fforest : Onsen Dome in Cilgerran — Wales
Sponsored - we were kindly hosted by fforest. As always all images, words and opinions are our own.
We made a discovery in Japan that we’ve been trying to satisfy ever since we got back; onsen culture. Although technically speaking ‘onsen’ is a hot spring, we have taken a liking to the fundamental aspects surrounding it and interpreted it as closely as we can - or as closely as we can in a country that is not built on volcanoes and thinks of hot tubs as things one frequents on a hen do.
Sian and James at fforest had exactly the same idea not so long ago and decided to build on their already incredible accommodation offerings in the fforest camp by adapting some of their geodesic ‘glamping’ domes to elevate their luxury level and crucially added a sunken concrete tub and outdoor shower.
We travelled to Cilgerran in Pembrokeshire and stayed for a couple of nights to give it a go.
Also, we made a video which you can see at the bottom of this post.
Inside the geodesic pod/spaceship: solid wood flooring, wood-burning stove, king size bed, an epic bay window (south facing!), armchair and sofa, 2 futon camp beds, LED lighting, USB power sockets and completely bespoke furnishings including a ‘cold at night’ hot water bottle. The onsen domes have an added extra; a cedar/tin addition built onto the dome that has a dining area, seating, some worktops/prep space with power sockets, a kettle and last but in no way least, a toilet and shower.
The kitchen is outside so you can’t avoid the elements altogether but it is under cover and there are two gas rings and a barbecue. There’s also a fire plus a load of seating and a generous deck - great for watching rabbits in the morning and a good spot from which to hear the resident woodpecker too.
Adjacent to the ‘front door’ is the bathing area and what a magnificent thing that is; a beautifully smooth sunken concrete tub sits in the deck next to a super powerful shower.
The water is filled once for each stay and kept heated to a soothing 40°c, the idea being that you shower before and after each dip and thus the water stays clean - just as we did on our travels in japan.
There is something so brilliant about sitting in the hot water with the cool breeze around you, the birds ignoring your presence and the faint scent of the lit fire. We spent our two days hopping between the onsen, outdoor shower and the wood-fired sauna (communal but bookable so we had it all to ourselves!) and we did not tire of it one little bit.
The rest of the fforest site is a menagerie of different types of accommodation and we’re fairly sure that there’s something to please everyone. You can camp plain and simple, glamp with a little more luxury and there are ‘croglofts’ that are centrally-heated or you could go all out (if there’s a group of you) and hire the farmhouse. We had a full tour and could sense the feeling of community and immersion in the elements that happens there - fforest is celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year and you can just feel that it has solid roots.
A selection of fforest views that we gathered on a site tour:
Admittedly we found that our stay was much more like camping than we had mentally prepared ourselves for but we absolutely loved our stay and we have much actual camping experience under our belts to know that this really was a luxurious world away from the camping we both grew up with on childhood holidays. Everything was ready for our arrival and fforest kindly provide cooking sets, utensils, enamelware and all that jazz to make it as easy as possible.
Plus we had the onsen facilities that really elevate the whole situation to another (much warmer) level. In fact, we hatched plans to build one into our own garden once we actually manage to own a garden!
We had the best time and would have stayed longer if we could - a four night stay would be ideal for us next time… there’s plenty to explore in the area. Some of the places we visited included Mwnt Beach, Cardigan and Penbryn Beach.
Learn more about fforest on their website.
Thank you to Sian and James for hosting us and being so great at it. We get the feeling that everyone comes away feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and also with a new friend or two.
We also made a short video of our stay below, you can see out other videos on our Youtube channel.