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Review: Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts, near Pwllheli, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales

If you’ve been following the BBC series ‘Interior Design Masters’, hosted by comedian Alan Carr, you may already inadvertantly know about the site of our latest short stay review. Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts consists of five shepherd’s huts (well, technically, one shepherd’s hut, two gypsy huts and two poachers huts), each with their own unique design and character, situated along a short stretch of water on the Llŷn Peninsula.

This newly-opened three-acre glamping retreat has been quite a brave lifestyle change for co-owners Mark Barrow and Jonathan Gooders who were previously involved in a fine art framing business in London. Despite not having a background in tourism, they have successfully pulled off an idyllic rural retreat of the highest quality.

The welcome

I confess to knowing very little Welsh besides what I’ve seen on various road signs – “croeso” (welcome), “araf” (slow) and “ysgol” (school) are the few words that spring to mind. The former greeted us as we drove up the lane that runs parallel to the huts and the wildflower meadow and private lake they overlook.

Our arrival time had been communicated via text and co-owner Mark was there to greet us and show us the basics of how things worked. A reserved parking bay outside each hut, but separated by some fenced screening, makes loading and unloading your luggage easy.

The hut

Each hut is named after celebrated women from the time of Llywelyn the Great, King of Gwynedd and, following the signing of the Magna Carta by King John in 1215, the eventual ruler of Wales. Our hut, Joan, was named after Llywelyn’s wife (and John’s daughter). This shepherd’s hut is the largest of the huts at Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts and big enough to very comfortably accommodate two people and with space for a dog if you should be travelling with a four-legged friend. (Dogs are encouraged, and the owners even ask that you send them pictures of your pooch, but this is the only hut that can accommodate one.)

The site is a great place to unwind with each hut offering a truly five star experience, but in a relaxed, rural setting where you can switch off and connect with nature.

Inside, the hut has been very tastefully decorated with earthy tones – subtle, brown-based tones and natural greens, complimented by beautiful wooden units, rich floorboards and crimped hessian blinds. A compact, cosy double bed and seating areas both inside and out, provide you with everything you could need in an area where the use of space clearly been given a great deal of thought.

And don’t worry… if you did watch BBC’s ‘Interior Design Masters’ and were concerned about some of the designers’ more unusual contributions (such as the taxidermy magpie named Malcolm), such additions have been discretely removed. In fact, one hut design that really didn’t work at all in the show, was given a complete re-design.

The bathroom

Joan also has an en suite shower room, complete with shower, flushing toilet, hand basin and heated towel rail. Towels are provided and an Ariston 30L rapid heat water heater ensured we were never short on hot water.

There are even some complimentary handmade organic goats milk soaps, from The Clean Goat Soap Company based a little closer to Caernarfon, provided.

The facilities

The huts all have fully working kitchens with cooker and fridge/freezer. The oven is complimented by a two-ring hob concealed beneath the work surface, as well as a baby Belfast sink.

An Anker SoundCore mini bluetooth speaker and radio means you can enjoy some music as you cook.

The kitchen is also equipped with a kettle, toaster and cafetiere, Fairtrade tea and coffee, and of course saucepans, frying pans, utensils, crockery, cutlery, glasses, chopping boards, knives, etc.

A wood-burning stove inside the hut ensured that we were warm and cosy throughout our stay, despite the evenings still being quite chilly outside. There is no WiFi at the huts but, cloud cover permitting, a good 4G signal. This meant I could easily tether by laptop to my phone’s hotspot and do a spot of work in front of the fire. But I’d recommend you don’t do what I did, have a digital detox and just enjoy the peace and solitude of the site.

Should you prefer to be outside, why not enjoy a glass of wine and cosy up to the chiminea? There is one outside each hut.

Location

Located on the glorious Llŷn Peninsula, just a few miles from Pwllheli and close to the border of the Snowdonia National Park, the huts are located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with uninterrupted far-reaching views to the Yr Eifl mountains. The popular seaside resort of Abersoch is just a 20-minute drive away. This AONB is also a dark sky area, thanks in part to the area’s clean air quality, and close to the Snowdonia International Dark Sky Reserve.

Other nice touches

In addition to the aforementioned tea and coffee, we were also supplied with hot chocolate, Welsh cakes, lacto free milk and half a dozen free range eggs. A generous supply of logs, kindling, firelighters and matches which is supposed to cover your first night or two, was in fact enough for the four nights that we stayed.

Cost

Stays at the huts start from £115 per night, with a minimum stay of two nights
Joan, which is the largest of the huts, is priced at £145 per night

The best bit

For me, the best bit about Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts is the quality of the finish and the attention to detail. No corners have been cut and no expense spared in the pursuit of excellence. It might sound trite but it’s the little things that can be really noticeable sometimes, whether it be the quality of the appliances, the cutting knives (which are truly sharp) or simply receiving a non-intrusive text to make sure we were happy and still had enough logs for the wood burner. The owners are on-hand should you need them, but offering all the privacy you need should you prefer to be left be.

The final verdict

Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts is a gem of a find in a part of the Llyn Peninsula where accommodation of this quality is not easy to come by. Recently featured in The Times list of ’25 Best Glamping Stays in the UK‘, I have every confidence that it will be a deserved success.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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17 Comments

  1. That’s really interesting I often wonder what happens to the “less successful” make-overs on programmes like this. I’m not at all surprised that the stuffed magpie didn’t last long after the cameras had stopped rolling. Generally, I thought most of the design work was a big improvement, they certainly worked hard on the exteriors.

    1. Hi Angela – I think the makeovers on the show were completed in just a couple of days so I understand there were some finer details (not easily picked up on camera) that needed attention afterwards! The finish now, though, is lovely.

    2. I can’t help wondering if any of Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen’s 1990s creations survive from the Changing Rooms series? I can imagine a lot of those being torn down as soon as the shooting stopped.

  2. I’m the last person in the world to watch an Interior Design programme as my partner will tell you. Do you need interior design when you’ve got such a great location?

    1. I suppose not, Steve, but I guess it all adds to the overall experience! I would think featuring the programme was probably as much about the PR and marketing benefits, as it was about the interior design. Mark and Jonathan come from a fine art background so have a good eye for what works and directed all their own photography for the site.

  3. You get a lot stuff packed into a shepherd’s hut. I wasn’t looking forward to the weekend when my wife booked one. It was a surprise when I found that the hut had everything we needed. Our stay coincided with a big storm but the hut was really stable. We’ve been to another one and it was just as good.

    1. It was my first time, Kenny, but I feel I may have been spoilt by my first experience since it’s hard to imagine anything better. If you ever get the chance, do please visit and report back to tell us how it compared with the others you’ve stayed in.

  4. What I like about the Shepherd Hut idea is that you are bang in the middle of nature and you’re in a hut that’s small and doesn’t look out of place in a rural location.

    1. We actually had all the space we needed and, as you say with all the outdoor space to enjoy, it certainly didn’t feel like we were restricted in any way.

  5. The “other nice touches” section is a good one. It’s often the little extras which often make a big difference.

    A few times we’ve arrived at a hotel after a long drive to find fresh milk to go with the tea and home baked biscuits. It’s exactly the sort of boost you need to settle in.

    1. Thanks, Laura… yes, we feel it’s a nice thing to include, that shows how luxury establishments often go the ‘extra mile’ with their offering. I’m glad you like it too!

  6. OK so there’s no gym, no spa etc but why do you need all that when you can sit on your terrace and drink in the beauty all around you.

    1. Exactly, Sue… whilst I was there, I went on a lovely looped 9-mile run in the area that took in the coast and the countryside, so I certainly didn’t miss the existence of a gym!

  7. Can you assure me that Alan Carr is long gone and that won’t hear him cackling in any of these huts?

    But seriously, I can see these huts being fully booked until well into late autumn. They are so restful and serene.

    1. Filming was done quite some time ago, Vernon. And yes, they are becoming increasingly popular. On the day we left, all the huts were receiving new visitors that day.

  8. I’m guessing that there’s not much evidence left of Dean’s black-themed decor hut?

    I really didn’t get how black worked with the rural environment. And sadly for Dean the judges didn’t get it either.

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