If you know 2018 is the year of the sea, give us a wave! It’s Wales that’s celebrating the ocean for 365 days and with good reason as the country has an outstanding coastline with an 870 mile path peppered with fens to towering cliffs, hundreds of harbours, coves, inlets and islands and 230 beaches.
With that sort of landscape it’s worth inviting visitors for special events at the harbour towns, modern marinas, ancient castles and elegant Victorian and Edwardian resorts.
I decided to splash in on their celebratory year and have a weekend at a traditional Welsh house at Bodysgallen Hall (meaning “house among the thistles”)
This National Trust owned hotel is located is in North Wales and an ideal base for epic exploring after a three hour train journey from London Euston alighting at Llandudno Junction.
It was from that moment of arrival that I was breathless – not from exercise, but because of the incredible scenery that takes in the wide mouth of Conwy river scattered with boats of all sizes and surrounded by the unconquerable walls of Conwy castle, which in turn, is sheltered by the tall peaks of Snowdonia.
Our first morning was bright and crispy, so my friend and I decided to start our adventure exploring the towers and abbeys of Conwy and the castle which was built by Edward I during his conquest of Wales around 1283 and is a truly exceptional fortification protected by UNESCO.
The town itself is one of the finest remaining examples of medieval walled towns in Britain and retains three of the original gateways. We also took an exciting walk around the pretty yacht filled harbour and dropped in on Britain’s Smallest House which is a renowned landmark in Conwy and built originally as a fisherman’s cottage.
After having a delicious lunch in one of the many picturesque cafés, we hailed a taxi to our weekend residence.
Bodysgallen Hall has 31 bedrooms split between the house and cottages, each with its own outdoor space. Our ornately decorated bedroom and living room had a stunning view of the beautifully manicured hall gardens, Conwy castle with the harbour at the foreground and the peaks of Snowdonia as the definitive backdrop. We simply couldn’t get enough of this view at any time of the day it was always different and changing but always breath-taking.
To complete the already perfect day, we set off to explore the beautifully kept gardens and forest full of snowdrops beyond before dinner.
The next day started with a swim before breakfast at Bodysgallen Spa and time in the steam room and sauna. Later in the day I treated myself to a full body aromatherapy massage, one of the many on offer here, feeling completely rejuvenated and relaxed afterwards.
The Victorian resort of Llandudno is about a mile away and a drive around the Great Orme takes in that aforementioned coastline and the Isle of Anglesey.
There’s loads for kids in this little town as it has the longest cable car in Britain and they can trip through the time at ancient bronze age copper mine to the ride in the Tramway through the Great Orme Country Park.
But there is enough to do for everyone, as it was bright and sunny with a bit of wind and we decided to take a stroll along the promenade and onto the pier before setting off to explore the town centre and to warm ourselves with coffee at the local tearoom.
The local Llandudno Jewish community is very small, but still runs the shul and during the summer Llandudno is a popular destination for Chareidi and Hassidim, with various activities and popup kosher shops servicing the religious visitors.
A day outside builds up an appetite, so we were looking forward to our dinner at Bodysgallen Hall restaurant which has 3 AA Rosettes and is an experience to remember.
The hotel’s award-winning chef John Williams prepares Welsh cuisine with much of the produce picked from the local vegetable gardens within the hotel’s grounds.
Excellent service, imaginative menus and delicious and well-balanced dishes and as a vegetarian I had that rare experience of not being disappointed with their choice of vegetarian dishes.
The 17th century house -Bodysgallen Hall’s grounds cover over 200 acres of National Trust gardens and parkland which is great for walking fans who can start exploring the Wales Coast Path as they leave the hotel.
As I am one of those walking fans, I wanted to make use of the proximity on the last day of the stay and explore the path that led us to the hill with an obelisk above the Bodysgallen which had more unforgettable views of Conwy, the snowy peaks of Snowdonia and that sea they will be celebrating all year.
- www.bodysgallen.com Llandudno, North Wales, LL30 1RS Tel: +44 (0)1492 584 466. B&B priced from £185.00 per night based on two sharing