The information file for The Old Lifeboat House in Aberdyfi, mid Wales, confidently advises guests not to worry if the sea enters the cellar. "It's perfectly normal in very high tides and has been doing this for over 170 years," I read.
With neap tides during my stay, the cellar remained dry, although I did wake to the gentle rhythm of waves licking the walls below the bedroom – and to an uninterrupted, idyllic view of the sun rising over the Dyfi Estuary.
The Old Lifeboat House is a small cottage with big character that dates back to the 1830s. It has been sensitively and creatively refurbished by owners Ian and Kealy Thomas and opened to guests in July. The Thomases have paid due homage to its history without going overboard on the boat theme. A small porthole peeps out to sea, a collage of old photos of the lifeboats once housed here adorns a wall, and a ship's searchlight illuminates the lounge.
But the real charm of this cottage is its location, perched high on the shore overlooking yachts and fishing boats, and the pretty coastal road that meanders through Aberdyfi (Aberdovey in English), on the southern rim of the Snowdonia National Park.
The decor is natural, with original wooden floors and pale walls, embellished by flashes of bold red in the floor-length drapes, huge pendant lights, cushions and rugs. It's stylish, warm and welcoming and makes for a beautiful romantic retreat. The bedroom has an en-suite wet room with patio doors that open to a Juliet balcony, which exploits the view of the estuary. The same aspect from the kitchen makes it hard to cook a successful meal without becoming distracted. The lounge has high ceilings and French doors to the slate terrace, where glass windbreaks allow clear views with sundowners. Nice touches include DVDs, books and a guitar.
The food and drink
Fresh fruit and Kealy's homemade Welsh cakes with damson jam greet new arrivals. Foodie shops include the deli Y Bwtri Blasus (01654 767470) and the fishmonger Gill's Plaice (01654 767875). The Britannia Inn (01654 767426) and Penhelig Arms (01654 767215) serve excellent food. For tapas and more, try Pharaoh's Cellar Bistro (01654 767250). Sea Breeze (01654 767449) specialises in local Welsh produce and The Bear of Amsterdam café (01654 767684) serves delicious fish and chips.
Windsurf, kite-surf, row, sail or fish, or just stroll along Aberdyfi's five-mile beach. The Cambrian Mountains and Cadair Idris offer some great walks, or amble around the charming village and witness the beauty of the area in the paintings of local artists Claire and Glyn Davies in their Gallery (01654 767319). For more ideas, visit aberdovey.org.uk or visitmidwales.co.uk
Although the sea is on one side of the cottage, the road is on the other and the front door opens directly on to it, so keep a close eye on children. (A sofabed provides additional accommodation). The cottage, which is on a single level, is well suited for those with limited mobility but there's a three-inch step to the wet-room. Cars can unload outside the cottage and a pass is provided for both the village car parks, the nearest being 200m away. Pets are welcome.
Prices range from £250 to £600 a week, with short breaks available.
The Old Lifeboat House, Traeth Dyfi, 10 Terrace Road, Aberdyfi, Gwynedd LL35 0LP
(01654 712799; theold lifeboathouse.co.uk).
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