The personal passion project of Welsh architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who acquired this private peninsula in 1925 and set about creating a Riviera-inspired village, complete with piazzas and painted terracotta cottages, Portmeirion is a beautiful, whimsical, slightly surreal celebration of a Portofino lifestyle – on the Snowdonia coast. Williams-Ellis intended to demonstrate how nature and architecture can exist harmoniously together – almost a century on nobody can argue pretty, Portmeirion has failed on that front. Though here’s the curveball for some; it’s not actually a real village.
Don’t be one of the disappointed visitors who turn up at Portmeirion expecting a fullyfunctioning real-life village. It’s actually a tourist attraction, complete with entrance fee (£12 for adults) and opening hours
(if you’re not staying in one of the approved accommodation options, the gates shut at 7pm). Despite that slight Disney
World slant, it remains the perfect place to potter, whiling away a day in its shops, cafes and cobbled squares. Beyond the village, you can see why Williams-Ellis wanted to work with the natural landscape; it’s phenomenal. A 70-acre subtropical forest, known as The Gwyllt, meanders towards the coastline and contains some of Britain’s largest trees, a derelict castle and a plethora of stunning rare flowers.
Floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to Victorian gardens and fine Welsh fare make the Brasserie at Castell Deudraeth a lovely option for an informal lunch or dinner. Should you want to take the views up a notch, take afternoon tea on the terrace of The Hotel Portmeirion. Or to trick your senses into believing you really are on the Italian coast pick up a gelato from Caffi’r Angel – their flavours are all made on-site and include bara brith, an icy take on the traditional Welsh fruit bread.
Want to stay the night? Then you have the choice of two hotels or various self-catering options, be it an entire cottages or one of the luxury rooms scattered throughout the village. Of the cottages, we have a soft spot for The Toll House – a quirky Grade II-listed weather boarded affair which sleeps six and offers seascapes from almost every window. Both hotels are four-star rated – The Hotel Portmeirion offers bygone Victorian grandeur, Castell Deudraeth does Gothic glamour.