Tucked away in the foothills of Snowdonia, North Wales, Ffynnon is as close to the Mr & Mrs Smith rural B&B ideal as it’s possible to be. With just four rooms and two suites, it’s gloriously intimate; and its blend of Victorian references and seriously stylish 21st-century design flourishes forms the ideal backdrop to a relaxing weekend in the country. The hospitality on offer is second to none.
Great walks, mountain biking and white-water rafting easily accessible
The breakfasts – made with seasonal local produce
Stunning views of the Cader Idris mountains and the Mawddach Estuary
Two handmade berry, coconut and vanilla bath bombs from luxury Welsh brand Myddfai
In the know
Also need to know:
If it’s wet outside – and, remember, this is North Wales so there’s a good chance it will be – there’s a selection of card and board games to borrow in the guest lounge. Two-night minimum stay at weekends (three on public holiday weekends).Ffynnon’s menu of in-room spa treatments spans facials, manicures, pedicures, massages and aromatherapy sessions.
Don’t forget your swimwear. It might not sound like the most obvious thing to bring to North Wales, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you have to stay out of the outdoor hot tub because of a lack of Lycra.
Not too scruffy, not too sexy.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
Mr Smith and I are escaping our four children, two dogs, one cat, the goldfish and two very hectic lives to celebrate our wedding anniversary at Ffynnon in the foothills of Snowdonia. Mr Smith wants mountains and I want the sea, so North Wales seems the perfect destination.
As the hills turn to mountains and the countryside goes through every shade of green, we know we must be nearly there. Dolgellau’s grey, squashed-together stone houses greet us, Mr Smith tackles the bends and narrow streets without taking out a pedestrian or the side of a house, and I cling to my seat as though I am on a white-knuckle ride at the funfair. The imposing Ffynnon, formerly a rectory, stands looking over the town with views to the hills beyond. Seconds after I have rung the doorbell, a man opens the door and greets me by my Christian name. Now that’s what I call service.
The man turns out to be Steve, co-owner of the hotel with his wife Debbie. After a friendly chat we are shown to our suite – which has the reassuringly Welsh name of Myfanwy. A brass bed stands centre stage; it is dressed in cool, crisp Egyptian white cotton so smooth it could be silk, while the duvet is so large it skims the floor on either side. Mr Smith and I won’t be fighting over the covers in the middle of the night. The room, decorated in subtle shades of green and gold, manages to feel decadent while still remaining understated. In the large bathroom, a double-ended roll-top bath stands on a pale travertine floor, and the greens of the walls are repeated in the mosaic tiles. Sash windows let the light flood in, but aren’t so big that you have to keep ducking in case somebody outside sees you in a state of undress.
The rest of the house has been renovated so that traditional styles are blended with the modern. There is nothing old-fashioned or stuffy about Ffynnon. It is a grand lady who has been brought back to life with care and attention, and has been turned into something sophisticated. The original features remain intact, comfy chairs and large sofas surround ornate fireplaces, dark wooden furniture mixes with Debbie and Steve’s personal artefacts, a different chandelier hangs in almost every room.
Back downstairs to the drawing room, we head straight for what we consider to be the most important thing in the house – the honesty bar. A gin and tonic in each of our hands, we are served tea and home-made Welsh cakes as we sit and admire the grand piano. I feel like a house guest being restored after a long journey. Mr Smith chooses a bottle from the wine list and we retire to our room for some R ’n’ R.
The following day, we climb Cader Idris in the mist. As we cannot see for more than a foot in front of us there are some hairy moments as we try not to fall to our deaths, but, as usual, Mr Smith is cool as a cucumber and guides me trembling back down to safety. We stop to enjoy a lavish picnic prepared by Debbie in a perfect spot overlooking a lake. Refuelled and happy, we head back to Ffynnon where relaxation and luxurious comfort await.
Although Ffynnon does not serve evening meals, Debbie and Steve help us to find an excellent restaurant nearby. There is a little trouble booking a taxi, but Steve comes to the rescue and dons his chauffeur’s hat, which apparently he does quite often. Bwyty Mawddach restaurant is in an oak barn, which has been converted with flair to an impressive building of steel and glass. Leather sofas and chairs abound, so diners can gaze at the heavenly view as the sun sets over the Mawddach estuary. The food is all sourced locally and is delicious.
It only takes me one full day before I feel so at home at Ffynnon that I come down to breakfast in my socks. Debbie and Steve are experts in pampering their guests without being intrusive – they genuinely can’t do enough for you. In fact, I am so relaxed that when a fellow guest asks me how long I am staying, I find that I have no idea. I’ve completely forgotten what day it is and how long I’ve been at the hotel.
After walking on one of the many windswept beaches and climbing Cader Idris once more – this time under clear blue skies – it is time to go home. Ffynnon may not the place to stay if you are looking for buzzing nightlife or fabulous shops, but if you want to swap your high heels for walking boots and need fresh air, exhilarating exercise, glorious scenery, good food and wine, and to be cared for by hosts whose attention to detail is outstanding, then Ffynnon is definitely the place for you. Of course, if you really can’t do without a bit of glamour, then there’s always the hot tub in the garden.
Brynffynnon, Love Lane, Dolgellau, Gwynedd LL40 1RR, United Kingdom
- Internet services
- On-Site parking
- Onsite laundry
German-born Chef Bernhard creates typically Welsh menus with a Contintal twist for the Dining Room; expect lots of local and seasonal ingredients. The menu changes regularly, but look forward to herb-roasted root vegetables, locally-caught fish, and puddings ranging from Bavarian plum crumble cake to vanilla cheesecake with a bramble glaze. The hotel also prides itself on its breakfasts made with local produce, served in the guest lounge, which, depending on the season, include eggs benedict with smoked salmon, Glamorgan sausages with spicy tomato chutney and crempogau (Welsh pancakes) served with bacon or wild fruit compote.
Breakfast is served till 9.30am (10am on weekends and public holidays). The Dining Room is open for dinner from 6pm to 8.30pm Thursday to Monday.
In the quieter months (Nov–Mar), a selection of filled paninis, home-made soups or a Welsh cheese platter are all available between 6pm and 10pm.
Residents can help themselves from a wide selection of drinks and snacks, including local Pen-Lon beers and moreish Cathryn Cariad chocolates, in the guest lounge honesty bar – made from an old gramophone chest. Sit and sip amid the well-chosen antique and modern furnishings to a laid-back Gershwin and classical soundtrack.