Royal ramblings

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.