Powys, Wales, United Kingdom

The Drawing Room

Rates from (ex tax)$151.41

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP135.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Dainty gastro-boutique

Setting

The rolling fields of Powys

A petite and elegant three-bedroom gem in Wales, The Drawing Room hotel warms with a fire always in the fireplace and wows with tasteful antiques, Venetian glass, modern fabrics, claw-food bathtubs and contemporary wallpaper. A relaxing and welcoming place to stay, this husband-and-wife-run establishment also features an award-winning restaurant that boasts modern British cuisine made exclusively from local Welsh produce.

Smith Extra

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Afternoon tea with bara brith

Facilities

Photos The Drawing Room facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Three doubles.

Check–Out

11am; check-ins, 4pm–8pm only. Let the Drawing Room know your arrival time and dining time in advance.

Rates

Double rooms from $151.41 (£113), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP112.50), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates include breakfast. Please note: rooms are only available to guests dining at the Drawing Room, dinner must be booked in advance and guests are required to eat at the hotel every night of their stay.

Also

They have a lovely private dining area so it's popular with triple-daters, who book all three bedrooms and then enjoy their own private dinner party.

At the hotel

In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, Laura Ashley beds, Penhaligons toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Three rooms all individually designed; we like Oliver, probably the sexiest thanks to a double bath with views of the countryside. Phoebe only has a shower, and Otis has Venetian glass furniture and a slipper bath.

Packing tips

Walking boots; a good book to curl up with by the fire; elasticated waistband as you’re bound to overeat.

Also

Non-smoking throughout.

Children

No children under 12; this is more of a grown-up getaway.

Food and Drink

Photos The Drawing Room food and drink

Hotel restaurant

Award-winning modern British cooking using Welsh produce – own-cured salmon with lemon and dill, rump of Welsh lamb with gratin potatoes – care of chef Colin Dawson. Breakfast includes fresh fruit, home-made muesli, scrambled egg with cured salmon and caviar, duck egg with wild mushrooms, and the full Welsh.

Last orders

Breakfast is served 8.30am-9.30am; you can dine 7pm–8.30pm.

Location

Photos The Drawing Room location
Address
The Drawing Room
Cwmbach, Newbridge-on-Wye, Builth Wells
Wales
LD2 3RT
United Kingdom

Planes

Nearby airports include Cardiff (a two-hour drive away) and Birmingham (allow two and half hours).

Trains

The station in Llandrindod is four and a half miles away – direct trains to Cardiff go from here a few times a day. The station also serves Swansea.

Automobiles

The hotel is just off the A470, a 20-minute drive from Brecon and close to the Cambrian and Black Mountains. Driving from Cardiff will take an hour and a half – it's an hour longer from Birmingham and an hour longer than that from London.

Worth getting out of bed for

Elan Valley Dams is a stunning part of the world to drive or walk around. You can ride on a Harley Davidson (+44 (0)870 411 3541) at the Royal Welsh Showground just three miles away. The farmers' market at Brecon (20 minutes away) is held every second Saturday of the month from 10am to 2pm, where you can buy great local produce. Hay-on-Wye is a small village specialising in all types of books. The Cambrian and Black Mountains are within reach too.

Local restaurants

The Stagg Inn at Titley near Kington (+44 (0)1544 230221; www.thestagg.co.uk) is a 40-minute drive just over the border in Herefordshire but is worth it for the real ales and local cider. It is also the first pub in the UK to gain a Michelin star. The Felin Fach Griffin (+44 (0)1874 620111), a former farmhouse due south of Builth Wells on the A470, serves earthy, flavoursome modern cuisine among contemporary wood, tiles and beams. In the direction of England, via Hay, the Bull's Head at Craswall (+44 (0)1981 510616) is a real pub serving up great food and local ales and ciders to locals and walkers alike. In Hay itself, the Old Black Lion on Lion Street (+44 (0)1497 820841) is a popular, part-ancient pub/restaurant. If you're heading back to the Midlands or northwest England, the Radnorshire Arms (+44 (0)1544 267406) in Presteigne is a priest-holey old property, great for gastro lunch, afternoon tea or morning coffee in this charming border town.

Reviews

Photos The Drawing Room reviews
Nick Raistrick

Anonymous review

In Woody Allen’s Play it Again, Sam Dick Christie is the pre-Blackberry-era yuppie who always earnestly rings in his location to head office. If the 1972 character were a real-life person, he’d hate this stylish gastro B&B. The Drawing Room definitely inspires you to kick back and never think of work.

The first thing you notice about the Drawing Room? It is, in fact, just like a drawing room: there’s the eclectic selection of literature, open fire and a handbell that you ring for service (ideal when it comes to getting what you want, when you want it, without that usual smaller-establishment awkwardness). While Mrs Smith freshens up for dinner, I have an appointment with a G&T and flick through some tourism leaflets for the obligatory confirmation whether there’s an owl sanctuary within striking distance. I fight the urge to give into handbell-tinkling temptation.

To set the scene: this reviewer, due to a bizarre kitchen accident, is on crutches. So, there’s no walking for us, plus we’re driving a hired automatic: a very sensible vehicle which seems to encourage upright-riding positions and middle-lane-Charlie paces. Still these are perfect conditions for taking in the scenery en route to our Welsh boutique B&B. The journey to the Drawing Room, from pretty much wherever you come from in the UK, is a big part of the experience. ‘The countryside is stunning,’ swoons Mrs Smith. ‘Yes, I love how Wales is all slopey,’ I hear myself say. (If the Welsh tourist board is reading this, you can have that one on me.)

Truth be told, when I initially enquired about arriving without wheels, we were told by a helpful Melanie to rebook when we did. When I asked this half of the Drawing Room’s husband-and-wife team about WiFi (needing to send An Important Email), I was also politely told that broadband was deliberately not among their offerings. So it is early on that we discover that the Drawing Room is all about relaxing and eating excellent food, prepared from ingredients you can see gambolling beyond your window…

It’s more a destination restaurant with comfy rooms, than a traditional hotel: indeed they have reduced their covers in order to maintain the high standard of cooking, as this is their true passion. (There’s an extensive wine list too, which is clearly a labour of love, and Melanie is happy to explain some of the less well-known selections on her list.)

This being a UK upland high-end restaurant, the spectre of TV show The Trip’s Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon could loom large. But as foodie-focussed as this is, it’s totally sans pretension: the locally sourced menu is three choice and three course – nothing is a foam or served in a spoon. Such provenance pedigree is a breeze when you’re in the Wye Valley: black beef, mountain lamb and rare-breed pork all graze these slopes. Actually, do pigs graze? I resist the temptation of ringing the handbell to find out. With so much of Wales hilly or by the sea, it’s like one glorious larder.

And so to bed. This pair is in Oliver – the room, not the musical – which features Fired Earth bath bits (including a freestanding tub with a view), quirky prints and the world’s comfiest dressing gowns. The Drawing Room has that thing I call Sleepy Magic™, inducing that delicious  ‘Why am I so tired when I’ve been doing nothing?’ feeling. It’s a mix of the wrought-iron bed, total food satiation, fresh air, lack of sirens and general slowing down, guaranteeing the city dweller a decent night’s kip and more-vivid-than-usual dreams.

Breakfast? It’s as hearty and as first-rate as dinner. I moot concern to Mrs Smith there’s a very real danger I’ve become physically addicted to the Welsh rarebit. And I’m sure forever more I’ll do a Homer-Simpson-near-a-doughnut dribble remembering that bacon. A detail that demonstrates serious class too is their provision of top-notch wheat-free bread despite us ringing this intolerance at the eleventh hour.

Refreshed, we are ready to begin a day of car-based exploration. It’s worth noting that they do want you out during the day – there’s only two of them and they have stuff to do: a business model which ensures quality control and gets you exploring.

Now: The Important Email. It certainly seems to matter less in the scheme of things than the day before, but we pick up a signal in Builth Wells which comes to the rescue. A small market town, this point in Powys doesn’t have heaps else to offer, apart from a pleasingly chaotic junk with occasional antique store in an old church where Mrs Smith stocks up on distressed furniture for the garden, and I poke about among vintage fishing rods and 1920s magazines.

Next up, the Elan Valley, which is for some reason less famous than the Brecon Beacons. People love it for walking, but it’s also spectacular driving terrain. They let you pootle across massive reservoirs and rickety iron bridges and there’s hardly any traffic – it’s proper car-advert country, with spectacular red kites circling above... In the other direction it’s a bit more lowland and Englandy, although Hay-on-Wye is worth a potter for book-shopping, even outside of the June festival.

More amazing food dining lures us back to our restaurant with rooms. As I tuck into the Brecon mountain lamb we agree that that staying here for a few nights is definitely worth it if you can. We’re getting dangerously used to all this greediness – but if we tried to stay longer people might start to notice our absence. We retreat home a little heavier, a lot more relaxed, and ready to fire up the broadband and tell everyone about our great Welsh escape.

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 Drawing Room’s Guestbook below.

We loved

Stepping through the front door, out of the cold and into The Drawing Room. Within minutes we were sipping tea in front of a crackling fire with our books. A long soak in the huge bath with a glass of chilled white on the side before we were treated to one of the best meals we have ever, ever eaten. A set menu, but the host was careful to check first if there was anything we couldn't eat. It was superb! All food is prepared in the open-plan kitchen next to the dining room by Colin and Melanie, the owners; the attention to detail is amazing. Melt in the mouth, fresh, light and completely delicious. We stayed for 2 gastronomic nights and will certainly try to return if we can. Our visit was brief and amidst heavy snow but the 8-mile walk around the Elan Valley was spectacular.

Don’t expect

Super duper fast broadband but it is there and is perfectly good enough to get online and deal with emails so don't be put off. Mobile phone signal was excellent. Cheap plonk.

Rating

Stayed on 15 Mar 2018

We loved

The food.

Rating

Stayed on 1 Aug 2017

We loved

The food, decor, ambience, quiet, cleanliness, just the right amount of attention from the host, comfy bed, open fire...... I could go on and on!

Don’t expect

Al a carte evening menu..... it is a set menu, superbly prepared. Late night drinking and local night life..... perfect!

Rating

Stayed on 13 Apr 2017

We loved

The food, cleanliness and comfort

Rating

Stayed on 2 Sep 2016

We loved

The good food lovingly prepared and served by the Husband and wife team. Visit Elan Valley Devil's Bridge- spectacular scenery.

Don’t expect

Cereal as well as cooked breakfast 

Rating

Stayed on 19 Aug 2016