My wife and I spent last weekend at Brown’s Hotel in Laugharne. You may have heard of this quiet town in Carmarthenshire already, and if so would probably know Brown’s as being synonymous with the great Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas.
The hotel has not only become an homage to Thomas, it is a great facility in its own right; attracting visitors from afar, including President Carter, Mick Jagger, Prince Charles, Elijah Wood, Cerys Matthews and Rhys Ifans.
Thomas spent his last four years living in Laugharne (in the famous Boathouse, now a tourist attraction), and wrote his best-known work whilst in Laugharne – Under Milkwood.
Brown’s Hotel became Thomas’ local after he moved to Laugharne. He is said to have spent most nights in the bar (after befriending the bar owner), taking inspiration for Under Milkwood from Laugharne and the people he met and observed in Brown’s.
Llareggub, the fictional town in Under Milkwood is based on his interpretation of Laugharne. Even the funeral wakes of both Dylan and his wife Caitlin, were both held at Brown’s.
The hotel has references and imagery of Thomas throughout, including images of Thomas sitting in the windowseat of the bar itself. Each individually named hotel room is related to Thomas and his work (such as Llareggub and Fern Hill).
As a fan of Dylan Thomas, I have wanted to visit Brown’s for some time. The Hotel benefitted from a significant (seven figure) investment in recent years, which restored the hotel to a period style, transforming a once unloved building into a boutique hotel.
There are 15 en-suite rooms which have all been finished to a high standard. We stayed at The Barks, a high standard large double room with double height ceilings, plenty of room to include a sofa and armchairs, and the combination of mod cons (Internet radio, large LCD TV and remote control velux windows) with more traditional features (including a large roll top bath).
Dylan Thomas described Laugharne as “the strangest town in Wales”, we found it to be a friendly, quiet town, with cheery locals happy to chat. As well as Brown’s, we visited the sister pub The Three Mariners, and a great tea room called The Owl and the Pussycat; enjoying a pint at Mariners and a great festive turkey baguette in The Owl and the Pussycat. Service was great in both venues, informal and friendly.
We had dinner at Brown’s and ate in the chilled ambience of the Reading Room, a cosy little area just off the main bar which had a roaring log fire and a great atmosphere. I had bangers and mash (classic!) and my wife enjoyed an impressive steak and ale pie. The service was excellent, and the food of a good standard. We were not rushed at all and were given attentive service throughout, this was a theme throughout our stay.
After the meal I decided to sample some of the great Penderyn whisky range served at the hotel (it would be rude not to, surely?) – I tried both the Peated and Madeira varieties (just with ice), while my wife enjoyed a few glasses of Merlyn – a cream liqueur from Penderyn (think Bailey’s!) – I highly recommend you try it!
It was a novelty to be able to sit and chat without other distractions, we had a great night and ended it pretty merry!
We had a Welsh breakfast in the morning: bacon, fried egg, sausage, sautéed potatoes, tomato and black pudding – mostly made using locally sourced products. The food was good, only slightly surpassed by the high level of service. The atmosphere was again laid back, and we enjoyed the decorations around the bar, with various vintage knick knacks interspersed with Dylan Thomas quotes and images.
We paid £120 b&b for the room, there are cheaper (smaller) rooms available, and two rooms which are slightly larger and more expensive. Our room was great, warm and welcoming with nice features, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.
If you are in need on some literary inspiration, or just a quiet break at a boutique hotel, you could do a lot worse than visiting the strangest town in Wales, and staying at Brown’s hotel.