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Penally Abbey

Hotel Review: Penally Abbey Hotel & Restaurant, Tenby in Pembrokeshire

By Megan Lawton on 1st June 2017

Hidden in the hills of the small Welsh village of Penally is an old abbey, turned hotel, waiting to make you feel at home. Penally Abbey is a family-owned hotel, which has only been in the hands of Melanie and Lucas Boissevain for two years but it feels like it’s been theirs forever. Since taking over the establishment, they’ve given it the love and attention it deserves, transforming it into one of the UK’s best boutique hotels.
 
Penally Abbey feels like home; from the moment you arrive, you’re warmly received, and made to feel like part of their family. Just like relatives, the staff take pride in hosting you and making you feel at ease. The interior is tranquil and inviting, the food portions in the restaurant are plentiful and they even have a hotel puppy! My Mother and I only stayed for one night, but left relaxed with a feeling of total contentment.
 

The stunning conservatory where guests can relax
The stunning conservatory where guests can relax

Melanie Boissevain (who, before taking on project Penally, was an interior designer), has kept the interior minimal, but elegant. The colour schemes she has chosen are neutral, complementing the stunning sea views from most windows. And what stunning windows they are – huge, gothic and towering tall, a constant reminder that the building was once an Abbey.
 
Relaxation is central to the ethos of Penally Abbey and there are several enticing spaces where guests can unwind, my favourite of which is the conservatory. This traditional light, glass room links the restaurant with the lounge – it’s beautifully decorated and looks out onto the Pembrokeshire coast. I can’t think of many better locations to enjoy a glass of wine!
 
In keeping with the communal areas, the bedrooms are tastefully furnished with pastel colours and natural textures, such as wool, wood and shell. It’s a masterclass in ‘less is more’. Our room was spacious and bright with baby-blue walls and a large, cream wool rug. The crisp, cotton sheets and plumped up pillows on the bed were so inviting I didn’t want to leave in the morning! No word in the English dictionary can define the feeling a night at Penally brings, but the Danes summarise it perfectly with the word Hygge, meaning ‘a quality of cosiness that engenders a feeling of well-being’…

In addition to a selection of tasty teas and a box of hand-made chocolates, each room has a carefully-crafted, hand-written booklet with local recommendations: what to do on a rainy day and information about Pembrokeshire’s best beaches. The Boissevain’s are not only passionate about you enjoying your stay in Penally but also want you to make the most of your time in Pembrokeshire.
 

The bedrooms are bright and overlook the coast
The bedrooms are bright and overlook the coast

In terms of location, it’s ideal: the hotel is a 10 minute stroll away from an untouched stretch of rugged Welsh beach and only a 20 minute walk from the bustling seaside town of Tenby. Penally itself is a pretty coastal village with a sleepy feel, which gives it a romantic feel.
 
As well as being a hotel, Penally Abbey is also a restaurant and bar. The food menu offers an amazing range of dishes championing local Pembrokeshire produce. If seafood is your thing, then Penally Abbey is a must! The monkfish I had for my main course was the finest I’ve ever had and worked beautifully when paired with lentils and beetroot. My Mum tried the halibut which was equally as delicious, served on a bed of creamy samphire, new potatoes and peas; it was sweet and tender but with a firm texture. You could really taste the freshness.

As well as offering an extensive range of meat/fish dishes, Penally Abbey also accommodate for vegetarians and vegans, providing an entirely separate menu, again celebrating local produce. Greece, step aside, you’ve got competition with Welsh feta!
 
Somehow we managed to squeeze in a dessert and shared the banana parfait, which packed punchy flavours in creamy textures. The perfect ending to a tasty evening.
 

The delicious monkfish, beetroot and lentil dish
The delicious monkfish, beetroot and lentil dish

Melanie and Lucas take real pride in sourcing their drinks menu, and have travelled around the vineyards of Italy and France in search of the perfect wine. We went for a bottle of the house rose, which was light and fruity, proving to be the perfect accompaniment for our fish. 
 
For breakfast, guests can choose from a selection of local, fresh fruit with yoghurt and pastries, as well as hot dishes, including the Welsh speciality, laverbread. Again, the food didn’t disappoint and we left feeling ready for the day ahead. I really recommend the local mushrooms which were extremely flavoursome.
 
In a nutshell, if you fancy a mug of hygge, then a stay at the Penally Abbey is an absolute ‘must’!. The Boissevain’s attention to detail is simply perfect and I can’t sing the praises of this charming hotel enough!
 
Address: Penally, Tenby, Pembrokeshire SA70 7PY / 01834 843033

penally-abbey.com