The Swan at Hay: 4 Star Hotel
Restaurant: Two AA Rosette
With our Whippet Snoopy along for the ride we set off for two restful nights in Wales – Hay-on-Wye to be exact. As we got closer the drive was lovely, so much beautiful countryside. The hotel is located just off the high street in the beautiful small market town, which is famous for its literature and has over 30 book shops! The beautiful cobbled streets are lined with independent shops, cosy cafes and local restaurants.
It’s a lovey place to explore and we thoroughly enjoyed walking along the cobbled streets. Sampling the local craft beer shop was a highlight for Mr B who also came back with a ‘few’ purchases! There are some fantastic walks surrounding the town and the lovely receptionists at The Swan were more than happy to get us a map and give us their top tips for the best routes, which Snoopy very much appreciated!
Our home for the weekend, The Swan at Hay, is a listed Georgian building. The hotel was bought out and underwent a huge refurbishment at the beginning of this year, which is reflected in the rooms. Our room (dog-friendly) was located in the quaint coach house at the back of the hotel. Having its own entrance and up a short flight of stairs, the room was a good size with a double bed, dressing table and chairs and still plenty of room for Snoopy and his basket.
It had a neutral décor and a lovely bay window which flooded the room with light.
After being in our room for only a few minutes there was a knock on the door and the lady who showed us up there brought us some fresh milk and a plate of freshly-baked cookies (they didn’t last long!). Waiting in our room for us was also a hand written card wishing us a nice stay. All these little touches really show how much a hotel cares about its guests. The hotel has 19 rooms in total, but if you are traveling without a four-legged friend definitely opt for a deluxe double room in the main part of the hotel. We managed a sneaky peak and these are lovely spacious rooms, each unique in style.
Those of you that have read my previous posts will know I love a hotel that supports the local area and The Swan does that to its upmost, from the toiletries in the bathrooms to the crockery, artwork and to its fantastic menus on which The Swan uses lots of local suppliers.
The Swan also have lovely gardens which are perfect for sitting out and enjoying the sunshine or taking the dog for a wander!
Dogs aren’t allowed in the main dining room, but this wasn’t a problem for us as we dined in the hotel bar which is lovely and spacious, decorated with dark wood and fluffy carpets. The hotel decorated this room perfectly in my opinion. When we arrived for breakfast and dinner the was a table already set up and reserved for us.
The stand-out offering the hotel has is its food. On the Saturday evening we dined in the bar and ordered from the hotel’s five-course tasting menu from which we picked three courses with additional courses from the chef. The food was fantastic and low on carbohydrates which meant the journey through the tasting menu was kept light and all about flavour and texture, so when we did reach dessert we weren’t bursting at the seams!
Of course I have to mention the bread! Homemade, of course, it was served with garlic foam which packed a punch of flavour but was light as air.
For starter I chose ‘Prawn, pink peanut, beansprout, coriander and lime’. The juicy prawns with the crunch of peanuts and bean sprouts and the freshness of the lime made a fantastic starter, which was light and fresh.
For main I opted for ‘Welsh black beef cheek, parsley, dulse and sea lettuce’, with the melt-in-the-mouth beef perfectly cooked and left me wanting more.
For our pre-dessert we had ‘Passionfruit curd, coconut, meringue and yoghurt. This was a superb dish, fresh, zingy and refreshing. The final course I chose was ‘White chocolate Aero, kombu granite and spirulina. The spirulina had an earthy taste which I didn’t find pleasant on its own, but when eaten with the white chocolate aero it cut through the sweetness and made it a very balanced dish.
I loved the breakfast menu. Mr B went with the full Welsh Breakfast on our first morning and the bacon sandwich on the second. I opted for the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on morning one and French toast with crispy bacon and maple syrup the next day and I am going to go as far as to say this was the best French toast I have ever had. The toast was moist and fluffy and worked perfectly with the crispy salty bacon and sweet maple syrup (it’s making my mouth water just thinking about it again!).
Before breakfast arrives you can partake in the hotel’s small continental buffet, where you can get freshly baked croissants (which I enjoyed with the local honey) and an array of cereals including homemade muesli, yoghurts and cheese.
The Swan is a lovely cosy hotel and perfect for exploring the Welsh countryside and the beautiful market town of Hay.
Church St, Hay-on-Wye, Hay on Wye HR3 5DQ
01497 821 888