In southwest Anglesey, a mere whisper away from beaches where almighty gusts whip off the Irish Sea and the dunes seem to roll to infinity, is the escape of your wildest childhood fantasies – but with a grown-up’s love of style and comfort. This chicly converted 19th-century windmill has immediate wow factor, with big views, round rooms, pretty pastel interiors and space and light to dream away.
Why we love it
Hear the word windmill and you might imagine something more rudimentary than this Grade II-listed, four-storey conversion in the small settlement of Tŷ Croes. Built in 1825 (as the only combined wind- and watermill on the island at the time), its sails were removed in 1930, and then it was gutted by fire in the 1970s. Fastidiously restored by the Bodorgan Estate in 2006, it is now a fabulous self-catering retreat managed by Boltholes & Hideaways, offering ‘unique spaces and hidden places’ in Anglesey and Snowdonia.
We loved the breezy, stick-of-rock pink-and-white colours and shell table in the living room – an ode to happy days spent at the seaside – not to mention the terraces gazing peacefully out across the countryside, the beautifully crafted oak floors and beams, and the spiral staircase twirling up to three double bedrooms. But the real clincher was the master bedroom, with its spectacular vaulted ceiling and rafters projecting into a starry night sky. Here we listened to the gulls drift in from the sea in the morning, and winds hammering the sailless mill, making its beams groan, by night.
The look and feel is understated beach chic – stylish, but not so much so that you can’t turn up in muddy boots or sandy bathers. There’s even a washing machine and tumble dryer in the basement if you need to clean up your gear. The kitchen is properly fitted out with every appliance you’ll need to cook, too, making this a great self-contained choice during these socially distanced times. And in summer you can eat out on the picnic table or fire up the barbecue.
Families are warmly welcome (there is ample space for up to six guests), as are groups of friends and (well-behaved) dogs. The wraparound terrace in the living room and the master bedroom’s deck survey the rolling countryside. While the sea is just beyond the line of vision, you are but a pebble-throw away from the dune-backed beaches of Rhosneigr and Aberffraw. An attentive eye for quality pervades throughout, too: from the magnificent wooden staircase that turns each trip to the top floor into an adventure, to the modern bathrooms and very comfortable beds.
We arrived just as the last flare of sunset lit the horizon, with all the joy of seeing the mill by daylight yet to come. It is self check-in at the moment, with everything meticulously cleaned and Covid prepped. A welcome bottle of wine was a thoughtful touch, and there was plenty of information on what to see and do and where to eat on the island, as well as some print-outs of suggested walks. The Boltholes & Hideaways team pride themselves on their local knowledge and gave us some excellent tips on how best to spend our week on Anglesey.
All of the rooms are appealingly decorated, with the same lime-washed white walls, soft pastels and solid oak floors, but the master bedroom on the windmill’s top floor is icing-on-the-cake stuff. From here, there are far-reaching views across the landscape and the elements feel that bit closer – the strong winds, the sea breezes, the stars. With its vaulted ceiling, high rafters and triangular, pulpit-like windows, the room is redolent of a Norwegian stave church. Sleeping here is nothing short of magical.
If you’re up for self-catering, there is a mini market nearby. Otherwise, there are some terrific places to eat close by – from takeaway fish and chips to restaurants creatively interpreting local produce. We particularly enjoyed the imaginative Wales-meets-the-world small plates and intimate atmosphere at The Freckled Angel in Menai Bridge, and coffee and cake at Ann’s Pantry in the coastal village of Moelfre. Closer to home, the Oyster Catcher in Rhosneigr and The Crown in Aberffraw (currently closed due to Covid) come recommended.
What’s here & nearby
Anglesey really is your oyster, with some of the island’s most spectacular beaches, coastal walking and prehistoric sites (burial chambers and standing stones) just a short drive away. At Aberffraw, three miles distant, massive dunes give way to an open expanse of sand and sea, and the dark mountains of Snowdonia and the Llŷn Peninsula thrust up beyond. The pretty coastal village lays claim, incidentally, to Britain’s oldest biscuit: a scallop shell-shaped shortbread that originated in the 13th century. Stock up on these at the local shop – we certainly did!
Venturing a little further south still brings you to Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve, where a vast swathe of Corsican pine forest leads to dunes, coastal marshes, magnificent beaches and enchanting Ynys Llanddwyn, a narrow, rocky spit of land that becomes an island at high tide, with its romantic associations to St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of love.
Walks are boundless, but we particularly enjoyed hiking the dramatically craggy, cove-indented, wind-whipped coastline around Cemaes in the north, with arresting views from Wales’ Wales’ northernmost point, as well as the dreamy play of tides and light on beaches near Moelfre (Lligwy and Red Wharf Bay).
At a glance
Snooze factor: 9 Peace, quiet, comfortable beds and the kind of views that make you want to get up bright and early.
Eco-friendly factor: 8 Alone the fact that this windmill is still standing is extraordinary, and its careful conversion has helped to preserve it for generations to come. Waste is separated and recycled after your stay.
Location factor: 8 Fine views across rolling countryside (especially from the top of the mill), plus some of the island’s most alluring beaches are just minutes away. Incredibly, just down the road is a request stop train station with direct services to Birmingham (and Bangor, and Holyhead)!
Price: Three-/seven-night stays from £450/£610 in the low season. The windmill gets booked far in advance for holiday periods so be sure to book well ahead.