Hotel of the Week: Cantre Selyf
Sunday 10 September 2000
Where is it?
Where is it?
A few doors down from the police station in the heart of this pretty Welsh town. Finding it proved fiendishly difficult and required five circuits of the town's one-way system. It eventually dawned on us that the only way to reach it is to turn sharp left at the HSBC bank along a cobbled path that looks banned to traffic but actually isn't. Address: 5 Lion Street, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7AU (tel: 01874 622904; email: email@example.com; website: www.cantreselyf.co.uk).
What's it like?
One of Brecon's most historic and grandest houses, dating back to the 17th century but predominantly Georgian, it has been restored to former glories after a period spent as a dental surgery. The decor is tasteful but not twee, while the one-acre garden at the back is pure bliss.
Imagine Jane Austen crossed with Dylan Thomas. It is also intimate: there are just three bedrooms. And very informal - don't be surprised if you find a dog nuzzling your ankles. There's a comfortable lounge with large sofas to sprawl upon while watching a television disguised as an antique-looking cabinet.
Friendly, personal, but not intrusive. Owners Helen and Nigel Roberts, who bought and renovated the house after leaving London five years ago, greet you at the door, show you to the room, cook and serve supper.
Two doubles and one twin. All come with shower and toilet ensuite but there is no bath in which to soak aching joints after a hard day's walking in the mountains. Try to book the bright and spacious bedroom at the back overlooking the garden. Rooms cost £50 but are reduced to £30 if you're on your own.
Food and drink?
Supper is optional, but strongly recommended at a bargain £12 for two courses or £15 for three. Helen does all her own cooking using local produce, including fresh vegetables from the garden. There are three choices of main course, including one vegetarian option. On the first night I drooled over a delectable lamb in port and damson sauce, rivalled only by the second night's encore of trout fillets with bacon and almonds. The wine list ranges from £8 for a decent white to £14 for a very good Rioja.
Four stars awarded by the Welsh Tourist Board and mentioned in numerous brochures and guidebooks.
Somewhat peculiar if only to judge by two Americans we met there. "How do we get to Pontypridd?" said one. "We hear there's really great shopping there." Possibility too of bumping into George Melly during Brecon Jazz Festival in early August. Owners do a lot of festival entertaining during the jazz weekend.
Things to do
Walking and more walking in the magnificent Brecon Beacons. If it's really too wet, which is frequent, try the South Wales Borderers and Monmouthshire Regimental Museum, just down the road, with its remarkable display of Victoria Crosses.
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