Wales isn’t a place I ever wanted to go. Ever. And I even like leeks, rugby and Tom Jones. I’ve been there and I know there are some really nice places but… Wales! Then I found two destinations that showed me what an ass I am. Okay, think an exquisite 17-course tasting menu. Think a rapturous country manor that feels like your own home. Yes, in Wales. Both Ynyshir Hall and Llangoed Hall surprise anyone who thinks the country is all about daffodils, dragons, the sea and Shirley Bassey. These are comfortable, swanky and soulful hotels, matching any European destination in quality, services, environment and in that increasingly important area of security.


Llangoed Hall, originally known as Llangoed Castle, has a long, important history, having started as a church donation by Prince Iddon in 560 as atonement for his sins. Whatever is the case, there has been a manor house on this spot since 1632. Won in a game of cards by the MacNamara family, it was saved from demolition in the early 70s before being purchased in 1987 by Sir Bernard Ashley who opened it as a hotel three years later. The gem in seventeen groomed acres in the Wye River Valley, this newly refurbished wonder is a tribute to both Laura Ashley and her husband’s remarkable art collection. Every Laura Ashley suite has a four poster bed and one still retains its original Laura Ashley wallpaper.

While Llangoed Hall is not rammed with things to do, it is the perfect place to pull the plug and unwind, drinking tea in any of the chairs near the many fireplaces, having a drink at the honour bar or snookering your beloved in the 16th century games room. Moreover, this is the place to have a huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ soiree, with all of those country pursuits well within striking distance. Also, if have a driver and/or a bodyguard, Llangoed Hall is perfectly suited to high security, high-profile visits. I advise, if not staying in an Ashley suite, to opt for the serene beauty of the Master Suite (from £350), which has a perfect view onto a swathe of Welsh countryside.

The late Joan Reen was an amazing woman and her spirit still enlivens Ynyshir Hall, a luxury country house hotel nestled off the main road through Machynlleth, Powys. Once beloved of Queen Victoria, Ynyshir Hall is one of Wales’ best kept secrets. Not only equipped with a holistic wellness centre, with massages and treatments available, but also an incredibly scrumptious Michelin-starred tasting menu by the nimble hand of Gareth Ward and his capable crew – easily the best place to dine in all of Wales (and vying for the best in the whole of Britain). Ynyshir, which means ‘long island’, has been inhabited since the 12th century, possibly by Cistercian monks. Around the 1800s, Queen Victoria refurbished the property, adding bay windows, a gothic staircase and the fabulous tiled floors still there today. The RSPB sanctuary nearby was once part of the hall’s properties.

But the real glory of Ynyshir Hall can be seen now: a tremendous venue where once you are settled, you really don’t want to leave. Purportedly situated on Ley lines, Ynyshir Hall does feel full of magical, positive powers – no wonder Robert Plant has a place nearby. Although I was one of the lucky few to spend several hours in the presence of the inimitable Joan Reen before her untimely death in February 2016, the hotel is still a unique place of serenity and security, being set back from all roadways and an easy place for high-profile protective surveillance. Its gardens and newly created suites are sensational havens of calm, each room fitted with unique interior design and fine art by Rob Reen. Opt for the Deluxe Garden Suite (from £670 B&B), an exquisite extended suite with its own fireplace, huge bed and incredible bathroom with views to the gardens. I didn’t want to leave. You won’t want to either.

Words, Karen Krizanovich.


Llangoed Hall, Llyswen, Brecon, Powys LD3 0YP +44 (0)1874 754525. A night at Llangoed Hall is priced from £150 B&B based on two sharing. Llangoed Hall is open for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner daily. 
Ynyshir Hall, Eglwysfach, Machynlleth, Powys SY20 8TA +44 (0)1654 781209.