OutUK’s little rover Adrian Gillan stays at a unique gay-run guest house, perched between the mountains and the sea - once the Snowdonian home to poet Shelley and now perfect for a solo detox or remote romantic retreat.

You’ll feel like spouting verse the moment you set eyes on “Tanny” – or more fully Plas Tan-yr-Allt in native Welsh – half way up a hill, on the very edge of the Snowdonia National Park: sea to the fore, mountains out back. Mere hours from many a big city: Tanny seems a million miles away.

Built in 1800 by entrepreneur-cum-philanthropist William Madocks - who also created nearby village Tremadog - small wonder the youthful Shelley spent the years 1812-1813 here, penning many major works, including his epic Queen Mab. Nowadays it's been completely renovated and restored, and its now run by Howard and Mark – who have an uncanny eye for colours, and for combining style with function, old with new.
With lightsome clouds and shining seas between
And fertile valleys, resonant with bliss…

Shelley : Queen Mab, composed at “Tanny”
between 1812 and 1813.
Stay in the main bedroom he doubtless tossed and turned, dreaming up rhymes in; read in the library-cum-theatre he recited poems for guests in; relax in the drawing room he was once shot at in – incidentally prompting his swift exit, either pursued by debtors chasing bills or government agents hoping to eliminate his pro-Irish sympathies.
The Plas offers three luxuriously appointed bedrooms, complete with antiquities and period features, all named after some of its previous residents: The William Madocks Bedroom, Shelley's Theatre and Miss Hilda's Bedroom. It's the perfect place to relax in comfort amidst beautiful scenery, and a classy springboard from which to explore this most spectacular part of Wales.
In the Snowdonia National Park.

ROOMS & FOOD

All have newly-fitted bathrooms, mostly with heated slate flooring and soft water on tap from Tanny’s own backyard mountain springs. Favourites include the light-and-spacious Madocks – named after Tanny’s aforementioned larger-than-life builder - with its romping King Size Double and sundry south-facing windows, framing the marsh, mountains and sea.
Then there's the feminine, yellowy Miss Hilda - named after Hilda Greaves who lovingly restored the house early in the 20th Century – with its queeny bed-head and chandelier; and Shelley’s Theatre with its ancient oak beams and splendid King Size four-poster. Other rooms include the Benson - named after E. F. Benson, author of the Mapp and Lucia novels; the Peacock, named after Thomas Love Peacock, the novelist and poet who was a friend of Shelley; and the Billington, dedicated to opera singer Elizabeth Billington who frequently visited and was, by repute, the highest paid singer of her age.
The Madocks Room.
Meals are traditional “Welsh Country House” style, featuring only the best locally-sourced ingredients. Before or after dinner, and at any hour, an Honesty Bar operates in the Drawing Room, for that pick-me-up port or restorative brandy.
Food is very important to Tanny - in many ways its heart and soul, and certainly its social hub.

When feasting, at breakfast or dinner, you join any and all other guests - the wackier the better - to eat communally “en famille” around the large table in the lovely Dining Room, exchanging all your best gossip and tales, however shocking.

OUT & ABOUT

Set in 47 aces of wooded cliffside, there is so much of interest in Tanny - and its gay-beckoning hosts’ welcome so warm - some scarce venture further than perhaps taking tea on the south-facing sun-drenched veranda; or pottering around the pond at the bottom of the massive sloped lawn. Venture a little further - say up the footpath, through woods and over streams to the wild cliff tops themselves - and you’re rewarded with a warm glow and stunning views out across the entire Glaslyn Estuary.

Beyond that, stroll a few minutes to Tremadog, Madocks’ experimental village at the foot of the hill, popping into the gay-managed Golden Fleece pub in the Market Square; or take a fifteen minute jaunt through the lovely forest to the slightly larger Porthmadog, with its picturesque harbour. Morfa Dyffryn is a fantastic nudist beach, located on the Welsh coast nearby, between Harlech and Barmouth - gay-dominated in the dunes to the north and rear. If in a car, hunt out Gelert’s Grave in small village Beddgelert to learn the tragic tale of a trusty dog and his rash master. Whilst out-and-about, you may even spy the odd gay celeb: anyone from star-gazer Russell Grant to celebrated trans travel writer Jan Morris.

Jump on the Rheilffordd Ffestiniog Railway, whose lovely, prompt, little steam trains will happily chug you into the slate hills via extremely scenic views, including Mount Snowdon. You might check out the minors' tramways and deep mine tours at Llechwedd Slate Caverns whilst you’re up there. Or get off at the stop for Portmeirion the exotic, picturesque Clough Williams-Ellis-designed model village featured in cult tv series The Prisoner, now celebrating its 90th anniversary (1926-2016).

Prices at Tanny (full name Plas Tan-Yr-Allt) range from £95 - £125 per room including full Welsh breakfast. Single occupancy rates are available on request. Additionally, a 3-course set menu is available each night, served ‘en famille’ with any other guests in the Dining Room. Dinner is preceded by canapés and followed by coffee and petit fours, in the Drawing Room. The house can be hired in its entirety for a group of twelve, given enough prior notice. More info at plastanyrallt.co.uk

Revised December 2016.

 

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