As the bookshop capital of the UK, perched on the border between England and Wales, Hay-On-Wye is steeped in fictional, as well as literal, oddities and unique examples of Herefordshire culture. With rolling views of the Breacon Beacons, it is the ideal spot to immerse oneself in literature whilst partaking of fresh, local ingredients in one of its beautiful dining venues. This is our handpicked selection of ten of the best cafes and restaurants in Hay-On-Wye.
Set in the Institute of Art and Ideas at the Globe, amidst various art installations, philosophy lectures, dance classes and live jazz, the Globe café offers a haven of coffee, cake and hearty fare for culture vultures in search of a boost. As a reformed and quirkily modified old chapel, the ambience of The Globe café is second to none. This, coupled with the fine selection of loose tea and sumptuous handmade cake, make it the perfect spot for quietly recharging between concerts or events.
Attached to Richard Booth’s bookshop, in itself worthy of note for floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with traditional and modern classics, the bookshop café is a perfect retreat. The small but intimate café space is has an open plan structure and clean, white walls awash with contemporary artwork. It is the perfect spot in which to escape with a book for coffee and pastry or congregate with friends for a lunch of simple, seasonal classics such as baked honey and mustard salmon with chilli and sesame spring greens.
The family-run Old Stables Tea Room are Gold Champions for Wales, providing everything from colourful breakfast spreads and light lunches, to full meals created from locally sourced, home-grown ingredients. A particular speciality is the cream tea, fresh sandwiches, a selection of tea and warm scones topped with award-winning Passion Preserves. The rustic interior comprising of brick fireplaces, nostalgic advertisements, memorabilia and old wooden chairs compliments the inspiring cuisine to evoke comfort and high quality in a relaxed and countrified atmosphere.
Nestled in the Breacon Beacons National Park, the Swan at Hay Hotel boasts an AA rosette for culinary excellence. Situated just outside of Hay-On-Wye’s popular centre, an ideal location for a moment’s peace and tranquillity. Inspired by a collision between French cuisine and dishes native to Herefordshire and the Welsh Marches, the menu is a wonderful collection of hearty ingredients transformed into elegant, delicate dishes. With a choice between dining informally in the bistro and treating oneself to elegant dining in the Garden Room restaurant, the atmosphere, and the food, can be arranged to fit precisely your mood.
As the ‘oldest surviving house in the town’, the Three Tuns has a Grade II listing to accompany its string of celebrity clientele. With an intriguing history of devastation and rejuvenation, the building itself has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of a consuming fire in 2005, to become the sensitively renovated, hugely successful gastropub that it is today. From log-burning fires and low-slung beams to the modern, slanting skylight ceiling in the airy Garden Room, the Three Tuns is not only a restaurant but a slice of local culture in itself. The menu is extensive. Featuring traditional and international cuisine prepared with locally sourced meat, organic local vegetables, home-baked breads and fresh fish from the Wing of St Mawes. In addition, the wine list boasts a formidable selection of well-picked, international tipples to accompany the range of dishes available.
Three Tuns, Broad St, Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire, United Kingdom, +44 1497 821855
Famous for its avant-garde altering of the traditional ice-cream recipe, swapping traditional cow’s milk and double cream for smoother, creamier sheep’s milk with less than 7% fat, Shepherd’s ice cream parlour and coffee bar has been established as the home of a cultural and culinary first, thus becoming a firm Hay-On-Wye favourite. An idyllic, quintessentially English shop front opens to reveal a glittering array of flavours displayed in the style of an Italian gelateria. Traditionalists may be safe in the knowledge of locating vanilla, strawberry and rum and raisin but for the more adventurous, there is a selection of intriguing flavour oddities such as cardamom, rose, panna cotta and tayberry made from home-grown fruit puree. One can choose to sample such delights as a singular treat, atop sugary waffles or combined with cream and fruit to make delicious smoothies, shakes and sundaes. Such sweetness can then be thrown into relief alongside a biting cup of Fairtrade coffee from South Wales roasters, perhaps accompanied by one of the variety of sandwiches and paninis available or, in the winter months, soup made from locally sourced ingredients.
A 17th century building accented with 14th century architectural notes, the Old Black Lion exudes nostalgia and is in close proximity to one of the original entrances to Hay-on-Wye, the Lion Gate. The dinner menu yokes local classics together with international flavours, such as locally sourced lamb served with pearl barley and fiery Spanish chorizo or roast pork doused in French calvados. There is also a simple lunch menu available with a variety of freshly prepared sandwiches and traditional cream teas to be enjoyed in the ambient interior.
A haven of whole foods, the Hay Deli is a delectable collection of culinary cultures from across the breadth of England and Wales. Having recently expanded to include a café, the quality of fresh produce from the Deli merges with a variety of high-quality tea and coffee to produce an ideal spot for sampling the best cuisine Herefordshire has to offer. Home-baked cake and brownies can be enjoyed as a dessert to follow simple, healthy items such as butternut squash and sweet potato soup.
Hay Deli, 41 Lion St, Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire, United Kingdom, +44 1497 820708