Tended lovingly by five generations of the same family, Bodnant Garden in Wales is a picture-postcard country garden, from the landmark Laburnum Arch to the rose beds and rhododendrons. Globe-trotting Victorian plant hunters brought many exotic plant specimens here, and modern-day botanists will find great places to stay nearby, both in the Conwy Valley and around Colwyn Bay. Here’s our pick – bookable on Culture Trip.
A short wander down the Conwy Valley from Bodnant, Plas Maenen is a gleaming white, late Victorian country house that could have been relocated from the Hamptons. The handsome frontage gazes out across the valley from the hillside above Dolgarrog station, meaning easy arrivals and departures by train. Some of the airy rooms and suites are delicate and floral, others bright and bold, but all bask in front of mountain and valley views.
Edging onto the slopes of Mount Snowdon – or, more correctly, Yr Wyddfa – the Fairy Falls Hotel is a classic whitewashed, slate-roofed country pub on the main lane through the teacake-size village of Trefriw. As a contender for Welsh pub of the year, the Fairy Falls would be worth visiting just for a drink, but the rooms in the block behind the pub are another plus. They’re huge and inviting, with restrained colours, bright bathrooms and pocket-friendly prices.
Across the River Conwy from Gwydir Castle, in the picturesque Welsh village of Llanrwst, the Eagles Hotel is an imposing, 18th-century edifice in dark grey stone that hides warmly inviting rooms singing with nostalgia. Some have a Victorian feel with wooden four-poster beds, while others feel more Edwardian with metal bed frames and tartan blankets. There are even a few rooms with contemporary razzle. It’s a gorgeous place to stay and in a great location.
On the hillside above Llandudno, this cool and contemporary B&B will get you in the garden mood. It’s right by the Haulfre Gardens, another pretty Victorian garden created by Henry Davis Pochin, the mastermind behind the beds at Bodnant. Inside, rooms are full of designer and vintage furniture, rich fabrics and unusual details such as LED wallpaper and under- and over-bed lighting that can change the mood at the flick of a switch. It’s one of the most eye-catching overnight stops in North Wales.
A fairytale castle of a hotel, screened from the world by 200 acres (81ha) of forest and parkland, Bodysgallen was the home of the High Sheriff of Caernarvonshire, and it passed through a string of noble families who added more wings, high towers and lavish parterre gardens. Exquisite interiors include shared spaces full of old portraits, wood panels and monogrammed fireplaces, and bedrooms with a more refined country-house style, complete with bright summery colours. This hotel easily provides the most stylish sleep in Llandudno.
The name tells a tale at Y Capel, a painted Victorian chapel flanking an even older stone church in the heart of Conwy. When the congregation dwindled, new owners came in and remodelled it to house 11 graceful guest rooms, whose shapes recall the building’s original purpose. Details from the original church endure in the shared spaces, but the rooms are comfortable and contemporary. The location is enviable, just minutes from Conwy Castle and the riverbank.
Don’t be misled by the name; the Quay Hotel and Spa is no ancient, wind-buffed, quayside pub but rather a stylish, modernist hotel dominating the Deganwy Marina. Bedrooms and bathrooms have postcard-perfect views of bobbing fishing boats and Welsh mountains, set off by eye-catching interiors in off-whites, greenish golds and denim blues. Add in a sumptuous spa and a restaurant overlooking the quay where the catch of the day lands, and you have an enticing package.
This grand property straddles the line between country house and castle; Gwydir is a veritable Gormenghast, full of time-blackened wood panels, ancient oil paintings and tapestry drapes on the four-poster beds. Parts of the house date back to the 14th century, but some wings, extensions and gardens were added by later owners across the centuries. It’s everything you’d expect from a Welsh castle, down to the stone-framed windows and roaring fire at breakfast.
North Wales is home to some impressive castles that you’ll want to add to your itinerary. Why not stay close to the action in hotels near Conwy Castle or Gwrych Castle, now bookable via Culture Trip? From beaches to mountains, there’s always something to discover in this region – see the best things to do while in Llandudno and Snowdonia.
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