Posted 1st Apr 2017
Celebrate International Dark Sky Week at the luxurious Llangoed Hall Hotel
Created in 2003 International Dark Sky Week has grown to become a worldwide event. Each year it is held in April, around Earth Day and Astronomy Day. This year celebrations begin on Saturday 22nd April until Friday 28th April, and there's no better place in the UK to do a spot of stargazing than the sumptuous surroundings of Llangoed Hall, nestled in 17 acres of gardens and parkland in Brecon. In 2013, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) recognised the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales as the world's fifth International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR). An IDSR is described as land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights. Llangoed Hall's location in Brecon by the River Wye is perfect for stargazing. Guests can appreciate the natural night time environment at the Brecon Beacons IDSR, which has been designated 'Silver Tier' level, signifying that while the skies above the park do see some effects from light pollution they are still remarkably dark, making it an excellent place to see the Milky Way. To make it even easier to spot the jewels of the night sky, the hotel is home to a large telescope which guests are encouraged to use after dark to stargaze.
During the day guests can also enjoy outstanding views of the Black Mountains and embark on numerous local walks using Llangoed Hall's very own ‘Stroll Guide’, or explore the surrounding market towns, many of which boast ancient churches, interesting independent shops and beautiful local crafts. After a day's sightseeing, Llangoed Hall will welcome you home with open arms. The staff treat all their guests like old friends and the hotel's relaxed atmosphere makes you feel like a cherished house guest rather than a typical hotel guest. But that's because this isn't a typical hotel. There is no reception desk and guests can enjoy an honesty bar whenever they like. Each of the 23 well-appointed bedrooms has its own individual style and personality. The rooms are furnished with intriguing antiques and original works of art, and have all been designed by previous owner Sir Bernard Ashley, husband of Laura Ashley. In fact Laura Ashley's first ever garment is displayed at the hotel and one bedroom has Laura's original wallpaper and furniture. Llangoed Hall’s elegant interiors are inhabited by a truly inspiring collection of original art. These include Sir Bernard’s personal collection of sketches by the American-born artist and society wit, James McNeil Whistler. Indeed, the collection, which also includes works by Herman Dudley Murphy and Augustus John, is representative of the ‘country house era’ and perfectly complements the experience.
In your bedroom, you'll find welcoming touches such as fresh fruit and homemade petit fours, as well as a hospitality box and even a decanter of sherry to enjoy. In the bathroom, you can pamper yourself with Penhaligon toiletries before slipping into a fluffy robe and slippers. After a relaxing night's sleep and a browse though the complimentary morning newspaper, you can tuck into a hearty breakfast.
The hotel's generous breakfast menu includes delicious homemade granola, a traditional Welsh cooked breakfast - complete with laver bread, home-smoked haddock with a poached egg, home-smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, as well as toasted home-baked bread and Vienoisserie, which can be enjoyed with a selection of home-produced preserves and even honey from hotel's own bees! One of the highlights of the breakfast menu is being able to choose which type of egg you would like with your breakfast each day from the hotel's very productive flock of hens and ducks.
Llangoed Hall has its own sustainability policy and it is keen for guests to witness its green initiatives, not least of which is their policy for growing their own fruit and veg and using outstanding local producers. In the winter, Llangoed Hall can grow 45% of the produce that they require, however it is during the summer that the gardens truly come alive and the hotel enjoys some 95% sustainability, meaning chefs can pick produce and have this delivered to the plate in two minutes. Guests are welcome to stroll around the organic kitchen garden and meet the hotel's flock of chickens and ducks, there's even a maze to explore if you're brave enough!
The kitchen garden, poultry and the hotel's own smokehouse, were all the idea of Llangoed Hall's award-winning Head Chef Nick Brodie. Nick is passionate about Welsh produce and works with a selection of local suppliers, such as Morgans Family Butchers in Brecon, and most of the ingredients he uses are sourced within a five-mile radius. The hotel's award-winning wine list even includes Welsh wine from the Ancre Hill Estates, as well as local Brecon gin.
Llangoed Hall's restaurant goes from strength to strength. Last year and for the second year in a row, Llangoed Hall appeared in The Good Food Guide and more notably in the guide's Top 50 Restaurants in the UK, which recognises the very best talent in the country. Unusually for a country house hotel, Llangoed Hall even offers non-meat eaters a special eight-course vegetarian tasting menu which includes such sublime dishes as parsnip hash served with a pheasant egg, charred leek with duck egg mimosa and mushroom fricassee with Bath soft cheese, salt baked pear and a hint of truffle. Each of the courses is beautifully presented, making it a feast for the eyes, not just the taste buds.
The hotel offers a selection of menus and is open daily for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The menus include: afternoon tea, £28.50; lunch menu from £5; four-course dinner menu £75; eight-course prestige tasting menu £115; eight-course vegetarian prestige tasting menu £95 (both are also available with wine flight) and a Sunday lunch menu £25.
With its sumptuous surroundings, delicious food and stunning location, there's nowhere better to gaze at the stars during this year's International Dark Sky Week than Llangoed Hall.
A night at Llangoed Hall is priced from £150.00 B&B based on two sharing.
For more information, or to book, visit www.llangoedhall.co.uk or call 01874 754525
By Anna-Lisa De'Ath