Six family members spent 4 nights at the Craig-y-Nos farmhouse June 17-21,2009, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The property is beautiful with a “magical” path between two huge yew trees to the picturesque creek that charmed even my father. The house is very spacious, and particularly nice if you can take it on an exclusive basis. I’m not sure I would have liked sharing the property with strangers as the common living room, dining room and kitchen could lend themselves to unwanted noise and lack of privacy. For a private group, though, the property is excellent, and–in my opinion–even better than staying at the castle. The only “down side” that might be relevant to some is that only the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom. The other upstairs bedroom has a bathroom (with small shower only) in the upstairs hall. The downstairs bedroom must share this upstairs hall bathroom. (There is another bathroom with shower that is accessed from outside that is probably intended for the men who work on the property, but that could also be used by guests.) Also, those using that hall bathroom did comment that the toilet tank took a long time to fill. Otherwise, water was good, with plenty of hot water and water pressure. I stayed in the master bedroom with my sons (an extra mattress was brought in), and we had an enormous bathroom with a claw-footed tub and a spacious shower. (The others borrowed our bathroom on a couple of occasions to enjoy the tub and the roomier shower.) Also, the stairs are wooden, old, dark and a little creaky. They're fine, but they could be an issue for those with mobility problems, especially given the bathroom situation.
Prior to booking, I had some worries based on the reviewer who complained about the workmen at the farmhouse invading his privacy. I wrote inquiring about this and received several very nice emails from the owner, Martin, assuring me that the workmen would not be intrusive and were there for work and security purposes only. We found this to be absolutely the truth. We never saw anyone other than when we needed help with a little plumbing problem. (A valve stuck that drained the water tank and left us briefly without water. A call to the castle had workmen–Steve and Antony–there right away to solve the problem. They were friendly, helpful and gone as soon as they’d done their job. Steve, a saxaphonist, plays occasionally at a popular local pub, the Ancient Briton, where my cousin and I became 3-night “regulars.” Don’t miss it. We really enjoyed the night Steve dedicated “Delilah”–I didn’t know Tom Jones was Welsh–to us American visitors and we got to sing a rousing rendition with the whole pub. Thanks, Steve!) The water in the farmhouse is safe to drink. They use well water, supplemented by water brought in, if needed, to fill the storage tank.
I chose the farmhouse, in large part, to provide a place away from the city for my dad who’s not a fan of cities or travel after spending a lot of time doing both during his career. The Craig-y-Nos website states that fly fishing is available in the river Tawe on castle property, but Martin seemed to be a little surprised when I inquired about that and said he’d not seen anyone fishing on castle property. Dad checked it out, and did see some fish, but waders would be necessary for the part of the river he came across and he wasn’t sure he was on castle property any more, so he didn’t try to use the fly rods he’d brought. (National Parkland abuts the castle property on both sides.) The section of river just below the castle is definitely not fishing territory. The creek on the farmhouse property is far too small for fishing. There is, apparently, a reservoir 4 miles or so away where one could fish, but we did not check that out. Just FYI, for those interested.
All in all, we loved the farmhouse and all of us would have liked to have stayed longer. A few more cooking pots would have been nice, but we were well supplied with dishes, coffee/tea cups, water and wine glasses, and cutlery. There is a very nice gas stove, an electric oven, a small fridge and separate 3-drawer freezer. There’s a dishwasher and a clothes washer but no detergent for either when we were there. We were supplied with plenty of toilet paper and bath towels, but no kitchen towels or paper towels. Extra linens were in the chest of drawers in the downstairs bedroom. The living room is large and nice for gathering. Plenty of firewood and kindling was supplied for the working fireplace, but doesn’t draw well and left the house very smoky. Heat is via radiators as well as the fireplaces. No a/c, which we did not need anyway. There is a separate dining room as well with modern, generic seating and a fireplace, but we didn’t use that room much other than as a kind of office for the writer of our group. There’s a very affectionate cat named Felix whom the workmen feed on property. He’ll wander in the house if you let him. The property would be great for pets and we were wishing we could “beam” our dog there. However, there is no fenced-in yard, so a dog prone to roaming might be a problem.
Cleaning services are every other day. A continental breakfast was boxed for us at the castle and was very generous in portions. For 6 people we received: 2 huge loaves of bread, a large wedge of cheese, 6 yogurts, 6 cereals, a ½ gallon of milk, 3 juices, pastries, jams, butter and Marmite. Two mornings we also received a package of chorizo. The castle was great about exchanging flavors of juices, brown bread for white, etc. One morning 2 of our party went to the castle for breakfast instead and raved about the cooked breakfast, including shrimp and salmon.
The farmhouse is in a very isolated spot, which we really enjoyed and in which we felt very secure. It’s delightfully quiet with only the sound of the brook and the nearby sheep and, in the morning, songbirds. Driving is a bit of a thrill, with two-way traffic on a one-lane road bordered by plant-covered walls leading to the farmhouse. Take it slow and be prepared to back up and/or pull into a drive if you meet another car. The waterfall mentioned by previous reviewers is 2-3 miles away. It is the tallest in South Wales, lovely, and definitely worth a visit. To walk or drive: turn right out of the farmhouse driveway entrance, take a left at the intersection where the road T’s, follow that road uphill and around to the right. You’ll come to the parking area for the waterfall on your right. There are steep, but stepped, paths down to the waterfall basin.
Although we didn’t stay there, we explored the castle (which is really more of a mansion or “folly”). It is definitely a work in progress, but charming nonetheless. Free wifi is available in the bar. We were always treated like privileged guests when at the castle and found the staff to be uniformly friendly and welcoming. For those contemplating staying at the castle, be aware that it does sit right on the road. Parking is limited within the walls, although there is parallel parking on the road just outside the castle walls. Also, guest rooms are apparently primarily in a ground-floor annex to the right through the porte-cochere as you look at the main castle door. There are also a couple of rooms or so on the castle’s ground floor to the left as you head towards the patio. The upper floor is not open, which surprised me a bit.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Craig-y-Nos Farmhouse nestled in the Brecon Beacons National Park, with 21 acres of private land in which your family and Pets can explore days...The farmhouse has 3 double bedrooms, with the master having en-suite facilities and stunning four-poster beds. There is also a separate bathroom, and spacious living and dining areas. Kitchen is fully fitted and functioning with all amenities. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Craig-Y-Nos Farmhouse Wales/Penycae