Historic hotels in Wales are to comfort, style and food lovers what Disneyland is to children. Deep in solitude, they provide idyllic escapes for the weariest of souls. Million-pound refurbs take these stately settings to new levels of luxe: eccentric touches in decadent buildings, worldly windmills with modern makeovers… there’s even a castle among the melting pot. Nature, as always in Wales, provides spectacular backdrops, as well as a lavish local larder for culinary wizards to make magic with. Here are the ones to pre-book in advance.
1. For jolly quirks in a Georgian home:
Hammet House in Cardigan
What’s beyond the doors of this elegant 18th-century façade may surprise you. Its inventive young owners, Owen and Philppa Gale, have transformed the Grade II-listed building with creativity and quirky idiosyncrasies. From arty mock animal heads, and splashes of primrose yellow, to Banksy murals and lustrous Philippe Starck lighting, Hammet House bursts with playful, understated opulence. The vibe seems modelled on a Notting Hill boutique – not the standard Welsh hotel you’d expect in this sleepy, valley-speckled part of the country.
2. For fine art and finer dining:
Twr y Felin Hotel in St Davids
A former windmill built in 1806, Twr y Felin has undergone a stylish revamp to become a quirky art hotel. It’s the only high-rise structure in St Davids (alongside the cathedral), purposely positioned on the peninsula to harvest ever-blowing winds. The iconic property lasted as a working windmill for 100 years, before the sails fell off just one too many times. The building’s luxurious reinvention includes a two-Rosette restaurant, dedicated gallery space and 21 ensuite bedrooms.
3. Five stars on the rocks:
Roch Castle in Haverfordwest
With more than eight centuries of history, Roch Castle is far from a contemporary addition to the Landsker Line (the divide between the Welsh-speaking north and the English-speaking south). Built in 1195 on volcanic, rocky outcrops, the castle is a dream location to capture 360-degree views of Pembrokeshire. Following a six-million-pound restoration, the historic monument has been transformed into sigh-inducing contemporary accommodation, available for bed-and-breakfast or exclusive use. Speaking of breakfast, don’t skip on the Welsh Laverbread – this traditional seaweed delicacy is divine slathered in locally made honey.
4. For genuine country grandeur:
Penmaenuchaf Hall in Gwynedd
Adhering to its original splendour, historic features of this country house remain – including old slate floors and marble fireplaces – following its gentle restoration into ‘Wales’ Hotel of the Year’. Penmaenuchaf Hall was built for a rich cotton magnate in 1860, who wanted a magnificent, stylish, grey-stoned manor… and got it. It’s all yours to enjoy: the crackling log fire and characterful furnishings, all plush reds and deep mahogany. Outdoorsy types can explore the beauty on Penmaenuchaf’s doorstep, including the Mawddach Estuary and Coed y Brenin Forest. Salmon and trout fishing is free for residents and Harlech’s newly-crowned ‘steepest street in the world’ is an unusual attraction closeby.
5. For lakeside luxury:
Lake Vyrnwy in Powys
Life doesn’t get much more postcard-perfect than among the forested hills and serene waters at Lake Vyrnwy. It’s one of the prettiest historic hotels in Wales with a dazzling, stress-melting view. Inside, guests can relax in the exotic spa and thermal suite before making the tricky decision of what to eat from a menu of wonders, rich in seasonal produce and local game from the hotel’s own 24,000-acre estate.
6. For cosy country pampering:
Bodysgallen Hall & Spa in Conwy / Llandudno
The grandeur of 17th-century country house Bodysgallen Hall & Spa has been beautifully made over into one of the best historic hotels in Wales. Its stylish owners pay homage to the National Trust property’s rich history, while offering luxuriously modern facilities: 15 gorgeous bedrooms, state-of-the-art spa, joyful sun terraces and innovative dining options.