After what feels like an exhausting first Autumn Half Term, I jumped at the chance to take a breath of fresh air and relax in the staggering countryside around Snowdonia at Rwst Holiday Lodges.
On a very wet Friday night in the pitch black of after school I bundled my two reluctant tweens into the car on the promise of a very short drive to North Wales. We have spent lots of time in Wales over their early years, but have tended to drive through North Wales to West and South Wales. I now know this was a mistake. A short, easy drive and we have award winning beaches, beautiful mountains, coastal paths, castles, and significantly a range of activities to draw even the most reluctant tweens away from their phones and out into the real world.
We arrived unscathed from the usual travel sickness of long car journeys at the Rwst Holiday Lodges. They are well signposted from the road – which is useful as sat nav can be a little less specific than you might like in some countryside locations. We’d had brilliant arrival instructions so after a little explore of the site to find our lodge, we were able to head straight in and relax.
We were immediately welcomed by the warmth. We’ve done a lot of glamping. Some people might say I’m a bit obsessed. There was something so joyful to arrive to a lodge that was already warm. We felt some of the stress of a school week slip away as we unwrapped from the cold, dark and wet evening.
The lodges are beautifully designed. You will genuinely spend a good part of any weekend thinking about how you can bring their style into your own home. Soft blankets, beautiful dark green wood panelling, hotel quality bedding, charming cushions and the most slouchable sofa and easy chair. The lodges strike just the right balance of space to relax together and apart – which is useful when you have slightly older children. It also has a TV with Netflix, which isn’t typically on my list of requirements, but actually made the weekend so much more pleasant as we could retire together on Saturday night for our essential Strictly viewing.
The lodges have pretty much everything you could need for a weekend. Plus, a very welcome bottle of wine on arrival. The kitchen was well kitted out with glasses, beautiful crockery and a lovely place to eat together. This was a win for us as we typically spend a fortune on eating out and snacking when we’re away but wanted to eat breakfast in the lodge and enjoy the space. There is also a well-equipped laundrette on site if you’ve travelled straight from school and have uniforms to sort for Monday. The bathroom was luxurious – much more spa like than we are used to, with plenty of towels. My kids were delighted not to have to put shoes on or walk across a field to go to the loo. This lodge may have ruined my chances of getting them to go glamping again…
Waking up on Saturday morning was an absolute treat. One of my favourite things about arriving somewhere in the dark of night is that you haven’t really had a chance to appreciate your surroundings. The site was heavenly quiet, so we managed a sneaky long lie – and felt rested after a week of chaotic school runs and clubs. We opened the door to our bedroom and realised, we were next to the most spectacular riverbank, framed by a beautiful old bridge. Even my kids were impressed. It is a great place to chill outside with a coffee, take a walk, or just breath for a minute. Definitely needed.
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Snowdonia has a reputation for being the adventure capital of Europe and there are lots of things to do within very easy access of the site. Aventure Parc Snowdoina, Antur Stiniog, Penmachno and the Marin Trail are all good options. They are also only 14 miles from Pen y Pass which is a popular starting point for a walk-up Snowdon.
We also spotted that we were super close to the amazing Zip World site. This is a real treat, and a definite win as it is only a 5-minute drive to get there from the lodges. We booked in for both the Fforest roller coaster and the tree top nets. This is a must do experience. My girls, aged 9 and 11, have had a few rollercoaster experiences, but this is beyond anything we could have imagined. Racing through the forest in a wooden rollercoaster carriage is something I definitely won’t forget and it was a brilliant way to refresh from a week of working from home. We loved the sense of control, my youngest is not the biggest fan of heights so knowing she could tell me to slowdown made her much more comfortable to enjoy the experience. My oldest, being an undiscovered adrenaline junkie, loved the chance to race round the track recklessly with her dad. The team were faultless, explained everything really well and we felt so safe. Top tip from them, make sure you have zip-up pockets, no one wants to lose their car keys in a forest as you hit the bends.
The kids had spotted an amazing waffle café at the bottom of the roller coaster track, so we made sure we stopped off there. It was 100% worth it. Even in November. Warm waffles, soft ice-cream and delicious toppings. It was fabulous. I was devastated that both kids managed to finish them without my help.
We then hit the Tree Top Nets. Suspended 60ft above the forest floor, the treetop nets are an amazing way to burn off some energy (particularly if you’ve just had waffles). The kids ran, bounced, laughed and slid their way around the 250metres of walkways. The treetop nets are suitable for children aged 3 and over with an adult, or unaccompanied for older children – although my husband loved it too. I have an old ankle injury which ruled me out, but enjoyed a very contented hour with a coffee watching and photographing from the well placed picnic benches. It’s worth wearing loads of layers as the kids started out cold in the trees but warmed up fast. The ticket includes an hour of exploring and bouncing, which was definitely long enough as they were all exhausted – particularly dad…
Having worked up an insatiable hunger during their bouncing we decided to try out the onsite café. I’m usually sceptical of eating at attractions as we all know it can be expensive, but this was to be recommended. I had genuinely not expected all the food to be cooked to order, or for there to be such quality ingredients. I had a beautiful Welsh Rarebit; my other half was delighted to have fries loaded with cheese and beans in a homage to our student days. The girls both opted for the obligatory chicken nuggets – which were clearly made onsite with fresh quality chicken. Great food, surprisingly well priced in a lovely cosy space. It was absolutely worth sticking around for.
Thoroughly worn out from all the jumping, we headed back to explore Llanrwst. It is a beautiful, historic market town with a very relaxed vibe, some beautiful artisan food, antique shops and independent stores. My girls were very excited to have a rummage around and my husband was even more delighted to be left in the gorgeous pub for a quiet hour with a craft ale and his book.
We took advantage of the local Co-op and the well-equipped Lodge kitchen to have an easy dinner back at the site which was even more relaxing than heading out for a proper meal. That said, there was lots of lovely looking options that we could have enjoyed.
There are so many places to explore nearby if you wanted to stay longer. You are a short drive to Betws y Coed, just 12 miles from Conwy with its excellent ice cream, medieval castle, and boutique shops or 15 miles from the seaside resort of Llandudno with a lovely vibe for little ones and one of the best fish and chip shops we’ve ever experienced.
I would definitely recommend a visit, weekends away can sometimes feel like a lot of work during term time, but this was honestly a real break. A chance to get outdoors, lots of home comforts and to have a proper break from the insanity of real life. We will be back.
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Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.