We were invited to spend a few days of luxury glamping in West Wales at Felin Geri. Here’s our story…
It was dusk in the Ceri Valley, and a faint rustling in the old flour mill at Felin Geri heralded the start of the evening acrobatic performance. A small brown nose emerged from a dark hiding place up in the roof, and after a few tentative seconds, wings were spread and the show began. The bats flew silently but determinedly, often changing track at the last minute in pursuit of supper, as they darted amongst the tall trees lining the meadows and paddocks. Soft laughter floated up from down below where a couple of glampers were luxuriating in the hot tub, swatting moths and playing with the coloured lights beneath the water. It appeared they couldn’t make up their minds between pink and blue. An owl hooted from the woods, sending a couple of rabbits scampering to their burrows, finally willing to call it a day.
Wood smoke from the pizza oven lingered in the air, blending evocatively with overtones of wild garlic. But the bats were far more interested in the insects buzzing up above, and continued in their hungry quest. Meanwhile the glampers clambered out of the hot tub and tiptoed giggling across the deck. After a quick rinse in the genius wood-fired shower, they finally settled down to an evening of drinking gin and playing rummy, lamenting the fact that after 18 years together they still only knew one card game.
Felin Geri – Glamping in Wales
We were spending a few glorious days living the country life down at Felin Geri, an extensive yet intimate glamping site with hot tubs in the beautiful wooded Ceri Valley in west Wales. Previously a visitor heritage centre, bakery and an ostrich farm (yes, really), today it’s a peaceful hideaway for visitors searching for a back-to-nature holiday without having to give up the home comforts whilst glamping in Wales.
Not far from the Cardigan Coast or Pembrokeshire, it’s an idyllic spot, hidden away from the world, yet with super easy access to lots of fabulous days out in Wales. Neither of us had been down in this neck of the woods since we were nippers, so we were rather excited.
Owners Alan and Jane moved to this peaceful spot in 2007, with a dream of restoring the old flour mill. Realising the appeal that this country retreat would have to others, they soon established one of the best places to go glamping in Wales, complete with a welcoming little cafe, a surprisingly well-stocked bar and as much friendly banter as you can handle.
And as for the mill? Well, the bats have moved in and since they’re a protected species restoration is on hold for the moment. Which is just fine by the bats.
At Felin Geri Glamping there are four luxury safari tents, all named after local rivers. Three of the tents are perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway as well as families of up to six who want to do a bit of ‘re-wilding’ (that’s all the rage these days, right?) with their children. The fourth glamping tent is positively palatial, and ideal for larger groups of eight as well as celebrations. They are all equipped with stylish modern conveniences, such as colourful Joseph Joseph knives and coordinating bread bins, and the large tent even has a dishwasher. It’s the sort of place where the kettles and tea towels match the interior decor.
Now this is our kind of camping!
There’s also a traditional Welsh cottage for those who prefer stone to canvas, which has been done up beautifully inside, and has views out over the mill.
Inside our Luxury Glamping tent, Ceri
Everything at Felin Geri is super slick, from the parking spaces designated for each tent, to the golf buggy and little cart to carry luggage across to your home for the next few days. We were staying in Ceri, tucked away in its own private paddock but close enough to the action to not have to walk too far for anything! The other three tents are in a larger, separate meadow adjacent to this one.
Everything about Ceri was elegant yet comfortable, classy yet homely.
The living area is open plan, which is great for being sociable! There’s plenty of space too, with sofa, dining table, bean bags and of course the large veranda at the front of the tent, overlooking the paddock and woodlands beyond. In fact we ate there most nights as the weather was so good!
The kitchen was surprisingly well stocked with all the essentials, and was really easy to use. The log fire is for heating the tent on cooler evenings as well as cooking, but since the weather was super warm during our stay, we just used the camping gas stove that was also provided. If you’re planning your meals before you arrive, it’s best to come up with some ‘one-pot’ dishes to keep it simple.
When it comes to sleeping, there is one master bedroom, one twin bedroom, and a cool little Wendy House just off the living area with an extra double bed in for groups of six. If you’re sleeping in the Wendy House you do have to walk through one of the other bedrooms to access the bathroom at the back, so we wouldn’t really recommend it for three couples.
All the beds have soft Egyptian cotton sheets and duvets that envelop you in the sort of snuggness you’ve been looking for all your life. Spot on for those cooler countryside nights.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the bathroom. We might be glamping in Wales but we certainly weren’t roughing it. Despite being in a tent it was hotel quality, and even came with complimentary toiletries and fluffy towels. The wood-fired shower did require a bit of effort, and having a Hubbie who was willing to haul himself out of bed to stoke up the fire half an hour before her ladyship required hot water for her morning ablutions did come in rather handy.
It’s actually quite a good feeling, having to do a little bit of work, and kids you into thinking you’re having a real backwoods experience, whilst in fact you’re living it up like royalty!
We loved having our own private state of the art hot tub too, which came with a privacy screen and gorgeous woodland views, perfect for chilling out and watching the bats in the evenings. There’s also no light pollution here, and the view from the hot tub of the sparkling milky way high above in the heavens has to be seen to be believed!
This really is the life!
Facilities at Felin Geri
As well as the cafe, where we ate homemade lasagne one evening when we couldn’t be bothered to cook, there’s also a Pantry Cabin with an honesty shop for the toothbrush you forgot and the tin of beans didn’t realise you’d fancy. You’ll also find fridges and freezers in there for all your cooking essentials, with a different shelf allocated for each tent!
At weekends Alan fires up the pizza oven and guests can sit outside the cafe in the sun enjoying the fruits of his labour. But the best bit has to be the cooked breakfasts, what a way to start the day.
Who says glamping has to be all about self-catering?
Around the Grounds at Felin Geri
You could easily stay a whole week at Felin Geri Glamping and never leave the site. There’s wildlife spotting along the River Ceri which runs alongside Felin Geri, with kingfishers, buzzards, red kites, and if you’re really lucky, otters. And if fishing is your thing, then bring a rod and tempt the trout to the surface.
Felin Geri has its own woodlands, with paths taking you through carpets of swaying bluebells and wild orchids in season, and there are numerous hiking trails and bridleways accessed directly from this peaceful Wales glamping site. So you don’t even need to jump in the car!
If you’re looking for a family glamping holiday in Wales, then this is the place to come during school holidays. There’s a really cool wooden fort and treehouse for budding princes and princesses, as well as plenty of games to keep everyone occupied, from football and cricket, to rounders and their latest venture…disc golf.
No, we’d never heard of it either, but it’s great fun, and involves throwing frisbees towards targets in a certain number of throws. Along the same lines as golf, only far better! Hubbie was a natural, whilst I struggled somewhat with direction (are frisbees supposed to go backwards?), but I was still basking in the childish glory of beating him at swingball earlier. And I was playing backhand too!
One thing that really struck us about our glamping holiday in Wales was that time becomes delightfully irrelevant. Schedules and routines are all but forgotten and instead a relaxed, countryside pace of life takes hold.
It’s exactly how it should be!
Out and About – Things to do whilst Glamping in Wales
One of the joys of glamping in South Wales is that there’s so much to see and do. You’d need to stay at least a month to just scratch the surface. We only had a few days so decided to concentrate on hidden beaches, secret chapels, imposing castles, seaweed gin and a tranche or two of nettle cheese. Yes really. All the ingredients for a perfect few days out in Wales.
Here are our top picks of places to visit in this part of Wales:
Gin and Cheese
Just down the road from Felin Geri on a rural family farm you’ll find Da Mhile Distillery, the first craft distillery in Wales producing organic whisky, gin and a range of other spirits and liqueurs. Tours and tastings are available on Wednesdays and Fridays, and we love that designated drivers are offered a miniature bottle of their choice in lieu of tasting. My favourite was the Seaweed Gin (I know, it sounds vile, but give it a go, you’ll be surprised!), which they have in plentiful supply in the bar at Felin Geri.
Caws Teifi Cheese is where artisan cheeses are made from local milk on an organic farm. They have some incredibly unusual flavours – try the Teifi Nettle cheese or the Teifi seaweed cheese (maybe with some gin) for something a little different. Tours are available Monday to Friday, and we recommend you get there early to see the dairy in action.
Beaches are always top of the list on a glamping holiday in Wales, and they don’t come better than on the west and south coast, just a stones throw from Felin Geri. If you’re up for a bit of action, there’s kayaking, coasteering and surfing, or for a more sedate stroll and a spot of rock pooling there are plenty of quieter stretches of sand to be had. Our favourite has to be Mwnt Beach, a stunning hidden cove on a wild and remote stretch of coastline north of Cardigan.
Aside from the cool name, rather delightfully devoid of vowels like so many place names in Wales, Mwnt is a great place for dolphin spotting, although admittedly they failed to put on a show for us. Instead we amused ourselves by scrambling down the cliffs to play on the sand, before heading up to check out the simple chapel on the headland.
Mwnt is an ancient holy site, and the chapel was once used by sailors, as well as medieval pilgrims enroute to St Davids down in Pembrokeshire. Those of us who are a little less devout still enjoyed poking our noses in and admiring the incredible ceiling beams!
If you’re into walking, the Welsh Coastal Path winds its merry way all along this part of the world, and the rugged cliffs and endless sea views reminded us of Cornwall, only with fewer tourists. Inland there are also the Preseli Hills and several leafy woodland walks to choose from.
We love a good crumbling ruin, and some of the best castles to visit in Wales can be found in this neck of the woods. A particular highlight for us was Cilgerran Castle, a 13th Century ruin just outside Cardigan and not far from Felin Geri. The site is pretty spectacular, overlooking a gorge with the River Teifi down below. It was once home to a famous princess who was rumoured to be the lover of Henry I.
Just down the river from Cilgerran Castle is St Dogmaels Abbey, a medieval Benedictine abbey with a small museum and cafe. It’s not a huge site, but something a bit different and well worth half an hour of your time.
Further south down on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast we also checked out the dramatic Manorbier Castle, a Norman ruin perched upon the cliffs overlooking Manorbier beach, with fairytale turrets and lots of secret hidey holes to explore. If you’re as old as we are you might remember the original ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’, which turned Manorbier Castle into the White Witch’s lair of Cair Paravel. Those scenes gave the eight year old me nightmares, and also a short-lived fascination with Turkish Delight. Today the spooky stone figures and icy atmosphere have been replaced with delightful flowering borders and a little tea shop which makes it a great place for a spot of lunch.
Still down on the Pembrokeshire Coast, which is only about an hour from Felin Geri, we popped into the tranquil grounds of Lamphey Bishop’s Palace, a former country retreat for medieval bishops from St Davids. We were the only ones there, and wished we’d brought a picnic to sit in the daisy meadow alongside the buzzing bees and enjoy the peace and quiet. There are quite a few buildings still standing at this once rather grand palace, and the best part? Entrance is free!
Saving the best until last, our favourite of all the things to do in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, has to be St Govan’s Chapel. A hidden chapel perched precariously half way down a cliff, with dramatic sea views and a handful of imaginative tales to explain its existence.
Legend has it that St Govan was an Irish monk/a Knight of the Round Table/a thief (depending on who you believe!). He was apparently chased by pirates and survived thanks to a fissure opening up in these cliffs, providing him with a cave to hide in until they left.
The current chapel is built over the top of this cave, and dates back to the 13th Century. If you visit, count the steps…it’s said that the number varies depending on whether you’re going down, or coming up! Such an incredible and atmospheric place. Just be mindful that the road to St Govans goes through an MOD tank driving range, and access is closed on occasion (you can check the times here).
A little way north up the coast is the colourful town of Aberaeron, famous for its brightly painted houses that line the harbour. This historical Georgian fishing port is the jumping off point for boat trips into Cardigan Bay, exploring the heritage coast and marine life around these shores. We highly recommend treating yourself to a fresh seafood lunch at The Harbourmaster, followed by some of the famous honey ice-cream from The Hive. Yum.
Huge thanks to Felin Geri for hosting our stay. As always, words and opinions remain our own, and we never accept complimentary stays unless we’d have been happy to pay for them ourselves.