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Top 10 places for foodies to stay in Wales

05/08/2015

Ynyshir Hall © The Good Hotel Guide Ynyshir Hall

Think of a trip to Wales and you might imagine green valleys, frolicking lambs and fast-paced rugby. But here’s a secret: Wales is fast becoming a food-lover’s paradise with tucked-away gems offering delicious dishes. The Good Hotel Guide  has put together the  top 10 places for food-lovers to dine and stay in Wales so you can sample top dining – and stay over with fantastic accommodation to match your magnificent fare. So have a nice meal – or, as they would say in Wales: Mmwynhewch eich bwyd! 

1. Cnapan 

Cnapan large cod © Cnapan Cnapan large cod

This restaurant with rooms is in the centre of the historic city of Newport, in a great spot for visiting the beautiful Preseli Hills and the spectacular Pembrokeshire National Park Coast. Cnapan is more like a welcoming family home than a formal hotel, with a loved feeling such as its traditional oak Welsh dresser crowded with old family treasures. In fact it has been run by three generations of the same family.

Dinner is a real treat – starting with a pre-dinner drink in the bar or a glass of Prosecco in the garden in the summer. What’s on the menu? Welsh Beef, Penclaudd Mussels, Sewin (sea trout), lobster and crab from Newport Bay, Preseli lamb, prize-winning local cheeses as well as locally grown garden fruit and vegetables when in season.

There are five bedrooms with en-suite facilities – all with a bright and airy feel. Complimentary toiletries, free wi-fi, a flat screen TV and tea- and coffee-making facilities all add to that home-from-home feeling. 

2. The Grove 

The Grove dessert selection © The Grove The Grove dessert selection

Nestling in the heart of the beautiful Pembrokeshire countryside, this restored 18th-century mansion faces the Preseli hill and is surrounded by manicured lawns, flower borders, meadows and mature trees.

Dishes are served with creativity and flair, and many ingredients come from the hotel’s kitchen garden. Head chef Peter Whaley’s menu might include sea bass with white beans, roast fennel, and smoked eel vinaigrette

There are 20 luxurious bedrooms and four traditional cottages with lovely views of the mountains, decorated with delicate fireplaces and a sprinkling of modern art. All rooms have flatscreen TV and DVD player, (choose from a DVD library), wifi and if you fancy further relaxation – you can book an in-room spa treatment.

3. Gliffaes 

Gliffaes steak © Gliffaes Gliffaes steak

Open fires, gorgeous rooms and excellent service are all on hand at this sporting hotel in a 19th-century Italianate building right beside the River Usk in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. This relaxing haven is located off the beaten track in 33 acres of stunning grounds and is particularly popular for fishing trips.

Karl Cheetham, head chef, subscribes to the Slow Food Movement, sourcing ingredients from as close as possible to the hotel and taking advantage of the fine local produce in creating his menu, for example rack of Breconshire lamb, with hotpot potatoes and beetroot relish. There is an extensive wine list to choose from – and you can even go on a tour of the Victorian wine cellar!

Most of the 23 bedrooms are large, some with balconies overlooking the river and with a choice of beds, including four-poster. They are comfortably equipped with Roberts radios, wifi, TV and tea and coffee-making facilities – and perfect for relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

4. Tyddyn Llan

Tyddyn Llan chocolate cheesecake © Tyddyn Llan Tyddyn Llan chocolate cheesecake

This North Wales restaurant with rooms prides itself on its food – and has a Michelin star to show it. The small elegant Georgian country house, run by a husband and wife team, Bryan and Susan Webb, is in a beautiful rural setting on the edge of Snowdonia, with gorgeous gardens and 12 luxury bedrooms.

The restaurant’s menu changes to accommodate the freshest and finest ingredients which are available – and although much of the produce is local, others come from renowned regions eg Somerset smoked eel and Buffalo mozzarella flown in from Naples. A typical dinner dish might be Cefnllan Farm duck breast, confit potato, duck faggot, cherry and cinnamon sauce – and there is a separate menu for vegetarians.

The bedrooms are individually designed with three levels of size – standard, larger and best. Many have views of the garden and mountains. Some have antique beds and roll-top baths, but all have TV/DVD/CD player, radio, telephone, wi-fi, docking station, Egyptian cotton sheets, dressing gowns, slippers, larger toiletries; plus tea/coffee making facilities.

5. Plas Bodegroes 

Plas Bodegroes monkfish oxcheek © Plas Bodegroes Plas Bodegroes monkfish oxcheek

This pretty white Georgian manor house is in lovely wooded grounds on the remote Lleyn peninsula, and less than a mile away from the beach if you fancy a paddle. Chris and Gunna Chown run the popular restaurant-with-rooms.

The restaurant has picked up many accolades over its 28 years including Good Food Guide UK Restaurant of the Year and a Michelin star. Their reputation is based upon the modern interpretation of traditional dishes, concentrating upon the superb local ingredients, perhaps tenderloin of Llyn pork with leek and mustard crumble with a smoky bacon sauce.

The en-suite bedrooms, which overlook the gardens, are all different in shape and style but decorated in grey, blue and fawn. They have all the facilities for a luxurious stay, including flatscreen TV, home-made biscuits and mineral water, plus goose-down duvets, Egyptian cotton bed linen and pocket sprung mattresses for a good night’s sleep.

6. The Felin Fach Griffin 

This is a perfect place to visit if you want to unwind. The dining pub with rooms nestles near the book town of Hay-on-Wye, between the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons.

The Welsh Borders are home to farmers producing great ingredients – and these are the basis for the menus, which change daily and seasonally. Tuck into a mouth-watering dish such as Cefnllan chicken breast, pancetta, pea, asparagus, girolles and gem lettuce fricassee.

Guests can relax in one of the seven rooms, which have quality beds, Roberts radios, fresh flowers, home-made biscuits, White Company toiletries, and warm, Welsh blankets. Breakfast is served in the library, and includes fruit from the kitchen garden, apple juice from the Usk Valley and home-made soda bread.

7. Llangoed Hall 

Llangoed Hall afternoon tea © Llangoed Hall Llangoed Hall afternoon tea

For something really special, head to Llangoed Hall for a taste of quintessential Edwardian country house living. The elegant and historic country house hotel is situated in the beautiful Wye Valley in the heart of the Welsh countryside.

The head chef, Nick Brodie, combines fruit and vegetables from the garden with local ingredients for his modern dishes, such as Welsh black beef fillet, pomme anna, celeriac and charred onion. There is also a tasting menu and a vegetarian tasting menu.

Every one of the 23 bedrooms has its own charms, individually designed and styled by Sir Bernard Ashley, previous owner and husband of Laura Ashley. Each room, some with magnificent four-posted beds, comes with a complimentary decanter of sherry, fresh fruit and selection of waters and all have fine art and antiques.

8. The Lake

Lake Country Hotel salmon © Lake Country Hotel Lake Country Hotel salmon

In the heart of Mid-Wales, this country house hotel dates back to 1840 but now has all the modern facilities you could wish for, including an extensive spa with swimming pool and outdoor hot tub – all in a beautiful setting by a lake on the River Irfon.

Chef David Brown has a reputation for creating gourmet dishes with a Celtic slant; all conceived using only the finest locally sourced ingredients and herbs from the hotel’s garden. Diners might choose butter-poached lobster, artichoke, saffron potatoes, with a champagne and vanilla sauce. The hotel offers more than 300 wines – so there will be one to enhance your meal and make for a memorable experience.

Beautiful bedrooms in the main house are decorated in country house style with rich patterned fabrics and there are 12 suites in a new wing, each with an open-plan sitting area for relaxing. All are luxuriously appointed with TV, radio, wifi, soft bath robes, toiletries, home-made biscuits and tea and coffee-making facilities.

9. Ynyshir Hall 

Ynyshir Hall © Ynyshir Hall Ynyshir Hall

Once Queen Victoria's country retreat, this pretty manor house offers peace and quiet in an idyllic location, between the golden sands of Borth beach and the rugged Cambrian mountains. It stands in lovely grounds, right beside one of Britain’s finest bird reserves, the RSPB Ynys-hir Nature Reserve.

The Michelin-starred restaurant is under head chef Gareth Ward who creates innovative award-winning food. Specialising only in tasting menus, his food is innovative, fresh and light and uses the best of Welsh produce many item come straight from the kitchen garden. Some ingredients are foraged locally. Dishes might include leeks (BBQ, purée, fermented); roe deer, mushroom, wild garlic and pine.

The hotel is full of original art by hotel owner Rob Reen and the 10 bedrooms are named after famous artists. They mix traditional and contemporary, each with its own distinct feel.

Many have fantastic views of the gardens and mountains beyond. They are well equipped with TV and radio, wifi, bathrobes, and sherry. The hotel also offers wellbeing therapies and treatments to help the stresses and strains of life melt away.

10. Trefeddian 

Set in the rolling hills of the Snowdonia National Park, with panoramic views of the Mid Wales coast, this is a welcoming hotel with friendly staff which caters for young and old alike.

In the dining room – which still retains a dress code with gents needing to don a jacket or tie - the English/French cooking of chef Tracy Sheen is much admired. There is an emphasis on local produce, for example, baked fillet of hake, king scallops, watercress and spinach in thermidor sauce. There are 59 light and airy bedrooms, with TV, radio, tea and coffee making facilities and many with glorious views across Cardigan Bay. A spa and indoor swimming pool are perfect for making a trip here extra special.

For a full range of independently-reviewed hotels pick up a copy of The Good Hotel Guide. 

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