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Locked down but looking up

I am sure that it is the same everywhere. Lockdown again, and how do we use the time productively without spending too much precious cash when there is nothing coming in. At Gliffaes there is never a shortage of things to do. With 33 acres of grounds and an old Victorian building, there are plenty of tasks on our to-do list.


Lockdown over winter has meant that we can tackle different jobs outside than we could over the spring and summer lockdown of 2020. Winter is all about trees; thinning, pruning and planting.

We have cleared a few ash trees that had succumbed to ash dieback and were posing a threat to buildings and paths, we have cleared scrubby self-seeded sycamore saplings to improve the views of the river from the lawns. In their place, I plan to plant a variety of hawthorn trees to add some spring colour, which will not grow too large to spoil the view.

I have been trying to wrestle back control of a scrappy hedgerow from a lot of overgrown holly and hazel. With the help of my daughter, Alexandra, we have built a couple of ‘dead hedges’ with everything we cut out. Rather than chipping or burning the large piles of brash, we have piled it all between posts to create a thick pile of brash that will hopefully make a suitable habitat for small mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. Time will tell. We also piled up some of the larger cut logs with the same purpose. Rotting wood is home to so much in the way of fungus and bugs. With the old fence removed and more light getting in I will be able to re-plant the hedgerow with a mixture of suitable hedging plants.

Once that it is done it will be time to look carefully at the canopy and thin out trees to encourage the better trees to develop to their full potential. At the same time, I want to update the labelling of the main specimens in the grounds before we can re-open.


With strict social distancing rules in mind, we have only two or three members of staff in the hotel working part-time. We have a receptionist on hand to take care of the admin every morning and then we have Clive, the maintenance man, and Karl, the head Chef, both working part-time.

Karl is in the kitchen making 60 lbs of marmalade as I type which will be followed up with chutneys and relishes ready for when we can welcome you back to the restaurant.

Meanwhile, up in the bedrooms, Clive has been given a list of jobs by Susie who has gone through each and every bedroom with a fine toothcomb. The picture shows him rubbing down and re-varnishing a chest of drawers.

I am also keen to install a proper electric vehicle charging point and re-vamp our drinks offering in the bar, especially with regards to non-alcoholic drinks. Anyway, I won’t be short of things to do or delegate and I hope we can start to greet old friends and new around Easter time.

Stay at our hotel in the Brecon Beacons

Gliffaes Country House Hotel is situated in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park, just a 20-minute drive from Pen y Fan, with a stunning arboretum over our 33 acres, gorgeous views across the River Usk, and unrivalled fishing spots nearby, making it a perfect place for your Brecon Beacons break.

James Suter

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