A city centre backpacker hostel in Cardiff is going to auction for guide of £450,000

By Joanne Ridout

A landmark Cardiff city centre building, currently being run as a distinctive backpackers hostel on the busy St Mary Street in Cardiff city centre, is going under the hammer with a guide price of £450,000.

The five-storey freehold property called Mrs Potts is, according to the auction house selling the building, is a development investment opportunity in the heart of the capital, located on St Mary Street.

Before even entering the property to discover the potential, the exterior of this gem of a building is instantly recognisable and engaging.

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The building boasts a distinctive red brick and terracotta facade that includes mullioned and transomed windows in every bay on the first and second floors.

Inside, look past the fixtures and fittings that make this building a place to lay your head on a budget but in pretty surroundings, and you will see instances of fancy ceiling plasterwork, decorative wall tiles, cornicing, wood block flooring, the original staircase and, under the boarding, probably some marble columns.

According to the website British Listed Buildings, the five-storey property was built in the late 19th century by celebrated architect Alfred Waterhouse as offices for Prudential Assurance Company, a smaller version of his offices for Prudential in London and Liverpool

The building achieved a Grade II listing from Cadw in May 1975, updated in April 1999.

The listing is attributed mainly due to it being 'a rare example in Wales of work from the office of this important architect'.

But also mentioned on the listing is the building being part of group value with the surrounding decorative period properties that provide a unique street scene to this landmark city centre road.

Mrs Potts on St Mary Street has a wealth of history inside (Seel & Co)
Wonderful tiling to notice in the reception area (Seel & Co)
Now that's a fancy ceiling (Seel & Co)

During its history, and more recently, the building was Cardiff County Council's housing help centre, with Voluntary Community Service offices on the top floor.

Currently the building is Mrs Potts backpackers, but now a new, future chapter for this address looks likely to be written, with the property going to auction with a guide price of £450,000 plus.

Huw Edwards, head of auctions at Seel & Co and the auctioneer selling the landmark building, says: "Mrs Potts could easily be reopened or potentially re-let in its current layout and use.

A sociable area for guests (Seel & Co)
Kitchen area (Seel & Co)
Plenty of facilities for guests (Seel & Co)

"But also offers the potential for A3 takeaway use to the ground floor (granted) and redevelopment of the upper floors to provide a more tradition residential use, subject to any necessary consents.

"It is in generally good order with a few decorative and maintenance issues to attend to."

The plans to convert the building from offices to a backpackers hostel were approved with conditions in 2015 by Cardiff County Council.

At that time, the owners of Mrs Potts outlined the vision for the new hostel, saying: "We wanted to do something a bit different and make this one a bit more high end. This will be smaller rooms and it’s going to be on a smaller scale than Bunkhouse."

Original staircases (Seel & Co)
Bedroom with bunks (Seel & Co)
There are 14 bunk rooms in total (Seel & Co)

Cardiff council’s planning officers commented then that although the conversion is in the main shopping area, the change of use would not result in the loss of any retail premises and would bring a “degree of activity” to the street and that this was, at the time, welcomed.

Described by the owners as the perfect home away from home to relax, unwind and spend hours chatting to an eclectic group of fellow travellers and friendly staff, the property offers five floors of accommodation for a new owner to ponder.

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These levels are currently arranged as 14 bunkrooms, with showers and toilets on each floor, as well as dining and kitchen facilities on the lower ground floor.

Mrs Potts backpackers goes to online auction on Tuesday September, 14 2021 at 4pm via the Seel & Co website, for more details on the property, fees and the legal pack call the auction house on 029 2037 0117.

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