B&B and Beyond: Fronlas, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire
This small, sleek retreat matches the colour and charm of its idyllic location, says Sue Watt
Sunday 18 March 2012
Tucked away in the side streets of Llandeilo, a pretty market town overlooking the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Tywi Valley, Fronlas exudes a warm and stylish Welsh welcome. Much is sourced locally and ethically, combining environmental sensitivity and elegance. Fronlas was in desperate need of attention when it was bought by its current owners four years ago, but a sensitive refurbishment has brought this Edwardian townhouse into the present in contemporary style.
There are four en-suite rooms, each styled individually from retro to boudoir. Our room had a striking feature wall of different wallpapers in pink, purple and brown that melded surprisingly well, complemented by a pink orchid in full bloom. To my knowledge, I'd never before slept on an organic mattress and despite being a persistent light sleeper, I dozed blissfully on a soft but supportive bed made with Welsh lambswool. Special touches in the room included organic chocolates made locally by the appropriately named "Heavenly" chocolatier, homemade biscuits, and a cafetiere with fair-trade coffee.
The bathroom was stocked with robes from The White Company and luxurious toiletries from REN. There's something particularly welcoming about an honesty bar and that, together with a wood-burning stove and a selection of books and DVDs in the communal living room, enhanced Fronlas's convivial ambience.
The breakfast room is crisp and uncluttered. Healthy breakfasts – muesli, fruit salad, porridge or smoked salmon with scrambled eggs – mostly use organic and locally sourced produce. I couldn't resist the full veggie breakfast, with sausages that had never seen a pig and eggs from a local farm. Carnivores can tuck into sausage and bacon from the nearby farm Y Graig. If the thought of leaving your organic mattress is too unbearable, breakfast can be brought to your room, if arranged the night before. Organic packed lunches can be provided too.
Having fallen in love with Llandeilo during visits from nearby Swansea, Owain and Eva Huw, who previously worked in IT and event management, saw a niche for a boutique B&B and took the plunge into the hospitality industry. But you wouldn't think it was their first foray, given their easy blend of friendliness without fuss.
You could spend all weekend wandering around Llandeilo, dipping into its boutiques, antique shops, delis and pubs. Dinefwr Park (01558 824512; nationaltrust.org.uk/dinefwr) with its castle, gardens and deer herds is a 10 minute walk away. For a longer hike, the Brecon Beacons (breconbeacons.org) beckon, spreading east from Llandeilo. If you only do one hike, make it to Carreg Cennen Castle (01558 822291; carregcennencastle.com), a ruin high on a hill with views of beautiful countryside, just four miles from Fronlas.
The Angel Hotel (01558 822765; angel bistro.co.uk) is located next to the Heavenly chocolate shop (01558 822800; heavenly choc.co.uk) on the main thoroughfare, Rhosmaen Street. It serves a divine dinner in its Capel Bach Bistro (meaning "little chapel"). It has been recently refurbished and sports pale wooden tables with brown and green furnishings accompanied by the occasional zebra print. Although the à la carte menu was tempting, we chose the table d'hôte and tucked into good quality, unpretentious food in huge portions. With pancakes for dessert (it was Shrove Tuesday) and a bottle of fragrant Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, the bill came to an affordable £36.50.
For another friendly locals' pub, try The White Horse (01558 822424; evanevansbrewery.com) across the road from the Capel Bach Bistro.
The Bottom Line
Llandeilo is ideal for a weekend of unhurried browsing, while hardy walkers can easily escape to the hills. Fronlas offers a stylish base, with admirable attention to detail, and both town and B&B have a distinctive Welsh charm coupled with a genuinely warm welcome. "Ardderchog" as the Welsh would say. Excellent.
Fronlas, 7 Thomas Street, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA19 6LB (01558 824733; fronlas.com). B&B starts at £70 for a double room.
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