Twr-y-Felin Hotel, St Davids (Tyddewi) West Wales
Twr-y-Felin has a colourful history: it began life as a windmill in 1806, and was repeatedly destroyed by the elements until being rebuilt (using materials from a shipwreck) in 1866. In 1907, 21-year old Evan Evans converted it into a hotel he named Twr-y-Felin, Welsh for ‘mill tower’. In 1940, evacuees from the London Blitz were put up there and it also served as a base for the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Today, Twr-y-Felin attracts creative types in its latest guise as Wales’ first art hotel, featuring 100 original artworks, luxury accommodation, fine dining and enviable proximity to some of Pembrokeshire’s (Sir Benfro) best beaches. No wonder it was named AA Hotel of the Year for Wales 2017-2018.
Treberfedd Farm Octagonal Eco-Cabins, Ceredigion, Mid Wales
The names of Treberfedd Farm’s two eco-cabins, Saffir and Aerona, sound like something from folklore or fairy tales, and the diminutive homes look as though they’ve been lifted from a storybook’s pages, too. 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. The farm itself dates back to at least the 1400s, and restoration work on the farmhouse revealed murals dating back to around 1650.
Life House, Llanbister, Mid Wales
An architect-and-writer (John Pawson) and a philosopher (Alain de Botton) are behind the creation of Life House, a ‘timeless house of simplicity and beauty’ whose aims go much higher than just a good night’s sleep. There’s a ‘contemplation chamber’ buried in a hillside where you’re encouraged to train your mind on ‘true essentials’, a ‘contemplation zone’ for doing the same with a view of the Welsh mountains, a library bedroom, a music bedroom and a bathing bedroom where you ‘reassess existence with the help of views onto the Welsh valley’.
Black Boy Inn, Caernarfon, North Wales
The art of hospitality has been honed over five centuries at Black Boy Inn, which is located within the medieval town walls of historic Caernarfon, home to a famous and majestic castle. The inn opened in approximately 1522, making it one of Wales’ oldest. Today it’s the ideal place to experience a traditional, warm Welsh welcome and have a hearty meal before settling in for a cosy night. Look out for the ghostly nun that’s said to pass through on her way to the nunnery, which used to be at the rear of the inn.
Llanerch Vineyard, Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg), South Wales
The Romans brought vines to Wales 2,000 years ago, making the country’s appearance in the wine world a little tardy – it’s only in the last couple of decades that Welsh wine has gained prominence. This slow start gave way to the fast winning of awards and praise for Welsh whites, rosés and sparkling wines, with some red wine now reaching as high a standard as its counterparts. Llanerch planted its first vines in 1986 and produces highly-rated wine under its Cariad label. Have a taste of everything, then sleep it off in a farmhouse suite, studio room or apartment.
Portmeirion, Gwynedd, North Wales
Portmeirion Hotel is part of marvellous Portmeirion Village, the brainchild of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who spent fifty years lovingly creating his vision of an Italianate village in coastal North Wales. The hotel opened in 1931 and has hosted artists, royalty, politicians and tycoons, as well as noted authors and playwrights H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Noël Coward. The building gained Grade II listed status in 1971. Stay in the Peacock Suite, which the future King Edward VIII slept in in 1934.
Craig y Nos Castle, Brecon Beacons, Mid Wales
Not many hotels house a theatre – Craig y Nos is an exception. The Adelina Patti Theatre was built in honour of one of the castle’s most famous inhabitants. Said to be the second most celebrated woman alive (after Queen Victoria) in 1900, she is little known today outside the opera world, as she lived before her voice could be preserved for posterity on sound recordings. The castle is also said to be Wales’ most haunted, and you can take a ghost tour before settling in to a relaxing night’s sleep.
Ruthin Castle, Ruthin (Rhuthun), North Wales
The first castle documented here was built in 1277. Over the centuries it’s been fought over and owned by notable people – including Henry VIII, Mary I and Charles I – before the wealthy Myddleton family set about improving it in the 19th century. In 1901, it was ‘the centre of dangerous romantic intrigue at the highest level’, when the Castle’s then mistress, ‘Patsy’ Cornwallis-West, had a long love affair with Edward, Prince of Wales (who became King Edward VII). Ruthin has housed 21st century royalty too – Prince Charles included – and fittingly, there’s a Prince of Wales Suite that occupies an entire floor, as well as further glamorous suites, deluxe and luxury rooms.
The Bunkhouse, Glasbury-on-Wye, Mid Wales
Who can resist a bunkhouse with its own slide? The Bunkhouse in Glasbury-on-Wye (Y Clas-ar-Wy) was the talk of the town when it revealed its latest addition, which bypasses the need for stairs to get to the ground floor! It sleeps up to 14 and is ideal for fun-loving friends or family groups. There are 12 luxury bunk beds, a double room, a large and spacious dining room and toasty wood-burning stoves. Run by Wye Valley Canoes, it’s the perfect launch-pad for a kayak along the picturesque River Wye.
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport (Casnewydd), South Wales
Celtic Manor Resort towers imperiously over its surroundings, its stately image befitting a resort that has accommodated both the world’s greatest golfers and meetings of global leaders. Celtic Manor Resort’s recent history includes hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup and 2014 NATO summit, when Barack Obama was among the visitors. Live like a President by staying in one of the luxurious Hunter Lodges, which feature a sauna in the bathroom, a hot tub outside and a bedroom overlooking the gorgeous Welsh countryside. The Resort’s oldest rooms are located in the original 1860 Manor House and boast sumptuous four-poster beds.
Llangoed Hall, Llyswen, Mid Wales
A short distance west of The Bunkhouse is splendid Llangoed Hall. Stories abound – it’s said this was the site of the first Welsh parliament in AD 560, the property has been lost and won in a card game and Sir Clough Williams-Ellis of Portmeirion fame redesigned the mansion in 1912 as a country house. Sir Bernard Ashley – husband of designer Laura Ashley – bought the property in 1987, after his wife’s death, and opened it as a hotel in 1990. Laura Ashley furnishings are in use throughout the classy house, and there’s an impressive art collection, including a room of works by Whistler.
Shepherd’s Hut, Presteigne (Llanandras), Mid Wales
Go back to basics and let nature provide the entertainment at Wild Meadow’s beautiful Shepherd’s Hut. Find it parked among three and a half acres of lush meadows and orchards, inviting you to escape the hustle and bustle of normal life for something altogether more tranquil and romantic. There’s a full-sized double bed inside and maps, games and binoculars to facilitate exploration of the outside. Just pack a sense of adventure!
The Bell at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy), South Wales
A former 17th-century coaching inn, The Bell retains the welcoming, cosy atmosphere of an inn while having the amenities of a boutique hotel. Admire its flagstone floors, oak beams and antique furniture, while settling in for a sophisticated dinner in the award-winning restaurant and a night in one of the eleven stylish rooms. Pick up a copy of Skenfrith’s Lady of Letters, a collection of poetry compiled in the 1930s by the village’s postmistress, and take it out on a walk in the surrounding countryside described in her verses, largely unchanged since she penned them. www.skenfrith.co.uk
Ynyshir, Machynlleth, Mid Wales
Queen Victoria succumbed to the charms of Ynyshir – she loved the abundance of birds on the estate (immediately behind the house is a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve) and kept Ynyshir as a hunting lodge. Parts of the property date back to the 15th century. Since its royal owner, further well-known people have stayed at Ynyshir, including the actor Richard Gere. Bring a large appetite for dinner; Ynyshir holds a Michelin star and chef Gareth Ward shows off fantastic fresh and local ingredients with every dish.