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Review: The Drawing Room, restaurant with rooms

(December 01, 2012)

The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room, near Builth Wells, was the last place we stayed as part of our recent short trip around Wales. We picked this establishment, in which we had not stayed before, as it is a 'restaurant with rooms', specialising in seasonal dishes, and was the high quality gastronomic experience we were looking for, after our gastro-pub experience at The Bear, Crickhowell, and the situational splendour (and small portions) of Lake Vyrnwy. Having stayed in a number of other 'restaurant with rooms' around Wales, we have come to enjoy and appreciate the balance between the focus on good quality, seasonal food and often sumptuous surroundings, which suit us very well.

 Drawing Room 1

Drawing Room 2 Outside

The winding, former A470, runs past this beautiful Georgian house, built between Newbridge-on-Wye and Cwmbach in 1725 - the new, straight section of the A470, between Builth Wells and Rhayader can be seen, though barely heard, from the first floor front bedrooms. Just three miles north of the Royal Welsh Showground at Llanelwedd, The Drawing Room has plenty of off-road parking available; on puddle-free gravel next to the house. We also chose The Drawing Room as it is relatively close to the lovely, small towns of Llandovery and Llandelio. Great places to visit, their Georgian architecture is wonderful to see. Wandering around their winding streets has become something of a ritual for us ... especially popping into the refreshingly large selection of independent retailers (such as Toast), boutique shops and galleries.

 Drawing Room Living Room

The Drawing Room is housed in an elegant and beautifully furnished Georgian home and has been accredited with a number of awards for its delicious food (graded five star and two rosette). The establishment itself is chic personified. The sitting room is accessorized with wonderful and eclectic finds … beautiful crockery, stacks of antique books, baskets full of logs and sumptuous cushions and throws dotted about. A love of interior design is evidenced by the (wonderfully) huge pile of home and interior magazines stacked on the console table by the front door, which guests are invited to rummage through and peruse at their leisure. Also, what particularly delighted me was the impressive collection of Vogues spanning many years, which just made me wish I had booked a longer stay, if only to work my way through them (although a dedicated reader of Vogue, I am sure I saw some editions I had not yet read!).

Drawing Room Cups

Drawing Room Logs

Dinner was exceptional. We tried fruits de mer (as a main on the first evening), which was both generous and delicately cooked, with each fish/seafood holding its own flavour, not being lost in a melee of fish. I had duck the following evening (which was tender and flavoursome) and my partner tuna; cooked lightly, as requested - simple, but perfect. All the courses were beautifully presented and the service (which attracts a charge) was the correct mixture of attentive and discrete. The establishment has an extensive wine list (covering all budgets). We sampled two different wines over the two evenings, both which were delicious.

Breakfast was even more of a delight. Buttery, soft scrambled eggs (beautifully and confidently seasoned) with strips of smoked salmon, accompanied by a basket of hot and freshly home-baked breads, a selection of excellent conserves and good quality fruit juices (the apple juice was divine) and coffee, made breakfast a relaxed, delicious affair.

 Drawing Room Breakfast

The Drawing Room closes between 12 midday and 4 pm, as noted on its website. This may be an issue for people who enjoy the more casual residential-type aspects of hotels. But, to be fair, this is not the type of experience that the owners are trying to replicate, and we didn't find it a disadvantage at all. It was an excellent base for travelling around the local towns and attractions and, whilst I originally thought that it may be difficult to fill our time before we could return, on both afternoons we returned after 4 pm, quite naturally in the course of our day. Although, had the weather not been good, then this may have become an issue for us.

Drawing Room Bedroom1

Drawing Room Bedroom 2

Our hosts were polite and attentive. They seemed genuinely concerned and interested in whether we were enjoying the food and our stay. I was especially delighted when Melanie commented on my spiked blue velvet slipper shoes, which my partner loathes (I was delighted to point them out in the current copy of Elle I was reading); a sure sign that attention to detail is important to her as was evidenced for our entire stay.

We stayed in the best room, called 'Oliver', which was relatively large, beautifully furnished and spotlessly clean. The bathroom was wonderful. A lovely roll top bath and a selection of fluffy robes, towels and Penhaligons toiletries (a particular favourite of mine), made us feel very much at home. For our room we paid £150 per night for dinner, bed and breakfast, which represented a £50 reduction on the room, each night, as part of a mid-week offer. Adding to this service, wine and pre-dinner drinks, and after-dinner coffee, expect the cost per night to rise to £220 plus, but, all things considered, the experience at the Drawing Room offered very good value for money and would be recommended at any time of year. And should you be attending the commemorations honouring Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Ein Llyw Olaf, in Cilmeri (about 6 ½ miles by road - half that as the crow flies) on the Saturday before 11th December, the Royal Welsh Show at Llanelwedd in July, or just want a base to explore this beautiful part of Mid Wales, we couldn't think of a better place to stay.

Claire Meredith, 1 December 2012





Builth Wells





Also by Claire Meredith:

     Lake Vyrnwy Hotel; December 2012
     3 Pen Cei Guest House, Aberaeron; June 2012
     Escape 5* B&B, Llandudno; June 2012
     The Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd; June 2012
     Photographic study of Myddfai; February 2011
     The Crown at Whitebrook; February 2011
     The New White Lion, Llandovery; February 2011
     Ty Mawr Mansion Country House, Cilcennin, Lampeter; December 2009
     George Thomas Hospice 'Style In the City' event; May 2009


All images: © Claire Meredith


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