Hotel of the week: Llangoed Hall, Brecon, Wales
Deep in the lush Wye Valley in mid-Wales, Llangoed Hall is a classically restored Jacobean country house hotel set in 17 acres of landscaped grounds. Breathtaking views look across the surrounding woodlands and fields to the Black Mountains. Laura Ashley’s husband Sir Bernard bought Llangoed Hall in her memory, ensuring the elegant décor is full of iconic fabrics and style reflecting the designer’s legacy and her vision to turn this former castle into a sumptuous Edwardian hotel.
Voted AA Hotel of the Year 2014 and now included in The Good Food Guide 2016 Top 50 Restaurants, Llangoed offers guests exquisite dishes based on hearty local produce such as tender Welsh lamb and Wye salmon amongst the exquisite surroundings of the panelled three AA Rosette-awarded restaurant. Head Chef Nick Brodie takes inspiration from the hotel’s organic kitchen garden exemplified by a tartare of Welsh Black Beef using wild mushrooms and pine tree powder foraged from the grounds. His dishes combine fresh local ingredients with fruit and vegetables from the grounds. Chickens, ducks and quails provide eggs and the smokehouse on site adds a new dimension to dishes. Guests too can interact with produce in the vast gardens and explore what may appear on the evening’s menu. Unusually for a country house hotel, Llangoed even offers non-meat eaters a special five-course vegetarian tasting menu including mushroom fricassee with soft polenta and salt-baked pear and scorched leek with Llangoed egg mimosa, brown butter, artichoke and parsley.
So impressive is Sir Bernard Ashley’s private collection of art including paintings, drawings and works of fine art that it is in huge demand from many curators seeking to display it in their art galleries. Sir Bernard’s personal collection includes magnificent original antiques, sketches by the American-born artist and society wit, James McNeil Whistler and works by Herman Dudley Murphy and Augustus John. Adding interest and character to the hotel, guests at Llangoed can browse the collection at anytime during their stay.
Although Laura Ashley never actually lived at Llangoed Hall her influence can be seen throughout. After her premature death, 30 years ago in 1985, husband Sir Bernard Ashley individually styled and decorated the 23 rooms with antiques, floral fabrics and heavily patterned wallpapers – some with original Laura Ashley wallpaper. A refurbishment maintained all these original features and celebrated them further by preserving treasured interiors. Treasured framed photographs of the Ashley family through the years are dotted around the hotel along with iconic design moments such as black and white campaign photographs from the 1970s. These historical memorabilia serve to create both an elegant home-from-home atmosphere and informal exhibition for guests to enjoy at their leisure. Managing Director Calum Milne, who worked with Sir Bernard Ashley, and then returned to refurbish and re-launch the hotel, has maintained and developed a wonderful story for guests to discover.
Address: Llangoed Hall, Llyswen, Brecon, Powys LD3 0YP