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Hotel Highlights

  • Awesome scenery on the edge of the dramatic Brecon Beacons national park
  • Affordable boutique chic in an unexpected location
  • Homely family-stay atmosphere and sophisticated interiors

Overview

Kathryn and David, owners of The New White Lion hotel in Llandovery are determined to introduce guests to the local rural splendour they adore so passionately, creating a luxurious base from which country-lovers can explore Carmarthenshire and the Brecon Beacons national park.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The New White Lion with us:

Three boxes of Sensible Dave's granola

Facilities

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The New White Lion - Brecon Beacons - United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

Six, named after local characters and legends.

Check–out

12 noon (but flexible, subject to availability); earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $160.81 (£100), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include full Welsh breakfast.

Also

The hotel hosts monthly evening events in the ‘salon’ vein, featuring traditional folk singers, storytellers, local musicians and Welsh cuisine.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, private parking. In rooms, flatscreen TV, Egyptian cotton sheets, Clarins toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Physicians of Myddfai (Room 1) is the largest, with an ornately carved headboard, feathered lamps and a big corner bath. All the other individually decorated rooms are stylishly furnished, with ensuite power showers, but we particularly like elegant Lady of the Lake (Room 2), with its pale and interesting decor.

Packing tips

Sensible shoes for yomping up mountains and biking along mountain tracks. Or a good book, if you're not the outdoorsy sort.

Children

The New White Lion is more of an adults' escape – children over 12 are welcome in their own rooms; extra beds are not available.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

The smartly styled Dining Room is open for breakfast and dinner – expect a resolutely seasonal, local, organic menu, including dishes such as chateubriand, pan-fried langoustines or asparagus risotto.

Hotel Bar

The Brianne Bar in the lounge is open from midday till the last guest heads to bed; help yourselves to the honesty bar and pull up an armchair in front of the stone fireplace.

Last orders

Dinner is served 7pm–9.30pm.

Room service

None, but with a little warning they can rustle up something for you.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Thrown-together favourites, with shiny embellishments for dinner.

Top table

One of the back-wall tables on either side of the fireplace.

Local Guide

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The New White Lion - Brecon Beacons - United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

On yer hired bike – there’s beautiful countryside to explore from here. Pedal Power, next to Llandovery train station, will deliver and collect mountain bikes (with all the extras, including helmets, route maps and puncture‑repair kits) to the hotel or to somewhere on your intended route (01550 721420; www.mbike.co.uk). There’s calf-pumping mountain biking to suit all levels in the Brecon Beacons, including the 55-mile Taff Trail all the way to Cardiff (www.tafftrail.org.uk). If you prefer a gentle amble, you're minutes away from some of the country's most spectacular walking routes; ask the hotel for details or just jump in your car and you'll soon find a path to follow. Just a short walk from the New White Lion, at Et Voilà on the High Street in Llandovery (+44 (0)1550 721946), you’ll find a range of seductive furnishings that will let you take a touch of glamour home with you.

Local restaurants

If you’re out and about, the terrace of The Gardeners’ Café in the grounds of Aberglasney House (+44 (0)1558 668131) is a lovely setting for a luncheon. The menu features local delicacies such as Carmarthenshire ham, Welsh brie and farm‑fresh vegetables. And, on your way through Brecon, don’t be deterred by the slightly bland exterior of The Felin Fach Griffin Inn (+44 (0)1874 620111): it’s also an excellent place for lunch. Just north of Llandovery in the tiny village of Cilycwm, the Neuadd Fawr Arms is the perfect pub for a Sunday roast, with  ploughman’s lunches in the bar and a restaurant serving Modern British fare and Welsh specialities (+44 (0)1550 721644).

Local cafés

On the High Street in Llandovery, somewhere to head for coffee and a slice of cake or panini is the Victorian tearoom of Penygawse (+44 (0)1550 721727).

+ Enlarge
Little town of Llandovery

The New White Lion

43 Stone Street, Llandovery, Brecon Beacons, Carmarthenshire SA20 0BZ, United Kingdom

Planes

Fly in to Cardiff airport – the drive from here to the hotel shouldn't take more than an hour and a half.

Trains

Llandovery station is a two-minute drive from the hotel. Arriva (www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk) operates services across Wales. It'll take just under three hours from Cardiff.

Automobiles

From Cardiff, use the A470 and then the A40 west to Llandovery. From London, you’ll need the M4 and A449 before you can pick up the A40.

Reviews

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The New White Lion - Brecon Beacons - United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Emily Kasriel , Intrepid adventure-seeker

‘Friend or foe?’ challenged Dave with a smile as we stepped inside his grade II-listed ex-pub. An effortless, natural welcome offered by a host sporting black-and-white chequered trousers was as warm as any we’ve known. It was especially disarming when Dave suggested a devilish 4pm Pimm’s in the lounge. Urged on by Mr Smith, I concurred. The quotidian street corner and tow…
Read more

The New White Lion

Anonymous review by Emily Kasriel, Intrepid adventure-seeker

‘Friend or foe?’ challenged Dave with a smile as we stepped inside his grade II-listed ex-pub. An effortless, natural welcome offered by a host sporting black-and-white chequered trousers was as warm as any we’ve known. It was especially disarming when Dave suggested a devilish 4pm Pimm’s in the lounge. Urged on by Mr Smith, I concurred. The quotidian street corner and tower of tractor tyres overlooking the neat car park don’t lend a clue as to how lovely it is inside.

Verdant green walls, golden velvet sofas and a stone fireplace large enough to sit in (provided it’s not lit) – make the intimate lounge all the more enticing. Mr Smith spotted an honesty bar arranged in a customised dresser that unfolds to spill its secrets. So bountiful is the selection of exotic whiskies and gins, it would be hard to sample it all (together with the free mixers and juices) however long your weekend. As we nibbled on Aegean olives and freshly roasted almonds, pecans and cranberries, we were presented with the dinner menu to make our decisions for later.

Handed the key to room 4, aka William Williams (which is attached to a tasteful slab of local black slate), we head upstairs to explore. We found our suitcase waiting in our carefully curated room with a mildly creaky oak floor and mirrored black armoire. Mr Smith started humming Bread of Heaven – our room is named after the composer of the Welsh hymn – and then I noticed the words are artfully featured in a lacquered frame with a layer of gold leaf. My attentions had been hijacked by the handmade flapjacks piled high in a Kilner jar alongside a bar of Marou, Faiseurs de Chocolat Ben Tre 78%. The week’s local highlights are printed on a couple of sheets of paper and so we knew we had a ghost walk in town and some am-dram Shakespeare in the offing; but I was still prioritising the eating of that chocolate.

As dinner preparations started wafting upstairs, Mr Smith proposed a quick whirl around Llandovery to scale the stony ruins of its 11th-century castle. From its mediaeval heights, we surveyed the labyrinth of pastel, slate-roofed homes nestling beneath the fecund hills, animated by mischievous swallows and some vocal sheep. Llandovery used to be an important stop-off point for drovers taking their cattle up to London’s Spitalfields Market. Back then, it boasted a beer-swilling abundance of 50 pubs for its population of 2,000 (one inn to every 40 residents must have been jolly), so obviously the hotel has its feet firmly in public-house history. But these days Llandovery is a much more sedate affair; just a handful of taverns and tea houses remain in this town flanked by stunningly gorgeous valleys and imposing peaks.

Inspired by the town’s heritage and our drive through the Brecon Beacons, Mr Smith and I had ordered the rack of Cambrian Mountain lamb with a redcurrant and mint dressing. A large oil painting of these gambolling characters in New White Lion’s candlelit dining room kept the theme alive. Alongside perfectly juicy lamb, Dave’s co-host Kathryn presented baked courgettes, dusted with cinnamon and parmesan. Could we possibly have space for dessert? ‘Don’t worry,’ reassured Dave, ‘whatever you don’t finish, I’ll eat.’ Mr Smith consumed every last morsel of my homemade lemon curd on a crisp raspberry meringue before our host could oblige.

A night in such a comfortable bed amid the raw silence of rural Wales had even urbanite Mr Smith champing at the bit to tackle the wild country around us. Alongside my omelette of sautéed potatoes, cherry tomatoes, roast onion and goat’s cheese, Kath offered various walking routes. But, as Mr Smith tucked into Dave’s homemade granola, the skies opened. Luckily, the walk instructions are laminated for every eventuality, and we head up towards Llyn y Fan Fach. As we embarked on our Carmarthenshire adventure, I impressed Mr Smith with my Wikipedian knowledge of the 480 million years of geological history beneath our boots, a landscape sculpted by mighty glaciers and oceanic flooding. He seemed distracted by the stampede raucously descending the hill before us. What did the sheep know that we didn’t? Undeterred, we forged uphill past fuchsia foxgloves and purple thistles, luminous green moss mottled and crags poking out of the atmospheric low mist.

The Lady of the Lake, as it translates from Cymraeg, is said to have a mythical Welsh maiden lurking in it. A mysterious turquoise, Mr Smith was disappointed not to spot any watery women. More noticeable were the rare red kites: their five-foot wingspans and feathery triangular tails dominating the foreboding sky. At the nearby Llanddeusant kite-feeding station recommended by Kath, we nestled to witness whole families swoop for the offcuts of offal left by the local farmer. Even Mr Smith was impressed, capturing multiple shots on his iPhone (before noticing it was about now when the clock had struck ‘Pimm’s’ the previous day).

It was my turn to deliver us back to our New White Lion cocoon, and my navigation led us to where freshly baked parmesan biscuits and a pristine new dinner menu awaited. Kath even offered to launder our muddy walking socks as we kicked back in the lounge after the day’s exertions. So it was that we were distraught to load up the car and say our goodbyes the next morning – at least we were leaving with a couple of boxes of Dave’s granola. It felt like leaving old friends, not a boutique hotel. If only all our friends could be so hospitable, Mr Smith murmured as he started the engine.

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 The New White Lion's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I enjoyed the charming accommodation; the owners David and Kath are welcoming hosts. Excellent breakfast and quality three-course evening meals. Good location for exploring mid Wales.

Don’t expect

I would've liked feather pillows, and there seemed to be limited suitcase storage in the bedroom.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The staff found the perfect balance between being attentive and leaving us alone. We received a very welcome greeting and orientation, but were also left to enjoy our environment. We had a lovely time.

Don’t expect

We found that parking was a premium and there was only just enough for the guests.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The owners were extremely welcoming, the food was amazing and our room was clean and well presented.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The food and people were lovely.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We loved staying with David and Kathryn at the New White Lion, especially given that we got engaged the weekend we were there! The New White Lion is a lovely spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors. I took my now fiancée there to propose in the Black Mountains, which was a great success! David and Kathryn are wonderful hosts who are very happy to have a chat or just to leave you to it if you prefer. The honesty bar is well stocked (it was the first time I'd tried Welsh whiskey!) and their lounge is very comfortable for an aperitif before dinner (or even a digestif afterwards). The food was great and you get the feeling that you're dining less in a restaurant and more like you've been invited to a good friend's house for dinner (and your good friend also happens to be a brilliant chef). The room was well appointed and very comfortable. We were both very pleased to get engaged in such a beautiful setting and to have had such wonderful hosts to share our weekend.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The welcome we received was amazing: we were greeted at the door and was offered a glass of Pimm's. We stayed in the Lady of the Lake room which was very pretty and the bed was huge! My husband loved the homemade flapjacks in the room. We ate in the hotel on the Saturday evening and the food was delicious, David is an amazing chef. All in all, a perfect weekend break.

Don’t expect

The only downside was the lack of garden space to sit in the evening but we ended up going on several walks instead.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

By the time we left, it felt as if we'd been staying with friends rather than as paying guests. Great food, lovely decor, warm welcome.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Catharine and Dave are perfect, if modest, hosts! Their welcome was extremely warm and the extra special attention to detail made for a very relaxing stay. The well-stocked honesty bar is a wonderful touch! Dave is a very accomplished chef – both dinner and breakfast were delicious.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the fantastic service; it's a home from home.

Don’t expect

The WiFi could be better.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Kathryn and David were the perfect hosts, unfailingly polite, welcoming and unintrusive. The food was superb.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the fantastic friendly hosts, the welcoming pots of tea and the scones after a walk – at no charge!

Don’t expect

The only thing that could be better would be an open fire in lounge.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the friendly reception from the owners, quiet and well-equipped room, and the comfortable lounge with an honesty bar in which to relax in the evening after some vigorous mountain walking. Breakfasts were well above average for bed-and-breakfasts – I particularly liked the fresh fruit salad, and I had an excellent and well-presented evening meal. Llandovery is not a beauty spot: it's a Welsh market town that used to have 47 pubs and still has quite a number! But it has a pleasant atmosphere and is very well located for the Brecon Beacons and only an hour from Hay-on-Wye and the Black Mountains.

Don’t expect

Street directions with the booking would be useful.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The attention and service was great: really homely. Particularly liked the idea of the honesty bar; it was the first time we have come across one, and it's a really nice touch to make you feel relaxed and comfortable in the place without the hassle of having to wait to order, etc. There was a roaring fire and lots of magazines and papers to read. The bed was really comfy too.

Don’t expect

Nothing: all good.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Only stayed one night on our way to more western parts, having been to the Wales–England match in Cardiff. We arrived feeling a little jaded as we lost! Kathryn and David made us feel so welcome and at home the minute we arrived and we felt much better after having wonderful scones (home-made)with yummy jam and cream. After a rest and a good wet-room shower we had pre-dinner drinks in a very cosy sitting room. David is the chef and is very good indeed, using very local produce. Next morning we had a great breakfast, beautifully cooked, then we were on our way. David and Kathryn have not been in the business for long and we wish them well. We would certainly recommend the New White Lion to anyone travelling in this part of Wales.

Don’t expect

Don't think it could be any better – they seem to have the right idea of what people appreciate.

Rating: 10/10 stars