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“Very lovely - but a couple of "buts"”
Review of Penmaenuchaf Hall

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Penmaenuchaf Hall
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Penmaenpool
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 3, 2013

The first thing to say about this hotel is that it is in a wonderful location.

You turn off the Dolgellau - Tywyn road through the gates and drive up a winding path to the hotel (hopefully avoiding the rather scary looking landslip). You are instantly transported into another world: old-fashioned elegance and total peace and calm (save for a loudly mewling buzzard that appeared each morning). The building is an impressive gabled mansion with slate roofs and thick stone walls. The gardens are spectacular, extensive and beautiful. You could easily spend an hour or two just wandering in the grounds.

Inside all is leather and dark wood, I'm guessing Victorian or Edwardian. There is an enormous lounge about the size of a tennis court and smaller lounges and dining rooms. All very lovely.
The staff are properly attired in black and white, discreet, polite and charming.

The dining room was in a conservatory type room - all white linen and silver-plated elegance.
And the food was good too.

But - my first word of warning - this is not a place to visit on a budget.

We were offered a deal of sorts that included a Dinner, Bed and Breakfast rate of £80 per person for the first night (including a nice tea) and £60 per person (I think) B&B thereafter. Not too bad for a very lovely hotel you might think. But the dinner included in this price was the so-called Market Menu priced at £25. There was no choice at all. The main course was Swedish meatballs with pasta. Not quite the fine-dining experience we might have hoped for. So we skipped the Market Menu and took the main menu - from memory about £40 odd per head, (with supplements if you wanted beef or scallops, etc.) So, with a bottle of wine, a pretty expensive meal. Certainly over a hundred quid for two. Add to that two ferociously expensive G&Ts and your discounted first night deal is a distant memory.

The next "but" was the room.
In order to take advantage of the "special" rate quoted above we were not offered a choice of rooms. We were given a room called "Price" on the second floor built into the roof. What would plainly have been the scullery maid's room in years gone by. A rather small room with a dull 70s style wardrobe and little of the Edwardian charm that characterises the downstairs.

The bathroom was decidedly substandard. Cramped on any reckoning and horribly dated. Brown tiles on the wall. Lino on the floor. A cheap plastic shower head over the bath, and a white nylon shower curtain. Absolutely no pretence at luxury at all and desperately needing a face-lift.

I discussed this with the owner/manager - a humorous, engaging, charming and rather wily character - who you could easily spend a lot of time chatting to. He was quite blunt about it: you got what you paid for. If you want a bigger room, you can pay for it.

The next day I was shown some of the bedrooms on the first-floor. Absolutely magnificent. Huge rooms, sumptuously furnished, some with balconies, four posters, sofas and writing tables. Beautiful rooms that you would feel privileged to be staying in.

So, the moral of this tale?
Do not come to this hotel on a deal or a budget. There is no such thing as a free meal.
If you come to this hotel - and it is well worth coming to - forget the miserable £80 deal and go the whole hog. Take a big room and pay for it. If you haven't got £300 (or more) a night to spend on a room and meal, then you would be better off elsewhere

Some other notes:

The hotel is an internationally important bat roost. There are long-eared, pipistrelle, noctule (I think) and lesser-horseshoe bats in the roof. If you are a bat-fanatic you will be in paradise. If you are not, you probably won't even notice them.

The walk down the Mawddach Estuary (from the hotel) to Barmouth is one of the great walks. You come out of the hotel gates, cross the road and onto the Mawddach trail, which follows the old railway track from Dolgellau down to the Barmouth bridge. All flat and easy going, and utterly stupendous. We walked the whole way to Barmouth (must be about 8 miles) and caught a bus back on the north side of the estuary to Bontddu - a wooden toll bridge and an exceptional sight in its own right.
John Ruskin said that there is "no better walk than from Barmouth through to Dolgellau other than from Dolgellau to Barmouth".
We also liked Torrent Walk in Dolgellau and the wonderful Precipice Walk just north of the town.

If you like eating in - and can afford it - the hotel provides fine dining in a lovely dining room.
If you want to eat out we would recommend Y Merionnydd in Dolgellau. A really terrific restaurant (with great Welsh gin and tonics, about half the price of the hotel). We ate there one night and booked it for the next on our way out. Really nice place.

I give the "poor" rating for the room we stayed in. In all honesty it was poor. I'm sure there are plenty of rooms in this hotel that deserve "excellent" - but as the boss said, you have to pay for them.

Room Tip: You get what you pay for. If you can afford it then take one of the bigger rooms on the 1st floor. T...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank DockBrief
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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207 - 213 of 342 reviews

Reviewed September 1, 2013

This was our second visit to the hotel, this is good hotel in a great location. The large house is full of Edwardian splendour with well appointed rooms and service you do not see in modern hotels. Re previous comments regarding supplements, we thought this provide choice on spend, our dinner and breakfast was excellent & had no complaints. We travelled with our dog that inhibited room choice but was still satisfied with the quality of room provided.

Stayed: August 2013
Thank Sunshineman_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2013

We booked this last minute, and this was the only hotel we could find with a vacancy. Bedroom and ensuite very good, comfortably furnished. Well appointed comfy lounges. Lovely grounds. But oh dear the dining room! Dining was staff-compliant, rather than meeting the needs of guests. Service at times so slow that it seemed to stand still. Very long waits to enter dining room, and between courses, despite a short menu. On two occasions we complained about poor food: Etonian mess, where the meringue was stuck to plate, the fruit was frozen, thawed and very wet; a presentation of vegetables in a stack where the potato was uncuttable and appeared raw. Our complaints were just ignored. The market menu is ok, but no choice. The other menu, at £42.50, had choice, but many dishes were available only at a supplement of between £2 and £5. The food lacked flavour. If only the management would sort out the food and improve the speed of service, this hotel would deserve a substantially higher rating. There is no swimming pool and I can't I click on that box. Sorry!

Room Tip: The walk up to the second floor rooms is not for the faint-hearted!
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Ann M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 26, 2013

It's perfectly OK, but it's also true to say that every negative about the hotel has been mentioned in earlier reviews and nothing has been changed. This is a hotel where the owners have settled into a routine, runs things their way. If your way happens to coincide with theirs, you're in luck.

The positives: charming waiting staff, good food, beautiful setting, well kept gardens. Good housekeeping
Not so positives: Table d'hote (table d'hôte means limited choice, not no choice), supplement laden menu, slightly naff habit of listing 'chef's compliments' courses in advance. Cheeky extra charge for a breakfast latte, etc, (see other comments).

This a huge place and the overheads must be very high. I think tthe hotel would do better to charge a little more and develop its sense of warmth and hospitality - rather than giving the slight impression that it's after every penny through supplements.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank scrittib
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 26, 2013

My wife and I arranged a last minute one night stay in Wales. A bank holiday weekend meant that very little was available in choice of nice hotels so we paid £260 for bed and breakfast only at Penmaenchuf. The setting and old house are very pleasant. We had cream tea, dinner and breakfast and both were very good.

Staff were nice though not always as on the ball as you would expect in somewhere trying for higher end customers. My wife was not impressed by the cobwebs by the window but otherwise liked the large bedroom and bathroom.

The only reason not to give a higher rating is the price - about £100 more than would have been good value.

We would go back but only if we were able to book early on one of their cheaper breaks packages.

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

The road up to this manor house hotel is a trifle daunting, especially since part of it is collapsing into a ravine, but when you get there it's a wonderfully tranquil place set in extensive grounds with small lake, formal gardens and distant views. It's like coming to someone's house to stay - no formal desk for check in and puzzling corridors leading to bedrooms with names instead of numbers. the house has had many additions so there are wings and stairs in strange places, so each bedroom will be different. We were in Griffiths which had an outdoor area with chairs and a table, a modern bathroom with great shower, as well as a very comfortable bed and sofa in the main room. The food was excellent and served with great ceremony. There was always an intermediate course with things like pea cappuccino or smoked haddock veloute served in little cups. The breakfasts - if you had room to enjoy them after a four course evening meal - were also excellent. All the staff were really friendly, ready to talk if you wanted to, or be discreet if you were having a personal moment. Coudn't fault anything, but you might not want to take children there as dinners took a long time and it had a definitely adult feel despite the extensive grounds. Also it was a good base for exploring mid Wales.

Room Tip: Ask for descriptions of rooms when you book as they are nearly all different and the tariffs corresp...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Cathy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2013

We enjoyed our stay at Penmaenuchaf Hall and, for people who want a quiet, relaxing, slightly 'old world formality' with very good food, fairly priced wines we would recommend it. We found our room and all the public areas to be spotlessly clean.

The hotel has a great woodland location and the gardens are well designed and well kept. However, it does not have a great view of the estuary.

The concerns stem from our feeling that the hotel has become set in its ways. At the end of the day, it is, of course, the owners' choice. But, several weeks before we stayed, we had asked for a particular item for dinner - and it was clear to us that no effort had been made to see our request fulfilled. It suggests to us that the hotel is run a particular way and that change comes uneasily. This is often the case with the owners/executive chef partnership being long lasting.

So..........I would recommend (with caveats) but I wouldn't invest - because unless the owners become passionate about their guests, their guests, over the next few years, will find other places that are.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Kirkmans
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Penmaenuchaf Hall

Address: Penmaenpool | Dolgellau, Penmaenpool, Snowdonia National Park, Dolgellau LL40 1YB, Wales
Location: United Kingdom > Wales > North Wales > Snowdonia National Park > Dolgellau > Penmaenpool
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Penmaenpool
Price Range: $163 - $332 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Penmaenuchaf Hall 3*
Number of rooms: 14
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Also Known As:
Penmaenuchaf Hall Penmaenpool
Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel Penmaenpool

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