Narberth is to west Walian foodies what Hay-on-Wye is to book lovers. It has a main street lined with everything from a Spanish deli to a plain but perfect fruit and veg store, an award-winning meat and fish merchant, and a coffee and cake shop. The hotels are in on the action, too. When Allister Barsby recently became executive chef at the Grove, a boutique hotel, having previously been at two-Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park, the news was treated with the kind of fanfare that usually accompanies the transfer of a Premier League footballer.
There is more to Narberth than nosh, though. It has an art gallery, two antiques shops, a craft market, a posh women’s-wear shop and a pottery. As for entertainment, the Queens Hall puts on gigs by touring acts when it is not being used by local societies. A development of bungalows by Mill Bay Homes at the old school in Templeton, a village five minute’s drive away, are selling fast, with prices starting £199,950. There is also outline planning permission for 150 homes near the new primary school. Hopefully, developers won’t kill the golden goose — plans for a Sainsbury’s and other retail units have turned the stomachs of the local epicureans.
What the locals say This gambas pil pil is to die for.
Why we love it Second helpings of yummy homes.
It’s true: Aberystwyth, dear old Aber to its friends, is cool all of a sudden. The university town overlooking Cardigan Bay, which used to be the top choice for Welsh students who didn’t want to wander too far from Mam, is now seen as a boho outpost, sparkling with all things ethnic and artsy. Cerys Matthews says it’s her favourite place in Wales. Caitlin Moran has trilled about the coffee shops and foreign eateries. The town is also the setting for Malcolm Pryce’s noir novels, which have attained cult status.
The housing market is as surprisingly strong as the weather is predictably wet. Although the student intake has fallen over the past five years, meaning less buy-to-let, there is a steady flow of people relocating to work in the hospital, the university and the National Library of Wales. The biggest houses are the Victorian villas on Llanbadarn Road, which typically cost £425,000. You can buy a two up, two down, ideal as a holiday cottage, for less than £150,000.
The future looks bright here. A £40m building scheme, due to be finished in the autumn, will add a Tesco and a Marks & Spencer.
What the locals sayMon amour Abersytwyth — and M&S.
Why we love it Mystery lurks behind the storm-battered prom.