A literary excursion to Hay-on-Wye Books: The small town in the Welsh Borders region has three dozen book shops and an annual literary festival.

Travel Q&A


I recently saw a show about a literary trip to a small town on the English-Welsh border, Hay-on-Wye. Any information you may have on how to take such a trip will be appreciated.

The town of Hay-on-Wye, in the Welsh Borders region, has a population of 1,400 and some three dozen book shops, virtually all of them selling secondhand and antiquarian books.

The phenomenon began around 40 years ago with Richard Booth, who opened a shop in town, "and gradually it grew from there," according to Pat Gamon at the Hay-on-Wye Tourist Information Bureau. The town gets about a million visitors a year, she said.

The tourist office is on Oxford Road, within the Crafts Center, at the top of the main parking lot; telephone (0497) 820144.

The town has had an annual literary festival in recent years, with readings and recitals; the 1997 dates are May 23 to June 1.

Several companies schedule stops in the town as part of tours focusing on literary Britain.

British Heritage Tours is planning to run a seven-night trip next year, May 28 to June 4, that will spend two days in Hay to attend the festival. The tour will spend three nights in nearby Ross-on-Wye, as well as one night in Stratford-on-Avon and three nights in London. Other features will include literary walks of London and Bath, a visit to Shakespeare's birthplace and a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theater.

The price of $1,075 to $1,288 a person, double occupancy, depends on how many participants sign up; a minimum of 10 will be required. It includes Continental breakfast in London and dinner and English breakfast outside London. Airfare is extra. British Heritage Tours, Richmond Place, 125 Boughton, Chester CH3 5BJ, England; from the United States, (800) 964-2819, or in Britain, (01244) 342222, fax (01244) 320072.

A company called Back-Roads Touring in London includes Hay-on-Wye on its Literary England itinerary (which also includes Wales). Next year's dates are not set. In addition to spending a day in the town, it also visits Jane Austen's home at Chawton, Hampshire; towns and villages in Dorset associated with Thomas Hardy; and the city of Bath. The price is $1,499 including transportation, accommodations, and full breakfast and dinner daily.

Arrangements can be made through the company's U.S. representative, British Network, the Mews, 594 Valley Road, Upper Montclair, N.J. 07043; (201) 744-8814 or (800) 274-8583, fax (201) 744-0531.

I would like to find furnished accommodations with kitchen facilities in Santa Monica, Calif., on a weekly or monthly basis. And is winter a high or low season?

Winter, especially January and February, is low season in Santa Monica, according to a spokeswoman for the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, when hotels may drop their rates. Temperatures range from lows in the mid-40s to highs in the mid-60s.

Here are two suite-style hotels that might fill the bill.

The Hotel Oceana has 65 suites ranging in size from studio to two bedrooms, on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Each suite has a dining area and kitchen. There is a heated outdoor pool, a fitness center and a laundry.

Continental breakfast delivered to the room is included in the rates, which currently start at $170 daily for a studio; $190 for a one-bedroom; and $275 for a two-bedroom. Though winter rates have not yet been set, a staff member at the hotel said you should be able to get a discount of 10 to 20 percent for an extended stay of more than a month.

Hotel Oceana, 849 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, Calif. 90403; (310) 393-0486 or (800) 777-0758, fax (310) 458-1182.

Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel, with 253 suites, offers lower rates but not a full kitchen. Small refrigerators and microwave ovens are available on request, as are eating utensils. The hotel, recently renovated, has an outdoor heated pool and whirlpool, a health club and sauna.

A standard suite with a king-size bed and a sleep sofa is $119 night for a stay of at least seven days; $109 for 14 days; and $99 a night for 30 days or longer.

Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel, 1707 Fourth St., Santa Monica 90401; (310) 395-3332, (800) 222-8733, fax (310) 452-7399.

Bob Katz, assistant manager of the Prudential Jon Douglas Co., said that with luck, his real-estate agency might be able to find a two-bedroom townhouse in a good location for $2,000 a month. "That's a bare minimum -- it goes up from there," he said.

The Prudential Jon Douglas Co., 1531 Montana Ave., Santa Monica 90403; (310) 458-0091, fax (310) 458-6125.

Pub Date: 8/25/96

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