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On The Table Read, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, travel writer Josette Celeste takes you to visit Portmeirion and the beautiful hotel in Wales.

Josette Celeste, Travel Writer, on The Table Read

Written by Josette Celeste

My first international ticket was a ticket to Wales. I had not authentically travelled on my own before, and I had certainly never been to Wales; however, I knew in my heart it was a place I was destined to be. Little did I know how much it would change my life completely.


I wanted Wales my entire childhood.

For those of you who do not know, Wales is in the United Kingdom (UK), and no.. it is not in England. It is its own separate country—it even has its own language: Cymraeg or Welsh. Not to worry, though, they all speak fluent English as well! So, no need to hurry up and learn a new language, although it is a BEAUTIFUL language, and I encourage you to learn some if you choose to live there at any point.

I could write an entire book about Wales and its magical springs, waterfalls, eye-watering emotional climbs, inspiring views and friendly towns. I have had a fascination—no, OBSESSION—with Wales since I was a little girl, and it is my honor to write about this amazing place that I will always call home, no matter where I am in this world. I am honored to call myself a Welsh-American.

Portmeirion by Josette Celeste on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

Besides Wales’ natural beauty, there are incredible places to visit for relaxation and fun, and I will tell you about one of my ultimate favorites in Wales: Portmeirion Village and Hotel. It is arguably one of THE MOST iconic modern places to visit in Wales.

What is Portmeirion?

Portmeirion (pronounced like Port-merrrr-eee-on—twirl that r! You can do it!) is a unique place. It is an Italian-esque village in seemingly the middle of nowhere, with several historic buildings interconnected creating a fantasy-like world all on its own. It rests on the outskirts of Penrhyndeudraeth.

Penrhyndeudraeth is Cymraeg, and it means “peninsula with two beaches” (thank you, Wikipedia!). It’s pronounced like: Pen-ren-day-drithe, and it’s called Penrhyn for short.

The History Of Portmeirion

Clough Williams-Ellis was the architect and ultimate creator of this magical village and he inspired many more architects. Clough had a huge influence on world renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Portmeirion was a dream of Clough’s always. According to Clough’s own autobiography of Portmeirion, entitled Portmeirion: The Place and Its Meaning, he was imagining his world as a small boy, and was making plans and designs for decades.

He searched internationally for small islands to purchase for his Italian village, but everywhere caused problems with electricity or logistics, and he failed repeatedly. Ironically, it was the death of “an eccentric old lady with such a passion for privacy that even her nearest neighbors were denied entry to her fiercely defended domain, so that [he] only knew of it by hearsay and by tantalizing glimpses of its cliffs and woodlands from across the sea” (Portmeirion: The Place and Its Meaning, p. 17). Her “tantalizing” home was within miles of his own childhood home. After searching the globe, he found what he was looking for in his own backyard (garden, for my British readers).

Portmeirion by Josette Celeste on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

Cut to several decades and limitless determination later, Clough finalized Portmeirion. But, whilst doing so, he made it a point to perfectly preserve the ground on which it sat, the community in which it was formed, and the meaning from which it grew. Clough loved Wales—more than I do, and I LOVE Wales. He wanted to make sure that future generations who controlled the village kept his original intentions of not damaging the earth and not destroying finite Welsh resources. He was certainly a man ahead of his time: focused so importantly on sustainability.

In fact, he collected hundreds of old buildings set to be demolished or sold in auction, and he transported—not quite so easily in secluded Welsh hills seaside—these massive structures, for which he had a keen observant eye to make them grow his magical masterpiece.

Portmeirion grew to be so recognized and respected that even the Royal Family of the UK used the hotel during the investiture of then Prince Charles, now His Majesty, King Charles III, in the nearby Caernarfon Castle. Also according to Clough’s autobiography, diplomats from all over the world would visit his hotel and they were so frequent that the hotel kept international flags on standby to welcome their visit.

Portmeirion by Josette Celeste on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

Clough described quirky managers and characters all over the village for decades, and I can personally say that although those particular managers have passed on, the new leaders of the village still hold true to Clough’s original spirit of the village. They hold a similar love for what they do. The man who shines more than anyone is the current director and grandson of Clough Williams-Ellis, Robin Llywelyn. His passion and knowledge for both Portmeirion and Wales shines in every aspect of the village.

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Why Is it Iconic?

Portmeirion is iconic for multiple reasons, but the more recently recognized of reasons is because of a 1960s cult classic TV show starring Patrick McGoohan called The Prisoner. This show skyrocketed to cult status internationally in both the US and in the UK. I have several family members who raved about the show. However, I had never heard of the show before I visited.

So, for my research into the village, I—of course—watched all 17 episodes (because I AM dedicated) and I must say the show is incredible. It’s something like a mixture between The Twilight Zone, 007, and Black Mirror—set in the 1960s.

Without ruining too much, I will let you know a small plot synopsis. Basically, it’s about a former British spy who is trapped in this village where they don’t use names for people who are inside, and everyone is practically brainwashed to not wish escape. (Weird, right?)

Patrick McGoohan’s character is given the name of “Number 6.” The most famous line in the show is when he says, “I am not a number, I am a free man!” Add a lot of plot twists, funky music, quirky costumes, and STUNNING scenery, and you have yourself a recipe for a cult classic! This show was filmed ENTIRELY in Portmeirion Village.

Portmeirion by Josette Celeste on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

Portmeirion still has visitors everyday who come to visit specifically for this TV show. However, people who have never even heard of the show still visit and love Portmeirion annually. It has several repeat visitors every year.

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Portmeirion Today

Today, the village and hotel see over 200,000 visitors every year (according to their website, here: ). The village itself does not house residents. Instead, it is for holiday-makers (tourists, for my American readers), in the façade and design of a village. There are cafes, coffee shops, gardens, and plenty of places for self-catering cottages throughout. Castle Deudraeth also sits on the site, so if you fancy staying in a castle—you have that option as well.

Portmeirion once was the home for an iconic musical festival called “Festival Number 6” that included bands and food from all over Wales, creating memories that visitors still mentioned to me during my stay. Unfortunately, “Festival Number 6” is no more, but it did leave a lasting impression on many minds. The name, Number 6, presumably was influenced by The Prisoner’s own Number 6.

The Hotel(s)

Portmeirion is a 4-star hotel with a AA Rosette restaurant and it certainly shows. The rooms are true to their character, with options for all personality types.

Portmeirion by Josette Celeste on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

The hotel is a prime location for wedding guests and even television shows with appearances more recently for the British TV show, Great British Menu, which starred Hotel Portmeirion’s own talented chef Mark Threadgill.

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I was honored enough to sample many of Mark’s menu items, and sampled others created by dedicated kitchen staff over a period of time. And, when I say that food blew my mind—I mean it. The kitchen team are a hard-working crew with so much pride in their Welsh-creations, and what they make is just shy of magic.

The 4-star Portmeirion Hotel houses those who want a more traditional experience with ease of walking downstairs for the delicious breakfast and breath-taking views of the sun rising over the estuary.

Castle Deudraeth is a remodelled 4-star hotel on site with a stunning Victorian garden, and shining smiling faces by the fire. The Castle is certainly for more modern tastes and more casual dining in the restaurant below with a wide-open view of the Victorian garden. Have a nice cuppa (panad in Cymraeg) by the fire and partake in a nice stroll down a winding road to Portmeirion Village free of charge included in your stay.

For the more adventurous individuals who wish to feel entirely enclosed in the village, there are rooms scattered about the old buildings, hidden from immediate public sight, and off the beaten path. These rooms are in quirky visual buildings, painted in Italian inspired tones, with views that usually melt your heart as you fall asleep.

Portmeirion by Josette Celeste on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

Rainbows (Because that’s kinda my thing)

Amazing thing I discovered on one of my walks beside the estuary: a TRIPPLE rainbow. Apparently, those are rare. So, feast your eyes on THIS.


Just.. cool.

This was my photo. In fact, all photos in this article are mine, so please credit them appropriately if you use them. Thank you.

In Conclusion

Portmeirion is far more than an historical gem with brightly colored Italian-inspired buildings and hidden trails. It is a sensory experience like nowhere else I’ve ever been. Scattered about are beautiful reminders of decades of love and hard work that went into making such a magical place, with modern proof that all of that still exists in the crew every day.

Fun hidden gems to watch for throughout the village and surrounding town: search for buildings with the Portmeirion blue doors and building outlines, as this is a classic blue allowed only on iconic Portmeirion properties.

Portmeirion by Josette Celeste on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

Please. Enjoy this place at least once in your life. Whilst walking in the gardens, side-lining the cliff edges, or tip toing in the sand, listen to your favorite music in headphones, and feel the fresh air that can only be produced when Wales meets the sea.

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Thank you, Portmeirion. I’ll never be the same. Diolch yn fawr.

More From Josette Celeste:

Josette Celeste is an American adventurer living in Wales.




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