Tucked away in the scenic Rhymney Valley, Gellihaf House offers a comfortable, relaxing and quality stay, as MICHAEL JONES found out.

THE boutique bed and breakfast – a converted manor house - reflects its owners, Catherine and Howard Smith.

As you walk into the house, it’s immediately clear that a warmth suffuses the building: not just the heat from the gentle crackle and roar of the fireplace, but also from the friendly and welcoming way the owners welcome you into their home.

Indeed, a vital part of our stay at Gellihaf was getting to know them both.


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Catherine and Howard Smith are friendly and warm

It’s only when you learn that they both renovated the whole house from the ground up that you gain an appreciation for the toil and effort they’ve put into the place. It certainly shows.

Howard, a consultant for the Ministry of Defence and an ex-Olympian, competing in the bobsleigh in the 1984 Yugoslavian games, said: “When we bought it, it was on the cusp of collapse.

“Every single room has new plaster, ceiling, lights, floors, everything.”

And Catherine, a GP practice manager, added: “We brought it back to life.”

The whole house feels stately, but without the intimidating grandiose one might expect: wood panels line the interior and antiques that reflect Howard’s military past add character.

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The living room affords a view of their beautiful front lawn

Our room – The Taff – was spacious and tastefully designed. Heart-shaped Welsh cakes greeted us on a large, inviting and cosy bed. A modern bathroom, equipped with a bath and walk-in shower, added to the sense of luxury.

The couple bought the place in June 2017 and welcomed their first guests in May 2018.

“We literally finished 20 minutes before they arrived,” Howard said.

Howard grew up locally, frequently passing the house with curiosity - when he noticed it was up for sale, he finally looked inside with Catherine. Instantly, they knew they had to buy it.

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Our room, The Taff

It wasn’t until several months after they purchased the manor that Catherine found out that, by a bizarre coincidence, her Great-Great-Uncle William Ebsworth used to also own the property.

Downstairs, the dining room boasts elegant furnishings – and the breakfast made by Catherine more than matched the opulent interior.

Turning her hand to both a full English breakfast and poached egg on avocado toast, this was a breakfast that wouldn’t look – or taste – out of place at any high-end restaurant.

Even better, the sausages were from the local butcher, with Catherine keen to source products from close by. Indeed, the toiletries are all made by Myddfai, a social enterprise that helps bring those with learning disadvantages to work.

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It wouldn't taste out of place at a high end restaurant.

The sitting room has an original bay window, with panoramic views of the stunning front lawn.

And yet, on this particular morning, our attention turned to the Rugby World Cup Final. From being total strangers just 12 hours ago, we watched alongside Catherine and Howard.


So, when Howard says, “people come here and feel instantly welcomed,” he isn’t lying.

“We had one couple who booked with us again and asked if they could go out to food with us,” added Catherine

“We are really lucky in that we are outgoing, friendly people, and we have this fantastic house to express ourselves.”

Equidistant between Cardiff and the stunning Brecon Beacons, this beautiful old manor house is the perfect spot to escape the hustle of a main city while still being close enough to enjoy its offerings.

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The expansive front-lawn

The pair have hosted bridal parties on wedding days and say they are exploring the possibility of having the full ceremony.

There are almost two acres of grounds, populated with colourful and flowering plants. Staged against the backdrop of the house and with a view of valleys, pierced by the iconic Maesycwmmer viaduct, it would make a picturesque and unique wedding venue.

Even if you aren’t the usual B&B type, Gellihaf House still provides a sense of privacy; Catherine and Howard are entirely accommodating and respect that some people simply wish to be left to their own devices.

If it’s a short break to provide relief from the working week or an escape to the tranquil valleys, Gellihaf House is the perfect place to stay - “a home from home”, as Howard describes it.