Stunning Snowdonia hideaway near Harlech | Courtesy of Emily / Airbnb
Think of Wales and idyllic villages, dramatic coastline and wind-whipped mountains come to mind. Oh, and Dylan Thomas. Culture Trip rounds up the best places to stay to get the most out of your time here.
Wales is crisscrossed by countless hiking trails and coastal paths that wind through some of the UK’s most diverse and captivating scenery. Landscapes that inspired Dylan Thomas, colourful Italianate villages, soaring mountains and Victorian seaside towns – it’s all here and waiting to be explored. Stay within easy reach of it all in characterful places such as an old fisherman’s cottage, or even a hilltop farmhouse.
The three-bed Birch Cottage, in the riverside village of Brockweir, is a magnificent eco-retreat on the cusp of the Welsh border, in the Lower Wye Valley, that sleeps up to six. It makes an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding area – the historic border town of Chepstow, with its imposing Norman castle, is only 10 minutes’ drive away. Exposed stone walls and beams make the most of the pretty cottage setting, and the traditional Mexican hammock on the patio is the perfect place to while away a lazy summer afternoon.
This 17th-century sandstone and timber property sits midway between the city of Hereford and the storybook market town of Ross-on-Wye. Close to one of the largest loops in the River Wye, it comprises two bedrooms and sleeps four. An ideal base for fishing, walking or canoeing, it’s a short walk from the River Wye, and there’s an excellent pub in nearby Hoarwithy for when lunchtime comes around. Keep an eye out for some rather excellent Victoria sponges.
This traditional Welsh stone cottage is an idyllic rural retreat. Cows and sheep graze just beyond the patio, and you’re welcome to collect eggs for breakfast (eat them al fresco to make the most of the mountain views). It sleeps up to four, and places you near the picturesque village of Betws-y-Coed and historic Llanrwst, so you’ll be within easy reach of pub lunches and cafes serving Welsh cream teas. If you’d prefer to cook at the cottage, there’s a farmhouse kitchen, as well as a barbecue for warmer days. After a long day exploring Snowdonia’s hiking trails, curl up by the fire with a book, or enjoy a soak in the claw-foot tub.
Set amid a landscape of hilltop lakes and ancient stone circles, this three-bed farmhouse, which sleeps seven, has arguably the most impressive views in Snowdonia across the Llyn peninsula. Cosy up under traditional Welsh blankets and take in the sweeping views from the glass-walled lounge, complete with underfloor heating to keep toes toasty in winter. There’s a huge kitchen for self-catering, and a wood-burner for cosy nights in. Hop in the car to visit nearby spots such as Harlech Castle, Borth-y-Gest’s beach coves or the kitsch Italianate village of Portmeirion.
Sitting pretty on the tip of the Pembrokeshire peninsula, historic St David’s is made up of early medieval architecture and captivating windswept cliffs. A walk along its coastal paths affords the most dramatic shoreline views in Wales, and surfers flock here from across the country. This decadent 19th-century farmhouse has had a contemporary makeover, blending faux-fur throws and tartan carpets with exposed ceiling beams. It can sleep up to eight, and down bedcovers, Laura Ashley linens, a huge kitchen and views over the rolling countryside will all help make your stay special.
What could be a more fitting place to stay in Tenby than a boutique fisherman’s cottage? Owned by a local designer, this petite Airbnb, which sleeps four, is done out in subtle seaside colours with plenty of natural wood, giving the rooms a bright and airy feel. The house also comes with essentials such as toiletries, towels and even a dishwasher, while a cot and high chair are available upon request. It’s a two-minute walk through pastel-hued houses to the harbour and beach, where you should waste no time in settling on a traditional striped deckchair with an artisanal ice cream in hand.
Set amid the grand peaks of the Brecon Beacons, this homely, two-bed farmhouse offers the quintessential countryside escape, with oak beams, exposed stone walls and a log fire alongside plush sofas and retro furniture. Phone signals are patchy, but wifi is available and there’s plenty to occupy you in the evenings: the house comes equipped with a turntable (you can bring your own vinyl, or there’s a selection here), lots of books and even stargazing equipment. A separate games room has a Nintendo Wii, a PS3, a pool table and air hockey, while cyclists will appreciate the secure bike storage and bike-washing facilities.
Base yourself in Cardiff’s coolest neighbourhood with this loft-style apartment in the heart of Pontcanna, known for its vintage boutiques, artisanal delis and much talked-about offering of bars and restaurants. A 15-minute walk from Cardiff Castle and a short bus ride from the city centre, the duplex fits right in with its on-trend location: decorated with an eclectic mix of globally collected furniture, it has unique touches including a curtained daybed sitting snugly under the eaves. At night, king-size beds with Egyptian cotton linens ensure you’ll sleep soundly, and convenient extras include on-site parking, super-fast wifi and a smart TV.
The landscape of this Welsh region inspired the poetry of Dylan Thomas, and, staying at this peaceful farm guesthouse, it’s easy to see why. Situated between the Cambrian mountains and the Cardigan coast, this two-bed property sits in 16 acres (6.5ha) of land, complete with ponds, hedgerows and meadows grazed by wild horses – with the 65mi (105km) Ceredigion coast path nearby. Handcrafted fittings and natural materials give it a cosy feel; there’s also a modern wet room, an open-plan living room and a kitchenette with wood-burning stove. There’s no TV – all the better to detox properly.
Explore Anglesey from this sunlit apartment, which is fully accessible for wheelchair users (both the kitchen and bathroom have been specially designed) and sleeps three. Wall-to-floor windows in the living room let the light flood in and the front deck is a picturesque spot for sundowners in summer. Head to the nearby seaside village of Rhosneigr for fish and chips, or venture along the coastal path that loops all the way around the island past cliffs and lighthouses. Underfloor heating in the bathroom is welcome after blustery outings, and the property is dog-friendly, so your shaggy sidekick can come too.
From the limestone cliffs and craggy bays of Gower, you can spot seals, porpoises and dolphins – as well as surfers braving the icy swell. A short walk from the sandy beach in Horton is this flower-fringed cottage, where you can hole up after a day spent walking along the Gower coast path. There’s a wood-burner, a terrace with sea views that stretch to Devon, a super-king-size bed in the master bedroom and a second bedroom with two singles. The peninsula is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and some of its best spots – including the country’s most picturesque beach at Rhossili Bay – are within a short driving distance.