If there’s one thing I love about Britain, it’s the unusual and diverse range of accommodation you can stay in.
From boutique hotels to old stately homes and even tents and caravans – there’s an incredible array of amazing stays just waiting to be explored. And since the dawn of the internet and review sites, hotels and B&B’s have been upping their game.
So I was very excited when I received an invite to stay at Westbrook Court, Kari and Chris Morgan’s stylish B&B in Hay-on-Wye.
Nestled on the English-Welsh border, this is not your ordinary B&B. Located in a small hamlet on the outskirts of the famous book-town of Hay-on-Wye, its owners have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure this B&B stands out from the crowd.
Turning in to the driveway of an old farm house on a wet and drizzly summer’s evening, I parked up and was greeted by the most wonderful view of hills, trees and sheep in the distance.
It might only be a few miles out of Hay, but you really do feel like you’re a world away.
I was warmly greeted by the owner, Kari, who showed me to my room.
There are only five rooms on offer here, but this adds to the intimacy and personal touch that this B&B brings.
The rooms are located outside of the main farm house in a newly-built building which resembles an old-fashioned barn (which has been beautifully crafted) and doesn’t look out of place or feel ‘purpose built’.
Each room comes with its own small terrace with seating out the front, which if you’re lucky to visit when the sun makes an appearance, is the perfect spot to catch a few rays in the morning.
I was staying in room 5 – which is the last one in the block, but also commands some fantastic views over the nearby hills.
Stepping into the room, I actually forgot I was in a B&B and felt like I’d walked into a stylish studio apartment.
With a mezzanine level for sleeping and the ground floor housing the bathroom and living room area, the ‘room’ was incredibly spacious and airy.
Kari is also an interior designer, and the beautiful touches and striking design has clearly been thought through very carefully.
Along with a large television and comfy sofa there is also an area where you can make tea and coffee. Kari kindly offered to bring me some fresh milk if I wanted it, and there was a good choice of teas to choose from.
The unusual but very striking wallpaper really caught my eye and was very in-keeping with the surroundings – you can’t come to Hay and not expect to find books – real or not!
Perhaps one thing that may have detracted from the stylishness of the space was the rather conventional and dull-looking kettle, which looked a tad out of place in such a beautifully designed space.
Walking into the bathroom located off the living room, I was very happy to spot a roll-top bath with claw feet.
This traditional bath looked great in the stylish and modern surroundings, and it is fair to say that the bathroom itself was bigger than most of the bathrooms in hotel suites I’ve stayed in.
Stylish and more unusual little touches like a ladder holding towels and cute little bath oils gave it a unique feel.
Head up the beautiful wooden staircase and you arrive on the mezzanine bedroom level.
The stylish theme continues with a simple layout including a quirky ‘wardobe’ made of crates, crisp, white bed linen and a lovely large skylight to ‘watch the stars’ if they make an appearance, while you’re tucked up in bed.
Who needs a TV when you have nature’s very own light show?
Speaking of nature – the natural light that comes flooding in makes the room feel even bigger, and the view out of the round ‘port-hole’ on the mezzanine level over the Wye Valley is truly stunning.
You do really feel like you’re surrounded by peace and tranquility, and this continued throughout my night’s sleep.
I found only one downside to my night under the stars – having the bathroom on the lower floor meant a rather cautious walk down the stairs in the middle of the night (there really is nothing worse than putting the lights on when you’re half asleep!).
The sound of birds tweeting and the rain falling gently on the big sky light above me was a lovely sound to wake up to. The bed was incredibly comfortable and I woke up well rested.
Navigating the stairs in daylight down to the living room I discovered a picnic hamper full of delights left outside my room door.
The night before, Kari took my order for the continental breakfast that they offer Monday to Friday, which is delivered directly to your door in a rather awesome picnic basket.
Weekends are slightly different – you can choose to eat in your studio, or go for a cooked breakfast in the main farmhouse, where there’s a dining room with a communal table for guests to sit round and eat.
The hamper is packed full of goodies – and what makes it even better is that most of the produce is either locally sourced (up until recently the eggs came from Kari’s own hens!) or responsibly sourced.
Boiled eggs, muesli, smoked salmon, home-made bread, croissants from the local bakery, and freshly brewed coffee all feature and set you up for your day exploring the Herefordshire countryside.
I very much enjoyed eating in my room, but don’t forget to bring in the table and chairs from outside (or ask Kari or Chris to) as eating your breakfast on your lap can become quite a balancing act!
I’d also recommend letting Kari know if you plan on having a lay-in as you wouldn’t want your coffee getting too cold.
Once breakfast was over, I jumped into the hot shower, which had quite possibly one of the biggest shower heads I had ever seen.
Check out is 10am, which perhaps felt a little rushed after my rather leisurely breakfast, but I was keen to get out and explore the countryside, with the guide that Kari and Chris had so carefully prepared for all their guests.
Kari’s knowledge of the local area is impressive. She works closely with local firms, and has clearly spent a lot of time discovering the best Herefordshire and the surrounding area has to offer.
A booklet is supplied in each room, detailing what you can do in Hay and nearby and Kari is only too pleased to help out with any other questions.
They are even able to provide extra ‘goodies’ such as a locally-sourced cheese platter or a beautician who can provide in-room treatments such as massages.
All the rooms here are very different from one-another, with no two rooms the same. I absolutely loved my ‘suite’ but if a modern four-poster bed is more your thing then make sure you check out this room below!
I left Westbrook B&B feeling refreshed and revitalised.
This is no ordinary B&B, with its contemporary feel and stylish vibes, it felt more like a stay in a boutique hotel. Apart from the calm and cool surroundings, Kari’s relaxed approach leaves guests feeling like it’s a home-from-home.
A night at Westbrook B&B starts at £95 for the smaller, single-floor room and goes up to £110 a night for one of the larger rooms. All room-rates of course include breakfast.
You can also book ‘extras’ ahead of your visit that include special Welsh chocolate (£15), chilled prosecco (£20) a platter of local cheeses and grapes (£25) and even a dozen red roses (£55) all locally sourced and delivered to your room.
You can book online here: http://www.westbrookcourtbandb.co.uk/
Herefordshire and the town of Hay really are fabulous places to visit. The countryside is absolutely stunning and the town quaint and pretty.
What I loved so much about Hay is its strong independence and individuality, you will struggle to find a chain shop and you really could spend hours getting lost in the many bookshops and antique boutiques dotted around town.
Kari recommended I try Tomatitos in the centre of Hay-On-Wye and it did not disappoint. Delicious, authentic tapas in a relaxed atmosphere, with great service and a real buzz in the air, even on a Sunday night. Like Westbrook food is sourced locally and it works with local businesses.
If you like reading, then Hay is the town for you. Over thirty bookshops call this town home, and you can find books on literally anything – new and old, and even rare and out-of-print material.
My favourite bookshop (and the most famous) is Richard Booth’s. A maze of shelves with a real array of books that will leave you mesmerised for quite a few hours.
Floor to ceiling wooden shelves house every genre you can imagine, and there’s even a small brassiere that serves really good food towards the back and a lovely little cinema.
There’s nowhere better on a rainy day than wondering the aisles, marvelling at all the fabulous books on offer in this amazing bookshop.
If you fancy getting out into the fresh air, I highly recommend heading up Hay Bluff and take in the incredible landscape and countryside. The Bluff is a hill situated on the Wales/England border with incredible views over the Radnorshire countryside.
Located on the edge of the Black Mountains, on a clear day you can see for miles. I visited on a cloudy, misty day and it was incredible to see the cloud descend over the mountains. Getting to the top is easy if you have a car, and it’s signposted from Hay town.
Please note- disclaimer
The Brit Crowd was kindly invited to a complementary stay at Westbrook B&B. However this in no way reflects the review which as always remains unbiased, truthful and honest in every way.