Blessed with astonishingly good weather we drove up to Milford Haven for a mid-week mini break at the Tŷ Hotel, the newest addition in the Celtic Collection group expanding its unique brand of premium accommodation across Wales. The hotel sits neatly on the quay, alongside the prettiest of marinas, tall masts a clinking and clonking as far as the eye can see and beyond across the Milford Haven Waterway to the rolling patchwork of the countryside. If you love boats this is the place for you, but it’s also a great base for exploring all the other delights Pembrokeshire has to offer, peace and tranquillity being just two.
The hotel is sleek and modern but with an edge of luxury and comfort; on arrival the long polished bar with gleaming brass fitments draws the eye, topped as it is at one end with a selection of delicious looking pastries just begging the weary traveller to choose one and retire to a large squashy chair by the window when check-in is complete. Mindful of dinner being just around the corner, we resisted that temptation and went straight to our room which was dual-aspect with a quirky pointed balcony overlooking the marina; light and airy, decorated in subtle greys and lemon, with lots of natural wood and most importantly a commodious king-size bed full of plump pillows. It was very pleasant and a novel experience rather like being on a cruise ship as the floor to ceiling windows with the view over the marina gave the illusion that you were surrounded by water.
A lot of thought had been put into the practical detail of the room, USB power points above the beside tables, good reading lights, workable safe, plenty of wardrobe space and in the compact bathroom, neat shelves to stow your toiletries and a rather nice rain forest shower above the bath. We took full advantage of all of this before going down to dinner, relaxed powdered and primped, looking forward to some inspired dishes created by Executive Head Chef, Simon Crockford who knows a thing or two about local produce as he is a local boy himself.
The restaurant is beautifully appointed themed in blues with a nod to its nautical location and named Dulse after the edible seaweed which grows around the coastal region. Tables are arranged in front of the tall windows with their marina views, laid with classy Robert Welch cutlery and blue glasses. Menus in hand we watched a spectacular sunset whilst deliberating which dishes to choose; sensibly there was lots of fish which naturally would be the freshest of fresh, and Welsh delicacies (lavabread fishcake caught my eye). Vegetarians were well catered for and on our second night’s stay I had an excellent sweetcorn, asparagus and samphire risotto with Welsh feta cheese.
Never one to overlook a tiger prawn on offer, to start we ordered grilled tiger prawns with garlic butter, lemon and samphire and for me, chicken, leek and Snowdonia cheese croquettes with a Matson curry sauce. For main course, I ordered sea bass on a bed of tabbouleh salad with tahini dressing, chilli sambal and fennel shavings and across the table traditional fish and chips – haddock in Tenby Harbwr batter, with tartare sauce, mushy peas and lemon.
The tiger prawns were awesome, juicy and full of the taste of the sea, topped with the samphire and served with a tiny saucepan of garlic butter sauce. I loved my croquettes and really enjoyed the Matson curry sauce – to be honest I could have done with a bit more of it! After this we sat back enjoying the happy buzz of the restaurant and people-watching the evening walkers strolling up and down the quay.
Our main courses arrived looking very impressive, the fish and chips artfully arranged by skewering together two fat pieces of crisped, golden battered haddock, with a scorched lemon, and laying alongside equally fat and tempting chips. My sea bass was a more exotic and delicate affair, two fillets cooked to perfection with the surrounding tabbouleh salad, a panoply of different flavours that came together in total harmony. We both enjoyed our main courses very much, so different in their own ways but so good because of the quality of the main ingredient.
Probably it would have been sensible to forego a dessert but a friendly waitress whispered that the sticky toffee pudding with Barti spiced run and salted caramel ice cream was to die for so I couldn’t let that opportunity pass, and to keep me company my dinner companion ordered goetre lemon curd parfait, lime meringue and raspberries. She was right; and the parfait was excellent too.
The hotel obviously runs a tight ship and we were struck by how friendly and efficent all the staff were, right down to housekeeping who “refreshed” our room flawlessly. Milford Haven offers plenty to do – the museum opposite the hotel is well worth a visit, as are the interesting little shops along the quayside, but mostly we enjoyed just relaxing and being pampered by the Tŷ Hotel.