Wales' Premier Independent Travel Magazine

South West Wales With A Taste Of New South Wales

Wales is beautiful and Pembrokeshire especially so. But where to stay? Hmmm...
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Readers of Vale Life will recall Nicky Bright’s inspirational story from last summer. Nicky was our cover star and has graced the pages of many national magazines since. Besides her interior design talents, Nicky also runs Nicky Bright Holidays. So, fancying a quick weekend break we booked one of her cottages.

If you visit Nicky’s website, you’ll find several to choose from with three in Pembrokeshire alone. We chose The Old Stables in Pembroke. The images of the bath online sealed it for us.

The leisurely tootle from the Vale to Pembroke was just under two hours and, listening to various podcasts along the way, it felt like we were there in no time at all – with Nicky’s excellent directions, it’s really easy to find.

The cottage backs on to a field and the babble of the brook behind just added to the cottage ambience. I imagine in spring and summer when the wild flowers are in bloom, it would be postcard perfect. Pembroke town centre, with its amazing castle is a leisurely ten minute walk away.

It really is beautifully designed. We love the quirky design details and it immediately felt like a home from home. As a self-catering cottage, it works beautifully. Literally everything you need is to hand (including a wine fridge) and there’s a handy manual in place along with plenty of info on what to see and do in the area.

For our two nights, it was just the two of us but the cottage, with its three bedrooms can easily accommodate a much larger family. It’s very children friendly without immediately appearing so. It’s a great place for grown-ups and a cool place for kids. You will notice when you enter the property a hammock covers an open space in the ceiling, this is a chill out place – perfect for children, although Nicky says a few parents have ended up in there too. No surprise. Here you can take time out to read, sleep, listen to music, watch TV or gaze at the stars through the skylight.

Pembroke has plenty of indie retailers, bars and a night club and we’ve visited there before. However, this time, we would be heading for Tenby, Saundersfoot and some of our favourite coastal haunts: Freshwater West (and East), Angle, Barafundle Beach and Broadhaven.

Tenby is one of West Wales’ must visit coastal towns

After a great night’s sleep (the beds and duvets are sublime), we headed west to take a leisurely drive along the coastline. It was a bit blustery, but the upside is the seas are a lot more interesting with big waves crashing on to the shoreline. We got to Tenby around eleven and, with a gap in the clouds, enjoyed a lovely couple of hours walking the town, around the harbour and down on to the beach. We expected it to be quiet, but it had a lovely bustling buzz about it. It was the last weekend before the children go back to school – but, listening to the different accents, it was clear there were plenty of visitors in town, even in the depths of winter.

Having not had breakfast, and with a shower beginning, we took time out in Caffi Llew on the high street for a full breakfast. We do like to support the independent businesses. Inside we got chatting to a couple on the next table who were staying in Tenby. They had brought their dogs down from Stratford for four nights (did we mention The Old Stables is dog friendly?). They said they were having a lovely time. The lady hadn’t been to Tenby before and was really impressed. “It’s so pretty here!” she remarked. We got the impression they would certainly be returning at some point.

As it was mid-afternoon, we took a little drive five minutes down the coast to Saundersfoot. We like Saundersfoot and hadn’t been there for years. We had a nice walk around the harbour and up through the town where we came across The Kookaba, an Aussie themed restaurant. We do like our steaks and the menu looked great with plenty of meaty choices. We also recalled that The Kookaba was on Nicky’s recommended list in her manual back at the cottage.

A brief check on TripAdvisor (4.5 stars and approaching 1,100 reviews) and we confirmed our booking for later in the day. We headed back to the cottage for a couple of hours relaxation and a freshen up. Our table was booked for 6pm.

The one thing I would say about The Old Stables is that it promotes relaxation. We were only there for two days but it was very good for our souls – we both agreed it had a sense of calmness about it. When, not if, we visit again, we would definitely book for longer.

Evening arrives and after a twenty-minute drive, we’re parked up outside Kookaba. The restaurant oozes Aussie charm by the creek load. Staff are welcoming and friendly, and the antipodean vibe was palpable. We expected Mick Dundee to walk through the door any minute. Seriously, this place hits the spot visually with cool design nods to the oceanic lifestyle, surfing and its indigenous people. There are cools bits of Aboriginal art and imagery on the walls but not too much to become clichéd. We liked it a lot, but could they deliver on the tucker?

Well, the simple answer is yes. The food is unbelievably good. The chef, apparently, was on leave, but that didn’t stop them delivering some truly sublime starters. The Creamy Garlic Mushrooms were some of the best we’ve tasted and Kangaroo ‘Skippy’ Skewers which, if I had to rate them, would be a perfect ten. Wherever the chef is sunbathing, clearly, he’s relaxing knowing his kitchen is turning out amazing quality food.

The two rib-eye steaks that followed, with fries and peppercorn sauce, were equally excellent. Perfectly cooked, tender, and melt-in-the-mouth tasty. They source their meat locally and the quality of produce in west Wales is second to none.

If you are of vegan or vegetarian persuasion, you’re catered for too. The menu was excellent with plenty of options. Whenever you book a restaurant, no matter what its reputation, you never really know what it’s going to be like until the food arrives. Well, The Kookaba delivered, big time. If there’s a fan club, we’re officially members.

So after a great meal and a relaxing stay in a very cool cottage, our Pembrokeshire mini break comes to its conclusion. The Visit Pembrokeshire website suggests you’ll make great memories here, and they’re not wrong. We certainly have, but we’ll be back to make more.

Make great memories

Pembroke is a tranquil paradise for walkers and nature lovers. The luxury cottage is within two miles of some of the most beautifully scenic beaches in the UK.

The Old Stables in Pembroke is ideal for families sharing of all ages, two upstairs bedrooms, two bathrooms (ground floor bedroom with disabled access to wet room).

A short drive will take you to top attractions:
* Fresh Water East Beach
* Oakwood Theme Park
* Folly Farm
* Dinosaur Park
* Tenby Beach
* Saundersfoot Beach
* Milford Haven Marina
* Haverfordwest
* Pembroke Dock

With its beautiful coastal walks, stunning beaches and coastline, castles, attractions and beautiful towns and villages, Pembrokeshire really is a place to make memories.

To find out more

The Old Stables
Grove Hill, Pembroke
Pembrokeshire, SA71 5PT
02920 001 480

The Kookaba
High Street, Saundersfoot SA69 9EJ
01834 813814

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