The Whitebrook nestles in a verdant valley with a stream running alongside it. Cars going past are a rare occurrence and the wifi's a bit hit and miss. You're truly away from it all.
More of a restaurant with rooms than a hotel, this is a lifetime's dream of chef Chris Harrod. Harrod trained up at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons before moving here to Monmouthshire. He took over The Whitebrook and has given it a modern but comfortable feel. Both the AA and Michelin reckon he's doing a decent job of it - the place has 4 rosettes and one star. We were staying here for the Abergavenny Food Festival. The restaurant's about a 20-minute drive from the town.
There are eight in total. We stayed in No 3 - which is one of their newly-refurbished rooms and one of two at The Whitebrook which can be switched between a double and a twin. There was a pretty big ensuite bathroom with standalone shower and a roll top bath. A neat touch after you check in is the arrival of a couple of warm Welsh teacakes and a pot of tea. Pottery nerds will appreciate the mugs - attention to detail is all here.
Before you head into the dining room - which is split into three sections of muted minimalism - dinner begins with drinks and canapes in the lounge area. Delicate wafers with sorrel and more are brought to you - and the cocktails are very good too.
What's for dinner?
Dining here means a choice of the three course or seven course tasting menu and as we were here to put the place through its paces we went all in with the latter adding the wine matching too (£59 for three courses, £74 and £129 with the wine matching). There's a definite bent towards vegetables here - fish and charcuterie in the first few courses allow the focus firmly to be on the herbs, seasonal veg and foraged goodies.
Expect the menu when you go to have changed a fair bit since our trip but, to give you an idea of the style of food, some of our standout courses included:
- A rainbow selection of mugwort smoked beets served with crumbled black pudding from the wonderful Trealy Farm which is just down the road.
- Duck liver parfait parried the smoothness of the parfait with a riot of textures from charred sweetcorn and puffed rice together with a croquette of the duck.
- Whopping Herefordshire raspberries served up with a sorrel mousse and cocoa nibs.
The wine pairing, by restaurant manager Andy Stoneley, was inventive and interesting - it begins with a glass of Welsh Pinot Noir from Ancre Hill Estates and we particularly loved the 2013 Coteau du Layon which was paired with that duck.
What about breakfast?
In any hotel, breakfast is one of the easiest ways to separate the brilliant from the good and, occasionally, the bad and ugly. We were staying for two nights at The Whitebrook which allowed us to try pretty much everything from the breakfast menu from the undyed smoked haddock with perfectly poached eggs, sunshine-hued scrambled with local smoked salmon and a full English with Trealy Farm bacon and black pudding. Just writing that is making us drool over the memories. Even the coffee was notably good and both the bread and pastries were clearly freshly cooked on site.
The next time you're wearying of the frenetic pace of London life, do yourself a favour and book yourself a night or two at The Whitebrook. Turn off the wifi (except maybe to do the odd Instagram) and enjoy thoughtful, delicious food at a slower pace.
What: The Whitebrook
Where: Whitebrook, Near Monmouth, Monmouthshire NP25 4TX
How much: Rooms at The Whitebrook start at £223 including a three-course dinner and breakfast. Look out for last minute and midweek deals too.
How to book: Call 01600 860254 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hot Dinners stayed as guests of The Whitebrook. Prices correct at time of writing.