From old towns to modern city centres to untouched countryside, we have a lot on our doorstep in the North West.
But in our busy lives, how many need an excuse to enjoy it?
Whether it’s a gig or a game, a wedding or a Christmas market, sometimes we need a reason to visit – or revisit – somewhere close by.
And that was the case recently, when hearing about National B&B week (yep, that’s really a thing) sparked the idea of a short break to North Wales.
On the hour-and-a-half drive my wife and I shared our own nostalgic memories of visiting the town as children.
The castle, the sea-front, the neighbouring Llandudno. Yep... Conwy had a lot to live up to before we had even got there!
Well, it didn’t disappoint. The stunning, imposing castle looms over you as you approach the town. It is mightily impressive, with walls spawning from the side which encompass the town.
Parking is limited (damn you, Edward I, for not foreseeing the invention of cars!) but there is a large pay and display, just on the outskirts, which offered overnight parking
And a quick walk up the steps puts you, quite literally, at the steps of Number 18, where we were staying for the night. It describes itself as a ‘boutique B&B which has been lovingly restored', and it was what it said on the tin (well, website). It is spotlessly clean. The welcome was warm, the conversation charming, the advice well-received.
It’s a truly unique place, with walls brightly painted and adorned with retro pictures; the mix with antique furnishings gives it a real eclectic feel.
But still, it had all the modern touches you would expect from a nice hotel – power-shower, Wifi, TV, good coffee – and more, including complimentary sweets and chocolates.
There’s a nice local flavour – such as Welsh tea, Welsh biscuits – as well. Those wanting a long lie-in may grumble at the 10am check-out time, but it is worth getting up early for the well-varied, well-stocked continental breakfast including freshly-baked bread, local jams... and amazing coffee.
Number 18 is inside the castle walls, making it the perfect place to explore the picturesque town. Honestly, you could open the door and throw a stone at the castle - it's that close.
Conwy is the kind of place you want to wander around and get lost. Only, you can’t get lost, really, because the town is so small and easy to navigate.
The medieval walls are, apparently, the most complete still standing in the country, and you can walk most of them for free - it's a nice way to get around the town, and take in views.
And talking views, the sea-front is stunning, with a nice pub (the Liverpool Arms – highly recommended!) and also the smallest house in Britain!
If you don’t spot it, you’ll certainly see the tourists striking cheesy poses outside taking selfies.
After a few late-afternoon drinks – there’s no shortage of pubs – basking in the spring sunshine, we quickly changed for dinner.
We wondered the streets looking for inspiration, and found it after 50 yards; an Indian called The Raj, which shares its name with my favourite place near home! If that wasn’t an omen, I don’t know what is. We saw the night out in a couple more pubs and explored the town, again, the following day.
The castle is truly stunning, the history immense. It was little surprise there were many tourists, and we heard accents from America, Australia and Asia. How ludicrous, I thought, that I needed an excuse to make the trip myself when it’s right on our doorstep.
We shall return, possibly soon, probably with children in tow. And hopefully, Number 18 has rooms available for us when we do.