Review by Fiona Duncan, published 8th October 2006.
It's difficult to pigeonhole Neuadd Lwyd. If you say it's a guesthouse in the middle of farmland on remote Anglesey, connotations of nylon sheets, dour rooms, old harridans and stodgy food cloud the mind. And yet... the room in which I am dozing, tucked under a goose-down duvet on a deep mattress, is one of the most attractive hotel bedrooms I can recall, equipped with flat-screen TV, DVDs, digital radio, walk-in shower and separate bath (no phone though). All the furniture, the beds, beaded throws and cushions, pictures, lamps, even the clock on the mantelpiece, are new and carefully chosen, lending the feel of a swish bedroom in a luxury hotel, for which you could be paying three times the price.
There are vases of tulips and freesias, white-china teacups on a mahogany tray, pretty decanters for the complimentary bottles of water, silk-covered hot-water bottles. From the purple-painted slipper bath I gaze out of the window, my head reclining on a towelling pillow above a froth of bubbles.
When I step into the elegant (if chilly) hall and comfortable sitting room, or on to the spacious landing around which all four guest bedrooms are grouped, I feel that I am not in a hotel, but a private house, homely and familiar. Guesthouse? Hotel? Private home? A mixture of the three, for which there is no word.
"Country House" is what owners Susannah (whose first language is Welsh) and Peter Woods prefer to call Neuadd Lwyd. Susannah, who trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School and is the chef, spent 20 years as a midwifery sister before deciding to restore this early Victorian rectory and switch career. "It's not such a big change," she says. "I'm still caring for people, just in a different way."
She certainly does that. Take breakfast. On the table, a jug of iced water with lemon, flowers floating in a bowl, freshly squeezed orange and local apple juice, homemade jams in glass jars. On the sideboard, compotes of rhubarb, Welsh scones and home-baked bread. On our plates, grilled bacon and delicious traditional Welsh rarebit, the cheddar cheese flavoured with local beer and sage.
Susannah isn't responsible for the weather. The rain slants horizontally across the sky, obscuring even the sheep in the fields beyond, let alone the mountains across the Menai Straits in the distance. Luckily the day before had been peerless and so we know what we are missing and which of the peaks was Snowdon.
You may find yourself dwelling on such details at Neuadd Lwyd: there's little to do, except to relax, walk and enjoy the scenery. A stroll around Beaumaris Castle perhaps, or simply a trip to Hooton's Farm Shop to stock up on farm-reared Welsh lamb and Gorau Glas blue cheese. Or you could do as Susannah does: drive 20 minutes to Holyhead, buy a £14 return ticket for the fast ferry and spend the day in Dublin. You can be back in time for an excellent home-cooked dinner, and another night in that luxurious bedroom.
Penmynydd, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey (01248 715005; www.neuaddlwyd.co.uk). Doubles from £185 to £230, including breakfast and dinner for two.
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