Welsh hidden gem!

Welsh hidden gem!

Zuzana  Kasparova visited the green hotel in the valleys that Johnny Depp loves

While my friend and I weren’t at Llangoed Hall to discuss politics, the likely former home of the first Welsh Parliament is where we spent an unforgettable weekend being pampered – but, thankfully, not at the taxpayers’ expense.

The historic country house is located in the Wye Valley, mid Wales, north of the Brecon Beacons, and is one of the finest in Britain. Formerly owned by Sir Bernard Ashley  and his fashion designer wife, the late Laura Ashley was responsible for the elegant décor.

The understated charm of the house is juxtaposed with a collection of  paintings that would be the envy of many a gallery and I particularly liked the photographs of the Ashley family, which are proudly displayed around the hotel, lending it a cosy touch.

We were ushered into our very spacious master bedroom, with four-poster bed, and told it had recently been occupied by Johnny Depp. This thrilled us as much as the magical views of the Wye Valley and Black Mountains. Llangoed Hall is not very far from the market town of Hay-on-Wye, which is famous for its annual book festivals, so look out for famous authors.

After settling in, we enjoyed a luxurious afternoon tea in the hotel’s morning room. The mouth-watering selection of home-made fruitcake, scones, sandwiches and fresh cream pastries were served on gold-leaf china and, after we  filled our bellies, we went to explore the hotel and its surroundings – all 20 acres and a garden that provides 45 percent of the vegetables, fruit and herbs that the chefs use for the award-winning restaurant in winter. However, it is during the summer that the gardens truly come alive with blooms and in autumn the different hues must be a truly wonderful sight. The hotel enjoys some 95 percent sustainability with its own smoke house and  bee hive that produces its own delicious honey you can buy to take home (which I did, a perfect Rosh Hashanah gift).

Jonny Depp slept here – as did I!

The elegant country house, originally known as Lllangoed Castle, has a rich history dating back to 560 CE when it was believed to have been the legendary White Palace, home of the first Welsh parliament. It only became a hotel
in 1990 and is a perfect venue for weddings, bar and batmitzvahs.

The next morning we woke to a chorus of birds and a delicious and hearty breakfast before picking up some leaflets about suggested walks in the direction of the River Wye.

Nick Brodie’s magical food

This part of Wales deserves so much more publicity.  A stroll by the crystal-clear river that was full of fish and a climb up the hill for breath-taking views of the Brecon Beacons is so rejuvenating. After spending the whole day outdoors, we had built up quite an appetite and  turned up at the hotel’s restaurant, which was rated highly in the Waitrose Good Food Guide Top 50 Restaurants last year.  Head chef Nick Brodie astonished even us  vegetarians with his extraordinary inventive taster menu of mouth-watering dishes.

What I loved about this luxury hotel was its sustainable policy. Not content with growing its own produce for use in the kitchens, they have implemented innovative measures to reduce their energy and water usage as well as food miles. The hotel employs local people and reinvests in green practices all of the time, making Llangoed Hall one of the UK’s greenest weekend retreats.  Llangoed Hall is  an enviromental treasure and I’m sure Johnny Depp would agree.

ZuzaNa’s travel tips: A night at Llangoed Hall is priced from £150 B&B based on two sharing.  llangoedhall.co.uk or call 01874 754525.

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