The Welsh Welcome: Around the Pembrokeshire coast to Aberystwyth (Week 2)

Written by Lisa from Fjords and Beaches as she travels through Wales experiencing the Welsh Welcome for the whole of June.

The second week of my Welsh adventure is over, and I can’t believe how fast time has gone, or how lucky I am to get to explore this beautiful country and stay in such amazing and unique places. This week I have stayed in a hotel that has been on my bucket list forever, I have experienced beautiful sunsets over the ocean, and looked for the remnants of a dead elephant buried in the backyard of one of the hotels! Read on to find out which is which!

This week, my little rental car has taken me all around the Pembrokeshire coast, which is one of Wales’ National Parks. The drives have been breathtaking, and the places I have gotten to explore even better. This truly is such a stunning part of the country, and being back for the first time in 6 years was so special.

For the first few days of this week I was joined by a friend from home, and I loved getting to experience the Welsh Welcome with her, and I really appreciated getting a second opinion on all the amazing places I have seen!

Hotel no. 5 – St. Brides, Saundersfoot

As you may remember from last week’s post, I used to live in Saundersfoot when I came to Wales at 17 to do an exchange year. During my year there, I would look up at the majestic hotel at the top of the cliff overlooking the town and think that “one day I hope to stay there!”

Well, that wish came true, and Monday afternoon I checked into St. Brides Spa Hotel!

My friend and I checked into our room and spent some time marvelling at the stunning views of the beach and Saundersfoot. I don’t think there is any better place in the area to get such a view, and so we took our sweet time out on our balcony, drinking wine and catching up.

For dinner, we were treated to a three-course meal, which didn’t disappoint. Our orders were different as night and day, which makes it so easy for me to simply say that the food was amazing! What made it even better was how the restaurant has glass walls facing the harbour, so you eat your food with the same stunning views as I mentioned before, and if you time it well (like we did), you’ll also catch the sunset during dessert.

A stay at St. Brides isn’t complete without a trip to the spa. We made sure to book our time in the spa (complimentary for all staying guests), and I also booked in for a cheeky treatment. My massage was heavenly, and we really enjoyed our time in the infinity pool and relaxation suite. In the latter, they have testers out for different face masks and scrubs, so we got to lounge around in our robes with mud masks on, feeling like princesses.

Hotel no. 6 – Twr y Felin, St. Davids

On our way to the next hotel, we stopped in Tenby for a little bit to explore the beautiful town and its beaches. Tenby is actually where Henry VII escaped from when he went into exile during the War of the Roses, and an incredibly beautiful place.

Then it was onwards to the Twr y Felin in St. Davids; also known as the smallest city in the United Kingdom! Twr y Felin is a modern hotel, but with historic roots. One of the suites is actually in the old windmill of St. Davids.

The hotel had amazing art everywhere, and most of it was commissioned especially for the Twr y Felin. In the evening, we were excited to eat at the Blas Restaurant, which is an award-winning Two Rosette restaurant! Here, we were treated to amazing dishes, and I was so glad there were two of us so we could sample several of them.

The hotel is based in St. Davids, where they have a beautiful cathedral (and hence, the city title). The city of St. Davids only has around 1800 inhabitants, actually! The Cathedral is stunning, and worth a visit if you are in the area.

During our stay at Twr y Felin, we also headed out on a boat trip to Skomer Island, also known as Puffin Island, due to the 30000 puffins that inhabit it! This was a super fun experience and the end of a great stay!

Hotel no. 7 – Llys Meddyg, Newport

The next day it was time for the first “restaurant with rooms” on the trip, which is something I was very excited for! Llys Meddyg in Newport did not disappoint, and after a busy day in St. Davids it didn’t take my friend long until she had drawn a bath, and I had jumped on the bed to relax (and get some work done).

We were quite excited for dinner, and with good reason. You know you are having dinner at an outstanding restaurant when both the risotto and the steak are amazing! We had such a great dining experience at Llys Meddyg, and I strongly recommend it if you are in the Newport area.

In Newport and the surrounding area there are some, and on our drive to the next hotel, we stopped at Penbryn Beach, which is located between Newport and Aberaeron (our next destination). This beach is incredibly beautiful, and I’m so glad we took some time to see it.

Hotel no. 8 – Harbourmaster, Aberaeron

How’s this for a view from bed?

Our next hotel was The Harbourmaster. Located in a Grade II Listed building that once controlled the traffic of the Aberaeron Harbour, this place took our breath away. Our room had the best views of the harbour, apparently, and we were quick to open up the massive windows facing it.

One of the things I loved about the Harbourmaster was their complimentary tea, coffee and cakes for all hotel guests from 3-5pm every day. Such a nice little treat after a day of exploring Aberaeron! We spent our day lounging in the sun shining through into our hotel room, and went for a nice little walk around town.

While at the Harbourmaster I also had my first bath of the trip, and it was about time! I have seen so many incredible tubs while visiting all of these amazing hotels, but I hadn’t had the time to get in and relax. So while at the Harbourmaster I grabbed a glass of wine and my Kindle, and had a nice, long bath before dinner. All their toiletries were Molton Brown, which made the bath just heavenly.

Hotel no. 9 – Y Talbot, Tregaron

My friend left me the morning before I jetted off to Tregaron for my next hotel, and so I got in my car alone to drive into the countryside. What waited for me there was an interesting Inn with some incredible fun facts.

If you have been following my adventures on Instagram, you’ll know that I absolutely love a good fun fact, and Y Talbot did not disappoint in this matter. The older part of the hotel (pictured below) dates back to the 1600s, and you can still have a drink in the old bar! President Carter has stayed there, and just wait until I tell you what’s in thebackyardd.

In 1848, a circus came through Tregaron, and sadly, one of their elephants died during their stay. That elephant was buried in the yard behind Y Talbot! How random is that?

The Y Talbot was a super cozy hotel with great food, and with a story like that, what’s not to like?

Hotel no. 10 – The Falcondale, Lampeter

The drive up to the Falcondale was enough to make me realise that I was going to be very happy there. This luxurious hotel was a family home a long time ago, and I can only imagine what it was like to live there! I arrived early and got to get a taste of it, however, as I sat down in a chair by one of the fireplaces to relax while I waited.

In addition to a beautiful house that’s over 150 years old, the Falcondale has 14 acres of greeneries you can enjoy. I made sure to spend some time walking around the gardens after breakfast, and walking along the woodland paths and listening to the chirping of the birds was such a relaxing experience.

Dinner was splendid, and I felt right at home at the Falcondale. From my room, I had incredible views of the gardens and surrounding fields, and I loved waking up to look over it all. Every inch of the place has been cared for, and you could tell that nothing at the Falcondale was left to chance. Several guests also had their dogs with them during their stay, as the Falcondale prides themselves as being incredibly pet-friendly.

Hotel no. 11 – Gwesty Cymru, Aberystwyth

The final hotel of the week brought back many memories for me. I was staying at the Gwesty Cymru in Aberystwyth, where I had visited before as a student. In addition to getting to relive fond memories of friends and good times in this beautiful town, the weather was absolutely incredible.

Upon arrival, I was greeted with incredible friendliness and got to spend some time relaxing and soaking up the sunshine in the front garden. Aberystwyth is so beautiful in the summer, and the Gwesty Cymru couldn’t have a better location! The views from my room were stunning, and the view from the bath tub were just as good.

After dinner (steak with blue cheese sauce – absolutely amazing) I was lucky enough to get to see an amazing sunset over the ocean. I then proceeded to jump in, and it was surprisingly refreshing! I went to bed with the windows open, and got to listen to the waves crashing in over the sand as I fell asleep. Better than any meditation app.


I hope you are planning to continue to follow my adventures around Wales, because they aren’t done yet! Make sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram, and to check back here on the blog next week!

— Lisa from Fjords and Beaches

The Welsh Welcome: From Cardiff to Pembrokeshire (Week 1)

Written by Lisa from Fjords and Beaches as she travels through Wales experiencing the Welsh Welcome.

As you may know if you follow Welsh Rarebits on Instagram, I have officially started my adventure across this beautiful country, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. If you need a little more backstory as to why exactly I am spending the next month travelling Wales and testing out the luxury hotels in the Rarebits Collection, you can head this way and read the first blog post I wrote for this blog, where I introduced myself and my ‘mission’.

If you can’t be bothered with that, here’s the brief low down. My name is Lisa, and I am a travel blogger from Norway. I have previously lived in Pembrokeshire as an exchange student, and love everything about Wales! I am currently travelling across the whole country staying in the gorgeous hotels in the Welsh Rarebits Collection while testing the Welsh Welcome (which is said to be one of the best).

Every day I share my experiences on Instagram (both my own; Fjords and Beaches and the Welsh Rarebits one), Facebook (head this way) and Twitter. In addition to that, I will be publishing these weekly blog posts for the next 4 weeks, outlining in more detail which hotels I have been staying at and how the experience has been.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

Hotel no. 1 – Holm House, Penarth

My first night in Wales set the bar high. I checked into beautiful Holm House in Penarth, located with beautiful views over the Bristol Channel. My room absolutely took my breath away, and I was treated to a suite with 2 balconies and stunning views. I was really happy to start my adventure here and spent my time at Holm House relaxing, drinking their speciality gin tonics, and going for walks around the beautiful area.

During my stay, I was also treated to an Indian Head Massage at their lovely spa, which I couldn’t recommend enough. Holm House is the perfect getaway, just a short drive from the centre of Cardiff.

Hotel no. 2 – No. 10, Cardiff

From Holm House I headed into the city and was excited to get a taste of urban life before I was to head out of Cardiff again. I checked into No. 10 Cardiff and was excited to be told that I was to stay in the Venetian Suite during my time there. The room was large and beautiful, and I knew I was going to get a good night’s sleep in the massive bed.

From No. 10, I had Cardiff on my doorstep, and I loved it! The hotel is a quick 5-minute walk from Cardiff Castle, and I made sure to take advantage of it. I spent my day in the city taking a tour of the castle, joining a city bus tour, and getting some shopping done. This is the perfect hotel for a city break in Cardiff!

Dinner was lovely, and I got to enjoy the set menu for the evening. The highlight of the evening was definitely the Eton Mess (followed closely by the beetroot tortelloni), paired with a local band playing Irish folk music! It made for such a lovely atmosphere and a truly special dinner.

Hotel no. 3 – The Cawdor, Llandeilo

As projected, I was due out in the Welsh countryside on my 3rd day. And the further I drove, the bigger the smile on my face. I checked into The Cawdor in Llandeilo thinking this place is straight out of a fairytale, and it didn’t take me long before I had located Dinefwr Park and Newton House. I spent the whole day walking around Llandeilo, gushing and awing at the beauty of Newton House, and taking photos of the beautiful greeneries surrounding it.

Back at The Cawdor, I was treated to the best sirloin steak I have had in ages, and it truly was a meal to remember. I couldn’t recommend the restaurant enough, and the staff were incredibly friendly and hospitable. They recommended places to go in the area, and nice walks I could take, and I truly felt like a long-lost friend visiting.

After dinner, I proceeded to sleep like a princess in my four-poster bed (#DreamsComeTrue), and woke up feeling so relaxed and ready to take on my next adventure!

Hotel no. 4 – The Corran, Laugharne

Just an hour drive from Llandeilo, I arrived at the Corran Spa and Hotel with excitement. This hotel truly feels like it is in the middle of nowhere, which was just what I was hoping for! The buildings of this old working farm date back to the 1700s, and I was in awe the minute I walked through the reception doors (and was greeted with a glass of champagne).

The Corran is surrounded by beautiful nature and marshlands, and the only thing you can hear are the birds chirping and the odd cow letting you know she is there too. This is the perfect place for a country getaway, particularly if you want to get away in order to do nothing but relax. You will be able to enjoy the spa (with a pool and jacuzzi) or relax with one of their treatments (I had the neck, back and shoulder massage, and it was absolute heaven).

Their restaurant offers some delicious choices, and I was completely blown away by the dessert (if you head to this Twitter post, you’ll understand why). I wish I could have stayed here with my Kindle for another week, and couldn’t recommend it enough for a getaway.

Why only 4 hotels this week?

You may be wondering why I am only staying at 4 hotels this week, and not 7. Well, I am currently in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, where I lived as an exchange student during Sixth Form. I will be spending the weekend with my host family, who I haven’t seen in years, which is why I won’t be staying at any of the hotels in the Rarebits Collection this weekend. But come Monday, I’m checking in to a new one, and I can’t wait!

Make sure to watch this space for the next blog post, and to follow my adventures in Wales on social media!

— Lisa from Fjords and Beaches

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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