Hay-on-Wye has a unique, anarchic, original and interesting vibe. In one of the most undisturbed corners of Wales, it’s unashamedly cosmopolitan, and good fun year-round.
For ten days each May it hosts the Hay Festival, and in recent years this event has certainly raised its profile. It’s also the World capital for secondhand bookshops, a trend which was started by Richard Booth, now the King of Hay, when he converted The Limited, previously a butchers’ shop, into a literary emporium of considerable size. Many other bookshops have opened since, and you’ll find them dotted around the town.
For the remaining 354 days of each year Hay is a far more chilled place. The River Wye flows reliably towards the sea, and is navigable by kayak if you're feeling adventurous. Sitting just where the Welsh hills meet the lower lands of the English border and to the north of south Wales’ cross-country massif, Hay has unpredictable weather which lends a sense of mystery to its rural views.
Hay-on-Wye is a great base for walking, with a plenty of short, middling and all-day routes straight from the front door – no need to drive anywhere.
In town… if books are your thing then this is the place. The Limited and the Cinema Bookshop are the biggest in town, and there are many more to be found. You can get an up-to-date list at the tourist information centre.
Eating out: If you need sustenance, there is plenty of choice. For daytime eats the cafés at Hay Deli and The Limited are particularly good. Evening choice is wider. Both the chip shop and Chinese aren’t bad. The Blue Boar is reliably good value and has quaffable ales.
Practical things: On the edge of town, in the directon of Whitney-on-Wye, about 5 mins' walk from the apartment, is the Co-op supermarket. It's of reasonable size and stocks pretty well everything you could need. In town, the excellent Hay Deli has a more specialist and local range, and the Castle Greengrocers have good fresh produce. Both have a small range of carefully chosen wines. There's a Spar shop, open from 7am to 10pm. The nearby village of Clyro has a petrol station which is open 7am to 7pm except Sundays 8.30am to 6pm.