3 March 2013

Portmeirion is as delightful as I hoped it would be

I was in north Wales for the Sci-fi Weekender which was held in Pwllheli at Hafan y Mor Holiday Park. Guests were expected to stay at one of the on-site caravans but caravans are not my style and a quick look at the map told me that Portmeirion was nearby and that was an easy choice to make, despite not expecting to find The Village at its best in early March.

There is a hotel there but I chose to stay in one of the houses. This was in a little collection called Chantry that sat high above one side of The Village. From the house I had an unexpected and very welcome of the colourful houses ringing the town square.

Day-visitors are welcome to Portmeirion but some of the paths are for residents only and it is one of these that I took each time that I went down to the square.

Looking across the square shows the magic of The Village.

The houses on the cliffs at the back are of a familiar rustic design but there is nothing familiar or rustic about the way that they are painted.

A classic style folly sits at the far end of the square.with the garden sloping behind it.

Spots of turquoise draw the eye to the window shutters, park bench, frivolous pillars and railing that follow a steep set of steps down to the square. There are more classic style features too, such as the urns and the low barrier around the fountain.

Somehow this confusion of styles and colours works brilliantly and it is a joy rather than the mess that it could have so easily been.

A closer look at some of the houses shows the attention to detail given to the design of every single aspect of The Village.

What could have been a simple picture of pretty cottages is enhanced by the roof decorations, small square window with dark blue edging, tidy blue lamp, patterned railings, small alcove with a white twisting pillar and gold lion that sits above it all.

A road leads down the sort distance from the square to the waterfront. This is where the hotel lives. It is as grand inside as it looks outside and I had a comfortable evening in there enjoying a few beers in one of the heavily decorated lounges. This is also where I went for breakfast and the walk there and back was a welcome start to the day.

The hotel reception has two large photobooks of weddings held there and I can imagine that this is an important part of their business now. That and Prisoner fans who, like I did, can sit in Number Two's white spherical chair and spin themselves around in it.

Moored next to it is the stone boat Amis Reunis that can weather any storm but travel in none.

Moving on to the hotel and looking back inland delivers a scene of tranquillity that suggests that the canon is unnecessary.

The estuary is very tidal. When low there are the flat sands that Number Six tried to run away along only to be stopped by Rover. And when the tide comes in it covers the path in front of the white wall on the left.

There are warning signs about the tides and sands and these are necessary. I walked out on to the sands at low-tide and my feet fell a few centimetres in to the sand with every step. Even more when I jumped.

The white buildings stuck on the side of the cliff can be reached by steep narrow paths that pause at times to let you see the estuary in all of its beauty.

Moving on beyond the hotel there is a choice of paths through the hilly woods. I got lost.

Not that that matter, or was unexpected. I was happy just to stretch my legs and to see where the paths took me.

There are two main routes and a number of smaller paths running between them. All were well maintained and that made them easily passable no matter how steep or narrow they were.

The woods held a few surprises as the whimsy of The Village leaked a little in to its surroundings.This is evident in the few physical features, such as the Chinese style resting place, and also in the planting that is equally exotic. Rhododendrons abound, some of which were already in flower, and there are plenty of other plants that are clearly not indigenous but whose names escape me.

Portmeirion is successfully designed for living slowly and peacefully. In every corner of The Village there is somewhere to sit and something to see. Outside, the hills and woods give space for spurts of activity and even there seats and views conspire to make you pause for a while.

Portmeirion is ideal for a short relaxing luxurious break with a fizz of difference. I simply loved it.

1 comment:

  1. The waterfront hotel looks as though it has been refurbished since I visited Portmeirion several years ago, it looks fantastic. The estuary doesn't change though - beautiful ! Great photos as always.
    John W.


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