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Roger St. Pierre savours a welcoming Welsh hideaway

Nanteos Mansion

An 18thC elegant Georgian Mansion serves memorable food

Set just two miles outside the bustling Mid Wales university town and seaside resort of Aberystwyth, with its direct train link to Birmingham International Airport and onward connections to London Euston, gracious Nanteos Mansion ( is easy to access. It even has a helicopter-landing pad.
Yet, set at the end of a mile long drive, amid acre beyond acre of glorious parkland and woods and overlooking a placid lake, it’s a perfect hideaway venue for discreet business meetings, seminars, romantic incentives and team building exercises – with everything from shooting, hill walking, mountain biking and sea, lake and river angling readily to hand.

A decade ago, this Grade One listed stately pile – which had been built in 1739 and was lived in by the prominent local Powell family for 200 years – was crumbling.

Then along came a wealthy Australia-based entrepreneur looking for somewhere to retire to. After half a decade with a more than £5m investment in lavish renovation and refurbishment, the property’s commercial potential became glaringly obvious, plans were changed and the re-born Nanteos Mansion emerged as a classic country house hotel.

The super-talented Nigel Jones, who trained with TV chef Antony Worrall-Thompson, was brought in as chef/patron and quickly stamped his friendly, outgoing personality on the place. There’s nothing stuffy about Nanteos – yes, it’s elegantly grand but you can relax and unwind and be yourself. It’s like being a pampered guest at a close friend’s house party.

The food is divine, with Nigel making the most of farm-to-fork local provenance. Speciality Welsh cheeses, local lamb, fresh from the boat fish and seafood and a range of game from local shoots all feature – presented in a simple but stylish manner that side-steps the over-the-top, picture-on-a-plate pretentiousness of so many of today’s chefs, who seem to think the mis en place is more important than the actual cooking process and the resultant taste and aroma.

You can walk-off any lunchtime excess along several miles of hiking trails or relax with a good book in the delightful walled garden.

When it’s time to get down to business, Nanteos can offer a small selection of elegant meeting spaces for up to 80 theatre style, with massive Georgian windows providing an abundance of natural light There are 13 sumptuously appointed guestrooms and a four-bedroom mews cottage – all furnished in period style, while affording the gamut of modern amenities. With nothing but pure nature in sight, the sweeping view from our bedroom window was sublime.

In its previous hey-day, Nanteos was at the heart of a massive 35,000-acre (14,000 hectare) estate, much of which has been swallowed up by the modern expansion of Aberystwyth. Its history is evidenced by a fascinating display of family portraits and historic documents displayed on the first-floor balcony.

Notably not present is the ornate Nanteos Bowl, a wooden receptacle claimed to have been made from fragments of the Holy Grail, the receptacle Christ is said to have drunk from at the Last Supper and reported to possess magical powers.

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