A Delicious Mini-Break at Llangoed Hall, Wales: Our luxurious and tasty “Country House” break in the Wye Valley and Brecon Beacons in Wales at Llangoed Hall.
A Fabulous Country House Experience
Just over a week ago I experienced a wonderful “Country House” break at Llangoed Hall in The Wye Valley, in South Wales. I love staying in old houses, it’s a world away from the generic and often soulless chain hotels, where each room (and sometimes each hotel) is exactly the same with very little character. Obviously they have a role to play in convenient global accommodation, but a mini-break in an old country house is an altogether different experience, and my stay at Llangoed Hall was simply wonderful, a real “home-away-from-home” feeling. From the moment I first saw this mellow, stone built hall as we drove down the private road on arriving, to the hours we spent wandering around the 17 acres of beautiful grounds, parkland and gardens, with the most delicious tasting experiences in between, it was quickly evident that this was a very special place to stay.
After ascending up a magnificent grand wooden staircase, we were shown to our room, which was as big as most London apartments. Large and airy with a double window aspect, one window overlooking the Wye Valley, the other looking towards The Black Mountains, there was a silver tray with a decanter of Madeira, water and fresh fruit to welcome us, as well as a very well stocked tea and coffee tray complete with homemade flapjacks. The beautiful Laura Ashley bedding and soft furnishings added an air of comfort and elegance, and I couldn’t wait to try out the four-poster bed later on. Easy chairs, a desk, small dining table and a sofa adorned the room, along with tasteful art on the walls, and some beautiful Royal Worcester porcelain in the windowsills. The room was subtly furnished and decorated in a restrained way with some lovely pieces of antique furniture.
From the potential site of the first Welsh parliament in 560AD to being lost in a card game, Llangoed Hall possesses a history as long as it is fascinating; Llangoed Hall was believed to have been the legendary White Palace, home of the first Welsh parliament. A mansion existed from 1632, and it was first in the possession of the MacNamara family having been won in a card game and it stayed with them for two generations until 1847. In 1912 Clough Williams Ellis (of Portmeirion fame) re-designed the mansion as a country house. Bought by Sir Bernard Ashley in 1987, husband of Laura Ashley, and restored to its former glory, he opened it as a hotel in 1990. The hotel possesses an extraordinary art collection, which is displayed around the hotel, as well as in the bedrooms. I saw a Dame Laura Knight painting hanging at the end of the hall, which for a Laura Knight lover, was a real treat. Other paintings, drawings and works of fine art include artists such as James McNeil Whistler, Herman Dudley Murphy and Augustus John. Many of the works of art are in demand from museum curators and are regularly ‘loaned out’ to galleries for viewings.
After unpacking and settling in, we were shown around the property, gardens and grounds by Sergio Martinez-Rios, the general manager. We were then treated to freshly made Welsh Cakes (served on “Gold Rose and Butterfly” fine bone china, exclusively designed for Llangoed Hall ) and a pot of tea whilst sitting next to a log fire in the Hall, a beautiful room with rich patterned furnishings and plenty of sofas and easy chairs to sit and relax in. There are two main reception rooms, the Hall and Morning Room, as well as a Billiards and Games Room, The Whistler Bar, main Dining Room and The Orangery & Garden Rooms. If you fancy enjoying some time in your room, then you can order room service, which we did for our last breakfast at the Hall. The very talented head chef of Llangoed Hall is Nick Brodie, and we were very privileged to enjoy his “Modern British” tasting menu on our first night, which was innovative and delicious with some surprising flavour combinations that we both loved.
That evening we enjoyed Nick’s award-winning fine dining experience – the hotel’s tasting menu. The menu uses only the finest local Welsh produce with fresh vegetables, fruits & herbs from the hotel’s kitchen garden, which we had visited earlier on in the day. We opted for the 9 course menu, with a bottle of wine….our eclectic selection of amuse bouche was delicious and comprised freshly made sourdough bread with house smoked butter with sea salt, a steamed char sui bun (which was one of the best I’ve enjoyed outside China and Hong Kong), a nordic cracker topped with caviar and dill and a little dish of garlic hummus. This was followed by more little plates of culinary delights……..Llangoed Egg – Truffle Mayonnaise, Mushroom; Scallop – Buttermilk, Kohlrabi, Caviar, Yuzu; Sea Bass – Lava Bread Potato, Sea Urchin; Beef Tartare – Taramasalata, Nasturtium; Duck – Red Leaves, Bramble, Foie Gras; Suckling Pork – Choi Sum, Cuttlefish, Pineapple; Smoked Perl Wen – Maple, Onion, Almond; Honey – Parfait, Pistachio, Pollen and Chocolate – Cremeux, Flourless Cake, Peanut. Every plate was exquisitely arranged and prepared with creativity and culinary prowess. We ended the evening with coffee and petits fours.
Breakfast is just as impressive at Llangoed Hall, taken in the elegant dining room, you can help yourself to fruit juice, yogurt, cold cuts, cheese, cereals and pastries before ordering from the cooked menu. We opted for the Full Welsh Breakfast, which comprised Bacon, Sausage, Tomato, Mushrooms,
Black Pudding & Laver Bread Cake with Eggs Any Style, and Home Smoked Salmon with Scrambled Egg on Sourdough toast.
After a morning in Brecon and Hay-on-Wye, which are both under half an hour away from the hotel, we returned and for afternoon tea. There are various afternoon tea options you can choose from. A Cream Tea, Laura Ashley Tea with Elderflower Champagne, A Champagne Tea, Welsh Tea and a Full Afternoon Tea, which we had and comprised: Finger sandwiches, Scones, Homemade Fruit Preserve, Clotted Cream, Salad Leaves, House-made Crisps, Panna cotta, and Cakes & Pastries, with tea of your choice – I had Lapsang Souchong. The tea was served in Llangoed Hall’s specially designed china and was utterly delectable…..the finger sandwiches were fresh with smoked salmon, coronation chicken, egg mayonnaise and ham with mustard. The scones and Welsh Cakes were freshly baked and still warm. We thought the addition of salad and house-made crisps was a unique touch and added the savoury element of the tea.
Dinner was in Hay-on-Wye, and Llangoed Hall’s sister property, The Swan, and on our last morning we decided to have breakfast in our room, as we packed and got ready to leave. Each room in the hotel has a table, as well as a desk, so dining in your room with room service is an easy and relaxing alternative. I had a Bacon English Muffin sandwich, as I was still so full from yesterday, and my husband had the Full Welsh breakfast. We nibbled on croissants and toast before the cooked meal arrived, and enjoyed a glass of local apple juice. Our stay had been a wonderfully relaxing break with the most amazing food, and a real home-from-home bedroom, with lots of space and an en-suite that had a bath tub for those busy “end of day” soaks. I would return to Llangoed Hall in a heartbeat, and as well as the food and the comfortable rooms, it was the staff that made our visit so enjoyable.
Llangoed Hall hotel also offers a number of special breaks throughout the year, along with some cookery classes, you can see what is on for 2019 here: Special Breaks & Events. They are keen to promote sustainability too, recycling their used cooking oil for producing fat balls for the bird feeder or for Bio-Diesel. All their eggs (duck, hen, bantam and quail) are free range and the girls have produced no less than 10,022 eggs. They have saved more than 20,000 litres of water every year thanks to the installation of waterless urinals too. With thanks again to all the staff at the hall who made our stay so enjoyable. Karen
Disclaimer: My stay at Llangoed Hall Hotel was free as part of a press trip, and all the food was included. However, all views and opinions are my own and I was not asked to write a favourable review.
Gallery of some of the 23 unique rooms at Llangoed Hall: