“ Address: Betws-y-Coed / Snowdonia / LL24 0AR Wales / Telephone: (01690) 710411 „
If I owned Best Western I would fill each hotel with Clint Eastwood and John Wayne memorabilia and have bellboys wearing tasselled suede jackets and receptionists with guns. The bar would be called a 'saloon' and we could all eat large cow parts for dinner. Instead Best Western is known for its rather mundane décor and 'out-of-a-catalogue' furnishings. They need my marketing expertise. It's what business men want.
The Best Western Waterloo Hotel is no exception to the Best Western norm, but non the worse given our purposes for them, which is largely as a bolt-hole in order to experience better things. We have been here on several occasions over the last 10 years, perhapd 4 or 5 times and use it as a springboard to the sights and activities that Snowdonia has to offer. It's only a 40 minute drive from home in Mold and caters for us well.
Where is this particular one then?
The Waterloo Hotel is about 15miles from Caernarfon, 40 miles from Chester, 220 miles from London and about 8000miles from the Falkland Islands. It sits on the main A5 that drags itself up to Anglesey through the Snowdonia National Park from down South somewhere. In the old days, before the Beatles, it was the main horse and coach run to Anglesey and Ireland beyond. The sort of road you'd get held up on by bandits and mad Welsh nationalists.
It sits just, and I mean just, outside the centre of Betwys-y-Coed. For those that don't know of Betwys, it needs some further explanation. It is the first sort of town of Snowdonia. It is a beautiful little place, barely satisfying the term 'town'. A Victorian oasis, built on the back of the slate mining and wool trade. It has majestic old hotels and buildings that sit alongside a fast flowing ,mountain river with the famous Swallow Falls at the top end. A more recent block of shops and café's attract visitors from far and wide, most of whom arrive by coach and look close to death. You know the sort of thing, Darby and Joan days out. Get on the coach, sleep all the way to Wales, get out of coach, go straight into café, drink tea, dodge motorcyclists, get back onto coach, sleep all the way back to Blackburn. That is not to be scathing. They are the life-blood of the place. I am trying to conjure up an image of a place devoid of lap-dancing.
We go there for a few reasons.
1. The kids love playing in the river there - it is beautiful scenery and the kids just like water. Until bath-time anyway. WARNING. The river is very fast and children have died in it. Teenagers leap from the bridge into it because they don't think they can die. I explain to my teenagers that they can die, and indeed will if they don't pick up their bloody dishes. I am a good father.
2. Once you're in Betwys, the rest of Snowdonia is only a stones throw away. Well, if you are Geoff Capes it is anyway. There is good walking to be had from the village/town itself.
3. The shops in Betwys cater for kids and they can buy every manner of water pistol and sword set known to man. They spend hours deciding which bit of crap they can leave in the car next. Here, you can inflate China's economy single-handedly.
4. There are lots of climbing shops which I love looking around. I don't really do a lot of climbing but I do like looking as though I do. And I want a GPS thingy so I know where I am at all times. Even though I know where I am already, which is never more than 100m away from a main road.
OH MY GOD-I HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE HOTEL!
The Waterloo has been here for as long as I can remember and I used to come to Betwys with my parents as a kid 30 years ago. It's a fairly modern looking building with a bit of stone cladding on I, probably in order to get planning permission.
The main hotel has about 40 en-suite BUT I have never actually stayed in the main block. We like this hotel because it has some 'lodges' attached to them.
These lodges are directly adjacent to the hotel but you can park your car right outside them and they have a little veranda to put dirty shoes on to dry.
Look like Best Western rooms. There is the desk thing and the bed thing - in the lodges though you get the choice of two singles or a double and in the past we have had a family lodge that housed 4 of us. They will put a cot thing in as well if you want. The teenagers moan about having to have their turn in it but it's tough growing up and they just have to learn. Oh and there is an armchair thing.
The term 'thing' refers to the non-descript nature of everything. There is never anything special about them, they are just functional bits of equipment. There is also a telly, thank God and an alarm-clock and the phone to ring reception to tell them to bring more armchairs.
The bathroom is usually Ok and everything works but you wouldn't feel inclined to comment beyond that.
Like most Best Westerns I have been in, the rooms look tired and faded - heading towards need of refurbishment but never quite getting there because they are diligent about patching things up.
This hotel has a pool!!!! With a little sauna thing and a gym! This is one of the reasons we go there. The weather in Snowdonia is pants most of the time. It's what makes it so green and fertile and well......Welsh. The only animals that like it there are small-brained sheep, who think it's really nice all the time. If all else fails, we can go in the pool and escape the rain. The cost of the facilities is included in the room price so there's no extra expense.
We have only ever had breakfast there because we always have the little killjoys with us and refuse to pay for nice food because they only get energy from it and annoy us even more. The breakfasts though are fine. It's the usual cooked 'Welsh' breakfast thing which is the same as an English breakfast but with a Welsh sausage. Which is the same as an English sausage but made from a welsh pig. Which is the same as an English pig but lives in Wales. If an English pig lived in Wales, the other pigs would burn its sty down, so you know it's got to be a genuine Welsh pig. There are also kippers on the menu. See the above diatribe, replacing the word 'pig' for 'kipper'.
For dinners, we go into Betwys to eat - there is the chippy and café's and this and that. For tackling the munchies, there is a shell garage 50m away which sells chocolate until late.
I have decided that all hotels make up the prices as they go along. Seriously, in the past we have booked 4 of us in for the night for £60. At other times we have phones up and they want £120. It's different every time. As such, whatever I quote will be a lie so I won't bother. But, as hotels go, it's fairly decent. Children under 16 have always gone for free as well and I think that is the main reason we plump for it. However, they don't get the breakfast for free and that adds another £6 or so per child to the price. Or - starve them. Just let them watch through the window.
We have been many times so it must be OK. It is 'convenient'. I wouldn't want to stay there for more than 2 or 3 nights though. Not because it's bad - just dull. If I was 83 and wanted one last excursion to the mountains before I met my maker I would choose one of the posher Victorian Hotels that proliferate in Betwys. However, for a family wanting to play in the hills for cheap then it is probably a better option than a B&B.
More info and unreliable prices can be found here:
Split due to '80 character' rule.
Thanks for reading.
May also be on other review sites and newspaper pull-out sections.