The literary town of Hay-on-Wye which lies on the border between England and Wales is a holiday hotspot during the Hay Festival. Accommodation can be hard to come by over the Festival but neighbouring Herefordshire has plenty of easy alternatives, whether you fancy a city stay or country getaway. Even better, the transport options are super convenient whether you want to travel by bike, bus or car.
Hereford: Historic City Stays
Hereford is a tiny city, full of character and history and offers two stylish hotels, Castle House and The Green Dragon. Both have comfortable rooms, great service and are convenient for the famous cathedral as well as the independent shops on Church Street.
A short walk will take you to the train station, which is the closest one to Hay-on-Wye. Buses run daily from here to the Festival (see transport options below) or enjoy the rather lovely half hour drive.
The Golden Valley: Rural Retreats
The Golden Valley is an untouched rural idyll, perfect for escaping the festival hustle and bustle.
Just ten minutes’ drive from Hay is Drovers Rest which offers free-range farm stays in luxurious glamping tents and characterful cottages. The hosts put on free farm tours and serve spectacular feasts cooked on open fires. Hire a bike from Drovers Cycles to arrive in Hay in around 35 minutes - even faster if you opt for an e-bike!
Another super spot is the pretty village of Dorstone - less than fifteen minutes’ drive from Hay-on-Wye, it makes an ideal base for visiting Hay Festival. Popular B&Bs include Old House Farm and Highfield B&B, while the Outshot Barn provides a stunning self-catering option, complete with contemporary design and an outdoor pool.
The Golden Valley is famed for its neolithic burial chamber, Arthur’s Stone, which inspired C.S. Lewis when writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and which predates Stonehenge by an entire millennium. Or, if you fancy exploring Herefordshire’s tasty cider scene, take a trip to Artistraw, Gwatkin Cider or Ty Gwyn Cider to sample their delicious wares.
For eating out, The Bull’s Head in Craswell is an excellent option with outstanding views over the Black Mountains and equally impressive food. Or try the popular bistro Food For Thought in Peterchurch which has a particular reputation for its amazing desserts.
Kington: Perfect for Walkers
A 25 minute drive north-east of Hay-on-Wye brings you to the characterful town of Kington which offers a calming escape and a slower pace of life. Cyclists can reach Hay-on-Wye in about an hour and a half.
The Burton Hotel offers excellent accommodation in central Kington. Complete with views of Hergest Ridge, the hotel also offers a pool, spa and gym for the ultimate relaxing experience.
It’s the starting point for beautiful walks, many of which take in the dramatic Hergest Ridge, home to wild ponies. Other entertainments include the Small Breeds Farm Park and Owl Centre and Hergest Croft Gardens with its stunning backdrop of the Black Mountains.
Visiting by car
There is never a shortage of parking at the Festival as extra car parks are opened, all of which are well signed on approach to the town.
Visiting by bus
The Hay Festival Bus is a special service which runs from Hereford with ten buses each way every day. £13 adult day return, £7 child day return, £30 family of four. Catch the bus at the train station. See timetable here.
Alternatively the T14 runs weekdays and Saturdays, calling at Hereford, Dorstone, Peterchurch and Vowchurch, which opens up the Golden Valley as an accommodation option. Timetable available here.
Visiting by bike
Much of the accommodation in the Golden Valley, such as Drovers Rest is only a short bike ride from Hay-on-Wye. Drovers Cycles offer free bike delivery across the Golden Valley, with bikes to suit all tastes, including electric bikes.
Taxis in the area will need to be booked well in advance. Local providers include the following:
HiTown Taxis 01432 354 321
Hereford Karl’s Taxi 01432 381 231
Hereford Rank Taxis 01432 278 279