I was so looking forward to our 4-day stay at this “luxury country house”. The website promised so much, but disappointment set in almost as soon as we arrived. To be fair, we got to Crickhowell an hour later than planned, but then our journey there had taken eight hours in bad weather. I had imagined being greeted by cheery hosts with a pot of tea and homemade cake (where did I get that idea?); instead, when we finally arrived, a nervous but well-meaning boy of about 14 was the only soul around to show us to our room. It had been pouring on and off for a few days and was quite cold and damp but the heating wasn’t on – our hostess did turn it on later when she came to say a brief hello and found us still in our coats! I bumped into her once more during the four days – even more briefly.
Before this turns into one long whinge, I’ll say what was good about the place, because there was plenty. The house itself is lovely and obviously historic - though we learnt more about it from the tourist information office in Crickhowell (highly recommended (they were very pleasant and really helpful) than we did from the owners. The bedroom & en-suite shower room were fine though to call this a “suite” is misleading. The room measured about 12’ x 14’, was over- cluttered with furniture and the radiators only came on slightly warm, though perhaps the boiler would be set higher in colder weather. As it rained more or less solidly for the duration of our stay (not their fault), we often had wet clothes and boots to dry, and would have appreciated an offer of help with this. Obviously, most people staying in that area will be walkers, so this problem must arise frequently. Oh and the TV was obviously there to earn brownie points from the tourism bureau because that scrappy indoor aerial would never give you a remotely watchable picture. Sorry, whingeing again - back to the good points.
The room was quiet, the A40 road noise being nicely muffled by the old walls, so we slept well. Breakfast was very tasty (though served by our taciturn host in a manner reminiscent of the Queen’s butler – I can’t remember when I was last called “Ma’am”) and we found a pleasant lounge – I say “found” because we weren’t actually told about it, and I see the website also mentions a drawing room – heaven knows where that was. The grounds and courtyard would have been lovely in the sunshine, I’m sure.
So what’s our problem? Well, the owners showed no interest in us whatever. During our 4-day stay, they neither offered any information about the house or the area, nor asked whether everything was OK. There was no discussion of the weather, of our travel or walking plans. Nada. I’m not suggesting they should spend all day chatting to their guests, but how long does it take to say “did you have a good journey/day/walk?” Or maybe suggest a couple of places to eat locally. Even the brochures in the room were 2008. I think that says it all.
As for the “luxury” tag, well, I’d gladly swap the daily-changed towels, the body lotion(!) and the fancy linen tablecloths and napkins for a bit of genuine friendliness and bonhomie - not to mention a few rolls of decent toilet paper! It’s as if they’ve got so carried away with the “trimmings” that they’ve forgotten the basics (husband wanted to call this crit “Fur coat, no knickers”). It wouldn’t take much to put things right at Porthmawr, but I would seriously question whether the owners would have the commitment to make those changes. We do intend to return to Crickhowell – the area and the (other) people were delightful. But we won’t be giving Porthmawr a second chance.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Porthmawr is a splendid Regency mansion. Tucked away behind 15th century castellated walls the house and grounds are utterly private and peaceful with stunning mountain views, and ample parking. Plush furnishings, antiques and quirky modern artwork sit side by side in its tall-ceilinged rooms. Relax and enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace on a summers eve or infront of the open fire on a cold winter's night. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Porthmawr Country House Crickhowell, Wales