Hay-on-Wye – A Book Lover’s Destination

As I’ve mentioned in many blog posts, my husband and I love books so it seemed only natural that we would end up “honey-mooning” in Hay-on-Wye in Wales, which is located just along the English border and is also known as the town of books.

After getting married in Bristol, the next day we hopped in our car which we found decorated with lipstick drawings of hearts …

and the obligatory “just married” words  on our car windows.  I remember some cars honked our way, which we translated to ‘Congratulations’, or on hindsight, could’ve also meant ‘Get out of our way!”

So off we drove to Hay-on-Wye with the Blackdown mountains as backdrop, made famous by Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings.  We arrived well before sun-down into the little town that’s known for its two dozen bookshops dotted all over. It is also actually famous for its literary festival in June that brings over 80,000 visitors hoping to catch their favourite authors/personalities or just to browse through its bookshops.

Among my favourite was the poetry bookshop, I was hoping to get a copy of Nika Turbina, the Russian poet known for her haunting poems penned when she was  just ten years old, but sadly, they didn’t seem to have any copy of her books.

And there was also a Murder and Mayhem bookshop, perfect for people who love mystery or crime novels.

As for bibliophiles, they can browse through hundreds of books to their heart’s content at the Richard Booth bookshop.  Incidentally, Richard Booth is also known as the man who wanted Hay-on-Wye to be an independent kingdom, and even declared himself the monarch.

Then there’s the Castle Bookshop that is difficult to miss because it is in the centre of the town and has shelves upon shelves of books in its garden.

And if you can’t find the book you’re looking for at the castle bookshop, you might just be able to find them in the bookshop next door, or the next.

Don’t be surprised to see your favourite characters in the shop, they’re just browsing too and it would be nice and polite if you just left them alone and not ask for their autographs or worse, have your photo taken beside them.  Remember, they value their privacy too 😉

My husband and I left with our pile of books.  We’ve been wanting to go back and introduce little T to this town of books, do you know I don’t even remember seeing a Children’s bookshop there.  But I’m sure they do, there you go, I’ve just found another reason to go back 🙂  And if you haven’t visited, you absolutely have to put Hay-on-Wye on your  list!

This post is linked-up with PODcast’s What’s the Story.

And the Oliver’s Madhouse

Hope everyone has a lovely week ahead of them!


  1. Actually Mummy

    Wow! I had no idea about this! That’s a great idea for my next night away with my daughter!

  2. Lou's Lake Views (@LLoopyLou)

    As ridiculous as it sounds I stayed in Hay-On-Wye on two different occasions and never made it into the town, we were exploring the surrounding countryside instead! It looks like I really missed out

  3. thereadingresidence

    I so need to go! The problem is, I feel like I want to go there on my own, as the kids and the husband won’t allow me the full browsing time that I know I will want (need!).

    • That’s a great idea! I think you should go on your own, like a date with yourself. I’m sure if you ask your husband he won’t mind… or you could all go then let them find something to do while you go off browsing! 🙂

  4. Sarah (@tamingtwins)

    What a lovely honeymoon. Random, how do they keep the books outside dry?! Also, is there a cookery book shop?!

    • Do you know, I wondered about that too! I don’t recall seeing a “cookery bookshop” but I’m sure you’ll find loads of cookery books inside almost all of them… Well except for the poetry, crime and mayhem ones and other specialised bookshops of course 🙂 Oh do come and visit, it’s like stepping into a different kind of world 🙂

  5. Jaime Oliver

    Is sounds like an amazing place to visit! thanks for sharing and linking up with #MagicMoments honey x

  6. Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault

    I don’t miss much about not now living in the UK – but bookshops is probably at the top of the list. Those I do miss 🙁 Maybe I need to head to Hay-on-Wye next time I am over!

  7. Charly Dove

    Oh wow Dean what a wonderful post. Sounds like you had the best honeymoon and Hay-On-Wye looks beautiful. I’d absolutely love to visit. Just fabulous, thank you so much for sharing with #whatsthestory

    • Oh you must Charly and I’m sure little POD will love it too. We are planning on a trip back to take T there soon!

  8. Life in the Wylde West

    An entire book shop just for poetry! That’s awesome, plus I loved the honesty book shop on the street, probably best! So interesting. Now I can’t wait for little T to visit this book town, cause usually photos follow when T goes on an adventure.

  9. krissottoh

    I had no idea Hay-on-Wye had so many amazing bookshops. This is definitely going to be a place I visit when we move back to UK. Heavenly.

  10. The Coffee Table Years

    I really would love to visit the murder and mayhem bookshop. Looks so atmospheric. I’ve never been to Hay-on-Wye, but I love books, so I think I might have to go there one day and spend a day browsing.

    • Oh you simply have to! You will love it, though I think a day might not be enough for browsing. As for the murder and mayhem bookshop, wait till you get inside, the ambiance is even better!

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