By Adam Raphael
A single image is more powerful than thousands of words which is why I promised last year that I would give a magnum of champagne to the hotel which had the best photos on the Guide’s website. It was a tough contest with dozens of properties battling it out. The winner is a surprise, not one of your grand luxury hotels but a small Welsh B&B.
THE MANOR TOWN HOUSE, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, is a worthy winner of our photo competition. ‘I chose it’ says our judge, Rob Besant, a brilliant travel photographer, ‘because in their Guide listing, there was a collection of images from good angles. Most of the areas were covered; location, beach, village as well as rooms, food, lounges and common areas. It feels like a taster of what to expect. I get the sense there is more to this property that is shown, which creates intrigue.’
The Manor Town House does not just look good. Read its entry in the 2021 Guide: ‘Above the harbour in a seaside town with spectacular views over Cardigan Bay to the Preseli hills, this Georgian town house B&B is all that the smart street front promises – and more. Helen and Chris Sheldon are “perfect hosts”. ‘We arrived late from the ferry, and they made us very welcome,’ writes a reader. Bedrooms have contemporary decor, with perhaps bright fabric headboards and the occasional well-chosen antique, as well as vegan Noble Isle toiletries and an honesty hamper of Welsh treats. Two superior sea-view rooms can sleep a family. Airy lounges with wood floor and earthy hues are hung with works by Welsh artists. A cream tea can be taken by a log-burning stove or, when the sun shines, on the rear terrace, with its views over the fishing-boat-bobbing harbour where, 50 years ago, Hollywood descended to film Under Milk Wood. A generous breakfast buffet, organic eggs and hand-made sausages fixes you up to walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path that runs below; take a packed lunch.’
My reaction: ‘wow, just my sort of place.’ This is our first photo competition, but it is not the last. The Guide will have an annual competition for the best-presented hotel, inn or B&B entry on its website. The standard is high. Please have a look below at the eleven other hotels which came close to winning the contest. To my untutored eye, they look great; I would happily go and stay in all of them.
You may ask why I keep on banging on about photos. I care about how a hotel’s entry looks because not only does it lift my spirits, but it has such a big impact on readers. The Guide’s website has a panoramic design which means that for a hotel entry to look good we need to display high-resolution landscape images that are at least 2000 pixels wide. Even the smallest inn or B&B can be made to look attractive given a good photographer. If you would like to see the quality of work that Rob Besant produces have a look at three of the hotels on the Guide’s website that he has snapped: THE PRIORY, THE BELL AT SKENFRITH, and THE QUEENSBERRY. They, of course, were excluded from the competition.
And here are the 11 runners-up in this year’s competition. All worth a look:
BANK HOUSE, Kings Lynn, Norfolk
BELLE TOUT LIGHTHOUSE, Eastbourne, Sussex
BLUE QUAY ROOMS, Clifden, Co.Galway, Ireland
CAEMORGAN MANSION, Cardigan, Ceredigion, Wales
CASTLE LESLIE, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
CEDAR MANOR, Windermere, Cumbria
PENTONBRIDGE INN, Penton, Cumbria
HAVEN HALL, Shanklin, Isle of Wight
QUAY HOUSE, Clifden, County Galway, Ireland
MALLORY COURT, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
KARMA ST MARTINS, St. Martins, Isles of Scilly