“ Address: Dolwyddelan / Betws-y-Coed / Snowdonia / North Wales LL25 0EJ / UK „
For Christmas Mr Tart got me a trip to North Wales. I was hugely excited about this as despite being Welsh I'd never actually ventured to the North before. Knowing what a History nut I am he booked North Wales so I could look at some of the amazing castles up there. He booked Elen's Castle partly on his father's recommendation and partly because it had the word 'castle' in and then he could tell me we were staying in a castle!
The hotel is in Dolwyddelan near Betws-y-Coed in North Wales. It is on the A470, which is one of the main roads between north and south Wales. The hotel is right on the road but the traffic was not bad at all. The hotel had plenty of parking available in a dedicated car park on the opposite side of the road.
You can also get to the hotel by rail as Dolwyddelan has a train station. However, there are only very local trains going through the station so a few changes would be involved in getting there.
The prices for the hotel depend on the type of room and the season that you go in. I won't list them all here but our room cost £80 for the Thursday night and £85 for the Friday and Saturday nights. The cost is per room and includes breakfast. There is a budget room available as well which is a bit cheaper. There are also family rooms where there are extra beds for children. All the rooms in the hotel have ensuite bath or shower rooms. The hotel also has a bunkhouse (hostel type accommodation) which is very cheap and a good idea if you're just looking for somewhere to sleep at night while travelling around. For this you need to take your own sleeping bag. You can book the hotel by phone, online or by e-mail.
Mr Tart booked the hotel so I didn't hear about the booking saga until Christmas evening. The hotel's website was offering the 3rd night free from 1st January (the day we were going). However, when he phoned up to book the wife told him that the offer didn't start until the 2nd January. He argued with the woman on the phone and apparently she got quite stroppy. He was a little put out but she did phone him back to appologise and said that the website had been changed now and that they would offer us a free meal as compensation. It was something at least although we would have preferred the free night!
We arrived at the hotel fairly late at night. We had phoned to let them know we wouldn't be there until about 11pm and they were quite happy. When we arrived checking in was very simple - just requiring Mr Tart to fill out a short form. Then the owner showed us up to our room.
The room was slightly smaller than we'd been expecting but it has everything we needed. All the rooms have been fairly recently redecorated and I really liked the way ours had been done. The walls were covered in a very interior design looking wallpaper. There was a brown satin throw and brown furry cushions on the bed, which looked quite effective. The furniture was mainly heavy brown and old fashioned, which didn't necessarily match up with the rest of the décor but didn't detract from the room at all. There was a wardrobe which had hangers and spare blankets and pillows in. There was a chest of drawers with a dressing table mirror on top, two bedside tables and a small table with two chairs.
The view from the window was beautiful. We overlooked the hills (which were white from all the frost and so looked spectacular). The windows were fairly new but they still let a bit of cold air in. The room was warm when the heating was on but the heating could not be controlled from inside the room so it did get quite nippy if you needed to get up in the night!
The bed was amazing. Firstly, it was a four poster which is always one of those things you associate with a romantic weekend away (brownie points Mr Tart!). Secondly, it was so comfortable. When we first sat on the bed we were both quite disheartened because it was so soft we both sank (despite saying on their website that they only have hard mattresses). However, when you actually laid on the bed it sort of moulded to your body and supported you very well. We both slept incredibly well and woke up feeling refreshed, despite not getting as long a sleep as we would normally (staying up late has to be done on holiday but the castles were calling me early every morning!).
Our room had an ensuite bathroom which had a bath with a shower over, sink and toilet. The bath was big and really nice for a soak. The shower was amazing, really powerful and there was always plenty of hot water. The only complaint with the shower was that the tap was very stiff so it was really difficult to change the temperature once you were under it. The bathroom window wasn't double glazed and let in a lot of cold air so we had to keep the door between the bedroom and bathroom closed at all times. There were toiletries provided in the bathroom, shampoo, bath gel and soap.
The room also had coffee and tea facilities and biscuits. There was a TV with a DVD player (with some DVDs available downstairs although we didn't borrow any). The hotel has an environmental award and to keep this up they ask certain things about of guests such as not opening the windows when the heating is on and turning off radiators instead and using towels more than once.
Breakfast was served between 8 and 9, which I thought was quite a narrow eating time but they don't have a huge amount of staff so I guess I understand. There is a small selection of cereals to start (Cornflakes etc) and a choice of orange juice and apple juice. They then give you the choice of tea or coffee and ask what you'd like for cooked breakfast. There is a choice of eggs, sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and beans (or all of the above if you're me!). They also bring toast and there is butter and a choice of jams on the table. The breakfasts were really tasty and really set us up for all our castle exploring. Mr Tart had the coffee which he got very happy about because it was proper strong coffee served in an individual cafetiere. There is a choice of how you want your eggs cooked, although they don't necessarily tell you that and you automatically get fried unless you ask. The service at breakfast was really good as well, very quick and efficient.
For dinner we were told it was between 7 and 9 and to go down to the bar where they would take our order while we had a pre-dinner drink. The bar was quite small and only had a very small selection of drinks but was fine for what we wanted. We were standing at the bar waiting for someone to come back and serve us when the wife came and told us to take a seat and she would come and take our order. We did and we waited. She then proceeded to serve a really large group who turned up in the bar after us! Mr Tart was not best pleased and so stood back up at the bar until she served us. He ordered our drinks and food (we thought we'd better get it all in at once!). The bar area was nice and cosy. There was a woodburner which I really liked and there was a small selection of games to play (which I would have taken advantage off but Mr Tart is always worried I'll beat him!).
We were called through to the dining room (also the breakfast room). The service was fairly prompt and our waiter was very attentive (a little too attentive really - asking how we were anytime he was vaguely near our table).
To start I had plaice goujons, which were tasty enough but not hugely impressive, followed by a steak. The steak was well cooked and tasty but again, nothing special. For dessert I had apple pie, which was nice, although clearly shop bought. Mr Tart had salmon mousse to start which he said tasted more like tinned tuna. For main he had fish pie which he quite liked. For dessert he had spotted dick which came without custard and according to him that's just not cricket!
All in all we couldn't complain about our meal as it was free. It was pub grub but the menu promised better. There was a specific pub meal part of the menu which had things like burgers but we chose from the main part of the menu or the specials so expected better. I certainly wouldn't have gone to the hotel to use their restaurant only but it's fine for a night if you're staying there, especially as the choice of places to eat in Dolwyddelan is very limited!
The check in time is 3 and check out is 10:30, which was plenty long enough for us. The husband was very helpful on check out, as we were planning a walk and he gave us some good tips. The hotel has a load of information in the entrance, some general tourist and also some OS maps and even some recommended walks from previous guests.
Overall I would recommend this hotel. It's in a beautiful setting, the room was great, especially having the four poster bed. The bedroom and bathroom were well equipped. Breakfast was tasty and very filling. The husband was absolutely lovely and very helpful. My only gripes were that the room was a little cold at times (although given the age of the building this is understandable) and that the wife was a little rude. The food at dinner wasn't great but we appreciated the gesture of the free meal. I would definitely stay there again - either for hiking in Snowdonia (or rather, letting Mr Tart hike while I get the train!) or for castle visiting. For us it was perfect because we were equidistant between all the castles we wanted to visit. Although there were better hotels available they would have meant nearly an hour drive to some of the castles.
Thanks for reading!
This once 18 century coaching inn, appeals to all travellers alike. There are guest rooms to suit all tastes including four-poster rooms overlooking the Lledr Valley and river, family suites and accommodation to suit walking groups.