Château Rhianfa : Divine Opulence in Anglesey
Mark Bibby Jackson checks in at Château Rhianfa Hotel Anglesey on his travels through the countryside and castles of Wales, and can’t believe he is still in the Principality.
Entering the Château Rhianfa I feel as though I have been transported back in time – not to the mid-19th century when the place was built, but to a couple of summers ago when I took a trip through the Loire valley châteaux. For the luxury hotel feels much more as though it belongs in Angers or Saumur than in Anglesey.
Château Rhianfa History
Not that this should come as too much of a surprise for Grade II*-listed Rhianfa was modelled on a French Renaissance château, and built between 1849 and 1851 by Sir John Hay-Williams, first Baronet of Bodelwyddan, as a country retreat for his wife Lady Sarah Williams and daughters.
The family had travelled extensively through the Loire and it is said that Rhianfa’s architectural style is heavily influenced by the châteaux of Amboise, Blois, Chambord and Chaumont.
Rhianfa remained in the hands of the Williams’ family until 1957. In 2011 it underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment creating a 16-bed five-star hotel, with the adjoining cottages converted into guest houses.
Château Rhianfa Rooms
I had not expected the amazing attention to detail, from the iconic conical towers to the amazing tapestries hanging on its walls and the exotic gardens with their wonderful views across the Menai Strait to the mainland. This is a place that has seemed to by-pass the 20th century.
The spectacular tapestry in the entrance hall reminded me much of my journey through the Loire valley, but this is only part of the amazing furnishings from painted ceilings to chandeliers, gilded mirrors and stained-glass windows. This could easily be converted into a museum, but one very much alive.
Rhianfa is built on a series of floors with numerous elegant rooms offering you isolation should you prefer.
The Drawing Room, Music Room and Morning Room all offer the same spectacular view over the Strait. As we arrive staff are clearing away a Château Rhianfa Afternoon Tea that someone had taken in a small balcony in the Drawing Room.
I am lead to my room the Snowdonia Suite, which also has the same sweeping rooms. I just love the purple colours in my room, along with the inviting bed and wooden wardrobes. The designer has managed to achieve a ‘vintage-modern’ style, providing modern comfort whilst maintaining the essence of the past. This is a 21st-century palace.
A Dip Before Dinner
As wonderfully opulent as the house itself is, the gardens take Rhianfa to another level. Maintained to perfection, clearly the gardener has used her time well over lockdown.
It is through these that I stroll before dinner, down to the small beach where I take a quick dip. Unfortunately, the tide is out so my conceived swim becomes a muddy wade but the view remains constant across to Bangor University and pier. It has become quite mesmeric.
After the excursions of my walk to the beach, I feel in need of refreshment, so settle down on the terrace to enjoy a local Anglesey gin and tonic and ready myself for the evening meal.
Château Rhianfa Restaurant
We take our dinner in the AA rosette Le Dragon Rouge restaurant. Efficiently led to our socially-distanced tables, I am pleased to discover that the restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere despite its grandiose setting. I could imagine Errol Flynn swashbuckling Basil Rathbone here.
I started with the excellent octopus on sourdough toast with tomatoes. This I followed with a lemon sole in a beurre blanc sauce while my companion had a fillet of Anglesey beef. The quality of the food matched both setting and service. Trying to keep our produce as local as possible we shared a plate of Welsh cheeses, which were as excellent as expected.
After such self-indulgence it is unsurprising to say that I slept like any French roi.
A Welcome Morning After
One of the best aspects of a stay at Château Rhianfa is the quality of the air. There is a freshness to it that manages to reinvigorate both body and soul.
Recharged by the excellent breakfast, with coffee that actually tasted of coffee and poached eggs that truly were poached, we continue our road trip around Wales.
Rhianfa is situated just outside the beautiful town of Beaumaris, where we stopped off on our way to the spectacular open sands of Benllech beach which had been recommended to us by one of the staff over dinner the previous evening.
With so much remaining to discover on Anglesey, we depart our Welsh château with a heavy heart determined to return again to surely one of the most amazing hotels in Wales.
Discover more about Mark’s journey through the countryside and castles of Wales.
Château Rhianfa Photo Gallery
Château Rhianfa Deals
Prices at Chateau Rhianfa start from around £159 B&B per night for two sharing. Book through Welsh Rarebits Hotels of Distinction, or call 01570 470785.