Great British boltholes: A review of Porth Tocyn, North Wales

Great British boltholes: The jovial Welsh hotel on a stunning stretch of coastline where you will be treated like family

  • Porth Tocyn in Abersoch was one of the first post-war country house hotels
  • There are 17 guest rooms, plus a shepherd’s hut and a self-catering cottage
  • Walkers will enjoy exploring the Wales Coast Path, a beautiful cliff route 

There’s quite a buzz around Abersoch, which some say is Wales’s answer to Cornwall’s Rock, with its yachtie scene, wealth of holiday homes and high street crammed with bars and boutiques.

Crowds recede as you head out two miles west and to Porth Tocyn (pronounced ‘tockin’), established in 1948 by the Fletcher-Brewer family as one of the first post-war country house hotels.

There’s comfort and familiarity in the sitting rooms, whether in the window seats or velvet button-back wingchairs. Jugs of fresh flowers are dotted here and there, as are clusters of books.

Porth Tocyn is a ‘jovial, traditional retreat’, writes The Mail on Sunday’s Sarah Hartley. Pictured is the terrace

Homely: There are robust beds, chic fabric headboards and Egyptian linens in the rooms – and some have balconies

Guests who look like somebody’s aunt or uncle have sunk into the chintz sofas with a good book. There’s a fire going even in August and it’s easy to find little spots to grab a magazine, binoculars or put pen to paper.

The cheery ease with which Nick and his son Henry mingle with guests (85 per cent of whom have visited before) and run the place is a lost art in hospitality. 

Little wonder Porth Tocyn gives its all from April until November, then the house lights come down for rest and restoration. But goodness, they would do Christmas well.

Step into the wonderfully light restaurant and you’ll be drawn beyond the brown furniture and pew seating to the picture windows framing Cardigan Bay.

Food here has marched into The Good Food Guide since 1957, and today guests are treated to canapes plus sorbets to cleanse the palate between dinner courses. Fish dishes including hot potted local crab with parmesan and panko crumbs, torched fresh mackerel and the house fish pie were knockout.

Walkers can work it all off by following the path from the terrace to the Wales Coast Path, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which follows the coastline of the Llyn Peninsula.

The Wales Coast Path follows the beautiful coastline of the Llyn Peninsula


Porth Tocyn, Abersoch, North Wales. B&B from £165 a night. For more information visit

The cliff route – edged with ferns on one side, endless sea on the other – will distract you for hours as you head to the next peak, squinting to spot dolphins. If not, grab a towel for the pool or a blanket for the lawn and relax.

Well-behaved children will fit right in and stay for free. Don’t expect slavish attention to being on trend – Nespresso machines be gone! This family hotel is a jovial, traditional retreat but first and foremost it still feels like a home.

The USP: You will be treated like family. The heated outdoor pool is tucked away in the garden and is the perfect size for holiday lengths.

The rooms: Picture windows dominate. Robust beds come with chic fabric headboards and Egyptian linens. Some of the 17 rooms have balconies. There’s also a shepherd’s hut and a self-catering cottage in the grounds.

The food: Confident and creative fresh dishes from locally sourced ingredients are far better than bistro standard but not fine-dining formal. Guests can add pots of home-made honey and marmalade to their bill.

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