“ Address: Thornhill / Cardiff CF14 9UA / South Glamorgan / Tel: 029 2052 0280 „
My daughter has a very demanding job and travels a lot in the course of her work. Based in London, she regularly spends £50+ a week in petrol. Because of this and having her shopping delivered she collects a lot of Tesco club card vouchers. Since she found out that these could be used for hotels we've had many a long family weekend at various hotels around the country. Just over a year ago we stayed at the New House Country Hotel, which is within a short distance from my hometown. Despite this I had a fantastic time and thought I'd share this with you. When my daughter booked this she was a bit concerned that the hotel wouldn't accept the vouchers booking as it was the Easter weekend. The staff couldn't have been more helpful though; assuring her it was no problem. The one difficulty was getting a family room as my grandson Jack was just five-year-old then and my daughter was a bit disappointed that they didn't have one. They suggested that I shared with Jack and they'd charge for an ordinary twin room. Since we hadn't then shared a room before we were a bit concerned so booked my daughter and husband's room next door. When my daughter first sent the link through to me via e-mail, I was stunned by the beauty of the hotel. As a Best Western hotel and a four star rating I expected it to be luxurious, they are one of a worldwide chain and probably can be compared to the Hilton. This was something completely out of my usual experiences though. I have stayed at other chain hotels, but this was exactly like being in a country manor as an honoured guest. Location. The hotel is based just outside Cardiff in Glamorgan, South Wales. The hotel nestles at the foot of the mountains and is near to Thornhill, a suburb of Cardiff. What make this so spectacular are the extensive grounds and the wonderful views. We hadn't specified a room with a view but you cannot get away from it, the views are stunning from every part of the hotel. Since the grounds are private, there isn't a sign of civilisation anywhere; just the faint outline of the Bristol Channel in the far distance and closer by you can just make out the higher parts of Cardiff. In fact, while the Ryder Cup was held in Newport last October, the Welsh weatherman, Derek Brockway, read the news and weather from this location. The hotel is fairly easy to get to, though I would advise using a satnav if you have one once you have left the M4 motorway. It is quite a twisty road and a sharp bend to the hotel entrance, the one price for privacy. The Hotel and grounds. My daughter arrived at my house about 12 noon and as we had until three pm to check in we had a light lunch at my house. Jack needed to stretch his legs as well; the journey from London was tiring for him. He was getting excited since he knew there was a Dr Who exhibition in Cardiff at that time and he's a big fan. Parts of Dr Who and Torchwood were filmed in Cardiff Bay. I digress, back to the hotel. We arrived at 3.30 after getting a bit lost, hence the advice about Satnav. There is a long driveway to the hotel and the day was sunny so we saw it at it's best, though the website has a lovely photo of it in winter. I imagine Christmas here would be enchanting. As it was Easter, we were telling Jack that he had to watch for the Easter bunny, which he did. Pulling up to the hotel felt like arriving for a country weekend, the front of the hotel is part of a mansion house that's been converted and even with the new extension, it still looked very grand. We were allowed to drop our bags just outside the entrance and then my daughter went to park in our allotted space. We were to become glad of this as there was a wedding the following day and the wedding party had plenty of cars. Our rooms were at the front of the hotel and as we had asked, were next to each other. There was a small balcony outside our room and I was a bit worried about Jack, but this was by far the largest room so I managed to pocket the key. Even so, it had a high surround so wasn't too bad. The room itself was large and had twin beds which I pushed together as jack wasn't used then to a single bed. (He had a Car bed at home). Even pushed together the beds looked massive and proved to be very comfortable. Since this was a room meant for adults we had all the usual things such as a large TV, an outlet for a computer, a writing desk with stationery, tea making facilities and some DVDs that were rated family, though I still put them away. The bathroom was large and had both a bath and shower combined. There was a tiled space above the sink and I put my things on here, out of Jack's way. The light came on when the door opened and Jack thought this great fun. There was a lovely range of complimentary bath and shower products, which I did use once. Cupboard space was plentiful and had an ironing board and iron as well. We all got together after looking at our rooms. We had planned on a light meal as Jack's bedtime is about eight pm and after that I would be staying in the room with him. I didn't mind this as I read at night anyway. My daughter offered to stay for a while if I wanted a break, but I was happy for them to have a rare drink together. Besides, there was a busy day to follow. We did consider room service, but there was a problem with getting a suitable vegetarian meal, so we went for a look around the grounds before going back in for a meal. Although I have mentioned the grounds, there were some lovely walks around the hotel and we wanted to see the tree that the Sequoia restaurant was named for. Yes, there is a lovely specimen of this huge cypress tree in the grounds. It's a massive 27 feet in diameter and looks magnificent in its unusual setting (it's native to America). Since Easter was later that year we had some lovely weather and the daffodils were just going over, giving way to Azaleas, Rhododendron and all manner of other trees and shrubs. We had a good walk and went in to dinner. Restaurant & Meals. The Sequoia restaurant caters for the main meals and the menu is very much a-la-carte so we decided on a bar meal for that night since we would have had to rush to get ready for a proper meal. Jack is very good in restaurants, but it was Friday night as well and we thought a bar meal better. In hindsight we should have chosen that night but we hadn't realised that the wedding party would use the restaurant as well the following night. The bar area was nicely laid out with a space for children and adults to eat together away from the main bar. They had a nice selection of meals at about £10 per head, though the drinks were a bit expensive. My daughter and her husband had a vegetarian meal while Jack and I both chose fish and chips. Service was a bit slow but it was only 6pm so they had only just started on the meal service though they do serve food all day. Thank goodness for sticker books and a plate of bread with olives and a dip as this kept us all from getting too hungry while waiting. After our meal, which was served nice and tasty, we went for a short run in the car just to pass a short time before bedtime for Jack and to get an idea for another meal in case we ate out the following day. It also gave my daughter a chance to get used to the area, as she hasn't driven much around Wales. When we got back we put Jack to bed and read some stories until about 8.30 and then I read until 10pm. We were a little way from the restaurant and bar and the peace and quiet of the countryside plus the fresh air ensured we had a good night's sleep. The following morning we had breakfast in the main restaurant, which was absolutely spotless. The sun sparkled on the gleaming cutlery and the overhead chandelier. I felt like royalty. Jack pronounced his intention to have six breakfasts and actually made it! That morning we had service at the table and there was a choice of anything you wanted. We had juice and I ordered a full Welsh breakfast while nibbling on toast. Jack and my son-in-law, Mark both had croissants and then a small bowl of cereal. The full Welsh breakfast was almost more than I could eat. I saw then why my daughter had eaten lightly, while Jack and Mark had more. Being vegetarian restricts them to eggs, beans and tomatoes though Jack and I had bacon, eggs, beans and sausages. There was toast and preserves to follow with fresh fruit or yoghurt so we were unable to do much more than sit in the very pleasant lounge and read out Saturday papers (delivered to our rooms) while Jack found a lovely residents' library and some children's books to keep him busy. The lounge is very much a cosy sitting area with chesterfield sofas. I didn't want to move but we had a busy day so we were soon on our way to the Dr Who exhibition in Cardiff. That evening we saw quite a queue for the restaurant even at 6pm. There was a Wedding party and although the main meal had been taken in a special pavilion, some people had obviously decided to stay the night and eat in. So I can't comment on the evening meal as we only had breakfast there. We ate out and the evening followed much the same pattern, though it was a bit noisy with the wedding party. I joined my daughter for a quick drink and a chat in the bar area and we had a short stroll through the lovely grounds before bedtime. Easter Sunday. It's worth mentioning that although the hotel was busy both with the wedding party and a roaring trade over the Easter holiday, we were never made to feel rushed in any way. The staff was always friendly, suggesting outings and allowing us to hide an Easter egg for Jack in the hotel grounds. We were checking out on Sunday but we still had a full breakfast though the cooked meal was self-service due to the number of people having breakfast. We were very careful not to hide clues for Jack in amongst the plants and keeping to the acres of grass in the grounds helped this. I chatted to some very friendly gardeners where I learnt about the Sequoia tree. I am a very keen gardener and got some good tips. I still had time to take some photographs and I wish you could see them. There's a lovely swing in a rose arbour that's something straight from a 'Jane Austin' moment. I also made some quick sketches while my daughter finished her packing. We all said a quick goodbye to our rooms and I asked the staff if there was a place to send post as I'd forgotten to send my friend a postcard. There wasn't any problem; the staff was just as friendly and helpful even though they must have already had a busy morning. The bill came to £406 in total, but we only paid the six pounds as the vouchers covered the rest. I didn't check the prices at the time, but since then I've leaned that the tariff is variable though it's normally about £90 per room per night, not per person. Considering the location, the quality of the breakfasts and the beautiful, clean rooms, I found that very reasonable. There was a lack of lifts but the corridors are fine for wheelchairs and the ramps allow easy access to the rooms and the main grounds. I can recommend this as a great long weekend or a special venue for a wedding, birthday, anniversary etc. As always, Thanks for reading. ©Lisa Fuller 2011.