Shropshire Star

Perfect place for relaxation

I do enjoy city breaks and bustling places but sometimes you just need a little downtime to relax and recharge your batteries – get some fresh air and forget about work and other pressures.

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The Georgian beauty of Nanteos Mansion

And a perfect place for this is the handsome Nanteos Mansion a few miles from beautiful Cardigan Bay and at the foot of the rolling Cambrian Mountains.

Secluded and set in 30 acres at the end of a tree-lined private drive, this Grade I Listed 18th century property is an oasis of calm and serenity.

Nanteos is packed full of history – it sits on the site of a house that dated back to 11th century. The building of Nanteos as it is now known, began in 1739 under the direction of Thomas Powell, MP for Cardiganshire, funded by the wealth of his wife Mary Frederick, granddaughter of Sir John Frederick, Lord Mayor of London.

In its heyday the estate covered 33,000 acres – yes an astonishing 33,000!

It was a home until 1951, but over the following 60 years it fell into disrepair until what the current owners – who call themselves ‘the custodians’ – oversaw a massive multi-milllion pound refurbishment.

Now the Nanteos Mansion Country House Hotel, it has 19 bedrooms and the Grade II listed stables are now a luxury self-catering property.

The mansion, without doubt a class act, was sympathetically restored to preserve many of the original features, including a paper mache ornate ceiling with portraits of Milton and Shakespeare on the details. And not forgetting the ornate Music Room (where you can get married) with mirrored walls, gilded stucco and a ceiling depicting the four seasons.

The dining room is simply sublime, with many period features, and tables set some distance apart laid with crisp linen. Another of the original features is the kitchen complete with range, which is now a lovely informal breakfast room.

Bedrooms are all named after people, places and events associated with the mansion’s illustrious past. They include some stunning luxury suites and all bedrooms have been individually designed. Homemade biscuits accompany the tea and coffee and there is fresh milk and water in the fridge.

Bathrooms come with fluffy robes, slippers and quality toiletries and plenty of towels.

And . . . Nanteos is dog friendly and I mean dog friendly. There are bedrooms which welcome dogs and come complete with a water dish and dog treats. And the only place you can’t go in the public rooms is the dining room. Now that is dog friendly and my hound thoroughly enjoyed it – including getting lots of attention in the library bar after dinner.

And he certainly enjoyed discovering large parts of those grounds with us. We took a two-mile circular walk around the grounds passing the mansion’s pretty lake, so enjoyable. If you want to exercise even further there are plenty of other walks nearby – after all it is heart of Wales.

If you fancy some sea air, Aberystwyth is 15 minutes drive away where you can take a stroll along the promenade. And for those who fancy something a little cultural, there’s the National Library of Wales, full of treasures.

Take a walk up Constitution Hill or take the funicular railway and you enjoy a Victorian-style camera obscura. Well worth a visit.

Now back to the hotel where afternoon tea is a lavish affair in the salon.

Dinner is taken in the aforementioned sumptuous dining room complete with chandeliers and walls covered in paintings reflecting the house’s history. But only after a leisurely gin and tonic (from an impressive list of botanicals) served with the exact garnish each gin requires.

Food currently is fairly robust ‘country-style’ and my partner made me promise to mention his steak and chips. Sounds a bit ordinary? Oh, no. The steak was, and I hate to use the phrase, melt in the mouth, and cooked just as he wanted – rare. So tender he scarcely needed a knife to cut into it. And the chips . . . I had to sample after listening to him umming and ahing. Thick cut and fried in Wagyu dripping. I had the veggie option for main, a mushroom Stroganoff which was full of tasty, flavourful meaty fungi. Starters and puddings were also a delight.

There’s a set menu, an a la carte and a tasting menu on Thursday to Saturday if pre-requested. Chef Gerwyn Jones places emphasis on locally sourced ingredients wherever possible – and it shows – especially in the steak!

Breakfast in the original kitchen is a very relaxed affair with many delights on offer including a full Welsh with laver bread, smoked haddock, kippers and eggs Benedict plus a whole lot more.

Nanteos Mansion is a place to escape, slower paced but with excellent and discreet service – and I have to mention service from the manager and also the young man who manned the bar and also served dinner and breakfast. Second to none.

Nanteos wraps itself around you in a luxurious yet relaxing and comforting way.

Just few hours there are enough to make any worries and stress simply disappear.