The Swan Hotel at Hay sits towards the end of the market town of Hay-on-Wye, on the Welsh side of the border between England and Wales, although most of the town’s postcodes are Herefordshire! This lovely Georgian hotel is managed by Adrian Wilson, with the bar and restaurant open to all.
Back in the 60s, Richard Booth helped to transform Hay into a vibrant “town of books”, inspiring the creation of 40 book towns around the world and setting the scene in Hay-on-Wye for the best-known literary festival in Britain. With over 20 book shops in this small town, it certainly makes for an eclectic stroll along its streets. Sadly, most are not dog-friendly though.
However, nestled on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park and bordering on the Welsh/Herefordshire Marches, the Swan Hotel was the perfect location for our long, relaxing weekend of dog walking.
The Paw Award
Everyone knows we dogs normally have four paws, so to get a five paw award is super special. Four is an extremely positive Frankie recommendation, any less and it’s just a question of personal choice.
Friendly & welcoming atmosphere
We enjoyed a really friendly welcome by manager, Adrian, who explained all we needed to know for our stay. He obviously loves dogs and gave them loads of fuss. If you want to keep your dogs with you for meals, you can only eat in the bar. This is very basic and not particularly comfortable; it felt more like an old-fashioned school room. Dogs are also welcome in the lounges, so this was a more relaxing place to chill and have a drink at the bar or a light snack.
You couldn’t fault the staff. Nothing was too much trouble and all we met loved dogs.
Accommodation suitability & cost per dog
You have to click ‘STAY’ from the menu on the website to view the rooms, then scroll down to ‘Classic Double’ before you discover dogs are able to join you; surprising as they really were made welcome. All dog-friendly rooms are located in The Swan Hotel’s Coach House, rather than the main hotel. Our room was the first on the left and the only ground floor one in the Coach House. This was very convenient as we parked right outside to unload all Freya and Frankie paraphernalia; it was then a quick walk across the car park to enter the rear of the hotel. However, the room is really small and we had to be creative to fit in two dog beds.
Allowances should always be considered though when you stay in a beautiful old building. After all ensuites are the norm today and taken up space previously available in the room. For us, a shower is crucial for ensuring Freya and Frankie’s paws are clean and this one was perfect. Also, there was no charge for the dogs to stay in our room – always a huge bonus – and the hotel gardens were a lovely place to pop out for a quick morning ‘stroll’ before breakfast and late evening.
Little extras offered
There were no extras in the room or any facilities for paw washing, etc, but there are plenty of water bowls and treats in the bar!
Location and dog walks
The area is fabulous with myriad opportunities for every type of walk. Our favourite shortish walk was just five minutes from the hotel. Turn right out of the front of the hotel, cross the road and the walk starts around 200 yards on the left at the church. Strange you’d think, but the graveyard leads to a wooded pathway, into open fields, which eventually lead you to beautiful views of the countryside surrounding Hay. This continues through more fields, but bizarrely peters out so you need to turn round and return the way you came. There’s also a lovely walk along the River Wye, which we only discovered on the morning we were leaving.