Llanerch Vineyard Hotel: A Wine-lovers Paradise in the Lush Welsh Countryside

Tuesday 02nd Jul 2024 |

Rose-hued skies, lush vineyard views, locally sourced food, cosy suites, and a wine tasting room. Nestled within 22 acres of picture-perfect countryside, the family-owned 5-star  Llanerch Vineyard Hotel has it all. Who would think such an idyllic retreat would be just 20 minutes from central Cardiff? 

Despite the heavens opening as we pulled in on a late Friday afternoon, the poor British weather did little to dampen our first impressions. Surrounded by woodlands, rolling green hills, and an active vineyard, the hotel is striking and modern with a laid-back vibe that immediately draws you in. 

Having checked in online before arriving, we were handed our keys and headed down to our ground floor Countryside Superior twin room. This newly built section of the hotel consists of 26 high-end suites and rooms, each offering impressive views of the Welsh countryside as standard, with ours featuring an attractive outdoor terrace complete with table and chairs (rooms on the first floor include a Juliet balcony). 

Anafi 1.5.6

Rooms are spacious and homely, featuring a sofa, desk, large wall-mounted TV, and ample wardrobe space with extra pillows. The mini fridge is large enough to stock bottles of wine and a few beers, and the bathrooms are sizeable too, complete with rainfall shower and White Company toiletries. 

The beds are ultra-comfy, ensuring even the lightest of sleepers are sure to get a great night’s kip. Family rooms include two single children’s beds, whilst several are also dog-friendly. Prices for bed and breakfast start as little as £170 per night for two people. 

With time to spare before dinner, we enjoyed a glass of the fruity Cariad Sparkling Brut (one of  Llanerch’s signature wines) on the balcony above the restaurant, which offers a cracking view of the vineyard, whilst keeping the rain at bay.

Having heard rave reviews for the AA Rosette restaurant, expectations were high. Having suffered through perhaps the worst burger I’ve had in recent memory at the services mid-way through our 6-hour drive from Leeds, we were more than ready for some real food. 

The restaurant is stylish with plenty of character, and like many key areas of the hotel, makes the most of its stunning surroundings. If you’re lucky enough to catch some sunshine, there’s a large outdoor terrace, allowing for al fresco dining with an unrivaled vista. 

Dinner guests can enjoy 3-courses for £45, which is excellent value considering the high quality of the food offered. We began with some moreish Gordal Olives and Sourdough and Butter from the nibbles section, as we perused the wine menu. 

Starters were not only fantastic, but came in generous portions. The Ham Hock Terrine with mustard emulsion and spring vegetables is deliciously hearty, whilst the Fresh Burrata with grilled tomato, basil, mint and pine nuts easily outshone many of the best Italian restaurants. 

Steak-lovers will not be disappointed with the Dry Aged PGI Welsh Fillet, which is well worth the £7 set menu surcharge. Meltingly tender and succulent, it comes served with marinated beef tomato, shallot butter, chips and peppercorn sauce.

Luckily for me, my dinner companion went with the other dish I’d been eyeing up and let me take a bite. The Caramelised Monkfish Tail was again, larger than anticipated, cooked just right, and perfectly complemented with sea vegetables and a refreshing lemon verbena sauce. 

Now, dessert I can usually take or leave, but the Chocolate Cherry Delice was hands down the best darn dessert I’ve tried to date. The dark chocolate and cherries were elevated with the addition of a stunning mint salsa, ricotta and honey cream and a sesame seed caramel sauce. 

A 3-course meal of this caliber would easily set you back upwards of £80 in most cities and far more in London. We chatted to some regulars at the table next to us, who confirmed the quality of the cuisine here is consistently high. A must for anyone staying or living locally. 

 Llanerch also runs several guided vineyard tours most days, allowing visitors to explore the vines before sipping wine made with grapes harvested just metres away. We didn’t take the tour, but judging by the groups we saw,  it looked like a good time and the wine tasting room looked pristine. 

Breakfast is served in the same restaurant as late as 10am on a Saturday, and while the continental spread could have done with replenishing by 9:45, the cooked-to-order hot breakfast was several notches above your standard hotel fare. 

The  Llanerch Full Breakfast features the full works, including a hearty locally-cured maple bacon chop, sausage, hash brown, roasted vine tomato, flat cap mushroom, beans, black pudding and eggs cooked to your liking. 

After checking out, we had a quick wander around the pleasant woodland just off from the car park, before heading off to the city. It’s worth noting that Lanrech is just a 30 minute drive to the coast, which is a great way to kill a few hours and get some sea air. 

Final verdict

Having never been to Cardiff, or indeed Wales for that matter,  Llanerch set the bar incredibly high for the rest of our trip. The staff are polished yet down-to-earth, the food is memorable, rooms are a home away from home, and you’re surrounded by natural beauty and more fine wine than you could care to drink. Take someone you love and they won’t forget it in a hurry. 

 Llanerch Vineyard Hotel, Hensol Road, Hensol, Pontyclun, CF72 8GG. Tel 01443 222716

Review and food photography by Fletch, other images supplied by Llanerch.