HOTEL OF THE WEEK

Fairyhill

Where is it?

On the Gower Peninsula in Wales, designated Britain's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1957, 12 miles west of Swansea, four miles from the sea. Address: , Reynoldston, Gower, near Swansea SA3 1BS (tel: 01792 390139; fax: 01792 391358).

What's it like?

It's an eight-bedroom country-house hotel, famous for its restaurant and wine cellar. An early Georgian house, its 24-acre grounds contain woodland, meandering paths, croquet lawns, trout streams and lakes with swans and ducks. Comfortable public rooms with log fires and sofas to disappear into.

Ambience?

Intimate, relaxed, a quiet retreat tucked away deep in the countryside. "Well-behaved children over eight are welcomed."

Service?

Warm and attentive without being intrusive, run by a family and friends. As soon as I'd parked my car a member of staff walked out with my room key.

Rooms?

Each room is luxurious, different in character and decor, with TV and hi-fi (CDs at reception). All have bathrooms. Prices per room for two sharing, with morning tea and full breakfast: pounds 110-pounds 160; two-day breaks with three-course dinner, in winter: pounds 145-pounds 185; in summer, pounds 165-pounds 205.

Food?

Superb New British. Slick presentation matched by quality. Canapes, choice of six starters, six main courses, six sweets with glass of dessert wine. Menus reflect seasons and local produce - has its own "almost" organic garden and orchard. Typical are Pen-clawdd cockles, Welsh lamb, warm salad of skate, tomato tart with local goat's cheese, sewin (Welsh sea trout), lobster, crab and sea bass. Two courses pounds 25, three courses pounds 32. Lunch: two courses pounds 14.50, three courses pounds 17.50. The 400-strong wine list ranges from pounds 850 bottles of premier cru claret to half-bottles of New World wines in single figures.

Awards?

AA Hotel of the Year Wales 1997, Top Wine List of the Year in Wales 1999, AA Restaurant Guide 1988 - three red rosettes, Egon Ronay's Wales Cellar of the Year 1996, Outstanding Wine List and Restaurant of the Year in Which? Good Food Guide 1998, five stars from Wales Tourist Board.

Clientele?

Predominantly walkers on weekend breaks from London and the South-east, plus executives doing business in Swansea, Llanelli and Cardiff.

Things to do?

West Gower is a rambler's paradise. Within easy reach is the dramatic coastline with the stunning sweep of Rhosilli Bay backed by its gorse and heather-covered down, plus its smaller cousins Mewslade Bay and Fall Bay. Clifftop strolls and the more vigorous trek at low tide over to Worms Head, surely Britain's most stunning promontory. Surfing, hang-gliding, waterskiing, plus birdwatching. Moorland walking inland. A little further away is the salthouse at Port Eynon, Three Cliffs Bay, Oxwich Bay and its castle, smart Mumbles and "ugly, lovely" Swansea. Golf at Three Crosses and Langland.

ROBERT NURDEN

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