A hostelry on Anglesey where Charles Dickens was a visitor has been named the best pub in Wales, according to an annual guide which is in its 30th year.
Ye Olde Bulls Head Inn, in Beaumaris, takes the accolade of Best Pub in Wales in the Good Pub Guide 2012 – which is newly-published for the coming year today.
The 15th-century drinking hole has long been a popular tourist attraction because of its rich and varied history.
Oliver Cromwell’s General Mytton commandeered the inn during the English Civil War.
And by complete contrast it became one of Anglesey’s first legally-recorded Quaker meeting houses during the 18th century.
Novelist Dickens and the diarist Dr Samuel Johnson are two of its famous past guests.
And now the pub has received a glowing review from the Good Pub Guide which also commended its lengthy wine list.
Fiona Stapley, the guide’s joint editor said: “The various areas at this relaxed inn cover quite a range of styles – there’s a simple but cosy bar, a popular brasserie and a smart upstairs restaurant.
“Kindly staff serve Bass, Hancock’s and a guest such as Conwy Welsh Pride on hand pump.
“The busy brasserie behind is lively and stylishly modern with a wine list that includes around 20 [varieties] by the glass; the exceptionally good restaurant list runs to 120 bottles.”
David Robertson, a director of Ye Olde Bulls Head Inn said: “We are absolutely delighted.
It is fantastic news, more especially because there is so much doom and gloom around at the moment, so it is nice. I think we have strength in depth.
“A lot of people point to the staff who are professional but also very friendly which you don’t get in a bit of a starchy country hotel.
“Our strength is the range of services – we provide two types of accommodation, two different types of eating offer and a traditional ‘olde worlde’ pub side which has remained unchanged for decades.”
The Good Pub Guide is now in its 30th year and compiles its rankings from numerous reader reports which it says ensures only the very best pubs make the grade.
This year the guide is divided into nine regions across the UK, of which Wales is one.
As well as handing out awards for the quality of beers and wine, the guide also crowns its best Dining Pub of the Year which, in Wales, was named as The Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Powys.
It is the second consecutive year the Griffin – run by brothers Charles and Edmund Inkin – has won the award.
The Griffin’s kitchen is headed by Ross Bruce, whose passion for sustainable practices is integral to the type of food served there.
He said: “I am really excited I have the chance to make the things that motivate me.
“Freshly baked bread, vegetables picked just 50 paces away in our kitchen garden, pigs and lambs from the hillside that overlooks us, food in keeping with a slower way of life – this is just what The Griffin is about.”
The guide says the Griffin is “a tremendously good all rounder” where “nothing is missed”.
Julie Bell, who hosts at the Griffin on behalf of the Inkin brothers, said: “The Good Pub Guide relies on its readers to tell it whose standards are high in this increasingly competitive bit of the market.
“We’re all really pleased that people are continuing to report good things about us.
“Consistent recognition by an independent guide is the very best accolade my team can receive.”
Meanwhile the final Welsh pub to be recognised was the Pant-yr-Ochain in Gresford, Wrexham, which was named as a Top 10 Whisky Pub.
Entry for the guide is by selection based on reviews by 2,000 of the guide’s regular readership.
The Good Pub Guide 2012 is published by Ebury Press, costing £15.99 and has a website at www.thegoodpubguide.co.uk