The interconnectedness of the modern world often leaves families feeling less connected than ever, but fortunately there are places like Clydey Cottages in rural Wales to seek refuge. A family vacation at Clydey is unique without feeling uncomfortable; peaceful yet active; and quiet but still full of fun.
Clydey is tucked away in the best possible sense, far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And yet a stay here still provides all the comforts of a luxury property. Indeed, every need has been met by both the high-end facilities and the incredibly friendly staff.
After driving miles of winding one-lane roads to get to Clydey in Pembrokeshire, guests will feel they’ve been transported to an old working farm. Indeed they have. This is a leave-your-muddy-boots-at-the-door type of resort, where guests ditch the business suits for jeans and down vests. But that doesn’t mean families will be left to muddle through a vacation akin to camping. Clydey is very much a 5-star experience.
At the far end of the sprawling grounds, two ponies are frequently spotted leaning over their fence to keep an eye on the kids at the adventure playground and trampoline. Just beside it is the leisure center, where guests can enjoy the luxurious indoor pool (open 24 hours and constantly kept at 30 degrees Celsius), a robust games room and a very well-equipped indoor play area for younger children. My family spent an entire day in this building alone, my husband and I sipping coffees and catching up while we watched our kids splash and play.
A small farm shop onsite offers basic needs, as well as gourmet frozen food options should families wish to take a night off from cooking in their self-catering accommodations.
The quaintness of Clydey is evident right outside the front door of each cottage, with Wellington boots drying on homemade wooden racks (boots are available to borrow if you don’t bring any yourself). Each cottage is named for the plants or flowers growing outside it: Bramble, Ivy, Tansy, etc. And you’ll often stumble upon the Clydey cat as you wander around the property.
My favorite was the view out most of the windows in our cottage — nothing but breathtaking Welsh countryside for miles and miles.
The cottages, which date back to the 18th century, have a distinctly rustic feel but all the amenities that a high-end hotel would provide. This includes high-speed WIFI (quite a feat given the remote location), multiple flat-screen televisions with the full Sky cable package, Wii game systems and more. All that technology won’t detract from the low timbered ceilings, antique fireplaces and original stone floors. I was particularly impressed with the well-equipped kitchen. There was more nicely organized cooking gear in our cottage than I have at home.
Sleeping arrangements vary, starting with the largest cottage, Farmhouse, which sleeps up to 10, down to the one-bedroom cottages, which sleep two adults and one small child. Cottages book well in advance, particularly during busy periods around the British school calendar, so plan your travels to Clydey ahead of time. Discounts are given for repeat stays, and after my stay there, I can easily see why families return year after year.
Each morning, families are invited to join Farmer Mitch as the animals are fed. This ranges from Iggle the pig (who seems to be everyone’s favorite), to lively donkeys Noah and Nellie and peaceful alpacas Lali and Mo. Throw in a few rabbits, a couple of ponies, guinea pigs and chickens, and guests will soon feel like these friendly neighbors are an extended part of the family. They are certainly an integral part of the Clydey experience.
A kids’ club is offered to families free of charge every Monday and Thursday afternoon from 1-5p, allowing parents to enjoy some kid-free time during weeklong stays. In 2016, Clydey will also be offering a complimentary circus-skills training session for kids during British school holidays.
Given all these amenities and activities, it would be easy to hole up at the resort for the duration of a holiday at Clydey. But that would be such a shame, as guests would be missing one of the most beautiful corners of the UK. The Pembrokeshire coastline is nothing short of stunning, with ragged cliffs meeting powerful waves, waterfalls, sandy beaches, seaside grottoes and so much more. During our December visit, we even watched several brave surfers.
Throughout this area, there are charming, family-friendly pubs for a meal out, seaside towns in which to grab ice cream or fish ‘n chips, and farm shops and markets where you can pick up amazingly fresh Welsh specialties. The footpaths in the immediate area offer stunning views of the patchwork fields, ancient stone walls, historic churches, and more. (There are baby carriers perfect for hiking available to borrow at Clydey.)
Further out, several historic castles are within an hour’s drive of Clydey, as is a fun farm zoo. Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is about 90 minutes away. Adventurous families can book anything from canoe trips to sea kayaking expeditions; the staff at Clydey can direct you in any number of directions for whatever type of activity you’re looking for.
If first impressions are everything, Clydey lives up to its reputation. Visitors will be initially taken by the beautiful, rural isolation, and then by all the family-oriented amenities that make a stay here incredibly stress-free and enjoyable.
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Editor’s Note: Nicole was hosted by Clydey Cottages to review the property for Ciao Bambino. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Nicole Wiltrout.
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