Photo of Hay on Wye

About Hay on Wye

A small and picturesque market town straddling the border between England and Wales, Hay on Wye is the ideal place to go for a romantic weekend break. Exuding old-world charm and steeped in history and culture, the town is famed for its annual book festival, many bookshops, homely pubs and sweeping natural scenery. Our pick of the best places to stay in Hay on Wye provide a great base, whatever the reason for your visit.

Set in the shadow of both the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, Hay on Wye sits on the banks of the snaking River Wye. Flanked by forests, lakes and rolling green hills, the town nestles in an enviable location. 

Following the emergence of the Hay Literary Festival as one of the most important in the UK, the number of bookshops in the town has mushroomed and visitors are spoiled for choice. The recently renovated Booth's Books is a popular local institution, but some of the more specialist bookshops deserve a mention: Rose's Books deals in rare out-of-print children's books, while Murder and Mayhem boasts two floors of crime and detective fiction!

As for historical heritage, Hay-on-Wye is steeped in it. Hay Castle is a remarkable sight, principally due to its eclectic design: part Norman, part Jacobean and part Victorian, the castle is a hodgepodge of styles and eras, and makes for delightful exploring. The Cwm Byddog, a motte and bailey castle from the 12th century, is also a must-see, providing a fascinating contrast to the Norman backbone of Hay Castle.

What not to miss

  • The walking: Stroll through the peaceful and beautiful Hergest Croft Gardens or for something more energetic get out and discover Hay Forest
  • Explore the ruins of Hay Castle and Cwm Byddog.
  • Browse through the huge variety of bookshops, and if you're here during the literary festival make sure you get something signed!
  • Canoe down the lovely waters of the River Wye.
  • Cycle to the ruins of Llanthony Priory!
  • Check out the local arts scene at the Lion Street Gallery.

This town is a popular destination year round, but if you're planning to visit during the Literary Festival and want to guarantee a room in one of the best places to stay in Hay on Wye, get organised and book well ahead to avoid disappointment.

The best places to stay in Hay on Wye

Value for money

  • Radnor House: a charming townhouse offering cosy vintage rooms adorned with rustic antiques, a homely sitting room and hearty breakfasts. Ideal for young couples on a budget!

Chic boutique

  • The Swan at Hay: a stylish hotel offering chic and elegant rooms with whitewashed walls and antiques, a sumptous gourmet restaurant and a lovely garden. A rejuvenating stay ideal for couples.

For an apartment or cottage

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of cottages and apartments in the nearby area.

Travel information

  • The best time to go is during the summer, when the temperature ranges between 10 and 21 degrees.
  • Fly to Cardiff, get a train to Builth Wells, from where you can catch a bus to Hay on Wye.
  • If you want to rent a car, which we'd strongly recommend if you want to explore further afield, contact our partner Rentalcars.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Hay on Wye

  • Radnor House 4 rooms from CA$152

    Hay on Wye (Hereford)

    A charming historic townhouse in the heart of Hay-on-Wye. The friendly and helpful hosts provide a hearty breakfast and wholesome light meals, and there's a homely sitting room with an open fire. Cosy rooms are simple and rustic with antique furniture and pretty vintage furnishings. Delightful.

    Country Escape  -  This lovely house is ideal for exploring the pretty town and for excursions to the spectacular surrouding countryside
    Great walks  -  Let your hosts point you in the right direction of one of the many nearby countryside walks
    Kayaking  -  Arrange a scenic kayaking trip on the Wye and canals with one of the kayak/canoe operators
    Restrictions on children  -  Adults only
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays
    Check prices
  • The Swan at Hay 19 rooms from CA$194

    Hay on Wye

    A chic small hotel in the pretty market town of Hay-on-Wye and just on the edge of the glorious Brecon Beacons. Elegant rooms feature enormous sash windows, white washed walls and choice antiques. The restaurant is fabulous and worthy of a visit alone. A charming stay.

    Country Escape  -  Expect cosy interiors, excellent food and fabulous walks on the Brecon Beacons.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the Hay-on-Wye's magnificent 12th-century castle.
    Full of character
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Check prices