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“Not much of a welcome in the hillside”

Porthmawr Country House
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Porthmawr Country House
Ranked #9 of 15 Crickhowell B&B and Inns
Reviewed June 28, 2009

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.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank mct1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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49 - 52 of 52 reviews

Reviewed June 16, 2009

We had a bit of a mixed reception at Porthmawr House. We were greeted by Simone, who was very welcoming and accommodating. She gave us good info on what we could do with our young children if the weather was bad and loaned us a bread knife for our planned picnic. She also provided us with a password for their personal WiFi, but said that the WiFi might not work in certain areas due to the thick walls. The password turned out to be incorrect, but more on that later.

The room was spacious and clean and quite nice, but there were a few minor issues. There were bulbs missing from the two bedside lamps, which Simone seemed to know about, but which were not supplied until after breakfast the following morning - I'm sure if I had found Simone and reminded her, it would not have been a problem. There was no place to hang anything in the bathroom, except for one tiny make-shift towel-rack hung over the radiator. With a family of 4, all wishing to bathe, this was simply not enough. In fact it would not be enough for more than a single set of towels (one bath towel and one face towel). We gave the kids a bath, and my wife took a bath, but a couple of hours later when I went to take a tub, there was no hot water. Finally, there was just a single roll of toilet paper in the bathroom - no spare.

We were served breakfast by the other host, Justin. Since we were staying two nights, In the morning, after breakfast, I started to ask Justin about the bulbs, the toilet paper and the WiFi password. He told me to meet him in the reception area. When I asked about the bulbs and the TP, he essentially barked at me that anything that was missing from the room or needed would be replaced when the room was made up that day after we had left the premises. When I told him that it would be a good idea to have a spare roll of TP in the toilet, he said that was the way they had always done it and that's the way it was going to be. When I inquired about the WiFi password, he seemed to get irate, saying that the WiFi was not for guests (it was not advertised) and that HE would never have given me the password. Taken aback by his manner, I asked him why he was being so rude to me. He told me that he wasn't being rude, that this was just his normal demeanor. He then asked quite pointedly if I had any other problems. I wasn't even going to mention the hot water, but at this point I thought I'd let him know. He simply told me that it was a tankless hot water system and that the hot water could not run out - thanks, I guess I must have imagined it. I walked away but then returned and told him that we needed extra TP now, just in case the one roll didn't last us until we were ready to leave. He did then go and get me two spare rolls of TP.

I'm not sure if he had something against young kids, Americans, was just having a bad day, or was having some kind of fight with Simone, but his incredibly rude behavior made me not want to stay another night in a place where I was clearly not welcome and such a burden to at least one of the hosts. I quickly went out in search of other accommodations and was lucky to find some with the help of the tourist info office in Crickhowell. When it became clear where I was staying, they all nodded their heads and said that I was not the first to have problems there. I was then less surprised about there being only one other room rented in this spacious 6-room B&B.

The place was quite nice, but the treatment we received from Justin was intolerable.

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled with family
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1  Thank JBag
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 29, 2009

We booked 2 rooms for a one night stay 2 adults and one teenage girl. The house has real character and charm, rooms very clean and smart, excellent breakfast. Good location with views of hills on 3 sides. My daughter has the room called Picasso, which although small had a good size ensuite bathroom an a double bed: she really liked it. brekafst include pancakes with maple syrup which looked excellent, as was the traditional english. very helpful owner, allowed us to arrive before lunch. Only two small quibbles: it would have been niceto have been offered more coffee at breakfast though I'm sure we would have got it on asking), and the qulits were a bit heavy for a warm night. But all in all excellent and we would hope to go back

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled with family
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1  Thank mendip_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 12, 2008

A lovely guest house with just six very comfortable, stylish and reasonably priced rooms. Conveniently located just a two minute walk from the village of Crickhowell. The house itself has a fascinating history and has been beautifuly restored. The owners, Justin and Simone, are extremely accommodating particularly as we had both a small baby and elderly relatives wth us. Enjoyed a very pleasant weekend here and would definitely return.

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank ManchesterPaula
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Porthmawr Country House

Address: Porthmawr House Brecon Road, Brecon Beacons National Park, Crickhowell NP8 1DE, Wales
Location: United Kingdom > Wales > Brecon Beacons National Park > Crickhowell
Amenities:
Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 15 B&Bs / Inns in Crickhowell
Number of rooms: 9
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

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