Hated the Cardiff Hotel
I climbed 79 steps up a narrow staircase, with occasionally loose bits of carpet, to a small and stuffy room on a hot and humid night. The room was clean and the area generally quiet but the bed was narrow, lumpy and uncomfortable. There was no shampoo provided, the shower and toilet were tiny and the lack of air conditioning was a real problem on the night that I stayed. The breakfast was fair but I found the room rather cramped. Generally there was a rather stale small about the place and my friend complained about the tang of cigarette smoke from the previous occupant. The only redeeming feature was the proximity to Paddington Station!
Know what you're getting going in and you'll be fine here
I'd read enough reviews of this place in planning our trip to avoid some of the issues reported here. I requested a lower room and got the first floor, which I'd recommend to anyone planning to stay here. We faced Norfolk Square which is actually quite attractive. We did have a few noise problems with people walking through at night, but generally it was fine. Now for the other bad and good points:
Yes, the rooms are small. It doesn't help that much of the available space on the vanity is taken up by the television and the teapot, especially since TV reception is marginal and the electric teapot didn't work at all.
Breakfast wasn’t quite as good as we’d expected. Cereals and fruit were plentiful and the selection of jams was excellent, but the English breakfast was rather disappointing. The bacon was extremely salty – much more than I’d ever tasted before – and the staff only serves one banger per breakfast unless you request otherwise. Also, eggs may only be ordered sunny-side-up or over-easy. For some reason, they can’t/won’t scramble eggs. Go figure.
The staff was pleasant enough, but sometimes their command of the English language left a bit to be desired.
I have two basic criteria a hotel must pass for me to consider it worthwhile and this property passes on both. First, the showers, though cramped, were warm and had great water pressure. Second, the beds were firm but not too much so. I slept really well in them.
It would be hard to beat this property’s location. Enough people have described the hotel’s proximity to Paddington Station that I don’t really need to, but I haven’t seen anyone mention the fact that the Big Bus sightseeing tour has a stop within 50 feet of the hotel’s front door. Restaurants, pubs, shops, money changing stores, and a couple of Internet cafés are just steps away in addition to the shopping and eating arcade within Paddington Station itself.
While the problems with the TV and tea pot were annoyances, the fact is we didn't spend much time in the room so both of those points were essentially moot.
In summary, you can certainly stay in better places if you’re willing to pay the tab. Consider this hotel’s warts and decide if you can live with them. If you simply want shelter and are willing to deal with the shortcomings, the Cardiff will be fine. If you need plusher surroundings, there’s a Hilton at Paddington Station, a fairly new Quality within a few steps of the station, and a host of other small hotels in this neighborhood.
Cozy well priced hotel..see my pictures
There are hundreds of budget hotels to choose from in London and I've read all the horror stories too..it's difficult to make a decision when one person is raving about a hotel and then someone else says it's the worst place they have ever stayed. I poured over the reviews and did some research online and ended up finding the Cardiff Hotel.
One huge factor in my decision is that they responded to my e-mails very quickly. I changed my plans a couple times and they were very quick to make adjustments via e-mail for me. I found a good deal on the room thru one of those online services and I contacted the hotel directly and asked if I could simply book right with them for that price and they honored it.
I also heard they had a full English breakfast included so that was another plus. :)
When it came time to finally roll into the Cardiff, I found it was part of two very long, probably at one time apartment buildings facing each other that had been broken up and sold to several different hotels. So the photo you may have seen on the web of a big white giant hotel has the Cardiff as part of it and other hotels as well.
They have a 24 hour reception desk which I like..there is always someone there. Your key fits your room and the front door which is always locked. Everyone spoke English and were always pleasant and accomodating.
True to other reviews, there is no elevator, you will have to pull your bags upstairs..but if an able bodied adult cannot pull luggage up a couple flights of stairs I would recommend joining a gym :)...and asking ahead for a room on the 1st or 2nd floor will help minimize the amount of hoisting you will have to do. I had no problem as a woman getting my stuff up to the second floor.
OK, admittedly, when I put the key in the door and opened it I burst out laughing..the only real Achilles Heel of the hotel..the single rooms are incredibly tiny. I mean really small! I wasn't sure I would be able to hack it for 2 weeks in there, but really, your attitude is everything. You find you can adapt and it's no big deal in the end. My room had a recently put in bathroom unit..I paid a few dollars extra for that, otherwise you use the toilet down the hall from the room. It is a small but adequate unit with a shower, toilet and sink. I have read many complaints about small bathrooms in London hotels but one should actually consider themselves lucky to have one in the room. I really don't care about things like the size of bathrooms, I mean how long do you plan to be in the shower? Most of the time you will be out enjoying yourself.
Breakfast is served from 7-9 am and is pretty expansive. A choice of cereal, yogurt, juices, fresh fruit, and of course the English breakfast. Only tiny complaint is they only make the either fried or hardboiled with a runny yolk, which I don't like. Again, nothing worth worrying about. The wait staff was friendly and quick to serve and spoke English.
The reception staff was also friendly and can provide you with information about local sights and sounds, they also can sell you phone cards to use in your room to make international/local calls and were always very prompt to get the heat on in my room when I called down for it. No complaints here.
The hotel is very close to Paddington station (walking distance) which is where the Heathrow Express drops you off from the airport. Also nearby are plenty of mini marts, food places, internet cafes (I recommend Reload which is a short walk from the hotel) and Paddington Underground is very close too so you can easily hop onto the tube and be off.
Another small thing is that my window was above the sidewalk outside the hotel so you do get noise from people talking and cars parking, etc. It's actually a smaller road next to a park square so it's not like major traffic noise but enough that you may want to bring a pair of earplugs is that bothers you or see if you can get a room that doesn't face the street. Also you can sometimes hear people in the room next door but it wasn't really much of an issue.
After a while the place was starting to feel like home. I was greeted with a smile when I came in at night from my fun days in London. The place did not smell, the carpet looked pretty new and my room was clean and no smoke odors. There was nothing damp or musty about the place. The room was made up for me daily with a fresh towel and bar of soap. Small but adequate TV is mounted on wall above bed. Tea maker with tea and coffee in room. Just bring your own shampoo.
I have attached photos of my room to give you an idea of what it was like. American tourists are often shocked at the size of the rooms and sometimes lack of regular sized bathrooms the rooms too. You need to go in knowing what to expect, that these are very old buildings that can only be modernized so far. It is a *budget* hotel. And in my opinion a pretty good one. I didn't feel uncomfortable at all. I would stay there again!
If you have any questions I can help you with about the hotel or London in general you can e-mail me at email@example.com and I will try to help you out.