Lots of holiday cottages are described as idyllic but this one takes it to whole new level. The location is stunning, being right at the tip of Talyllyn in a lovely Welsh valley and with no other properties nearby apart from a small hotel/restaurant opposite. The accommodation is a church. An entire church. Hold on to that notion. The owner has valiantly worked with the local authorities and several other vested interests in order to convert a disused building into an individual, unusual and delightful place to stay. If you are looking for a standard holiday cottage then this is not for you, but if you appreciate something a little quirky and packed with local history then you will love it here.
I went alone with two small dogs, but the venue is suitable for couples, friends, (two double bedrooms) or a small family.
There is a cosy lounge area and basic kitchen/dining section in the former vestry, which together form the main part of the day-to-day functional living space. Then it gets exciting, for in order to reach the bedrooms you need to enter the main body of the (largely untouched) church and walk down the aisle to the end where there are two places to sleep. You could choose to snuggle down in a self contained 'pod' with good en suite facilities or, situated on top of that, you might go for the open mezzanine bedroom which is high up in the beams. Both overlook the nave and have a stunning view of the entire length of the church, its incredible 500 year old painted ceiling and the beautiful stained glass window at the opposite end.
Like much of the valleys, there is no mobile signal, but there is free wifi so it's just like being at home as far as communication is concerned. There is a TV in the living room and both bedrooms (though quite why anybody would want to watch television in a place like this is beyond me) and also a selection of DVDs and CDs. For classical music fans the owner had donated a vast collection of boxed set vinyls and a good old fashioned hi fi located in the main body of the church so you can turn your up your Traviata to max volume (imagine the acoustics!) and not disturb anybody.
The graveyard is vast and full of the final resting places for many Pughs, Williamses, Joneses and Owens, so you can have an interesting time plotting the demise of entire Welsh dynasties dating back to 1690-something.
The immediate area is very peaceful, despite the property being on a road and within the Mach loop (very exciting if you like that sort of thing, but you have to be quick-witted if you want to see anything!) Local towns Tywyn and Machynlleth are a few miles down the road and the whole of Snowdonia is on the doorstep.
Are there any minus points? Well, not really, but it's worth pointing out that the surrounding graveyard is open to the public and if you have dogs you are asked to keep them on leads. During my visit I had nobody enter the grounds so I did not feel at all intruded upon. The other thing some reviewers mention is the eco toilet. Don't worry about the eco toilet. It's no big deal. It's here because of local planning restrictions and it's a worthy compromise in order to make this amazing building available for so many people to enjoy.
I went for a working holiday but got no work done at all. I shall go back, and still do no work, but relish every second of my time there.
On the banks of Talyllyn Lake this 15th century church is a wonderful place to spend a week on holiday. If history is your bag, then this place is a must. You can even have a great pint across the road and soak up the beauty of the surrounding area.
Beautiful location. Lovingly restored church. Words and pictures do not do this amazing place justice. Well done and thank you Richard.
Wow - what a fantastic location. A real hidden gem. St. Mary's has been wonderfully maintained with all its original features in tact making it a relaxing and unique place to stay. Great base for any type of holiday. We have some amazing memories and returned home the most relaxed we've ever been. Looking forward to returning.
Its hard to describe how unique an experience it is staying here. It has so many things going for it. Peter has beautifully restored and converted the church for living, maintaining its original features. He was also great at answering any questions before and during our trip and is enthusiastic and knowledgable about region. The immediate location, by a lake in the mountains, is stunning.
The fact that its a 15th Century listed building does mean there are some sacrifices you make; no open fireplace, eco-loo and impossible to gaze out the window at the lake as its thick stained glass. But if you are anything like us they will pale into insignificance compared to the overall experience.
(TOP TIP: Vinyl fans bring your records: Peter has set up turntable set up on the old church organ and the sound is great!)