B&B review: Y Goeden Eirin, Caernarfon

Y Goeden Eirin – which means the Plum Tree in English – is sandwiched between the Menai estuary and the smoky backdrop of Snowdonia.

B&B review: Y Goeden Eirin, Caernarfon On a grey, threatening afternoon, we pitch up at this detached house of slate and stone just south of Caernarfon. John and Eluned Rowlands welcome us in, bring tea in Gaudy Welsh china, chat to each other in Welsh, and switch to English to explain that they converted a farm building here many years ago, then moved away to pursue their academic careers, and returned to create the house we see now, running as a B&B, in their retirement.

A side door leads straight into the slate-floored dining and guest sitting room. One bedroom is directly above this, and two more (each accessed via a shallow step) are in an outbuilding. Across the hallway in the main house are the kitchen and John and Eluned's sitting room.

"Nice place," says A, who has bagged an outbuilding room and is now inspecting my space beneath the eaves. There is a sitting area and an antique desk, a little dressing room and, beyond that, the bathroom. There are countless thoughtful touches, from the mini Maglite torch to towels folded in a drawer, fresh coffee and mini yoghurt-covered bars.

"Ooh, I like all these," comes her voice from the bathroom. "All these" turn out to be a collection of little boxes and a lustre vase. Here, 70s retro sits alongside polished Welsh oak and serious art. In my room alone, there is a numbered etching by Paula Rego and a set of Henry Moore drawings.

"Plum room at the Plum Tree," says A, but she is equally enthusiastic about her quarters. "Underfloor heating, a Welsh blanket on my bed and a Welsh oak dresser full of crockery that I'm somewhat worried about walking into in the night.

"Mmm, I'd forgotten how nice sherry is," she says, helping herself from my decanter. "They've got a licence," she reads from the guest info. "Listen – you can book dinner here even if you're not staying, and it says: 'We pride ourselves on our fine wines from chateaux such as Latour, Margaux, Calon-Ségur.'

"It feels a bit like a ski lodge," she remarks, once we're ensconced in the exposed stone dining room. Yes, that portrait on the wall is by Kyffin Williams, John tells us, it is of his late friend John Gwilym Jones, the lecturer and writer. Copies of his short story collection, entitled Plum Tree, are piled on a side table, for sale. Ah – now we get the connection.

It's not every day one is served dinner by an emeritus professor of the University of Wales – and what a dinner it turns out to be. An amuse bouche of herring and vegetables in a little ceramic spoon, then Piedmontese red pepper with anchovy and garlic, feta and rocket, next a navarin of lamb cooked in the Aga and based, Eluned says, on a recipe by Simon Wright at the wonderful Carmarthenshire restaurant Y Polyn, served with carrots and chard from their garden.

"This place is extraordinary," says A. "They haven't just done the interior, they've curated it. And that wine is exquisite." We tell our hosts what a fantastic evening we're having but they think we're exaggerating. We try and convince them again at breakfast over shiitake mushrooms cooked with garlic, lamb's kidney and black pudding, but we know they don't believe us. So while all the royal hoo-ha happens over on Anglesey this year, I'd recommend you slip away to this little place. It's a plum find, it really is.

For further information, visitwales.co.uk

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Sally Shalam, for The Guardian on Saturday 19th March 2011 00.04 Europe/London

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