Award of Excellence
South Wales is never short of things to do at any time of year, but spring may just be the perfect time to stay at Y Cwt Cwtch, ‘The Cuddle Hut’. This glamping hideaway is just a few minutes’ drive from St Bride’s Bay on the glorious Pembrokeshire coast.
Y Cwt Cwtch is a beautifully situated shepherd’s hut in secluded countryside near St Davids, the UK’s smallest city. We’re proud to announce that it now wins this magazine’s 2019 Award of Excellence as our Holiday Retreat of the Year.
The accommodation has all the mod cons to ensure a comfortable stay including a log burner to heat the living space, a double bed which folds into the wall, a compact kitchen and an en suite shower and toilet.
It is only a short drive or a 40 minute wander down to Newgale Beach, famous for two miles of golden sand and some of the UK’s best surfing action courtesy of the Atlantic rollers, especially on the spring tides.
Wildlife watchers and walkers always find plenty to enjoy at and around Y Cwt Cwtch. There is a busy programme of arts and music events at St Davids Cathedral and the neighbouring Bishop Palace, including the lively cathedral festival from May 24 to 31 and al fresco theatre in July and August.
Bricknell Cottages offer the most peaceful surroundings at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, yet also provide a brilliant vantage point from which to enjoy Yorkshire’s astonishing range of more than 800 attractions and activities. They are only 10 miles from the heart of York and an hour’s drive from the beautiful east coast, so every day of your break can be totally fun-packed, diverse and different.
The five cottages themselves are imaginative conversions of former farm buildings, painstakingly carried out to very high and luxurious standards by owner Gerald Carter. Full of character with their exposed beams and original features, these are rustic retreats which are furnished and equipped to thoroughly modern expectations. They all have either 4 or 5 Star ratings from Visit England. Now they also have this magazine’s Award of Excellence for Accommodation of the Year in Fangfoss, York.
The cottages are named after much loved characters from the Bricknell dairy herd which frequented the properties before their reinvention. Peach’s Place, Roxy’s Roost and Clover Leaf are all on ground floor level and each offer two en suite bedrooms, one double, one double or twin. The largest, Ethel’s Escape, has a roomy, Mid-West ranch style feel, providing sleeping accommodation for six and dining space for 12, as often appreciated when hired jointly with next door Ruby’s Retreat.
A warm Welsh welcome awaits you at Tal y Bryn Guest House, a 16th century farmhouse with a great deal of history. It has four en-suite bedrooms, two with spa baths and all beautifully decorated and furnished in keeping with its era.
Breakfast comes with a good choice of local products including Tal y Bryn’s very own Llaeth y Llan yoghurts in many flavours. The yoghurts have won many business awards over the last 35 years including Best Manufacturer in the 2018 North Wales Business Leader Awards. Tal y Bryn wins this magazine’s 2019 Award of Excellence for Accommodation in Denbigh, North Wales.
Guests often take breakfast in the award winning garden, which recently featured on Beautiful Gardens of Wales on S4C. Divided by terraces and hedges, it has colour in all seasons and people experience peace and tranquillity from the water features, wildlife, views and beautiful aromas.
Tal y Bryn is very close to several historic towns and cities, the seaside and Snowdonia with its beautiful mountains. There are many walks and trains rides to be enjoyed.
Day visitors are welcome to look around the garden and new dairy, try yoghurt samples and have afternoon tea or a buffet supper. Groups of 10 or more are especially welcome, perhaps from societies or WIs, but visits must be booked in advance.
Elan Valley Hotel provides a warm welcome, home cooked food and even an ice cream parlour for visitors to its spectacular corner of mid-Wales. With 11 comfy en-suite rooms at very competitive prices it wins this magazine’s Award of Excellence for Accommodation in the Rhayader area. Even if you’re just passing through it’s definitely a place to add to your itinerary for rest, refreshment and a tasty meal.
The family-owned hotel is full of character and perfectly placed for exploring the Elan Valley, which is famous for rivers, reservoirs and immense dams. The area attracts tourists, walkers, cyclists, bird watchers, horse riders, photographers and anyone else who enjoys clean air and beautiful views. With seating for up to 100 people, Elan Valley Hotel happily caters for them all, whether they come as lone explorers, families or coach parties.
The hotel has 11 guest bedrooms providing 3 Star bed & breakfast accommodation, including one with disabled access and several which, like the cosy bar, are dog friendly. The bar stocks beverages including real ales, malt whiskies and wines.
All meals including breakfast are available for both residents and non-residents, and the food is all freshly prepared from quality ingredients in a kitchen with a faultless hygiene rating. Special diets can be accommodated and private lunches, buffets or afternoon teas can be arranged.
Warm, welcoming and hospitable, the Railway Inn is a country inn with a restaurant and rooms in the pleasant countryside near Welshpool, a stone’s throw from Offa’s Dyke walking/cycling trail. It’s a great place near the English/Welsh border to stay for a holiday or short break and an excellent bed & breakfast stop-over for Midlanders travelling on to Snowdonia or the Welsh west coast.
The Railway has had a VIP makeover since Christmas, including new carpets and redecoration throughout. Visitors will find everything fresh and immaculate whether they are staying in the five en suite guest bedrooms, socialising in the friendly bar or enjoying hearty home cooking in the pleasant restaurant or large garden. The Railway Inn wins this magazine’s Award of Excellence for Accommodation of the Year in Forden, Powys.
Meals are chef-prepared from quality ingredients and include lunches, dinners and cream teas for up to 55 people. Live entertainment is often offered at weekends
The Railway sits on the edge of the village of Forden, in an area packed with enjoyable attractions. Many visitors like to ride the 16 mile Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway heritage route, visit Powis Castle & Gardens or Glansevern Gardens. Local history is beautifully presented at Powysland Museum.
Railway Inn owner Alice Cardwell-Hodges says: “The Railway Inn really is a very pleasant rural retreat.”
Trefin Cottages are four immaculate 4 Star self catering holiday homes just a few yards from the dramatic Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. It’s not just by daylight that this spot is exhilarating. At night, guests can enjoy panoramic views of the Milky Way in this Dark Skies region unsullied by urban light pollution.
The properties have been transformed from two former farmhouse cottages, a cowshed and a barn into highly desirable rentals for the modern holidaymaker. With high quality furniture and fittings, underfloor heating, a children’s play area and 13 acres of glorious countryside, Trefin Cottages gain this magazine’s Award of Excellence for holiday accommodation in the St Davids area.
The cottages are among the best in Pembrokeshire National Park and are certified walker and cyclist friendly. One has a newly built barbecue outside. Many people like to rent two or more cottages together for groups or extended family holidays.
Guest reviews enthusiastically recommend Trefin Cottages as a great base for exploring everything Pembrokeshire has to offer, including all the outdoor activities like walking, water sports and coasteering, the very fruitful wildlife spotting in the area and the fabulous beaches.
Owner Claire Evans says: “It’s lovely to sit outside when it’s clear. You can see shooting stars and satellites most nights and the Milky Way is amazing.”
Holidaymakers will relish the dog friendly glamping experience of Concierge Camping near the coastal cathedral city of Chichester and the Goodwood sporting estate in West Sussex. It’s open all year, providing award winning camping luxury for people and pets while they explore the forests of the South Downs National Park, fabulous beaches and abundant nature reserves. There’s even a free dog wash waiting when they get back!
Concierge Camping has gained many honours since opening in 2015, including designation as the AA’s 2019 Campsite of the Year. We at Living in the Shires magazine are delighted to add our own Award of Excellence for Holiday Accommodation of the Year to owners Lord and Lady Hodgkin, aka Guy & Tracey.
The campsite has 27 fully serviced hard standing pitches. Many cater for motorhomes and caravans, including the larger, American style vehicles. Each has space for a tent or awning.
The others offer the ultimate glamping accommodation, spacious Safari Lodges made of canvas on the outside and timber on the inside, boasting boutique amenities from sumptuous beds to satellite TV and high speed broadband. With underfloor heating, they provide snug comfort whatever the weather.
Each lodge has a double master bedroom, a twin second bedroom or two twins and a living area which can sleep two or four more people. The washrooms have hot rainfall showers and flush toilets and the kitchens come with range cookers, granite worktops, fridge freezers and dishwashers. Outdoors they have sheltered, fully furnished verandas for those al fresco picnics and barbecues.
Quality local produce can be bought from the on-site shop and the campsite has an award winning shower and toilet block plus a separate laundry and washing up area. There are even historic listed buildings, a thatched chapel, farmhouse and water mill.
If you have a room looking tired or jaded, refresh it from the ground up with the floor covering of your choice from Mercia Carpets, Kenilworth. This independent specialist stocks a fantastic range of products including carpets, laminates and vinyl, always at highly competitive prices.
Highly experienced company owner Adrian Weetman prides himself on being able to give sound advice to all his customers, so they can buy the right products for their needs at the right prices for their pockets. Now we at Living in the Shires magazine are delighted to present him with the Award of Excellence as our Independent Business of the Year.
For many years wood, laminate and other hard flooring materials have been in vogue, favoured for their durability and good looks as well as easy cleaning. Luxury Vinyl Tiles and other vinyl products such as Karndean are other strong sellers.
Now, though, carpets are making a comeback.
Adrian says: “There have been lots of technical improvements in manmade materials, particularly in the appearance and durability but also in the way the look and feel. Modern carpets are easier to clean and maintain. Nowadays there is also a fashion for undyed natural fibres on the floor, not only wool but also seagrass, sisal, coir and jute.”
Mercia Carpets offers products from some of the world’s best known manufacturers, such as Axminster, Ulster, Cormar and Westex, as well as many others.
The company provides impeccable advice and free quotations so customers can feel reassured that there won’t be any surprises about the cost.
Service is a key element of the business and fitting is carried out by experienced professionals who do the whole job without the customer having to lift a finger, including measuring, moving any furniture as needed and removing any old carpets afterwards for responsible disposal.
Middlewood Farm Holiday Park is a peaceful family friendly park, a walkers’ artists’ and wildlife watchers’ paradise set in the stunning beauty of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and ‘Heartbeat Country’. It offers superb caravan and glamping accommodation all year round on the Heritage Coast of Robin Hood’s Bay near Whitby, the ‘dinosaur coast’ renowned worldwide for fossils.
The sandy beach and rockpools can be accessed by a pleasant, 10 minute walk through the park’s own pastures, while the equally close village scene is highly sociable with its six pubs, three restaurants and shops.
Middlewood Farm is outstanding, holding a Visit England 5 Star Award for Excellence and a David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award. Living in the Shires magazine is now pleased to add its own Award of Excellence.
The park’s 30 modern 2 and 3 bedroomed caravans hold the Visit England Rose Award. All are double glazed and centrally heated. Most have a king sized bed and some a sea view.
The glamping pods come complete with beds, kitchens with microwave ovens, fridges and kettles plus electric heating, snug for year-round occupation.
For 11 months of the year, Middlewood Farm welcomes visitors with touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. The 5 Star amenities include state-of-the-art shower and toilet blocks with disabled facilities, a laundry and an adventure play area.
Dog friendly and delightful, Bracken Burrows is a family friendly glamp site right beside the rolling Yorkshire Wolds between Beverley and Driffield. This East Riding territory is tremendous country for walking, cycling and wildlife spotting and is well placed for enjoying numerous attractions all year round. These include the Bridlington seaside and the city of York which are both less than an hour’s drive away.
The family-friendly site offers three spacious glamping pods purpose-built and fully equipped for holidays, with en suite wet room showers and loos, heating and outdoor seating and decking with barbecues/fire pits. Two pods sleep four people and have log burners. The other is geared to couples and includes optional use of a wood-fired hot tub where they can share a cuddle, a tipple and stunning views of the stars, unimpeded by light pollution.
Now we at Living in the Shires magazine are delighted to present the business with an Award of Excellence as our 2019 Glamping Accommodation of the Year.
Owner Nick Gooder, his partner, Lucy and their much loved dogs live in former farm buildings on site and ensure everything is pristine and welcoming for guests and their pets. Breakfast and barbecue boxes can be supplied, or even celebration hampers. Those who like to shop for themselves will find quality farm shops nearby.
York is famous for its minster and race course, but Beverley also has both, on the doorstep of Bracken Burrows. The two are linked by the 50 mile Minster Way walking route. Beverley also has medieval and Georgian streets containing many listed buildings, upmarket shops, a popular market, quirky pubs and fine restaurants.
Attractions nearby include fascinating historic houses with outstanding gardens and exhibitions which can provide fascinating days out for the whole family, such as Castle Howard, Burton Constable Hall and Gardens and Sledmere House.
Much Wenlock is an historic and picturesque market town surrounded by the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Hidden behind its medieval streets is Sytche Caravan and Camping, a family friendly site perfectly placed for its friendly shops and eateries and for amazing walks and views.
Sytche is within an easy drive of scenic Shropshire landmarks such as Wenlock Edge and the Long Mynd, from Shrewsbury and Telford and also from the Severn Valley Railway and the diverse museums of Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.
This magazine is delighted to present an Award of Excellence to this privately owned, dog friendly campsite. Open until the end of November and then from February 1, 2020, it has 15 pitches for tents and 12 with electric hook-ups for touring caravans and motorhomes. It is well managed by on-site wardens and has modern showers and toilets plus a campers’ kitchen.
Explorers can find rich history around Much Wenlock, including The English Heritage site of Wenlock Priory, holy wells and ‘shuts’, ancient passages running under or between main streets. The town was key to the 19th century revival of the Olympic Games, as detailed in the town museum and the Wenlock Olympian Trail.
The nearby Edge Adventure Centre provides action activities including segway, quad biking, mountain boarding, zip wires and shooting, plus an epic Halloween event.
Art lovers will find high quality works by some of Britain’s most exciting modern producers in The Farthing Gallery, Kenilworth. The independent gallery in the old part of town – near the iconic castle – has an ever changing array of unique pieces in many different media including glass, mosaic, textiles, silver, ceramics and, of course, paint.
The Farthing Gallery opened in 2016 as a workshop with gallery space and was recently expanded to into the next door building, to provide more display space. Now we at Living in the Shires magazine are delighted to present our Award of Excellence to the gallery as our Home Interiors Business of the Year 2020.
Visitors can always expect to find work which is unique and different. Artists currently represented include:
Scottish based artist Dawn Maciocia, who creates bright, textured colourful pieces in torn paper featuring highly appealing animals, such as her Highland Cow and Thistle design on a faux suede cushion and her ceramics and textiles of hares, foxes and birds.
Handmade smoke fired ceramics by Warwick based Claire Seneviratne and
Printed textiles by Jill Pargeter, inspired by folk art and the Arts & Crafts movement.
You’ll also find many other treasures including colourful mosaic originals by gallery owner Helen Clues.
Helen says: “Everything we have is British made by independent artists and makers from all over the British Isles. We support local people as well.
“We are always on the look out for really good makers across the different media, so we have got new work coming in all the time. There is always something new to see, even for our regular visitors.” Customers can also buy online through HYPERLINK “http://www.thefarthinggallery.co.uk” www.thefarthinggallery.co.uk
The Farthing Gallery frequently invites artists to run workshops in their particular skills and Helen Clues regularly leads sessions to pass on her own skills.
Melody’s Hideaway has been building up a loyal clientele this year by providing delicious treats from a varied, appetising café menu in a pleasant, rural setting. Now the owners are going festive with their fare for their first Christmas season and also planning to give back to the community by putting on a free Christmas Eve lunch for 10 people who would normally be on their own.
Chef Lee Richardson and his wife, Amanda, are inviting customers to spread the love by nominating people to share the meal and all its tasty trimmings. Meanwhile, we at Living in the Shires are awarding Melody’s Hideaway the Award of Excellence as our 2019 Bistro of the Year.
This delightful eatery is tucked away next to Desford Hall on the B582 near Desford Crossroads. Once you’ve found it you’ll want to add it to your regular visiting list.
The food is always delightfully fresh and scrumptious, whether you choose the all day breakfasts, light lunches, snacks, coffees or refreshments. There’s always a great range of vegan choices available, such as pulled Jamaican jackfruit and falafel or spicy bean burgers, always prepared in separate areas with separate fridges.
Christmas specials coming up include turkey burgers, kilted sausages – hot dogs wrapped in streaky bacon with creamed sprouts – and fruit punch.
Homely and comfortable, Breeze Hill Hotel is a welcoming, family friendly hotel in the popular seaside village of Benllech Bay on the Isle of Anglesey, It’s a great place to relax, wind down end enjoy superb walks, drives and cycle rides around an island with a 125 mile coast designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
This magazine is pleased an Award of Excellence for quality and service.
Breeze Hill Hotel has eight guest bedrooms, four with en suite facilities and two with excellent sea views to the Snowdonia mountain range across the Menai Straights. Owner Sue Hughes and her team provide daily room service and offer the best of full Welsh cooked breakfasts and other options. They also have a restaurant and bar with a 5 Star food hygiene rating, which provide tasty pub food every lunch and evening. Local ingredients are used whenever possible and everything is freshly prepared to order.
The bar stocks numerous tipples including cask ales and provides a built in social life for hotel guests.
The hotel is just a short walk from an award winning sandy beach with rockpools and it’s well placed for island attractions including Anglesey Sea Zoo, the ‘seabird city’ of South Stack, Beaumaris Castle and remains of the Iron Age/Roman village of Din Lligwy. The numerous attractions of Snowdonia are only a short drive away.
Vanner Farm Cottages in Wales’s glorious Snowdonia National Park are just the place for a retreat from March 2020 where you can forget about Midlands traffic congestion, relax and unwind. Overlooking the beautiful River Mawddach and the mountain giant Cader Idris – Snowdon’s ‘geological twin’ – they now gain this magazine’s Award of Excellence for Accommodation of the Year in Dolgellau.
Vanner Farm is a working farm with a meadow where the Mawddach meets the River Wnion and it is within sight of the 12th century Cymer Abbey ruins. The stone cottages have been tastefully modernised to achieve Visit Wales 4 Star rating while retaining their character features. Hen Dŷ sleeps five people and Y Bwtri, two, in centrally heated comfort. Walker and cyclist friendly, the cottages provide an excellent base from which to enjoy exhilarating exercise right from their doorsteps.
The Precipice Walk, providing spectacular views of the Mawddach Estuary. Cregennan Lakes are also close by and The Welsh Cycle Route runs through the farm right to the renowned Coed y Brenin mountain bike trails centre five miles away. The hugely popular Mawddach Trail takes guests right into the seaside town of Barmouth, which offers plentiful activities and hospitality all year round.
From April 1 to October 31 Vanner Farm also provides a campsite for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents.