Just over the border where Herefordshire meets Wales, on the banks of the river Monnow sits The Bell at Skenfrith (www.skenfrith.co.uk). The Bell describes itself as ‘a former 17th century coaching inn with eleven individually decorated bedrooms and one of Wales’s finest restaurants with rooms’. They do not exaggerate.
‘Whether you are looking for a peaceful few days in the country away from it all, a romantic escape or long walks in some wild, totally unspoiled quiet welsh countryside and delicious locally produced food, then this is the place for you.’
We stayed for a weekend on the recommendation of friends and it is firmly on the wish list for a revisit. Walking, fishing, shooting, golf, racing and visits to historic sites can all be organised. We spent the weekend in the garden, talking to the saddleback pigs, walking along the river- going for a quick paddle and mooching around with the weekend papers.
The outside is unpretentious and unimposing and hides the cosy interior bar and restaurant, seriously comfortable bedrooms and elegant terrace and walled garden behind.
The menu is locally-sourced (mostly from the kitchen garden) and seasonal and therefore changes every six weeks or so. Prices range from around £22 for a three-course lunch to £32 for dinner.
The wine list is extraordinary. Much time and love has been put into compiling an extensive list of wine from around the world, all at fantastically reasonable prices.
15 minutes from Monmouth,
25 minutes from Hereford,
40 minutes from Bristol and
Three hours from London (traffic allowing).
The Bell at Skenfrith
01600 750235; www.skenfrith.co.uk
Rooms vary from £110 per night to £220 based on two people sharing and include a morning paper, breakfast and VAT.
Well-behaved dogs may stay for £5 per dog.