It was at the Severn Bridge that my patience ran out.

I'd gotten through Taunton and Bristol at peak rush hour without much drama, but the toll gates after crossing into Wales at 6pm on a Friday night are not the place to be.

It was a long wait and still a slow drive on the M4 towards Cardiff. But as my Sat Nav directed me off the motorway and northwards, I left behind the commuters and holidaymakers and remembered why the Brecon Beacons are so wonderful.

I spied the Sugarloaf as my car passed Abergavenny and by the time I pulled off the main road onto the long driveway leading to Llangoed Hall, lined with daffodils, I could have been a million miles - or a thousand years - from any motorway.

There's been a mansion on the site since 1632, and a presence since long before that - it has a claim as being the location of the first Welsh Parliament.

Its fortunes since then have been somewhat tempestuous: won in a card game, redesigned as a country house by Clough Williams Ellis - the man who would go on to create Portmeirion in North Wales - and restored and opened as a luxury hotel by Sir Bernard Ashley, husband of the designer Laura Ashley.

Step outside the manicured lawns and follow the path down the River Wye and it's easy to imagine you've slipped back a few hundred years and are as likely to meet coiffured women in fancy dresses and parasols as you are to pass by couples in walking boots.

With the riverbank lined by alder and willow trees, red kites circling overhead, and an early swallow dancing to the harsh call of a green woodpecker, there's little to tie the landscape to the 21st Century.

But if you did want some luxury then Llangoed Hall is where it's at. When the new owner took over in 2002 he committed to keeping the 'homely' atmosphere and the hallways are have family photos as well as artistic masterpieces.

Friendly and helpful staff, comfortable rooms which are beautifully decorated and excellent food - of which more in a moment - mean that, if you wanted to, you could stay in the immediate vicinity of the hotel for the whole of your stay and have a wonderful time.

But it's handily located close to Hay-on-Wye and Brecon for those who want to explore. Hay seems to be a town which exists purely for cafes, bookshops and outdoor gear stores which, let's face it, is all you need from life.

There's a trail you can follow around the sloping streets so you don't miss any vital bookstores, and there's a well-trodden path next to the river which meanders through woodland and wildflower meadows.

Brecon has similar riverside paths, dotted with lesser celandine in the spring.

There's little in the way of high street shops, but we didn't miss them, poking our heads instead into the busy Saturday farmers' market, and visiting the cathedral, which has well thought-out exhibitions for tourists to explore the Agincourt connection and the marks made in stone by builders hundreds of years ago to advertise their skill.

We enjoyed a riverside coffee - but it was back to Llangoed Hall for dinner. The hotel has been named in the Sunday Times top 100 restaurants for 2016 and comes in first place for Wales. It's a well-deserved accolade.

The four course meal included rabbit in massaman curry, lemon sole, seabass, duck, beef tartare and a chocolate and raspberry concoction that I'm still dreaming about. On top of this came some truly creative canapes and amuse bouche: smoky venison and mushroom on crispbread, Jerusalem artichoke and seafood on a bed of shells.

The breakfast is no less impressive. You can have a tot of whiskey in your porridge if you fancy it, or if you're feeling healthy, stick to fresh fruit and yoghurt - though the Welsh breakfast and pastries are hard to resist.

All the food is grown or bought locally where possible, and after we enjoyed our duck eggs, we went to see the pond they came from, next to the hen coop and the beds where vegetables and herbs are grown.

If it really is too wonderful to leave there's even a maze you can go and get lost in. They really have thought of everything.

Factfile Llangoed Hall, Llyswen, Brecon, Powys LD3 0YP 01874 754525  Twitter@ TheLlangoedHall

A night at Llangoed Hall is priced from £150.00 B&B based on two sharing 'Spring into Summer break' from 1st March to 1st May includes a Cream Tea on arrival day, Dinner, Bed and Breakfast based on two people sharing priced £350.00 per room per night.