When you’re greeted by a gigantic Christmas tree, a bough of mistletoe, a pianist and a saxophonist playing Christmas classics when you walk into a hotel foyer, you know you’re in for a festive stay.
That was the scene I was met with as I stepped inside The Angel Hotel in Abergavenny last weekend, while a warming apple and fig aroma wafted up my nose.
Hotel of the Year for Wales 2016/17
Named Hotel of the Year for Wales 2016/17 at the recent AA Hospitality Awards, The Angel Hotel has built up a strong reputation in Abergavenny. Guests are reported to travel from as far afield as America to experience the award-winning afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel.
The hotel is perfectly located for visiting Abergavenny’s many boutique and independent shops, including the Market Hall, as well as exploring Abergavenny Castle and the beautiful grounds of the nearby Brecon Beacons National Park. It’s also the perfect base for anyone looking to attend the annual Abergavenny Food Festival in September – the largest, longest running food festival in Wales.
Classy yet comfortable rooms
The check-in process was efficient and welcoming, with an offer of a wake-up call and complimentary newspapers for the following morning.
My room upheld my expectations of the classy, plush rooms I tend to associate with hotels of this calibre, while also managing to be comfortable and casual.
A super king wine green leather bedstead was made up with a crisp, cosy white duvet and pillows that you just sink into. Lying on the bed felt like what I imagine laying on a cloud would feel like.
A pretty pink orchid sat on a mahogany wooden desk, in front of a large mirror, sandwiched between two tall windows draped with pale grey voiles and heavy beige tweed curtains.
If I was here for a longer stay, I’d have enjoyed storing my clothes in the enormous wardrobe…
…not to mention snuggling up on the cushioned sofa to watch my favourite TV programmes with a hot cup of tea.
The bathroom was equally impressive, boasting a large monsoon shower, spacious sink and luxurious toiletries.
After settling into my room, I tucked into freshly baked shortcrust mince pies and hot, spiced mulled wine courtesy of the hotel. I would normally have ordered something more substantial from the room service menu (just reading it made my tummy rumble!), but I was due to go for high tea at 5pm.
Festive afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel
Afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel is a big deal. They really know a thing or two about how to brew the perfect cup of tea. Only one of few hotels outside London to have received an Award of Excellence from the Tea Guild (considered the Oscar of the tea and cake world), the hotel won the coveted Top City and County Hotel Tea Award in 2011 and has held a Tea Guild Award of Excellence since 2008.
Our festive high tea consisted of three tiers of freshly cut triangular sandwiches, sweet treats and hot savouries, served with a selection of fine teas including Sri Lankan ‘Rainforest Lumbini’ and Himalayan ‘Darjeeling First Flush’.
Freshly made on-site on both white and brown bread, crusts removed, the sandwiches consisted of pickled cucumber with cream cheese, salmon and dill, turkey and cranberry, and egg mayonnaise.
The sweet layer consisted of fresh cream pastries, cakes and bakes. Highlights included a black cherry chocolate yule log, mince pies topped with brandy cream, strawberry meringue and a fresh cream custard eclair topped with coffee-infused icing.
Meanwhile, the hot savouries included the likes of ham hock terrine, mustard-glazed chipolata and coronation chicken vol-au-vent.
I went on to share a fresh cream and jam scone with my friend and fellow blogger, Jamie of Explore With Ed, followed by a few mouthfuls of fruit trifle.
At £30 per head, festive afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel certainly isn’t cheap, but it is delicious and it would make for a lovely Christmas catch-up with friends or family, or the ideal gift for someone special. The festive afternoon tea is available until 30th November, but it won’t be available on 24th-26th December, 31st December or 1st January.
The Foxhunter Bar
After our indulgent afternoon tea, I waddled around the hotel taking photos with Jamie. We stopped for a drink in The Foxhunter Bar; with wood panel walling and an authentic log fire, this looks exactly like the kind of place I picture when I imagine a traditional, old-world tavern. This bar serves just about everything you could possibly want to drink, from wines, spirits and liqueurs to beers, ales and ciders.
Swiss fondue dinner in the Aprés Ski Bar
At around 8.30pm, we re-grouped in The Angel’s pop-up Aprés Ski Bar for a traditional Swiss fondue evening meal.
We warmed ourselves up with hot mulled wine at the bar, which also stocks a range of German beers, local spirits, hot drinks and festive cocktails, as well as festive snacks like sausage rolls and mince pies.
Dunking boiled potatoes and fresh, crusty bread into hot cheese fondue, I felt like I was sat in an alpine ski lodge somewhere in Switzerland, rather than a courtyard of a hotel in Abergavenny!
I’m not even going to try to put into words how much I enjoyed the cheese fondue. I’ll just let this hilarious photo taken by Jamie do the talking! 😀
After polishing off the cheese fondue, I’m ashamed to admit that we had dessert. I don’t know how we found the room for it, but we nibbled on a flaky, sweet Swiss apple tart topped with vanilla ice cream. It was just too good to resist!
The Aprés Ski Bar makes The Angel Hotel the perfect venue for a festive getaway. The bar is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout December, with the Swiss cheese fondue served every Thursday evening. I am told booking is essential, so better call in advance to reserve your space – I can’t imagine how gutted I’d be if I had to miss out on this!
Breakfast worth getting up for
After an amazing night’s sleep, I awoke and got dressed and went for breakfast, which is served from 7am until 10am in the elegant Wedgewood room, or in The Foxhunter Bar up until 12pm. You can actually order breakfast to your room if you like, but I was keen to see the dining room. Having scoured the room service menu, I knew the breakfast would be well worth getting up for!
While I deliberated over what to order from the hot food menu, I was invited to help myself to fresh pastries, cereal, fruit and yoghurt. As I was already nursing a food baby after feasting on savouries, sweet treats and scrumptious melted cheese the night before, I politely declined. Although tempting as it was to order a full English breakfast, I opted for the less indulgent option of Eggs Royale, along with a rich, creamy latte to perk me up.
Within less than ten minutes, I was tucking into fresh smoked salmon sitting atop two toasted muffins, smothered in tangy hollandaise sauce. At just £8, this was very reasonably priced in comparison to some other hotel breakfasts I’ve experienced.
A festive stay to remember
Short but very sweet, my stay at The Angel Hotel couldn’t have been better. I left the hotel feeling well and truly ready for Christmas. I’m sure the hotel is just as lovely to stay throughout the entire year, and I would be delighted to return at any time in the future. Afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel certainly lived up to my high expectations, and I loved the classy-yet-cosy feel of my room.
In fact, I almost ended up visiting Abergavenny again this weekend for the Abergavenny Christmas Fair, but sadly it was cancelled due to heavy snow. The organisers of the fair have now started a campaign to encourage people to buy festive food and edible gifts from the independent producers directly, so all their extra stock won’t end up going to waste this Christmas. You can shop the range of available produce here.
You can book a room at The Angel Hotel from £95 per night. To book an overnight stay or afternoon tea, please contact the hotel directly using the below details.
The Angel Hotel
15 Cross St
01873 857 121
What qualities do you look for when booking a hotel room? Do you love afternoon tea as much as I do?