The hosts of this ancient hostelry are Jackie and Jonathan Greatorex, who fell in love with the building the moment they laid eyes on it. And for good reason. Old beams, roaring log fires and spacious rooms exude a country-club charm that automatically lifts the weight of the world as you enter.
The couple have recently refurbished the rooms in a wide range of styles: traditional suites freshened up with beautiful rustic decor and glittering bathrooms. They even offer dog-friendly rooms where four-legged friends are invited for a luxurious stay, too.
This sumptuous bolthole is also the local pub, so you can sink into the cosy village atmosphere as you savour velvety real ale and from the Llanarmon regulars. Some of the best tales are that of The Hand itself, particularly how it got its name.
You’ll see that a blood red hand features on the coat of arms of the Myddleton family, who lived at the nearby Chirk Castle for half a century. Legend says that the heraldic symbol came to be when Lord Myddleton lay on his deathbed.
Unsure which of his sons was born first, he challenged the feuding pair to race on horseback around the castle. The first to return and touch his father’s deathbed would inherit the 13th century fortress. According to the tale, it was a close race. The brothers were tearing up the staircase to the chamber, neck and neck, when one tripped. In a desperate bid not to lose the race and the wealth that went with it, he drew his sword, cut off his own hand and threw it onto his father’s bed, thereby claiming the estate.
Other tales of how the red hand are slightly less bloody. It’s also said to signify the warm hand of friendship extended to visitors of the castle and to The Hand at Llanarmon itself. As well as a huge wooden sculpture of the hand outside the hotel, this whole-hearted croeso (which is Welsh for ‘welcome’) is very much felt by travellers visiting The Hand today.
The food here has put Llanarmon on the culinary map, with a seriously good team of chefs headed by Grant Mulholland. Attention to detail is impeccable, creating traditional country fare with inventive twists. Flavours are mouth-wateringly rich – the kind of dinner that makes you smile when you think about it afterwards.
Beyond the hideaway
Llanarmon’s natural beauty is gloriously romantic and The Hand is the perfect base to explore this lush green scenery. The ever-helpful hosts can arrange all kinds of country pursuits including horse riding, fishing and shooting. Or, simply stroll for hours with only the sheep for company before heading back to your weekend hideaway for a rejuvenating massage with a glittering glass of champagne at the hotel’s spa.
If you want to escape to the far-out countryside but feel right at home, The Hand at Llanarmon is the answer. With a surrounding countryside as enticing as its mysterious history, this ancient-yet-contemporary retreat mixes bags of character with outstanding cuisine and everything you’d ever want from a quintessentially Welsh break.