Everyone knows the Royal Sportsman Hotel is renowned for its friendly welcome, best quality food and rooms, and many guests who return each year to enjoy Porthmadog, Snowdonia and its world-famous heritage attractions.
We get more than our fair share of fantastic reviews on travel sites such as Trip Advisor from a huge variety of guests from around the world.
But there’s one group of guests who, more than any other, typify what we’re all about. They’re the Gould family from Somerset and once a year 30-40 of them – five generations aged between 95 and a few months - take over virtually the whole hotel!
This year we decided to find out more about them and why they return here, like the first swallows of summer, every Easter. . .
For as long as anyone can remember, brothers Charles and Victor Gould and nephew Mark have organised a big family reunion weekend. Though they are all now settled in Somerset, they are originally half-Welsh and half-London. Like many guests, they still bring the generations back to experience the old homeland and learn about their roots.
Charles takes up the story. . .
“My dad Charley came from London and mum Gweneria fom Penrhyndeudraeth. During the 2nd World War mum worked at Cooke’s Explosives Factory in the village. Dad was attached to Guards Armoured Division and part of a tank brigade was sent to Harlech to train on the beach for the D-Day Landings.
“Occasionally mum and her friends went to a Saturday evening social dance in Harlech community hall. Dad, a piano, music and dancing lover, met mum there and they became good friends. He promised he would return after the war to get married – which he did!
“Mum moved down to Portsmouth to dad and then to London, and finally to Somerset. They had six children and mum always made sure we will never forget our Welsh roots. Until mum and dad died, they brought us here regularly for 60 years to visit her sister, Auntie Sue, who is now 95, in Penrhyndeudraeth.
“Mum and dad always enjoyed a drink and bite to eat in the Sportsman’s bar. We now go and stay with Auntie Sue in small groups, but still have a bigger annual reunion at the Sportsman – to make sure our children and grandchildren know this beautiful area.
“Porthmadog is such a magical place. On the Saturday of our recent reunion weekend, wives and grand-daughters went shopping, some dads and boys played in the park, some children went crab-fishing at the harbour, and the rest just sat and chatted at the steam railway station, watching the trains come and go.
“That night Auntie Sue with a cousin and his family visited us at the Sportsman. This year she had our five-month old great-grandson Seth sitting on her knee in the patio garden! We love the hotel and its staff, who play such an important part in our family get-together.”
Charles says the patio garden and ground-floor courtyard rooms nearby are ideal for family groups.
“The whole area – with beautiful flowers and plants - and the rooms are first-class and spotless. A warm welcome in the bar, and breakfast and dinner in the spacious restaurant are wonderful and extremely efficiently served.
“We especially thank Kasia for arranging our evening dinners; the chef and team for cooking lovely meals; and Ian for welcoming us all and chatting on arrival. And finally thanks to the new owner Aby. We truly believe he will continue to make sure the hotel is the premier place to stay for anyone – whether individually, in couples or as large groups – visiting this spectacular area,” Charles adds.
Aby says it is always a privilege to provide hospitality for such loyal and lovely guests. He hopes even more family groups – as well as special interest golfers, walkers, and train, car or motorcycle enthusiasts – will enjoy the same experience here.
Pictured among the ‘Gould’ family group, are organisers Charles (centre, back row), Victor (next right), and nephew Mark (far left).
"Food is outstanding. The Roast Beef and Eton Mess I can highly recommend. The barman was a great character. Lovely experience. Dogs are very welcome. The reception lady showed us to the courtyard. Nothing was too much trouble." Jayne Zurawliw June 2014
"A warm welcome, a comfortable/clean room and a delicious breakfast. The hotel proved to be an ideal base to explore west Wales - and recuperate from the demands of my hectic job - very relaxing!" Steve, May 2014
"Very pleased with our room, light, airy & very clean. Food, both breakfast + dinner, is excellent. Pleasant, helpful staff and good atmosphere." Mr & Mrs Coppock March 2014
"Many thanks for making our few days in Porthmadog so pleasurable. Everyone was so friendly, welcoming and the food excellent - the presentation was faultless." Mr & Mrs Larkham September 2013
"Everything was first-class, very pleased with our home-from-home visit" Mr & Mrs Thomas August 2013
"On behalf of the group of ten of us who stayed with you whilst enjoying our brief Summer Golf Tour, I would like to thank you for our stay at the Sportsman Hotel.
We have run these trips now since 2001 and always to a different location, for the fairly obvious reason that my members like to try different courses. We have visited other parts of Wales, France, Italy and Golf Centres in England and I was advised by a number of our regulars that they thought this was the best trip we have done so far, this against the fact that there have been no complaints either, and the reason for their comment is due in no small measure to our stay in your hotel.
The accommodation and service was first class and the food really excellent, often cooked or served in an imaginative way. Everyone was fully satisfied and thoroughly enjoyed their stay with you. I can advise you now that one of our group had stayed with you a number of years ago; I think when you had not long taken over and were beginning to rebuild reputaton. His experience at the time was not a good one and we were had some concern before our arrival, based upon his coments.
However, he was very fulsome in his praise of your having turned the hotel round and the rest of our group are anxious to let you know how much we all enjoyed our stay. The car parking was a minor issue, but you explained the unusual circumstances prevalent for a couple of weeks or so.
I would also like to thank you for forwarding so promptly and without request, the golf card holder and my calculator, which I assume I had left in my room...
My thanks again to you and your staff and if the decision is taken by the Society to return to your area of Wales we shall certainly wish to stay with you again." Mr Alderson West Midlands Region Architects Golf Society July 2013
"It was wonderful to have our breakfast and know our puppy was being looked after" Mr & Mrs Wild February 2013
"Just a short note to say a very big 'Thank You' to all concerned in making our stay with you so very enjoyable. The service was excellent, and we must make mention of two people, namely Kiva and Petru who make you feel so welcome in the lounge and restaurant. The food was excellent and thanks have to go to the chefs. We hope very much that we can visit you again in the future..." Robin & Sheila Cudlipp September2012
"Having just returned to Southampton from a visit to The Royal Sportsman, I would just like to say thank you for making so enjoyable. The staff were excellent, especially Louis, I think that was his name(the gentleman on reception!) We certainly enjoyed the food in the restaurant - it was 1st class - compliments to the Chef. Thank you once again, we will be back." Megan Laver July 2012
"We have just returned from a 4 day trip to North Wales and stayed at the Royal Sportsman Hotel in Porthmadog. The hotel was superb, it was central, comfortable, good value for money and the staff extremely friendly and helpful. Moreover the food in the restaurant was exceptional - the best that we have had in a long time either in the UK or abroad. Why is this hotel not included in the Rough Guide to Wales? There is no mention whatsoever either under accommodation or restaurants. We also eat at the Castle Restaurant in Portmeirion, supposedly the best place to eat in the area and it was a pale imitation of the Royal Sportsman." Richard Brock June 2012
"I just want to send our thanks to you and your staff for a very pleasant weekend spent at your Hotel. We found everyone friendly, polite and competent, no small achievement these days, and no doubt reflecting your personal commitment to providing high standards of customer service (a much over-used term these days, but most appropriate in this case)." Martin & Ina Houghton May 2012
"We stayed with you last weekend with our dog Barnsley, and would like to say what a wonderful time we all had. All of us had never visited North Wales and were not expecting such beautiful countryside, beaches and views. We were made very welcome at the hotel, and it is excellent for dog lovers. Special thanks for letting our black labrador Barnsley help out on reception and for his walk" Peter and Sandra Powell January 2012
"Dear Louis, Our stay was in all respects excellent. The room was very comfortable and we and our dog were made very welcome. The evening meals were very enjoyable around the log fire and the breakfast was the best we have ever experienced anywhere" Rev John and Marian Delfgou January 2012
"We had a very good time in Wales because we met you! Every tip you gave us was perfect. You were the best host we ever had. We hope we can come back again and stay for longer. The children enjoyed too and you were very patient and kind with them. Thank you very much!" Mrs & Mrs Benevides January 2012
"We recently had table lunch in your impressive restaurant. The ambience and food were excellent. We also commend your little card which reveals your warmth towards not only your customers but to our domestic animal friends some of whom, abandoned or stray, are not forgotten in your ingenious organisation" Mrs & Mrs Williams November 2011
"We stayed here on our honeymoon in 1962 and have greatly enjoyed our return visit. Your improvements over last few years are excellent. We were impressed that we could have any choice on the menu included in the price of dinner on your DBB package. We really appreciate acknowledgement of disability & offers to help." Mr & Mrs Hogbin October 2011
"Friendly staff made us feel right at home. Food out of this world." Mrs Fancett October 2011
"You might recall taking Jane and me to the station last Tuesday, after Jane had fallen and sprained her ankle. We are really most appreciative of your kind gesture - thank you. It was very good of you to take the time to help us. And as promised, the train was indeed on time!
May I add how impressed we have been, as occasional visit to Porthmadog, with the Royal Sportsman Hotel. You give it that indefinable quality that makes a hotel "comfortable", with excellent customer service, appropriate fare at all times, and spacious casual accommodation. These things do not happen by accident - it's a great job.
Jane and I look forward to taking up the Royal Sportsman's hospitality again when next in Porthmadog." Mr & Mrs Morris September 2011
"Thank you very much for looking after us so well, your helpfulness made things so easy for us." Mr & Mrs Wallington September 2011
"Nice room on flat surface. Ideal for the older person. Central for our needs." Mr George September 2011
"A big thank you to all the staff who made our 15th Wedding Anniversary Dinner so extra special.
"I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for the hospitality and service during our recent stay. Everything was "top notch" and we will certainly be returning next year around August Bank Holiday (if you can put up with us again). Will you please send a special thank you to Kiva for all the help which she gave." Mr & Mrs Milner August 2011
"Just wanted to thank you for a truly splendid meal on Thursday last week. We booked on the spur of the moment to go to Porthmadog for my partner's birthday and we couldn't belive what a gem we found. The service, the dining room, the food was truly sumptuous, we couldn't fault it. We also loved the fact that you service half a litre of wine in either red or white, which suits our palate down to the ground. Thank you so much we will be back." Ms Kmiecik July 2011
"You have achieved what we all look for, a comfortable, well run Hotel at a reasonable price. The staff are helpful, friendly, attentive without being pushy. Good choice of dishes, sensible portions, nicely presented and delicious. What more does one want? To come more often." Mrs Evans July 2011
"The welcome received when checking in, cannot fault the friendliness of staff. The complimentary 'Duck Island' toiletries were lovely scented - the quality was extremely good" Mrs Gaymer July 2011
"I've been so disappointed coming across hotels in attractive towns in the UK, which look impressive from exterior- and there it quickly ends as soon as we enter. What a delight, therefore, to find a hotel that isn't like this. We stayed at The Royal Sportsman for three days and as soon as we entered it hard a 'good feel' about it - somewhere where the owner and staff cared. The welcome was warm and friendly, everywhere was spotlessly clean - and then there's the restaurant. Fine dining at its best with all ingredients locally-sourced. The taste, presentation and professionalism of the waiting staff were all outstanding. We'd decided to eat there on our first night and try somewhere else the next two evenings. Having opened the next day for what seemed like the next best restaurant in the local area we quickly realised our mistake and ate at the hotel on our last evening. It was just as good as on the first evening. We'll be back and won't even consider eating anywhere else!" Mr Peter Moore July 2011
"I've been visiting Porthmadog for 2 years and pop into The Royal Sportsman for
Lunch and drinks. I return as I find Daniel very charming. Daniel is very
pleasant and he goes the extra mile in his customer service.
I visit hotels frequently and I find that customer service let other hotels down. Daniel is a credit to your hotel and I'll be looking forward to visiting you once again at the end of May.
I love your Salmon and cheese sandwiches on wholemeal bread, they are just out of this world!
Please could you thank Daniel from me (say it's from the posh lady who order wholemeal bread)
Keep up your good work!" - Ms Rebecca Pittaway April 2011
"Thanks for a very comfortable two nights stay with you on April 1st & 2nd from my wife and self. What was most enjoyable to me amongst the excellent menus was the choice of Welsh cheeses. And being away from Wales for decades I was rather ignorant of the available variety. So for dinner on Friday April 1st I chose the Three Welsh Cheeses. There was a choice, and I chose the first three in the group that were detailed on your extensive menu.
Any time we are again staying around Porthmadog we would not hesitate to return to you. - Mr & Mrs Jones April 2011
"Gelert`s Bar is like your local no matter how far away from home you are. Staff are very friendly. Room was cosy. Total chillout!!!" - Mrs Jones April 2011
"We found the hotel very accommodating as when we arrived we upgraded our room and they were very helpful. The restaurant was excellent." - Mrs Clarkson-Flynn March 2011
"Our room was spacious and clean. The bar was pleasantly low-key with lovely beer. Everyone was friendly with my young son. The tea and coffee was re-stocked too which was welcome too." - Mrs Spencer March 2011
"The food in the restaurant was as good as I have had anywhere. My compliments to the chef, choice excellent, food outstanding!!!" - Mr Ridge March 2011
"The service was absolutely outstanding, everyone was so friendly + nice to our 3 children. We enjoyed or stay so much myself, my husband and youngest will hopefully be back next weekend! Thank you so much for an amazing stay" - E Graham February 2011
"Thank you very much for sending your latest newsletter, which we read with interest. just to let you know that I have baked the Barabrith you mentioned, and it is scrumptious. Thank you"
- Mr M & Mrs B Cosnett February 2011
"How kind and helpful the staff are. We were very impressed with the kindness shown to our Dog at Reception." - Colin & Julie Aikenhead January 2011
"An excellent welcome at Reception, very informative but friendly. The room was large and comfortable with a clean and tidy air to it, and a very good en-suite. The heating was already on in the room - a nice touch as it was cold outside. First evening (we arrived quite late) was spent having a drink and meal in Gelert's bar - excellent food; locals as well as guests in there (always a good sign) and the Bar Manager, Daniel, knows how to keep everybody happy and well served - a real credit to the Hotel!...the food & service was excellent on each occasion.
All in all an excellent hotel, professionally managed and run, good value for money; in a superb location. "
- Roy Lees November 2010
"Many thanks to you all on the occasion of Paul`s Retirement Party. Attentive, polite, helpful staff, wonderful food and surroundings were enjoyed by all." - Caroline & Paul Smyth November 2010
"Thank you for making the members of the Cuneo Society party so welcome and for helping to make our holiday most enjoyable. The rooms were nice, the food very good and your staff friendly and helpful."
- Peter Collins September 2010
"Several of our employees recently stayed at your hotel and have asked me to send this e-mail on their behalf. Although the booking was at extremely short notice, both Tourist Information and the hotel staff couldn't have been more helpful. We would like to give special praise to the young lady on reception (sorry, I don't know her name!) for her professionalism and assistance. The hotel accommodation and breakfast were all excellent and we would definitely recommend your hotel to anyone staying in the area. Many thanks"
- Debbie Barnes August 2010
"I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed my recent stay to your hotel. The location was perfect to visit Portmeirion and Snowdonia. All of the staff were very friendly and the food in Peppino`s restaurant was top class. I went for the Welsh Lamb and was not disappointed." - Mr & Mrs Forbes July 2010
"I cannot thank you enough for making our stay with you so perfect. The fact you welcomed my disabled daughters dog was a huge plus. The accommodation was without fault, so comfortable and our welcome so warm. We will most certainly be back, not once but time and time again. Until we meet again, your completely satisfied clients say see you soon again " - Diana Reynolds and Debra Jones July 2010
"Thank you for a lovely overnight stay" - Karen Lane July 2010
"..Charming and helpful staff-superb with Bob our dog. Excellent food and accommodation."
- Margaret Simpkins. July 2010
"We came 5900 miles to see family. Your hotel was recommended and we were not disappointed .."
- Canada July 2010
"Friendly staff, good food and location. Fantastic improvement on my last stay in 2000 "
- Andy Jones-Essex July 2010
"lovely hotel-home from home" - Mrs Bailey-Swansea June 2010
"Liked all the food especially breakfast-the best I have ever had" - Paul Brennan-Leicester May 2010
"Very pleased about the food, comfortable bar, parking and (free) internet access in every room"
- Colin Clearly-Dublin-May 2010