Guest blogger Jamie O'Sullivan writes for luxury blog Lussorian, a unique resource focusing on the most luxurious things in life.
To find out more and read the full review visit Lussorian.com
Celtic Manor Resort is set in the hills above the Severn Bridge and overlooks the Severn Estuary itself. Complete with a vast range of facilities, championship standard golf courses and award winning food, this is a top class destination from start to finish. Right from the moment you walk through the grand lobby you begin to realise that Celtic Manor is out to impress.
We were lucky enough to try out one of the deluxe suites for a couple of evenings and we found them faultless. Large, spacious, big screen TVs in the bedroom and living room, Nespresso machine, gorgeous bathroom and great views. What more could you ask for?
We know of Celtic Manor’s golfing pedigree, but we wanted to see what the resort offers in terms of relaxation, great food and tranquillity.
The Forum Spa
The Forum Spa is the ideal place to indulge and pamper yourself to the maximum and reward your body after a long week This award winning spa has a pretty impressive set of accolades including Best Spa in Wales 2012 (Good Spa Awards), Best for Golf and Spa UK 2012 (The Spa Traveller Awards) and Best UK Hotel Spa 2011 (The Spa Traveller Awards). With this in mind and after setting foot in the spa and pool area, we couldn’t wait to put our feet up for a pampering. There are 16 treatment rooms on offer here, but I would certainly recommend booking in advance – it was rather popular!
The spa offers a vast range of signature treatments and treatment packages for guests, so there should be something for everyone. We tried the rather unique Elemis Herbal Steam Temple treatment for two, which starts at £68 (during the week) for the pair. Inside the treatment room you will find the steam temple, complete with stars and relaxing music. The treatment begins with light aromatic steam filling the air for inhalation. You are then given a range of cleansing muds which aids skin repair, detoxifies and relieves deep tension. This is great for two as you have some real fun muddying each other and enjoying the tranquillity. This treatment lasts for 45 mins and although a little different, I would certainly recommend it.
I would also recommend the Forum’s Signature Massage, which really allows you to tailor your massage to your needs and add any oils you may wish to improve the experience. My partner also highly recommends the Elemis Modern Skin Facial as a treat for the ladies. All in all, the Forum Spa was a wonderful experience. The only criticism I would have is that it isn’t the quietest spa and was a little loud between treatments.
Terry M – Fine Dining
If you are looking for that Fine Dining edge to your experience at Celtic Manor, then you cannot go too far wrong with Terry M. In fact, dining here is a real treat and is certainly something we would recommend. Headed by talented head chef Tim McDougall, Terry M offers 3 AA rosette level cuisine, which has bundles of finesse and charm. Dinner is priced at £49.50 for 3 courses, there is also a taster menu available for £70 and an extremely reasonable Express Lunch Time menu on offer.
As you would expect of any fine dining restaurant, the staff were highly knowledgeable, efficient and on the whole very friendly indeed. The restaurant’s sommelier is also there to tailor your wine choice to your taste and offer new and exciting journeys into the wine world. Asking something white, but a little different, the Austrian Grüner Veltiner Federspeil Kollmütz (2009) was recommended at £35.00 a bottle. This wonderfully aromatic and complex white was a real departure from the wine we usually enjoy, but we really enjoyed this new wine. Again, a real treat.
The food here is treated with care, love and pulled together with skill. The braised pig’s cheek starter was tender (to say the least) and married well with the buckwheat ravioli and interesting green onion emulsion. If you are looking for something a little simpler then the Hand-dived scallop is ideal for a seafood lover; deep, rich and packed full of flavour, the scallop is allowed to speak for itself and yet combines well with the accompanying cauliflower beignet and truffle. Starters here were a good sign of what was to come.
The main for me was absolutely stunning. A tender sirloin of welsh beef was perfectly cooked and satisfied the carnivorous side of my personality. Again the bone marrow jus and fennel made for a great flavour match. Throughout the meal we found the ingredients to be carefully selected and treated with real care. Just gorgeous.
If you are looking for a digestif to finish off your meal, I would recommend the Apple Passione cocktail as great way to bring down the curtain on your dining experience. This great little cocktail combines Luxardo, calvados, apple and black pepper for a kick. There is also an extensive Brandy, Cognac and Armagnac list to warm the cockles before your departure too.
Newbridge on Usk
The Newbridge on Usk a rather different offering to Terry M, but nonetheless a completely charming one. Set 15 minutes off the resort and on the river Usk, this charming 200 year old country inn offers food with real heart and elegance.
To start the Woodland Pork Belly (£8.50) had been cooked for twenty four hours, meaning it oozed flavour and melted in the mouth. It was a cold night on our visit, so this hit the spot perfectly,
If you are looking for a touch of luxury and class you will need to try the Grilled 8oz Sirloin steak and half a native Lobster (£46.50). The sweetness of the lobster and the tenderness of the steak were to die for. Honestly, I was in food heaven for the duration of this course. Cooked to perfection and endearingly simple, you need to try this.
For a romantic desert to share, we had the apple and oatmeal plum crumble. Although it was served in a charming pan to share and came with a wonderful cinnamon ice cream, it just lacked a little oomph. This was a shame, as the rest of the meal was excellent.
At weekends, diners can enjoy an afternoon of relaxed jazz and swing to accompany one of the best Sunday lunches in the Usk Valley, then work off their excesses exploring the surrounding countryside with one of many local walking trails.
I loved the Newbridge on Usk – the food was fantastic, the service excellent and the atmosphere was just ideal for a relaxing meal. I will certainly make an effort to visit again in the future. You can also stay at the Newbridge too!
The food at Celtic Manor and all of its auxiliary restaurants was on the whole stunning. One of the best set of resort restaurants we have visited in fact. That is aside from the Olive Tree Breakfast, which failed to impress us on both mornings.