After an extensive refurbishment The Swan at Hay hotel officially celebrated its new look in February 2017 with a star-studded champagne reception and choir. I was invited to join in the fun with an overnight stay, giving me chance to also explore the world-renowned book town of Hay-on-Wye.
Located on the north eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, Swan at Hay is an attractive listed building dating back to the 18th century. Over the years it’s changed functions from a post, auction and coach house to the beautiful 19 bedroom hotel it is today.
There’s several uniquely styled dining areas on the ground floor, as well as a bar and cosy snug (pictured above). I love the idea of sinking into one of those sofas besides the log burner with a good book or board game – so idyllic on a rainy winter’s day.
Private dining area available to hire for groups
Many period details have been maintained, even the new windows throughout were made in a traditional method and style.
The newly refurbished rooms are tastefully decorated with a warm colour scheme, opulent antique style furniture and floral paintings.
The suite is ideal for a couple or even a bride and groom as the hotel offers wedding packages and is licensed to hold civil ceremonies.
My double room with bathroom (room #1) had a quaint country feel to it, with a lovely view over the gardens that I’m sure would look even more beautiful in the summer.
The bedding was thick and pillowy with a firm mattress, there was a large flatscreen TV on the wall and a tea and coffee station.
The bathroom was bright and modern with fresh towels and toiletries provided by Myddfai Trading Company, a Welsh business who support young adults with learning difficulties.
Where possible, it appears the hotel sources locally, a quality I really like about any Welsh business as it makes this country so unique and special.
The general manager, Mr Ronan Hunter, used to oversee the charming Newbridge on Usk (part of The Celtic Manor Resort) where using quality ingredients grown and made nearby is a big part of their success.
The morning breakfast table at The Swan at Hay contained fresh fruit, pastries, cereal and juices. The current hot food menu had a tempting list that included ‘The Swan Breakfast’ with pork sausage, bacon, tomato, black pudding, mushrooms and choice of egg. It’s served between 7.30-9.30am, but room service is available too.
Murder and Mayhem is one of three popular Addyman book shops in Hay-on-Wye
After a relaxed morning sipping a cup of Welsh brew tea I ventured in to Hay-on-Wye and was pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer. For book lovers this place is an absolute dream with one dotted around every corner.
Richard Booth’s caught my eye from the outside, the grand building is not just a book shop, but also a cinema and café. It’s a real treasure trove with books from all genres for all ages. The modern café, though not quite as characterful, offered an excellently rich and indulgent hot chocolate with a warm raspberry and almond cake.
Hay-on-Wye is known worldwide for the annual Literary festival, but it’s well worth a visit anytime of year. There’s also a rather amusing story of the town declaring its independence in 1977 by local entrepreneur Richard Booth as a PR stunt. Things escalated from there with edible bank notes, passports and the chance to buy your own title (including dukedoms and knighthoods) from the King of Hay! This year, 2017, will mark 40 years since their independence – what better time to make a visit?!
Choir at the February launch party attended by TV presenter Sian Lloyd, Olympian Becky James and Rugby’s George North and Lee Byrne
I really enjoyed my stay at The Swan at Hay, though just over an hour from where I live, I’ve only been here for the festival and completely missed out on all these wonderful places.
For visitors new to the area, there’s plenty to see on the hotel’s doorstep in the Brecon Beacons National Park, as well as the historical towns and cities like Hereford and Ludlow.
The Swan at Hay
Church Street, HR3 5DQ
(+44) 01497 821 188
Disclaimer: My experience at Swan ay Hay was complimentary, but as ever all opinions are my own.