Recommended: The Drawing Room, Wales

New Years resolution #1 in the Norris household was to get away more. Not necessarily somewhere fancy or exotic, but to spend more quality time together. This week Pete is 30 and we have several different things planned to celebrate, but I wanted us to go away together too. In our lives there is no greater gift than time together, but because of the plethora of other things organised, it couldn’t be a luxury trip. After what has become a customary first stop on the Mr and Mrs Smith website, I found The Drawing Room, a restaurant with rooms which looked perfect for some serious relaxation.

After a frantic exit from work on Friday we headed off from Manchester at 5pm burning up the tarmac towards Builth Wells and the Brecon Beacons in mid Wales. After a very slight misnavigation due to the new road that has been built relieving what was previously the main road outside The Drawing Room, we pulled into the car park desperate for a drink and some Friday night R&R. As soon as we got out of the car, the comforting smell of a wood fire drew us towards the stylishly inviting front door.

Our hosts could not have been more welcoming, and they appeared wearing chefs’ whites to instal us in our room where we were left to get ready for dinner.

I had opted for the largest room, and the most expensive, Oliver, which is £120 a night. Completely decked out in Laura Ashley with dark wood furniture an iron bed and a cranberry coloured feature wall, the decor felt warm and welcoming but very smart. The highlight was the bathroom, my reason for choosing this room, decked out in fired earth ceramics with a roll top bath. Although small in stature, it was again very cosy with its heated floor and flooded with light.

All in all the perfect place to unwind.

Guests are asked to come down to dinner half an hour before their booking time, when you are served canapés and olives with your pre dinner drinks. We shared a gorgeous Viognier that evening and really enjoyed sinking into the sofa in front of the fire before being called to our table.

The Drawing Room has only 4 rooms and 4 tables in the restaurant but it is set up in such a way that you don’t feel overly aware of the other tables present and certainly don’t feel self conscious. The kitchen is open adding another dimension to dinner as you can see the owners beavering away, the picture of calm efficiency. The menu is £35 for 3 courses (3 choices for each course, including fish) and preceded by the chef’s velouté. We eventually made our way to bed stuffed, a little tipsy and slept like the dead until 9 the next morning.

I always judge a hotel by its breakfasts and The Drawing Room rose to the challenge admirably. Alongside the usual egg dishes, there was poached haddock and homemade muesli or porridge with honey. A big fan of both, I enjoyed the porridge the first day after asking for fresh fruits with it instead of honey, but was blown away by the muesli the next day. Pete of course did the manly thing and had the full English (or should I say Welsh?) breakfast with very impressive French toast.

After exploring the local area (more to come on this in another post) we spent another couple of hours warming up in front of the fire with a tea tray and leafing through the extensive selection of magazines and coffee table books before making full use of the double ended bathtub and splashing out on some bubbles to start the birthday celebrations. Dinner was fabulous again and we managed to drag ourselves upstairs, no doubt several pounds heavier, to watch a film.

Overall, it was the perfect cosy choice for a low key weekend that involved a lot of doing nothing, no schedule and some serious down time accompanied by fantastic food on site. I’d wholeheartedly recommend The Drawing Room if you’re looking to escape for an occasion, fancy exploring mid Wales or enjoy a foodie break. Every aspect of the rooms, service and food was excellent.

Have you been to or heard of The Drawing Room or does it sound like the kind of place you’d like to visit?


Rebecca booked The Drawing Room via Mr and Mrs Smith
Tel: 01982 552493

Mr Underhill’s House, Ludlow.

In today’s Tuesday Travels we’re off to Ludlow with Esme, as she reviews the gastronomic delight that is Mr Underhill’s House. I know I’m always looking for places that are within reach and easy, (read: couple of hours drive for fantastic food and a cosy bed, for a weekend of relaxation with no stress) so I’ll certainly be bookmarking this one for future jaunts. Foodies amongst you will also be enthralled by the restaurant review…

The best thing about Mr Underhill’s House in Ludlow is the food. That is why people come here, why they come back year after year and why it is very hard to get a table, never mind a room there. Luckily for me and my husband, I booked our two night stay several months in advance because it was the hotel that we stayed in for our pseudo-moon, straight after our wedding this August. And boy was I glad that I had, because it was absolutely amazing.

Mr Underhill’s is a self-confessed ‘restaurant with rooms’. What they mean by this is that this is a Michelin star holding, award-winning restaurant that is the main focus of the business and because the restaurant is in such a beautiful location, they expanded to have a few hotel rooms too. What a good idea!

The rooms are really, really good. They are full of antique furniture, comfy beds and pretty local art. Our bathroom was small but the bath was big enough for two (it was the day after we got married – what?!) and was well stocked with own brand miniature organic products so good that I am seriously considering staying there again just for the conditioner. We were greeted with a cafetiere of freshly ground coffee and homemade shortbread biscuits and were sent on our way with bottles of local water and more shortbread (plus a full-size bottle of their hand wash and hand cream because I said how much I loved them) – lovely touches that made us fall even further in love with Mr Underhill’s.

Before I get to the dinner – the bit I know you’re all waiting for – I’ll just quickly say that it’s going to be a long time before a hotel beats the breakfast we had on our first morning. A quick phone call before bed the evening before resulted in a quiet knock on our door at 10.30 am, and a large tray filled with coffee, local apple juice, fresh brioche with homemade berry compote and the only muesli my husband has ever liked for us to enjoy in bed whilst we read our wedding cards. Perfect.

It is a bit of an understatement to say that my hubby and I enjoy our food: we have had some great meals in our time, and this was our second Michelin starred experience (I know! Aren’t we lucky? And the first one was also this year! And we didn’t even have to pay for that one!), so expectations were high. I think it was about 10 minutes in that we realised that this meal was going to be a whole new level of delicious.

The USP of Mr Underhill’s is that you don’t get to choose what you eat – they create a daily market menu of at least six courses (we had eight, not including two plates of petit fours) that is tailored to each group. When you call to book a table they ask you about dietary requirements and whether there’s anything you really don’t like (I can’t stand the herb dill and was seriously impressed that the dill marinated salmon on our menu had been replaced with an incredible shallot hummus just for me) and then, when you arrive, you are presented with your own menu. We were excited about this concept because it means that you get something a bit different that you will like and that the chef has designed to make the most of what’s good to eat on that day. You get to choose your pudding and can add an extra cheese course, but otherwise everyone is eating the same thing.

I’m not going to detail the whole meal (partly because I want you to go and experience it for yourself and partly because I am already majorly salivating over my keyboard) but here are some of the highlights:
The Sorrel veloute – I actually licked my bowl.
The fish course: bream with crunchy veg. The most delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth – fact.
My choice of pudding: beetroot fondant with carrot ice-cream, pea foam and black pepper caramel. Pretty darn incredible.
Our waiter reciting the names and descriptions of ten cheeses flawlessly. These guys knew their stuff.

Now, it was not a cheap evening but I would not hesitate to say that it was good value (our bill came to around £150 for two seven-course meals and three glasses of wine that had been matched to the food). A night – and holiday – we will never forget.

Thank you so much for sending this in Esme!

Have you been to Mr Underhill’s House? Got somewhere else you would like to recommend?

Send in your hotel reviews and destination guides to hello@florencefinds for the chance to share your finds with the Florence Finds community – I’d love to hear from you!



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