Our Game of Thrones

I don’t normally complain

but there are occasions when the whole experience has been so disappointing that something needs to be said

This was one such.  As readers will realize, we have a hotel ourselves in an 18th century building with 16 bedrooms and are well aware of the fact that things go wrong and with the best will in the world it is difficult either to predict them or resolve them immediately. However, our disappointment with this hotel was not so much a result of unforeseen events as, well read on.

We travel to our house in Greece every year, driving there and taking our dogs and making something of a road trip in each direction, choosing deliberately what we think will be interesting places to stay, preferably small independently run historic house hotels with good food. Our dogs cannot be left by themselves, poor little Bartleby is severely autistic and shrieks and howls if left alone and Mrs Ruskin joins in. Many years ago I left my then two dogs in a car and returned to find both front seats shredded – an experience I am not anxious to repeat. Hence when booking I always ensure that there is a place for us to eat where dogs are permitted.

On arrival at this nameless hotel in a 17th century chateau we were greeted by Monsieur Le Proprietaire who, while taking us to our room and, when asked about the dogs in the restaurant, said that they were not allowed and they would have to stay in the room or the car.

 

No, there was no bar area where we could eat.

 

No, there was no little private room where we could eat.

 

No, the meal could not be served in our room.

 

No, they could not come in the restaurant and if we did not want to leave them in the car or our room we should go somewhere else to eat but he added “As it is Monday a lot of places will be shut”.

 

I pointed out that there had been an exchange of emails where we had been told that dogs were welcome in the dining room and he flatly denied this.

In a previous life I have been both a lawyer and a judge and frankly to have my word doubted was offensive but hey,let’s not go there.

We were shown our room and this turned out to be a small room (tagged as suitable for the disabled) on the ground floor opening straight into the garden with a large lavatory in one corner and a shower in the other. ie no privacy whatsoever. Looking at other comments I saw that this had been mentioned before in a negative way, and Monsieur Le Prop said, in September 2017, it would be remedied. Beware, dear reader, it has not and if you are of sensitive disposition (which I suspect most people are) this would very definitely not be a room for you.

Third problem. The internet would not work. I wanted to find the email where the hotel confirmed that the dogs could go in the restaurant. I went to Monsieur Le Prop but he could not make it work either and still refused to countenance having the dogs in, well his exact words were “Je suis le propietaire and je ne veux pas les chiens dans mon gourmet restaurant”.

I went back to the Chamber of Horrors and, using my wife’s telephone, managed to get my laptop going and found the email which said “and of course the dogs are welcome in the restaurant”. I took this to Monsieur Le Prop and showed him it. He capitulated with very evident bad grace. Had he not done so I think we would have left but were tired so decided to accept the ghastly room and not argue further.

We were one of two couples dining in the restaurant that night. There was no one else and the other couple seemed completely unperturbed by our dogs who lay quietly under the table.

In fact our dogs had lain quietly under the table the night before at the restaurant in Northern Italy and, indeed, have done so at approaching 20 Michelin starred restaurants across Europe including several 2 stars.

The meal itself was 49 euros per person and competent – 2 AA rosette standard we thought – and as such the price was unremarkable.

However, the wine list. Our fourth problem. My goodness what eye-watering prices with a very limited selection but starting at 50 euros. We drank a bottle of Macon Solutre-Pouilly marked up at four times its cost price

And yes, (fifth problem)  there was a lot of vehicle and train noise so if one is used to the utter peace and quiet of the countryside, apart from the occasional animal or owl doing its red in tooth and claw number – as we are – this is not the place to stay .

Nor is it if you have dogs. We paid 30 euros extra for the privilege of having them in our lavatory with a bed in it.

And (oh yes, sixth problem) no milk, one bag of black tea, three coffee pods and a machine without instructions meant no early morning drink either. And no, we do not want to pay 18 euros each for coffee and croissants, fruit etc so did not and found, a couple of miles down the road, a boulangerie with all manner of nice things.

So all in all, following our previous night’s Michelin star experience in a old-fashioned coaching inn in Northern Italy, the previous night to that in the principal suite of a medieval Italian castle with a polished concrete bath in which 4 people could have disported and a bedroom where the ceiling had been painted in celebration of the marriage of a member of the family to a daughter of Tsar Nicholas I, to be stuck in a room containing an oversized lavatory (after what must have been the most unwelcoming of greetings in our lives) we could only conclude that Monsieur Le Prop was having a joke at the expense of Les Rosbifs.

Sorry to have gone on a bit but every one of our complaints, with the exception of road and train noise, was avoidable

Question for The Moral Maze “Should we also have complained about our room or simply told him what to do with his Bog Room?”

Anyway, we live and learn and visitors to Hammet@Castell Malgwyn can be assured that

  1. Dogs are welcome in all public areas except the restaurant (we are in the UK where a lot of people seem to dislike children and dogs) but their owners can eat with them in our bar, a small private room or their own rooms
  2. There is no rail or road noise
  3. Our wine mark ups are much less than industry norms
  4. There is a supply of coffee and teas with milk (fresh available on request) in every room
  5. Wifi is patchy in some rooms but good in public areas

and finally

f .All our bathrooms have doors…

Storm Callum

After our last post about ‘Storm Callum’ we encountered the highest record level of the River Teifi since records began – a huge six metres was recorded on Saturday 13th October…

Two of our members of the Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn team, Amanda and Sian, were personally affected by the flooding. With their homes being right next to the Teifi, the destruction that they both returned to on the Monday morning was phenomenal. Both of them are coping amazingly well, however they are both needing to be re-homed.

During the flooding, we had four guests, two dogs, five members of the team and three local residents and two cats marooned at the hotel. They managed to stay safe and warm with the log fire and cheese toasties with homemade soup (thanks to Cornel, the Head Chef) to share between them.

The hotel has been unaffected, thankfully, and we are back open for business. Any guests that are due to stay with us over the next few days should be aware that Llechryd bridge is currently closed. Please allow more time for travel and if you need any help with alternative routes then please give us a call on 01239 682 382.






Autumn

Autumn is officially here and with it brings ‘Storm Callum’. Some of our beautiful trees along our private drive are feeling the strain!

At the end of the lane, we welcome you with a roaring fire, hot chocolates and Welsh-roasted coffees to order, a gin flight special (three gins and a Fevertree tonic of your choice @ £13) and a two AA Rosette menu on offer most nights of the week. With over thirty gins stocking our Library Bar shelves, there will be plenty of choice; old favourites, something a little different and even a couple of our top-selling, Welsh gins.

New to the Art Room Menu is Cornel’s ‘Apple, White Chocolate Mousse, Blackberry and Mint’. We have reduced our menu to three options over the Autumn/Winter period as things start to wind down and life plays a slower pace in this corner of rural Pembrokeshire.

Mr & Mrs McLaughlin

Emma and Aidan had a huge three day wedding, with extra accommodation on the croquet lawn in the shape of bell tents! They even hired some large outdoor games for the families attending.

We thought their ceremony tent was on another level! A beautiful, floral archway was built at the entrance and Emma walked up the patio steps to meet her future husband-to-be, Aidan. A special atmosphere was designed by simply hanging spotlight garlands around the inside of the tent. Pure magic.

One of our long time, recommended wedding suppliers, O&C Photography, were there to capture the big day. Emma and Aidan happily shared a selection of the images with us and we are delighted that they did! Take a peek below to see what the husband and wife photography team, O&C, created.

Mr & Mrs Armstrong

“All staff, but especially Carys, were fab and made everyone feel so welcome as well as ensuring the day ran as smoothly as possible.” -El and Josh, 2018

El and Josh decided to go for lots of greenery for their wedding, mostly foraged and included some fragrant hops around the ballroom entrance. Their ceremony was held at their favourite beach and the party continued with us.

They even created a DIY feature piece to hang behind the top table, in front of the fresh, white backdrop. What an eye-popper!

All the flower arrangements and centrepieces were the creations of the talented ‘Flowers By Annabel‘.

DIY feature piece behind the top table.
DIY feature piece behind the top table.
Details of the table decoration.
Details of the table decoration.
Table settings with hand-painted name plates.
Table settings with hand-painted name plates.
The ballroom with fragrant, foraged hops hanging in the archway.
The ballroom with fragrant, foraged hops hanging in the archway.
Another view of the ballroom.
Each setting has welshcakes or a children’s activity pack – what a lovely thought!
Top table with designer Philippe Starck 'Ghost' armchairs.
Top table with designer Philippe Starck ‘Ghost’ armchairs.

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Update: El & Josh kindly shared their wedding portrait, taken outside the main entrance. 

Expertly captured during a quiet moment, as we were ushering the rest of the party into the ‘Ballroom’ for the happy couple’s wedding breakfast.

Their photographer was locally-based Grace Elliott, for those interested!

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