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Home   Lifestyle   Holidays   Article

North Wales seaside town Llandudno is making the most of its literary connection to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

27 May 2014
by Kent Messenger reporter

Llandudno seafront and promenade with its Victorian facade

Llandudno seafront and promenade with its Victorian facade

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

That’s not Llandudno’s motto but when you’ve got something beautiful there’s not a lot of point making changes.

The Victorian facade that overlooks the beach of this well-known North Wales seaside town would probably be just as it was in 1947 when my grandparents honeymooned here.

But Llandudno was attracting people long before that.

It was a favourite holiday-haunt of the Liddells, whose young daughter was Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for his much-loved children’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Mad Hatter statue is one of many dotted around the town, paying homage to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Mad Hatter statue is one of many dotted around the town, paying homage to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

While children can follow a trail of statues across town, depicting characters from Carroll’s story, adults can enjoy afternoon tea in the same hotel where Alice Liddell and her family holidayed back in 1861.

The seafront St Tudno Hotel, a grand establishment, is one of only two places in Wales awarded the Tea Guild Award of Excellence.

It wasn’t just us who were impressed. Travel writer Bill Bryson described Llandudno as his favourite seaside resort, and of the hotel he said: “It is the snug bar and outstanding restaurant that will bring me back.”

Former Kent residents Tony and Karen Fulker run Holcombe House in Llandudno, just two minutes from the sea

Former Kent residents Tony and Karen Fulker run Holcombe House in Llandudno, just two minutes from the sea

We stayed just around the corner, in Holcombe House. Owners Tony and Karen Fulker couldn’t have been more welcoming and we weren’t being singled out for favour either. Karen was picking up guests from the train station as we arrived.

Llandudno can be reached direct from London Euston in just over three hours.

It was the Fulker's keenness to go the extra mile – literally – that set Holcombe House apart from so many other places we’ve stayed in.

The accommodation was spotless, the breakfast as hearty as you could stomach and the place was peaceful – something many big hotels bizarrely neglect.

Llandudno pier has souvenir shops along the way to a well-positioned bar at the end

Llandudno pier has souvenir shops along the way to a well-positioned bar at the end

Llandudno rarely gets frost and the hills which sit either side of the town are a natural protection from the worst weather. Great Orme overlooks the town, reaching 679 feet and providing amazing views.

With the sun shining, Llandudno’s pier offered us the seaside entertainment you would expect – arcades, ice-creams, the smell of the sea. But this is no Skegness. You won’t find row after row of flashing neon signs and “kiss me quick” hats. It’s there if you want it, but not in your face.

Bodnant Gardens near Llandudno

Bodnant Gardens near Llandudno

Just outside the town is Bodnant Garden – one of the National Trust’s most treasured outdoor attractions. The phones were red hot when we arrived, with people keen to find out when the Laburnum Arch was in bloom. Thousands visit with the sole purpose of viewing the cascade of yellow along the 55m tunnel.

The much-visited Laburnum Arch in bloom at Bodnant Gardens near Llandudno

The much-visited Laburnum Arch in bloom at Bodnant Gardens near Llandudno

It was just turning into flower as we arrived but Bodnant has so much more to offer. They are currently in the final stages of opening more of the gardens to the public, encouraging children to hop across stepping stones and adults to admire the all-year-round colours.

Bodnant Garden is open all year round and until 8pm on Wednesdays in the summer.

Abergoch cheese made on site at Bodnant Welsh Food

Abergoch cheese made on site at Bodnant Welsh Food

A mile away is the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, where you can enjoy the best of everything Wales has to offer. On site, they produce their own cheese, butter, ice cream, meats, cakes and bread – many award-winning.

Visit the Bodnant Welsh Food website to shop online and found out more.

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson is a fan and her tweet-of-praise is proudly displayed, alongside the centre’s numerous awards.

Award-winning products made on-site at Bodnant Welsh Food near Llandudno

Award-winning products made on-site at Bodnant Welsh Food near Llandudno

Llandudno itself isn’t short of eating places. If you like Emmerdale you may have wondered what happened to Cain Dingle’s mum Faith. Well, actress Gillian Jephcott is now running the Seahorse restaurant with husband Don, the chef.

The seafood is what Gill and Don pride themselves on and what has won them awards. The baked hake with thermidor sauce, which I sampled, was excellent. The restaurant is a minute's walk from the seafront and has daily fish specials.

We left the town well fed and with plenty of happy memories – almost 70 years after my grandparents and 150 years after the Liddells.

Other attractions in Llandudno;

Llandudno Cable Car;

If you don’t fancy walking to the Great Orme summit, take the cable car for amazing views of the bay and across to Snowdonia.

MOSTYN Gallery;

Part of the town's old post office is now home to a gallery of contemporary art, displaying local and national exhibitions. Visit the website.

Bodafon Farm Park;

Feed the sheep, llamas and goats, stroke Boris the pig, take a tractor ride and try and stare out the owls! Free and kids will love it. Visit the website.

Feed the animals at the Bodafon Farm Park on the edge of town

Feed the animals at the Bodafon Farm Park on the edge of town

You can also visit the Great Orme Ancient Mine, try out the Ski & Snowboard Centre, take a boat trip in peak season or put on your walking boots and wander. Five minutes away is the magnificent town of Conwy and further afield Snowdon mountain.

*This trip was courtesy of Destination Conwy. For more information on Llandudno, click here. 

Holcombe House is a five-star Guest House and has nine immaculately kept rooms, all ensuite. Rates from £80 for a double/twin, including breakfast and £40 single. Visit their website or call 01492 876170.

Click here for more holidays from Lifestyle.

Click here for more news from around the county.

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