We reviewed a multi-award winning country hotel in the region - and it didn't disappoint
The charm of its surroundings is rivalled only by the quality of the food, writes Mark Morris in his review of a Shropshire hotel dubbed one of the country's best.
It may or may not have been the intention, but Pen-y-Dyffryn is a fascinating but subtle fusion of East meets West - and not just because there's a Buddha statue and Bonsai tree on a hill opposite the hotel.
There is something about the idyllic British countryside that seamlessly intertwines with the Zen-like principles of Eastern philosophy, and this seems to be evident in the hotel's decor - but only if you notice that kind of thing.
You could also argue this vibe is present in the food, which is dainty but not pompously so, beautifully presented and as I'll go on to explain - justifiably award winning.
I have obviously overstated the East meets West theme for narrative purposes - it is after all a British country house hotel - but there is indeed a harmonious balance at Pen-y-Dyffryn.
Formerly a serene rectory steeped in history, this enchanting country house just a stone's throw from Oswestry, seamlessly marries timeless elegance with modern comfort.
The Champagne Room, in which we were lucky enough to spend the night, is a testament to understated luxury and it really captivates as soon as you walk in with its simple yet clearly trendy design.
Bathed in a bold palette probably inspired by the surrounding countryside, the room exudes a quiet sophistication that whispers of peace and quiet. The Autumnal view of the garden was nice, but I couldn't help but think it must be even more impressive in the summer when everything is in full bloom."
The bathroom has a double spa bath too, which is certainly worth a mention.
Pen-y-Dyffryn is cosy. Personal service, real fires, a homey lounge, a small but well-stocked bar, home-made jam and marmalade and spa treatments all contribute to this idea.
The hotel also keeps a fridge on the ground floor fully stocked with fresh milk, water and jars of chocolate brownies, which guests are free to take. This is a nice touch.
If you're spending the weekend there, the nearby walking routes and tourist attractions are numerous, and I'd be surprised if anyone staying for longer than a night didn't bring their walking boots.
Whether it's a leisurely stroll along the meandering trails or a more invigorating hike through rolling hills, the beautiful Shropshire surroundings cater to every pace. Pen-y-Dyffryn really is a good base camp for walkers.
And at the end of the day, when you've been traversing hills for hours, the food on offer is particularly special.
The restaurant at Pen-y-Dyffryn, Seasons, plays into the cosy, tranquil setting perfectly. It's award winning, open to non-hotel guests, and the ingredients are locally sourced.
It's easy to overstate quality or become too extravagant in your language when reviewing food, but the chefs at this restaurant deserve a round of applause for what was a genuine culinary masterpiece. Everything was well-balanced, as you would expect.
For starter, the lemon and thyme chicken galantine delivered a delicate dance of citrus and herb-infused perfection, setting the tone for an exquisite dining experience.
As the main course unfolded, the local Welsh fillet steak showcased the culinary prowess of the kitchen, delivering a succulent masterpiece that left a savoury imprint on the taste buds.
We finished with a cheese board, which combined with the remainder of a good wine to complete a delightful meal.
As a Shropshire Star reader, you'll be familiar with the county's countryside, but this hotel really emerges as a beacon of refined luxury, where the charm of its surroundings is only rivalled by the quality of the food.
All combine to craft a genuinely memorable experience.