Short break - Bodysgallen Hall, Llandudno
PUBLISHED: 01:00 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:40 14 September 2017
Nestling on a hill minutes from the centre of Llandudno is Bodysgallen Hall, a country house hotel with history stretching back over 700 years. Review by Louise Allen-Taylor
We are wandering around the gardens of Bodysgallen Hall, seeing globe artichokes waving in the breeze, figs budding ponderously on the tree, rows of tomatoes, mange tout and leeks flourishing. In the well-clipped parterre, the scents of sage, rosemary and thyme rise as we pass by.
Hours later, in a dining room overlooking these gardens, we sit down to a meal featuring some of this bounty. Delicate young leeks adorn my starter of truffled ox cheek sausage with creamed king oyster mushrooms and truffle jus; it’s an umami feast of deep, musty flavours, another deft plate of food from head chef John Williams.
Across the table, mackerel poached in orange oil comes with crab, mango and coriander salad - a light, fresh sea breeze of a dish. Those leeks show up again in my main course: a flaky cod fillet, poached in butter with a feisty lobster and herb raviolo swimming in a foamy lobster sauce.
Our other main is succulent Welsh lamb, slow-cooked with fennel pollen, with smoked butternut squash puree and roasted artichoke, lush fondant potato and shallots. It’s the kind of dish which epitomises the new-old understated ideal of ‘modern British’ cuisine.
Both our desserts are intriguing in taste and texture: one featuring a warm chocolate madeleine with fennel ice cream, the other a ‘snow egg’ - poached meringue with rhubarb, resembling an egg shell from which spills a vanilla custard yolk, all sitting on a cava snow, a slushie for grown-ups.
After our three-course dinner (£57.50 per head) we head upstairs past paintings of old nobles and the odd stag’s head, dodging beneath door lintels created when humans beings were smaller, to our room. On the way, we pass the entrance to the winding stone stair case to the watchtower, built around 1250 to provide early warning of attack on Conwy castle. It’s the heart of this hall, whose construction spanned seven centuries, as evidenced by date stones from 1620, 1765, 1894 and 1905.
Bodysgallen Hall reeks of history, with its heavy latched front door, the latin motto of the Mostyn family over the fireplace in the first floor lounge, acres of dark wood pannelling and the charmingly wonky lines of a building which has had so many centuries to settle.
But, sold by the Mostyns in 1969, bought by Historic House Hotels in 1980, and now owned by the National Trust, this is a grade 1 listed historic house which also serves as a 21st century hotel. Cottage accommodation sensitive to the ambience of the hall has been added, as has a spa, just a short stroll from the main hall.
Bodysgallen Hall and Spa is on The Royal Welsh Way, Llandudno, North Wales, LL30 1RS, tel 01492 584466.
For details about dining at Bodysgallen Hall, the spa and accommodation in the hall or the cottages, visit www.bodysgallen.com