Maes-y-Neuadd – Harlech, North Wales, Wales

Within the Embrace of Snowdonia

This handsome granite and slate manor—whose name means “mansion in the meadow”—dates back to the 14th century, with more “recent” 16th- and 18th-century additions. It’s the perfect jumping-off point for exploring Snowdonia’s timeless grandeur, which is visible without leaving the hotel’s beautiful landscaped grounds. It is also a first-class gastronomic destination and imaginative “Steam and Cuisine” joint venture with the nearby Ffestiniog Railway: a chance to dine royally while enjoying the narrow-gauge steam railway that travels an extremely scenic 14- mile route to and from the coast at Porthmadog up into the Snowdonia Mountains to the former mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Replacing a horse-drawn tramway that car­ried slate during the area’s mid-19th-century heyday, it is one of many steam-powered “toy trains” still operating in Wales. Keeping alive the country’s legacy of mining and a priority for train buffs, it connects towns with names like Dduallt, Tanygrisiau, and Tan-y-Bwlch that are still not accessible by automobile. Meanwhile, the closest castle is never far away, and Maes-y-Neuadd is only 3 miles from 13th-century Harlech, one of the country’s most important military bastions, known for its unique vistas over coastal sand dunes and its his­tory as the last Welsh stronghold to fall to the English in the 17th-century civil war.

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