“Welcome to proper Wales,” the taxi driver said during the five-minute drive from Llandudno Junction train station to Bodysgallen Hall, a luxury hotel and spa in north Wales. Most of the short journey is along the hotel’s driveway, which winds through lush green grounds up to an impressive stone building that suddenly rises up in front of you, part country manor, part castle.
Bodysgallen Hall is a stunning 17th-century manor beautifully secluded in 200 acres of rich parkland. The location offers spectacular views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle. It is said the tower at Bodysgallen Hall was built as a watchtower for Conwy Castle to keep watch against surprise attacks.
The house itself is a magnificent stone building. There are 31 bedrooms spread between the main house, cottages on the grounds, and spa suites. Entering Bodysgallen is like stepping back in time. The dark oak-panelled walls, large fireplaces, and stained glass-windows are imbued with a deep sense of history and yet the hotel has all the modern conveniences a guest needs. It has an atmosphere of unfussy refinement and of high quality without pretence. It is effortlessly charming and comfortably unassuming, which allows you to relax, unwind and bathe in the silence.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Why stay here?
Bodysgallen Hall is the perfect place to escape to as well as a great base to explore some of the gems of north Wales. The hotel is close to the Victorian seaside town of Llandudno; Snowdonia National Park (Eryri) is within easy reach; and Conwy Castle, a 12th-century castle and Unesco World Heritage Site, is just a few miles away.
Equally, there is no need to leave the grounds. The hotel has a well-equipped spa offering aromatherapy massages and other wellbeing treatments provided by qualified therapists, as well as a 50ft swimming pool, a gym, a steam room and a sauna. Guests can also wander the hotel’s extensive and beautiful woodlands and serene gardens, which include a rare 17th-century parterre of box hedges filled with sweet-scented herbs, a rockery with a cascade, a walled rose garden, and several follies. Then afterwards, why not relax and enjoy a luxurious afternoon tea in the drawing room (and in this guest’s case google what a parterre is).
It should be pointed out that the hotel, as you might have gathered, is fairly old fashioned. For example, there are blankets on the beds instead of duvets and a dress code for dinner – “smart please, although jacket and tie are not obligatory”. This is not a place of giant flat screen TVs or LED light displays in the bathtub. So if that’s what you’re into, this might not be for you. However, for others the peace, tranquillity and rustic simplicity will be a huge lure. One of the beautiful characteristics of the main house is that it feels very natural. The gentle undulations of the floorboards, the creaking staircase, the variations in the wooden panels, and the great wash of light flooding through the large windows make the house feel almost alive, as if it is a natural extension of the landscape in which it sits. In short, it has none of the sterilised OCD uniformity of many modern-built hotels.
Eating and drinking
You will not go hungry here. Bodysgallen has an award-winning three AA Rosette restaurant, The Dining Room. The seasonal menu, using local ingredients where possible, is described as “imaginative Welsh food”. It is delicious. Some of the highlights include local hand-picked crab with Vadouvan spice and caramelised garlic mayonnaise; Heritage Bodysgallen beetroot with Welsh “feta” and apple; and slow cooked lamb rump with artichoke and Madeira sauce. The accompanying wine list is excellent.
Breakfast is an ample buffet of fruits, cereals, and pastries followed by a choice of a full cooked breakfast (eggs, sausage, bacon, pan-fried black and white pudding / vegetarian option available) or grilled kippers or poached haddock. The afternoon tea is a decadent high tower of finger sandwiches, homemade cakes, pastries and bara brith, washed down with tea, coffee or a glass of Champagne.
After a stay at Bodysgallen Hall, filled with beautiful food, walks in stunning scenery, saunas, massages and swims, most people will probably leave revitalised. There is a Welsh proverb “dod yn ôl at fy nghoed” that means to return to a sense of calm and a balanced state of mind. It literally translates as “coming back to my trees”. Suddenly, while ensconced in the oak-panelled drawing room, eating cake, and staring out over the ancient woodland, the proverb makes a lot of sense.
How to book
Bodysgallen Hall was donated to the National Trust in 2008 to ensure that the houses and their land are kept safe and maintained to their present high standards. All hotel profits are donated to the charity.
B&B is priced from £240 per room per night including use of the spa facilities; bodysgallen.com
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.