Where dreams come true in a Welsh village

When it comes to having the longest and most unpronounceable words with a high proportion of consonants contained therein, the prize must surely go to Wales. And when it comes to having one of the world’s most unusual hotels then the Portmeirion Hotel in the district of Penrhyndeudraeth has to be in the running for a prize.

I recall very well the first of several visits I made to Portmeirion.  I was in no doubt that I had entered a fantasy land as to my mind it resembled a cross between Lilliput and the Shire from Tolkin’s The Hobbit.  However, on closer examination it is neither of these but a completely unique habitat/concept in its own right.

It is hard to believe that it was only built in the first half of the 20th century.  It represented a lifelong vision and dream come through for the renowned Welsh architect called Clough Williams-Ellis.  The Portmeirion hamlet was built as a prototype of his ideal of what a ‘model village’ should be.

The hotel itself sits and fits right in the centre of this Italianate style village and was carved and crafted from the bones of a grand old house on a rocky estuary.  The hotel opened its doors in 1926 and since then has attracted and hosted many celebrities from all parts of the world.  It also acted as the backdrop for the cult 1960’s series The Prisoner and aficionados of this tv programme still regularly visit.

The Hotel:  A  Grade II listed early Victorian villa it houses 14 bedrooms and suites, all with wonderful views, being situated on the hidden Dwyryd estuary with the tide coming and going in gentle waves of regularity.  I was fascinated with the low ceiling height in the bedroom and whilst I didn’t feel at all claustrophobic I felt that I was at least a foot taller than I actually was.  The creaky floors in the room along with classic furnishings added further to its character.

The hotel has a 4 star rating and the public rooms are just wonderful to wander through with loads quirky nooks and crannies.  On entering the hotel I was greeted by one of the largest fireplaces I have ever seen.  I should have been more curious as to its origins etc. but my eyes and mind flew like a starling on a summer’s day to other features, including the Mirror Drawing Room with its bow shaped window reflecting large mirrors on the opposite wall.  Whoever chose the pale delicate chintzy blue furnishings deserves praise as it is a perfect combination as a darker colour would have destroyed the effect.

Moving on to the dining room, another symetrical curved window was perfect at accommodating tables ‘with a view’.  When the hotel is busy these tables have to be booked in advance.  There was an extensive Menu and the food was  good.

I was spoilt for choice where to wander as the village itself has gorgeous artisan shops.  Portmeirion pottery is very popular and has a great range to choose from.  There is the Ship Shop, Prisoner Shop, Jam Shop etc.  The shops also stock National Trust products so I was pretty laden down with tea towels and Botanic Garden pottery by the time I wandered back to the hotel.

Whilst the village is completely OTT (over the top) as regards its Italianate design and embellishments on the buildings it is nevertheless well worth visiting.  And  the children will just love it too!


Portmeirion Hotel & Village

Minffordd, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd, LL48 6ER Wales.

T: 01766 770000 E: post@portmeirion.wales

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