Please sign in to post.

England/Wales itinerary & hotels. Appreciate your feedback

Hello travel forum,

My husband & I are planning our trip to England & Wales next summer for two weeks. This will be his first time in both. I would appreciate your feedback on the itinerary, the hotels I’ve reserved, or comments about anything special you want to mention. I know I tend to move locations more often than some people. My husband & I talked through the number of nights at locations and are fine with moving more often, so no need to suggest more nights/fewer locations. ; )

Land at Heathrow
Train to Salisbury - 1 night (no hotel reserved, yet). We aren’t interested in seeing Stonehenge, so we don’t need a second night.
Train to Bath - 2 nights at Broadstreet Townhouse
Rent a car at ? to explore the Cotswolds - 2 nights at The Bell & Stuart House in Stow-on-the-Wold
Return car rental & train to Conwy OR keep the car another day? Conwy - 1 night at The Castle Hotel
(Rental car return?) Train to Liverpool - 2 nights - Quest Liverpool City Centre
Train to York - 2 nights - Galtres Lodge Hotel & Forest Restaurant
Train to London - 4 nights - thinking about the Premier Inn at St, James or Westminster Abbey
My husband will fly home from Heathrow; I will fly from Gatwick to Ljubljana for the RS Best of the Adriatic tour.

We have an extra night upfront that we could add to Salisbury or Bath. I really want to see the Wisley Gardens. So we could use that hotel night to stay near Wisley after we land at Heathrow, so I could see it while my husband naps. Otherwise, we would take the train out to see it during the last day in London. Suggestions?

For Liverpool, my husband will be taking the local train or taxi north to play golf. I will enjoy the day in Liverpool taking one of the Beatles tours and exploring some of the city.

This will be our first time renting a car in Europe (in 12 trips), but it seems like that is preferable for the Cotswolds. If so, which city(s) do you recommend we pick it up & leave it off?

I love the character of quirky small hotels - especially some with history, so that’s reflected in some of the choices. But for London, I’m balancing a cheaper option since the ambiance for us is better spent on being out doing fun activities than the look of our hotel. I’ve read from some of our other posts that you like the Premier Inn hotel option.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Posted by
16938 posts

You won’t find much more history in a hotel than the 800-year-old Red Lion in Salisbury, which they say is “Europe’s oldest purpose-built hotel” (meaning it was built as a hotel and not converted from some other use).

https://the-redlion.co.uk/

Surprisingly, it is now a part of the Best Western franchise (not a chain), but don’t let that put you off. Best Westerns in Europe are independently owned and have their own character. I keep trying to book a stay here but haven’t been able to work in enough time on our visits to London yet. Hopefully next time!

As for the Premier Inn St. James, we love that location, close to St. James Park and Westminster Abbey, but that particular Premier Inn gets some very bad reviews for uncaring staff and small boring rooms.

Posted by
1470 posts

We enjoyed visiting King Edward's Castles when we were in Wales. Beaumaris, Harlech & Caernarfon which are fairly easy drives from Conwy. You can get admission Passes that will save money.

Posted by
581 posts

I would drive from Stow to Conwy as there is some beautiful scenery along the way. En route we stopped for a few hours at Ironbridge Gorge which was very interesting. You can drive through Snowdonia National Park going or coming from Conwy. And if you like gardens, Bodnant Gardens is close by. I visited while my husband played golf at Conwy Golf Club, a nice links course.

Posted by
14288 posts

Lola's suggestion of the Red Lion is probably where I am going to stay on my next overnights in Salisbury. I've also stayed at the Rose and Crown (on a RS tour) and at the Mercure White Hart (on a Road Scholar tour). I have also stayed several times at a B&B which is sadly closing the end of the year.

The 13th Century Rose and Crown had a fabulous breakfast buffet and is situated on the Avon River. The 2 nights we were there there were also large outdoor receptions (complete with a 1980s type disco ball, lol) which ended about midnight. I'd stay here again but not on a weekend night in summer.

https://legacy-hotels.co.uk/hotels/rose-crown-hotel-salisbury-wiltshire

The White Hart which is also a Listed hotel from the 18th C was just OK - this was 2016. I'd stay elsewhere although the location is convenient.

There is a LOT to see in the Conwy area - Bodnant Gardens, the Anglesey area, the Great Orme. What is you plan for sightseeing on the way to Conwy and then on to Liverpool the next day?

Posted by
1196 posts

Definitely keep the car for Wales. You’ll be able to see a lot more. I can’t imagine how convoluted the journey would be from Stow to Conwy using public transport. Wisely isn’t in any way en route from Heathrow to Bath. It would be a very inconvenient addition to the schedule.

Posted by
33339 posts

I'll speak of what I know best, the Cotswolds and RHS Wisley.

I won't suggest any change of speed or durations as you have specifically asked not for that.

It does seem a shame since RHS Wisley is important to you - and it is one of the premier gardens of the world - that you wouldn't take time while you have the car in the Cotswolds to visit either of two other world class gardens, Kiftsgate or its next door neighbour Hidcote Manor Garden. Both of those are, in their own way, absolutely the top of the pile.

With only one day in the Cotswolds you would have to choose between sightseeing and picking one of those gardens. You would be hard pressed to get around much of Hidcote in less than 2 hours. And the summer they are at their peak.

I grew up in the Cotswolds so I suppose I might be prejudiced, but I don't think so. As members of National Trust, English Heritage, and Royal Horticultural Society, among others, we see many many gardens each year. Hidcote is the cream.

There is so much to see in the Cotswolds that it would be a shame to sacrifice the only day for just one garden.

Regarding RHS Wisley, the headquarters and premier garden of the Royal Horticultural Society, the garden is absolutely massive, especially now with the new developments at Hilltop. There are so many types of garden there, and of so many parts of the world, that if you don't plan a route and what you want to see in the very limited time you have, you will find that you will have been there all day and haven't scratched the surface. We've been going for 20 years and there is loads we still haven't seen. And you can easily lose another hour or so in their most excellent restaurant (with view).

I hope that these words of wisdom help. You have mentioned a couple of things I am very passionate about.

Posted by
7468 posts

@Lola, thank you for the suggestion of the Red Lion for the historical aspects!

We stayed in a tiny room at New York City which sounds & looks very similar to the Hub at Premier Inn. It was very compact but an efficient design. You definitely wouldn’t want a big suitcase in the room, though! LOL!

Posted by
7468 posts

@Kathleen, thank you for those ideas in northern Wales! I’m hoping for nice weather when we’re there!

Posted by
7468 posts

@Katheryne, if we decide to move our extra day to Conwy, your suggestions for Bodnant Gardens along with my husband playing at the Conwy Golf Club would be perfect! Another person on the forum suggested that course during a different discussion, and my husband thought it would be a good one to play.

Posted by
7468 posts

@Pam, thanks for the warning about Friday nights which would be the day we would be at Salisbury.

We don’t have specific plans at this point for what we will be doing enroute. We’ve been focusing on which cities, first, and then will fill in with ideas from researching on-line, events, and of course, the forum. : ). We’re treating this trip as a first time to England with the expectation of returning a different year to see more.

Posted by
7468 posts

@Helen, I really appreciate your input since you live there and have a much better idea of what is practical. I had been looking at taking a taxi to the Wisley Gardens and staying near it. Then catching a train at the Woking train station to Salisbury and then the next day to Bath as our option to try to see the gardens.

Posted by
7468 posts

@Nigel, hi! We were planning to use the two almost full days to explore the Cotswolds area and then head up to Conwy for the evening, spend the next day at Conwy, etc. before getting to Liverpool by early evening.

I am definitely interested in the gardens you’re mentioning. And since it’s an interest of yours, too, let me try to define what I’m thinking. You will probably have a better idea of which garden(s) I should try to see:

I’ve walked through many gardens in France & Italy and enjoy their period designs, colors and definitely the fragrance. If it wasn’t for me insisting that we come to England during the rose blooming season, my husband would have wanted us to come in Spring. So for English gardens, an afternoon of the visual senses & the fragrant senses are the ultimate for me! I’m not as interested in a green botanical (each specimen labeled) type garden for this trip, but I would like a tiered garden that combines the fragrant old roses & other flowers with a wandering lane of greenery shade garden with a small brook, as an example.

So with that explanation, which gardens do you recommend? Appreciate your knowledge!

Posted by
2494 posts

You say that you are planning on spending 2 days wandering around the Cotswolds and then heading up to Conwy. Does that mean in the evening of the second Cotswold day? If so, you have completely underestimated how long the drive is from Stow-on-the-Wold to Conwy. Another factor is that you would have to go the fastest way which I guess is a lot of boring motorway driving through the Midlands. You may like to consider a day tour of the Cotswolds from Bath with:> https://www.madmaxtours.co.uk/tours/tour-2-the-heart-of-the-cotswolds

There are plenty of places of interest between the Cotswolds & Conwy and to see them would really require at least a whole day trip.
I will now suggest a route that takes in some interesting places:>
Leave Stow going NW towards Evesham - which you loop around on the by-pass. Then B4084 towards Pershore
& pass south of Worcester to rejoin A44 going towards Bromyard. (It is very bendy). As you approach Bromyard, look out for signs directing you R to > https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/worcestershire-herefordshire/brockhampton. It is a bit of a drive but at the bottom of the hill you will find the Hall. (Everything you expected Ye Olde England to be).
Return to A44 & continue W to join A49 heading N. Do not take LUDLOW by-pass but drive into this small town and take a look around.

Now back onto A49 going N (towards Shrewsbury). About 10 minutes up the road is this:> http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stokesay-castle/
If you are running late - stay on A49 heading for Shrewsbury & then A5 going NW into Wales via *Llangollen & continue on A5 via Bettws-Y-Coed & then A470 to Conwy. (However, it is faster to avoid Llangollen - stay on A483 towards Chester and then A55 to Conwy. (This will be all dual highways but will miss the scenic areas). * If time, prior to Llangollen, you could visit the wonder of the Victorian age at Trevor:> https://www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk (This can also be done even if using the faster A483/A55 route).

Once in Conwy, be sure to see [BODNANT GARDENS.][3] (It is at its best in May - don't miss the Laburnum tunnel - which is to the left of the entrance & will be in full bloom in May). https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/wales/bodnant-garden

You have not given yourselves time to 'do' north Wales? In addition to Bodnant, I would prioritise to Betws-Y-Coed & then A5 to Capel Curig > A4086 > via Beddgelert & A4085 via Garreg to PORTMEIRION.http://www.portmeirion-village.com
Alternatively, if the weather is clear, you may wish to prioritise going to Llanberis and up Snowdon via the mountain railway. You can then add Caernarvon Castle to the trip before returning to Conway.
http://cadw.gov.wales/daysout/caernarfon-castle/?lang=en
https://www.visitconwy.org.uk
https://snowdonrailway.co.uk
https://www.festrail.co.uk
You should also visit CHESTER. https://www.visitcheshire.com/chester The outlier in your proposed trip is York - which I suggest you leave for another vacation. (It is on the London to Edinburgh main line).
Find the places mentioned on Google Maps. Zoom down & have a look around on street view. Look at the roads that you could be driving on.

Posted by
7468 posts

@James, wow, thank you so much for all of the details that you shared! This is so helpful since for timing, we’re just in the first draft of our planning. We looked up each of the links that you provided and are having some good discussion for options. I would love to add a few more days to the trip, but my husband wants to keep his time in Europe to 14 days.

One comment - our previous dog before our current English Springer Spaniel was a Welsh Springer. Abby was such a great dog! We’re hoping to see some in their native environment. : ) They are rare in the US, so it’s always very special to see one.

We might skip the initial two nights - Salisbury and our extra night and spend more time in Wales. So we would land at Heathrow, go directly to Bath and add those two days in the Cotswold/Wales portion of the trip.

I really want to see York. The tentative plan is that my husband will take a guy’s golf trip to Scotland in the next 5 years; I don’t want to go on that trip. So, we wouldn’t be doing the York route together.

Posted by
1470 posts

I agree with James about visiting Chester, not that far from Liverpool, it is a walled city established by the Romans. I've stayed there in a townhouse B&B. In Wales we stayed in a Pub with a 3 Star Chef on the road to Conwy, a Rustic B&B in Betws y Coed, and a Farmhouse on Anglessy. We had a blast visiting the Castles and enjoying the multicolored Jacob's Sheep on the farm. Since York is very similar in feel to Chester, you could go when have more time to visit Yorkshire and Scotland.

Posted by
7468 posts

@Kathleen, thanks for your comments! I’m glad you liked that area!

We will be in York over a weekend, so we can attend Evensong or a service at that cathedral, and I definitely want to see the stunning stained glass in person in that cathedral. My husband will do a golf trip in a few years in Scotland. I’m not planning to go on that trip or to Scotland, so this is my chance to see York.

Posted by
7468 posts

@AMann, we’ve been waiting several years to finally have the itinerary be England & Wales. My only criteria was that it had to be when the roses - the fragrant old roses are blooming. Of course, we had to balance the timing with “not missing too much golf” season here in Idaho for him. ; )

Posted by
2494 posts

I mentioned all those places because I could tell from your first posting that you appeared to not have a fuller knowledge of what to see in the areas that you planned to visit.

The Cathedral in York is called York Minster and it is massive. However, I would not rule out Salisbury as it has a stunning Cathedral built in the 1200’s. (Salisbury can be done as a day trip from Bath by train and shuttle buses go from the station to Stonehenge). The trouble is that there is so much to see in Britain and it all takes time.

You no doubt will be using trains for at least part of your trip. You can mug up on trains by reading this recent posting on RS. I know that if you go from north Wales/Chester to York, that it will be cheaper to split the ticket in Manchester.

If you increase your time in Wales, your husband might be interested in this golf course - which is located SW of Caernarfon. On the north side of the golf course is a lovely bay.

Posted by
7468 posts

@James, your posts have been so helpful, not only for me, but others who will be planning and reading your responses! I feel like this trip will be a bit like a “tasting menu”, as we had for our first time in Italy. A few days at places, and then we went back on subsequent trips for in-depth small sections of the country. These subsequent trips will probably include more golf, once he plays these gorgeous Welsh & English link golf courses.

Posted by
581 posts

Jean it sounds like your husband is a pretty enthusiastic golfer as is mine. We spent 4 weeks in Ireland (2019) and 5 weeks in England/Wales this year. We had a car for both trips and my husband preferred the courses on the west coast of Ireland. The scenery is breathtaking!

Posted by
2494 posts

Jean - I always do wonder how many people actually read these posts without logging in. As you say, the information can help others who just read the posts.

The most famous Golf Course in Wales is I guess at The Celtic Manor - in SE Wales around a 45 minute drive from Bath. It hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010. https://www.celtic-manor.com/golf

The Royal Porthcawl is located right on the south Wales coast mid way between Cardiff & Swansea.

These are well away from your intended route but I refer to them as it may be of interest to any golfers reading this. Of course, Golf Courses are found all over the British Isles though I guess it is just the famous ones that are widely known about.

Posted by
2857 posts

Jean - I always do wonder how many people actually read these posts
without logging in. As you say, the information can help others who
just read the posts.

I’m one who reads the posts for several different countries and often don’t comment until I get closer to my trip and have specific questions. I find these posts very helpful for my planning process. I will check the countries that I plan to travel to in the next couple of years (England is one of those) and copy and paste relevant information into Word documents that I have for each country. So, I find the information on this forum to be very valuable and appreciate everyone who takes the time to post.

Posted by
369 posts

I read the posts and have gotten lots of helpful advice that I didn't even have to ask for! Sometimes I'll ask a question or chime in if I can give an opinion on something. Going to London in spring, so any advice is very welcome. Love this forum, there are so many helpful people.

Posted by
7468 posts

@diveloonie aka Tammy, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the previous trip reports! I find writing them is a great way to not only share to help others, it’s a great reminder that I print and keep with each trip’s paper souvenirs.

I will probably write two separate ones for this next trip since it begins with two weeks with our independent travel in Wales & England, and then I finish with the RS Best of the Adriatic tour. Or I might just write one for the first portion and tack on a couple of comments of anything significant I did during free time during the tour.

Posted by
53 posts

Jean, if you're a Beatles fan, do not miss the National Trust Beatles' Childhood Homes tour in Liverpool. It's the only way to go inside John's and Paul's childhood homes, and it's surreal to stand in the spots where they wrote many of their earliest songs together.

Posted by
7468 posts

@Elizabeth, that would be a great experience to step inside those homes where their music began! The closest I’ve come to that feeling is when I was at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame a couple of times in Cleveland and pored over the scraps of paper or napkins musicians used when creating their lyrics.

Posted by
7468 posts

Hi everyone. Circling back after some good discussions with my husband. We’re honing in on our itinerary & some possible activities. Some of the activities may be occurring from a different lodging spot than listed. We dropped everything in the Bath area from this itinerary; we could do it on a subsequent trip with lower Wales and southern England.

Oxford: 2-hr City Bike Tour, pick up a rental car, Blenheim Palace & gardens
Stow-on-the-Wold: Wander the villages, Kiftsgate Garden
Kidderminster: (Staying at a beautiful country hall), Warwick Castle, Wightwick Manor
Chester: husband playing Wallasey Golf Club while I join a City Bike tour & explore
Conwy: Conwy Castle, husband playing Conwy Golff while I go to Bodnant Gardens and/or Llandudno’s waterfront.
York: City bike tour, climb York Minster and also attend one of the Sunday services, tea at Betty’s or other, York’s Chocolate tour
London: British Museum (haven’t focused on all of London’s options, yet, to prioritize)

Posted by
2494 posts

If in Kidderminster, you might be interested in the Severn Valley Heritage Railway:>https://www.svr.co.uk

Stow-on-the-Wold is at the meeting place of several main roads - though the main square is off these but has many parked cars. Be sure that anywhere you plan to stay has parking. Best of the Cotswold villages in this area to do are Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter, Broadway, Chipping Campden > in that order. Both Kiftsgate Court and Hidcote Manor Gardens are near Chipping Campden. I also liked Bourton House Garden and the Indian style Mansion of Sezicote (which has gardens), These are just north of Stow-on-the-Wold. You won’t find all these open on the same day. Google for websites.

Stratford-upon-Avon is about a 30 minute drive NE of Chipping Campden. William Shakespeare's House is in the middle of the town. Ann Hathaway’s Cottage is at Shottery - just west of the town. Mary Arden's Farm is at Wilmcote - just to the north.

Wallasey Golf Club is not in a scenic area - though it is on a flat bit of coast.

Here 2 Mid Westerners have uploaded their visit to Llandudno to You Tube. (Don't know why they wasted so much time on the rocky part of the beach).

Here is a good You Tube video of Bodnant Gardens. The last 2 weeks of May and first week of June should be the best time to visit. I visited on 1st June and the Laburnum tunnel was in full bloom.

Posted by
7468 posts

Circling into a better itinerary:

Land at Heathrow.
First night at Oxford. Pick up a rental car the next morning to begin with the Blenheim Palace & gardens

1 night at The Shaven Crown Hotel at Shipton-under-Wychwood.

2 nights at The Bell & Stuart House at Stow-on-the-Wold. Planning some walks and bike rental to explore, also. Warwick Castle, possibly.

1 night at The Chainbridge Hotel at Llangollen. (Our previous lodging at Kidderminster cancelled.). This route will give us a better chance to see the scenery as James recommended.

2 nights at The Castle Hotel at Conwy. My husband has a tee time at Conwy Golff. I will go to Bodnant Gardens.

1 night at The Chester Grosvenor at Chester. My husband has a tee time at Wallasey Golf. I am taking a city bike tour, etc. (Leave off the rental car.) An exciting discovery- our RS local travel group meets at the Woops Bakery in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The British speaking friendly manager & I were talking last time while I was ordering an espresso. She saw my visual colorful planning calendar and saw that we will be going to her hometown, Chester!

2 nights at the Galtres Lodge Hotel at York. Attending the Sunday York Minster service, Betty’s high tea, historical areas, possibly their city bike tour, etc.

4 nights in a tiny room at a Hub Premier Inn in London. Planning a lot of London priorities to enjoy.

My husband flies home; I fly to Ljubljana to meet up with the RS Adriatic tour.

Don’t worry about the number of 1-night stops. : ) That’s my normal style of travel after a dozen trips to Europe.

Posted by
2073 posts

Sounds great and you have picked some lovely places to stay too. When in Chester, don't miss the Town Crier at the Market Cross at midday. Also go into St Peter's Church which has a community run cafe in the nave. It is popular with locals but not mentioned in any of the guide books. It is friendly and welcoming with very good cakes and is the cheapest place for tea or coffee in Chester! It is open Tues-Sat 11am-4pm. 

Posted by
7468 posts

Thank you, Wasleys, for that information about the Town Crier at Chester! We will be there on a Wednesday, so I could have lunch at the place you mentioned while my husband is playing golf.

Posted by
4308 posts

I was prepared to answer your question about picking up a rental car in Bath, but I see you've changed the itinerary. If it's helpful, we used Enterprise in Bath and with 24 hours notice they picked us up and took us to the rental counter from our hotel. We had planned to drop it off in Oxford, but decided later to drop off at Gatwick. I can only assume that Enterprise also has a pick-up service in Oxford, I know the fee to drop off at a different location was reasonable. If I remember correctly, the reason we didn't drop off at Oxford was because it would be on a Saturday afternoon and the location would already be closed. Both time's I've rented vehicles in England, the weekend hours were a challenge as non-airport locations seem to close at noon or 1:00 on Saturdays and may not be open on Sunday.

Posted by
455 posts

Allen, it was very helpful to read that Enterprise will so a pick up in Bath. We were just trying to figure out how to get our car at the end of our Bath stay and then head to the Cotswolds area. Thanks for your post and this thread.

Posted by
7468 posts

Thank you, James for the additional ideas! I was sad to see the abbey is closed the days-of-the week we arrive and leave.