The sister hotel of West House at Llantwit Major, one of a mini-chain of local places owned and managed hands-on by the Hitchcock brothers Julian and Mark, as well as Julien’s son Freddie. We’re pleased to welcome The Bear to Charming Small Hotels because although similar to many a country town ex-coaching inn with stone floors, panelling and pleasingly creaky floorboards it stands out for genuine character, reasonable comfort, well above average food and fair prices in an area where we have no other recommendations.
The ground-floor public area divides into four different spaces – public bar, residents’ bar, informal dining area/bar and a more formal dining area – tactfully allowing public and residents either to mingle or separate. At the back there is a successful structure added during the pandemic with solid roof and sliding glass panels allowing it to be closed in, semi closed in or open air.
The menu is unpretentiously imaginative. Among the nibbles and small plates are delicious cauliflower tempura with thick soy sauce; red snapper and chorizo Spanish style fishcakes; and a scrambled duck egg and pancetta-topped bagel. Mains include French trimmed chicken with rosemary and merlot reduction and monkfish wrapped in Parma ham plus ratatouille and basil pesto.
Our reporter described lorry noise from the main street outside starting at around 6 am but this can be avoided by asking for a room on the other side of the corridor.
The Hitchcocks’ mini chain (The Town & Country Collective) has four hotels. Besides The Bear and West House there is also New House perched on a hill above Cardiff (great views) and Coed y Mwstwr at Bridgend. Both are good places, but too large for our collection.