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!

From the fjords of Flåm to the summit of Snowdon

Shwmae and hei from Norway! In case you’ve missed it, something very special will be happening this coming spring/summer. Yours truly will be visiting Wales with the Welsh Rarebits Collection in order to stay at the amazing hotels in the Collection, sample some of the best food Wales has to offer, and really experience the fantastic Welsh ‘Croeso’!

You may be wondering who ‘yours truly’ actually is, and if so, this post is for you!

My name is Lisa, and I am a 26-year old travel blogger and freelance writer from Norway. The main things you need to know about me is that I’m a Slytherin, I’m obsessed with diving and the ocean, and that I lived in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire for a year as an exchange student when I was 17/18.

Now, almost 10 years later; I’m coming back!

At 17 I fell in love with Wales. I knew nothing about the country before moving to Saundersfoot for my exchange year (sorry!), but it didn’t take me long to realise that Wales is one of my absolute favourite countries in the world. From the accents to the daffodil, from Gavin & Stacey to Leigh Halfpenny, I was sold. I’ve since been back several times, and I’m always sad to leave.

This is why I was extremely excited when the opportunity to travel across Wales with the Welsh Rarebits Collection came about!

Let’s rewind to the beginning of this adventure to see how it all started. A few months ago, the Welsh Rarebits Collection advertised this opportunity as ‘the best job in the world’ on their website. It didn’t take long until the opening was shared in countless Facebook groups and blogger communities I was in. Some of my friends tagged me in it knowing how much I love Wales and told me I was perfect for it.

The application was simple; a 1-minute video introducing yourself and your fit for the part. So, I decided to go for it! After all, I’ve got 9 years’ experience in travel writing through my blog Fjords and Beaches, some useful social media skills, AND I love the country. In addition to this I have worked in the hospitality field in my village in Norway (where we welcome over 1 million travellers a year), so if anyone should be testing the Welsh welcome, it should be me!

I grabbed my iPhone, and after a few failed attempts (raise your hand if you actually enjoy hearing your own voice), I had a 1-minute video of me where I didn’t sound like a complete idiot explaining these reasons why I was the best candidate. For extra effect I shot the video standing with the beautiful fjords of Norway in the background, and I think it added a little extra something to the application.

I then sent off my application and forgot all about it. I started planning the rest of my adventures for 2018, and as time passed I figured I simply didn’t get it. You have no idea how excited I was two months later when I got a call telling me that I was invited to Wales by the Welsh Rarebits Collection!

As for the plans I’ve made, I’ll be taking a rather interesting route before I make it to Wales. In February I’m heading to Bali, where I’ll be staying for two months. From there I’ll be travelling to Australia, where I also get to spend a month or two. So I’m planning on being nicely tanned by the time I visit Wales in May 2018.

I’m currently at home in Norway, waiting patiently for Christmas, and am super excited to start planning my trip to Wales next year. I’ll be travelling around Wales for at least 30 days, staying in 30 different hotels from the Collection. As someone who loves any excuse to stay in a hotel, this is the perfect trip! Luckily, I have a job I can take with me wherever I travel, and enjoying the Welsh welcome while writing about my adventures couldn’t be a better way to spend a month.

So, make sure to keep a look out on the Welsh Rarebits social media channels, as well as mine, when May comes around! I’ll be taking Wales by storm and can’t wait to share the adventure with you all through weekly blog posts and daily social media posts!

Follow along: Welsh Rarebits Instagram & Facebook – Fjords and Beaches blog, Instagram & Facebook

Where to picnic in Wales this summer

Wales offers an abundance of great places to picnic. From charming coastal spots, to magical woodlands, intimate walled gardens and rolling countryside, there’s no shortage of places to unpack your hamper…

Fairyhill by Oldwalls, Gower

‘Picnics on the Lawn’ at Fairyhill will be continuing throughout the summer months.  The picnic offering is inspired by their signature tea menu and costs £25 per person. They will pack your afternoon tea hamper up into a lovely picnic basket complete with traditional tartan blanket, so all you need to do is decide where to pitch up. Although with 24-acres of stunning grounds, enchanting woodland and glistening lakes to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

Elan Valley Trail, Powys

The Elan Valley is often referred to as the ‘Welsh lake district’ and boasts a spectacular trail – climb past three reservoirs in the heart of beautiful, mountainous Mid Wales and choose a picnic spot.

Barafundle Beach, Pembrokeshire

Golden sands backed by dunes and ringed by trees make this one of Pembrokeshire’s most beautiful beaches. Owned by the National Trust, the beach forms part of the South Pembrokeshire Heritage Coast and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Llansantffraed Court Hotel, near Abergavenny

Unroll your picnic blanket and choose your perfect spot in the hotel’s 20 acres of manicured grounds, complete with trout lake. Why not enjoy a game of croquet afterwards?

Overlooking Laugharne Estuary

Sit and admire the view that inspired Welsh poet Dylan Thomas to write his legendary works. Pop into The Browns while you’re in the area for a refreshing drink or why not book a stay in advance?

The Great Orme, Llandudno

There is so much to see and do on the Great Orme, a true wonderland of nature and history. Visit the Orme’s amazing Bronze Age Copper Mines or explore the Iron Age Fort. Bring out your picnic hamper once at the Summit and take in those breathtaking views. We have a fantastic collection of accommodation nearby too – St George’s Hotel, Bodysgallen Hall & Spa, Sychnant Pass Country House, Escape, Plas Rhos and Ty Carthen.

Parc yr Hebog Cottages

A true hideaway and a perfect spot for a family holiday – make the most of the great outdoors and head down to the coast for some dolphin spotting. Or stay put and indulge in an al-fresco lunch and admire the glorious surroundings.

Plas Newydd House and Gardens

Enchanting mansion and gardens, with spectacular views of Snowdonia. A whole day of things to see and do. The gardens and landscape at Plas Newydd consist of 169 acres of woodland and parkland, including 40 acres of gardens. The Black Lion Inn is the perfect base after a busy day of exploring.

Can you recommend any more to add to the list?

Great Little Places with inspiring views

Wake up to stirring scenes – here’s a pick of Great Little Places with heavenly views:

Plas Rhos, Rhos-on-Sea

Stunning sea views and fresh sea air make this the ultimate seaside getaway. Located in the ‘North Wales Riviera’, Plas Rhos is an immaculate, warm and airy Guest House. For the full coastal Riviera experience, treat yourself to the Bay View Room, complete with its spectacular four poster bed.

The Kestrel Inn, near Crickhowell

Escape the hustle and bustle for relaxation, dramatic Black Mountain vistas and fresh air – walkers can step right into the National Park from the front door.

The Farmhouse at Bodnant Welsh Food, Conwy

Indulge with a book or breakfast in bed while taking in the view over the lush fields, hills and riverbanks of the Conwy Valley.

Elm Grove, Tenby

Rooms at the front of the house look out onto the lawns and grounds – Room 5 plays centre court with prime views over the grass tennis court and meadow beyond. All who stay here will enjoy lush green scenes from their bedroom windows.

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

This award winning restaurant with rooms is located on the seafront at Penarth – many of the rooms enjoy expansive sea views.

Lasswade Country House, Llanwrtyd Wells

Located in a semi rural position with outstanding views of the cambrian Mountains, Epynt Hills and local Forests. Nearly all rooms have amazing views of the local countryside – guaranteed to leave you feeling calm and well rested.

Penbontbren, Cardigan Bay

An utterly peaceful rural location, where guests can immerse themselves in nature. The large attractive gardens are a sight to behold – they are the perfect spot to while away lazy afternoons.

Roch Castle, St David’s

A unique heritage experience – a carefully and lovingly restored Norman Castle with contemporary features. Luxurious accommodation throughout, with fabulous bedrooms – all take in the amazing elevated and far reaching views to the sea.