FOUND! ROMANCE IN WALES: HIDEAWAYS IN HAY, HAY-ON-WYE – Mini-moon couples seeking serenity will love Hideaways in Hay: three beautiful, ethereal and uber-romantic abodes tucked away on Brook Street in the middle of Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh border town famous for its lively literary festival!
Guest Writer Wersha Bharadwa
The Romance Factor…
Entry is via a high-tech gate system which leads into a pretty cobbled drive and courtyard bathed in magical fairy lights come dusk and sunlight from the Brecon Beacons, rooftop birdhouses and flowers at dawn. Sitting outside next to the walled fountain is just the spot for breakfast. The reason guests such as Tripadvisor users (who’ve consistently voted these as the most romantic cottages in Wales since 2010), David Morrissey and writer Giles Coren love the place is all down to the good owners of Hideaways in Hay. Michael and Seza Eccles know exactly what you want and need to celebrate an extra special mini-moon or weekend away having travelled the world in pursuit of uber-romantic places to stay during their own early long-distance relationship. So the lovingly-restored medieval stables are a perfected vision of everything they felt romantics desire on a weekend away; total privacy, silence only broken by birdsong, wood-burning fires, beautiful and artsy furnishings, repurposed woods and exposed beams, and cosy living rooms with even cosier sofas.
Our three-seater is decked with plump pillows and throws and faces a flat screen TV with DVD player (there’s a drawer full of classic English film DVDs and walking trail maps too). Naturally, it’s all brought-bang up-to-date with underfloor heating and super fast WIFI. Next to the stove is a four-seater dining table stationed with the couple’s own home-made crab apple jelly (delicious!) and a welcome tin of biscuits and teas along with complimentary fresh milk in the fridge. If you need anything in advance – like local farm eggs – Michael will help stock up, but there’s also a handy Co-Op up the road. The kitchen’s truly well-equipped for rustling up a roast (the vintage cookery books eased us into foodie experimentation, plus Michael kindly offers more fridge/freezer space should guests ever need it). There’s also a washer/dryer too. Our gorgeous wood-panelled bathroom had a contemporary rain-head shower over the tub and the wildest array of lotions and potions. While you’ll probably book with all intentions of not bringing kids, small families are well-catered for with quality sofa beds, cots and some of the more precious antiques can be stored away to allow for a more kid-friendly space. You can also hire out the bigger mansion next door for upmarket wedding party accommodation.
Of course, you’re in Hay – a bookworm’s paradise – so you might well spend the entire duration of your stay pouring through the antique books left everywhere from the bookcase in the main living area, to those in the bathroom and bedroom. We couldn’t resist spending near enough a whole day cramming in as much reading as we could. When we finally emerged from all the timeless pleasures the house offered to explore Hay’s hills, shops on meandering streets, The Courtyard Theatre in Hereford and a lovely guided visit to The Small Breeds Farm, our next best pursuit was always sinking back into our immensely grand bed where bedside tables come stacked with vintage interior décor and fashion magazines. The view from the room is straight out onto the courtyard and the much larger Jacobean Coach House (which sleeps 8).
What you’ll love…
There are personal touches galore; artworks, antiques and a brilliant selection of books all complement those gorgeous gifts for staying guests. Michael’s excellent local know-how and recommendations are second to none. We visited during the festive period and it was the most magical, dreamiest Christmas ever. We also slept amazingly! It’s a brilliantly done passion project with a heart (the social- enterprising family give away six holidays a year to charities and competition winners) and like us, you’ll want to come back year after year.
During the Hay Festival – which Bill Gates called ‘Woodstock for the mind’ – you’d be well-advised to book Hideaways in Hay a year in advance (the private, off-street parking is a big pull).
If this sounds like honeymoon perfection to you…
You’ll also LOVE
- Climbing Hay Bluff (10 minutes away by car) for sweeping views across the Brecon Beacons and where wild mountain ponies and sheep form part of the high-altitude attractions.
- How Hideaways in Hay is located in the middle of the town centre where second-hand and independent bookstores dominate the cute and winding streets.
- Bask in the beauty of a glorious sunset over at The Small Breeds Farm in Kington, open year round & which cares for the largest collection of miniature species in Europe including owls, red squirrels and chipmunks. It’s a unique and tranquil way to spend the afternoon.
- Watching a live show at The Courtyard Theatre, Hereford (www.courtyard.org.uk). Swoon over Mr Darcy in original stage adaptations of Pride & Prejudice, enjoy original family show productions (Alice in Wonderland, The Snow Queen) dramatic plays, musicals and intelligent but fun pantos at Christmas are all on the menu.
- Old Market, Hereford: familymooners can be comforted by tasty, traditional Mexican pickings at Chimichanga’s, succulent and flame-grilled chicken at Nando’s where we’re obsessed with the Portuguese style chicken livers too. Wagamama offers up heavenly and wholesome gluten-free options on Ramen and seafood Itame alongside Asian and Japanese Teppenyaki and curry faves.
- Marvelling at The Mappa Mundi – the largest medieval map of the world – over at the magnificent Hereford Cathedral .
- Strolling the unspoilt countryside and riverside picnics at The Weir Garden, managed by The National Trust.
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