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Wye Valley swim retreat
EXPLORE,  EXTRA,  FEATURES,  May 2024

Weekend swim retreat: The Roundhouse, Wye Valley

Hide away in this romantic spa retreat in the Wye Valley, complete with a rooftop swimming pond and waterfall

There are a lot of gasp-out-loud moments when you first take in The Roundhouse. It is an architectural masterpiece – built into the hillside, with the living spaces tucked beneath a rooftop swimming pond and spa. 

Formerly a garage and music studio when it was part of the family home, the Roundhouse has been cleverly transformed to harmonise with the natural surroundings, from its stone and wood exterior to the tiered Japanese garden that blends seamlessly with the neighbouring trees.

Designed for two people to stay, The Roundhouse is a unique hideaway in the beautiful Wye Valley – a place to soak in the outdoor bath after a swim in the naturally filtered pool, recline in the private sauna and gaze out from the terrace to the River Wye flowing majestically beyond. 

The accommodation

The main living space is on the lower level, below the rooftop pond. There you’ll find a large open-plan living and dining space, with a king-size four-poster bed in the corner, opposite a grand piano. 

With the huge skylight and and French doors, the space feels gorgeously bright, replete with natural textures and considered artwork – all very gentle on the eye. 

Thoughtful details pepper the calming space, from the curated books on the coffee table to the fluffy robes and organic toiletries in the bathroom, which has a luxury monsoon shower. There are yoga mats provided in the cupboard, and firewood ready-stacked in the remarkably stylish woodburner for a cosy night in. 

The swimming

The jewel in the crown of The Roundhouse has to be its rooftop pond – a naturally-filtered swimming pool with its own waterfall, flanked by reeds and sweet-scented mahonia.  

Overlooking the pond is the roundhouse itself, perfectly circular with floor-to-ceiling windows, sheepskin-draped loungers next to the woodburner, and steps winding down to the monsoon shower room and sauna. From inside the sauna, little windows look out onto the surface of the pond – another reminder of what an architectural wonder this place is.  

Guests wanting to enrich their pampering experience can request a Spa Package as part of their stay, with treatments including full body massage, Indian Head massage and facials. These treatments all take place in the roundhouse – the flow of the waterfall providing the perfect soundscape. 

If all this doesn’t sound heavenly enough, the pond and roundhouse are enclosed within a Japanese garden, with a Zen meditation area, Japanese black pines and perfectly placed glacial rocks. Owing to the Roundhouse’s hillside location, the garden has a unique tiered design, with sweeping views of the Wye Valley.

And let’s not forget that outdoor bath, a roll top copper beauty – luxuriously deep – just waiting for you to melt into after a cold swim. 

Eating

These is a fully equipped kitchen in the lower level of The Roundhouse, and a BBQ and pizza oven on the decking should you wish to cook up an alfresco feast.

Guests can request a hamper of local produce on arrival, or a ‘Special Occasion’ Package that includes a bottle of Herefordshire sparkling wine and local artisan chocolates.

For dining out, a short stroll away you’ll find the The Loughpool, a 16th century inn serving excellent local food (try the Herefordshire rump steak) ciders and perries. The nearby villages of Hoarwithy and Carey also have good options for food in cosy pub settings. The beautifully named Cottage of Content is a particular favourite.   

Best of the rest

The Roundhouse’s location in the Wye Valley makes it a gem for wild swimmers and nature lovers. Guests can take a picnic to the riverside beach by Sellack bridge, or hire canoes in Hoarwithy for an adventure on the river. 

The Forest of Dean is a short drive away, blessed with a network of walking and cycling trails in its ancient woods. Heading west you’ll find the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons – another adventure playground with more opportunities for hikes and wild swims.   

For a gentler day out, the nearby market town of Ross on Wye is well worth a visit for its abundance of independent shops, cafes and pubs, as it the city of Hereford, famed for being the home of the Mappa Mundi, the medieval map of the world.

Our favourite thing

After a swim, reclining in the rolltop copper bath under the stars, gazing at a Japanese black pine silhouetted by moonlight. One of the most blissful and relaxing experiences I’ve ever had.

With thanks to The Roundhouse. For more information and to book your stay, visit the-nant.co.uk/the-roundhouse

Photos by Colin Nicholls Photography

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.