Ideally situated a yard stick away from Central Station is Cardiff’s latest and largest hotel, the Maldron, the first in both Wales and the wider UK from the Irish chain. With this in mind the colours of not just the interior but the exterior have been made to accommodate Wales and the surrounding area, so the hotel echoes the nearby new library in its warm sandstone appearance.
Inside I arrive to a cool chic of charcoal grey walls and although the mood is definitively Welsh it’s far from sombre, subtly imbued by warm lighting and a red orchid adds a neat botanic touch atop the reception area. The staff I encounter are readily attentive and some have been imported from the emerald isle themselves to front up this latest opening.
Behind them is a reminder of both Ireland and Wales in Deirdre McCloney’s green felt artwork symbolising Wales’ hills and the canal that once sprung from them to run past what is now the hotel entrance into the docks and Bristol Channel. A ribbon like gauze masks the windows from inward glances while the seating is of varied tones and textures, some beige, others in mauve or purple velvet.
The hotel aims to capture a niche in the market by offering affordable rooms to a clientele ranging from families to corporate professionals. To the latter end, the Maldron is well geared with several conference rooms, projection screens and wi-fi available. There’s also a mezzanine lounge for break time. Contemporary artwork adorns the walls but doesn’t congest them.
For guests in need of sustenance the hotel is equipped with a bar and restaurant, both in one flowing through room on the first floor. It may be one room but the designers have managed to create several moods to break up any sense of same place and it works; Gold wallpaper is enhanced by black and white photography while a deep red empowers the restaurant service area.
Although it’s technically summer I have a touch of flu and am kindly offered a Bailey’s Coffee which I happily accept. For brunch, I am treated to tapas with an artistic flourish. There’s Mediterranean Bruschetta, Coated Mushrooms with Garlic Dip and a Chicken/Chorizo skewer coupled with a cool tangy salsa dip. The breakfast bar has a familiar selection of cereals, pastries and the traditional Irish (or English) fry up.
At only a few weeks old everything is new, clean, soothing. Even the unisex toilets exude a regal air about them with a central ‘waiting’ room; two arm chairs sit either side of a tall mirror at its far end and once more the dark walls are balanced out by the lighting and pale floor. It certainly gives a whole new dimension to being on the throne, style for every mood indeed.
Upstairs the rooms are draped in fruit pastel shades of plum, mulberry, cranberry and greys with white walls binding it all together. A black oblong desk is fit to work with the laptop and has enough space for a light and a gargantuan flat screen TV. I don’t watch much TV as I never have time but I do tune in to catch the news and do enough channel hopping to ascertain there’s no sky which rules out the football (strangely Ireland are playing that very evening ending up victors to Italy).
The luck of the Irish runs as strong as their natural flair for hospitality and marketing – what genius to put an Irish pub in every town and city around the world. With these factors the Maldron looks set to accomplish its initial aims in a fierce market. I count three other hotels from my window. At the time of writing (June 2011) there is no rating for the Maldron, though I’m reliably informed it sits within the 4 star remit. A room shared between 1-3 people will set you back £79 (plus £9 for breakfast) while a bed and breakfast option comes to £88 for one guest and £97 for 2 guests.