Last weekend, I was whisked away on a surprise mini break. I had no idea where I was going. I was simply told to pack a bag, was picked up, and we drove through the country. We drove for hours from Cheltenham, albeit with a few coffee stops thrown in there. I was pretty surprised when the signs became bilingual, and discovered that we were in Wales. If you’ve never visited, you must. Wales really is a beautiful country. We’d driven through plenty of countryside, and even stopped to let sheep cross the road. We then turned a corner to experience a view that literally took my breath away. We arrived at Lake Vyrnwy, Wales.
Checking in to Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa
We were staying at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa. We drove up the winding path to the hotel which is on a hill overlooking the lake. Parking up, we checked in and grabbed our bags.
The hotel is lovely, and my photos really don’t do it justice. It has a rustic charm, the decor is twee, and all the staff and guests were very friendly. There’s something about staying in a hotel that’s pretty remote. We literally felt like we were in a little bubble, and it was just what we needed.
Talking of bubbles, there were some chilled ones waiting for us in the room. I sipped them down very happily in the bath with even more bubbles. After a little R&R and an explore, we got ready and went to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. We caught the most beautiful sunset across Lake Vyrnwy en route.
Dinner at the Hotel & Spa
After catching the beautiful sunset, we both got pretty hungry. We went into the restaurant, and were handed menus while taking in the remainders of the golden sunset.
We opted for the Tower Restaurant’s 5 course menu. At £39.95 per person – or £34 pp if you book while making your room reservation – I thought it was pretty good value. The restaurant promises ‘the finest North Wales and the borders could offer’, so we thought we’d put it to the test.
We ummed and ahhed over some nibbles and a glass of wine about what to pick, before deciding on two starters we’d share. We began with possibly the world’s smallest portion of soup. It was pretty much as big as an espresso shot. The soup was minestrone and tasty, but it would have been nice for the staff to mention how tiny it would be before it was placed in front of us. The bread basket, on the other hand, was delicious.
We then moved on to the starters: a rabbit terrine wrapped in bacon, which was pretty tasty. A pigeon pithivier (or pie) with lentils and oyster mushrooms, with a game jus and apple puree was our other starter. The pie itself was gorgeous, but the pigeon was quite tough. I’d never tried pigeon before so it could just be that I don’t like it anyway.
The staff informed us that due to a party, there would be a fireworks display at 10pm. As a result, we watched the bonus display outside while we waited for the next course.
Before our mains, we each received some lemon sorbet as a palette cleanser. Quite peculiar, I thought, in between a starter and a main! But tasty, nonetheless. Next up, the real deal: the mains. We’d both picked the same, and there were absolutely no regrets.
It was wonderful. Welsh fillet steak, served on a bed of mash with a bone marrow gravy and crispy fried onion on top. We ordered – and shared – hand cut chips and beans with bacon to accompany it. Utterly gorgeous! This was all before more wine, of course.
By this point, we were feeling a little tipsy, and pretty full up. Bravely(!), we soldiered on through our next course. I picked a chocolate fondant with vanilla custard and ice cream, and James went for a Welsh cheeseboard with chutney and all the trimmings. We both tucked in and shared.
Now that’s a happy face, if I ever saw one. We were the last ones left in the restaurant. After another bottle of wine, we tipsily walked back to our room. I loved having such a short journey to bed from the bar.
Al Fresco Lunch
Waking up with slightly fuzzy heads, we sadly missed the breakfast slot. But we headed out to find some other food, and to go for a little explore. It was a truly beautiful day.
We had a drink outside before heading to the Tavern Brasserie (the hotel’s pub) for an early lunch.
I had an amazing Welsh rare beef and horseradish sandwich, and James had a prawn and chilli wrap. After some sharing, we concluded the lunches served there are pretty awesome.
Exploring Lake Vyrnwy, Wales
With full bellies, we cracked on the Hunters and Barbours and went for a drive and a walk in true British style.
We found this little spot overlooking the lake, with the biggest picnic tables I’ve ever seen. One thing I loved about this place is just how quiet it is. Next, I tried skimming stones and failed miserably. Everywhere you look, the views are just stunning.
We had a great time just wandering, and stopping for tea breaks.
Leaving Lake Vyrnwy, Wales
We hopped back into the car for a quick drink before the long drive home. We wanted to see the lake from all angles, so made a few pitstops en route. It’s such a beautiful place, and you get a great view from the bridge. Lake Vyrnwy is on the edge of Snowdonia National Park in the remote and beautiful Berwyn Mountains. You can find waterfalls, open countryside, and dozens of trails to spot incredible wildlife and scenery.
Certainly not bad for a surprise, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone looking for a quiet weekend break, some incredible scenery, and good food.
Have you been to Lake Vyrnwy? What did you get up to on your stay in Wales?