The former Nos Da hostel in Riverside. Credit: Eoin McCaul

Work begins on turning former Nos Da hostel into new café and bar

The one-time music venue on the banks of the River Taff became an eyesore after it closed in 2020

WORK has finally begun on a rundown former hostel which has blighted Cardiff city centre for the past four years.

The old Nos Da backpackers’ hotel shut down in March 2020 and became an eyesore, prompting complaints about discarded drug paraphernalia and flytipping.

But workmen have now moved onto the site – which sits right on the Taff Trail and opposite the showpiece Principality Stadium – to begin work on turning it into a new cafe and bar which makes the most of its prime city location.

And banners have gone up for the first time showing off branding for the new venue, which will be called On the River.

It will also feature accommodation, a city garden and more than 40 bike racks to replace the car park.

People who live and work nearby are in two minds about the development.

Karen, 60, who lives in the area, said: “I’m just saddened to see such a waste of a lovely building. It could be made into lovely family homes with a nice play area – there’s a great need for housing in Cardiff.

“Why do we need another eating and drinking place? The town facilitates that and so does Cathedral Road.”

But Marina, 50, who works in nearby Dyfrig House on Fitzhamon Embankment said: “I think it’s a good idea for city development and tourism.

“We’re the hostel that helps homeless people who struggle with drugs and alcohol, which are primary needs in the area, so people always complain about us.”

The ‘On the River’ banners have gone up. Credit: Eoin McCaul

The building went up for sale for £1 million in January 2023, and was sold in August to MC2MB Ltd.

Matt Bryant, director of MC2MB, has said of the scheme: “It’s not just a revamp – it’s breathing new life into a space that’ll become a vibrant hub connecting the community with modern comforts while respecting the rich history.”

Last month, permission was granted to replace the fire exit stairs, add a new canopy and new balconies which overlook the river.

The NosDa hostel shut down in 2020 after the hospitality industry was put under pressure by successive lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the disused site became a hotspot for drug use, littered with used needles and drug paraphernalia, Cardiff Council sent a team to clean up the property in November 2022.

Developers hope to open in Spring 2024 – after this year’s Six Nations tournament has finished.