A Cosy Christmas Getaway at The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny.
Following our great trips to Cornwall and Dublin next up on our calendar for our travels closer to home was to the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. This area may not be so well known to those living outside of the area itself, but it really contains incredible beauty, places asking to be explored, places full of adventure, mystery and myth, and coming up to Christmas, places full of tradition and merry making and people making the most of the festive season. This is an area where you can really make the most of nature, lose yourself in forests and hillsides, fill your body with adrenaline and excitement of adventure activities, then come back down to earth at a hotel or restaurant serving amazing food produced with the best local ingredients. This is real Great Britain, every now and again people from abroad ask me for tips on where they should visit in the U.K, where they can find real Great Britain, I will definitely be tipping this area from now on.
Our trip in mid December was the perfect Christmas getaway, we stayed at the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny on the Welsh border hugged by the Brecon Beacons, and took in some great activities. Explored Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, an ancient natural cave system which has come to the surface over time and has a path through the moss covered rocks and petrified twisted centuries old trees, the setting for great films such as Star Wars! The TV series Merlin and Dr Who have filmed here, producers who can pick any location in the world to film in…choose here, it is amazing. We flew through the forest on Zip lines at the Forest of Dean Adventure, had an adventure on the Sculpture Trail, the natural beauty here is so accessible and enjoyable.
Abergavenny and the Angel Hotel was the perfect place to stay especially at this time of year, everything was just right, exceeded our expectations and felt special.
The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny
The AA hotel of the year 2016 Wales was the perfect place for our Christmas stay, this hotel has luxury, relaxation, tradition, modernism all at the perfect ratio. It has wow factor enough to make any visit feel special and it’s restaurant, The Oak Room is popular in its own right with the locals, and with such a great variety of great dishes made from locally sourced produce to choose from, it is rightly so.
We called ahead made a reservation for dinner and when we arrived we were showed to our accommodation, the Castle Cottage, a 17th century cottage across the road from the car park of the hotel. From outside the cottage could have been any cottage in the country, but as soon as we opened the front door we realised that this was completely the wrong impression, never judge a book by its cover!!!
The cottage was full of amazing antique furniture, everything screamed quality. The member of staff who showed us to the cottage whilst opening the door said “This cottage really is a home from home” he was totally right in every way… it gave you that warm feeling, that welcoming feeling, everything was so lovely, it was so impressive but at the same time equally relaxing.
The lovely fireplace, the tasteful furnishings, the exposed wooden beams, this place was just right for a special break, for a Christmas break. Inside the living room there was information about the local area, what to see, what to do, books to read, lovely additions. There were Christmas decorations, a dining table to dream of everything so tasteful and well thought out.
The master bedroom of the Castle Cottage took up the entire first floor and was just incredible, as soon as my head poked up into the room from the stairs it was a wow moment. So spacious, so tastefully furnished, the kind of place you just want to spend time in, relax and enjoy being in.
This was escapism at its very best, I absolutely loved every minute of our stay here, it really is the perfect place for a special getaway. That bed too, it seemed to just swallow me up, so comfortable, ever lay on a bed and its so comforting you just cant help but smile…this was one of those moments! In fact the whole cottage was like this…it really was a smile inducing stay!
Heading over to the main hotel, everything was for me, first class. I love going to restaurants and bars where things make you feel as though you are being treated as an individual, you are made to feel a little special…but then I hate it when things are over the top, it can make me feel awkward and uncomfortable and spoil the moment. The atmosphere at The Angel is just right, the staff are friendly, approachable and attentive, everything was great.
The areas of the hotel are really lovely and impressive but still places I felt I could relax in and unwind. The food was massively impressive, we really enjoyed eating here and can completely understand why it is so popular with the locals. The menu is filled with locally sourced ingredients and for me sat really comfortably, just enough again to be different and make our evening feel special, but again not too much that we felt awkward, it is a really enjoyable menu here served in a great atmosphere.
Then there is the bar area which has that traditional country pub feel with a roaring open fire, at this time of year it felt like the most perfect of British places to enjoy.
We found Abergavenny to be a lovely town and at this time of year there was so much going on it felt vibrant, there was a buzzing atmosphere, traditional Christmas stalls and activities, we enjoyed being based here. During our stay was the Christmas food festival in the market hall. Jam packed full of stalls from independent local suppliers, it was really busy, it seemed like everybody wanted to come and enjoy what was on offer. I loved trying the local beers, the mulled cider, freshly made breads and cured meats. It was packed, a really popular event and really good fun.
Then there was the castle to explore set against the backdrop of the Brecon Beacons, there is a brilliant little museum here, delving into the history of these places brings them to life for me and makes the experience that much better in my opinion and this was just the case here. It is said that this castle is more stained with treachery than any other in Wales, the site of massacres and double crossings there has been a castle or fort on this site since 1087.
The Angel Hotel actually owns a property called the Lodge which is within the castle grounds and can be booked to stay in, what an experience that would be! It was under renovation at the time of our visit but another special reason to visit and stay here. The castle is illuminated at night and takes on a different persona completely, this is when the stories of treachery and skulduggery seemed most real to me!!!
There are some great walks to take around the town, the setting really is beautiful, Abergavenny is attracting a lot of attention in the press recently, the Guardian recently recommending it along with various other publications and it is easy to understand why. Whilst I was in contact with the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tourism board they were so pleased that Abergavenny was growing from being a hidden gem, it still has that feel about it, but also has the feel of being a place that is on the up, that is struggling to contain itself, bursting at the seams, waiting to scream out and tell everyone why you should visit, and there are so many reasons.
I had a permanent smile during our visit here, it was just what I was searching for, the perfect, special Christmas getaway, filled with stories and fun.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my post, look out for my upcoming articles on the activities we took on including some exciting GoPro footage…and an unexpected, not so British surprise trip, check out my Instagram account to get a clue where I’ve been!
Thanks Again! Happy Travels!