While accommodations in the area sell out months in advance of the festival, Hay is a wonderful place for bibliophiles to visit any time of year. My husband and I traveled there for a weekend last October while researching a story I wrote that appears in this month’s issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. I could have spent days trolling the shelves of Hay, and we loaded our trunk full of books for a mere $100 (most of the bookstores specialize in secondhand and antiquarian books, so there are lots of bargains to be had!)
As a mystery fan, I particularly loved Murder & Mayhem books, which is tiny but well-stocked and interestingly decorated (that’s me browsing below). There’s even an honesty bookshop at the foot of Hay’s crumbling castle (which is home to another bookstore, the haphazardly organized Hay Castle Bookshop) as well as stores dedicated to specialties like poetry, psychology and Charles Dickens. We also took a walking tour of the well-preserved village with town crier Ken Smith, enjoyed excellent Welsh lamb at the historic
Three Tuns pub, and bunked down at The Bear, an atmospheric former coaching inn.