How about a bit of time travelling on your next holiday in Wales? These historic properties – now Dioni holiday cottages – have some amazing stories to tell.
Why do we love these boltholes with a history? Well, we reckon staying in a home with a significant backstory – one which has been a few centuries in the making – adds a whole extra layer to the North Wales holiday experience.
There’s something deeply comforting about staying in a holiday cottage whose great age reminds you that the world is a lot bigger than the here and now.
And staying in a holiday cottage with a history is a great way to discover – and experience – the true culture and story of Wales.
Take a look at some of our favourite historic holiday cottages in North Wales.
Cors y Gedol Hall, near Llanbedr and Harlech, Snowdonia
This stately 16th century manor house has stacks of original features. Beautiful, grand and intriguing, it’s an impressive historic holiday stay.
The site of the house has associations going back as far back as the 13th century to Llywelyn the Great, King of Wales, and to the 14th century Welsh revolutionary Owain Glyndwr – the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales. King Charles II is said to have stayed at the manor house itself.
Cors y Gedol was built in 1576 by the Vaughan family – a prominent North Wales ‘establishment’ family which produced several members of parliament and a couple of high sheriffs of Merioneth.
They ‘lorded it right royally for many hundreds of years between the Rhinog mountains and the sea’ (that’s according to 19h century historian AG Bradley). To be fair, if you’re going to lord it right royally anywhere between the Rhinogs and the sea, this is probably the best place for it. Cors y Gedol is a great house for entertaining.
As well as the many beautiful bedrooms (if high ceilings and oak panelling are your thing you’re going to love these) there is a huge and very beautiful oak panelled dining room – ideal for sociable dinners, and perfect if you’re looking for a house to entertain a gang of family or friends. If you’re looking for a large special occasion holiday cottage, this is it.
There are extensive private grounds and landscaped gardens with sea views. You’re close to mountains and beaches – there’s great walking to be done right out of the front door. And Cors y Gedol is dog friendly too, so bring the hounds if you have ‘em!
From £1450 per week, 7 bedrooms, sleeps 14. Find out more about Cors y Gedol Hall.
Hywel Sele Lodge, near Dolgellau, Snowdonia
This quirky hunting lodge was built in the 19th century by Sir Robert Williames Vaughan in ‘semi ruinous Tudor-Gothic style’. It stands guard over the deer park of the beautiful Nannau estate in a magnificent parkland setting.
The lodge is named after Hywel Sele, who famously attempted to assassinate his cousin Owain Glyndwr (as above, the last Welsh Prince of Wales) during a hunting expedition. Without dropping too many spoilers, let’s just say things didn’t go too well for Hywel. Rumour has it his remains now reside in a hollow oak tree somewhere on the estate.
Expect wooden mullioned arched leaded windows, oak floors, wood panelling, vaulted ceilings and bags of character. The views are massive and the setting is magical. There are plenty of bridleways and paths to explore for walking right out of the front door with superb views across the Mawddach valley to the coast.
From £450 per week, 2 bedrooms, sleeps 3. Find out more about the Hywel Sele Lodge.
Plas Ffor, Llŷn Peninsula
Standing quietly strong and proud in a peaceful corner of the Llŷn countryside, Plas Ffor is a magnificent Grade II* listed 16th century farmhouse near Pwllheli on the Llŷn Peninsula.
In an idyllic rural setting, this handsome slate-and-stone farmhouse has been lovingly restored to create a strikingly attractive and supremely comfortable 21st century home.
It’s hard to convey how well this house has been restored – no detail, surface or finish has been overlooked. And we love the juxtaposition of the uber-modern glass-wall extension on the kitchen – it frames the mountain views perfectly.
There so much history to this house – including a 16th century priest hole which now houses a luxurious rainfall shower in the main bathroom.
The accommodation is ideal for a family or a group of friends. Lots of space to be together, as well as quiet corners to enjoy a bit of solo crosswording, reading, or a restorative 40 winks. Or just gazing at the loveliness of it all.
From £700 per week, 3 bedrooms, sleeps 5. Find out more about Plas Ffor.
Stabal Penarth on the Llŷn Peninsula, near Pwllheli
This superb holiday cottage started life as the barn for a 15th century ‘Hall House’: properties built by the medieval Welsh gentry to demonstrate their wealth and position in society. The setting is rural Llŷn, and the house is surrounded by farmland and mountains.
Stabal Penarth is a beautiful old stone building. It has been lovingly renovated to a very high spec, whilst retaining many of its original features (like its thick, lime-washed stone walls). Expect to be wowed, both by the very obviously original and old, and bang-up-to-date modern and new.
Those sturdy stone walls certainly give you a sense of the age of the property. An open plan living and dining space, stylish decor and mix of new and antique furniture make this holiday cottage a highly sociable and convivial space.
Highlights include the wonderful split stable door entry, a fantastically well-equipped kitchen, and beautifully presented bedrooms with apex ceilings. This barn may have had humble beginnings, but it now exudes a sense of quiet, calm luxury. A very happy historic holiday cottage in North Wales.
From £650 per week, 4 bedrooms, sleeps 8. Find out more about Stabal Penarth.
Plas Glanconwy, near Conwy and Llandudno
This wonderful holiday cottage in the Conwy Valley is quirky, full of character, and has been beautifully restored without losing any of its original charm.
Plas Glanconwy is essentially a holiday cottage with the attitude and feel of a large manor house or castle (check out the huge inglenook fireplace and Louis XVI style sofas and you’ll see what we mean). It is both grand and cosy, regal and very much of the people. It is, to be honest, it’s like no other holiday cottage we know.
As well as that huge stone fireplace in the living room, highlights include the original recessed stone ovens in the kitchen (no longer in use as the ovens – you get a bang-up-to-date range, don’t worry), slate-flag flooring, oak panelled walls and ceilings, heavy velvet curtains and super-comfy leather sofas.
The holiday cottage is off the beaten track in the rural Conwy Valley. Expect a peaceful setting, with big mountain views. Close to great days out at Bodnant Gardens, Betws y Coed, Llandudno, Conwy, Adventure Parc Snowdonia, Zip World Fforest and plenty more besides. Pet-friendly, so you can bring the pooches too.
From £650 per week, 3 bedrooms, sleeps 6. Find out more about Plas Glanconwy.