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Rostra rating: 4
Matthew James is the winner of MagoGuide’s Host of the Trip Award for the 2016 Grand Tour. He was extremely friendly and helpful. For example, he got us into the rental an hour ahead of check-in and let us stay an hour after the normal checkout time. He worked with me to get his Home Away credit card system operating, which took several weeks and he held the rental for us during that time sans deposit of any kind, even though it was for a week at the height of peak season.
Matthew is an architect by training whose family goes back many generations at St. Davids. His great uncle built the house, the bottom half of which we rented, and his great great grandfather built the windmill that has been incorporated into Twr y Felin, St. Davids newest luxury hotel. Matthew also manages long-term rentals in the area and has a food company that makes prize winning jams, chutneys, and fudge brownies–a generous selection of which he leaves as welcoming gifts in his short-term rentals.
The rental itself was one of the best we have ever rented in over a decade of short term rentals in North America and Europe. Matthew oversaw the restoration in 2015 and decorated the rooms very nicely. The living room had lovely picture moulding hung with originals from local artists. The two bedrooms were nice, but the one with two singles pushed together had by far the better mattresses.
The kitchen was the best equipped I have ever rented, period. The stove, grill, and oven were less than two years old and a joy to cook on. There were ample quality pots and pans as well as fairly decent knives (best I have ever found in a rental) and an ample supply of bowls, strainers, colanders, measuring spoons and cups, and gadgets to include an immersion blender and a hand mixer. There was plenty of counter space and cutting surfaces, a large and functioning fridge, ample cleaning materials under the sink, and a huge broom closet full of useful stuff–although the push broom was a little funky.
On investigation we discovered a pan that had been destroyed and then hidden in the cupboards by the previous tenants. Matthew replaced it within hours. Not only that, but the replacement was high-end (better than the damaged one before it was left on the stove to melt). Matthew apologized for the dinky kitchen table. It seems that the pan killing asshats had also demolished the regular (big) kitchen table. I have complete confidence that Matthew will replace it in the very near future with a good one.
The two full bathrooms were nice but had minor flaws. The tub shower set up was a bit difficult to get in and out of and the funky little hot water heater that ran it produced only mediocre pressure and the hot water was not truly constant, although it never actually got cold. The other shower was a beach-type setup that worked fine but had no partition from the rest of the bath room, drenching every surface during use.
There was a private outside sitting area just off the kitchen and a small garden shared with the larger upstairs rental in the back of the house. The internet was excellent in the living room and the front bedroom, but strangely intermittent in the kitchen and rear bedroom.
The parking situation was a bit tricky, but Matthew was very helpful in sorting that out. The street in front of the rental is one way with no parking for several blocks in either direction. Matthew has secured private parking for his guests less than a ten-minute walk from the rental and provides a plaque for placement in the vehicle that safeguards it from tickets or towing. He also provides new arrivals with instructions in advance that allow you to park temporarily in front of the rental to drop off bags before parking the car. The same arrangement applies for departure.
When you combine this excellent rental with the picturesque town of St. Davids and the Pembrokeshire Coast Walk, it’s the perfect spot for travelers to stay a week or two.
Bottom line: Rent from Matthew James for fantastic hiking on one of the greatest coastal trails in the world. You can either get into touch with Matthew through his HomeAway page or through his James Property website.