Ynyshir, Wales, hotel review
It’s a countryside retreat away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Go for a breath of fresh air and a stunning Michelin-star dinner.
Tell us about Ynyshir
Ynyshir (previously known as Ynyshir Hall) was once owned by Queen Victoria as a hidden retreat – it was said that she adored Ynyshir Hall for the abundance of birds on the estate and she was responsible for planting many of the trees in the gardens.
Fast forward to 2016 and Ynyshir is now better known for its Michelin-star restaurant with the talented Gareth Ward at the helm. There are also ten bedrooms at Ynyshir, each named after different artists, with walls adorned with the original artwork (expect a lot of sheep) of hotel owner Rob Reen.
Royal abodes don’t comes cheap (not sure what the room rate is at Buckingham Palace and it hasn’t even got a Michelin-star) but this is the place to come and really get away from it all.
Where is Ynyshir?
Near the west coast of Wales – next to Borth Beach and just below Snowdonia National Park.
How to get there?
Machynlleth train station is six miles away and has good connections across the country. A taxi to the hotel from the station costs about £10. Alternatively, if you just so happen to win the lottery, there’s enough space for a helicopter to land – I hear it happens frequently.
The unspoilt countryside with rolling hills, a RSPB bird reserve and the Dover Estuary make it a place to go to fill your lungs with fresh air, get out in the countryside and enjoy the lack of phone reception.
What’s in the room?
We stayed in one of these garden suites which is just a stone’s throw from the main house.
Our suite, named Chagall, was bigger than our flat at home. The bedroom, with a sprawling super king-size bed, had the most wonderful views over the gorgeous gardens and, in the distance, the Welsh hills. The bathroom was more like a spa with a huge bath, rainforest shower, double sink and heated towel rails.
The small living room with a beautiful stone fireplace, had more of the same views and comfortable sofas that were perfect for taking the weight off after a long walk in the hills.
How was breakfast?
You can tell as much detail goes into breakfast as it does the dinner – there’s even a starters and main course to choose from. To start there’s homemade granola, fruit compotes, muesli and yogurt followed by bigger plates like smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and, of course, a full Welsh breakfast with a slice of exquisite black pudding. Breakfast also comes with a side order of bread and the most amazing homemade sourdough crumpets – make sure you save room for these.
What about dinner?
Dinner is the star of the show at Ynyshir. Chef Gareth Ward, who was previously at two michelin-starred Restaurant Sat Bains, runs a tight ship in the kitchen with just four chefs cooking the 14-course tasting menus.
His menu champions local produce and he uses a lot of Japanese flavours and techniques. Each course is presented by one of the chefs with an explanation of what it is, how it’s made and how to eat it. One of my favourite courses was the the Welsh wagyu main which comes in four parts – onions cooked slowly under the beef for four hours so they are basted in dripping, a ‘burger’ with pickles, onion and burger-style sauce, a simple sliver of 100-day aged beef with gravy and then a cube of fudge made with wagyu beef fat instead of butter.
Stand-out courses also included homemade sourdough bread served with wagyu beef dripping and cultured butter, a garlic prawn skewered over a prawn head bisque and wild garlic oil, duck liver with cox apple and, for dessert, the tiramisu was mind-blowingly amazing.
The menu, full of wonderful surprises and genius execution, was £95 – outstanding value for such a memorable meal. The only downside to dinner was a lack of atmosphere in the dining room – it was a little too quiet for my liking.
What’s the damage?
In contrast to the reasonably priced dinner, we felt the cost of the little extras really let the place down. Sandwiches in the garden at lunch time (a simple ham and mustard for me and cheese and pickle for my boyfriend) were an eye-watering £18. A cup of tea cost £5. Cocktails were £17 each and a bowl of olives, to go with the the drinks, another £5. Ridiculous prices they can get away with because there is no alternative nearby.
On top of that, the suite was an eye-watering £550 a night which seems extortionate until you remember Ynyshir is super-luxurious and very special place to go to completely get away from it all. I must say that after our stay we felt revived and well-rested. The more standard (but still luxurious) rooms start at £150 for B&B.
Anything else to add?
The hotel is dog-friendly which was great news for us; we could take our puppy along for a weekend away. The sprawling garden is perfect for a game of fetch and, with the countryside on your doorstep, there are endless walks to be had.
Images: Fjona Hill.