Reached by heritage steam train and sitting above a waterfall, this historic former hunting lodge inland from Aberystwyth is being smartened up by its new owners
There can be few more satisfying ways of arriving at a hotel than on a tiny steam train, huffing and puffing up the side of a sumptuous Welsh valley. A couple of hours beforehand we’d pulled into Aberystwyth on a more conventional train in time for a quick lunch before our date with the past: the Vale of Rheidol narrow-gauge railway, which takes us 12 miles inland and climbs 200 metres to Devil’s Bridge, a village dominated by the Hafod Hotel.
Constructed in 1787 as a hunting lodge for the Hafod estate, the building was enlarged around 50 years later by the Duke of Newcastle. After the grand country house it served burned down, the lodge became a hotel, whose visitors included David Lloyd George. It rather rested on its laurels after that, until last summer, when it was bought by Nicol and Dewi Gwynne, who hope to replicate the success they’ve had with their other hotel, the Cross Foxes Inn near Dolgellau, Snowdonia.