Not many British
hotels can be compared to the Taj Mahal but in one important respect Llangoed
Hall justifies that comparison. Many years ago,
the businessman Sir Bernard Ashley bought and restored this country mansion as
a tribute to his beloved wife Laura.
Laura and Bernard
Ashley had worked together to build the clothing and furniture company that went
by her name. They had a factory in mid-Wales and often when driving back from
Laura’s family home in the 1970s they passed Llangoed Hall which was by then
semi-derelict. Laura was very fond of the old hall which had been magnificently
rebuilt between 1913 and 1919 by the distinguished architect Clough
Williams-Ellis. Ellis had been called in by Mrs Archibald Christy, the owner of
what was then known as Llangoed Castle, a
simple Jacobean manor house that had been constructed in 1632.
Sir Clough’s vision
was immense. He turned the castle round and created an elegant Edwardian
country house with large fireplaces, an elegant dining room, a morning room,
drawing room and billiard room. A long hallway – resembling a Tudor Long
Gallery - linked all the ground floor rooms and led to a dark, broad, oak
staircase lined with statuary that took guests to their bedrooms.
By the time the Ashley’s
were driving past that hall was falling apart.
The then owners wanted to demolish it because it was too expensive to repair
but its listed building status meant they could not - so
it was simply abandoned. After the tragic death of Laura Ashley in 1985 Sir
Bernard bought the hall in order to turn it into a tribute to his wife and
showcase for her work. No expense was spared because although Bernard Ashley
thought the restored building might become a hotel in due course he wasn’t
interested in it making money for himself.
Hall – like the Taj Mahal – was a testament to love.
These days the
hotel is open four nights a week on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis (It is
closed Monday – Wednesday). Over the years most of the fabrics have been
replaced although teapot handle covers and tray liners are still made from
original Laura Ashley fabric printed in Wales.
And one room -No7- is still decorated in original Laura Ashley wallpaper. These
days it is known as “Ashley”.
The hotel is full
of art from Sir Bernard’s collection – Augustus John, Sickert, Whistler and
Dame Laura Knight – all of which was sold with the hotel by his children in
2010. It’s also full of family photos and memorabilia that gives one a sense of
this still being a home rather than a business. The first apron that Laura
Ashley ever made is framed on the wall of the garden room.
Dining at Llangoed
Hall begins with drinks in the drawing room with its rich red sofas and massive
stone fireplace. Dinner is taken in the garden room and the garden restaurant,
both part of a very sympathetic extension of the hall that Bernard Ashley created in 1987. Food is very
important at Llangoed Hall. In November 2013/14 the hotel was recognised as
Conde Nast Johansens Restaurant of the Year. And in 2015 it entered the
UK’s Good Food Guide, within the Top 50, where it remains today.
After dinner do take
a walk around the gardens, the old croquet lawn and its ornate orchards. There
is also a duck pond (with real ducks) and a vegetable garden that helps supply
There are also 17
acres of grounds running down to the River Wye as it heads towards Haye on Wye
This is a lovely
tranquil English country house in Wales that is a beautiful tribute to Laura