I'm Culloden from Cardiff. I've been Qyping since 19-11-2008
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Park Hensol, Pontyclun, Wales CF72 8JY
19-11-2008 (updated on 12-08-2012)
Overrated sums up this hotel. I have been here four times, stayed twice, attended a wedding, booked the spa (or tried to!) and attended a corporate training function. Perhaps my lack of excitement comes from the fact that I don’t play golf which seems to be what this hotel is all about; buggies outside and everyone in plus fours! Seriously the wedding I attended in August was a good friend of mine and she’s paid c. £50 a head for the meal which was frankly awful, cold, tatseless and had the distinct look of pre-cooked food. The spa however is wonderful if you can get booked in, the staff rarely answer wth telephone and no-one replies to emails, despite bombarding you with marketing literature to draw your interets. That said on the one occasion I successfully booked in I would say it is probably the best spa in South Wales. You’ll need to de-stress after pulling our you hair trying to book it!
UPDATED: I visited the spa again in June 2012 for a friends birthday £159 of treatments but when I came out of the first treatment and decided to shower before going for a swim, I found the showers weren’t working.n It transpired the water to the entire hotel had been cut off due to maintenance works elsewhere. Basically, no flushing loos, no showers. You are encouraged to drink plenty of water at a Spa which inevitably requires using the loo which by midday was proving very, very unpleasant. I packed up and left as the promised ‘fix’ had not happened and there was still no water.No apology from the staff and no response to my letter of complaint.
Coldra Woods, The Usk Valley, Newport, Wales NP18 1HQ
Let me explain, each time I've been there, something has gone wrong and always in a way that a small boutique hotel would not have allowed to happen or would have remedied sooner. I'm always left feeling that I'm just a money making opportunity at the Celtic and that they don't really care about the customer.
Last Saturday I met friends for lunch in Merlin's bar,we finished lunch and chatting at about 4pm and asked for the bill. We chased the waitress again for the bill at 4:30. At 5pm two of my friends had to leave as their taxi had arrived and I chased again for the bill, eventually it arrived at 5:20pm, the waitress didn't have time to bring the wireless card machine over so I head to the bar where I wait like a lemon whilst the staff fiddle about with card machines - I have no idea what's going on and after 10 minutes of standing at the bar like a spare part they tell me none of the card machines are working and they asked if I can pay £168 by cash! by now I feel embarassed as it looks to other guests as if my card isn't working. [I had £150 cash with me and the bill was £168 - a smaller hotel woudl have accepted that as their betweork error had prevented me paying otherwise] Finally the barman takes me to a different area of the hotel and produces a 1990's VISA copy machine and eventually that's how the bills is paid. Embarassing, frustrating and to boot, children were running riot in the bar from 3pm to the extent we had to shot to talk to each other.
On Thursday I arrived for a spa day at Dylans, again with a friend - it was her birthday and her choice of spa location. After a very brief tour of the facilities we changed into our robes and slippers and went to the spa area where we were told our Therapist had called in sick and there was no alternative for our treatments that day, but we could come back another day.......they didn't seem to 'get' that we'd taken a costly day off work and that we didn't want to spend 6 hours in the gym. To add insult to injury, the manager had scuttled, leaving the lady at the desk to explain. The service was appalling.
I have a list of other moans about this place, mainly around the staff being over stretched, rude or bookings failing etc. but I have to admit I do use it for business just because of the location. I think the problems are caused through the Manor trying to squeeze every penny out the place but it's false economy - how many large Spa's would not be able to call on a stand-by therapist or offer an alternative treatment?.
If you want to play gold and eat the at the Lodge Brasserie this place does have great road networks and is ideally located for business but if you're looking for something special, something that will exceed your expectations or make you and your guests feel special, head out towards Abergavenny for a better selection of restaurants serving world class food without the attitude of the Celtic Manor
Salmon Leap, Brecon, Powys LD3 9RR
I didn't expect much when I booked this cottage for a 5 night break over Easter; it was last minute and all I wanted was to get away for a few days and spend time with someone special.
The cottage was available from the day after I wanted to arrive (ideally) but chatting to the owner, he made arrangements for me to arrive after 7pm on my day of choice.
I arrived late at night having followed the faultless direction emailed by the owner. As I wound my way through the country lanes I felt I was leaving the stresses of work behind me and actually became quite excited about ‘the cottage’.
Over the final little river bridge I entered a world that could have been 16th or 17th Century, it's changed so little since the Mill and the Blacksmith here were doing a roaring trade – these and two other small cottages are the only buildings in the village!.
Despite the late hour and the quietness of the setting the pale blue front door of salmon leap was very welcoming and I gently eased it open.
I immediately saw a beautiful old fireplace with modern log burner stacked with logs waiting for cosy chats and a glass of wine on the beautiful white sofa. Beyond that the wide patio doors opened out onto a veranda and fabulous views and the sound of the gently flowing river – what a peaceful haven!
The rest of the cottage continued to meet my now, high, expectations. Beautifully decorated throughout in modern light colours, this small two bedroom cottage felt big and airy. The kitchen which leads off the main downstairs room has an ultra-modern halogen hob and oven, along with all the mod cons you could need along with dining table and chairs, although the weather was so wonderful we ate every meal outdoors.
Upstairs the main bedroom has spacious and luxurious with windows to enjoy views from the front and rear but for a real treat, open them up to let you wake to the sound of birds and the river – simply wonderful!
The second bedroom is much smaller but quaint and equally well appointed. The bathroom was excellently designed with plentiful hot water and power shower over a bath if you need to soak off a day walking. The cottage also has a DVD player, iPod dock, SKY TV and supply of DVD's and CD's, but this being at the foothill of the wonderful Brecon Beacons mountain range, I was outdoors exploring as soon as the sun came up.
Brecon Town is 5 miles away; 4 minutes by car should you need to stock up at the supermarket, visit the TI or practically anything else you might need, all packaged into the tiny little town. I spent a day exploring the town and it’s Cathedral, another walking in the beautiful mountains and the third day wandering the nearby town of Hay, famous for the Literary Festival but packed year-round with book shops, outdoor specialists, classy clothing shops, bakeries, antique shops and numerous places to eat and drink. On the drive back to the cottage I also stopped at Arthurs stone, a Neolithic burial site that still has the standing stones as this site has never been excavated.
As I left on day 5 I felt a pang of sadness at leaving Salmon leap and wondered if I could realistically make the daily commute to work from this wonderful place, but dreams are just dreams and I waved a sad goodbye to the ducks on the river and added the little grey wagtail to my list of birds spotted in the visitors ‘spotters’ book.
I’d wholeheartedly recommend Salmon Leap to young or old couples wanted to get away, to walk or just talk – it’s a tiny piece of heaven.
13a Broad Street, Pontypool, Wales NP4 9ND
29-11-2008 (updated on 16-04-2009)
The Railway here was closed to passengers in 1941, and to goods in 1954, though the section from Blaenavon to Pontypool was in use for coal from Big Pit and other local mines until 1980. It is now maintained by a group of hard-working, enthusiastic volunteers.
The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway was started in 1980, and continues to be maintained and operated exclusively by volunteers who form the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway Company (1983) Ltd. Supported by the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway Society. After Big Pit stopped producing coal in 1980, the track was lifted from Cwmbran through Pontypool to just south of Blaenavon (High Level) Station where the volunteers started running trains in 1983 and have continued continuously for over twenty five years.
Lots of information for train spotters and enthusiasts – this is the highest narrow guage railway in Wales.
The society offers a superb range of events running throughout the year (note the upcoming Santa Special – which is great fun for Kids who get presents and Mums and Dads who get mince pies and sherry!) at other times the short little journey is available at a very reasonable fare of £2.50 adult and £1.50 child – snacks and beverages are available on board again at a sensible price and Garn lakes picnic area is just a few yards away. For a family day out this is hard to beat alongside the Big Pit mining museum (Free entry!) and The nearby ironworks.
Alma Street, Ebbw Vale, Wales NP23 4AJ
29-11-2008 (updated on 16-04-2009)
Brynmawr Museum was set up and continues to be run totally by volunteers. It was officially opened in June 2003 and quickly outgrew it’s old location to be re-located to the Carnegie building, it has received massive support from the town and expatriates of Brynmawr who have donated several items of historical significance to the collections here. These include Brynmawr Furniture, items reflecting the strong iron, steel and coal industries and the famous Semtex site (Brynmawr Rubber Company) as well as the wider historical culture including religion, education and pubs of the area.
(Call in on Thursday mornings and they might even give you some of their toast!)
Main Road, Gilwern, Abergavenny, Wales NP7 0AR
This is an old pub which has just undergone a stunning Refurbishment of 3 en-suite double rooms.
The food is fabulous food and it’s also a great place to enjoy a quiet pint.
For tourists this is in an ideal location for visiting Abergavenny, Blaenavon and most of the industrial heritage of Wales and the South West. If you know this area it has everything from historic interest to outward bound activities, scenery and it’s oly 40 minutes from Cardiff if you need some serious retail therapy, (also the smaller Festival Park Outlet Village just 15 minutes away).
Friendly landlord and landlady who will help with everything from a cot to booking tickets for the Theatre in Abergavenny, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Free Car Parking, good links to trains and roads about an hour from Cardiff Wales Airport.
Ideal place to stay during the food festival as it’s walkable, but not in the expensive zone.
High Street, Pontypool, Wales NP4 9PT
The best think about the Workmasn hall is the cinema; it;s about the size of my living room (seriously!). The whole setting is like a throw-back to the 1950’s without any cheesiness - firstly it’s really cheap admission £2.50 for Adulst last time I visited and teh sweets and popcorn are also very reasonable, no, actually they are cheap! This is one fo teh few places where you could have a novel family night out for less than £20. Unfortunately because it is financially accessible there tends to be a lot of younger children visiting and they can be a bit noisy and irritating, but the staff do tend to keep them under control and pretty much everything else abouthis place, makes up for it. Situated in a side street off the main town centre in the World Heritage Town that is Blaenavon - this place is well-worth a visit.
St Mary Street, Cardiff, Wales CF10 1AD
20-11-2008 (updated on 24-11-2008)
Pourquoi tous mes avis portent sur la nourriture ..... et bien sans doute parce que je suis gourmand et je déteste mal manger! Il y a un café dans Cardiff Market qui est absolument fabuleux. L'année dernière pendant mes achats de Noël avec mon neveu de 8 ans, j'avais décidé que nous ne mangerons pas dans un McDonalds. C'est pourquoi nous avons erré entre les couleurs et le bruit du marché parce que je pensais que de s'assoir en hauteur et contempler le marché du balcon serait une bonne idée. Du balcon, nous avons vu des animaux de compagnie et nous avons été emerveillé par la toiture ancienne. Nous avons mangé un excellent petit déjeuner chaud pendant que nous regardions ce qui se passait au dessous de nous.
St Mary Street, Cardiff, Wales CF10 1AD
20-11-2008 (updated on 24-11-2008)
Why are all my reviews about food…..probably cos I’m greedy and I hate being ripped off for meals!. Well one thing about Cardiff Market is the upstairs cafe which is absolutely fabulous. Last year Christmas shopping with my 8 year old nephew I was determined we wouldn’t end up in McDonalds, We wandered through all the colour and noise of the market and thought it would be a great idea to see it all from above so we wandered up the steps to the balcony area; we saw the pets and marvelled at the ancient roof before sitting along the upstairs wall (all very safe), we had a fab cooked breakfast whilst watching the fascinating life below - even he agreed was better than McDonalds any day!
The Metropole, Abertillery, Wales NP13 1AL
I remember as a kid visiting the museum when it was located under the town library - I was always afraid becasue one of the first exibits was a WW2 Gas mask and I found that very scary! Nowdays teh museum has a bright new home on the ground floor of the old Market Hall, beneath the Metropol Theatre. It’s run by volunteers who do a fab job of maintaining the history of Abertillery - They have stone age bronze age and Roman artefacts but for me the most important ear of the towns history was that running from the Industrial revolution when our cola helped run the world, through to the late 1970’s when the mines began to close - and life in this time is amply recalled in the museums displays which include a Miners Kitchen, along with the social aspects that dominated at the time which include of course; rugby and Webbs brewery! - Come and see Abertillery Museum particularly if you live there - it6’s worth seeing.
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