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The Royston in a nutshell
A Victorian residence turned seven-room guesthouse in the hills of Montgomeryshire.
If this splendid white house, perched on a mid-Wales hillside, looks incongruously urban, it’s because the building’s original owner built it to mimic his townhouse in Clapham; in went ornate staircases and fireplaces, generous bay windows and statement stained glass. Today it’s run as a relaxed guesthouse by Clive Sweeting and Rob Perham, creative and hospitable ex-advertising execs who moved here from Brighton, bringing with them a sense of fun, and playfully eclectic furnishings (top hats are a bit of a theme). Design junkies in search of a digital detox will love it.
Which room should I book at The Royston?
All seven bedrooms are large, with Egyptian cotton bed linen, original art by Rob, and daringly smoky walls in olive or slate. Look out, too, for Danish-made Meraki smellies in the black-and-white metro-tiled bathrooms, and hand-woven Welsh blankets on the beds. But no TVs – you’re here to switch off. Winners for views and space are the first-floor “Superior” rooms (5 and 6), which have bay windows looking out to the Cambrian mountains (vintage binoculars and bird-watching guides are supplied) and armchairs by Italian designers Moroso.
The food and drink
Clive, the cook, likes to keep things simple and relaxed so suppers are served at small marble-topped cafe-style tables in the basement, and dishes range from minted lamb and feta burgers to home-made pizza or Thai fish-cakes. All come with salad leaves, tomatoes and edible flowers from the garden that Rob lovingly tends at the back, plus homemade chutneys. Dessert is a toss-up between afogato and a Welsh cheeseboard that, if you’re lucky, will be accompanied by Rob’s homemade gruyere and rosemary cake.
Drinks range from a small selection of wines, all at £5 a glass to keep things easy, to local Montgomeryshire Sunshine Ale from Monty’s Brewery. If you’re after something stronger, help yourself to a pre-mixed negroni or a home-made damson or sloe gin from the honesty bar in the fabulously comfy ground-floor lounge (enjoy it curled up by the wood-burner).
Choose between home-made granola (served with Clive’s divine homemade ginger and rhubarb compote), drizzled with local Welsh honey, and a full cooked breakfast (meats come from the butchers in nearby Newtown and eggs from The Royston’s own hens); there’s a colourful vegetarian version if you prefer a plant-based start to the day. Wash it down with freshly brewed Black Gold coffee from Carmarthenshire’s Coaltown roastery in the former coal-miners’ town of Ammanford.
What else can foodies do?
Surprisingly, for such an out of the way location, there’s an impressive range of dining options in Machynlleth, 15 minutes’ drive away. Pop into Restaurant Number Twenty One or Ty Medi, the town’s famous vegan hangout, for a lunchtime salad or homemade cakes. Or, buy your own ingredients at another Machynlleth old-timer, the well-stocked Blasau deli. For a swim, it’s just a short drive up the Dyfi estuary from there to Aberdovey, home to one of Wales’ most spectacular sandy beaches. If you fancy heading for the hills, instead, Clive will happily plan you a route and lend you maps and wellies.
Is it family-friendly?
This is very much a couples’ hideaway, although children aged 12 and over can be accommodated on an extra bed in the two largest rooms (one child per room max).
In the warmer months, build yourself a fire-pit outside and sit around it with a nightcap flat white martini made from Coaltown coffee.
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Words by Clare Hargreaves
Food photographs by Clare Hargreaves
Interior photographs by Rachael Smith