Beautiful country mansion Grove of Narberth sits alongside four cottages and a 15th-century long house built for mediaeval farmers and their livestock. Far more fit for king than cattle, the hotel itself is a regal blend of modern luxe and country charm, ideal for romantic getaways or escapes with family and friends. The work of designer Martin Hulbert, the interiors look like they've evolved naturally over time, staying rooted in the local area by showcasing the talent and artistry of the Pembrokeshire community. Rooms are filled with handmade furniture (both new and antique), local pottery, vintage Welsh lace, and artwork and photography by local artists. Finishing touches like sumptous Persian rugs and fine Vietnamese silks add a dash of internationalism that'll please the most worldy of wanderers.
Get this when you book through us:
A gin cocktail each on arrival; GoldSmith members get a half-bottle of Billcarte-Salmon Reserve champagne
Double rooms from £109.38, including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates include breakfast.
For extra brownie points, surprise Mrs Smith with an in-room spa treatment; be sure to book ahead as they prove very popular with guests.
At the hotel
Gardens, lounge, WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen TV with Sky channels, free bottled water, telephone, cast-iron baths or rain showerheads, underfloor heating, Goodwash bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Treat yourselves with a stay at the John Pollard Seddon room, named after the architect who supervised the house’s extension in the late 1800s. It’s a bold pear green space, with aubergine purple cushions and a matching plump throw, overshadowed by a sculpted headboard that looks as if it’s been carved from the finest quality dark chocolate. All hail the bed: it’s a looming, majestic super king four poster, with bedposts carved in the same glossy cocoa wood that look like almighty, Lindt-coated asparagus tips. The bathroom has a deep double-ended, cast-iron tub and a romantic fireplace; a dangerous combo designed for sinfully seductive soaping. For a more modest option, go for the Blue Room (which comes with an aqua and mother-of-pearl colour palette, as well as a king-size bed and views over the sweeping lawn) or the Hanoi Room (a chocolate and raspberry coloured confection, with silk curtains, Asian lacquered artwork and traditional wooden furniture). Lovage in Herb Cottage is just one of the rooms designed by Martin Hulbert. As well as stylish interiors, vaulted ceilings and a roll-top bath tub, this spacious garden suite boasts a large lounge area with comfy sofas and a wood-burning fireplace for slow-starting mornings and romantic nights in: French doors open out onto a south-facing private terrace with outside seating.
Swimwear for the beach; walking boots for traipsing around forests and castles; some old classics to read in front of the fire; bedsocks or slippers for optimum cosiness.
The hotel is filled with artwork by local artist, Gillian McDonald; if you particularly like the look of a certain piece, ask at reception about bringing it home.
Welcome. The suites have sofa beds in the lounge and a cot (free) can be added to rooms, subject to availability. Under-12s are welcome in the Artisan Rooms Restaurant, but not allowed in Fernery Restaurant. Staff can provide details of local babysitters.
The hotel has one universal and two Tesla charging points for electric cars, solar panels on the cottage roofs, a biomass boiler and they recycle their water through an on-site spring. They also have their own vegetable and herb garden, and what isn't home-grown on site is sourced from nearby – if you're concerned about food mileage simply check the menu which tells you how far food has travelled between pasture and plate.
Go for the window seats to soak up the beautiful garden views.
Rural chic, fit farm – think floaty florals, crisply ironed shirts, and obligatory glowing cheeks and wind-ruffled hair for both sexes.
The Fernery is the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, an elegant and softly-lit space with round tables draped in luxurious linens and finished with a fern swimming in a glass bowl. It’s here that executive head chef Allister Barsby takes the best local produce he can find – including vegetables and herbs grown in the hotel's own garden – to produce bold, inspired dishes that toe the line between Welsh tradition and avant garde European cuisine. Expect dishes like pan-fried duck liver with poached rhubarb, hazelnut cream and xeres vinegar sauce, and Bass with roasted with star anise, saffron onions, tapenade and bouillabaisse. A more casual option, the Artisan Rooms celebrates simple cooking that lets the sheer quality of the Welsh ingredients shine through. The restaurant is spread across three rooms, one with a unique wall of hand-woven willow, the other two filled with local crafts and Pembrokeshire artwork by Gillian McDonald. Expect grazing boards of the best of Welsh charcuterie and artisan cheese, grilled Welsh lamb and beef, and fish landed in Pembrokeshire.
The bar itself is fashioned from Welsh steel and purple slate – the very same used on the roof of the hotel. Welsh settles, stools and traditional spindle chairs create a homely feel, and lamps like those once used to light the local mines add a nostalgic finish. The wine selection stands out, as head sommelier Catriona Mcgregor has to source varietes that match the quality of the dishes served in the Fernery. If you're one for a digestif, you couldn't ask for a more cosy and welcoming place to curl up with a whiskey.
Breakfast, from 8am–10am; lunch, noon to 2pm; dinner, 6pm (6.30pm in The Fernery) to 9pm.
Order an in-room feast from 8am to 9.30pm; start your day with the traditional farmhouse breakfast, order Welsh rarebit for afternoon nibbles, and pick from the restaurant's à la carte menu in the evening.
The nearest airport is in Cardiff about 80 miles away. Call our Smith24 team to book your flight to the Welsh capital.
The nearest station is Narberth, two miles away. From there you can catch a train to Swansea, which takes just over an hour, and then connect to services across the UK.
The nearest town is Tenby, 15 minutes away by car. The Grove has ample free parking and one universal and two Tesla charging points for electric car.
There's a helipad if you have a helicopter.
Worth getting out of bed for
Dedicate an entire day to the great outdoors, with a ramble around the hotel’s surrounding woods and a picnic by the fortified ruins nearby (stock up on goodies from Ultracomida first). If you’re feeling deliciously lazy, stake your territory by the open fire with an old classic as your companion, read through the morning and have a little afternoon tipple after lunch, with your loved one lounging beside you on the voluptuous velvet sofa. If you’ve got the little ones in tow, banish boredom and tire them out nicely with a trip to Folly Farm, which, in addition to the obligatory cutesy pigs and chickens, has a funfair, outdoor play area, child-friendly woods and a zoo. An idyllic day of tee-ing off in spectacular surrounds can be had at Tenby Golf Course, which is ranked in the top five courses in Wales. Restless shopaholics should wander into Narberth and browse the little boutiques and galleries. Keen historians should make the trip to Pembroke Castle.
The hotel's sister restaurant Coast Saundersfoot, by Coppet Hall Beach, has a way with seafood; the tasty local spread includes crab from Little Haven, Caldey Island lobster and Milford Haven squid. Half an hour’s drive from the Grove, in the close-to-the-coast village of Stackpole, The Stackpole Inn is a guidebook-favourite gastropub serving hearty home-cooked food and a fine selection of regional ales. A 40-minute drive east of Narberth is the waterside The Swan Inn, Little Haven, a 200-year-old watering hole distinguished by its superb seafood and unbeatable ocean views.
Cheese champions and dealers in gourmet-goodies from Wales, Spain and France, Ultracomida deli and café on Narbeth High Street is a foodie’s fantasy made flesh, or should that be fromage? Beloved of locals, ramblers and sweet-tooths alike, the BoathouseTearoom on Stackpole Quay serves up luscious lobster, moist mackerel and creamy crab in season. Narberth-set PlumVanilla Café is as sweet as its name, with floral tablecloths and a smattering of plant-pots – the cosiest environs for their superb sandwiches, salads and decadent cakes.
Sample some real ales at the delightful Carew Innin Carew, Tenby. The small and cosy pub is near the stunning Carew castle, Tidal Mill and Celtic Cross. There’s outside seating and a tempting food menu, bursting with bar nibbles and traditional pub mains, so you’re perfectly placed if you get peckish.
Ok, so I’m obsessed with city breaks. I like to walk 15 miles a day, gobbling up every bit of culture, architecture and atmosphere until my mind buzzes, my belly groans and my feet throb. Call it a classic case of millennial FOMO, or the mentality of someone for whom work has always come before wellbeing, but I find doing nothing extremely difficult. The Grove of Narberth, then, was going to be a challenge: a 19th-century mansion deep in south-west Wales, an hour from the nearest city…
But with the misty Preseli Hills in the distance, a manicured kitchen garden, and neat cream-coloured exterior, the Grove exudes therapeutic calm from the moment Mr Smith and I pull up one chilly Friday evening in March. I feel my guard dropping. One step into the lobby, with its muted tartan upholstery, soft panelling, and intoxicating wood-fire smell, and it dissolves altogether.
Originally, we’d intended to eat in Narberth on our first night, before trying out the Grove’s à la carte menu the next. But we’re so sleepy from the drive, and seduced by our surroundings, that we ask if we can switch our reservation. No problem at all, say the welcoming staff, who book us in to eat in a few hours’ time.
A concierge leads us up thickly carpeted wooden staircases and past paintings of the Grove’s grounds – a subtle, classy touch that continues throughout the hotel. With the twist of a rustic key, we enter into the warm embrace of the Hanoi room, where dusky pink curtains and runners contrast with subtle green cushions and wallpaper. The four-poster bed is a cloudy fantasy, though the elegant lacquered wooden frame squeaks so violently that it’s only fit for sleeping and reading if we’re to avoid red faces at breakfast.
Outside, rain is lashing down, ending our plans to explore 26 acres-worth of gardens. I sigh loudly that my running shoes will remain in my suitcase, but secretly I’m delighted: I’ve discovered the posh toiletries and a bag of homemade lemon and almond biscotti (Mr Smith confiscates them before I ruin my dinner). There’s no phone signal and, for once, I’m not interested in the wifi password. My only regret is not booking a massage in advance, as there are no therapists available at short notice.
Before dinner, we head to the lounge where the large sofa makes us feel like Borrowers toasting our feet by the hearty fire. The atmosphere is intimate, but the room large enough for couples to hold conversations without disturbing each other. Unused to the formalities of fine dining, I’m initially taken aback by the waiter’s attentiveness (and incorrect assumption that we’re married), but soon accept that this is dining as minimalist theatre. The potent parmesan and black olive arancini, and electric virgin mango Margarita, make it easy to relax and enjoy the show.
The classy dining area lies beyond a warren of corridors. As it’s out of season, there’s only a few other couples here (we being the youngest…) We pick from the à la carte menu – the produce is local; the presentation ornate. After the seriously good Preseli lamb and pork belly, and a touch of solemn service (the staff soften when we’re struck by an unexpected giggling fit), the peanut butter and jelly parfait makes for a pleasingly childlike dessert. Replete, we’re grateful that there’s only a dozen stairs between us and bed. We finally investigate the wifi, which is more than strong enough to stream our favourite Netflix shows.
On Saturday morning, the same dining room floods with light as we snack on superb pastries. Although the weather has improved, we contemplate spending the day indoors, reading the paper that’s been delivered to our door, but decide it would be a shame not to explore the Pembrokeshire coastline. We take a drive to Tenby, an all-too-rare seaside town that hasn’t been made over into a tacky resort. Crisp homemade fish finger sandwiches at the Mooring warm our bellies while the seafront – with its pretty multicoloured houses and swaying daffodils – is dramatically lashed by wind.
It’s a shame that our trip’s too short to mount a proper exploration of Narberth and its much-toted independent shops. But on Saturday evening, 32 Townhouse squeeze us into their cosy blue dining room for a first-class dinner. Back at the hotel, our room has been thoughtfully turned down (and – yes! – the biscotti replenished). I’m neither romantic nor fussy, but touches like this make me feel genuinely cared for, as do the staff’s bright greetings whenever we passed through the lobby.
It’s a cruel irony that as soon as you start relaxing on holiday, it’s time to head back to real life. So it is on Sunday morning, but not before our final breakfast: golden yellow scrambled egg and velvety smoked salmon on bubbly homemade crumpets (me); rich eggs Benedict (him), and a what-the-hell-we’re-on-holiday’s ration of pastries. Work seems a million miles away, and the tension in my laptop-addled shoulders is relinquishing. Not only has the Grove de-stressed me for one whole weekend, it’s made me rethink my entire approach to holidays. I could get used to this…