The Bell at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire
My other half and I decided to have a few days away in the country and friends had recommended The Bell at Skenfrith. The Bell nestles the English/Welsh border overlooking the river Monrow. The hotel is a true country escape with a fishing/shooting lodge feel and great food reviews. The village of Skenfrith is incredibly charming with small stone cottages side by side, surrounding a ruined castle that dominates the skyline. It was perfect for us being approximately an hour and a half from Oxford, easy to reach and simple to find.
All eleven rooms at The Bell are named after famous brown trout flies such as Heckham Peckham, Blue Dun and Whickham’s Fancy. Each room has its own fly mounted in a picture frame outside the door. We stayed in the Royal Wulf room which overlooked the rear gardens and farmed hills beyond. The room was spacious with a huge super king-size bed and everything you could need for a pleasant and comfortable stay. Off the bedroom was a large en-suite with a traditional bath, his and her sink and a spacious walk-in shower. The whole room was finished to a high standard with antique furniture, luxury check throws and elegant lamps to make the room feel both traditional and contemporary. Although the hotel was practically in the middle of nowhere, the room had all the touches a true five star London hotel should have including air conditioning, which was very pleasant on a warm October night. However, like all true country Inn’s should The Bell also allows your dog to stay with you.
As we were only staying for a few nights we decided to eat in the award-winning restaurant at The Bell although Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth are not too far, and the area has quite a few traditional pubs to choose from. The restaurant uses local ingredients including a lot of fresh vegetables straight from their own kitchen gardens. The seasonal menu had plenty to choose from with a few traditional as well as some modern twists on classic dishes. We found the service excellent and were never left waiting but nor did we feel rushed, plus the portions were generous. We thoroughly recommend the rump steak and the apple and mulled cider doughnuts, scrummy.
During our stay it was nice to see that The Bell was still a local’s pub with many popping in for a drink and a good catch up in the bar. If you wanted to get away from the crowds then there was the large spacious sitting room with welcoming sofas and comfy armchairs surrounding a huge inglenook fireplace. It was very easy to loose a few hours sipping welsh whisky and playing dominos or even reading the paper. Plus the sitting room features a very impressive glass cellar, which you couldn’t help but want at home.
Neither of us had tried fly-fishing but being close to the river Monrow seemed a perfect opportunity to learn. The hotel was incredibly helpful giving us useful numbers and contacts and we managed to fit in a few hours learning to cast, which is far more difficult that we thought, but defiantly worth trying. Many use The Bell as a base for their fishing, shooting and walking pursuits and the owners have produced a host of illustrated maps on the local walks ranging from the gentle meander to the more committed walkers.
In all we found our stay very pleasant, although we did find the bed a little too firm for our liking. It was a very enjoyable stay and we would recommend it, a relaxing break with good food and comfortable surroundings. Whether you are into your country pursuits or not The Bell has a lot to offer.
Our rating would be 3 out of 5.
Prices range from £110 to £220 per room per night.