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Review: Lake Vyrnwy Hotel

(December 01, 2012)

Lake Vyrnwy Hotel

Lake 1 Res

Originally built in 1890, the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel has been developed further on three separate occasions. It sits in a commanding position on the Lake Vyrnwy estate, in the Berwyn Mountains, near the English border in Mid Wales. The hotel holds special memories for the editors at tŵr Cymru Culture towers, as this was one of the places we chose to stay at for our honeymoon (which encompassed saying in various hotels around Wales) and we have since stayed here twice since.

 Lake 2 Hotel Outside

The hotel overlooks a picturesque Victorian reservoir. Its spectacular sunrises and sunsets are one of the main reasons for returning to this wonderful hotel again, and again. The majority of tables in the hotel restaurant conveniently overlook the lake; so a romantic setting in the evening and/or a wonderful outlook when enjoying your cornflakes, smoked haddock and poached egg, in the morning is guaranteed. The hotel itself is 4 star and its style and ambience is of a luxurious hunting lodge. Interestingly, some visitor reviews on Trip Advisor comment on its shabby-chic appearance (which, on each subsequent stay have lent more towards the shabby, but more of that later), but for me, this is part of its charm. Its book-filled sitting rooms contain deep, well-used sofas, mounted taxidermy (remnants of its previous incarnation as a hunting lodge) and fishing paraphernalia that hang all around, adding to the ambience. Another charming feature is the dress-code for your evening meal … jackets preferred.

 Lake Sunset

If the weather is cold or rainy, and the prospect of going outside unappealing (the hotel encourages a range of outdoor pursuits, including their own tennis courts), I suggest sitting in front of the log-fire in the drawing room, whilst enjoying the stunning views. Huge well-worn sofas are dotted around the richly furnished room - the perfect location to settle down with a good book of a rainy afternoon. Excellent cream teas are available and the home-made shortbread biscuits are wonderful. On our most recent visit, we noticed that the upholstery on some of the chairs needed attention, and whilst this has always added to the charm of the place, the hotel did seem in need of some refurbishment. However, we understand that some furniture has been replaced since then (September 2012). And anyway, this does not detract from the overall charm of the hotel – it's still (just) the right side of lived-in luxury.
Lake Vyrnwy Hotel's general manager and director, Anthony Rosser, told us recently, "some of the proper antique chairs were inspected by a local upholsterer only a few days ago, and one by one they will be going into his workshops in the New Year.", which is really good to hear.

 Lake Drawing Room

Alternatively, and for extra pampering, the hotel's Spa Thermal suite and the fully equipped gym are available to hotel guests for £10 per person, per day. For really cold days, the dry sauna and the eight-person whirlpool spa bath work their magic - both have fabulous views looking over the lake - and, for pure, luxurious relaxation, try the heated tepidarium loungers. Summer days may tempt you to the ice fountain, but we decided to pass … just this time. The Spa also offers an amazing range of therapies and treatments (at additional cost) - from a detox seaweed wrap, to a 'Refresh Stone' full body massage - including: treatment rooms; aromatherapy salt inhalation room; Arabian rasul mud therapy chamber; monsoon shower; and fragrant mist shower. Dressing gowns, slippers and towels are all provided, but remember to bring your swimwear.

 Lake Breakfast

The Lake Vyrnwy Hotel is built on a grand scale. Although it covers considerable ground physically, it has only 52 rooms, so providing a lot of roomspace. Thirty four of the rooms benefit from the spectacular views of the reservoir. Twenty one of those have balconies, and all are designed individually. The three different room grades range from £268 for dinner, bed and breakfast, to £192. However, there is a huge range of breaks to choose from, many incorporating use of the hotel's extensive Spa facilities.

A heavy focus is placed on room  character (some have four poster beds, for example) and lovely touches such as Egyptian cotton bed-linen, and tea trays including delicious biscuits.

Lake Breakfast 2

We booked the 'Vyrnwy Break', which consists of two nights dinner, bed and breakfast in a Lake View room, at £218 per night (excluding drinks and use of the spa). Five course meals (for non-residents) are priced at £29 (without drinks) and a number of choices available attract an additional supplement.

Dinner is a fabulous affair, consisting of five courses of beautifully prepared food. The hotel prides itself on using seasonal products and ingredients, which have been sourced locally. Sat in the hotel's Tower Bar for apéritifs prior to our dining room reservation, we were handed menus from which to make our choices. Having perused the menus, we were served a small tray of amuse-bouches, consisting of various crackers and mixed olives; a lovely accompanyment to the view over the reservoir and its surrounding mountains. Once our table was ready, our drinks were duly carried ahead of us into the dining room, with great pomp and ceremony on a silver tray. One caveat I would make is that the portions are rather small, and whilst a 5 course menu, two of the courses consist of a small sampling of freshly made soup and a sorbet (served in cute espresso cups). So, if you have a raging hunger, I suggest you have an afternoon snack of some sort (as mentioned earlier, the coffee and handmade shortbread biscuits are excellent) or have a substantial lunch at the Tavern Bar and Lounge (see below) beforehand.


For a relaxed, less formal affair, the hotel has the Tavern Bar and Lounge on-site, which offers a large selection of gastro-pub styled dishes, competitively priced. Hot-boxed Camembert with crusty bread, sounding a particularly delicious option. We sampled honey roast ham, egg and chips, and sea bass, new potatoes and salad. Both were delicious and quite generous, in terms of portion size, in comparrison to the hotel restaurant.

Claire Meredith, 1 December 2012






Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa
SY10 0LY

01691 870692






lso by Claire Meredith:

     The Drawing Room, Builth Wells; December 2012
     3 Pen Cei Guest House, Aberaeron; June 2012
     Escape 5* B&B, Llandudno; June 2012
     The Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd; June 2012
     Photographic study of Myddfai; February 2011
     The Crown at Whitebrook; February 2011
     The New White Lion, Llandovery; February 2011
     Ty Mawr Mansion Country House, Cilcennin, Lampeter; December 2009
     George Thomas Hospice 'Style In the City' event; May 2009


All images: © Claire Meredith


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