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Review: Manorhaus, Llangollen

(June 01, 2015)

Review: Manorhaus, Llangollen
5* restaurant with rooms
Manorhaus Llangollen Manorhaus Llangollen

Llangollen TownRiver Dee from Llangollen Bridge
a great place to watch kayaks negotiating the Afon Dyfrdwy's whitewater

Llangollen

A beautiful small town, framed by woodland and mountains - including the wonderfully evocative ruins of Castell Dinas Brân, visible from the town - Llangollen has the River Dee (Afon Dyfrdwy) running through its heart. The annual Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod (see here), held during the second week of July, swells the town's population to tens of thousands from its more permanent 3,500 base. So Llangollen is well able to cater for tourists and locals alike at any time of year.

Llangollen CastleCastell Dinas Brân, from the town

Its town centre has a wide range of independent retailers, pubs, restaurants and vintage shops to browse around (some found down pretty little lanes), all with a friendly and laid-back feel. Lovely touches, such as traditional butchers, sweet shops, bakers and grocers are something of a novelty for us 'townies' and were a treat to see - and best of all, they seem to be thriving!

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, just four miles east of town along the Llangollen Canal, is well worth a visit to marvel at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although a trip across the aquaduct - standing a perilous 126 ft (38 m) above the River Dee - either by foot along the towpath or by barge along the canal is best left for those significantly braver than myself.

Pontcysyllte aqueductPontcysyllte aqueduct

Llangollen's railway, once on the line connecting Ruabon (Rhiwabon) to Barmouth (Abermaw), on the west coast (via Y Bala and Dolgellau), became yet another of Dr Beeching's Welsh victims; closed as part of his infamous 'axe' in 1964. The station re-opened as a preserved steam railway in 1975, with only 60 feet (18 m) of track. Since then, volunteers have extended the line, which now runs steam-hauled, original rolling-stock, the ten miles (16 km) to Corwen. The scenery along the entire route, which runs alongside the River Dee, is simply stunning. Look out for a glimpse of the Horseshoe Falls, about three miles west of Llangollen. So, you don't have to be a train-nerd or geek to enjoy a trip on this railway. But if you are, it will be the best £15 (adult return) you will have spent in a very long time: other return fares are senior (60+) – £13.50; child (3-15) – £8; family (2 adults & 2 children) – £39.

 

Llangollen RailwayLMS locomotive arriving at Llangollen Railway Station

Manorhaus, Llangollen

We are yet to fully explore the north. Well, as extensively as mid or west Wales. And when we were looking for somewhere nice to stay, Manorhaus, Llangollen seemed perfect. We had nearly chosen to stay at their sister location in Rhuthun last year, but had decided on Ruthin Castle Hotel instead (review here). To help reach our decision we consulted 'Welsh rarebits' (a website (www.rarebits.co.uk) and booklet are available), an organisation that highlights and promotes quality and trusted hotels, 'restaurants with rooms', and inns, which have all been extensively reviewed, so is an excellent, honest guide and one we have used a number of times.

Manorhaus is just a couple of minutes walk from Llangollen's main street, yet far enough away from the main drag that you won't be bothered by the noise of people or traffic. The beautifully renovated Victorian building is accessed up a short set of winding steps. Parking is something of an issue in Llangollen. However, the hotel provides guests with a parking permit that can be used in any of Denbighshire's long-stay car parks, including one 100 yards from the hotel.

Once admitted, we were welcomed warmly and provided with details about keys, breakfast and given a short tour of the (very stylish) bar, before being shown to our room.

Manorhaus Bar

Manorhaus barManorhous Llangollen's stylish bar

Our room was clean and spacious with a modern 'wet room' type bathroom. Lovely touches such as handmade toiletries (from nearby Rhuthun) were available in the bathroom. Also of note was the fantastic quality of the bed, pillows and bed-linen, something which both myself and my partner appreciated, and notice wherever we stay – believe me, it makes a big difference to the quality and luxuriousness of your sleep.

 

Manorhaus bedroom Manorhaus bedroom
Bedrooms, featuring beautiful Melin Tregwynt headboards and cushions

On our first evening's stay we decided to sample some of the food for which it is celebrated, having a delicious meal of twice-baked cheese soufflé (to start), and cod and lentils for main, with my partner having hake – all of which were excellent.

Set on three levels, which allows a certain amount of privacy from other diners and suggests an intimate atmosphere, the dining room has a thoroughly modern, yet comfortable feel. The tables are laid with top quality glassware and dinner service, with fine well-starched linen tablecloths and napkins (always appreciated).

 

Manorhaus Llangollen, dining roomDining room (top level)

Twice-baked cheese soufflé starter

Manorhaus Evening Meal Manorhaus Evening Meal
 Twice-baked cheese soufflé starter Cod and lentils - main course

Each morning the dining room is re-laid for breakfast. Cereals and muesli, several varieties of Llaith y Llan Welsh yoghurt (my favourite), some fresh fruit and fruit juices are available to choose from, which you serve yourself, then take to any free table. After this, we both chose a breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, which was delicious. This was served with a choice of tea or coffee and brown or white toast, for which jam, marmalade and honey were available. The following morning I had smoked Manx kippers and poached egg – again very tasy.

 

Scrambled eggs & smoked salmon - breakfast, day 1 Manorhaus Breakfast 2
Breakfast: scrambled eggs & smoked salmon Manx kippers

 

So, the question is … would we stay here again?

Certainly, yes – overall, we had a relaxing, chic and enjoyable two night stay here – but on the proviso that they keep on top of maintenance niggles (when we stayed, the door to the en-suit bathroom didn't fit properly and its handle was broken (I could imagine being stuck in there for days); water drained from the sink even when the plug was closed; and one of the lights was out). Though I understand those problems have now been fixed.

On the plus side: the bed and bedding are fabulous; the bedroom is comfortable and well thought out; free wi-fi (it's just annoying when the cost isn't included); the lovely town; the hotel location; parking provision; the food - among the best available in Llangollen (the other top destination is The Corn Mill, a pub and restaurant overlooking Afon Dyfrdwy); and service - excellent and very attentive throughout.

And, by the way, we thoroughly recommend the espresso martinis!

 

Manorhaus Hotel, style notes   Manorhaus Hotel, landing  
Manorhous, Llangollen - style detail
  Random iconic chair on the first floor landing
featuring a beautiful Melin Tregwynt cushion
 

Claire Meredith, June 2015

Manorhaus, Llangollen
Hill Sreet
Llangollen
Denbighshire
LL20 8EU

Phone: 01978 860775
www.manorhausllangollen.com

Also by Claire Meredith:
    
Ty Croeso, Crickhowell; December 2014

    
Ruthin Castle Hotel, Rhuthun; September 2014

    
The Manor Town House, Fishguard; June 2014
    
Llandeilo; December 2013
    
Tenby / Dinbych-y-pysgod; September 2013
    
The Old Chemist Inn, Saundersfoot
; September 2013

    
The Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd
; September 2013

    
Gwesty'r Emlyn Hotel, Newcastle Emlyn
; June 2013

    
Photographic study of Newcastle Emlyn
; June 2013
     Lake Vyrnwy Hotel; December 2012

     The Drawing Room, nr Builth Wells; 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

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