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The Bell at Skenfrith
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Reviews (528)
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All reviewswine listbeefpuddingfresh milksunday lunchnew ownersfour poster bedwaiting stafftwo coursesbeautiful settingcrabwalk in showerlog firea lovely staylittle touchesthe publovely room
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258 - 263 of 528 reviews
Reviewed July 22, 2013

As you may be able to tell if you read further, I love the Bell, I love Skenfrith and I love the surrounding countryside. That is not to say the Bell does not have some problems and weakness which I shall point out in due course. None of them should be seen as serious enough to put you off staying here, but personal bias must be set aside in the interests of giving the would-be visitor an honestly balanced review.

Skenfrith is one of the loveliest little border villages you can find anywhere and sits in some of the nicest walking country you could wish for. The best walk, I think, is up the English side of the Monnow to Kentchurch then back down the Welsh side to drinks and dinner (but make sure you leave straight after breakfast or you may have to rush just when your blisters are at their worst!).

For thirteen years, the Bell has been owned by William and Janet Hutchings. The Inn is Janet's adored baby. William does the wine and takes a keen interest, but for the most part is high flying in the world of international business.

This was my second stay at the Bell, (the first being some years ago when the Monnow and burst its banks and had flooded both Inn and village), so it was interesting to compare then and now. In a nutshell, I found the rooms and public facilities better, but the food and the wine list not as good. Time was when William's wine list was the envy of the civilized rural world; an amazing selection (especially Champagnes) of excellent, often rare and extremely well priced items. Today the selection is no longer spectacular, merely good, but the wines are offered at what I consider to bargain prices.

We had a wonderful room called Heckham Peckham (I believe named after a fishing fly). It was large, beautifully furnished with a big four poster (adventurously high off the floor), large TV, hairdryer, kettle etc. An iron and board can be obtained just by asking. It has a super bathroom on a higher level with a huge bath, separate shower, two sinks, and lots of big fluffy towels and wash cloths. Some might demur at the idea of there being no door to the bathroom, so I would suggest they attend to that in the not too distant future.

Breakfasts at The Bell are splendid affairs: The eggs, bacon, sausages, black pudding, mushrooms, coffee, tea, bread etc. all of the very highest quality and beautifully cooked, but the service is quite slow and rather uncoordinated. Also, it does not start until nine, so if you need to make an earlier start you must put in a special request the evening before.

Unlike my last visit when all the food was very good, this time I found dinners a tad hit-and-miss and, overall, somewhat disappointing. Cornish crab cakes were rather flat and needed some acidity (and more crab) to perk them up. Cured salmon with a mustardy cream dollop was superb. Scallops in a yellow sauce of indeterminate origin were very good. A duck terrine with foie gras turned out to be chicken terrine without foie gras and was bland an unimpressive. Sea Bass with crushed potatoes, spinach and dried tomatoes and red onions was good. Rump of lamb was tasty but included quite a lot of gristle and although the mashed potatoes were beautiful they were stone cold. Poached chicken with cous-cous, peas and baby broad beans had little character other than a vague greasiness. Red Snapper came with grossly overcooked potatoes, undercooked asparagus and wonderful roast cucumbers. So, some excellent moments in an up and down experience.

The Bell is not cheap and you must expect a good sized bill (though nothing like what a comparable place in London would cost you). For two nights bed and breakfast and two dinners with very good wine we paid 480 pounds (about $760). But for all my quibbling, I do think it is worth it because, for all its minor faults, this is a very special place.

Sad, therefore that William's business may soon require the family to move abroad. We must hope that the new owners will lavish as much motherly love on the place as it has received from Janet.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Jeremy A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2013

Having recieved a voucher for my husbands birthday we decided to put some money towards it for a meal for our 54 wedding anniversary,The meal was ok but we think over priced, I asked the waitress how many scallops I would get she said 4 I got 3 very small. There was no non alcoholic beer despite being in the middle of nowhere so one would have to drive if not staying, We asked for a half portion of cheese as my husband also wanted a desert he got a full portion even though I had checked with the waitress that it was only half and they then tried to charge for a full one.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank sheilajtaylor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2013

It is a few years since we last stayed here, but it is just as good as I last remembered it.

The rooms a comfortable with good facilities throughout, particularly the shower room.

Breakfast was nutritious and filling, with a full welsh option!

The location is stunning, and the walks around it just great.

I no doubt will be back in a shorter timescale next visit.

I would recommend and definitely will return.

Room Tip: The back rooms overlook the garden.
  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Cwyfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 12, 2013

Superb, albeit somewhat isolated setting a few miles from Monmouth with very comfortable rooms , a warm welcome and really high quality restaurant meals , which very much deserves recommendation for its class of accommodation and value for money. We would definitely return!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Peter N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 11, 2013

We had two nights at The Bell and really enjoyed our stay. Being an old coaching inn, it has bags of character which is enhanced by the big squishy sofas in the bar and a nice relaxed feel.

Our room - Coachman - overlooking the river, was nicely decorated and really spacious, and the very large bed was extremely comfortable. The bathroom was a good size, with plenty of space to put things, lots of good-sized towels AND bathrobes.

We ate in the restaurant on both evenings and enjoyed both the food and the wine. The wine list is extensive and reasonably priced, with plenty of wines by the (very decent-sized) glass. Service was very good.

There are several circular walks starting from The Bell and you can buy a leaflet for each one for 50p. We did one of the longer walks which was very good and easy to follow.

Would we go back? Most definitely! The special offer breaks are good value, but the B&B prices for the 'superking' rooms are pretty steep.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank AnneD75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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