Ged-the-husband has been holidaying in Portmeirion for 50 years. Since I’ve been with him we’ve worked our way around the village properties from Cliff House (where I prepared an Easter egg hunt in the garden on Easter Saturday night only to find the Lindt chocolate bunnies had been nibbled by real bunnies before we found them on Easter Sunday) to White Horses (allegedly haunted and often flooded) for the Prisoner convention.
Last year we visited three times. Eleven family members celebrated Ged’s 60th birthday here in June and enjoyed five days of cracking sunshine.
There are things you need to know if you’re holidaying there because it has its peculiarities and being pre-warned will mean you’re pre-armed.
Although most of the properties have been updated over the last couple of years you won’t find a power shower and will probably dislocate a finger while trying to make the loos flush. Not all of them, but especially Upper Trinity where we stayed this time for the No 6 festival.
It drives me bloody mad that they don’t leave salt and pepper in the pots they provide.
The next thing you need to know about is the restaurants. Both the Italian and the restaurant next to the town hall have pizza ovens but only one knows how to use them.
When I asked if there was a problem with their oven they said no, it’s just that the pizzas were proper Italian pizzas and that’s why they looked and tasted like that. God help them if they’d said that to an Italian.
However, the pizzas in the restaurant next to the Town Hall are excellent. As is all the food there. The quiche was the best I have ever eaten. But note that during the No 6 festival, the Town Hall does NOT serve pizza.
When we stayed in June Ged and I also went for the fancy tasting dinner at the hotel which was brilliant value for the quality of food although our lobster course was replaced with cod and the waiter forgot to mention it. As we’d decided on the tasting menu because lobster was not available on the a la carte, we were a bit disappointed but that’s the kind of misunderstanding that you put down to Portmeirion’s charm and quirkiness. It’s all a bit ‘other’ as far as communication goes. Or maybe it’s just a Welsh thing.
If you’re there for the No 6 festival and you’ve paid the £4,000 to stay in the village rooms or hotel and it’s raining then call for one of the buggies to take you up to the main stage field where all the best food stalls are then get them to bring you back again. This is what you’ve paid for.
Also note that the House wines which are usually available in the village shop for a tenner have the price hiked up to an extortionate rate for No 6. You’ll pay £30 for a bottle plus £10 for a plastic flask to decant it into. The tenner is refundable if you manage to return it before midnight. Good luck with that if you’re pissed and on the opposite side of the quagmire at 11.55pm.
You’re only allowed to take in two bottles of booze to the No 6 festival but someone in our party (no idea who) had the brilliant idea of hiding wine in in the woods when we were there in June ready for our arrival at the festival in September. So we arrived to a lovely, chilled Sauvignon Blanc or 6. Bear in mind that you have to be pretty good at hiding the stuff and remembering where you’ve hidden it. The life guard said the gardeners did up hundreds of bottles every year that people have stashed and then can’t find when they come back.
I’ll leave you with a series of pictures from the 2016 No 6 which say it all. Would we go again? Well everyone we met who stayed in the village properties agreed that 4 grand for 5 nights was probably a once in a lifetime event. Check out the prices for non festival events and you’ll see why we felt a bit ripped off. Cars being dug out of mud and being scrapped was not good either. And the zillions of worms which made their way through the mud in the campsite and duly died made for a very gruesome trip to the loos in the middle of the night for the campers.
By the way, the staff who are all lovely are on minimum wage and I think they should all get massive bonuses for coping with the mud of No 6.