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Posted on 30/01/2017 by David

What is a sense of place?

When you arrive in a new place you quickly gain a sense of what it’s like from its sights, sounds and smells. After a while you can pick up on other things like local customs and culture. It’s what makes it different from home, a change from the norm, the essence of a holiday.

Why would you want to create a sense of place?

Your guests have chosen a holiday in North Wales for reason, typically because they like the area, and it makes sense to capitalise on this. A sense of place makes your holiday cottage authentic, can help bring the location alive to the people staying there. It can also differentiate your cottage from other properties which, though of a high standard, may be otherwise indistinguishable from each other.  If you can do this and create a more enjoyable holiday it could lead to a repeat booking or perhaps a favourable review to encourage others to book.

How would you do it?

We’re lucky that North Wales has a strong identity with its dramatic landscape and beautiful coastline but also its culture and language, history, castles, farming and industry. More recently North Wales has become associated with adventure activities and this sector is attracting more visitors to the area. There’s plenty of inspiration to draw on. Wales is also a land of great variation and it should be possible to pick out the things that are particularly relevant to your cottage and its immediate area. You could pick particular elements that are important or relevant to you.

Here are some ideas:

  • Display pictures from the local area, there are many of North Wales in various styles from Kyffin Williams' landscapes to Janet Bell’s pictures of local towns or the linescapes of Ian Mitchell. An alternative could be photographs of the area, either your own, suitably framed, or you may like the style of Kris Williams.
  • Provide local newspapers (often free) and magazines to give guests a flavour of the current events and issues of the area.
  • Stock your welcome tray with local produce. Instead of sponge cake provide bara brith, welsh cakes, or Aberffraw Biscuits. You can even supply Dwyfor Welsh tea and coffee. Providing more information about these products on the welcome note can add further interest.
  • Furniture from local companies can complement your house though it can be difficult to find something suitable as traditional designs may not always match the style of your property and the prices can be high. Perhaps a traditional Welsh dresser (or a modern one)? Small items and soft furnishings are much easier to find such as these slate table mats or Welsh tapestry design tea towels and mugs. A range of Welsh homeware is available from Adra.
  • Your information folder (a set of instructions for everything in the house) is a great way to provide all sorts of additional information about the area and help visitors make the most of their stay. You can mention history of the local area or interesting facts about the property. Include suggested walks in the vicinity of the house and any points of interest, ideally with a map of the area. List attractions and things to do as well as local restaurants, cafes and pubs. This is a good opportunity to share your local knowledge and delight your guests – it’s always nice to find a really good restaurant, a local walk with amazing views or a great attraction that guests might not be aware of. Help the guests to experience local life.
  • If it’s an area with interesting wildlife then mention where you can see the animals or plants. North Wales has a number of nature reserves and sites of scientific interest. Make guide books available in the house or supply binoculars, especially if wildlife can be seen from the house.
  • Keep a library of books with information on the local area covering history, wildlife and anything else you can find that’s relevant to the area:  “Snowdon” by Jim Perrin if you’re located near to that mountain.
  • The Welsh language is an important part life in Wales and hearing or seeing it written is part of the experience of visiting here. You may not be a Welsh speaker yourself but it’s easy to use a few words of welcome in your information pack or even a list of simple phrases and words. It is quite easy to find kitchen ware printed with the welsh words for tea (te) coffee and (coffi) which can add a bit of fun for guests. Many local shops stock a range of such items.
  • Finally, provide a list of local events that visitors can experience such as agricultural shows, sporting or music events, theatres, art gallery exhibitions and fairs for example. Not everyone will be interested in all of the events but you can probably find a range that will have 1 or 2 items of interest to most people.

Not all of these suggestions may be suitable for your cottage but hopefully this can start you thinking about ways you can introduce a flavour of North Wales into the property and help guests connect with the area.  


Visit Wales have produced this guide: