can visit the hive on request.

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