In enchanting Hay-on-Wye, opposite the town clock, Seven Stars offers something quite unusual for a British B&B: a heated swimming pool and a sauna. My daughters enjoyed it so much, they refused to get out of the pool in the morning and I had to have breakfast by myself. Their loss. Russell Sime, owner and award-winning chef, serves up a delicious Full Welsh breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, smoked haddock, tea, toast, fruit compote, the lot.
Just a few hours’ drive from London, Hay-on-Wye makes a great weekend destination. Skirting the border between England and Wales, this little town is perhaps best known for being the world’s first book town and member of the International Book Towns Movement. Quirky book shops and shelves abound and books are often sold on a trust system. Along the walls of 12th century Hay Castle, brightly coloured books enliven the mysterious Norman citadel. Every year in May/June, the town hosts the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts.
Seven Stars is in the centre of town, well-placed for the Castle, the book shops, tea rooms and pubs. We liked The Granary Cafe, right across the street, with its cheerful staff and comprehensive menu (including creative vegetarian fare). Next door to the B&B is a large old-fashioned toy shop, where my 7-year-old spent most of her holiday money.
We arrive in the early evening with no reservation and were offered a huge bright airy suite with a sitting room and two bedrooms – all brick walls, oak beams and creaky floors. It’s as if history is alive in the walls of the 16th century house. This B&B has a soul.
Prices from GBP 39.95 per person double occupancy. We paid GBP 90 for the suite, including breakfast and free use of the pool.
Disclosure: Nada to disclose. We were on a self-paid family holiday.