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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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.

2016: Year of Adventure experienced by everyone

Visit Wales declared 2016 the ‘Year of Adventure’.  It was a year jam-packed with adrenaline sports like coasteering, riding 100mph zip wires and mountain biking.

For the more tame, Visit Wales wanted to make Wales a ‘place where you can stretch yourself – mentally, physically and culturally’.  The Year of Adventure also included wildlife watching, culinary adventures and experiencing cultural events and festivals.

Geocaching, a treasure hunt using GPS, became an outdoor adventure phenomenon the whole family could enjoy, taking them on unexpected journeys throughout the country. While country lovers explored the rolling borderland of Offa’s Dyke Path to the Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons National Parks. Wildlife watchers revelled at dolphins in Cardigan Bay and witnessed endangered red kites soar above them. Foodies were well catered for too and plenty of culinary adventures were had from tasting cockles in Penclawdd to oysters in Anglesey.

Wales’ many opportunities for adventure needed to be shouted about. An ingenious way of doing this was through Visit Wales’ giant EPIC mirror letters – they travelled the country this summer, stopping at the most breath-taking spots – it’s aim to draw attention to some of Wales’ most spectacular places. Sioned and Sam, part of our very own Rarebits team, experienced the remarkable sight – Sam while it was within our Capital’s castle and Sioned witnessed the EPIC sign as a stunning backdrop to the UK Red Bull Cliff Diving World series in Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire.

Sam – “The EPIC art installation at Cardiff Castle commissioned by Visit Wales was truly spectacular! The giant mirrored letters forming the word EPIC certainly promoted Wales as an Adventure destination.”

Sioned – “This event completely personified #findyourepic. Not only were there world class divers competing at this epic location but during the day I saw groups coasteering nearby as well as spectators kayaking across the bay to watch the divers”.

Adventure came in all shapes and sizes in 2016 – where did you find yours? Did you find your inner Tarzan on a zip wire? Did you ride horseback through the surf? Share your EPIC adventures with us using #RarebitsOnTour.

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?

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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.

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 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.

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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?

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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.

Top six places to spend Christmas in Wales

The 100-day countdown to the most wonderful time of the year has begun. If you have yet to decide how to spend Christmas, we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of recommendations.

1.Laugharne 

If you’re familiar with the classic Christmas film ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’, you’ll recognise this town in Carmarthenshire, West Wales.

Pronounced ‘Larn’ and known for being the home of Dylan Thomas, it holds many of the wonders of Dylan’s world, including his old boathouse and his favourite pub – Brown’s.

The Corran Resort & Spa is a great place to stay to explore Dylan Thomas’s Christmas world. The hotel is pet-friendly and offers Christmas Day lunch to enjoy with all the family.

2.Crickhowell

Gliffaes-Crickhowell-Christmas-Break-Snow

image credit: http://www.gliffaeshotel.com/2015/10/christmas-afternoon-teas/

Crickhowell is a small, cosy town located in South Wales. The variety of local shops make it perfect to stock up on Christmas nick-nacks, and its proximity to the Brecon Beacons National Park means you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

Gliffaes Country House Hotel is the perfect luxury base for your exploration of the Brecon Beacons. It’s located in the heart of the national park, and offers spectacular views combined with delicious meals made from local produce.

3.Lake Vyrnwy

Lake-Vyrnwy-Christmas-Break

image credit: http://showmewales.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/a-fairytale-welsh-christmas-at-lake.html

You will have seen pictures of Lake Vyrnwy, even if you haven’t heard the name before. Situated in beautiful mid Wales, the lake itself is a protected reservoir and is home to some incredible scenery.

The area provides the perfect location for an escape in Wales, and the hotel itself offers a staycation deal during the Christmas period. The four star hotel and spa hosts events to entertain you from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and provides traditional food to really indulge this festive season.

4.Aberaeron

Aberaeron is a small harbour town on the coastline of Cardigan Bay, home to an impressive range of colourful Georgian architecture. Visitors will be able to revel in the bustling atmosphere of the fishing town while enjoying views along the harbour.

The Harbourmaster offers both beautiful sights and delicious seafood, giving visitors over the festive period a Christmas dinner with a difference.

5.Llandudno

Located in north Wales, Llandudno provided the inspiration for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ meaning your Christmas break is sure to be injected with a bit of magic.

Adults and children alike can follow the ‘Alice Trail’, taking you on a tour of the pretty town.

The seafront-based St George’s Hotel offers traditional Christmas delights between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day within its award-winning restaurant.

6.Portmeirion – near Porthmadog

image credit: http://www.portmeiriononline.co.uk/product/5_Cerdyn_Nadolig_Portmeirion_5_Christmas_Cards_0

image credit: http://www.portmeiriononline.co.uk/product/5_Cerdyn_Nadolig_Portmeirion_5_Christmas_Cards_0

The last, but by no means the least interesting, destination on our list is Portmeirion. A small village in north Wales built in an Italian style, it has a unique charm that will appeal to those after something a bit different this Christmas.

The three-night Christmas package at Hotel Portmeirion includes a festive afternoon tea, Christmas lunch and a black tie dinner.