A small stone path, flanked by hedges leads up to this imposing Victorian hunting lodge, with attached stables, set in the grounds of a Norman deer park. Yet this retreat in the stunning Gower Penninsula is far from snobby or pretentious. There’s a particular charm to the Parc le Breos, from the blue telephone box and old-fashioned street light to the bird feeder leading up to the entrance hall. There is no formal reception upon arrival; through the heavy wooden door is a Welsh dresser and visitors book, packed with comments from happy customers. Initially we’re a little lost, feeling like we’ve walked into someone’s house in the late hours of the evening. “Hello” we bellow through the corridor, another guest tells us where to find the office.
A friendly Welsh lady comes out and shows us up a staircase, past nautical paintings and traditional ornaments, including an antique clock, spinning wheel and ornate carved wooden table. In our room she explains how things work at the Parc le Breos.
The room is a modest size with a wooden dresser, wardrobe and superb views onto the grounds. In the morning we watch a procession of ducks waddle along the path beneath, see horses running wild in the fields and people getting ready for their day of riding, foraging, walking or (in our case) bush craft courses. The nearby Dryad Bushcraft site is about a 10-minute walk from Parc le Breos and an excellent way to play at being Ray Mears for the day. We joined an afternoon session in the forest and learnt invaluable fire lighting techniques, shelter building, wilderness cooking and knife skills in the great outdoors.
As night falls we make our way back to the hunting lodge, where its cosy and the fire is on, it feels like a home away from home. For value, service, atmosphere and location it would be hard to beat the Parc le Breos anywhere in Britain.
Food and drink: Dinner is a casual affair, there’s a choice of local lamb, fish or beef, served with vegetables from the area (from a very reasonable £15 for three courses). Dishes are served in a grand dining area (where breakfast also takes place), here dark wooden tables and chairs with soft regal red and gold upholstery are positioned around a giant stone fireplace. Clientele ranges from families and riding fanatics to locals out for a special meal at the weekend. Another excellent dining option is the nearby King Arthur Hotel, in Reynoldston, serving home cooked food including soups, chillies, steaks, roast chicken and excellently prepared curries (of the Thai or Indian variety). Breakfast at Parc-Le-Breos is hearty, and includes some of the best bacon we’ve tried in years (more of that local produce no doubt). Welsh cakes were served with our fry-ups, along with a selection of toast with homemade jams and preserves. The hotel will also make guests a packed lunch if they’re taking part in the day excursions in the area.
Price: Bed and breakfast from £45.
Address: Parc-Le-Breos House, Parkmill, Gower, SA3 2HA, www.parc-le-breos.co.uk
Radio Times travel rating: 9/10 A friendly, great value, informal rural stay with plenty of country charm. Highly recommended.