Relax and revive in Wales
The Quick Read: This white-painted, 16th century manor house near Machynlleth in the Powys countryside is set in 14 acres of pretty gardens, in the middle of a bird reserve, and near the energising Cambrian mountains. Come here to enjoy total peace, brilliant walks, gourmet meals, cossetting interiors and treatments. For a more intense wellbeing fix, there are Relax & Revive breaks each weekend on which you can learn meditation, enjoy the guidance of a coach and destress with holistic therapies. Owner Joan Reen has a firm belief in a holistic approach to life and is keen to offer her guests more than just pampering.
More on Relax and Revive breaks: As these are arranged especially for you, you can pretty much have what you like, with enough advance notice, and Joan taps into the talent of local therapists. Enjoy sessions of tai chi, yoga or a meditation walk with Thomas Buchi, treatments such as shiatsu, Indian head massage and reflexology or aromatherapy massage with Karen Standing, or experience a session of Creative Kinesiology with the intuitive and kindly ChaNan Bonser. Life coaching sessions with executive coach Pauline Clare can help sift through any career or relationship woes and can be continued by phone or email at home – handy if you feel your new vision start to blur on the journey home. Treatments take place in two serene treatment rooms spread over two floors. Read a word from the queen on our experience here.
More to do: The garden is a serene and very quiet place to wander, and there’s an RSPB bird reserve to walk in just next door. Nearby you’ll find Artist’s Valley, a charming wooded valley which inspired many Victorian artists, and Ynyslas Beach, a huge sand spit with rolling dunes at the end of the Dovey estuary. A short drive away is The Centre for Alternative Technology.
More on the hotel: Inside, fragrant flowers and brightly coloured fabrics fill the spacious bar, sitting room, breakfast room and dining room, and every wall is adorned with inspiring watercolours of Welsh landscapes and Mediterranean scenes painted by Joan’s husband Rob, a professional artist. The 10 individually-designed bedrooms use vibrant colours to uplift and energise, and most have views of the garden or mountains. They’re simple and traditional rather than contemporary or sassy. Think lush materials, plenty of antiques and either four-poster, carved wood or brass beds. The Matisse suite is the largest, and has a brilliant pink sofa, a brass bed, a marble bathroom and garden views. There’s also a more contemporary studio room set apart from the main house, but we’d only suggest taking this outside the colder months.
Food & drink: The traditional, naturally-lit dining room is an especially lovely place to while away the time, and the superb seasonally and locally sourced gourmet menu is consistently delicious thanks to young gourmet chef Paul Croasdale. He uses fresh local ingredients including seafood, wild salmon, venison, wild game, Welsh lamb and black beef and free-range chicken, growns some of his own fruit, vegetables, herbs and salads, and collects wild foods such as mushrooms, samphire, wood sorrel and wild garlic. The end result is tasty creations such as Butter poached Borth lobster tail, hand rolled macaroni and Jersey Royals followed by wild strawberry cheesecake. The menu is meat and fish-rich, but for Relax and Revive folk there’s a Light Menu that’s just as exciting – anyone for white asparagus cappuccino, truffled vegetables, heir loom carrot salad or strawberry soup?
What’s lowly: There’s not a proper spa here.
Costs: Prices range between £150-£655 per room per night single occupancy and £205-£710 per room per night double occupancy for B&B. Dinner, B&B costs from £340 to £835 per room per night.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
© Queen of Retreats