Date Of Stay: April 2007
All About You Rating: 0 /out of/ *****
By Lisa Richards
I’d read about The Big Sleep on various travel websites, and had seen some beautifully stylish shoots at the hotel before my stay in Cardiff – the first of two Big Sleeps. There’s some weird link with John Malkovich, and I definitely remember seeing it on one of Condé Nast’s “Hot Lists”.
For some reason, I can’t remember why, but I had decided to fly out of the UK and on to Spain via Cardiff. I’m not normally into provincial airports, as flying makes me nervous enough without seeing some yokel winding up the plane’s engine. Cardiff Airport, however, was excellent, and I’ll be heading out of there again soon. Even the security staff were sweet (Bristol Airport, perhaps you should consider the same training programme as Cardiff’s?).
I booked a one-night stay at The Big Sleep in Cardiff via their own website – which is very cool indeed. And rather misleading. I’d forgotten to get directions, so drove around Cardiff for a while trying to find it. As soon as I saw it, I panicked. What can best be described as a 1960s tower block (in desperate need of having its windows cleaned; they’re definitely not as shiny as they are in the pic above), it’s not the most attractive exterior to a hotel that I’ve seen.
Whilst checking-in, I asked the gum-chewing girls on reception for some recommendations for food in the city: “What kind of food?” Well, I wanted to savour the best that Cardiff had to offer. Whether that was a great Thai or a typically Welsh affair, did not matter to me, as long as the food was good. Later, whilst exploring the city once the football and rugby fans had dispersed and the police numbers diminished, I stumbled across the street that the reception girls had recommended: Cardiff’s apparent “foodie” avenue, it was lined with the kind of restaurants that you can hear the microwave pinging and smell the deep-fat frying before you’ve even gotten inside.
Back to the hotel…. blimey. After parking the car a block away as the hotel’s car park was full, I made my way back to the hotel, past the homeless man heading to take a pee in the hotel’s bar’s loos (which are, strangely, practically on the street – I imagined a Trainspotting-esque powder room beyond….), up in the lift, past the hordes of Hens in their shocking-pink feather boas and to my room.
I opened the door to be blinded by white. This was not, however, an Anoushka Hempel temple to minimalism; it was, rather, a heady mix between hospital ward, mental institute private room (not that I have first-hand experience) and student digs. Bright white it indeed was, but I don’t think I’ve ever paid £70-plus for the pleasure of such a basic room. No Wi-Fi, hardly any TV channels, a wafer-thin mattress and a hospital bathroom. Style hotel/boutique hotel this is not. In fact, so beyond reality is their website that I’m thinking about consulting my lawyers.
I checked out within five minutes of being in the room, headed to the Hilton’s Executive Floor and poured myself a gratis gin & tonic. Ah, that’s better!
The Big Sleep, Blue Terrace, Cardiff
Tel: 029 20 636 363