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A la Colthard – the Tyddyn Llan

Daphne goes to Denbighshire

It’s been a stressful time in our household. Our middle son Tarquin is leaving the coop to read environmental sociology ,at Leeds Uni , whatever that might be and husband Oliver worries the young Turks in the bank are trying to get him out. So when I suggested to Ollie we take time out in Denbighshire he accepted with alacrity. He said he that not been to those parts since visiting his cousin at Law School in Chester in the 70s. They remember going into a pub in Wales and the rest of the drinkers changing to Welsh. Alas we found that notwithstanding their own assembly and every sign being also in Welsh there is still a unfriendliness bordering on hostility from the locals.

The Tyddyn Llan in Llandrillo was recommended to me by Fiona a fellow hotel critic who knows her business, its run by Bryan and Susan Webb who moved here some 11 years ago after running a restaurant in London. It’s a classic operation consisting of Bryan the Chef whilst Susan who is still a bit of a looker with a ready smile and a pair of boobs many would envy front of house. Ollie was dissatisfied with his room and we up graded to the garden suite. This decor was soft beige with a bed you could get lost in. The suite had a secluded part of the attractive gardens too.

The Tyddyn Llan describes itself as “a restaurant with rooms” so let us judge the hotel element not too harshly. Occasionally the housekeeping side let us down but the cuisine was always superb. The soundproofing could have been better . We heard a throbbing vibration from the room above (6) throughout the night which I hoped might arouse my Ollie into action!!! The cuisine is of no definite genre , perhaps modern British would apply but not do justice to the flavours the chef concocts. Especially memorable were scallops on a bed of cauliflower mousse and a scrumptious timbale of avocado, crab and salsa,. I get a tad bored with restaurants telling me how they source local producers or how long the steaks have been cured, I am far more interested in the preparation. Even a simple steak cooked in its own jus was mouthwatering. Susan trains her Eastern European staff well though after a time the automated response of ” you’re welcome “to thank you did grate . The decor of essentially a summery green dining room looking onto the gardens worked well too. Orders are taken by Susan with drinks and amuse bouches in the lounge before moving to the dining rom where a complimentary small soup was served. All nice touches.

Breakfast too was ,memorable with home made marmalade and welsh breakfast of the usual suspects but with a delicious bacon., not too streaky. The only real problem was not of its own making. There is not a lot to do except walk the scenic countryside. The wifi and mobile service was erratic and a group of us found a spot under a tree where you got connectivity. As I said the reception from the locals was cold and given the large subsidies we pay, their own degree of autonomy and their willingness to take our money I found this annoying. On our last night we were joined by a friend who worked in Chester but raised horses locally who spoke of the same attitude . One spot worth a visit is the pretty town of Llangollen where they have a steam railway. Here we ate at the Old Mill next to the River Dee.The scallops and pea puree whilst not of Tyddyn Llan class were well above average for pub food and the service was friendly.

For 4 nights in a suite and 5 superlative meals the bill was £1200 which we thought was excellent value. The lack of attractions might affect their business but I can see certain circumstances where the remoteness may be an advantage. Whilst the young couple next to us at breakfast were married it was clearly not to one another. I was not surprised to hear they were in room 6 above us.

About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts