A book lover’s guide to Hay-On-Wye

A few months ago, I made a trip to the bookish town in Wales, Hay-On-Wye. It was a book lover’s dream and I discovered many cool and unique shops while there. All of them were in walking distance too as the town is quite quaint. They were all dog friendly, which is perfect if you have your best friend with you.

Castle Bookshop

The bookshop on the castle grounds was one I had heard of before. It’s right in the centre of the town and is based on a trust system. There’s nobody there to check that you’ve paid for your second hand book, but there are a few slots where you can put money into. The castle area was covered in scaffolding when I visited so I didn’t get the full effect. However, the area was really cool and interesting to explore. I think with places like this, there is less choice, with mainly autobiographies or Mills and Boon type of books. All of the books were in good condition.

Murder and Mayhem

This was my favourite bookshop in Hay-On-Wye. I think it’s really unique that it is based solely on a specific niche in the book world, rather than having shelves of every book like most bookshops do. It definitely stands out as it only stocks murder, crime, horror and mystery novels.

There were shelves and shelves of Agatha Christie books, which I love. As well as new releases upstairs. Some of the books were second hand but in really good condition. The only thing I did notice was the second hand books weren’t much cheaper than the newer books, so if you are going it’s probably good to be aware of that. The shop itself looks chaotic as there are books everywhere, even on the floor but they’re all piled in categories, making an orderly mess.

We spoke to the lady at the counter and asked how she came up with the idea to have a shop based around a small genre of books and she said she couldn’t answer that but she was glad someone had created the shop, having worked there for almost 20 years herself in her dream job.

Book Passage, connected to Addyman Books

The Book Passage was similar in stock to the Castle Bookshop, however, there seemed to be a lot more books available. It was very crowded so we didn’t venture all the way down. It would probably be best to visit it on a less busy day of the week. They had everything from crime, romance, autobiographies, non-fiction and more.

Richard Booth’s Bookshop

Richard Booth’s Bookshop is one everyone seeks out. I was asked a couple of times by people passing by if I knew where it was. But it wasn’t very busy when I visited which was a huge perk. It reminded me of a modern bookshop, stocking similar books to all the chain shops. However, upstairs there was a lot more available, from first editions to quiet reading nooks. They had everything you could possibly be looking for.

Downstairs they had a section where they sold pretty bookmarks and novelty items, such as mugs, tote bags and a few games. They even sold crafts, including yarn for knitting. I loved this bookshop as it was so elegant and beautiful, with its polished wooden shelves and neatly stacked books.

Hay Cinema Bookshop

Hay Cinema Bookshop is probably the furthest from all the others but only by a few extra minutes. It reminded me a lot of a warehouse more than a cinema because I’ve never seen so many books in one place!

When approaching the shop, there’s a small wooden shelve opposite with some books available to purchase for £1. There wasn’t a wide variety of options and it was similar to what was available at the Castle Bookshop. However, once you step inside you’ll see sections of books from every genre. Some books were new, some very old. There were even some very expensive, massively thick books upstairs behind glass containers. The shop also sold posters, cards and items celebrating all things Wales. The staff were very friendly and even offered our dog some treats.

The Poetry Bookshop

This is also a very niche bookshop and it’s perfect for people who love to read poetry and want a large selection. They had modern poetry as well as books written by classic poets. The shop was fairly small, with rows of shelves and books stacked onto smaller shelves that spun as you searched through the options. The man who worked there was also very friendly and happy to help search for books on your behalf.


Have you visited any of these shops? Which one was your favourite? Let me know by commenting below.

I’m also on Instagram and Twitter @bookwormgirl_24

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