To begin on a positive note, the location is brilliant. Within five minutes' walk are the bustling new harbour, countless bars and restaurants, a bowling alley, a waterbus to the city centre, the Millennium Centre and a multi-screen cinema. The hotel is easy to find, the huge car park is free for hotel guests, and the reception staff are first class.
We had spent the previous two nights at a Premier Inn in Swansea, so the general lack of finesse at Cardiff's Travelodge was probably more noticeable than it would otherwise have been. I am sorry, Travelodge, but excellent staff apart, you are lagging behind Premier Inn in every other department. Their fixtures and fittings are better, every bathroom has a bath (big enough to submerge an entire adult human, unlike yours), they supply complimentary soap, they trust their guests with a hairdryer (£6 from Asda) rather than printing out an invitation to collect one from reception, and on this short tour of South Wales, Premier Inn's rooms were cheaper. No contest.
On the web site, Travelodge Cardiff Bay promises 'showers in every room, baths in most.' So why were we allocated - on a Tuesday in May with the hotel less than half full - a room without a bath? When we queried it at reception, we were given a room with a bath immediately. This led us to believe that Travelodge's policy must be to give the smaller, less attractive rooms to customers who book on line in advance - paying £39 - and to give the bigger, better rooms to the people who walk in on the night and pay £58. If you are going to do this, at least be honest on the web site. 'You are only paying £39, so take whatever broom cupboard we give you and look grateful. We keep the better rooms for the last minute drunks who are leaving their cars in town.' That sort of thing.
Another minor niggle was the complete absence of any soap or shower gel (bulk hand wash liquid £13 for 5 litres at outofeden.co.uk) which we can only assume is a penny-pinching decision made at HQ.
Shape up, Travelodge. You have - as they used to say around the corner in Cardiff docks - spoiled the ship for a hap'orth of tar. The people at the sharp end - the receptionists and room staff - are brilliant. Time for the people up on the bridge to pull their weight. (That's enough nautical references - ed.)
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- Also Known As:
- Travelodge Cardiff Atlantic Wharf Hotel Cardiff
- Travelodge Cardiff Atlantic Wharf Wales