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Tried & Tested

Novotel Cardiff Centre

A charming family-friendly hotel welcomes Jo Fletcher-Cross to the Welsh capital


There’s a big difference in how you feel checking into a hotel on your own compared to when you’ve got kids with you. Small people don’t like to queue and they’re keen to explore. The reception at the Novotel Cardiff Centre is set up for this: we’re greeted quickly and checked in at lightning speed while my six-year-old exclaims with delight over the small games area in the corner, and she’s ecstatic when the friendly receptionist hands her a colourful cuddly parrot — which she has slept with every night since our return; she loves her ‘hotel bird’.

I have to admit that I wasn’t really expecting much. I’d anticipated the usual anonymous mid-range hotel experience, so it was a big surprise to find all these little touches. Our comfortable family room offered a decent amount of space for the three of us (up to two children under the age of 16 are accommodated for free in a parent or grandparent’s bedroom, with a buffet breakfast also free when taken with the adults).

More surprises: a fairly large indoor heated pool brought forth more squeals of delight. Her dad and I took turns splashing around with her and relaxing in the Jacuzzi and sauna. We had the pool almost to ourselves for an early evening swim; a morning session the next day was much busier but still fun.

Dinner and drinks are served in the Goods Shed; the restaurant proper was actually closed on our visit, but we ate in the convivial and atmospheric lounge. The food was decent — tasty chipotle prawn tacos with avocado salsa and jerk chicken with sweet potato fries were a bit of a change from the usual hotel fare — and there’s a good children’s menu.

Breakfast was served in the restaurant and was fairly standard, with a good selection of cereal and pastries. This hotel really confounded expectations. It would be an excellent choice in its price range for all kinds of travellers, from business to families.

Rooms are available from £65 per room per night, room only.

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