The Italiante village of Portmeirion http://www.portmeirion-village.com/visit/ is a very special place to stay.
It's only an hour's drive from my house, but it feels like another world.
The village is tucked into a cliff on a peninsular near Porthmadoc, on the North Wales coast. It's the creation of local architect Clough Williams Ellis, whose aim was to build a place that was both beautiful and practical. He also called it a home for fallen buildings – which is exactly what it is.
My Room With A View
Amongst the traditional English cottages and Italiante towers and piazza, stand the rescued remains of lost estates, saved from demolition or death-by-ivy to enchant the visitors. For many people the village is also familiar as the setting for the original 1960s series of 'The Prisoner'.
The most magical experience is being able to stay overnight.
Portmeirion At Nights Mall
The buildings in the village earn their living as part of the hotel and as self-catering cottages. It is a charming, eccentric and luxurious and a wonderfully restful place to stay. You can find a wedding party emerging from the 'Town Hall', spilling out to drink champagne on the grass as the light fades, or people meeting up for a reunion and lunch at the hotel on the sea front or in the cafes scattered around the village.
The Town Hall At Night
But the best part is once the visitors have gone and the floodlights come up as darkness falls. Then Portmeirion takes on a new life of its own, with the buildings emerging out of the night like a stage.
The Piazza At Nights Mall
In the early morning, before the visitors arrive, you can wander through the extensive paths of the wilderness http://www.portmeirion-village.com/visit/gardens/, with its exotic plants that survive in the mild, almost frost-free environment of the little peninsular. There's a Chinese lake, complete with pagoda, a miniature lighthouse and a ghost garden.
Chinese Lake In Autumn
There are plenty of places to visit if you are staying at Portmeirion. There's the Welsh Highland Railway with its views of Snowdonia http://www.festrail.co.uk/, Harlech Castle http://www.harlech.com/, and Clough Williams Ellis' own home, Plas Brondanw (with lovely gardens of its own) http://www.brondanw.org/english/index.html and the trails and waterfalls of Coed y Brenin http://www.forestry.gov.uk/coedybrenin. But the best part is also being able to just do nothing.