Wild and pictureseque youth hostels
Want an alternative to renting out an enormous country house for a special birthday? Book out dorms or rooms in one of Wales' many youth hostels or bunkhouses. A number are in truly wild and picturesque locations in Wales, such as the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park and the shores of the Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park. They're much better than they used to be, too – think proper showers, tidy communal areas and all the mod cons.
Farming has been an important part of Welsh culture and rural communities for centuries, and it remains a vital part of the economy today. You can stay at dozens of working farms throughout the country. Some have bed and breakfast options while others are self-catering, but all provide a great base for further exploration. Staying on a farm gives you special insight into the industry, not to mention the freshest milk and eggs known to mankind.
We love Welsh wildlife, forests and our epic scenery, and with so many natural wonders to enjoy and explore it's no surprise that Wales has plenty of eco-friendly accommodation options. These include the multi-award winning, solar-powered Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House in Eryri (Snowdonia), the super sustainable Preseli Venture Eco Lodge in the heart of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and quirky but cool crog lofts and geodesic domes at fforest Farm, near Cardigan.
For the best of both worlds, combine an eco and farm stay in one of Treberfedd Farm’s two eco-cabins, near Lampeter, Ceredigion. Set in green meadows, the eco-cabins comprise open-plan living spaces with cosy wood-burning fires, sheepskin rugs and fully equipped kitchens – ideal for a romantic retreat or family fun.
Fancy staying by the sea? Trellyn Woodland Camping in Pembrokeshire is 100m from Abercastle beach. This members-exclusive site has a variety of structures to stay in, plus your own campfire to sit and watch the sunset by.
Or, how about surrounded by sea? Skomer Island Accommodation offers a unique experience for guests staying at its sustainable converted farm. The sun powers the electricity and hot water and you can explore the island in complete peace once the last boat returns to the mainland.
Now for some really different options. At the award-winning Willows campsite on North Wales’ Llŷn Peninsula, you can stay in a fully-insulated Hobbit Tent that resembles a circular wooden tube. Family-run Penhein Glamping in the beautiful Wye Valley offers Persian 'alachighs' – tents with high domed ceilings, comfy beds (proper ones) and wood-burning stoves to keep you cosy.
At fforest Camp near Cardigan and Manorafon, there is a bewildering array of accommodation including tents inspired by traditional Dutch and Swedish structures and a dome based on a British cavalry design of the 1850s. Of course, if that's not fascinating enough, you could stay in a cottage built of straw (yes, for real); the walls are made of straw bales coated with lime mortar inside and out. The roof insulated in sheep’s wool and covered with cedar shingles. The Straw Cottage is positioned in an idyllic spot of Ty Gwyn Farm in Radnorshire, surrounded by woodland, meadows and a stream, forming a comfy escape from the modern world.
Tipis in Wales are usually set in secluded, rural locations on large, private plots of land. Woodlands are a popular setting, but you need not fear of the usual camping headaches, like tent-assembly and dinner on plastic plates.
Tipis were designed for quick assembly, to better follow the game migrations across the Great Plains. These portable structures provided semi-permanent homes that could be picked up and moved at short notice. However, in Wales, tipis are all about glamping and may benefit from luxuries like being set on wooden plinths, with comfortable beds and facilities in outbuildings.
Inside, tipis are surprisingly spacious, with a central chiminea or stove, smoke trickling skywards to disappear out of the flap in the ceiling. Large tipis with several beds can comfortably accommodate a family or group, while couples looking for a romantic holiday in Wales will love the intimacy and adventure of regular tipis.
Traditionally tipis have been painted with the dreams of those that have slept inside; yours might recall images of Carmarthenshire, Gower or Snowdonia. Your tipi may be decorated with elegant Welsh patterned throws and modern amenities."
Durable and comfortable in winter, the tipi can stay dry year-round during rains and warm during cold spells. In warm weather, a gap might be allowed around the bottom rim of the canvas cover to allow heat to escape. This can be closed in winter to seal the heat in and cold out.
If you love the sound of a tipi break in rural Wales, we've got a couple for you to check out. Camp Cynrig is an off-grid glampsite four miles from Brecon, near a stream in the heart of the Brecon Beacons countryside. As well as tipis, they offer a bell tent and a luxury cabin.