Thursday, 6 November 2014

Celtic Manor, Newport

For my anniversary present, my husband booked us a meal and an overnight stay at the Celtic Manor, Newport. Surprisingly, although we live pretty much up the road, we've never actually stayed overnight before, and I was extremely excited to see what all the fuss was about.

We couldn't actually stay for our anniversary, as a certain President was in residence, so we popped in once they had reopened. If it's good enough for Mr Obama...

As soon as we checked in, we raced to our room to get comfy and see the views from our balcony room. We were pleasantly rewarded with amazing views over the front of the hotel, and the golf course.

What a lovely little terrace! We weren't expecting such a large balcony, and it was in a beautiful position overlooking the green and the crazy golf course. The outside space was huge, and sitting outside sipping at something sparkling made me feel like I was in a little Italian courtyard, and not just 5 minutes from the M4.

After wandering around the huge expanse of hotel, we dolled ourselves up for dinner. We were given a choice between the hotels restaurants for dinner, and we decided upon Rafters. This restaurant is sat in the middle of the golf course, in the Twenty Ten clubhouse, which was built when the hotel hosted the Ryder Cup. The hotel provides a shuttle bus between the resort and the restaurant, and it's a short but pretty journey taking in wonderful views over the golf course and the Usk Valley along the way.

We were also lucky enough to see the most beautiful sunset over Sugarloaf mountain in the distance, but my fingers weren't snappy enough to capture it. You'll just have to go and see it for yourself.

Dinner at Rafters was excellent. Chilled out atmosphere meets fine dining, we had such a lovely evening that I got carried away with my food and wine and didn't get an awful lot of photos. Fortunately for your bellies, I did get a few foodie shots in.

The duck hash consisted of a lovely crunchy croquette outside and flavoursome duck on the inside. Complimented by a tangy sauce and some salty bacon mouthfuls, this was a wonderfully tasty dish to start the night on.

Mr. P had the "Triple cooked short rib of beef", which was out of this world. I didn't get a picture because I was too jealous. I'm not normally fond of having the same thing as each other, as I like to share as much of the menu as possible (greedy), but I still regret not having the beef.

However, I cannot fault the lamb that I chose at all. Served perfectly pink as I like it, with asparagus and a chunky slice of a thyme potato gratin. It's just that it's not the same after trying the beef. Promise me you'll have the beef if you go? So good.

One course I did however win on, was dessert. "Rafters Knickerbocker Glory" anyone? You can't go wrong with an old school pudding.


The honeycomb ice cream is creamy and sparkles on your tongue, before you fight your way through a thick disc of chocolate to the fruit and cake centre. Needless to say, I didn't make it to the bottom, but I gave it my best shot.

Once we'd given our food time to go down, or at least once we could move again, we jumped in a minibus back to the resort in time to chill out in Merlins bar. This fabulous little bar made me feel like I'd just stepped into Mad Men, in the best kind of way. Live piano music in the background and the most incredible cocktails.

Ranging between about £11-£14, they aren't cheap, but they are fantastic, and worth every single penny. The barman who makes them is mesmerising to watch, and I was extremely jealous of his cocktail corner.

The service by every single staff member we met at the Manor was top notch, and made us feel very special. On learning it was our anniversary, one of the bartenders brought us a glass of champagne each to celebrate, whilst we waited for our cocktails in the queue.


Somewhat blurry the next morning, we filled ourselves up on the breakfast buffet, packed our bags and headed down to the spa to try and shake the fog. A vigorous swim, lazy hot tub and a steamy sauna later and we were fighting fit.

Even enough to take on the dragons...


Not quite ready to leave just yet, we meandered around the grounds until we came across the crazy golf. Having barely picked up a real golf club before, this was a perfect way for us to join in the golf atmosphere without having to be any good.

There are two 9 hole crazy golf courses, one is a normal crazy golf theme, and the other a teeny tiny version of Ryder Cup holes. I take it all back golf, I'm sorry, I didn't realise it could be so much fun!


Eventually, we conceded defeat and headed on up the road back home. The Manor made us feel like we were miles away from home, and one night is just not enough to see everything there! It's somewhere you can spend a whole weekend at least without realising it. We didn't even manage to make it to the shopping mall, the high ropes or the extensive gym and classes!

We'll be back. Even if it's just so I can try that rib of beef...

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