Hotel review

Parador 44, Cardiff, Hotel Review: ‘This Spanish-themed luxury boutique hotel is buenisimo’ | Travel

What is the story?

This Spanish-themed luxury hotel is the latest opening of the family-owned 44 Group, owned by three of Wales’ most acclaimed restaurateurs: brothers Owen and Tom Morgan (who this year published their cookbook Bar 44: Tapas y Copas — This is our Spain) and their sister, Natalie Isaac.

The group opened Bar 44, their first tapas bar, some 20 years ago in Cowbridge, an affluent market town west of Cardiff. Their new business, Parador 44, is right in the center of town, on the site of a former grand pub called the Model Inn. According to local legend, Oliver Cromwell stayed above the pub in the 17th century, with his New Model Army quartered nearby – he is said to have turning in his grave to learn that today the nine-bedroom hotel is inspired by the state-run luxury castle hotels, or paradors, of Spain, an old enemy of him.

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What do we like?

Opened in 2017, Asador 44, the restaurant under the hotel, is big and dark and populated by young foodies. The central section is the ideal place, with a view of the open kitchen and a glazed room entirely dedicated to cheese. The menu focuses on charcoal-cooked meats and fish, including beef from former dairy cows that have had a few extra years to chew on, served with romesco sauce. His most popular dishes are the smoked leek starter with vinaigrette (£7) and the red shrimp bisque croqueta with charcoal mayonnaise (£6).

The rooms, named after different parts of the sherry-making process, are soundproofed, so you can’t hear the hum of the restaurant below. In all nine, the look is upscale modern Spain, mixing imported tiles and dark reclaimed wood as headboards and shutters leading to bathrooms (one with a double shower).

The Parador 44 dining room

The Parador 44 dining room

The only common seating area is the Andalusian-style terrace on the first floor. It’s beautiful to look at, with cream canapes, plus a teal kitchenette housing a self-service bar with truffle chips, cava, and cocktail recipes. The noise from the rear end of the air conditioning units is off-putting, however.

What’s nearby?

The Parador 44 is in an old part of Cardiff, near Westgate Street, where the River Taff once flowed before being diverted. It is also a stone’s throw from the Principality Stadium and the Parc de la Bute. Sandwiched between a multi-storey car park and now-pedestrianized St Mary’s Street, the main thoroughfare for weekend drinkers and stag and hen parties, the location is a bit incongruous for a hotel -shop. Still, it’s handy for Cardiff Castle, which is only a short walk away. Cardiff Bay is three miles away and you can reach the nearest beach at Penarth by car in 20 minutes.
Restaurant

Jessie Hewitson was a guest at Parador 44, which offers double guest rooms from £145 (grupo44.co.uk)

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