Find out where in Wales you can be king or queen of the castle overnight
A travel blogger has been inspired by TV show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here to produce a quirky tourist guide flagging up the Welsh castles where you can stay.
According to globe-trotting digital nomad Kieren Windsor, Wales is the castle capital of the world because it has more of them per square mile than anywhere else on the planet.
The hundreds of castles include the ones in Caernarfon, Harlech, Beaumaris and Conwy which have been designated as World Heritage sites.
Many of the rest are in ruins, some have been restored and Kieren has discovered a treasure trove of 17 of them where you can take a holiday and be king or queen of the castle.
He came up with the idea when he saw the phenomenal amount of interest that was generated when two series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here were filmed at Gwrych Castle, in Abergele.
Fans of the show can now stay in the three-bedroom gatehouse, Tan yr Ogo (correct) Lodge, which once served as the main entrance Gwrych Castle. It has a large master bedroom with sea views and can accommodate up to six people.
The other fortresses where visitors can man the ramparts overnight are to be found in every corner of Wales have now been listed on Kieren’s online guide….
The guide also includes details of north Wales gems such as the historic Castell Deudraeth at Portmeirion, Bodelwyddan Castle, near Rhyl, through to the glorious Grade I listed Clytha Castle in Monmouthshire, southeast Wales, which can be hired for a family of six plus the dog!
The site also features travel guides to more than 100 locations and the business and marketing graduate, who hails from Newtown, in Powys, had has plans to eventually cover every destination in Wales.
His latest guide sees the 30-year-old business and marketing graduate unmasking a treasure trove of 17 Welsh castles where tourists can stay overnight – and in some cases, hire the place to themselves!
The computer whiz from Newtown in Powys, who studied business and marketing at Cardiff University, said he’d created the guide to satisfy a growing trend for castle vacations.
“I’m from Wales and I’ve spent most of my life here so it’s inherent in me to sing about Wales, especially its castles,” he said.
“I’ve always loved visiting castles, ever since I was a kid. This has without a doubt been one of my favourite guides to put together.
“We have a great heritage in Wales and castles are such an important part of that which is why staying in a castle is such a great way to experience the country.
“We have more castles per square mile than in any other country in Europe. Wales is known as the Castle Capital of the World. Most people only know about the ones you can visit for the day so I wanted to shout about the castles you can stay in.
“Some of them are guest houses, others are hotels and some are available for exclusive hire. There’s a real mix on the list.”
Kieren, who went to school in Llanfair Caereinion, began his marketing career with Wrexham’s successful Jones Village Bakery before moving on to the North West where he worked for baking and confectionary companies in the Manchester area.
He learned about the role of influencers in marketing through his employment and after working with well-known bloggers, decided to give it a go for himself and combine two of his favourite passions: travelling and Wales.
Initially, he started a backpacking travel blog as a hobby. Within five years, it had morphed into a full-time business and in 2022 Kieren launched his latest project www.walesguidebook.com.
“The castle guide is the fastest-growing feature on the website and there’s definitely a demand there for people wanting more information,” he said.
“The reality series ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ really put Wales and its castles on the map during the pandemic when producers decided to film from Gwrych Castle, near Abergele, for two seasons rather than its usual home in the Australian rainforest.
“There was a real spike in interest after this so there’s obviously a real appetite out there for all things Welsh. I want to give people a helping hand by sharing what I know and have researched on these places.
“During the research phase, I read lots of reviews from tourists to see what kind of experiences they were having in these castles. I’ve never taken what the providers have said at face value, I’ve taken time to make sure the experience people are having matches up with the description.
“One of the favourites I visited is Manobier Castle near Tenby, Pembrokeshire. During the day, the castle is open to the public until 5pm, but if you stay here, you get the castle to yourself after dark.
“Bodelwyddan Castle has just about everything you could want – a spa, swimming pool, restaurant, you name it. It has the full package.
“Bath Tower is in a great location, with panoramic views across the Menai Strait. It’s built into the gate house of Caernarfon Castle and you can hire it out as a group. It’s a fantastic place at sunset where you can see right across the horizon.
“You’re literally in the middle of a bustling Welsh town yet at the same time you’re sandwiched between an historic Welsh castle where Prince Charles became the Prince of Wales.”
Now that his latest guide has launched, Kieren is continuing his travels to unearth more hidden finds that will help him promote Wales as a top tourist destination.
“It’s a dream job. As someone who loves to travel and is passionate about their home country, what could be better?” he said.
“I’ve visited so many places, it will take forever to write about them all, but I will eventually get there.
“I’m determined to continue travelling around Wales until I’ve covered absolutely every destination. I have my sights on finding more quirky places people can stay such as shepherd huts, lighthouses and other unusual accommodation. Wales is a treasure trove of interesting and quirky places that must be experienced and enjoyed.”
Welsh castles where you can stay:
Bodelwyddan Castle, Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire
Brynkir Tower, Garndolbenmaen, Gwynedd
Roch Castle, near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire
Craig y Nos Castle, Abercrave, Powys
Castell Deudraeth, Portmeirion, Gwynedd
Chateau Rhianfa, Menai Bridge, Anglesey
Tan-Yr-Ogo Lodge at Gwrych Castle, Abergele, Conwy
Cardigan Castle, Cardigan, Dyfed
Manorbier Castle, Tenby, Pembrokeshire
Tŷ’r Graig Castle, Barmouth, Gwynedd
The Welsh Gatehouse Castle, Chepstow, Monmouthshire
Ruthin Castle, Ruthin, Denbighshire
Mold Tower, Mold, Flintshire
Hen Wrych Hall Tower, Abergele, Conwy
Clytha Tower, near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Bath Tower, Caernarfon Gwynedd
Castle of Brecon Hotel, Brecon Powys
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Nobody tell Carlo or Willy