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The Martinez family has been an influential part of the culinary scene in Wales for decades, championing a love of ‘food, fire and wine’. A very good start, but add in splash of Welsh culture, and a pinch of inspiration taken from the family’s Spanish heritage, and the recipe is mouth-watering.

The atmospheric Priory Hotel presides over the ancient Roman town of Caerleon, often described as a place of legends, close to the River Usk. There’s a reassuring feeling of gothic longevity here, with a story to tell, beginning as far back as 1180. Over the last five centuries Cistercian monks have called it home, it later became a Nunnery, and was the residence of choice for Baronets, MPs, and High Sheriffs, including, fittingly, the Welsh pirate Sir Henry (‘Captain’) Morgan, immortalized in the eponymous rum.

Today, the venue’s focal point is its buzzing dining room and cosy bar. The interiors have been restyled with a respectful nod to history, retaining the early architectural features, but layered with on-trend tactile fabrics, polished hardwoods, patinated flagstone floors, moody shades, leather, and brass with a subtle nod to Spanish patterns and rich colours.

The menus make skilful use of Galician style open-fire cooking, with fresh cuts and seafood on display and a cracking wine list showing off some of its rarities in the bespoke bins around the restaurant. There’s even a range of hard-to-find eating and drinking gems for sale ‘to go’ in the bijoux retail area, Bodega.

There’s plenty of choice across The Old House, Cottage, or Stable room types. All twenty-seven are unique, all with individual touches. Some have roll top baths, others deep-buttoned sofas and a few have private garden spaces, but we fell in love with the extra privacy of the spacious Cottage rooms hidden away across lawns.

With the legendary nightlife, packed events calendar and tempting retail therapy of Cardiff a short cab ride away, the bustling foodie town of Abergavenny just twenty minutes’ drive, and the rugged beauty of the Brecon Beacons mountains and the Bannau Brycheiniog within reach, Caerleon is worth more than just a second look.

Welsh Rarebits

Welsh Rarebits are a million miles removed from the bland, corporate, soulless places run by the big boys of the so-called hospitality industry. So what makes a Welsh Rarebit? They're all different. Very different - everything from traditional country houses to cutting edge boutique boltholes, luxury spas to historic inns. We look at things like comfort, attention to detail, food, decor and all those small touches that add up to so much, separating the best from the rest.
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