The Hand Hotel in Llanarmon is probably the coziest place I’ve ever stayed. A roaring fireplace and low beams, cozy corners with comfortable chairs, welcoming smiles and friendly chats over large glasses of red wine.
Arriving on a snowy Thursday afternoon, it was an exciting yet tranquil atmosphere that only snow can create.
Even as an adult, I can’t help but be captivated by the magical excitement of falling thick, white snow. Especially if you’re an adult who’s not in a hurry to go anywhere and is just so happy to sit by the fire and enjoy the delicious food and cozy atmosphere that The Hand is famous for.
As I crossed the bridge into Llanarmon in Wrexham, I saw a small tractor parked outside a pub next to a luxury 4×4 and a bit of festivities. If he could sum up Hand in one scene, it would be this. This is the kind of place where local farmers stop for a drink after a long day at work. But just as many have traveled far and wide to find this famously cozy bolthole. The reputation of great food, excellent service, and this beautiful, historic building brought me here. But it’s the unpretentious welcome and traditional country pub feel that draws people in.
Co-owner Jackie Greatorex welcomed me warmly. He quickly disappeared into the back and exchanged his boots for an elegant apartment before showing me to my room.
As I passed by the resident lounge, I saw a couple relaxing by the fireplace reading a book, and I was told they had been “snowed out.” I didn’t tell them that I had just arrived and the road was completely empty. I wondered if, like me, they were secretly very happy to be “stuck” here.
My room was large and cozy with a perfect window seat to sit and watch the snowy world.
I quickly made a cup of tea and stuffed myself with the homemade shortbread biscuits that were waiting for me.
A friend of mine was supposed to be there too, but he couldn’t make it the first night, so I was alone that night. Although I was disappointed at first, the homely and friendly atmosphere of the bar and restaurant quickly caught on and I soon found myself making new friends.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with a good book and a large glass of wine. I was seated at a table next to a well-traveled couple, who had lots of stories and recommendations to share, and (very randomly) had mutual friends, so I was alone. I didn’t have to feel sad about eating.
I started with grilled Welsh cakes with Welsh rarebit, black pudding and samphire.
For mains, we had grilled salmon fillet, pearl barley, green onion and lobster stock risotto, smoked haddock pakora and samphire.
The bar and restaurant was busy later that night with a crowd of Dutch tourists traveling around Wales in four-wheel-drive vehicles. They were clearly overjoyed that the snow gave them an extra challenge as they drove through the winding mountain roads, adding another level of excitement to the atmosphere.
I went back to my room, took a bubble bath, and finally read a book.
Please note that the bedroom above the bar can be a bit noisy. Personally, it didn’t bother me. I think most people don’t stay in small country pubs unless they want a lively pub atmosphere, so I think it’s fine for most people. If you think that’s a nuisance, it’s worth requesting a room overlooking the garden at the back of the restaurant.
When we woke up the next morning, there was even more snow. After enjoying a breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, I packed all my clothes into my suitcase and headed out for a walk.
It felt like I had stepped out of The Hand and into The Chronicles of Narnia. The sky was bright and blue, and the sun’s rays dazzled on the fresh white snow. It was like sprinkling fairy dust on a cozy, pristine blanket.
The snow on the public sidewalks was so deep it was almost impossible to walk, so I stuck to the road and headed up the hill.
A few hours later, I returned to The Hand with rosy cheeks and tingling hands that I remembered from my childhood. The bar was quiet, so I snuggled up by the fire with a pot of tea and a book until my friend arrived.
At this point I was planning to get out and explore the local area. I could have gone to Llangollen, Chirk Castle or Oswestry, three of the many places within a short drive, but I decided to stay there. His hand felt like a warm, comforting hug, and I didn’t want to let go.
I also have to hand it to local councils and farmers who have done a fantastic job clearing the roads. There was about 2 meters of snow on the ground, but the roads were clean.
Friends arrived later that day and after a drink we went out into the garden to use the sauna and hot tub. A small stone building in the garden houses an infrared sauna and changing rooms.
We then jumped into the hot tub where a few cold beers were waiting for us. The sun was about to set. We were floating around the hot tub, surrounded by snow, steam, and snowy hills, drinking beers and thinking about the steak we were going to have for dinner. This was one of the happiest moments I will never forget.
For dinner that night, we shared a camembert starter and warm, delicious olive bread. Then we both had steaks, which were very tasty and perfectly cooked.
Overall impressions of “The Hand in Llanermon
- If you’re looking for a romantic evening, I 100% recommend The Hand in Llanarmon.
- There is another pub/restaurant nearby called The Hand, so be sure to search for ‘The Hand in Llanarmon’ when searching for that’.
- The hotel is very cozy. I think it’s more comfortable than luxurious.
- It has a nice, homely and welcoming atmosphere. It’s like staying in the home of a rich and hospitable family with a personal chef. The exact opposite of the sterile, impersonal hotels many of us are accustomed to. And I have to admit that I quite like the anonymity of big hotels. This felt very personal in contrast, but I loved it.
- Food is a big selling point at The Hand, and it’s worth a trip here just for the food.
- The food is very meaty, but I know that’s a good thing for many people. I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat a lot of meat, so it would have been nice to have more vegetarian options on the breakfast menu.
- The Welsh cake topped with black pudding was honestly the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. I still think about them. I might go back and try it again.
- There are many walking trails starting from the village of Llanarmon, making it a hiker’s paradise.
- And there’s so much to see just a short drive away. I’m going to write a blog post about things to do in and around Llangollen as it has so much to offer and it’s such a beautiful area.
- Soaking in the hot tub before dinner was like a dream.