Wales, land of legends

This year Wales is marking the Year of Legends, a fitting celebration for a country full of mythical landscapes and mystical stories. Here are some of our favourites.

Cadair Idris

Cadair Idris, which directly translates as Idris’ Chair, is one of Wales’ most iconic peaks and can be found in southern Snowdonia. It’s rumoured that Idris was once a giant king who used the mountain as his throne and it is said that if you fall asleep on the mountain you’ll wake up as either a madman, a poet or not at all. For the perfect base to explore this throne, take a look at Penmaenuchaf Hall.

Merlin’s Oak

It’s said that King Arthur’s legendary wizard protected this oak tree, which can be found in the centre of Carmarthen. Merlin threatened that Carmarthen would drown if the oak was ever removed and it was rumoured to even resemble the face of the wizard himself. A local poisoned it in the 1850s, and the remains of the trunk were finally removed at the end of the 1970s – after which Carmarthen suffered its worst floods for years. Coincidence? If you want to explore Merlin’s cursed town, stay at Tŷ Mawr Country Hotel:

Merlin is said to be buried on Bardsey Island, off the coast of the Llyn Peninsula. Our recommendation for a hotel in this area is Porth Tocyn.

Gelert

The legend of Wales’ most famous dog, Gelert, and his master Llewelyn the Great is one that many schoolchildren are familiar with.

Llewelyn and his wife went out hunting with his wife, leaving their baby son with a nurse and a servant, who went on a walk. On Llewelyn’s return, Gelert ran out of the home covered in blood. Llewelyn ran to his son’s room and, finding the cradle overturned with his son nowhere to be found, killed Gelert with his sword.

As the dog died, his last sounds were answered by the sounds of a baby’s cries, coming from behind the overturned cradle. Llewelyn pulled aside the cradle and found his son unharmed lying next to the body of a huge wolf.

The village of Beddgelert in Gwynedd is supposedly where Llewelyn buried his brave companion. You can visit the charming village of Beddgelert and learn more about the legend. We recommend staying at the Saracen’s Head.

St David

The patron saint of Wales, St David was born around the year 520 near the city that now bears his name.

St David performed many miracles including bringing a boy back to life. The most famous of his achievements is said to have taken place in the village of Llanddewi Brefi when he was preaching to a large crowd that was having difficulty hearing him.

A white dove landed on David’s shoulder as the ground beneath him rose up to form a hill that allowed everyone in the crowd to see and hear him better.

If you want to visit this hill, which now holds a church, stay at Y Talbot, or if you want to visit the birthplace of St David and hear more about his life, stay at Warpool Court for some added luxury to your stay.

Perfect Pamper Breaks – our TOP TEN Spas

In this busy world it’s important to take time out. Be pampered, relax and recharge your batteries – our luxury Spa hotels present the opportunity to do just that.

Our Gift Vouchers make a perfect Mother’s Day present – use them at all our Welsh Rarebits hotels and indulge in an extensive range of bespoke and signature pamper treatments featuring the finest spa and beauty products.

1. Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa – The superb Spa and Thermal Suite allows you to experience the elements of ‘Water, Fire and Ice’ whilst also soaking up the breath-taking lakeside view. Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa

2. Holm House – The spa includes treatments rooms, a hydrotherapy pool with a tidal current machine, a steam room, private gym and elegant relaxation area.

Holm House Spa
3. The Metropole Hotel & Spa – situated in the heart of the glorious, unspoilt mid Wales countryside.  The Cambrian Gold treatment is designed to give your skin a lift, along with your spirits. The Metropole Hotel and Spa

4. Bodysgallen Hall & Spa – A true historic house with superb pampering facilities and magnificent spa and pool.

5. Llety Cynin – Luxury accommodation and a stunning leisure complex with a 40ft indoor heated pool, spa, sauna and gym.

Llety Cynin

6. Lake Country House & Spa – Melt away any stresses at their award winning spa set in the heart of mid Wales.

7. St Brides Spa Hotel – perches above Saundersfoot, and the fabulous infinity pool offers far-reaching views over the sea.

8. Coes Faen Spa Lodge – There are individual spas in each bedroom so that you can have your own private, personalised treatments from fully qualified massage and complementary health specialists.

9. Tre-Ysgawen Hall Hotel & Spa – Indulge in one of their very own signature treatments using Anglesey Sea Salt and allow your mind, body and soul to be rejuvenated, revitalised and re-balanced.

10. Peterstone Court Hotel & Spa – The spa’s design introduces a place of calm where you can slow-down, unwind and be pampered, allowing you a little well deserved ‘me’ time.

But don’t take our word for it, have a look at the spa hotels on the web site and choose one that suits you, and sample the delights on offer. As with all our hotels, the spas offer fine dining and a warm welcome throughout the year.

Top places in Wales to propose this Valentine’s Day (or any other day)

Are you planning a romantic surprise this Valentine’s Day? Whether it’s a proposal or a picnic, Wales is full of the most beautiful settings to enjoy with the special person in your life.

For that extra special surprise, you don’t have to take them on Valentine’s Day – take them somewhere special ‘just because’ to really melt their heart.

Here, we’ve picked some of our favourite stunning settings. Let us know what you think on Twitter @Rarebits

Lake Vyrnwy, Llanwddyn

Referred to as a ‘reservoir’ in Powys, the reality is much more captivating than the description. Originally built with the purpose of supplying Liverpool with water, the lake is now the setting for water sports, horse riding, cycling and other activities.

A truly breathtaking sight, the lake is also home to Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa.

Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire

What could be more romantic that a real life castle? Roch Castle is a restored Norman castle, with all the mod-cons and features you’d expect from a luxury hotel.

Four waterfalls walk, Ystradfellte

 The four waterfalls walk is a popular route in the Brecon Beacons, which takes in a quartet of waterfalls along the Afon Mellte. The walk culminates in the Sgŵd yr Eira, where the footpath passes behind the waterfall itself – the perfect location for a romantic gesture.

If you want to make a weekend of it, take a look at Peterstone Court Hotel and Spa.

 Barafundle Bay, near Stackpole

Named as one of the best beaches in the world by Passport magazine, Barafundle Bay offers nothing but natural beauty. If you’re visiting, be sure to pack a romantic picnic as there aren’t any facilities on site.

If you’re heading down that way, why not use Elm Grove as a base for exploring? The house, based in Tenby, has been in the same family for 150 years. Or The Stackpole Inn makes an ideal spot to explore this corner of Pembrokeshire.



Portmeirion Village

An Italianate village in North Wales, Portmerion Village is one of a kind. If you had dreams of proposing abroad, but lack of planning or budget hampered that wish, take a look at this village.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas

It’s that time of year again, so it’s time to start searching for those special gifts for your loved ones. Whether you’re buying for family or friends, our vouchers are the perfect present to wake up to on Christmas morning.

We want to offer more flexibility this year, so we’re offering gold, silver and bronze options. Each voucher can be purchased for single or multiple night stays at a selection of our award-wining hotels and are redeemable at selected hotels depending on the category you choose.

You can purchase our vouchers online and receive them in the post up until the Royal Mail’s last official postdate. Alternatively, if last-minute Christmas shopping is more your style, you can buy our e-vouchers anytime and they’ll land in your inbox instantly.

 

Gold

One night stay with breakfast – £195 / Two night stay with breakfast – £375

One night stay with an evening meal and breakfast – £295 / Two night stay with an evening meal and breakfast – £550

Our gold vouchers offer the upmost luxury and are redeemable at a number of our finest hotels. Whether they’re after a relaxing spa break or a cosy countryside escape, your lucky loved one is bound to find something they’ll enjoy.

gold-voucher

Gold vouchers allow the recipient to stay at any of the following:

Bodysgallen Hall Hotel and SpaHotel PortmeirionSt Brides Spa HotelTyddyn LlanPenmaenuchaf HallGliffaes Country House HotelLake Vyrnwy Hotel and SpaFairyhill and Tre-Ysgawen Hall Hotel and Spa

 

Silver

One night stay with breakfast – £165 / Two night stay with breakfast – £300

One night stay with an evening meal and breakfast – £265 / Two night stay with an evening meal and breakfast -£475

Enjoy some country house comfort at Llansantffraed Court or indulge in a spa treatment at Penarth’s boutique Holm House with our silver vouchers.

silver-voucher

Silver voucher recipients can choose to stay at any of the following hotels:

St George’s HotelGwesty CymruPeterstone CourtPorth Tocyn HotelThe FalcondaleThe Felin Fach Griffin HarbourmasterPen-y-Dyffryn Country HotelHammet HouseHolm HouseLlansantffraed Court and Warpool Court

 

Bronze

One night stay with breakfast – £135 / Two night stay with breakfast – £250

One night stay with an evening meal and breakfast – £215 / Two night stay with an evening meal and breakfast

The hotels on offer with our bronze vouchers certainly aren’t lacking in luxury. Foodies might choose the Bear Hotel to experience its award-winning cuisine, while the spa facilities at the Sychnant Pass Country House offer the perfect way to relax after exploring Snowdonia.

bronze-voucher

Bronze voucher recipients can chose to stay in the following hotels:

Castle CottageThe Hand at LlanarmonThe BullManorhaus RuthinManorhaus LlangollenBear HotelSychnant Pass Country HouseTyn RhosCaemorgan MansionThe Metropole HotelY Talbot TregaronThe Castle Hotel and Ty Mawr Country Hotel

For advice on things to do and experience while visiting one of our hotels, check out our discover Wales section

7 Staycations you will never believe are in Wales

Summer may be officially over, but that shouldn’t stop you from planning your next getaway. As the winter months draw closer, the recurring daydream of relaxing on a beach in Bali or sailing around the Greek islands is returning more frequently. But who says you have to go abroad? It may not have the glorious weather, but Wales definitely has the glorious attractions that will be sure to convince you to take a ‘staycation’. We’ve detailed where to visit along with things to do and key activities here in Wales.

1) Portmeirion

The private tourist village of Portmeirion is located near Porthmadog in north Wales. With its picturesque views and pastel-coloured buildings, it’s easy to mistake this quirky place for a sleepy town on the Italian coast.

The village is especially magical at night, when it closes to the public but remains open for hotel guests. So why not choose between two of our luxurious hotels and suites and experience the beaches, hidden coves and woodlands after dark?

Wales

2) Llanrwst

Situated between Conwy and Betws-y-Coed, Llanrwst is the perfect place to base yourself if you’re visiting Snowdonia. This village could be high in the Himalayas and it’s easy to forget that the outside world exists when you’re there. Sitting deep in the Conwy Valley, the iconic three-arched bridge next to the Tu Hwnt l’r Bont tearooms passes over the river and acts as the main focal point for this picturesque place. What’s more, we offer accommodation with beautiful lawns and wooded grounds in the nearby Sychnant Pass Country House, ensuring your stay will be stunning in every way.

3) Skomer Island

Skomer is located less than a mile off the stunning Pembrokeshire coast. The main attraction is its wildlife; the island is home to puffins and you might spot  dolphins and seals in its waters, giving the island a tropical feel.

In the spring, the island becomes covered in a beautiful blanket of bluebells, with no piece of land spared.

4) Tintern Abbey, Chepstow
The village of Tintern boasts outstanding landscapes complemented by the imposing structure of its ruined Cistercian Abbey. Located between Chepstow and Monmouth on the Welsh side of the River Wye, Tintern Abbey’s romantic yet gothic appearance is sure to blow you away. Being able to see the thick woodland peering through the Abbey’s structure allows you to appreciate the surroundings, which are especially beautiful on a bright day.

Wales

 5) Merthyr Mawr sand dunes

Wales is lucky to have so many unspolit stretches of coastline and the Methyr Mawr sand dunes are particularly enchanting. These dunes are the second highest in Europe and look like they belong in the middle of the Sahara.

This location is definitely holiday-worthy, with the medieval Candleston Castle and the Norman Ogmore Castle waiting to be explored nearby.

If you’re looking for a more unusual activity, many people enjoy bringing their snow sledges to the dunes and having fun on the slopes. So why not give it a go?

6) Blaenau Ffestiniog

In the heart of Snowdonia National Park is the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Having made its name from its industrial heritage, it is now home to two adrenaline-fuelled adventure activities – Bounce Below and Zip World Caverns. Makes a change from hiking!

Housed in a psychedelic underground cave and boasting three trampolines and a network of slides and ladders, Bounce Below is perfect for staycationers looking for an active and fun-filled trip. Similarly, Zip World Caverns offers numerous tunnels, bridges and balance beams to ensure that your experience is action packed. The best part? You don’t even need to rely on good weather.

Wales

7)Lake Vyrnwy

Sitting on the border of the Snowdonia National Park, Lake Vyrnwy looks like something out of a children’s story. It has vast and lush views, which complement the romantic architecture of a large dam and its fairytale tower. Its surroundings are equally breathtaking, with rolling meadows, thick forest and steep waterfalls.

While you’re here, why not try the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa and enjoy the stunning sunset views from your balcony?

Wales

If you’ve been inspired by these staycations and want to visit Wales, take a look at our offers page for some last-minute deals.