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» Wales » Grapes Hotel, Maentwrog, Blanaeu Ffestiniog 

Full Postal AddressGrapes Hotel, Maentwrog, BLAENAU FFESTINIOG, LL41 4HN [Map]
Telephone Number01766 590208Pub's Own Website 
Opening Times11-23 MO-SA; 12-22:30 SU
FacilitiesAccommodation, Car Park, Evening Meals, Real Fire, Lunchtime Meals, Quiet Bar, Rail Station Near Pub, Campsite At / Near Pub

AJ stands in front of the Grapes Hotel, May 2001

This pub was a real discovery - another that I came across by chance travelling home from the Harlech area on the west coast of Wales. A little thirsty and somewhat hungry I produced my trusty CAMRA Good Beer Guide, turned to the North-West Wales section and lo and behold another gem was staring me in the face tucked away below the mountains of Snowdonia! The pub dates back to the 13th century and has lasted well. It's a former coaching inn but these days the horses and carriages have been replaced by cars and they don't need watering every few miles. The pub's also very close to the National Cycle Network, in fact Route 8 which crosses Wales from north to south, passes right outside the front door. For those who prefer trains, the Ffestiniog Railway close to the pub and provides a less energetic form of travel. No doubt when I get around to doing that cycle route the Grapes will be a very welcome stop and possibly even stop-over as they offer good quality B&B as well as a couple of appartments in the Old Brew House that each sleep up to 4.

Well the main building, grade II listed, has been visited by such famous folk as Lloyd George and Lillie Langtry and allegedly the pub, like many, is haunted. We visited on a late spring Sunday evening and the pub was full of local folk along with a couple of groups of visitors sitting on old pews and settles. There are 3 rooms to choose from and up to 5 real ales on offer including 2 ever-changing guest ales. Log fires warm the bars in winter. There's a very pleasant verandah at the rear of the pub where we sat gazing outward at the garden and fine views. The bird feeders hanging right outside the window were attracting a whole host of different species of birds.

The food is very popular here and seems to be available both at lunchtimes and during the evenings 7 days a week. If you're the impatient sort do bear in mind that the pub does have a very relaxed atmosphere and the food is cooked properly and, of course, it takes time to cook things properly. I'm fed up of visiting the many thousands of pubs that serve you rather pricey bland dominantly battered meals all served straight from the microwave. Good very reasonably priced food is available here including tasty soup, decent welsh lamb and, wait for it, incredible ribs. Now I've grown up thinking that ribs are small, heavily dyed, dark red sticky sticks with a thin layer of somewhat dry gristly meat covering about half the bone. I foolishly presumed that they would be like this, and how wrong was I? I still regret it a year later, and I'm going back to that part of Wales not only to visit the lovely Shell Island near Llanbedr, to climb some mountains, cycle NCN Route 8, but to eat some ribs in the Grapes and enjoy their excellent real ales. The ribs come in 2 sizes, go for the larger!

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