“A 17th century renovated Welsh coach-house on the outskirts of the village of Skenfrith. The Bell's double rosette restaurant has its own kitchen garden and their bedrooms - many with exposed beams and four poster beds - are each charmingly named after a trout fly.”
Written by Fiona Duncan
“Why do people love staying in your hotel?
I think because first of all it is an utterly charming hotel, that has served the public for more than 300 hundred years, in one of the country’s most beautiful and unspoiled counties. The atmosphere at The Bell is friendly, relaxed and flexible. The rooms are luxurious, the food is seasonal and sourced locally and the owners are on hand to speak to you. In cold weather, we have proper open fires so guests can relax in comfy sofas, read a book or catch up on all the latest newspapers and magazines. Although off the beaten track, The Bell is very easy to get to being just over an hour from Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham and 1hr 30’ from Birmingham.
What is there to do in the area?
Boredom just doesn’t feature here. There is plenty to do, much of it at your own behest. We have created six circular walks (ie from and back to The Bell) which have exact instructions and drawings of points of interest along the way. The best laid plans can go awry, and although it is quite rare, people who get lost are often brought back by kindly neighbours or we send out a search party! So far we haven’t lost anyone or at least not yet.
The river Monnow is right beside us and many people bring their canoes. There are plenty of companies nearby to help organise this. Dogs are extremely welcome in the area as long as their owners strictly observe the Country Code. We even have a special bar for walkers and dogs alike called The Dog and Boot Bar with free doggie biscuits for canines. Other things to do are fully listed on our website but include visiting many of the Marches Castles which are strewn around the area. Just outside the village there is a cider-making family that has a great tour of its orchards and works. Local company Monnow Events organises clay pigeon shooting, paintballing or quad biking and other things which are very popular, especially with Hen and Stag parties. One of the most popular things to do is fish and The Bell can put you in touch with companies that will organise everything for you including licences, rods etc. Festivals abound in these parts with the Hay Literary Festival and Abergavenny Food Festival two of the most prolific. The Bell is a 40 minute drive from Hay and 20 minutes from Abergavenny. We have free wifi for those who prefer to stay indoors.
What kind of breakfast do you offer?
Full Welsh breakfast with local bacon, sausages and hens eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes etc if desired. The laid-out buffet includes cereals, danish pastries, croissants, fresh fruit (from the kitchen garden in season), yogurts, fresh fruit juices, tea and coffee. We also bake all our own bread and rolls and some traditional Welsh bread and cake.
Do you offer other meals? And can you recommend good places to eat out locally?
Yes, our restaurant has won many awards for its culinary excellence. We offer lunches, snacks, afternoon tea (reservation recommended) and an à la carte menu in the evening. Dietary requirements are catered for of course. We have a special menu for children and will organise picnics for walkers or to be enjoyed on a rug up in our beautiful Orchard Garden. For those wanting a change of scenery, we would recommend Shaun Hill’s Walnut Tree Inn which is 10 minutes up the road.
Which are your most popular room types, and why?
All our rooms are very popular and each one is unique. Perhaps the most popular are the four poster bedrooms which again are all different. Every room has an ensuite bathroom, flat screen tv, tea and coffee making facilities with fresh milk and homemade biscuits. Our toiletries are from the award-winning British company Noble Isle. We supply Welsh organic beetroot from our Kitchen Garden for Noble Isle’s Autumn range, so that’s a lovely link.
What facilities do you have for children and can you fit extra beds in your rooms ?
We have sofa beds in some rooms and can provide z beds. Our attic suites work very well as Family Rooms and if grandparents want to come too they can book the adjacent suite and everyone can run between the two! We have created a special Children’s Walk called The Skenfrith Sleuth which takes them (and their parents) around Skenfrith Village (just a few yards from The Bell) looking for answers to questions about the WWI Memorial, the Norman Castle and the medieval church of St. Bridget’s. It has a fun crossword and wordsearch. We have the usual board games and lots of reading material can be found in the guest sitting room. There is also plenty of space outside in the garden for them to run around and have fun. During Spring, children love climbing on the fences to watch the sheep and lambs in the fields. We also rear our own pigs just beyond the orchard which is always a ‘must-see’ for children and parents.
What message would you like to give Hotel Guru readers?
This little corner of Wales, just over the border from England, has something for everyone, whatever their age. Staying here is like re-engaging with nature. The surrounding countryside here is breathtaking and the easy, open access to old monuments and country walks is quite a rare thing these days. Many of our guests love to bring their classic cars and do some old-fashioned, open-top touring on relatively quiet roads with great scenery, good pubs and enjoy lots of fresh air. The walks along the river Monnow are spectacular and the flowers and fauna outstanding. Although we have a few wellies, don’t forget to pack your walking boots and/or wellies!”
"The hotel is a welcoming place with flagstone floors, sofas in front of a huge inglenook fireplace, stylish bedrooms and an excellent kitchen garden. "
Originally published by The Telegraph (view article)