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 Brecon Beacons National Park and the shores of the Snowdonia National Park. They're much better than they used to be, too – think proper showers, tidy communal areas and all the mod cons. Start your search with Youth Hostels Wales.
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.
Spend a night under the stars in one of a kind accommodation. There are gypsy caravans set beneath our mountains for a romantic getaway, safari lodges at Llechwedd's Slate Mountain Glamping for daredevil glampers and family-friendly countryside yurts and tipis for an alternative camping break.
Adventure Park Snowdonia has some gorgeous glamping pods right next to their surf pool - sit on the decking and watch the action, or join in one of the many adventure activities on site.
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 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.
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.
A taste of the Med
Fair point, it's not always tropical in Wales, but we have been known to have some beautiful summer sunshine over the last few years. With the Wales Coast Path making waterside access possible, you can easily find a lovely spot to stay along a seafront, cliff top or overlook beside Wales' blue waters.
Portmeirion is a colourful and ornate Mediterranean village perched on the edge of the beautiful Dwyryd estuary near Porthmadog, on the north west coast of Wales. Let the peacocks, exotic flora and fauna and characterful cottage accommodation transport you to. Alternatively, St Brides Spa Hotel in Saundersfoot overlooks the harbour and beaches of Carmarthen Bay, providing a rural retreat in the heart of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. If the spa treatments don't whisk you away, the marine hydro pool with an infinity edge should do the trick.
Tipis in Wales are usually set in secluded, rural locations away from busy roads 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 about glamping and may benefit from luxuries like being set on wooden plinths, with facilities in outbuildings and comfortable beds. Historically, buffalo skins from the hunt were sewn together to form the cover, complemented with an interior lining and a canvas or calf skin door. More modern materials are used today, but you still get the same impact as you step through the doorway.
Inside, you will find your tipi surprisingly spacious, with a central chiminea or stove, smoke trickling skywards to disappear out of the flap in the ceiling. Originally, the central fire in a tipi would have been used for cooking as well as heating.
Today, you will usually find modern cooking amenities in adjacent structures, as well as fire pits outside for rustic barbecues.
The floor may be covered with sheepskin rugs, while the beds are strewn with warm throws and cushions. 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.
Lanterns are lit inside for the evening, casting a dancing light across the canvas lining. A ring of poles dart towards the sky, meeting in the middle above the hearth chimney. This provides a very sturdy structure that when pegged to the ground can withstand snow, rain and high winds. Durable, warm and comfortable in winter, the tipi can stay dry year-round during rains and warm during winter. 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 of Visit Wales Graded tipi campsites across Wales 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.
Fancy a tipi by the sea? Trellyn Woodland Camping in Pembrokeshire is 100m from Abercastle beach. This Greener Camping Club members exclusive site had a variety of structures to stay in, plus your own campfire to sit and watch the sunset by.