Laura French tucks in at the Celtic Royal Hotel ahead of hiking around the Snowdonia National Park.
Tucked away in the medieval, walled town of Caernarfon, this atmospheric gwesty – dating back to the 18th century, and formerly frequented by Queen Victoria – feels a bit like an ancient castle, decked out with deep red carpets and olde-worlde wood furnishings.
It’s a stone’s throw from the town’s actual castle – a turreted, medieval behemoth and a Unesco World Heritage Site – and sits in the heart of Snowdonia National Park, making it a good bet for visitors wanting to explore the rolling, craggy hills that give this region its charm.
That’s exactly what brought us here (Snowdon’s Pyg and Miner’s tracks are around a 30-minute drive away), and it made for the perfect base with friendly, welcoming staff and good facilities. They included a bar, library, lounge and restaurant, alongside a spa area downstairs complete with an indoor pool, gym, sauna and steam room – which came as a welcome retreat after a day’s hiking.
Couples and touring groups
The rooms were surprisingly big and colourfully decorated, with options ranging from single and double en-suites to family linked-rooms. That makes it a good option for parents travelling with children – although older couples and touring groups seemed to make up the majority when we were there.
Local Welsh produce and Mediterranean-inspired dishes took centre stage at the restaurant, and a decent buffet and a la carte menu at breakfast provided some much-needed fuel for a day spent climbing Snowdon.
But even for those not tackling the mountain there’s plenty more reason to stay here; Caernarfon centre is a few minutes’ stroll away and offers up centuries-old pubs, traditional tea shops and stone castle walls on cobbled streets – all set right by the sea – and a little further afield you’ll find the likes of Portmeirion, a privately owned, Italianate village filled with colourful villas and ornamental gardens clinging to rugged beaches.
Staying here felt like stepping back in time for a few precious days, and I left feeling properly refreshed. If you’ve got a group wanting to explore this glorious region, it’s worth putting this one high on your radar.
Double rooms at Celtic Royal Hotel start at £205 per night on a bed-and-breakfast basis.