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Restoration Works at Craig y Nos Castle

Dog Friendly Wales | Dog Friendly Hotel
Published by in Restoration Works · 7 October 2013
Tags: RestorationCastle

This year we have been busy restoring some unused rooms into en-suites. We have created a small flat with two small bedrooms, kitchen diner and a nice shower room. This is available for let either on a self catering basis or on a B&B basis. We also have a number of other apartments without kitchens, which are ideal for families.

When people visit Craig y Nos Castle they are generally more than satisfied - particularly our dog owning guests who really appreciate the ambience and location of the castle, the friendly staff and all the dog walks on our doorstep. Some guests may comment on areas of the castle that still need attention. As we have spent around £3m on the castle since its purchase in 2000, I thought it would be useful to put up some pages on one of our sites detailing the restoration work at the castle.

While this may take you on a detour around several links, if you have visited the castle in the past, or are planning a dog friendly B&B break at the castle, this series of links detailing our very own 'Grand Designs' style refurbishment of a formerly very dilapidated and largely derelict leaking old building, may make for interesting stories and be a bit of fun to read.

So here goes:

First and most dramatic, when you walk in to our now fully restored and non-leaking Conservatory, popular with wedding couples for their Wedding Receptions, consider the work required to restore the conservatory in 2007/8. See the derelict condition of Craig y Nos Castle's Conservatory before restoration here.

But then consider what prompted us to spend £150k plus on doing up the Conservatory in the first place: the hot tub. Back in 2004 I visited the Builth Wells summer show and saw a hot tub for around £8,000 and paid a £300 deposit. Subsequently it has been commented I would have been better off cancelling the hot tub and getting my deposit back. For had I not bought this, the conservatory would never have been restored.

But that came later. First off, when we pondered on where to put the hot tub, we found there was nowhere for it.

My idea had been to put it in the garden, in a log cabin or shed. The Country Parks said we would never get planning permission for a log cabin in the garden, and so we looked at where we could put it within the existing set of buildings of the castle and ancillary derelict areas. Hitting upon the old Aviary, what started as a quick repair of the Aviary became a two year project with new foundations, new roof, a new extension replacing a falling down hospital building, and new walls, and a full sports room.

See here for the Craig y Nos Castle sports room restoration story. This project ended up costing £150,000 give or take, including £35,000 worth of top quality sports equipment. All this is now available for guests to use, though the hot tub is the most popular, and generally used by Swansea Hen Parties on a Fright Night.

Only when we had finished this project, did we really notice the eyesore that was next to it - the old Conservatory. Faced with two choices - wall off the conservatory to hide it from view, or restore it, we spent another year and a half restoring the Conservatory.

Some £300,000 later (for the two main rooms - the Spa/ sports room and the Conservatory), we have a fully functioning sports room and spa, and the Conservatory itself as a second function room. This has become a real draw for weddings at a time when we perhaps needed a bit more to offer our wedding customers, post the 2008 banking crisis.

Is it not amazing how out of small inconsequential decisions, to get a personal hot tub, such large projects can sprout up.

Initially I saw the main priority to build more en-suites. Over a period of years most of the derelict atrium buildings were re-roofed, re-floored, re-wired, newly plumbed and insulated etc, to create 25 en-suites sleeping 64 guests in a mixture of family rooms - including the Gatehouse apartment which used to be the wage paying and accounts office in the old days when the castle was a hospital - and loads of en-suite doubles. See the story of the restoration of Craig y Nos Castle's bedrooms here.

Ideally the castle needs a continual repaint and redecoration job on it, rather like the Forth Bridge - to maintain it would mean constant redecorating. However our two builders and one maintenance man can only advance with proactive restoration projects at the expense of some routine maintenance. Some of this structural restoration work is so serious and necessary that it does take priority over keeping the place simply looking 'new'. For example we found many ceilings and floors were unstable and needed new joists. See some of the work replacing floor joists in all our function rooms.

One of our projects that turned out to be more serious got started when I decided we should simply 'repaint' the Nicolini bar (as it once was) and reduce the size of the large bar which we did not really need. We had even started re-painting when we found the celing was hanging by only 2 out of a possible dozen main joists. It was so unstable we had to stop work and gut the room completely. See the story of the Nicolini lounge refurbishment here and see here the Reception lounge at Craig y Nos Castle as it is today.

So even when we start out on a minor repaint of a room, we sometimes end up with something a lot more major. That said, we know the hall could do with a repaint, we have just redecorated the main function room, and the Music room at Craig y Nos Castle still needs doing, once we have fixed a persistent leak coming in on the right hand side corners.

For more work on the castle, see our separate builders website on restoration works at the Castle.

Martin Gover.

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