LAURA ASH­LEY’S DREAM

The fa­mous tex­tile de­signer never lived here, but her prints are all over it

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - DESTINATION UNITED KINGDOM - SUE BEN­NETT

As the traf­fic picks up speed out­side the vil­lage of Llyswen near the EnglishWelsh bor­der, driv­ers catch a glimpse of an im­pos­ing coun­try house set in sweep­ing park­land. It was a land­scape seen reg­u­larly by fash­ion de­signer and en­tre­pre­neur Laura Ash­ley. At that time, Llan­goed Hall was near derelict and the woman who sold ro­man­tic frocks and tra­di­tional fur­nish­ings around the globe longed to buy and re­store the build­ing.

HALL TO HO­TEL

It didn’t hap­pen in her life­time but, af­ter her death in 1985, the prop­erty came on the mar­ket.

Her hus­band, Bernard, bought and re­stored it in her mem­ory, open­ing it as a ho­tel five years later. Sit­ting on a 7ha es­tate, it’s be­lieved to be the lo­ca­tion of the first Welsh Par­lia­ment, in AD560, and at one stage in its en­su­ing his­tory, changed hands at a card ta­ble.

STAY AWHILE

It’s easy to imag­ine you have ar­rived on the lo­ca­tion of a BBC Ja­cobean pe­riod drama. The beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated house ra­di­ates that English coun­try house-style of stuffed so­fas, an­tique fur­ni­ture, blue and white pots with over­flow­ing flow­ers and red gera­ni­ums at mul­lioned win­dows. The pol­ished wood hall­ways, sweep­ing stair­case and public rooms are im­pres­sively large but with comfy chairs and ta­bles in ev­ery cor­ner, size­able be­comes snug.

MEM­ORY LIVES ON

The ho­tel is no longer owned by the Ash­ley fam­ily but guests could be for­given for think­ing oth­er­wise. Their vast art col­lec­tion still lines the walls and fam­ily pho­to­graphs sit on side ta­bles. Laura Ash­ley’s dis­tinc­tive fab­ric de­signs are ev­ery­where and one of the first items she made, an apron, is framed on a wall.

AND SO TO BED

Each of the 23 bed­rooms is where the Ash­ley in­flu­ence is great­est. Whether it’s a four-poster bed or deluxe canopied room, guests find colour

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