Year of the Dragon: why Wales is the go-to for luxury staycations in 2021
With Michelin stars, state-of-the-art spas and opulent Victorian manors, it's time to look to Cymru for holiday inspiration
To those who love to globetrot, the word “staycation” often leaves our lips with a bitter zing, usually couched in a blinkered fear that the UK, with its rainy climes and rather un-dramatic rolling hills, could never possibly satisfy the wanderlust that we believe can only be satiated by a trek through the Amazon or a hike up the Matterhorn. In 2021, however, one destination will put pay to this erroneous belief: Wales.
From the summits of Snowdonia to the coasts of Ceredigion, Wales looks set for a bumper year as a number of stunning hotels and spas gear up to launch in 2021, adding to the country’s already impressive portfolio of luxury accommodation. So if international travel restrictions are getting you down, here is Tempus’ guide to the best accommodation Wales will offer in the coming year.
THE WAVE GARDEN
As if Snowdonia were not breathtaking enough, the mountainous region will from next year play host to The Wave Garden, a £1.25m state-of-the-art destination spa set to open on 26th March.
The 650 square metre luxury spa is located within the grounds of Adventure Parc Snowdonia in the Conwy Valley, a family-friendly resort flanked on all sides by gorgeous forested mountains and featuring the world’s first inland surf lagoon. The Wave Garden, however, looks set to take the complex to dizzying new heights of indulgence with a host of stunning facilities manufactured using the region's natural resources.
Inside, guests will be able to take advantage of a vitality waterfall pool, steam room and Himalayan salt sauna, while the spa's outdoor area will feature a heated hydrotherapy pool, loungers, relaxation pods, fire pits, a wooden barrel sauna and a yoga studio. And all of this, of course, can be sampled while enjoying stunning views of the peaks of North Wales.
Near the town of Cardigan, nestled in the hills of Ceredigion just miles from the Irish Sea, is fforest, a peculiarity among accommodation in Wales. Situated on a 200 acre farm, the team here has created a unique staycation hotspot for all occasions and tastes, offering everything from Japanese-influenced Onsen domes to a luxurious Georgian farmhouse.
But in early 2021 the team at fforest is taking its accommodation arsenal up a notch by opening The Albion, a stunning new hotel on the banks of the River Teifi in the centre of Cardigan. Based in two historic disused warehouses, the hotel promises to provide a more refined, indulgent experience to the more rugged, wild options at fforest.
The Albion will also contain a number of curiosities left over from its storied history, including 19th century graffiti and other allusions to the building's former life as a launching point for emigrants heading to America 200 years ago.
YNYSHIR RESTAURANT AND ROOMS
For a self-described restaurant with rooms, Ynyshir is an extremely pleasant surprise. While some hotels with a similar set-up - with more emphasis on cuisine than comfort - can skimp on the accommodation amenities, Ynyshir, having undergone a major makeover in 2016, offers wonderful Nordic chic double rooms with modern flourishes in which to digest the formidable tasting menu.
And what a menu it is. Head chef Gareth Ward, with one Michelin star under his belt for his work at Ynyshir, is a one-of-a-kind culinary artist, having created an astonishing 19-course Japanese-Welsh dinner menu stuffed with meat and fish and which cannot be altered or adjusted; the chef knows best, after all. And those looking to a closer look at the master at work can take advantage of the Pass Bench, a two-person oak table situated in the middle of the kitchen at which guests are served directly by the chefs themselves.
For a more traditional approach to luxury accommodation, we head back up to Snowdonia for Palé Hall, near Llandderfel. Set for reopening on the 31st January following a lengthy closure due to the pandemic, the hotel is a must visit for holidaymakers looking to explore the landscapes of northern Wales.
After a day of hiking in the hills, awaiting them each night is one of the most magnificent hotels in Wales, and a personal favourite of Winston Churchill during his later years. Indeed, a suite named for the former prime minister is Palé Hall's centrepiece, and one of the 18 sumptuous rooms available at this iconic Victorian manor, complete with stained glass windows and other period pieces.
Again, there is a heavy emphasis on food here, with Palé Hall sporting a three rosette fine dining restaurant which has its eyes on a Michelin star.