This year Wales is celebrating the Year of Legends and to join the celebration, we ventured on a week-long roadtrip throughout the country. From the narrow and twisting mountain roads of Snowdonia, our journey continued on to the west coast of Wales and the wonderfully peculiar village of Portmeirion.
The village of Portmeirion in Western Wales is something of an oddity. Designed and built between 1925 and 1976, the village is entirely a tourist attraction. There is a hotel on site as well as some holiday cottages and the buildings house shops, restaurants and even a spa. What’s most remarkable about the place is that everything is built in the style of an Italian village. The architect Clough Williams-Ellis used the fishing village of Portofino on the Italian Riviera as inspiration and all the buildings are colorful and loaded with interesting detail.
It’s no wonder that this wonderfully visual little village has also been used as a filming location, most famously in the 1960’s series The Prisoner. Starring Patrick McGoohan, the show portrays the entire village as a mysterious and bizarre prison. Though we’ve never actually seen the show and the environment has changed a bit since the time of filming, some of the locations were easy to recognize from the promo shots. Of course we had to sceneframe the most famous show from Portmeirion!
The Hotel Portmeirion is situated right on the water’s edge, in a building that already existed on the site when the architect William-Ellis bought it. Described once as “one of the most picturesque of all the summer residences to be found on the sea-coast of Wales”, William-Ellis wanted to keep the old building rather than demolish it and turned it into a hotel. The rooms are individually decorated and amazingly comfortable. Our only regret was that we could only stay one night!
Exceptionally bad weather seemed to be a running theme on our roadtrip and sadly, Portmeirion was no exception. Fighting against the wind coming from the river we lamented that the vibrant colors of the village seemed so dulled in the rainy pictures. Once we checked into the hotel we were almost ready to give up for the day and just stay indoors until dinner time.
However, we persistently pulled on every layer of clothing we could find and headed out to find the Portmeirion Lighthouse. Once again, our perseverance was rewarded and as we were nearing the tip of the peninsula the rain started to let up and like magic, the clouds cleared up to reveal a gorgeous sunset…
We hung out by the lighthouse until the light started to fade, marveling at the tide rising a lot more quickly than we expected, covering the sand dunes in just a few minutes. On the way back to the hotel we enjoyed the view of the village lighting up for the night before heading to dinner.
There are several restaurants and cafes in Portmeirion, but we enjoyed the opportunity to have dinner downstairs in the hotel’s restaurant. In addition to a delicious meal it had the distinct advantage of not having to go outside again! If you want to be pampered with great food and possibly even better service, this is the place to go. The dining room has a wonderful ambiance and the staff were more attentive than we could’ve hoped for, expecting our needs before we even thought of them.