All I Want for Christmas is… a Welsh Rarebits Gift Voucher!

With October creeping to a close it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. Whether or not the festive season fills you with joy, you’re probably still set on picking out some perfect gifts for those special people in your life. This year, if you’re looking for something a little bit different, why not invest in an experience, rather than that standard handbag, jumper or bottle or fragrance?

At Welsh Rarebits we supply gift vouchers and gift experiences that the lucky recipient can put towards a booking at one of our luxury properties. If you know someone who could use a fantastic holiday in beautiful Wales, read on – your Christmas gift list will be ticked off in no time.

Gift Vouchers start from £25

A Welsh Rarebits gift voucher is the ideal gift for somebody who’s notoriously hard to buy for – after all, who wouldn’t jump at the chance of a weekend away in the Welsh countryside? We have a huge variety of member properties to choose from, meaning there’s something for everyone. We can offer vibrant city breaks in Cardiff packed with shopping, dining, museums and galleries; scenic getaways by the sea complete with coastal walks and plenty of wildlife, and luxury spa retreats in historic countryside mansions.

Our gift vouchers are valid for 12 months and are easily redeemed – the holder of the voucher simply books a hotel of their choice from our list of member properties, then hands over the voucher upon arrival (the value will be deducted from the final bill). When buying your voucher you can select a value between £25 and £1000 – enough to contribute to a stay of several days. Your gift voucher can be delivered directly to the recipient, or be posted to your home address (ideal if you want to stick it in a card and pop it under the tree). Alternatively, you can make things even simpler and print your gift voucher at home.

To find out more about our gift vouchers, click here.

Gift Experiences – Gold, Silver & Bronze

In addition to standard gift vouchers with a set value, we also offer gift experiences. This is the perfect option if you would rather keep the price of your gift a secret. Instead of having a monetary value which is deducted from the final bill for the booking, these vouchers cover the entire cost of the stay.

Our gift experiences are ideal if you have a specific hotel or holiday style in mind. We offer Gold, Silver and Bronze stays, with our Gold hotels offering the most luxurious experiences (click here, and you can view the hotels available within each category). Your loved one can enjoy a revitalising stay in a 5-star spa hotel in the heart of the Welsh countryside, a cosy weekend in a seaside B&B, or one special night at a hotel with an award-winning restaurant. It’s a Christmas present that takes all the hassle out of planning a trip away.

To find out more about our gift experiences, or to make a booking, give us a call today on 01570 470785, or email us at [email protected].

A Culture-Packed Weekend: 48 Hours in Cardiff

Cardiff is often unfairly overshadowed by the other UK capitals – but if you book a trip to this vibrant, historic city you’ll see that it holds its own against the likes of London and Edinburgh.

If you’ve booked a weekend away to Cardiff (or if you’re considering doing so soon) here’s our ultimate guide to enjoying a culture-packed 48 hours in our exciting capital.

Friday PM

Arriving at Cardiff, you’ll want to check into your hotel and get moving. The city is filled with fantastic hotels, but a stay at No. 10 Cardiff or Cathedral 73 will put you in chic modern accommodation in a great location. Alternatively, you can stay a little out of the centre in a suburb like Penarth – Holm House Hotel being a highlight.

From here, venture out into the city to experience the nightlife. You can grab a casual dinner in the Brewery Quarter, or something more refined on Pontcanna Street, before heading to the trendy bars on Mill Lane or down at Mermaid Quay.

Saturday AM

Once you’ve finished your full Welsh breakfast (complete with cockles and laverbread), you’ll want to start sightseeing. The best place to begin is Cardiff Castle, which is famed for its elaborate interiors, hidden wartime shelters and hilltop Norman keep.

Banqueting Hall, Cardiff Castle

From the castle you can wander over to the National Museum (just 10 minutes on foot) and immerse yourself in the art and history of our wonderful nation.

Historic Gallery, National Museum Cardiff

Saturday PM

After lunch, spend your afternoon doing something a little different. Book far enough in advance and you can catch a rugby match down at the Principality Stadium. Alternatively, book tickets to a matinee at the National Theatre Wales, or the Wales Millennium Centre.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Later on, you can enjoy dinner at one of Cardiff’s finest dining establishments. There are many to choose from, but one of our favourites is the award-winning Restaurant James Sommerin on the seafront in Penarth. You can get here in just 25 minutes by hopping on a train from Cardiff Central.

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

After dinner, stick around to enjoy a cocktail in one of the nearby bars – just don’t forget that the last train from Penarth leaves just before 11.30!

Sunday AM

Make the most of your Sunday morning by heading down to Castle Street and hopping on a bus to St. Fagan’s National Museum of History. This open-air museum is free to enter and open seven days a week; at its heart is a 16th century manor house surrounded by other historic buildings.

National History Museum, St Fagans

Wander through the museum complex and you can learn about the history of the Welsh people, getting a key insight into how people here have lived through the ages. Bring a picnic and you can enjoy it on the grounds – alternatively, you can grab lunch at one of the onsite cafés.

Sunday PM

Before you head off, spend your last hours in Cardiff enjoying a leisurely stroll through one of the city’s green spaces (weather permitting). There are plenty to choose from, but Bute Park is our favourite.

As for the journey home? We suspect you’ll spend it planning your next visit to our beautiful capital…

 

Images © Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales)

From the fjords of Flåm to the summit of Snowdon

Shwmae and hei from Norway! In case you’ve missed it, something very special will be happening this coming spring/summer. Yours truly will be visiting Wales with the Welsh Rarebits Collection in order to stay at the amazing hotels in the Collection, sample some of the best food Wales has to offer, and really experience the fantastic Welsh ‘Croeso’!

You may be wondering who ‘yours truly’ actually is, and if so, this post is for you!

My name is Lisa, and I am a 26-year old travel blogger and freelance writer from Norway. The main things you need to know about me is that I’m a Slytherin, I’m obsessed with diving and the ocean, and that I lived in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire for a year as an exchange student when I was 17/18.

Now, almost 10 years later; I’m coming back!

At 17 I fell in love with Wales. I knew nothing about the country before moving to Saundersfoot for my exchange year (sorry!), but it didn’t take me long to realise that Wales is one of my absolute favourite countries in the world. From the accents to the daffodil, from Gavin & Stacey to Leigh Halfpenny, I was sold. I’ve since been back several times, and I’m always sad to leave.

This is why I was extremely excited when the opportunity to travel across Wales with the Welsh Rarebits Collection came about!

Let’s rewind to the beginning of this adventure to see how it all started. A few months ago, the Welsh Rarebits Collection advertised this opportunity as ‘the best job in the world’ on their website. It didn’t take long until the opening was shared in countless Facebook groups and blogger communities I was in. Some of my friends tagged me in it knowing how much I love Wales and told me I was perfect for it.

The application was simple; a 1-minute video introducing yourself and your fit for the part. So, I decided to go for it! After all, I’ve got 9 years’ experience in travel writing through my blog Fjords and Beaches, some useful social media skills, AND I love the country. In addition to this I have worked in the hospitality field in my village in Norway (where we welcome over 1 million travellers a year), so if anyone should be testing the Welsh welcome, it should be me!

I grabbed my iPhone, and after a few failed attempts (raise your hand if you actually enjoy hearing your own voice), I had a 1-minute video of me where I didn’t sound like a complete idiot explaining these reasons why I was the best candidate. For extra effect I shot the video standing with the beautiful fjords of Norway in the background, and I think it added a little extra something to the application.

I then sent off my application and forgot all about it. I started planning the rest of my adventures for 2018, and as time passed I figured I simply didn’t get it. You have no idea how excited I was two months later when I got a call telling me that I was invited to Wales by the Welsh Rarebits Collection!

As for the plans I’ve made, I’ll be taking a rather interesting route before I make it to Wales. In February I’m heading to Bali, where I’ll be staying for two months. From there I’ll be travelling to Australia, where I also get to spend a month or two. So I’m planning on being nicely tanned by the time I visit Wales in May 2018.

I’m currently at home in Norway, waiting patiently for Christmas, and am super excited to start planning my trip to Wales next year. I’ll be travelling around Wales for at least 30 days, staying in 30 different hotels from the Collection. As someone who loves any excuse to stay in a hotel, this is the perfect trip! Luckily, I have a job I can take with me wherever I travel, and enjoying the Welsh welcome while writing about my adventures couldn’t be a better way to spend a month.

So, make sure to keep a look out on the Welsh Rarebits social media channels, as well as mine, when May comes around! I’ll be taking Wales by storm and can’t wait to share the adventure with you all through weekly blog posts and daily social media posts!

Follow along: Welsh Rarebits Instagram & Facebook – Fjords and Beaches blog, Instagram & Facebook

Take A Foodie Tour of Wales

Llansantffraed Court chef, fine dining, restaurant

A hub of artisan producers, exciting restaurants and stunning boutique hotels, Wales is the perfect location for a foodie getaway.

There are few destinations that take the ‘eat local’ mantra more seriously than Wales. With stunning scenery, delicious food and a thriving restaurant scene, it’s fast becoming the location of choice for food lovers in the know.

The region has long since peeled off the ‘gastronomic desert’ label slapped onto it unfairly by critics who rarely ventured west of the Hammersmith flyover. In the sixties, it could even be argued that the esteemed Franco Taruschio – he of the famed Walnut Tree Inn at Abergavenny – was one of the first to popularise the concept of informal fine dining allied to the championing of fresh local produce.

So where’s the good food in Wales nowadays? And what are the trends that have seen Abergavenny become host to the best food and drink festival in the UK, and in the process acting as a barometer of the movement in Wales generally? One tried-and-tested introduction into Wales’s food scene is Welsh Rarebits, an exclusive collection of 36 hotels, membership of which is by invitation only.

When we say ‘hotels’ we don’t mean big, impersonal establishments and international brands. The vast majority of Rarebits are privately owned and run, and range from seaside hotels to country houses, historic inns to cool boutique boltholes, townhouses to restaurants with rooms. Since one of the criteria for membership is to be found in the kitchen, you can confidently expect to your chosen Rarebit to serve more than cheese on toast.

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth, Cardiff, Michelin Star

Here’s a whistle-stop tour of just a handful of Rarebits – a good cross-section to give you a flavour of what to expect.

At the gateway to Wales near Abergavenny stands Llansantffraed Court. Its owner, Mike Morgan, is well known in Wales for his passion for food – and it shows in his menus. Provenance and food miles are high on the agenda. “Luckily for us,” says Mike, “Monmouthshire is blessed with amazingly dedicated small producers.” Specialities include Welsh Black beef, organic pedigree Welsh mountain lamb and succulent Brecon venison.

It’s the same story at Felin Fach Griffin near Brecon, named Dining Pub of the Year – a country pub redefined and reinvented. Laid back and properly comfy, with nicely worn sofas, log fires and a cosy winter warmth the Scandinavians call hygge, it’s serious only when it comes to its food, which is on a different planet from typical pub grub. Great ingredients are sourced right on the doorstep (including their own kitchen garden), so expect daily and seasonal menus to feature Welsh beef and lamb, plus game from local estates.

Restaurant James Sommerin at Penarth is the creation of one of Wales’s Michelin-starred chefs. Ask anyone who knows anything about food in Wales and the name James Sommerin soon crops up. His track record as an inspired and uniquely talented chef speaks for itself.

SAMSUNG CSC

Seafood is another Welsh top-notch speciality – so much so that much of it ends up on plates in France and Spain as well as locally. Shellfish include crab, lobster, mussels, scallops and even oysters (not forgetting Penclawdd cockles sold fresh in Swansea Market, with – of course – dash of vinegar and pepper). There’s plenty of fish too – sea bass, hake, mackerel, turbot and sole to name but a few.

St Brides mussels

And since Pembrokeshire is defined by the sea it’s no surprise that Rarebits hotels here make the most of the local catch of the day – taste the freshness while soaking up the clifftop views from St Brides Spa Hotel at Saunderfoot on the south coast, or Newport’s Llys Meddyg in the north.

Glyn Roberts has been cooking up a storm at Castle Cottage, Harlech, for longer than he cares to remember. Not that he’s lacking any of his original passion for the profession. He’s a typical top-end chef – get him talking about his favourite subject (yes, you’ve guessed it) and you might be there until dawn peeks over the battlements of Glyn’s historic neighbour, Harlech Castle. His dishes are inventive but full of honest-to-goodness flavour, a testament to the integrity of the local produce.

On the Isle of Anglesey, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is the colourful town of Beaumaris. The Bull has a destination restaurant renowned for its modern cuisine and boasts 3 AA Rosettes.  It’s a 400 year old Inn complete with original beams as well as having a trendy boutique hotel next door, The Townhouse.

The Bull, Anglesey, North Wales, fine dining, food

And any foodie tour around Wales has to take in Tyddyn Llan near Bala, where Michelin-starred Bryan Webb attracts accolade after accolade with the regularity of a metronome for the skill and quality of his cooking – not to mention the overall dining experience presided over by his wife Susan.

You don’t even have to travel to Wales to sample its bountiful larder; we haven’t mentioned its artisan farmhouse cheeses yet, which even the French have been known to praise. Rarebits’ ethos of quality has been applied to Gourmet Wales, a mail-order scheme that brings the best of Welsh food and drink to your doorstep. A variety of hampers for all occasions are available. Treats include top-quality meats, fine pies, terrines, coracle-caught smoked sea trout, marmalades, jams, pickles and chutneys, Anglesey sea salt, honey, waffles, shortbread, oatcakes, chocolates and an eclectic choice of wines – not forgetting those artisan cheeses.

And the award goes to…

Welsh Rarebits and Great Little Places members came away from the AA Hospitality Awards 2017 with a clutch of accolades last night.

The prestigious event was held in London and was attended by world-renowned chefs, prominent hoteliers and restaurateurs, hospitality gurus and key media. The Awards are a highlight in the industry calendar and recognises the excellent service provided by the very best establishments.

Wales’ first contemporary art hotel, Twr y Felin Hotel, was awarded AA Hotel of the Year, Wales.

The stunning Mansion House received AA Guest Accommodation of the Year, Wales.

Bryn Tyrch Inn is one of our newest members and triumphed in the Pub of the Year (Wales) category.

Michelin Star Restaurant James Sommerin scooped a whopping 4 Rosettes at the Awards.

These achievements reflect our Collection’s high calibre of accommodation and fantastic hospitality provided by our members. Our congratulations go out to all the winners.