I’ve enjoyed many good breakfasts across Europe. But I can honestly say that, in over a decade of helping create walking holidays for Inntravel, I’ve never experienced one where all the breakfasts deserved to be classed as a key attraction … until now.
On Inntravel trips, when there’s a lot of walking ahead, I’ll mostly start the day with something light like cereal and fruit, leaving a full cooked breakfast for a last morning treat. On the first morning of route-finding on The Brecon Beacons holiday, as I was about to begin a week of following the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal from Abergavenny to Brecon, that routine went west.
The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny
The breakfast menu in the Angel’s elegant Oak Room, where Robert Burton and Elizabeth Taylor once ate steak and kidney pie accompanied by a bottle of Claret, was responsible for my usual breakfast habits being left in shreds. Not only does the menu feature the irresistible trio of eggs Benedict, eggs royale, and eggs Florentine, all breads and pastries are from the Angel’s own bakery. It is a menu fit for movie stars. My will was strong enough to resist a full Welsh breakfast with locally sourced bacon and sausages, but not steely enough to have me ordering the home-made granola with yoghurt, or gluten-free porridge with Welsh honey. Instead, I settled for an only mildly sinful eggs royale paired with some sourdough toast – a flavoursome combination.
The Bear Hotel, Crickhowell
No salvation was to be found in the cosy, wood-beamed confines of the Bear’s breakfast room. Their breakfast menu also includes the trio of egg dishes mentioned above but, in addition, there are American-style pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, smoked haddock with poached eggs, and avocado on toast. Neither porridge nor granola pots were enough to drag me back to the straight and narrow path – smoked haddock and poached eggs it was. At least I’d still managed to say no to the full Welsh, but seeing it on another guest’s table didn’t help my resolve.
The Coach House, Brecon
One of two hotels we use in Brecon, the Coach House’s breakfast menu did something that seemed impossible by this point, it surprised with a range of dishes which was quite different from other menus. Plus, although the Bear and the Angel have plenty of options for vegetarians, the Coach House boasts a dedicated vegetarian and vegan menu. Tempting breakfast offerings include three varieties of Welsh rarebit, the classic involving Welsh cheese and local ale. Also calling my name were sweet Welsh pancakes served warm with berries and honey. But the dish which reeled me in included an ingredient I’d never tried before. It was scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and laverbread (a Welsh delicacy made from seaweed). The Coach House wins the award for the most creative looking breakfasts, plates arrive decorated with a mini paprika Welsh dragon.
Mount Street House, Brecon
The morning after a final day which involved an invigorating ascent and descent of Pen y Fan, and I was faced with yet another breakfast menu full of delicious-sounding items, with ingredients sourced by local farmers and butchers. I ordered granola, yoghurt, and fruit just because the presentation was so delightfully arty … and then followed that with the full Welsh. Well, it’s important to maintain traditions.
Getting to know the gastronomy of an area is a common feature of Inntravel holidays, but this was the first time I was able to carry out so much research at the breakfast table.