11 unique sleeps for the Year of the Sea

“Ar lan y môr, mae pob rinweddau… Ar lan y môr mae nghariad inne”

(By the seaside is every virtue… By the seaside is my sweetheart). The Welsh are so soppy about the sea, they even have folk songs dedicated to the drama of it all. And my, is it romantic! Wild, windswept and bursting with life. There is some magnificent sea, river, and waterside stays to be had … and every one of them has a story. Start plotting your escape now.

1. Portmeirion, Gwynedd, North Wales

Portmeirion hotel lit up at night

Portmeirion by Tim Richmond
Whisk your partner to other-worldly Portmeirion, the creation of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, whose dream was to create an Italianate village in Wales. The result is a magical collection of brightly coloured buildings and gardens that lead down to the sea. At the shore is the Grade-II listed Portmeirion Hotel, which opened in 1931 and has hosted artists, playwrights, royalty, politicians and tycoons. Opt to stay in the Peacock Suite, where the future King Edward VIII slept in 1934.

2. St Brides Spa Hotel, Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales

View of beach from large hotel windows

St Brides Spa Hotel by St Brides Spa Hotel
It’s hard to find a more perfect place to relax than the infinity pool at St Brides Spa Hotel – a beautiful property perched on a clifftop overlooking Saundersfoot and the sea. Most rooms have sea views and a balcony, and there are six serviced apartments, plus a tranquil Marine Spa. Pembrokeshire produce features on the menu at the Cliff and Gallery restaurants, both of which are ideally placed to take in spectacular sunsets.

3. Gwesty Cymru, Aberystwyth, Mid Wales

Sunset over Cardigan Bay from outside Gwesty Cymru

Gwesty Cymru, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion by Gwesty Cymru
Overlooking Cardigan Bay from Aberystwyth’s handsome Victorian promenade, Gwesty Cymru is a superbly-positioned five star hotel and restaurant. Décor in the eight bedrooms includes Welsh slate made by local craftsmen and specially commissioned artworks by local artist Bethan Clwyd. You can enjoy local flavours on the seafront terrace, with dishes on the restaurant menu including Welsh rarebit topped with local eggs and – you’re by the sea after all – Cardigan Bay lobster.

4. Harbourmaster, Aberaeron, Ceredigion, Mid Wales

Harbour Master hotel in Aberaeron

Harbour Master Hotel, Aberaeron, Ceredigion by Ian H's
Prepare to crown the Harbourmaster your new favourite hotel. It’s the kind of place people return to as often as they can: for the warm welcome, beautiful décor (including Welsh favourite, Melin Tregwynt furnishings), thoughtful touches, and incredible location. Book the Madona Suite for panoramic coastal views. The boutique hotel houses a fab restaurant and a menu regularly featuring scallops, oysters and juicy Welsh steaks.

5. Cliff camping, Anglesey, North Wales

Cliff camping
Cliff camping by Gaia Adventures
Feeling intrepid? Try cliff camping, where the phrase “living life on the edge” is taken 100 per cent literally. The experience starts in the afternoon with rock climbing practice, before your ‘portaledge’ is set up in the evening – a sturdy canvas shelf that’s tethered to the side of a cliff, which will be your bed for the night. All that remains is to tuck into a hearty meal from your perch, admire the sunset and fall asleep to the sound of the lapping waves. 

6. Coes Faen Lodge, Barmouth, Gwynedd, North Wales

Wide angle phot of room with a feature bath in the left corner

Guest room in Coes Faen

 by Coes Faen
Architecture and design enthusiasts will be wowed by Coes Faen… as will spa-lovers… and foodies! Set in a 19th century Victorian lodge on the water, Coes Faen has been lovingly and tastefully renovated. Plenty of glass lets in natural light, while stone and oak floors showcase the building’s history. There’s also unobtrusive technology to enhance your stay with music and lighting. Each of their six rooms has a spa-style bathroom, and the restaurant serves delicious Tuscan-style meals on Fridays and Saturdays.

7. Twr y Felin, St Davids, Pembrokeshire

Double room in Twr y Felin hotel

Twr y Felin by Retreats group
Twr y Felin is proud of its coastal location, and as proof there are 100 pieces of specially commissioned art inspired by the St Davids Peninsula to discover throughout the hotel. The luxury property is just ten minutes from the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and the gorgeous beach at Caerfai Bay. There are 21 bedrooms, including two fabulous suites, all designed to pamper. Settle into the art lover’s snug known as the Cornel bar before dinner at Blas, their two AA-rosette restaurant.

8. Scamper Holidays, Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Boris the campervan and a shepherd's hut

Scamperholidays, Llangennith, Swansea Bay by Scamperholidays
Gower was the UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and there’s no better way to experience it than with some glorious glamping. Overlooking the award-winning Rhossili Bay or Llangennith beach, you can choose from shepherd’s huts, tiki lodges, smart campervans or timber tent cabins. Scamper Holidays offer them all, as well as delightful upgrades for those wanting to add sweet little touches like champagne welcome hampers or eye-catching bunting. Location is the key to this spot, getting you up close and personal with some Wales’s most beautiful beaches.

9. Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa, Powys, Mid Wales

Lake Vyrnwy
Opulent and elegant Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa overlooks the magnificent lake of the same name, boasting dreamy views of the fairy-tale tower that sits atop the lake’s waters. When you’ve stopped admiring the landscape from your balcony, take stock of the spectacular décor within your sleeping quarters. Many of the 52 rooms have sumptuously large four-poster beds and look out onto the lake or the gardens. The spa continues the theme with incredible lake-side views, and offers pampering treatments and an exclusive Thermal Suite.

10. The Old Rectory on the Lake, Tal-y-Llyn, Gwynedd, North Wales

Hot tub looking out over Talyllyn Lake
The Old Rectory on the Lake, Snowdonia by Adam Dorogdi
If you’ve walked up – and down – mighty Cadair Idris in Snowdonia National Park, there’s nowhere more inviting to rest your weary legs afterwards than The Old Rectory on the Lake. Homely, welcoming and friendly, the hotel’s two upstairs double bedrooms have glorious Victorian free-standing baths. If you fancy something less conventional, spend your evening in the outdoor hot tub, enjoying the stunning lake views.

11. The Bunkhouse, Glasbury, Powys, Mid Wales

View of Bunkhouse in rural lake setting

The Bunkhouse, Glasbury
The Bunkhouse in Glasbury is described by its owners as a posh bunkhouse, which sleeps up to 14 people in supreme comfort. Enjoy comfy sofas, a wood-burning stove and large tables for feasting – fantastic for friends or family get-togethers. Fun is the keyword here – there’s actually a slide inside the property – and The Bunkhouse is perfectly placed for canoe trips on the River Wye.