Premier Inn Cardiff North
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100 (698 reviews)/
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Welcoming around 20-million visitors each year, cosmopolitan Cardiff has no shortage of attractions to be proud of, enticing travellers with a fairy-tale castle, stately parks, Victorian shopping arcades and world-class sports venues. The city’s reinvention from industrial port to thriving cultural capital is the fruit of decades of redevelopment, much of it focused on the waterfront at Cardiff Bay, where the Welsh National Assembly and the Millennium Centre took up residence in the noughties. Several four- and five-star hotels can be found in the city’s commercial centre and bay area, in addition to homely self-catering apartments and some inexpensive hostels.
Though Cardiff was once a vital port for coal transportation, these days its sheltered bay wears a more distinguished hat. In Roald Dahl Plass, reverentially named after Cardiff’s famous son, the iconic Wales Millennium Centre delights visitors with blockbuster musicals, opera, stand-up comedy and art exhibitions. In the same development, standing like a glass envelope next to the bright-red clock tower of the historic Pierhead Building, the Richard-Rogers-designed Senedd building has further repurposed Cardiff Bay. Steps away, Mermaid Quay offers a worldly array of eateries serving everything from Welsh ice cream to Japanese sushi. Walk off lunch with a visit to Roath Lock studios, where BBC drama productions Doctor Who and Casualty are filmed. Cross the Taff Viaduct to find Cardiff International Sports Village which includes a marina, an Olympic-size pool, a white-water rafting centre and Ice Arena Cardiff, where Cardiff Devil’s ice hockey team reside.
In Cardiff’s largely pedestrianised centre, historic shopping arcades rub shoulders with modern retail giants such as St David’s Dewi Sant and the Capitol Centre. The city’s most-loved arcades include the upscale Royal and Morgan Arcades, the wholesome Castle Arcade and the food-fixated Wyndham Arcade. Cardiff’s centre comes alive on a match day when friendly fans arrive in droves through Cardiff Central Railway Station. From here, the Principality Stadium, home of Wales’ national rugby union and national football teams, can be reached in minutes. The perfect place to celebrate a big win, nearby Womanby Street is lined with historic taverns and offbeat bars. In this area, a range of hotels are available for those who miss the last train home, including several straightforward options near the station, while those who plan ahead might stumble across some unmissable late deals for one of the Cardiff centre’s luxurious spa hotels.
Upstream, the turrets of Cardiff’s neo-gothic castle can be seen peeping through Bute Park’s many trees. A moated Norman keep and the remains of a roman fort reveal the site’s ancient past. Check out the replica of the Trebuchet, a deadly example of 13th Century weaponry. Head to the Animal Wall to photograph the carved creatures, commissioned in the 19th Century by the 3rd Marquess of Bute. Take a tour beneath the castle walls to see wartime air-raid shelters. Sprawling Bute Park is home to a nationally-significant arboretum and draws over one-million visitors per year, many of whom attend the RHS Flower Show held in April. Across the river, Sophia Gardens and Pontcanna Fields offers parkland for camping, cycling and horse-riding. International and county cricket matches are held here, at the SSE SWALEC stadium and Glamorgan County Cricket Club.
North of Cardiff Castle is Cathays Park, which consists of three immaculately-landscaped gardens around which Cardiff University, the Welsh Government offices, the Law Courts, the City Hall and the National Museum are housed in stately Edwardian buildings. Several important monuments and statues call Alexandra, Gorsedd and Friary Gardens their home, including the Welsh National War Memorial in Alexandra. In Gorsedd Garden, the Winter Wonderland ice rink is installed on the City-Hall lawn each year. Housed around the Edwardian splendour, Cardiff’s student population have revitalised the Cathays suburbs and encouraged an inspired array of late-night haunts to pop up within walking distance of Cathays train station. Visitors to Cardiff University’s campus and other institutions around Cathays Park often choose a hotel in the Greyfriars Road area which offers endless opportunities for eating out, live-music venues, a Victorian theatre, a famous comedy club and several huge nightclubs.
Other must-sees include the Rossetti artwork at medieval Llandaff Cathedral, the 13th Century romantic folly Castell Coch and the gigantic moated fortress Caerphilly Castle, all of which are located north of Cardiff centre. For easy access to these ancient but sometimes-overlooked sites, budget hotels and a couple of pricier options are available near the M4. West of the city-centre lies Cardiff City Stadium, home of Cardiff City Football Club, aka The Bluebirds. Four miles from there, the National History Museum in St Fagans is a top pick for family excursions. Twelve miles south-west from the city centre, Cardiff Airport can be reached via road or train to Rhoose station. Though there are limited accommodation options in the immediate vicinity of the terminal building, there are a handful of traditional B&Bs and modern hotels along the road to seaside town Barry, and the area is also home to several golf resorts.