Short Break: Bodysgallen Hall and Spa, LLandudno, North Wales, UK

If ever there is a Welsh version of Downton Abbeythen spectacular Bodysgallen room and spa would be a perfect place. He certainly has the heritage. Originally built on Pydew Mountain some six centuries ago, Bodysgallen Tower, now the heart of the pink sandstone house, gave Conwy Castle early warning of approaching hostile forces.

Bodysgallen Hall and Spa has the grand setting needed for the Celtic version of Downton. Three kilometers south of Llandudno, on a peninsula in North Wales, the room offers spectacular views of medieval Conwy Castle and the moody peaks of Snowdonia.

A Grade 1 listed building, restored and revived after it was purchased by Historic House Hotels in 1980 and donated to the National Trust in 2008, Bodysgallen is now a lavish rural retreat of gables, roaring fires, rolling floors and a tall clock. ringing father.


A long drive still winds upwards, through sheep pastures, artfully concealing the splendor of Bodygallen until the very last moment. The receptionist guides us through messy stairs to our room while a porter in his smart waistcoat delivers our luggage. Bodysgallen was built long before people thought of elevators.


Number 18 has a wall devoted to mullioned windows framing spectacular views over the formal gardens, beyond the undulations of the green valleys and onto the imposing ramparts of Conwy Castle.

From the Narnia depths of the wardrobe to the seven-foot-wide double bed, everything is on a generously aristocratic scale. The warm pools of light from the table lamps cast a soft glow. A floral bedspread, linens and blankets are from a bygone era. No wall-mounted TVs here. A modest television is partly concealed in a quiet corner. It was only recently that tea trays were introduced as a nod to the 21st century.

The bathroom

Featuring reassuringly strong stainless steel plumbing and old-world plugs with chains, there’s also a retro feel to a bathroom containing a separate tub and shower.

Named after the Latin word for oak, Penhaligon’s Quercus toiletries add sophistication to the bathroom with an aroma of basil, jasmine and lemon.

The installations

Located below the lobby, the Bodysgallen Spa is a haven of peace housing a large indoor swimming pool with whirlpool, sauna, steam room, gymnasium, six spa treatment rooms, Club Room and a relaxation room.

The skincare range uses Aromatherapy Associates, Environ and Mii Nails and CACI products.

A dark wooden room where the barometer always seems to point to “Change”, a library lined with old tomes, and the drawing room are idyllic spots for afternoon tea.

Portraits of crowned people, wigs, robes and sometimes beheadings, stare longingly at crustless sandwiches, scones and impeccably presented cakes.

A three AA Rosette restaurant, overlooking the terraced gardens, with white-draped linen tables, is definitely one of those dress-up-for-dinner restaurants. From Wednesday to Sunday, chef Abdalla El Shershaby offers a gastronomic menu. Local ingredients are presented with a touch of imagination.

For a starter, an Arlington egg comes with a salad of Welsh asparagus, fresh truffles and a vinaigrette. One of the main dishes is slow-cooked Conwy lamb with salsify and bok choi. Currently on Monday and Tuesday a set menu is served.


Three kilometers up the Royal Welsh Way, one arrives at the Victorian grandeur of Llandudno where a long pier still stands. An incredibly wide promenade testifies to the popularity of this seaside resort at its peak.

Although it is castle country with Conwy Castle very close. For many centuries North Wales was a difficult land where drawbridges were regularly pulled down. Although over an hour’s drive away, Chirk Castle, now cared for by the National Trust, housing an impressive selection of flints, shows how many castles have become a family home.

Heading west, the North Wales Highway crosses the Menai Strait to Anglesey. Conveniently located on the shores of the strait, Plas Newydd is another National Trust property.

After playing a leading role in the victory over Napoleon’s forces, Henry Paget of Plas Newydd, was given the title of Marquess of Anglesey.

Today, the house features artwork and relics from the battle.


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Other little touches

Fresh flowers bring the aromas and colors of the garden into the main house. In each room, a leaflet summarizes the history of Bodysgallen Hall.

He also recommends three itineraries for days exploring the region.

The cost

Guest rooms start from £250 per room.

The best piece

Bodygallen’s 200 acres of gardens, torn from a reluctant post-volcanic. the post-glacial terrain is among the finest in Wales. Over the centuries, walled gardens of pink sandstone have been built to shelter roses, delphiniums and fruit trees from the strong winds blowing in from Colwyn Bay.

In Victorian times, the mission of gardeners was to put fruit and vegetables on the table early and late, whatever the season. Today, the vegetable garden still supplies the restaurant. For gardening connoisseurs, the number one attraction of the gardens is the parterre, a formal garden of fragrant herbs surrounded by a boxwood hedge. Sage and bronze fennel thrive in a sheltered environment.

Through the descending terraces, the gardens flow from formal, from the pond with lilies and roses, to lawns and woodland.

The final verdict

There is an old Welsh saying “dod yn ôl at fy nghoed” which I am told literally translates to “return to my trees”.

Perhaps, in today’s words, he speaks of a return to a state of balance and well-being. For Bodysgallen Hall and Spa, where there’s a hint of Celtic magic in the air, this Welsh phrase really is an apt motto.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Bodysgallen room and spa.

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