We recently embarked on a road trip in west Wales. We travelled to Cardiff to attend a travel blogging conference, so we decided to turn the journey into a bimble on the coast.
Years ago, when the kids weren’t ashamed of us, we visited Aberystwyth. I remember it well. It was out of season, cold, windy and frankly miserable.
I also remember thinking that Aberystwyth would be a lively, attractive town during the season, so it made sense to return and see if I was right.
Aberystwyth is a quaint holiday destination on the west coast of Wales. It’s dated but still worth visiting, especially on a sunny day. It took a battering in the storms last year, so credit where it’s due for getting it ready to welcome visitors.
Predominantly a university town, its two beaches, flat promenade and surrounding countryside make it ideal for a coastal stopover or relaxing weekend away.
We took our time driving to Aberystwyth and arrived in the late afternoon. Our bed for the night was at the Marine Hotel.
Originally I’d booked another hotel outside Aberystwyth, but they emailed to say they were closed that night? In fairness, they booked us into a more expensive hotel on the seafront so that I wouldn’t complain.
The Marine Hotel
From what I could tell, the Marine Hotel is one of the largest in Aberystwyth. It has 50 en-suite bedrooms, some of which are accessible rooms, a lift to all floors, a restaurant, a bar and an enviable seafront position.
I was able to park on the road in front of the hotel. Parking is limited to 4 hours between 8 am and 6 pm. We arrived in the evening, which meant I could park all night and then leave in the morning without going over the limit.
Reading hotel reviews, the time limit seems to be an issue with guests because if you arrive during the day, you have to move your car. The Marine Hotel does have guest parking at the rear, but spaces are limited, so it’s a first-come, first-served basis.
The hotel is ideally placed for access to the town or a walk along the seafront. The entrance has an access ramp and a push-button electric door. Sadly, when we arrived, the electric door had been switched off because of high winds?
Once inside, the reception area is spacious and accessible using a wheelchair. Ideally, there would have been a lower counter, but now I’m just being picky.
There was some confusion over our room, we had initially booked an accessible room, but this important fact had not been conveyed from the first hotel to the second? Or if it had, something had been overlooked!!
After a bit of toing and froing, checking out a non-accessible room and struggling to get Bridget’s wheelchair down a tight corridor, we eventually got the accessible room we needed, albeit with twin beds rather than a double.
The accessible room was more than adequate for what we needed. We’re used to staying in chain hotels, and although the room was a tad dated, we still enjoyed its quirkiness.
We especially enjoyed sitting in the bay window and people watching. It’s therapeutic watching the waves crashing over the sea wall onto the promenade.
As it was a lovely evening, we grabbed some not very memorable fish n chips from a local takeaway and went for a wheelchair walk along the promenade.
Constitution Hill is home to Britain’s longest electric cliff railway at the northern end of the promenade. It was closed when we arrived, so we didn’t get the chance to have a go. It would be worth bimbling up there if you’re in Aberystwyth.
After a comfortable night’s sleep and a delicious unlimited breakfast, it was time to leave Aberystwyth.
It might sound like I’m critical of the Marine Hotel. It would help if you didn’t think it was a bad experience because it wasn’t. In truth, had the electric door been working and our room available on arrival, it would have made a pleasant stay a great one.
The hotel is accessible to wheelchair users, but not if you have to go up and down the thin corridors to get to your room. The accessible room we stayed in avoided these corridors. We’d have had no problems if there had been no confusion over room allocation!
Driving in Wales: Aberystwyth to Cardiff
If you’ve read some of our other road trips, you’ll know I like driving long distances, and the drive from Aberystwyth to Cardiff was no exception. It wasn’t helpful because I wanted to visit St Davids on the way.
We eventually arrived in the tiny city of St Davids in Pembrokeshire and stopped off at the Oriel y Parc Gallery and visitor centre.
St Davids is the smallest city in Britain regarding size and population. And it is also the final resting place of Wales’s patron saint “St David.
The visitor centre is a valuable stop because you can park, get local tourist information, have something to eat, visit the landscape gallery and even hire a mobility scooter if you want.
We enjoyed a well earned toasted tea cake and brew in the cafe, then set off to look at White Sands Bay.
As its name suggests, White Sands Bay is, er…. white sand in a bay. It’s known as a surfer’s paradise because it offers some of the best surfing in the country. As such, it was jam-packed with surfers!
You have to pay £5 to park, but to be fair, the attendant recognised we didn’t look like surfers, so allowed us to drive in and turn around (wink-wink), which was just enough time to take a few photos.
Looking at the SatNav as we left White Sands Bay, I noticed the coastal route took us around St Brides Bay. Given the chief bimbler is named Bridget, we felt obliged to take a drive around the bay.
The views of St Brides Bay are stunning. It’s just a shame the weather was overcast.
I’d visited this area of Wales years ago and remembered a place called Little Haven and the Swan Inn. I tried painting pictures for Bridget of a beautiful little pub in a secluded bay, and my description powers were lacking, so I decided to take her there instead.
Again, the weather wasn’t kind, but Little Haven was as beautiful as I remembered it!
It had been a long day, and we still had some distance to cover to get to Cardiff. I was tempted to visit Swansea Bay, but Bridget had spent more than enough time in the car, so we decided to leave it for another day.
We made our way across South Wales and eventually arrived at our home for the Holiday Inn Express at Cardiff Airport for the next few days.
If you enjoyed this road trip, take a look at some of our other trips around the UK.