A Culture-Packed Weekend: 48 Hours in Cardiff

Cardiff is often unfairly overshadowed by the other UK capitals – but if you book a trip to this vibrant, historic city you’ll see that it holds its own against the likes of London and Edinburgh.

If you’ve booked a weekend away to Cardiff (or if you’re considering doing so soon) here’s our ultimate guide to enjoying a culture-packed 48 hours in our exciting capital.

Friday PM

Arriving at Cardiff, you’ll want to check into your hotel and get moving. The city is filled with fantastic hotels, but a stay at No. 10 Cardiff or Cathedral 73 will put you in chic modern accommodation in a great location. Alternatively, you can stay a little out of the centre in a suburb like Penarth – Holm House Hotel being a highlight.

From here, venture out into the city to experience the nightlife. You can grab a casual dinner in the Brewery Quarter, or something more refined on Pontcanna Street, before heading to the trendy bars on Mill Lane or down at Mermaid Quay.

Saturday AM

Once you’ve finished your full Welsh breakfast (complete with cockles and laverbread), you’ll want to start sightseeing. The best place to begin is Cardiff Castle, which is famed for its elaborate interiors, hidden wartime shelters and hilltop Norman keep.

Banqueting Hall, Cardiff Castle

From the castle you can wander over to the National Museum (just 10 minutes on foot) and immerse yourself in the art and history of our wonderful nation.

Historic Gallery, National Museum Cardiff

Saturday PM

After lunch, spend your afternoon doing something a little different. Book far enough in advance and you can catch a rugby match down at the Principality Stadium. Alternatively, book tickets to a matinee at the National Theatre Wales, or the Wales Millennium Centre.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Later on, you can enjoy dinner at one of Cardiff’s finest dining establishments. There are many to choose from, but one of our favourites is the award-winning Restaurant James Sommerin on the seafront in Penarth. You can get here in just 25 minutes by hopping on a train from Cardiff Central.

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

After dinner, stick around to enjoy a cocktail in one of the nearby bars – just don’t forget that the last train from Penarth leaves just before 11.30!

Sunday AM

Make the most of your Sunday morning by heading down to Castle Street and hopping on a bus to St. Fagan’s National Museum of History. This open-air museum is free to enter and open seven days a week; at its heart is a 16th century manor house surrounded by other historic buildings.

National History Museum, St Fagans

Wander through the museum complex and you can learn about the history of the Welsh people, getting a key insight into how people here have lived through the ages. Bring a picnic and you can enjoy it on the grounds – alternatively, you can grab lunch at one of the onsite cafés.

Sunday PM

Before you head off, spend your last hours in Cardiff enjoying a leisurely stroll through one of the city’s green spaces (weather permitting). There are plenty to choose from, but Bute Park is our favourite.

As for the journey home? We suspect you’ll spend it planning your next visit to our beautiful capital…

 

Images © Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales)

The Best Walks in Wales – and Where to Stay Nearby

With its rolling green hills, gorgeous coastal paths, and impressive mountain ranges, Wales is a true haven for people who love to walk. If you’re planning a walking trip here, read on for a list of our nation’s finest walking routes – and the hotels where you can stay nearby.

Llangollen Canal – Pen-y-Dyffryn Country Hotel

For a gentle, scenic six-mile walk along one of Wales’ most famous waterways, book a stay at Pen-y-Dyffryn Hotel. From here, it’s just a 30-minute drive to the Horseshoe Falls, where you can embark on a walk along the Llangollen Canal.

This route will take you to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a feat of 18th century engineering rising 130 feet. Though dizzyingly high, the aqueduct is safely fenced, meaning you can bring your dog along to enjoy the view. At the end of your walk, return to the comfort of Pen-y-Dyffryn and enjoy a hearty evening meal in the award-winning restaurant.

The Gliffaes Tree Walk – Gliffaes Country House

Our second walk comes courtesy of Gliffaes Country House, in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Book a stay here and you can explore 33 acres of grounds and woodlands.

To make the most of your beautiful surroundings, set aside an hour for the Gliffaes Tree Walk. This route will introduce you to the ancient oaks, beeches, redwoods and maples on the hotel grounds. It’s the perfect way to work up your appetite for afternoon tea, which is served daily between 4 and 5.30pm.

The Stackpole Wildlife Walk – Elm Grove Country House

The pretty village of St Florence in Pembrokeshire is home to the Elm Grove Country House, a 4-star hotel boasting 20 acres of lawns. Though there are plenty of excellent walking routes in the region, a favourite of the hotel’s owners is the Stackpole Wildlife Walk.

This walk begins at Stackpole Quay and heads south along Barafundle Bay, following the coast until Broadhaven Beach. From here it heads northwest to the Lily Pools in Bosherton, and up to the Eight Arch Bridge; crossing over will put you on a track heading east in the direction of Stackpole Quay.

Porth Clais to St Justinians – Twr y Felin Hotel

The Pembrokeshire Coast offers so much for walkers, which is why this is a favourite walk of Emma’s at Twr-y Felin.

Start at Porth Clais Harbour and head west to St Justinians. The walk features views of Ramsey Island and St Brides Bay and takes in one of the more rugged sections of the coastline, making you feel close to the sea and rock (but the route is not strenuous), which is great for bird and seal watching!

Brechfa Forest – Ty Mawr Country Hotel

If you prefer exploring dense woodland to open coastal paths, then Ty Mawr is the hotel for you. This award-winning establishment has plenty to recommend it, but the key draw for walkers is that it sits on the edges of Brechfa Forest. When you check in, the staff will be able to recommend a number of different routes, varying in length and difficulty.

Ceiriog Valley – The Mulberry Inn

The Mulberry Inn is another hotel where you don’t have to venture far to discover an excellent walking route. Situated in Llwynmawr, not far from Chirk Castle, this establishment boasts comfortable modern rooms, an 18th century bar, and pretty gardens. The inn is also surrounded by beautiful walking routes, and offers special discounts to walkers.

Laugharne & the “Dylan Thomas” Trail – The Browns

Our final destination is Laugharne, home of Dylan Thomas. For the ultimate Laugharne experience stay at The Brown’s (Thomas’s favourite pub) and take a stroll through the town and surrounding countryside.

One excellent route takes you from the centre of town to the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and then north to the Delacorse Farm, before looping back south via St Martin’s Church, where Thomas is buried.

 

© Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales)

Stays With a Story

A memorable holiday is about so much more than comfortable accommodation and good food – to be really fantastic, a getaway destination should have a story to tell. If you’re seeking a Welsh adventure with a difference, read on for some inspiration…

Laugharne and Dylan Thomas

If you’re a fan of the Welsh poets there’s a good chance you know about the significance of Laugharne – and in particular the gorgeous boathouse where Dylan Thomas spent the last four years of his life. Situated on the Taf estuary, this iconic literary setting is open to visitors year-round, allowing fans of Thomas to wander through the very rooms where his great works were created. For the ultimate getaway, check into The Corran Resort & Spa, a luxury hotel with an award-winning restaurant that’s just a ten-minute drive south of the Boathouse.

St Davids and the Patron Saint of Wales

The picturesque city of St Davids can be found on Wales’ southwest coast, and is most famous for its 12th century cathedral. What makes this seaside setting significant is the fact that it was the birthplace of Wales’ patron saint, David. As with many saints, David’s life was composed of a long list of miracles, including the restoration of a blind monk’s sight. He also founded the Menevia monastery on the very ground where St Davids Cathedral now sits. Another upside to visiting St Davids is the availability of fantastic luxury accommodation, including Warpool Court and Twr y Felin Hotel.

Portmeirion and The Prisoner


There are many things that make the village of Portmeirion an unusual holiday destination. Built between 1925 and 1975 by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, this waterside toy town was constructed in the style of an Italian village, and is notable for its lush gardens and colourful houses. TV fans primarily associate Portmeirion with being the setting for The Prisoner, a series which saw Patrick McGoohan seeking to escape an eerily idyllic coastal resort known only as The Village. Today Portmeirion still hosts annual Prisoner fan conventions – although it’s also a gorgeous getaway for architecture enthusiasts and beach lovers.

The Hand at Llanarmon


Passing by The Hand, you might not suspect that this cosy rural pub and spa hotel has a story to tell – but with a little knowledge of the surrounding region’s history, all becomes clear. This award-winning hotel is named for the Myddleton family, who once occupied nearby Chirk Castle. Legend tells that the bright red hand on their coat of arms was inspired by grisly act of self-mutilation, carried out by one of the Myddleton sons in a bid to win a challenge set by his father. Today the legacy of the family lives on, not only at Chirk Castle but at The Hand, which boasts an impressive wooden sculpture of an open palm outside the front. If that’s not reason enough to visit The Hand, poetry enthusiasts may also be pleased to learn that Llanarmon was once the home of John Ceiriog Hughes.

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Wales’ most romantic honeymoon hotspots

While many of us dream of jetting off to tropical climes for our honeymoon, there’s a lot to be said for staying a little closer to home. Save on expensive travel, spare yourself the jet lag and mosquito bites, and enjoy a truly relaxing honeymoon break in one of these gorgeous Welsh venues.

Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa

You’ll find Lake Vyrnwy nestling at the southeastern fringes of Snowdonia. A reservoir first constructed in the 1880s, this manmade lake is now a nature reserve famed for its rare bird species. Make the trip to this undisturbed part of Wales and you’ll be able to enjoy a one-of-a-kind honeymoon experience at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa. Stay at this award-winning country house hotel and you can indulge in fine dining at the Tower Restaurant, relax in the Elemis spa – which is famous for its jacuzzi-with-a-view – and sign up for outdoor activities, such as clay pigeon shooting and fly-fishing. After a long day exploring the wilderness (or relaxing in the spa) you can enjoy a well-earned drink at The Last Grouse pub.

Plas Bodegroes

Just northwest of Pwllheli on the Llyn Peninsula you’ll find Plas Bodegroes, a hotel styled as a “restaurant with rooms”. The property extends across five secluded acres, and centres around a charming country house boasting 10 en-suite rooms and gorgeously kept private gardens. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant – which held a Michelin star between 1991 and 2008 – is a key draw for many visitors. With a menu boasting Welsh Black beef, saltmarsh lamb, and other locally sourced ingredients, it’s the ideal spot for foodie couples.

The Cawdor

For newlyweds who want to combine the quaint charm of a rural hotel with the convenience of a city break, there’s The Cawdor. Situated in the picturesque town of Llandeilo, it’s fantastically easy to access by train. Housed in a refurbished Georgian building, The Cawdor puts a modern twist on its original features, combining contemporary luxury with old world charm. You can enjoy fine cuisine in the Cawdor Dining Room, sip drinks or sample afternoon tea at the hotel bar, or simply relax in the comfort of your room – which comes complete with Myddfai toiletries. Top activities for the area include a wander around colourful Llandeilo, a visit to neighbouring Dinefwr Castle, and a trip to Aberglasney Gardens, which you can reach on the bus.

Grove of Narberth

The Grove of Narberth is another secluded country house perfect for honeymooners. Set in the heart of Pembrokeshire it’s known for its beautiful grounds, stunning views and excellent food. All the rooms look out onto gardens or countryside, and are spread out amongst the main house and several smaller cottages. Food can be enjoyed in the main restaurant, lounge & bar, or on the sunny terrace – and if you’re venturing out of the hotel for lunch, you can take along a picnic hamper. For ultimate relaxation and privacy, enjoy an in-room spa treatment, or a private dining experience with your other half. Perhaps best of all, the hotel welcomes well-behaved dogs, which means it’s perfect for newlyweds looking to bring a furry friend!

Quirky spa treatments to try this year

Come January 1st, most of us have written out a list of New Year’s resolutions packed with positive, healthy changes we can make to our lifestyles. But what’s easy to forget, in the rush to stock up on kale and hunt down a new gym, is that the best way to become happier and healthier in the long-term is to indulge yourself every once in a while.

Book yourself in for one of the quirky spa treatments listed below, and you can strike the perfect balance between treating your body like a temple, and enjoying some well-deserved me-time!

Cosy Detoxing Clay Cocoon, Peterstone Court

Peterstone Court Spa luxury hotel pamper treatment

A Georgian manor house that nestles in the rolling green hills of the Brecon Beacons, Peterstone Court is the ideal rural retreat. The real highlight here is the spa, which is housed in the vaulted caverns beneath the hotel and boasts a captivating yet relaxed ambience.

Top of the list for quirky treatments here is the Cosy Detoxing Clay Cocoon: a 75-minute head-to-toe treatment that incorporates an orange and lime exfoliation, a warm body cocoon, and a head massage. For the finishing touch, you’ll receive a light all-over coconut oil massage, guaranteed to delight your skin!

The Power Breakfast Facial, Lake Country House Hotel & Spa

Lake Country House and Spa treatment

Lake Country House & Spa is located just outside Llangammarch Wells in Powys, and boasts a variety of fantastic spa treatments. Our favourite is the signature Power Breakfast Facial, which (you’ve guessed it) is inspired by some ingredients you’d more commonly find in your kitchen.

This speedy 30-minute facial is ideal for go-getters who want to kick-start the day. Tailored to all skin types, the Power Breakfast Facial consists of a revitalising power cleanse, mask and massage. The only downside? With oats, honey and fruit juice on the list of ingredients you might find yourself getting a little peckish…

Anglesey Sea Salt Treatments, Tre-Ysgawen Hall Hotel & Spa

Tre-Ysgawen Hall and Spa luxury hotel spa treatment

The Isle of Anglesey is the jewel of Wales’ northwest coast, famed for its beaches, ruins and – most famous of all – Hâlen Mon sea salt. When you pay a visit to the island’s Tre-Ysgawen Hall you’ll be able to enjoy a truly unique sea salt experience. Visit their spa and you can relax in their one-of-a-kind salt inhalation room, which was built in partnership with Hâlen Mon.

For a more hands-on treatment, try the Anglesey Salt Polish Relaxer, a full body exfoliation and massage that will leave you glowing from head to toe.

Darjeeling Green Tea & Ginger Detox, Holm House

Holm House luxury hotel Cardiff green tea detox spa treatment

Penarth’s Holm House is known for its sea views and fine dining – but we’re most excited about trying this establishment’s spa. Countless luxury treatments are offered, but the quirkiest and most appealing of the bunch is the Darjeeling Green Tea & Ginger Detox. Lay back and relax for 55 minutes as your skin receives an intensely revitalising treatment. Green tea and ginger salts are used to activate microcirculation, while a lower body detox wrap and lymphatic massage help to target problem areas. Sign us up!