De Valero Design has recently completed the rejuvenation of a boutique B&B in Laughearne, South Wales – a Grade II Listed establishment synonymous with Dylan Thomas, for it was his favourite drinking haunt for many years.
The challenge of developing and realising an interior scheme that both honoured the heritage of Browns and embraced its remarkable rebirth and future fell to acclaimed interior designer Juliet de Valero Wills and her senior designer Angela Bardino.
“After a relationship with Laugharne spanning over a decade spent carefully breathing new life into other cherished establishments, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in returning its most iconic building to its former glory.
Developing and implementing the Browns Hotel concept has been a fine balance of function and aesthetic,” says Angela.
“We are as passionate about the end user’s experience as we are about classic, timeless design and were determined to achieve both successfully for the benefit of locals and visitors alike. Our goal was to rejuvenate Browns, not reinvent it, so that it could once again become home to the moulderers of the future.”
During his time in Laugharne, Dylan would spend his mornings writing in the shed above the Boat House and then walk the short distance to his favourite pub – the white-washed 18th century Browns Hotel. There, he would sit in his regular corner to ‘moulder’, as he called it, and write. Browns became such a regular haunt that Dylan apparently gave the telephone number to people who needed to contact him. Laugharne has a variety of places to stay, but unique among these, Browns Hotel draws on this superior provenance to attract the worldwide Dylan Thomas fan base.
Keen to avoid a retro pastiche, De Valero Design nonetheless felt a fundamental element to the core concept was to reconnect with the spirit and atmosphere of Browns Hotel as its most famous regular Dylan Thomas would have known and loved it.
As the end of 1940s, post-war Britain ushered in the new optimism of the 1950s, encapsulated by the excitement of The Festival of Britain, the enthusiasm for the power of design and all things new was infectious and became a byword for recovery.
Ever mindful that the richness of atmosphere that so inspired Dylan Thomas came from the people that called it home and not from its decor, Juliet and Angela developed an understated concept that sensitively incorporated all the comforts that a modern discerning guest would expect from a hotel. The ease of modern technology, in harmony with traditional materials with an inherent integrity and timelessness, ensured the perfect mix of vintage experience with discreet functionality in an era-defining contemporary hotel.
Guest rooms feature a variety of organic wool furnishings in a mix of cosy colour palettes. Guests are greeted with luxurious 400 thread-count, organic cotton, percale bed linen as standard,
“This is a sleep experience like no other as you sink into a locally sourced organic mattress, using the purest organic Welsh wool and organic fabrics, made of natural materials without the need for chemicals. Each organic mattress is hand-stitched and finished ensuring a uniquely natural and comfortable sleep.
Wherever possible the wooden flooring has been restored to an original deep rich patina. 100% wool runners feature on the entrance staircase and throughout underfoot. Bedside tables are of a wire-brushed, hand-finished oak, contrasting against a mixture of warm teak and walnut accents with mid-century modern styling.
Bathrooms feature a mix of slate and marble and luxurious showers and baths in which to enjoy a long soak with Monamor Welsh toiletries. Fragranced with a blend of tea rose and peony enriched with handpicked Anglesey meadowsweet, which grows wild across the island, these beautifully scented products have always been at the heart of life in Laugharne, so it felt only natural to celebrate and integrate the abundance of vibrant local creativity into the scheme. To this end, custom photography was commissioned using local people.
To enter Browns Hotel today is to step back into a simpler, slower time of reassuring certainties. A time when conversation, community, coffee and cake would regularly set the world to rights. It thrives on an elegant mix of modern comfort, charming touchstones, Welsh excellence and its warm welcome. Browns Hotel has been re-born as a thoroughly contemporary hotel with the best suppliers and staff employed to create a surprising and engaging journey back to the standards and values of post-war Britain.
Just like Laugharne itself, each of the 15 rooms ooze style, quality, joie de vivre, and an independence of spirit much like the people who populate it. Each has its own character, is en-suite and is individually designed. The decor and furnishings summon up nostalgic thoughts of vintage values, style and warm Welsh hospitality, ensuring that the visitor will want to stay just that little bit longer in “the legendary lazy little black-magical bedlam by the sea”.