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Accommodations & tips in Bath, Cardiff, etc.

We are basically following Rick's driving tour through Great Britain except for the northern part of Scotland and we are also venturing into the southern part of Wales.
- Our first night's stay will be in Bath. Any comments on Rick's choices for overnight accommodations?
- We are also varying Rick's driving tour by going to Cardiff and Swansea in Wales. Any recommendations for where to stay overnight in Cardiff?
- Any other suggestions on varying the driving tour?
- Anyone know of any particular problems if we begin our tour the last week in August?

Posted by
9929 posts

I've visited Bath a number of times and stayed in various places. On 2 different Rick Steves tours I've stayed in Brooks Guest House and Henrietta House, both of which I liked. I'm not sure how the parking is for either of them so if you are renting the car before your arrival in Bath I'd look at that.

I'm not sure what your plan is but I'd want 2 nights in Bath. Also if you are planning a weekend many of the accommodations have a 2 night minimum. Also...are you planning for ~this~ August? You may have trouble finding hotels in Bath this late in the game.

You aren't planning to drive to Bath after an international flight are you?

Posted by
4738 posts

Last Monday in August is a bank holiday in England and Wales which will make for touristy places to be extra busy on the day and really for the week.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you Pam & Marco for your input. Yes, it is very late in the game, but we had family issues and didn't know if we would be able to do this trip at all. We are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary on Sept. 14 and were hoping we could still manage this trip. We'll consider starting our trip in early Sept. to avoid the bank holiday week.

Posted by
9929 posts

If you are moving your trip to Sept if either of you has an interest there is a Jane Austen Festival in Bath Sept 14-23. It is actually fairly hilarious to see folks all over town dressed in Regency era costume.

Posted by
17 posts

We stayed at a very nice B&B called Abbey Rise (http://abbeyrise.co.uk) within easy walking distance to downtown Bath. Very reasonable rate, great host and it has parking for your car.
If you are looking for some of the best fish and chips in the UK try the Scallop Shell in Bath.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks, all.

Another general question - are the roads such that we can drive places in a reasonable amount of time? Our experience in Ireland was that it took about twice as long to travel a given distance on roadways as it would here in US.

Another general question - are the roads such that we can drive places
in a reasonable amount of time? Our experience in Ireland was that it
took about twice as long to travel a given distance on roadways as it
would here in US.

It’s not the roads themselves but the traffic that will pose problems. I drive in the US often, and know that I can usually rely on the journey times given in road atlases and online. I also find driving in the US a genuine pleasure.

I know very few fellow Brits who drive here in the UK for pleasure. This is a small country with a very high population density. One accident or set of roadworks can cause massive delays on busy roads. On motorways you have to keep your concentration levels high to dodge lorries.

Add at least 33% to Google Maps times for contingency. Also give yourself time (and cash) to find parking spaces. Our towns and cities often have mediaeval street plans and parking is a major issue.

Oh, and as others have said, the last week of August can be mega-busy. The final Monday of August is roughly equivalent to Labour Day in terms of marking the end of the summer holidays.

There’s a reason why the concept of “road trip!” doesn’t spark joy in a British heart like it seems to with Americans. But as long as you’re prepared for delays and frustration you can have a good time.

Posted by
11462 posts

I recently stayed at the new Hotel Indigo in Cardiff. Very nice and a great location.

Posted by
1934 posts

27 August is a Bank Holiday - so on this day and Sunday 26th - you can expect many shops in city centres to be closed. It is also likely that if the weather is good, roads to the coasts and inland attractions will be busy.

I was in Bath yesterday and parking can be very difficult. Most on street parking was limited to 2 hours - and you had to pay. (I used the bus Park & Ride from the edge of town).

Bath > Cardiff: the Severn Bridges still have tolls - I think it is £5.80 - driving into Wales only. Have your debit card handy and hold it over the scanner. The M4 around Newport can get jammed at busy times due to it being very busy and everyone having to squeeze through a 2 lane (each way) tunnel. You may like to consider crossing the Severn estuary on the M48 bridge and coming off at the first junction on the Welsh side and taking the A466 up the Wye Valley to see the ruins of Tintern Abbey (built in the 1100’s).

In Cardiff, I would not choose a hotel in the centre due to parking issues. Consider Holiday Inn Cardiff North or The Village Hotel -both are either side of the Coryton Interchange = M4 Junction 32. Just to the north of this interchange is Castell Coch. (It looks like Castell Coch is closed for long term repairs). If on leaving Castell Coch’s driveway you turn hard left, it is possible to follow backroads over the mountain to Caerphilly - which has a massive medieval castle - though the town is not up to much to put it mildly. From either of these hotels, it would be very easy to join the M4 going west and come off at the next junction (33) & take the A4232 for just over a mile - then turn into slip road for St.Fagans Castle & Museum - beware of sharp turn = 10mph. After St. Fagans, you may also like to consider visiting Dyffryn Gardens - which are about a 14 minute drive to the south west via the Culverhouse Cross interchange off the A4232.

Here is a map of the area mentioned above:>https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5233031,-3.2512436,15.7z/data=!5m1!1e1
You should be able to see both hotels. Now look for Longwood Drive. If going into the centre of Cardiff, I would suggest you drive down Longwood Drive towards the river. Here you can park the car on this quiet road for free - then take a short walk south along the path by the river and cross the footbridge to Radyr Station. From the ticket office, purchase a return ticket to Cardiff for £4 each. Trains are about every 10 minutes. If you see one parked at the station, this will follow a different route to Cardiff Central than the ones that pass through (but stop). If you want to go to Cardiff Bay (not beach), take the train to Cardiff Queen Street and change for the Bay shuttle. If doing this, I would suggest you pay 50p more and ask for a Cardiff Capital Day Ranger for £4.50. >https://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/rovers-and-rangers/

Although Swansea lies on a bay, it is not an attractive city due to being severely damaged in the war and then re-built in the 1950’s and 60’s. However, the coast of the Gower peninsula just to the west has spectacular beaches and cliff scenery. If you are going further west into Wales, you may like to consider skipping Swansea and Gower and head for Pembrokeshire. Tenby is a very attractive seaside town. Very attractive beaches and cliff scenery lie to the west of Tenby. See this map:> https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.6839683,-4.4829901,50430m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1

If not going west of Cardiff, consider taking the A470 north from Cardiff and up through the middle of Wales. Most of this route is scenic. 30 minutes north of Cardiff and you will be driving through the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Google the places mentioned.

Posted by
21325 posts

Cardiff Bay, while attractively redeveloped, is not a place I'd recommend for travelers without children, given the number of other sights available. I was sorry that I had spent the time getting out there from the center of town by bus. If you happen to hit Cardiff on a lovely day after many days of rain, well, I guess it would be a pleasant place to walk around outdoors in the sun.

Posted by
3261 posts

In my opinion, the best thing about Cardiff is St. Fagan's and you can drive there.

Posted by
56 posts

I would also recommend visiting Cardiff Castle, and Castel Coch just North the city. The latter is a fairytale fantasy.

Posted by
18 posts

We stayed at the Hilton Bath City on Walcot St last year. It was a nice hotel, parking lot next door and a short walk to the center and river. The hotel is on a main road so getting there is easy.

Posted by
3261 posts

We also stayed at the Hilton Bath City(because we used points) and had a riverview room. We stayed at a total of 6 Hiltons on that trip but if my memory is correct, the one in Bath had the nicest/largest room. We also stayed at the downtown Hilton in Cardiff a few years ago-it had a good view of the castle and was a short walk from bus to St. Fagans, but I don't know about parking.

Posted by
64 posts

You will do as you prefer, but I strongly suggest you look into using public transportation and not renting a car. Your stress level will be about 100% lower. Personally, if I can't get there in the UK without a rental car, I don't really need to go there.

As for Brooks Guest House, they have a friendly staff and the kitchen will prepare a good breakfast quickly and to your order but there are lots of stairs and some of the beds are very worn out. Get something on the main floor, but check out the bed(s) before accepting the room. Sit or lie on the bed and see if it is to your liking. If not, ask to change rooms.

Posted by
389 posts

Consider taking a train first to Bath, then on to Cardiff. A car is more of a hindrance than a help in these two cities. Cardiff city centre is very lively (not in a good way) on a weekend night, if you visit over a weekend consider staying out of centre. Also, come before the uni students return to the city around the third week of September. Don't know what your budget would be but there's a lovely small b&b in St Fagans - The Old Post House with rooms around £100 with breakfast and its right opposite the gates to The Welsh folk museum. It would be about a £12 taxi ride from the train station or you can catch a bus. If you want to be in the centre, good budget accommodation would be the Premier Inn on Churchill Way or good value with a bit more charm is the Angel Hotel right opposite Cardiff Castle with rooms for about £75. From Cardiff you can hire a car to drive to Swansea but as other posters mention don't visit the city, go to the Gower Peninsula.