Is this one of the last quirky corners of Wales? It feels rather like it when you open the gate to New Inn Brilley and enter a new world – a glamping Narnia run by bohemians.
New Inn Brilley review, Canopy and Stars
You’re not far from a road and from the (relative) bright lights of Hay-On-Wye in South Wales when you arrive at New Inn Brilley, but step through the garden gate you might think you’ve walked into a fairy garden – or at least, into a never-ending festival. In a field garlanded with prayer flags you’ll find a collection of little houses and strange dwellings that look at first glance like they’d only be fit for hobbits and elves, and seem to have been constructed completely from odds and edds. There’s a tabernacle, an old caravan, a wonky wooden cabin and our home for the weekend, a long tin wagon. Chickens scratch around a rusting VW Beetle, fairy lights are festooned in every tree and a half-size Himalayan stupa watches over everything.
New Inn Brilley is one of Canopy and Stars‘ handpicked places to stay, and even these connoisseurs of the unique call it ‘higgledy-piggledy’. The site is a labour of love by owner Daphne, whose cottage perches above her collection of tiny dwellings. Each house has beautiful and careful attention to detail, including outdoor freestanding baths, eclectic kitchens and vintage finds and wood stoves and candles to read by by night – expect no wifi or madding phone signal here, just peace and quiet. Places to stay range from ‘Angels’, a tiny tabernacle sleeping two, to the Dewachen Express, a Tibetan-themed bunkhouse best booked by bigger groups up to 12.
Can the fantasy of a stay at New Inn Brilley measure up to reality? Annabel and I were here in winter which, heads up, I would not recommend, given Wales’ propensity for rain and cold. We stayed in the Dewachen Express and arrived to find frost both inside and out our little home. We burned through all the wood we had in the stove and still went to bed cold. The garden wasn’t at its best so sodden and frosty, and we spent a lot of time stumbling around in the dark in the beam of our headtorches. And as much as I like a wild swim, I wasn’t desperate for a wash in a stone-cold outdoor bath.
On a sunny summer’s day, however, I think a stay here would be a very different beast – a laid-back retreat where you could wander barefoot, drink wine in a whisky barrel hot tub (yes, really) and be very merry.
And on your doorstep is wonderful Hay (find my guide to outdoorsy Hay-on-Wye with Visit Wales here) – head out to walk up Hay Bluff, rent a canoe for a lazy day on the River Wye or just pop in to Murder and Mayhem, my favourite bookshop (just please leave some vintage Agatha Christie books for me). If you long to reconnect with your inner wild child, New Inn Brilley might well be perfect – just come when the sun shines.
Stay at New Inn Brilley: Book to stay at New Inn Brilley via Canopy and Stars – accommodation starts from £120 per night for two people.