Went here at the start of May 2013. It's a little off the beaten track (just outside Builth Wells), but if you want peace and quiet then I guess you have to get out into the sticks a bit.
The driveway as you come in is quite steep, and through fairly narrow gates - take care. There is a car park on the right by the 'Lodges' as you come in - this was full - we were actually lucky and got a spot right outside the fron of the hotel (for info - there is another car park on the right down towards the Spa block - with plenty of room - but its not signed - tip to 'The Lake' staff - get a sign put up please!)
The main hotel is a large country house (which apparently has always been a hotel). Reception staff were warm, friendly and welcoming. We were shown up to our room ('Rose') up the 'worlds creakiest stairwell' - although all in character with the house.
Room was a 'Junior Suite', which was very nice, tastefully decorated - large comfy bed, a small annexe 'through lounge' to the bathroom (towels and robes were some of the best / comfiest I've come across!) and loo (plain / unpatterned glass in the loo? Mmmm?? Although there was a blind). Tea making facilities and bottled water (although no biscuits / nibbles? At £189 a night you'd think that something could be laid on?). Also, there was nowhere really for ladies to 'make up' - mirror - but no adjacent light / socket for hair drier etc - a little thought could be put into this one perhaps? Possibly a small fridge? Warm bottled water is not nice!
Anyway, decided to go for a walk around the grounds. The hotel overlooks large lawns (putting green and croquet lawn have seen better days - but it was May). The river (Irfon?) offers a nice walk, down as far as the trout lake - all very peacfeul. Stopped back at the Spa / Pool buildings, popped in for a look - thought it looked very well equipped for the locale. Pool looked inviting, but it was 'kids hour' so opted not to try it! Had a look at the spa treatments - thought they were expensive - even for the minor treatments - although I guess these are the 'going rates' - again - decided not to indulge.
Walked back up to the hotel and went into the main lounge area. Huge room, may have once been a ballroom, eclectic, but tasteful and period furnishings.
Decided to have afternoon cream tea. Lovely big pot of tea, and 2 HUGE scones each with home made jam and clotted cream (£6.50 each) - touch on the expensive side - but they were nice!
Then it was time for our evenig meal, which is all sort of went wrong!
As it was a sunny evening, we decided to sit in the small alcoves that are open to the front of the hotel. Lovely view over the lawns and river. The waiter came and took our pre-dinner drinks orders and provided menus (this is looking promising we thought!)
After we had finished our drinks we went inside as the sun had gone down and it was getting chilly. We sat in the main lounge and tried (in vain) to attract the attention of a passing waiter. Eventually I went over and asked for drinks, which we ordered and gave our meal ordered (heaven knows when we'd get service again!) 20 mins later - no sign - so I asked again, another 10 mins later a waitress appeared (with our drinks) and asked us to come through to the dining room.
There are 2 dining rooms - one is part of the original building, and a newer conservatory / orangery type design at the side. A lovely space, open, clean lines, contemporary and tables well spaced out.
Water was provided 'on request' - which I thought a little strange?! Surely they could put a jug of iced water on each table? Tip to staff - IF you insist on NOT having jusg of water on the table - then you need to be on your game regarding refills - got fed up of asking in the end!
The evening meal - what a disappointment! The setting was right, the sun was was shining, and then the starters arrived..
I had a fish rissotto - which was like a very soggy porridge to look at, tasted like salmon paste. My wifes Salmon turrine was soggy, not well 'pressed' (i.e. it fell apart as soon as you ouched it) and contained large chunks of soggy tomato - taste was 'unusual' to say the least (and def not of salmon!). Summary? Poor quality and technically not very well constructed.
Main courses: My wife had the lamb (which was very nice - although the portion was small), and I had the pork - same comment - very tasty - just wish there'd been more of it!
Summary? Tasty well cooked mains, just not a lot to enjoy!
A few little side comments: If one of the party decides to go for a quick 'comfort break' during the meal - please don't serve the mains until they return! The food will get cold(er) - it wasn't that warm to start with. Plus - PLEASE get rid of the tiny paper blue napkins - if you ARE on an economy drive - at least go for a napkin that can cover your knees - not one that is smaller than those found at most fast food restaurants!
Desert: We opted for the 'sweet slate' - an assortment 'sampler' of available deserts - this was excellent - in fact I think I saw the majority of fellow diners going for this option (probably as its quite a large portion and everyone was still hungry?!)
We opted to take coffee in the lounge. It arrived without the (paid for) truffles - sort of summed up the meal to be honest (although it was struck from the bill the next day when checking out).
Meal? Overall £38.50 was a lot to be paying for what we had - nearly £80 for two people would have definately got you a lot better quality, quantity and pleasure elsewhere. Service was poor - to the point of us likening it to Fawlty Towers! There seemed to be plenty of staff on duty, just unorganised and lacking training in basic customer care.
Breakfast the next day was fine (and welcomed!) - standard fayre, juices, cereals and options around hot meals. ALthough again, basic things like tea and toast had to be asked for, and then re-asked for - which was a little tiring!!
In summary of the whole stay? Lovely place, house and surroundings are idyllic. Let down by the poor / unorganised service and the poor quality (and quantity!) of the evening meal.
Would I go again? Sorry, but probably not.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to share a review of your recent stay. It is always useful for us to receive feedback from our guests and allows us the opportunity to take on-board useful suggestions i.e. additional car parking signage. We’re glad to hear you enjoyed our idyllic surroundings and found our reception staff to be ‘warm, friendly and welcoming’.
Report response as inappropriate
At the Lake Country House, we like to give guests the opportunity to fully relax and therefore do not set a strict dinner time. Unfortunately sometimes this can put a lot of pressure on our restaurant team and it seems as though this may have been the case on Saturday. We’re sorry to hear that this had an impact on your stay, but let us assure you this is not reflective of our normal high standards as described in other reviews. We hope you have a lovely summer and wish you all the best for the remainder of 2013.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.