A Return: Hay-on-Wye, The Town of Bookshops

Hay-on-Wye is a little town in Wales, just right beside the English border. And you can find bookshops in literally ever corner, or every where you look, that’s why the place is often referred to as the “Town of Bookshops and of course, it’s also famous for its Hay-on-Wye Literature and Arts festival held every year, usually at the end of May till the first week of June.

The first time we visited, was about five years ago, before little T came along.  Since my husband couldn’t take much time off from work, we came here for our honeymoon and ever since, we’ve always wanted to go back and take little T with us, especially since she also seems to have the same love for books, we just hope she won’t out-grow this though.

This is little T in front of the Castle bookshop which is believed to have one of the oldest towers in Wales, dating back to 1121.  Today, it is a second-hand bookshop known for its antiquarian books. When we first came here years ago, you could still go inside the castle, but now it’s either being reconstructed or they’ve just closed-it off to visitors, because you’ll find the books at the side of the castle.  They’ve also added some little gift shops.  And of course, they still have their honesty bookshop on the castle-grounds.

And there she is, peering inside the castle which is empty now.

Inside Addyman bookshop where she bought a “Spooky Book”.

Browsing through the thousands of books at the Hay Cinema Bookshop.

And this is the Richard Booth bookshop.  He’s also known to be the “father” of Hay-on-Wye, the town of books and in 1977, he declared it an independent kingdom.

I love his bookshop.  There are loads of comfortable chairs you can just sit on and read a bit, or even just rest your weary feet as little T is doing in the above photo.  They’ve also added a lovely little cafe inside.

And upstairs, you will find shelves upon shelves of beautiful Folio books.  If you come and visit, this book-shop must be on the top of your list!

And for those who love Murder Mysteries,  this is your stop.

This is mine.  Had a lovely conversation with the bookseller at the Poetry bookshop about the poet Bernadette Mayer.

I love this little town of books, in spite feeling a bit disappointed with a couple of things. 1.  The Kilvert’s Inn where we stayed somehow felt a bit run-down.  The room was lovely though.  Weeks before our trip, we actually had to chase them-up to book our accommodation.  We couldn’t do it online, and every time we phoned, no one seemed to know anything.  As for the food, let’s just say every time we asked for something, they didn’t have it.

The room was lovely though.  It had the beautiful views of the Welsh countryside and the most enormous king-sized bed, the three of us actually fit in – comfortably too!

Little T reading her new book.

The lovely view outside our window.

And the other thing we didn’t like was that, some of the booksellers didn’t seem too keen to have little ones around their shops.  One even said, just as we paid and were about to step-out of her shop and reminded little T to use her umbrella because it started to rain outside – “Little girls always make that sound.  I find it really annoying”.   We just looked at her and left.  I was shocked and felt that it was a really rude thing to say to a costumer!

I know there really are some people who really can’t stand children.  That’s why there are holidays with the “no kids policy”, or some restaurants with the no children under 5 rule.  I hate that.  As if kids are vermin to be avoided at all cost.

Anyway, of course we won’t let this little incident cloud our love for Hay.  Would we come back?  Definitely, perhaps when little T is older!  Hopefully, by then that bookseller has retired.

Have you been to Hay-on-Wye?

Would you be interested to visit a town of books?


Have a lovely week folks!


  1. krissottoh

    We’re a family of book lovers so I’m going to have to find a way to visit here soon. My six year old daughter even prefers new books over toys! How amazing and how delightful!

  2. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)

    Wish wish wish I can see this place! I love books and I think this place is a paradise =) #whatsthestory

    • Hey, Weston is nearer to Hay than Cornwall is 😉 I’m sure one of these days you guys will be able to visit. You’ll love it too 🙂 Maybe in the summer you can camp nearby, lots of campsites dotted around Hay. Would love to do that too 🙂 x

  3. The Vanilla Housewife

    I could spend days in that town! But how rude of the book seller to say that! Aren’t we supposed to encourage kids to love reading books? :/

  4. Kate @ Did That Just Happen?

    I remember you’ve told us about this place before – and I’m so glad that you got to go back and it looks like Little T enjoyed it – which is awesome!

    And phooey on those that don’t like kids – when Mr. T was little, I always asked “Is it kid friendly?” and if the answer was no, then we didn’t go. It was that simple for me!

    I am sorry about the place you stayed, though, that kinda puts a damper on things – but you survived!

  5. Life in the Wylde West

    I wish I could visit all those amazing shops! I love that little T love books just like her parents! I was put off by the comment though, that’s just sad. Just so sad. Little people are like little teachers of how not to lose our wonderment.

    • I like what you said that little people are like little teachers. That is so true! 🙂

  6. Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    This is somewhere I have always wanted to visit! Although I might avoid that particular book seller, how rude!

  7. fourcalders

    I how I want to go to England. I absolutely love all of this. I love little unusual book shops and the English countryside. This would be my happy place. We only have one book shop even close to that here. I really don’t like shopkeepers or people like that. Such a shame you hand to encounter that. But honestly, it all looks so beautiful.

    • Then you absolutely have to come and visit England! I know what you mean, I’ve lived here for quite some time now and every time we go to places, especially places in England I’ve never been to, I still feel like a tourist! …Yes, the encounter was a bit of a damper, but not enough to ruin our trip! Some people are really rude, or maybe she wasn’t even aware that she was being rude! 😉

  8. Pingback: Show and Tell | Little Steps

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