A few miles outside the Welsh town of Aberystwyth lies Nanteos, ‘Stream of the Nightingale’. Take a look around this exquisite country house hotel.
June 2020 Update
Nanteos Mansion will soon be re-opening after lockdown, and have put a number of precautionary measures in place to ensure you have a comfortable and secure stay.
Only 11 bedrooms will be booked out at any one time so that rooms can be deep cleaned and have a 36 hour empty period between guests. Staff will be temperature checked and remain 2 metres away from guests, and breakfast will be room service delivered to your door.
Nanteos also has a special package for families looking to get together. You can book the house on an exclusive use basis, which would be perfect for a family reunion.
The package will be available from 13th July 2020, costing £1500 based on a Bed & Breakfast for double occupancy of 10 rooms. You will have the entire 30 acre estate to enjoy, with no other guests on site. It’s the perfect for a special post-lockdown family get-together.
If you’ve ever dreamed of being the heroine in a Jane Austen novel, or just want a luxurious setting for a special weekend, this hotel is just what you’ve been looking for.
Nanteos is a stunning Georgian mansion house, with sumptuous suites and luxury double rooms. It is set in the beautiful mid-Wales countryside, and the tranquil surroundings allow you to truly get away from it all.
So when I was asked if I’d like to spend a night at Nanteos, I was all too happy to accept the invitation. Read on to take a look around Nanteos, and discover why it’s one of the best hotels I’ve had the pleasure to stay in.
The History of Nanteos
Nanteos dates back several hundred years and as you can imagine, it has a very full history!
The house that you see today was built on the site of a previous manor house, Neuadd Llawdden, built in the 11th century. Work began on building Nanteos in 1739, under the direction of the MP for Cardiganshire, Thomas Powell.
He died before the house was finished and the project was passed on to his brother, the Reverend William Powell. Nanteos was completed in 1752.
The house was also known as the resting place for what is believed to be the Holy Grail. The Nanteos Cup was brought to Nanteos from the Strata Florida Abbey during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. It was believed to have healing powers and used to be loaned out to people in return for a valuable item of their own.
On one of these occasions, the cup was stolen while its temporary keeper was in hospital. It was retrieved in 2015, and the original cup is now in the National Library of Wales. A replica of the cup can be seen at the house.
Nanteos remained in the Powell family for the next two centuries until the final member of the family, Margaret Powell, died in 1951. She was apparently something of a character, and would be seen in the Milk Bar in Aberystwyth with her ear trumpet swinging from her arm!
Over the next 60 years, the house sadly fell into disrepair due to lack of investment. When its current custodians took ownership of the house, they commited to a multi-million refurbishment of the Grade 1 listed mansion, together with its 30 acres of grounds, walled garden and Grade 2 listed stables.
In 2012, Nanteos reopened as a Country House Hotel offering relaxing breaks in the beautiful Ceredigion countryside.
How to get to Nanteos
Nanteos Mansion lies less than 5 miles outside Aberystwyth in the Welsh county of Ceredigion. There are no motorways running over to the west coast of Wales, so your journey will be via A roads.
If you’re travelling by public transport, the nearest train station is Aberystwyth. You’ll need to take a taxi for the final 4 miles to Nanteos Mansion.
My route took me via Shrewsbury and then out over the beautiful mid-Wales countryside. But take care – it’s easy to miss the turning from the A4120 onto the private road that leads you to the hotel.
There’s plenty of free parking on site, and the house even has a couple of Tesla charging points!
Once inside Nanteo’s grand doorway, I stepped into the entrance hall above and was greeted by the friendly staff. Our luggage was whisked away and we were led up the beautiful staircase to our room for the night, the stunning Nightingale Suite.
The Nightingale Suite
Nanteos means ‘stream of the nightingale’, taking its name from the Welsh for stream ‘nant‘ and nightingale ‘eos‘. So it’s fitting that the hotel’s most luxurious suite also takes its name from the beautiful nightingale.
This has to be one of the most stunning rooms that I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in. Its grand proportions and period features are matched by the exquisite furnishings.
The walls are painted an elegant champagne shade, with graceful hand-stencilled designs on the wall behind the bed. Large sash windows are framed by heavy silk curtains, and the intricate corniced ceiling has a dramatic chandelier at its centre.
The king-size bed has crisp, white high quality bed linen and is incredibly comfortable. The plump pillows and bedcover in shades of mint and champagne complement the peaceful colour scheme in the room.
The main focal point for the room is of course the fireplace, which has beautiful decorative detailing.
The mirror above the fireplace reflects light from the large windows back into the room, giving the Nightingale suite a bright and airy feeling.
A house of such stately proportions needs carefully selected furniture, and I love the way that the owners have furnished the Nightingale suite.
There’s a careful blend of modern furniture with period pieces such as the large armoire at the back of the room.
And it’s clearly been carefully selected with an eye for how the room will appear in bridal photography. This is, after all, the wedding suite – there’s even a silk lined closet especially designed for storing a bridal gown!
But although Nanteos Mansion is a house with centuries of history behind it, it’s also a hotel with thoroughly modern facilities.
The Nightingale suite has a large TV and Wifi is provided throughout the hotel. There’s also a hospitality tray which was well stocked with a selection of tea, coffee and some home made biscuits.
And I was delighted to find out that the mini-fridge contained two large complimentary bottles of Nanteos mineral water as well as a bottle of milk. That’s so much nicer in your morning cuppa than the little packets of UHT milk!
But if I was impressed by the bedroom in the Nightingale Suite, I was literally speechless when I walked through into the ensuite bathroom.
A Bathroom fit for a Queen
This bathroom is probably bigger than many hotel bedrooms that I’ve stayed in. The mint-green and white colour scheme in this room makes it feel incredibly fresh and airy.
The pristine modern bath suite sits comfortably alongside the period features, and I love the use of hand printed fabric panels on the walls.
Luxurious Temple Spa toiletries are provided, along with plenty of fluffy white towels on a heated towel rail, hidden from view below the hand-basin.
The room has a sunken bath with a powerful rainfall shower overhead. And there are also two of the softest, snuggliest bathrobes that you could imagine, to wrap yourself in after your relaxing bath or shower.
I could happily have spend my evening luxuriating in this bath. But after settling into my stunning room for the night, I took a look around the rest of the house.
The library is perfect for relaxing in, with several small tables dotted around, and two leather Chesterfield sofas. The low lighting and rich green colour of the walls make the room feel elegant but still very cosy.
The Library bar is well stocked with a selection of beers, wines and spirits and a good range of soft drinks is available.
You could also order tea or coffee here, or choose from a small menu of cocktails and mocktails before dinner.
The Morning Room
The Morning room is the perfect setting for morning coffee or afternoon tea. Shades of cream and blue give this room a very elegant feeling, and I could certainly imagine taking tea in here.
I didn’t have time to sample the afternoon tea at Nanteos Mansion, but the menu looks amazing. They offer a classic cream tea, or a full afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and home made cakes.
Alternatively you could choose the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea, which replaces the scones with a savoury alternative of cheese scones and Welsh Rarebit crumpets.There’s even a children’s version available to guests aged 12 or under.
Prices are very reasonable, starting at just £7 for a cream tea or £16 for afternoon tea. And you can add a glass of Prosecco to your chosen afternoon tea for an additional £7.
Dinner at Nanteos Mansion
Later that evening, we made our way to the hotel’s Nightingale restaurant for dinner.
We started our evening with drinks in the Library while we chose the menu, and then moved through to the Dining room. It’s a very impressive setting, exhibiting the graceful symmetry that was so popular in Georgian architecture.
A large window fills one end of the room, and large mirrors line the other three walls.
Nanteos Mansion isn’t just a stunning hotel to look at. It also offers a very high standard of dining, with locally sourced produce presented beautifully.
The dinner menu at Nanteos Mansion features a grill selection together with a small range of British classics. On the evening we visited, both a fixed menu and an a la carte menu were available. There’s also a good selection of wines available both by the bottle and by the glass.
I started my meal with a silky smooth chicken liver parfait. It was served with griddled slices of bread, and topped with a grape chutney.
Small rings of sharp red onion added contrast both in flavour and texture, and I really enjoyed this starter.
The soup of the day was leek and potato on the day that we visited. The soup was rich, creamy and full of flavour, and was served with a small loaf of warm bread alongside.
Other starters on the menu when we visited included Welsh Rarebit served with onion chutney, and Uig Lodge smoked salmon served with cream cheese and wild garlic. A diner on a nearby table had the smoked salmon, and I have to admit to feeling a little jealous – it looked fabulous!
When we had finished our starters, our plates were whisked away by James, the young man who was looking after the bar and restaurant for the evening. We were very impressed by the level of service throughout our stay at Nanteos Mansion. It never felt rushed, and we always felt that the friendly staff were on hand to take care of any requirements.
Our main courses soon arrived, and I was very happy with my selection. We had both chosen from the Grill section of the menu, which included a number of steaks as well as salmon and pork options. You then pick two side dishes and a sauce to go with your grill.
My steak was cooked perfectly and meltingly tender, with the full-flavoured beef tinged with the savoury taste of the grill.
I’d picked the tomatoes and mushroom as one of my sides, and my second choice was the beef dripping chips. These were amazing – really crisp outside and fluffy inside.
And I topped my steak with a rich Diane sauce, which had masses of flavour.
Belly pork is always one of my favourite dinners and this was amazing. You can tell whether pork is good quality from the flavour, and this was flavour-packed. The meat was tender, and the fat beautifully crisp – this was a seriously good main!
It was served with truffle mash and creamed spinach, and a decadently rich red wine jus to pour over the top.
Other options for the main course included sausages and mash, fish and chips, and a delicious sounding Welsh Lamb burger. There were only two vegetarian options on the menu, a garden salad and a chickpea curry, and I did feel that this was the only weakness in the menu.
After so much good food, could we squeeze in a pudding? Silly question – of course we could!
The Sticky Toffee Pudding had plenty of hot toffee sauce around it, and a scoop of soft rum and raisin ice cream alongside. It looked fantastic, and it all vanished so I think it’s pretty safe to say that it tasted as good as it looked!
But I didn’t have time to be jealous of the Sticky Toffee Pudding. I was too busy eating this delicious chocolate brownie!
It was everything a brownie should be – rich, squidgy and chocolatey, with roasted hazelnuts dotted throughout for added crunch. A rich hot chocolate sauce and scoop of vanilla sat on top of the brownie, making this a pretty much perfect pudding.
And if neither of those puddings float your boat, you may prefer some of the other options. These included Baked Alaska, Orange Posset with Lemon Shortbread, or a cheese board of British cheeses.
Our meal was complimentary, but the total bill would have come to £77. This included three courses for both of us, plus water for the table and a glass of wine. It’s certainly a good price for a delicious meal in such a special setting.
Feeling very satisfied and full, we moved back through to the Library. We chatted to some of the other guests, while James kept us entertained with tales of the house’s many ghosts.
But ghost stories don’t spook me, and I enjoyed a fabulous night’s sleep in the stunning Nightingale Suite.
Breakfast in the Mansion Kitchen
After a wonderful night’s sleep and a couple of cups of tea in our room, we headed down to the Mansion Kitchen for breakfast.
I love that breakfast is served in this room. It’s smaller and cosier than the grand style of the Dining Room, lending itself to a relaxed start to the day.
The walls are lined with vintage kitchen paraphernalia, and I love that the original kitchen range has been left in situ.
Coffee and tea were soon brought over to our table, while we perused the breakfast menu. And once our order had been taken, we took our opportunity to explore the buffet options.
And there were plenty of options to explore. From fresh fruit salad, pastries and cereals, to yoghurt and a range of dried fruits, nuts and seeds.
You can help yourself to pancakes or make some toast, and jugs of fruit juice are supplied as well. If you don’t feel like a cooked breakfast, you can certainly find a hearty start to the day here.
I had some yoghurt and fruit to start my breakfast and before long, the hot food turned up.
I had opted for one of my favourite breakfasts, Eggs Benedict. These were excellent, with thick hand-cut slices of ham sitting on top of soft squidgy English muffins.
The poached eggs were cooked perfectly, and there was plenty of buttery hollandaise sauce.
And the Full Welsh Breakfast looked amazing. As you’d expect, it included bacon, egg, sausage and beans. But there was also both black and white pudding, and the addition of Laverbread made it extra-special.
I’d never tried laverbread before, so I dived in for a taste. It was savoury and delicious, and definitely something I’ll look out for again.
I also stole a taste of the bacon, which was absolutely delicious and made me wish I’d had the full Welsh as well. The high quality of the locally sourced ingredients really shone through in all of the food we enjoyed at Nanteos.
After more tea and coffee, we were ready for a last look around before we had to leave for home.
Weddings at Nanteos Mansion
Behind this elegant door, we discovered the Music Room. Weddings are held here and as it wasn’t in use when we visited, we popped in to take a look.
With its elaborately decorated ceiling, dramatic full length windows and glamorous chandelier, this room provides a lavish setting for a wedding.
The room was home to a grand piano for over a century. Musical instruments entwined with symbols of the four seasons can be seen in the four corners of the ceiling.
Beneath one of the imposing mirrors on the walls of the Music room sits a fireplace with a beautiful Italian marble depiction of Aesop’s fables.
With the opulent Music Room for the ceremony, a sweeping staircase to make your entrance down to the Dining Room for a delicious wedding breakfast, and of course the stunning Nightingale Suite, Nanteos Mansion is certainly the perfect venue for a dream wedding!
Exploring the Grounds
If you feel like stretching your legs and getting some fresh air, Nanteos has 30 acres of grounds. And the rural setting means that you can enjoy perfect peace and quiet on your stay at the hotel.
At the side of the house, you’ll pass the former Palladian Carriage House. This has been renovated and converted into a gorgeous Mews House, which is available to hire for a self-catering break. The Mews House has four luxurious double bedrooms, and is fully equipped with everything you could need!
On your walk around the grounds, you’ll be able to see the large Walled Garden. This sadly fell into decline in the years after Margaret Powell’s death in 1951. The current owners have taken care to clear the garden, and hopefully it will be restored to its former glory.
And near the Walled Garden, you’ll see a pets’ memorial site, where several of the Powell family dogs were buried. There’s also a fascinating stone tribute to the Nanteos Cup.
Things to do near Nanteos Mansion
When you stay at Nanteos, you may well be tempted to spend your entire break cocooned in the tranquil hotel. And that would be a fabulous way to pass your time!
But if you do feel like venturing further afield, the seaside town of Aberystwyth is just 4 miles down the road. You can enjoy a walk along the seafront, visit the town’s castle or take a trip on the cliff railway to view the town from above.
You could also pay a visit to the National Library of Wales.There you can see see the real Nanteos Cup along with many other exhibits.
The Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Centre is a lovely place to visit, and lies around 10 miles from Nanteos. There are several trails for walks and bike rides, and the centre has a cafe for refreshments. And in the afternoon, you can watch the amazing spectacle of the local red kite population being fed. The centre has played a key role in protecting the species since 1999, and up to 150 birds turn up for feeding every afternoon!
Or if you fancy a more challenging walk, why not pay a visit to the Devil’s Bridge Falls? This is a world famous landmark which lies around 10 miles west of Nanteos.
There are two walks to choose from. The more gentle Punchbowl and 3 Bridges walk will take you just 10 minutes, while the more difficult Nature Trail, Waterfall and 3 Bridges walk takes you up 675 uneven natural stone steps. There’s also a tearoom open from mid-Spring to October.
A Night at Nanteos: My Review
Nanteos is a luxurious setting for a special break. Our stay was complimentary, but rooms start from just £85 per night for a luxury double, rising to £300 per night for the Nightingale Suite.
It’s no exaggeration to say that we felt our visit was perfect in pretty much every regard. From the tranquil surroundings and the beautiful decor of the Nightingale Suite, to the delicious food and the attentive service, we loved every aspect of our night at Nanteos.
And when the time came for us to leave Nanteos, I seriously wished that I could have stayed longer.
Nanteos: The Details