B&B and Beyond: Oriel Milgi, Pembrokeshire
This old sea-captain's home is a great coastal getaway, whether you have four legs or two, says Rhiannon Batten
Opened last November in pretty St Dogmaels, this three-room B&B, a few doors down from the village shop, looks like any other village house from the outside. Step over the threshold, however, and you find yourself inside a cosseting seaside retreat. Once a sea-captain's house, Oriel Milgi is a picture of grace, with a spiralling Georgian staircase at its heart, custom-designed doors, and a mix of contemporary and vintage furnishings. There's also a commitment to sustainability that runs to softly coloured, non-toxic paintwork and renewable energy.
Rustic oak headboards, traditional Welsh blankets, white-painted wooden shutters, gorgeous linen sheets and supplies of fresh milk are supplemented with modern comforts such as Bose iPod docks. Rhosyn (Rose), with its en-suite bath and shower, and Môr (Sea), with its wet room, are at the front of the house with kingsize beds while Coed (Wood) is at the back. Larger than the other two rooms, with a super-king bed (or twins), a huge wet room and views out over the garden towards the estuary beyond, this is the room to book for seclusion.
Eaten around one large table in an open-plan living and dining room, breakfast is as relaxed as a Sunday brunch at home should be but rarely is, with papers provided, pretty twin-tone Poole pottery to eat off, and the cooking and washing up done for you. All the usual suspects are available, from porridge to a full Welsh, and the owners get extra Brownie points for their local sourcing policy; if you manage to come away without buying some of the Foxhill jam or marmalade they serve with their toast, you have more willpower than me.
Former teacher Helen and illustrator Anne moved here from Cardiff when a holiday romance with Pembrokeshire turned into a search for a home. The name Oriel Milgi (greyhound gallery) refers to their dual obsessions of art and dogs (they have three whippets) and it's also a subtle code for what sets them apart. A collection of Welsh art peppers the house – some of it Anne's own work – and, unusually for somewhere as stylish as this, dogs are welcomed; they even offer a dog-sitting (and, sometimes, walking) service.
Helen and Anne are evangelical about the local area, and with good reason. In St Dogmaels attractions include Y Felin Mill, one of the last working water mills in Wales (01239 613 999; yfelin.co.uk), and the ruined but still grand St Dogmaels Abbey, in whose former orchards Oriel Milgi is built (01239 615389; www.welshabbey.org.uk). If you're more interested in the outdoors than the past, join the Pembrokeshire Coast Path (nt.pcnpa.org.uk), which starts at the northern reaches of the village, and follow this for a mile or so north to Poppit Sands, a popular Blue Flag beach. Or book in for a wildlife-watching boat trip around Cardigan Bay with local company Bay To Remember (01239 623558; baytoremember.co.uk; £25 for a one-hour Bay Explorer) or sea kayaking and other activities with Fforest (01239 623633; coldatnight.co.uk).
The neighbouring town of Cardigan is worth a visit too, with its shops and theatres (visitcardigan.com). In 2013, its restored castle is scheduled to open to visitors. Just beyond Cardigan is pint-sized 14th-century Mwnt church, perched on a headland above a dramatic National Trust-owned beach, and the Welsh Wildlife Centre (01239 621600; welshwildlife.org).
The Ferry Inn is 10 minutes' walk away and serves great gastropub-style food in atmospheric surroundings right by the water's edge (01293 615172; ferry-inn.com). Or, grab one of the little Formica tables at Bowen's Fish and Chip shop (01239 613814), a few doors down. For edible souvenirs as well as coffees, cakes and occasional suppers, the excellent Deli Delights is almost directly opposite (01239 621002; delidelightswales.co.uk). The Lemon Tree tearoom, just up the hill, does afternoon teas (01239 615321). For picnic fruit and salads, Glebelands farm stall (glebelandsmarketgarden.co.uk) is also in St Dogmaels. But, for a truly blowout dinner, book in at 25 Mile in Cardigan, which was partly set up by the founder of local jeans company Howies, and sources the bulk of its produce from within a radius of ... 25 miles (01239 623625; 25mile.com).
Oriel Milgi, Telynfa, High Street, St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire, Wales SA43 3EF (01239 612556; orielmilgi.co.uk). Single rooms start at £65 B&B, doubles from £75 B&B.
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