Put yourself out to pasture at The Royston, a handsome guesthouse in the green heart of Wales. Each of the seven bedrooms is packed with personality – thanks to owners Clive and Rob’s dashing design sense and love of vintage furniture – and blessed with verdant valley views. Outdoorsy types can wander the waterfalls, go off-grid in the woodlands or get sporty in Snowdonia National Park – though our recommendation is to stay close to the fireplace, help yourself to tots of sloe gin from the honesty bar and linger over heavenly home-made dinners in the dining room.
Get this when you book through us:
A Royston cotton tote bag and a home-made foodie-approved gift
10am. Check-in is from 3pm to 7pm. You’ll need to give advance notice if you plan to arrive after 7pm.
Double rooms from £144.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include breakfast – choose from the full cooked or veggie options, home-made granola with rhubarb compote or toast with local-hilltop honey.
Just six months after it opened, The Sunday Times pronounced the Royston the best hotel in Wales. Llongyfarchiadau (that’s ‘congratulations’ in Welsh)!
The hotel closes each Monday and annually for Christmas and New Year (exact dates vary).
At the hotel
Fire-pit, kitchen garden, board games, free WiFi throughout and free parking on-site. In rooms: Meraki bath products, tea and coffee, and hypoallergenic bedding on request.
Our favourite rooms
We suggest splashing out on a Superior Room for the superlative mountain and countryside views.
Realistically? Windproofs. But if you’re feeling optimistic, stash a swimsuit for swimming in the waterfalls.
There’s one step-free bedroom on the ground floor suitable for guests with mobility restrictions, but unfortunately the hotel is not accessible for wheelchair users.
Welcome, with advance notice, in one of the Large Rooms or the Deluxe Room with Shower and Bath. There's a flat charge of £25 a booking and a maximum of one dog in each dog-friendly room. See more pet-friendly hotels in Powys.
Ages 12 and over are welcome. An extra bed can be added to Superior Rooms for £35 a night.
Wherever possible, the hotel uses produce from its kitchen garden, orchard or polytunnel; and eggs come from the happy hens.
For verdant views, choose a table at the back next to the windows.
Don a cashmere jumper and well-worn jeans. You'll fit right in.
Breakfast and supper are served in the cheerful dining room, where soft green walls set off soothing countryside views and the emphasis is on simple, homemade fare with produce from the kitchen garden and meat from local suppliers. All food is prepared and served by the owners, Clive and Rob, and with just three tables on selected evenings it’s very popular and tables fill up fast, so book well ahead to avoid disappointment. Starters include cod or salmon fishcakes or homemade wild-garlic-pesto-chicken salad; hearty main-course options range from flatbread pizzas to halloumi and homemade chutney or minted lamb and feta burgers. Finish with a Welsh cheese board or an affogato for pudding. When the weather’s cooperating, you can ask for a fire pit kit (there’s a small extra charge) to watch the sun go down over a glass of something sparkling. The hotel only prepares what's needed to prevent food waste and they use the freshest ingredients, so you'll need to email your food choices at least 48 hours before arrival.
The honesty bar in the lounge is stocked with the usual suspects as well as home-made sloe gin, Aperol, pre-mixed negronis, plum vodka and vermouth. For alfresco nightcaps, the fire-pit’s waiting.
Breakfast is served from 8am to 9.30am. Choose from one of two seatings for supper: 7.30pm or 8pm (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday only).
There’s no room service, so stash the warm cookies you get on arrival in case hunger strikes after dark.
The Royston is in the quiet Powys hills, perfectly placed for exploring the Cardigan Bay coastline and Snowdonia National Park.
The nearest airports are Manchester and Birmingham, each about a two-hour drive away; the hotel can arrange transfers for £150 each way.
The nearest stations are Machynlleth or Caersws. They’re both about 20 minutes’ drive from the hotel and serve Aberystwyth, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Shrewsbury.
You’ll want a car if you’re going in search of waterfalls, woodlands and other Welsh adventures. Rent one in nearby Shrewsbury (good options are Easicar and Thrifty) – from there, it’s an hour’s drive to the hotel. Once you arrive, there’s free parking on-site.
Worth getting out of bed for
Don’t go too far too fast – the Royston was designed for unwinding, so take a seat by the fireplace in the lounge with a good book or borrow one of the board games. Have a potter around the gardens and the orchard (don’t forget to say hi to the hens). When you’re ready to venture, motor to nearby Machynlleth, an arty town with a weekly farmers’ market (on Wednesdays) and a picturesque high street full of independent shops. Then, pull on your walking boots to conquer the woodland trails – the Torrent Walk is a circular path that follows the River Clywedog through a gorge. If you’re a brave soul searching for a wild-swimming spot, wander to the Waterfall Walk in Snowdonia National Park. For more manicured meanderings, explore the Italianate gardens at the mediaeval fortress and National Trust gem Powis Castle.
Run by a foodie couple in nearby Machynlleth, Number Twenty One is an unfussy but outstanding bistro using locally sourced ingredients and herbs from its garden. Also in Machynlleth is Sri Lankan street-food stall The Green Goat Café, which pops up every Wednesday at the food market (known as Mach Market by locals). Slightly further afield, The Black Lion Derwenlas is a cosy independent housed in a 16th-century inn. Expect pub food made with the finest local ingredients, friendly service, and a roaring open fire in the colder months.
A big difference in our relationship: Mrs Smith is perennially able to see the bigger picture; I’m obsessed with the minutiae. It’s to the credit of the Royston that we came away from our two-night stay in the Welsh countryside satisfied on both fronts.
The hotel’s tagline, ‘always take the scenic route’, is a wry in-joke for the inevitable sat-navving you’ll undertake as you wind your way through some of Wales’ most impressive (and remote) scenery, arriving to the tiny village of Llanbrynmair (there or thereabouts), where couple Rob and Clive, a former art director and project director, respectively, have converted a Powys farmhouse into a polished boutique outpost.
They’ve done what so many dream of doing: given up high profile jobs in the big smoke for the beauty and quietude of the countryside. One glance at that view along the Twymyn Valley from the cosiness of their front room and you can see why. That was a ‘bigger picture’ that Mrs Smith was happy to contemplate all afternoon. As for lil-ol’-OCD me, I was occupied by the fine, nay, very fine details.
By that, I mean the Royston provided fleeting moments that say more in an instant than many hotels manage across their often laboured origin stories. Things like this: on my bedside table, the drinking glass had a rubber stopper on it to ensure midnight sips didn’t disturb Mrs Smith. Or this: I mentioned to Clive before breakfast that Mrs Smith would be down in a jiffy, she’s just hairdryering her fringe. ‘Nice fringe’, he opined, without a wink or a fuss, when she appeared.
That front room I mentioned? Even the board game collection had been curated to within an inch of its life (a focus on abstract strategy games, if you must know). The music playlist? Zeitgeisty and probably curated that morning. Artwork? Never cluttered, just the right side of kitsch and with playful, look-again nods to queer culture. If joy-inducing details are your thing, check out the self-produced walking maps in the boot room, filled with well-thought-out instructions and adorable design touches.
We were in Wales in October with plans to go walking in the valleys if the weather permitted, but equally happy if it didn’t – all the more time to cosy up at the hotel. And, after hopping over the Wye Valley, skirting the Brecons and zigzagging our way along the spine of Powys, we saw the Royston appear through the trees, one of two strategically positioned farmhouses at the summit of some gently inclined farmland.
Arrival was a cleverly choreographed routine, orchestrated by Clive. If anything, it showed his and Rob’s unbridled passion for their boutique-hotel project, and how meticulously they had everything arranged. We felt in very capable hands as we were shown to our ground floor room with its arresting fireplace, quirky artworks and gorgeous tiled bathroom.
We decamped to the front room, helping ourselves to a Powys craft IPA from the honesty fridge and settled into the lime green armchairs with our books, ready to relax, read and contemplate the view. And if that’s starting to sound too rustic, glaring down at us from the mantlepiece was a huge, stylised rendering of Battersea Power Station, a nod to the owners’ ex-neighbourhood.
It takes some courage to up sticks to somewhere so removed from London, but Rob and Clive seem to have fitted seamlessly into their new community, selling eggs hatched by their own hens, growing plenty of produce for Rob’s cooking, even producing a line of chutneys (we took a courgette relish home – delicious).
We could’ve spent the rest of our time in that stylish cocoon, luxuriating in wafts of the carefully chosen aromatherapy fragrance, listening to the clearly-agonised-over soundtrack (Cymande, Haushka et al.), but eventually it was time for supper.
Typically, eating at the Royston is deceptively simple: fishcake starters; pizza or a burger for your main; affogato or a cheese board for afters. But, this being the Royston, your fishcake is a choice of salmon, lemon and spinach; Thai cod and prawn; or salmon with melting hollandaise. Pizzas are made with flatbread and come laden with home-grown tomato sauce, Snowdonia cheese and herbs from the polytunnel. The patties in the burgers? Home-made, natch. The cheeseboard? Well, I needn’t say more.
So, to take a leaf out of Mrs Smith’s book, we rested, read, strolled to the village, drove to the coast, hiked in the hills, sat in pubs, ate well, drank well, and decided mid-Wales would do us very nicely, too, as it has the owners of the Royston. The rest is detail