When it comes to Brecon Beacons hotels you’re spoilt for choice. However, if you’re after somewhere special in the area then we recommend Gliffaes Country House Hotel.
Nestled away in the hills of the Brecon Beacons National Park is the beautiful Gliffaes. Situated 150 feet above the River Usk, it’s one of those classic British hotels. A destination in itself, guests come here for everything from afternoon tea or an evening meal through to a weekend break or a week-long holiday.
As we’re based in north Wiltshire, it’s a quick drive for me and my partner Justin to reach the Severn Bridge and head into Wales. This makes Wales one of our favourite short getaway destinations. Having visited many spots in south Wales, including Abergavenny, we were eager to visit somewhere new. Therefore we jumped at the chance to visit Gliffaes Country House Hotel.
Brecon Beacons Hotels – Gliffaes Country House Hotel
Hidden inside the Brecon Beacons National Park, the road to Gliffaes takes you along small winding roads up into the hills. A stately stone gateway, complete with gatehouse, marks the entrance to the grounds. You then follow the long path up to the main house, where there’s free parking for guests.
Compared to many Brecon Beacons hotels it’s a grand old property. You can’t help but admire the impressive towers as you get closer to the hotel. Once you’ve parked up and grabbed your bags, it’s time to head up the stone steps, through the Grade 2 listed building’s large wooden doors and explore the hotel’s impressive interior.
A Historic Brecon Beacons Hotel
Originally Gliffaes’ grounds were used by tenant farmers. The main building first appeared on a tithe map back in 1885. It became a hotel in the 1930s, and has now been run by the same family for over 70 years.
Reception is at the bottom of the hotel’s grand staircase, leading off to the bar and lounge areas. In a nod to its renown as one of the UK’s finest fishing hotels, you’ll find matching fish wallpaper and curtains in the reception area. The lounges however, have a modern, stylish feel to them while still in fitting with age of the hotel.
Take your pick from the bar, two lounges or conservatory. All are kitted out with comfy sofas and armchairs for you to unwind after a day of exploration, with lovely views out into the countryside. There’s also a couple of gorgeous open fires to enjoy, making it a great hotel choice whatever the season.
Gliffaes hotel has 23 individually decorated rooms. Our room, No 17, was bright and spacious. You can see that the hotel is aimed at the older, sophisticated traveller because it’s classically decorated. Our room had period furniture, a four poster bed, comfy leather armchairs and abundance of soft furnishings.
Large windows look out onto the grounds. We even had steps up to our bathroom; a long room with Noble Isle toiletries, your basic shower/tub set up and a classic pull chain toilet. A natural spring on the grounds provides the hotel water. I really liked this because it meant the tap water is safe, and tasty, to drink.
The room comes with all the usual amenities you’d expect, like tea making facilities and free wifi, but also lovely little touches like a Roberts DAB radio. Making the most of the time we had here, we sat back, enjoyed a Viennese swirl and a cup of tea before heading out to wander the grounds before our evening meal.
Grounds and facilities
Gliffaes has some impressive grounds, 33 acres in size and guests have access to a variety of facilities. This includes croquet, tennis courts, tandem bikes and electrical assisted bikes – all free to hire.
The hotel is known for its 19th century arboretum. At reception guests can pick up a tree walk map that guides you around the grounds. There’s lots of different paths you can take, including a pretty circular walk around the river and up the lane. This takes around 40 mins.
We did this, and went over to see the hotel’s on-site chickens, but depending on what time of year you visit you could also be able to take in a pretty bluebell walk along a path below the hotel or enjoy the magnolias blooming in April on the western side of the grounds.
Perfect for lovers of the outdoors
Gliffaes is a favourite for lovers of the outdoors; walkers, bikers, canoeist, nature lovers and fishermen. If you want to go further afield the hotel can also provide guests with ordnance survey maps. This way you can take a longer walk on Bwlch Hill, where you might see skylarks, pipits and welsh mountain ponies.
Known as one of the last real fishing hotels in the UK, it also provides guests with the opportunity to fish for salmon or trout along a mile of left bank. You’ll need a current licence but once you’ve got all the necessities in place you can go out on your own, or with one of the local ghilles, or guides.
Dinning at Gliffaes Country House Hotel
Gliffaes is renowned for its food. Many people visit for a few hours simply to enjoy its famous buffet afternoon tea or dinner.
Dinner at Gliffaes
Overnight guests are booked a time slot for dinner, and invited down to the bar 15-30 mins prior in order to enjoy a drink and peruse the menu.
The effort they went to regarding my food intolerances was very impressive. I’m on the low fodmap diet and have to avoid several ingredients including onion, garlic and mushrooms.
The chef was kind enough to go through the entire menu with the waitress to let her know what was ok for me to have and what dishes they’d be able to tweak to suit me. So thoughtful!
Are you a fellow low fodmapper? Check out my top tips for travelling while on the low fodmap diet and my guide to some of the best low fodmap snacks.
For starters we went with a ham hock and a confit duck leg. The hock’s consistency told of the high quality of the meat and the dish did lack flavour, but this was made up for by the pickle. Served like a jelly cube, Justin had never had anything like this, but really enjoyed it. My duck leg didn’t disappoint either. It was perfectly cooked and delicious, with a crisp skin, egg topping and served on a bed of spinach.
Meat was also at the heart of our mains – a lamb rack changed specifically to meet my needs and venison. My lamb was cooked more than I’d like, but was still tasty and served with crisp vegetables and a tasty potato puree.
I did have a slight case of food envy when I saw Justin’s pink, tender and juicy venison. it came with a delicious onion sauce and something neither of us had seen before – a parsnip brûlée. I can report it was enjoyed immensely!
For those with a sweet tooth…
We had to give the desserts a try even though we were stuffed. It’d be wrong not to, right?
Justin had a strawberry and raspberry vanilla delice, served with strawberry sorbet and basil pearls, while I went for the chocolate baba. They were complete opposites! The delice has the subtlest flavour of anything we ate that night, while the baba’s rum jelly was so strong!
This dessert was very impressive, with its chocolate crown, chocolate cake with green berry centre, a moat of rum jelly and some (super tasty) smoked chocolate ice cream. However, the flavours were a bit overpowering for me I’m sad to say. If rum’s your ‘thing’ however, you’ll adore this!
Breakfast at Gliffaes
Gliffaes’ breakfast offering is very impressive. It provides guests with a lovely buffet spread as well as a hot dish.
We were asked whether we wanted tea or coffee as we were seated. We were served a big pot of tea in no time, with a secondary pot of hot water to top it up. It was like they knew me really well! I then went over to peruse the buffet. This included fresh juices, fruit, cereals, yoghurts and freshly baked pastries and muffins.
The warm, buttery croissants were the best I’d had in a really long time – so much so I had to go up for seconds. Our hot breakfasts were cooked while we enjoyed our ‘starters’. This way it wasn’t long before we were served our full Welsh breakfast and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Made from local produce these set us up for a day of exploring the local area.
What to do in the Brecon Beacons
Gliffaes is very well placed to explore the area. Tretower castle and medieval manor house is just a few miles from the hotel. Plus the nearest town, Crickhowell, has some beautiful art galleries and independent shops.
Then there’s Brecon town with its cathedral, Blanavon; a world heritage site famous for its iron works, the South Wales Borderers Museum, working watermill Talgarth Mill, the Big Pit National Mining Museum and much more. These are all reachable by car from the hotel.
Of course for the outdoor types you’re already in the Beacons National Park, with all its natural beauty to offer. Why not consider visiting the Dan yr Ogof caves, go for a waterfall walk up Blaen-y-Glyn, or visit the Aberglasney gardens?
Personally I’m a big lover of history and castles. This is great as mid and south Wales has them in their plenty. We chose to visit Raglan Castle as it was in the direction we’d head home, and what a great choice!
Raglan Castle is the largest to be built by a welsh nobleman. In the 1600s it was considered one of the grandest houses in Wales. For a time it was even Henry Tudor’s childhood home.
Even in its current state of ruin you can see how impressive it would have once looked. I particularly loved the Great Tower, long gallery and great hall.
I highly recommend fellow history lovers give this place a visit. However, for a full rundown of all the historical sites in the Brecon Beacons and beyond the place to visit is the website for CADW. This is the Welsh government’s historical environmental service.
Gliffaes Country House Hotel – my verdict
At first I did feel that I wasn’t the typical guest at Gliffaes. It felt like the hotel was aimed at an older audience. However, the classic style of the hotel grew on me. Plus the service and welcome I received made me feel at home in no time.
Everyone who worked there was friendly and happy to go out of their way to answer any questions. The bar and waiting staff had the perfect balance between guest awareness and giving space and were great to have a laugh with.
Our room was bright and spacious, we slept well and ate excellent food. However the highlight for me was the hotel’s grounds and location. A beautiful place to stay and explore, Gliffaes is definitely worth considering if you’re looking at Brecon Beacons hotels.
Bed and breakfast at Gliffaes Country House Hotel currently start at £155 a night. Booking is available direct online.
Brecon Beacons Hotels – Gliffaes Country House Hotel – pin for later!
My stay was complimentary for the purposes of review, but all opinions are my own.