Parkgate Hotel, Cardiff Review

The Parkgate Hotel in Cardiff is part of the Celtic Collection, the luxury brand for hotels of distinction and timeless elegance. Opening in 2021 it occupies one of the city’s most historic buildings, the former Head Post Office and the old County Court; wonderfully architecturally appealing on the outside and splendidly impressive within. Proud to have recently been awarded a 4 Silver Star Hotel status in the AA assessment scheme and its aptly named Sorting Room Restaurant two AA rosettes and a Michelin guide listing, this is where you go for that extra special celebration, anniversaries, big birthdays and romantic weekends.

And they even have a Spa located on the 6th floor which we thought would be a great start to our weekend of pure indulgence and booked a thermal suite for two in the late afternoon giving plenty of time before dinner. Via the seamless check-in we were ensconced in our room in no time which had everything you could wish for in a hotel room; a beautiful view over the city roof-tops and beyond to Cardiff Castle on the horizon, a neat balcony with two chairs, comfortable bed, plenty of charging points, and a rather thoughtful note asking you to ring room service if you would like an ice-bucket, glasses and cutlery or fresh milk sent up. We thought of throwing ourselves a room party but were afraid it would spoil our dinner.

Wrapping up in robes ready for our Spa visit, I found I’d forgotten to bring scrunchies to tie back my hair but no problem there was a shower cap with the toiletries, and I ignored guffaws from the bedroom when I put it on. Taking the lift to the Spa I wondered what any ghosts of former post office workers drifting about the building after a bit of light haunting might think to this addition of their building, I’m sure they would have been surprised. The Spa is beautifully kitted out in restful greys with two saunas, a large thermal pool with jets and showers, loungers, and panoramic views over the city. There are various treatments and massages available with Elemis products which can be booked separately to the thermal spa in which you have a 1½ hour slot to use as you choose. We thoroughly enjoyed our time, floating around the pool being gently pummelled by the jets, and as it was just getting dark watching the lights come on over the city skyline. Quite a magical experience and very relaxing.

 

I love to dress up for dinner and there are so few places where you can do it these days, so it was a real treat to put on our glitzy clothes and join the throng in the Sorting Room bar before dinner. The bar is chic and stylish, glasses of champagne called, and we admired the display of magnums, jeroboams and even larger bottles grouped over the bar – who wouldn’t want to crack open one of these to start the evening with a bang. The Sorting Room Restaurant is equally plush, wood-panelled with dark green leather banquette seating, sparkling chandeliers and gleaming cutlery and glassware. I was charmed that the linen napkin was folded into a square with a flap like a letter waiting to be opened as a nod to the room’s heritage, and each table has a small brass lamp to light it. The menu is gloriously British which again is a nice change as whisper it : are we all slightly fed-up with tapas and sharing plates?

The wine list is excellent and to accompany our starters of Monmouthshire pork and Chorizo scotch egg with Brecon vodka Bloody Mary sauce and wild mushroom ravioli with rocket, prosecco cream and chive sauce, and Gran Levante cheese crisp, we took a glass of South African Chenin Blanc. For main courses, the celebration of Welsh lamb with lamb rack, crispy shoulder and shepherd’s pie sounded marvellous, but 28 day aged sirloin with triple cooked Maris Piper chips, roasted garlic, tomatoes, Portobello mushroom and Penderyn whisky (a family favourite) peppercorn sauce was too good to resist for my husband and I chose pan roasted garlic and thyme chicken breast brined in Welsh beer and ‘tatws pum munud’ – which loosely translated into English is five minute potatoes, I think, and is a traditional Welsh stew of confit onions, leeks, lardons, and crispy chicken crackling, and interestingly different, Welsh rarebit and confit chicken croquette with Glamorgan ale jus.

Our starters were great; the plump scotch egg, it’s yoke semi-set with crisp pork and chorizo outside, surrounded by dots of Bloody Mary sauce full of tangy flavour, and the ravioli with its rich cream sauce offset by the large Gran Levante crisp atop the dish. A decent interval between courses was lovely giving an opportunity to chat and admire the surroundings and also to be offered a choice of steak knife presented with a flourish from a wooden cutlery box.

Our main courses arrived looking awesome; the sirloin steak was enormous and cooked to perfection, very rare as ordered, juicy and flavoursome. I really enjoyed my chicken and the Welsh rarebit croquette with confit chicken proved to be an inspired combination. My side dish of mixed green vegetables, tender stem broccoli, fresh peas, and mange tout with Welsh butter was a great foil to the richness of the chicken. To finish our lovely meal, we shared an apple and cider tarte tatin which was a joy to eat, melt in the mouth caramelised apple, soft flaky pastry, a confection of the gods. Service in the restaurant was faultless and friendly and here is somewhere that the customer is still king.

Next morning, we left energised by a delicious hearty breakfast having had a wonderful time enjoying the hospitality of the Parkgate Hotel.

Jacquie Vowles

Westgate Street, Cardiff, CF10 1DA

 

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