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Short stay in Liverpool/Wales

We will be arriving into Liverpool late November and have 3-4 nights before heading to Ireland. The original plan was 1 night/1 day Liverpool, then, head to North Wales for a 2 nights before taking the ferry to Dublin. I know it is not enough time, but at least we will get a quick glimpse.
I have now heard some awful stories about the ferry in the winter and am thinking perhaps we should base ourselves in Liverpool and fly to Dublin. If so, we would, hopefully make a day trip to Wales... perhaps Conwy, by car or train. Aside from the ferry, we are not concerned about weather. We enjoying traveling off-season, avoiding the crowds, and get plenty of sunshine here at home.
So... any suggestions of which plan is better? We love London, and expect we will enjoy Liverpool, but really really want to get to Wales somehow.

Posted by
481 posts

I took the Holyhead-Dun Laoghire ferry in a February and swore I would never do it again. The weather was actually fine, it just takes so long and the ships are not very comfortable. Now granted, I started the day in London and had the rail journey to Holyhead as well so it was an extra-long day, but I would still recommend flying.

Although I did enjoy seeing the North Wales coast, I would not bother with it in winter.

Posted by
5817 posts

Late November in North Wales 'might' be OK but it could also be really bleak. A lot will be closed and huge part of the appeal of the area is the scenery which might (will!) disappear in cloud. I'm not saying don't go, just be aware it might be disappointing.

Liverpool is a great city, quite different (I think) from London. You should also look at visiting/staying in Chester, which is Roman/Medieval(ish) and has lots to do even in the bleak mid winter. Its 45 min from Liverpool and 1hr from North Wales by train or car so could serve an easy base to visit both.

Posted by
18 posts

I like the idea of staying in Chester. It looks lovely. Any idea of a hotel that would allow 5 guests? I do find some apartments... is the city rather easy to get around if we stay somewhere close to the cathedral?
In this case, we could spend 2-3 nights and take the 10:00 pm flight to Dublin. This would give us 11/16- arrive, eat and crash, 11/17 for Chester/Liverpool, 11/18- free to explore Wales, 11/19 Liverpool and flight out. Does that sound reasonable or should I really add a night? Given that Wales will likely be bleak, would Conwy maybe be a good choice? We would at least like to get a glimpse at the Welsh culture, no matter how short.

Posted by
5817 posts

‘Allow 5 guests’ do you mean in one room? If so, no you almost certainly won’t be able to find a room that large. 5 people will require 2 rooms minimum.
I was brought up there and out of curiosity I recently looked at Airbnbs in the city and it looked like there were quite a few at very good prices. That might be the way to go. I’m happy to give a locals opinion on location if it helps

Chester really isn’t that big and you can get from and to anywhere in the city centre in 10-15 minutes on foot. The centre is definitely not designed for cars.

You could easily spend a couple of days in both Liverpool and Chester. You can’t do both justice in one day. If you have the flexibility I would try and add an extra day, then you would have a day each for Chester, Liverpool and somewhere in North Wales.

Conwy is easy to get to from Chester and is a pretty and historic town so would be as good a place to visit as any. I’m not sure what you are looking for in ‘welsh culture’? You will definitely be exposed to the history and language in Conwy. I’m not sure if any would be running in November but it might be worth looking at taking a day coach trip from Chester into North Wales? You would get to see more and it would be an easy way of doing it.

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks for your super helpful replies! We used to book a room for 4 and just sneak in with the 5 of us, but with the kids being older now, it isn't usually a good idea. I checked on Airnb and there are a couple of reasonable apartments either on Tower Road/New Crane or on Hoole Lane. Some hotels are reasonably priced enough for us to consider two rooms. They are on city road, Little St. John and Lower Bridge Street.
Are any of these areas better than another?
I guess the "Welsh culture" I refer to really is the language and history. We apparently have a lot of Welsh in our own heritage, so it would be kind of cool to see the castles of our ancestors. Plus, the language is super interesting to my kids.
I will definitely consider staying an extra night as you suggest, though the flights out the following day are quite a bit more expensive for some reason. If we spent, 1 day in Wales, 1 day in Chester and then, the last day in Liverpool (flight leaving at 10 pm), maybe we could store our luggage at the train station that last day and still get to Dublin that night. Sounds kind of exhausting, but most vacations I plan end up that way no matter.

Posted by
5817 posts

Hotel rooms in the UK really aren’t big enough for a family of five so I really wouldn’t reccomend sneaking a 5th person in.

Of those locations Little St John Street and Lower Bridge Street are the best locations in the centre of town.
City Road is 10 min walk from the centre of town but is only 5 min walk from the ststion. Traditionally this has always been an area of cheaper hotels so whether I would reccomend does depend on the actual hotel.

Hoole Road is 5-10 mins max on the bus from the centre of town, but it is again convenient for the station. It is a popular suburb with a nice local high street with some good pubs and restaurants. If the accommodation is right on Hoole Road there might be some traffic noise.

Tower Road and New Crane Street are a little away from the centre but are OK locations. My only caveat is that they might be a bit near the student area which is fine but could be noisy. The area by the canal basin is nice.

Re the language, Chester is right on the border and as soon as you enter Wales you will start seeing all the road signage etc in both languages. Your children might enjoy spotting the words that have just adapted from the English or are spelt phonetically in Welsh. For example the letter 'x' changed to "cs" in Wrexham/Wrecsam, taxi/tacsi

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks. I was looking at the Quarterz Hotel on City Road, or the Travelodge Chester Centre on Little St. John Street as decently priced hotel options. We would probably be okay with the college area but, it will be a weekend so, your advice on the noise may be something to consider.
I think based on what you have said, I would rather be closer to the city centre than the station. Although, a 10 minute walk is certainly not an issue.
They would enjoy the signs and certainly, would love to hear the language spoken. Is it fair to say that anywhere in Wales we will find that? Of course, I understand that we won't have Welsh spoken to us necessarily as tourists. I will look into a tour from Chester although, we aren't really the "tour bus" types. I don't really like being hemmed in. We could also consider taking the train rather than driving as I read that it is a beautiful ride... any thoughts on that aspect?

Posted by
5817 posts

I would choose the Travelodge. It is in a really good location right by the Roman walls and amphitheatre. Travelodge are very much a no frills chain of hotels but they are reliable and the beds are comfortable. They have family rooms that are worth looking. They can definitely sleep 2 adults and 2 children but I am not sure they would stretch to 5. Kids can eat free at breakfast if they stay with an adult. The food isn’t fancy but it’s free so worth taking advantage of!

I don’t know what the parking situation is at that hotel as it is in town. Parking is a total pain and the nearest garage I can think of to the hotel ( Pepper Street) is ridiculously expensive. If you plan on having a car I would definitely check where you can park and if there are any deals

I wouldn’t normally suggest a tour, and as I said they might not even be available at all that time of the year but it might be the best way to see the main sights in the area with the limited time you have. Also much easier than driving. Daylight hours are short at that time of year so it will be dark by 430pm limiting your scope for viewing scenery etc.
For a winter day trip to Conwy I would take the train. It will give you enough time to explore the castle and the town stopping for something to eat before heading home. Whether you drive or take the train the first stretch of the North Wales Coast isn’t particularly attractive. It’s quite a poor industrial area but it picks up once you hit Colwyn Bay.
More inland, the Clywyd hills and countryside are pretty. From Chester you can see one of the main hills “Moel Famau” pronounced “ Mole Vama” by locals. It looks like it has a small building in the top but it’s actually the remains of a tower built to crlebrate our victory in the Napoleonic wars. Lots of Celtic hill forts up there.

Welsh is taught in all schools but isn’t universally spoken. That said, it is often the first language for many people in North Wales so you will definitely hear it. If you keep your ears open you will hear it in Chester as well as it is the main town in the area and people come in for shopping etc

Posted by
8293 posts

I can’t help but wonder how you sneak a 5th “person” into a 4 person hotel room. If No. 5 is a small child or a very short adult, do you scrunch him down into a satchel? Or maybe you wait until the front desk is really, really busy, and scurry by with No. 5. Inquiring minds, etc.

Important notice: I don’t ever use emojis, so before reporting this post to the web master, be aware that this is meant to be humourous.

Posted by
18 posts

Sneaking the 5th person in wasn't really sneaking I suppose. We would just book as 4, one person would check in and then, the rest of us would find our way up to the room a bit later. It was really just a necessary thing to do if we were going to travel happily with all the kids being young enough to sleep on a couch or 3 to a bed.
We have similar Travelodge hotels in the States. Not sure they are the same, but I get the "modest" accommodations. That will work for us since we don't spend a lot of time in the room. I will call to see if they can bring in an extra bed.
If we train to Conwy, we won't really need a car, so, if we do rent one to tour around a bit I will schedule to return it the same day to avoid parking.
My husband is keen on seeing Caerfarnon Castle as he jokingly lays claim to it, being a great-great-great (etc...) grandson of Madog ap Llywelyn. So, maybe if we started out early enough we could get a taxi over that direction from Conwy... Or, maybe I can just distract him with Conwy Castle...LOL
((More inland, the Clywyd hills and countryside are pretty.))-- will take a look at that option online as well, thank you!
We will keep our ears open for the language!

Posted by
5817 posts

I don’t want to go on but I really wouldn’t try to fit 5 people into a Travelodge room,they simply aren’t designed for it. UK hotel rooms are much smaller than US rooms. A family room is usually a double with 2 cot beds added. I doubt they would even allow a third bed in one. I really wouldn’t risk booking just the one room and then hoping they will “help you out” with a third bed. You might find yourself stuck and forced to book a second expensive room to accommodate you all.

If you want to go to Caernarfon you can get the train to Bangor and then catch a bus or taxi to the castle. Winter opening hours are shorter 10-4pm so you might struggle to see both castles in one day. Better to just pick one and the accompanying tour.

I don’t want to ruin your husband’s theory but literally everyone in North Wales says they are descended for one of the welsh heroes. :-) If they actually were I think they would have had to have been constantly reproducing leaving no actual time to fight the English! I’m saying that as some one you is DEFINITELY descended from Gruffydd ap Llewelyn!

Posted by
18 posts

Note taken on the rooms! I will book two separately or just get an apartment if need be.
That is funny about the heritage! I actually spent a lot of time on both of our family trees and Gruffydd ap Llewelyn came up in both mine and his. Of course, I am not a scholar in this area, so it is very possible that there is an error in the tree leading to him. But, it is uncanny that he came up in both of ours. We got a good chuckle out of being "distant relatives".
Which of the castles do you think is most rewarding for a visit? Strangely, my kids aren't big on castles, having seen a few, but I still love them! Anyway, whichever has the most interesting township around it is likely the way we should go. If you have any recommendations for good pubs/restaurants and other things in Chester or Liverpool, I will gladly put them on my list.
We are huge Beatles fans, so definitely figure on visiting some of those sites... though not sure about the museum...

Posted by
5817 posts

It looks very nice. It’s on the edge of the city centre and if the weather is in your favour you would have some lovely views over the river. The river is right there so you want to take safety considerations into account.

Location wise it depends how far you want to walk. With children it’s going to be 10-15 minutes walk to the very centre of town but it would be an interesting walk with lots of places to run in the park. If you had tired legs it would be very cheap to take a cab back.

Posted by
18 posts

Super! My kids are older teens, so the river and the walking is not a concern. I love the idea of being on the river and relaxing there while I wait for my slow kids to get ready in the morning.

Posted by
1834 posts

If you wish to find bus times in Wales - use >https://www.traveline.cymru

For train times & fares > www.nationalrail.co.uk
I have just checked for a return ticket (pay at Chester station) for Chester to Bangor = £29.80 per adult if you catch the 9.58am or earlier (on weekdays). However, for the 10.16 (arrives Bangor at 11.24) or later, the price drops to £18.70 return. (You would need to check the schedules nearer your date of travel). For longer trips - such as Chester to London - you will find the cheapest Advance fares (for specific trains) about 11 weeks ahead. If you went to Caernarfon Castle first, you could then return to Conway (Conwy) but if you do this - make sure that the train stops at Conwy. (Virgin trains don’t but most Arriva Trains Wales services do BUT you must inform the guard on leaving Bangor that you wish to get off at Conwy. When you leave Conwy - hold your hand out as the train approaches as it is a request stop).

This map shows you the percentage of people who speak Welsh in different areas. As you can see, it varies widely from practically nobody in parts of the east up to around 90% in the more sparsely populated west.https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=map+showing+percentage+of+people+who+speak+welsh&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj46MPuiPjaAhUBOsAKHWP-ClMQsAQIWA&biw=1702&bih=989#imgrc=aokfB4iEejSGPM:

Don't forget that both Conwy & Caernarfon Castles were built by the English King Edward I when he conquered Wales back in the 1200’s - so although they are in Wales - they are not actually castles built by the Welsh. Around 20% of the people of Wales speak Welsh and you will certainly hear it in Caernarfon.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you very much! I couldn't find train ticket prices so far in advance. Did you just check earlier dates or, am I missing something?

Posted by
1834 posts

That is correct - the cheap Advance tickets for November are not yet loaded - and won’t be for quite some time. When you go on www.nationalrail.co.uk and go to the calendar - advance it and you will see a grey background for those dates that currently have the cheaper advance tickets (for specific trains) loaded to the system. Right now (10 May), the cheaper tickets are loaded up to around 1 August. So, as time progresses, you will find that the price gradually rises for these Advance tickets - but even the day before, you can still get tickets for less than on the day. If you play around with the system and put in for your journeys - without actually making a booking - you will see how the prices change. Remember, you only really need to pre-book for the longer trips as the shorter trips stay at the same price. (It looks like Chester to Bangor falls into this category - so buy on the day but note that some services might be dearer than others).

When you make your booking, it will switch you through to the train company on which most of the journey will be made.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you all! Last look at places to stay in Chester.... was going to go with Rondeva but, this place is about $50 cheaper per night, which would be helpful... Any Thoughts on location? Seems to be an alright place in general.
Approved Serviced Apartments Steam Mill, Chester3.5-star
Granary Wharf Steam Mill St., Chester, England, CH3 5BE, United Kingdom
Comfortable apartment with kitchen, near Chester Cathedral

Posted by
5817 posts

I wouldn't have any concerns about staying there. It's a not particularly pretty area of redevelopment on the outskirts of the city centre. An easy walk to the station for your trips. I personally wouldn't describe it as being near the cathedral but it's all relative. Chester isn't big so nowhere is that far from anywhere else. It is near a nice pub by the canal, Old Harkers Arms which I can recommend.