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Hotel Highlights

  • Watch the sun set into Cardigan Bay
  • Enjoy a glass of wine on the longest bar in Wales
  • Eat fresh fish, crab and lobster caught right on your doorstep

Overview

Harbourmaster Hotel is a true pioneer. In one of its nautical-chic sea-view rooms, there's an enormous wrought-iron bed, and a soft leather couch with bright hand-woven woollen covers on the back rests that is typical of the hotel’s style: considered, comfortable and quirky.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Harbourmaster Hotel with us:

Half a bottle of champagne

Facilities

View Gallery
Harbourmaster Hotel - Cardigan Bay - Wales

Need To Know

Rooms

13, spread over the main building and the warehouse next door, plus the Harbourmaster's cottages Albion and Pandora.

Check–out

Midday.

Rates

Double rooms from $191.04 (£113), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include full Welsh breakfast or late brunch.

Also

Umbrellas can be borrowed from reception.

At the hotel

Small library of books; WiFi in the bar. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player,dial-up internet and Molton Brown products.

Our favourite rooms

The Madona suite on the top floor has the best panoramic views of the coastline. Aeron Belle has a comfy sofa and views overlooking the sea. Gwalia features original stone walls. The new Aeron Queen room has a panoramic view of the bay from its juliet balcony.

Packing tips

Fishing rod, kite, stout walking boots or wellies.

Children

No under-fives (except in the cottage); older children must have own room.

Food & Drink

View Gallery
Harbourmaster Hotel - Cardigan Bay - Wales

Hotel Restaurant

Set on the ground floor of what was once the home of the eponymous harbourmaster, the oak-floored, art-walled restautarant is a mainstay of the Modern Welsh culinary scene, serving a seasonal menu built around local produce, including Welsh beef and cheeses, organic veg and the best of the day's catch. There are good value two- and three-course set menus on offer, plus an enticing à la carte. 

 

Hotel Bar

Overlooking the harbour, the hotel's bar is a lovely spot to sit with a coffee or a pint of Welsh ale (Harbourmaster has its own brand) and watch the boats bobbing on the water. No-reservation, gastro-pub-style dining is an option here, with highlights including classic Welsh beefburgers topped with Snowdonia cheddar and linguine with fresh Cardigan Bay crab. The bar staff are dab hands with a cocktail shaker too.

Last orders

For lunch, 2.30pm; for dinner, 9pm. The bar serves food between 12 noon and 2.30pm and 6pm–9pm.

Room service

Continental breakfast can be brought to your room.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Go for a more windswept version of your usual stylish selves.

Top table

Go for table 2 for a window seat; or 18 by the snugly fireside. If it's a special occasion, or if you want to dine in privacy, ask for table 14.

Local Guide

View Gallery
Harbourmaster Hotel - Cardigan Bay - Wales
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Take a walk along the coastal route for breathtaking views. There are lots of other ways to get breathless, from horseriding to fishing – just ask at the hotel reception. The nearest sandy beach is four miles away in New Quay. A festival of Welsh ponies and cobs takes place every other August in Aberaeron, with dressage displays, jousting competitions and a fancy-dress pageant. Find out more at www.aberaeronfestival.com.

Local restaurants

You’ll eat lovely fresh seafood at the Hungry Trout, 2 South John’s Street, New Quay (+44 (0)1545 560680; www.thehungrytrout.co.uk). Hive on the Quay (+44 (0)1545 570455; www.thehiveaberaeron.com) is just around the corner on Cadwgan Place. The Hive Bar & Grill is good for an American-inspired meal or holiday tipple on the terrace at any time of the day. The bar runs cocktail masterclasses (book ahead) and showcases live music every Friday evening. The Hive is renowned for its honey-infused ice cream and the on-site fishmongers Fish at the Hive. For a great selection of local meats, check out The Cellar Restaurant and Bar (+44 (0)1545 574666; www.thecellar-aberaeron.co.uk) at 8 Market Street. This place serves an array of small bites, sandwiches and mains at lunch with a weightier dinner menu that doesn’t neglect vegetarians. Just over half an hour's drive south along the coast, the award-winning Y FFarmers (+44 (0)1974 261275; www.yffarmers.co.uk) is well worth a visit, particularly for a Sunday roast. This cosy pub is nestled in the pretty village of Llanfihangel y Creuddyn and perennially popular – definitely book at weekends. The pub is fiercely proud of its locally sourced beer and seasonal Welsh produce. For artisan pizza and pasta in a Soho-inspired setting, try Harbourmaster’s good-value sister eatery Baravin (+44 (0)1970 611189; www.baravin.co.uk), half an hour away on Aberystwyth's seafront.

Local bars

Cadwgan Inn (+44 (0)1545 570149) is Aberaeron's oldest pub, and a quaint spot for a pint. The Ship Inn (+44 (0)1239 810380; www.shiptresaith.co.uk) in Tresaith is the perfect place for a drink looking out over the beach.

+ Enlarge
Bright, breezy Cardigan Bay

Harbourmaster Hotel

Pen Cei, Aberaeron, Ceredigion, Cardigan Bay, SA46 0BT, United Kingdom

Planes

The closest airport is in Cardiff, a two-hour drive from the hotel. There isn't much public transport heading west from the airport. The best option is to hire a car.

Trains

The nearest railway station is in Aberystwyth, 16 miles away. Regular services run from Birmingham, and there are a few direct trains daily from London Euston.

Automobiles

To get to the hotel on the roads, you’ll need the coastal A487. From Lampeter, follow signs for Aberaeron.

Reviews

View Gallery
Harbourmaster Hotel - Cardigan Bay - Wales

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

‘Ah, Wales…’ declares Mr Smith with a misty-eyed reverence usually reserved for glorious declarations of past sporting victories, ‘…land of my fathers.’ (Two great-grandfathers, tops, if Mrs Smith’s memory serves her correctly). As we drive through winding valleys and along beautiful coastal roads, our relief at leaving the Big Smoke and the M5 behind u…
Read more

Harbourmaster Hotel

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

‘Ah, Wales…’ declares Mr Smith with a misty-eyed reverence usually reserved for glorious declarations of past sporting victories, ‘…land of my fathers.’ (Two great-grandfathers, tops, if Mrs Smith’s memory serves her correctly).

As we drive through winding valleys and along beautiful coastal roads, our relief at leaving the Big Smoke and the M5 behind us makes the reasonably long drive feel rather cathartic. As we came over the brow of what was to be the last in a long procession of particularly steep hills and blind corners, we at last came upon Aberaeron. This fishing village is painted to perfection, its buildings forming a pitched crescendo of pastels and primaries. The Harbourmaster Hotel is a jaunty midnight blue; we decide the overall effect is a little like a seaside version of Cheyne Walk in Chelsea. It draws a swift, ‘Oooh, isn’t it pretty?’ from Mr Smith, before he remembers that he is in Wales, where a bloke should probably keep this kind of comment to himself.

The Harbourmaster Hotel shines in the midday sun that has somehow managed to penetrate the angry cloud heading in from the Irish Sea. Within, we find a bar with dark wood panelling and white walls, furnished with intimate tables and luscious-looking leather couches. Photographs of local characters, lifted perhaps from the pages of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, set the tone. After a warm greeting from the owner Glyn (friendly, easy charm is the usual Welsh way), we are led to our room, up an extraordinary winding purple and mauve staircase, light streaming in from lighthouse-evoking windows.

An enormous wrought-iron bed sits in the centre of our good-sized room. The couch, a soft leather number with bright hand-woven woollen covers on the back rests, is typical of the hotel’s style: considered, comfortable and quirky. Best thing, though, is the beautiful view across the harbour. After checking out the en suite bathroom, which achieves the requisite understated chic (Molton Brown, fluffy white towels), we take a stroll along the little beach and admire the views – on a clear day you can see all the way to Snowdonia. It is here that Mr Smith displays his amazing knowledge of coastal defences (no, really, it was very interesting) and the difference between flotsam and jetsam. We appear to be the only people enjoying the bracing conditions, which leads to more than one romantic clinch, half in an effort to defend ourselves from the seasonal chill!

After popping into the Cadwgan Inn, Aberaeron’s oldest pub, for a quick pint, we decide we’ve experienced quite enough activity for the day, and retire to our room. We watch the sun set from our sofa, indulging in tea and truly delicious local butter biscuits that prove so moreish that we find ourselves blithely ringing reception for more. Mr Smith blames this gluttony squarely on the sea air. A brief siesta later, we came down to dinner in the restaurant next to the bar (a quick mention when booking is advisable, since the clientele is both local and loyal).

Aperitifs drained, we are led into an intimate dining room. Here, very appropriately, seafood dominates. Some fine mussels for starters, followed by excellent skate and delicious Welsh lamb shanks. Initially surprised by some truly London prices, we are impressed by the wine list. We take dessert and digestif in the convivial comfort of the bar by an open fire, which perfectly counteracts the blustery conditions raging outside, complete with boats frenetically jiving up and down in the harbour.

Pleasantly satiated with food and a not insubstantial quantity of the cellars’ cheekiest numbers, Mr and Mrs Smith retire with a DVD from the hotel’s film library. A battle between Dune and Bridget Jones’ Diary hard-fought, we settle down in the company of Hugh and Colin. The evening culminates in a short hop to our wonderfully cosy bed, and an extremely revitalising slumber.

On waking, we draw the curtains and drink in the perfectly framed powder-blue sky and coastal vista. We’d been so comfortable that we've slept through breakfast (shame, if it was anything as good as our dinner the night before), and only made it down at midday to check out after a quick coffee and chat with Glyn and Menna, paragons of warmth and amiability.

Until recently, Wales had little to offer in terms of the urbanite-pleasing getaway. The Harbourmaster Hotel is a true pioneer. Along with contemporaries such as Llety Bodfor in Aberdyfi, it heralds, hopefully, a convincing Welsh renaissance, which, in the resounding words of the newly patriotic Mr Smith, truly will be Bread of Heaven.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Harbourmaster Hotel's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I was made to feel very welcome and nothing was too much trouble. The food was excellent and the room fabulous.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hotel is in a fantastic position on the attractive harbourside. The staff was very friendly, the atmosphere relaxed and food and drink were really good. Breakfast was especially good with lots to choose and the choice of making your own fresh toast as and when you want it. Aberaeron is a lovely town with lots to see and do as well as great walks along the coastal path. The glorious weather added to the special ambience, too. We ate in the restaurant and the bar, the food was good in both. The bar gets busy early and has a lively atmosphere that we enjoyed. We stayed in Madona and had lovely views of the harbour and lots of space. The bed was enormous and very comfortable. Tea and coffee making facilities were a bit special, too.

Don’t expect

Our only complaint would be that there was little choice on the menu in the bar or restaurant for vegetarians and the menu didn't change over two nights so we had little opportunity to eat at the Harbourmaster each of the three evenings we were there. The menu would benefit from a change of vegetarian choice each evening or have a special on the menu. We would have eaten there every evening if that had been the case.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Superb rooms, great food and staff that were always willing to help – especially Dai. The drinks were reasonably priced, both for the wine and the local beer. We had a great stay and will definitely be returning.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on Two teenage children (not so keen on the walking)

We loved

Excellent bar and resturant; very friendly and helpful staff.

Don’t expect

The weather.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The room was decorated in a contempory style with beautiful detailing. The balcony was a lovely touch, with a lovely view of the sun setting. Our evening meal in the restaurant was amazing! Delicious food, wine and great service!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hotel immediately gives an impression of friendliness with an acute attention to detail. The view from bedroom 1 across the harbour was spectacular, particularly when framed by the sash window.

Don’t expect

The food was good but 'skinny french fries' were served with many of the dishes and were not only a little greasy, but somewhat out of place. We were in a room over the bar area and the noise from the Friday night crowd inevitably found it's way through the floor. Suggest anyone in a similar position stays in the bar.

Rating: 8/10 stars