The Hadrian’s Wall path is an 84-mile hike running along the England/Scotland border and stretching from coast to coast. If you’ve seen our guide for walking Hadrian’s Wall, you know that there are pros and cons to walking east to west and vice versa. For…
Category: UK Travel
While there may not be a shortage of trendy new places to drink at in London, there’s something to be said for a good ol’ fashioned pub. Samuel Smith’s is a chain of pubs all over the U.K. (with dozens in London alone) that offers just that: a hearty pint, often drunk by the fire in an old Victorian building.
Pub culture is huge in the U.K. and it’s one of Gaurav and my favourite parts of living in London. We never grow tired of finding old pubs where we can while away an afternoon with beer and good conversation. Samuel Smith’s pubs are some of the ones we love the most – not least because of the no phones/laptops/electronics ban inside AND the fact that they only serve beers from the Samuel Smith’s brewery! So come along on a pub crawl with us of these 6 amazing Samuel Smith’s pubs you should be sure to check out when in London:
1. The Lyceum Tavern
(354 The Strand, WC2R 0HS)
Your first stop on your Sam Smith’s pub crawl is the Lyceum Tavern! Located just across Waterloo Bridge, this fantastic little pub is centrally located and the perfect stopping off point once you’ve hit one of the many cool brunch spots nearby. What’s so great about the Lyceum Tavern? Well, it has your standard, reasonably priced variety of Samuel Smith’s beers, beautiful wood panelling inside, and cute little nooks for getting cozy on a winter’s eve.
2. The Chandos
(29 Saint Martins Lane, WC2N 4ER)
The Chandos is one of the liveliest Samuel Smith’s pubs in the area – mostly due to its proximity to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. Featuring multiple floors for drinking and eating (with a bar on each level), beautiful coloured glass windows, and lots of cozy seats, this is a favourite among tourists and locals alike. Be aware that the pub gets quite crowded after 1pm on the weekends, so if you’re looking for a quieter experience, try popping in before then!
3. The Angel
(61 St. Giles High St., WC2H 8LE)
A 10 minute walk further into Convent Garden will bring you to The Angel, one of the busiest pubs in the area due to its spectacular location. The Angel has a couple unique features you’ll notice in some Samuel Smith’s pubs: the first are the signs and beer coasters everywhere warning patrons against getting out their phones and other electronics. That’s right, this pub is an electronics free zone! The second is the multiple entrances that will lead you to separate parts of the pub. Supposedly, this is a throwback to a time when men and women were segregated from one another because it wasn’t proper to drink together (though it’s hard to imagine it being proper for women to be in a pub at all back in the old days). These days it’s just a fun quirk that makes deciding where you’re going to sit a bit of an adventure!
4. The Bricklayers Arms
(31 Gresse St., W1T 1QS)
The Bricklayers Arms is a bit of an odd pub. On the outside it looks like your standard old Samuel Smith’s pub, and indeed when you enter the ground floor this perception holds. However, if you head upstairs to the second floor you’ll find a newer set-up complete with minimalist sofas around a shiny modern fireplace. This doesn’t take away from the charm though; this is one pub that enforces the ‘No electronics’ rule and, due to its out of the way location on a quiet back street, tends to be a very chill place to hang out.
5. The Fitzroy Tavern
(16 Charlotte St., W1T 2LY)
The Fitzroy Tavern is one of those rare beasts that tends to get busier during the week than on weekends. This makes it the perfect watering hole for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon Samuel Smith’s pub crawl. The main level is just the sort of dark wood panelled, slightly scuffed pub spot that makes you think of drunk poets, writers, and musicians hanging out in dim corners. In fact, it’s rumoured that George Orwell used to drink here, so the Fitzroy has a bit of celebrity sheen to it!
6. The Champion
(12-13 Wells St., W1T 3PA)
You won’t have to go far to hit your final stop (which is probably a good thing if you’ve had a pint at all the previous Samuel Smith’s pubs) – a 5 minute walk will bring you to the beautiful stained glass doors and windows of the Champion. This is one of those Sam Smith’s pubs with multiple entrances. Door Number One (on the left) will bring you to the section of the pub dedicated to cricketer WC Grace, while Door Number Two offers you entry into a part of the pub where Florence Nightingale is the focus! Choose wisely, as your decision will define you…just kidding, if you’re like us you’ll want to try drinking in both sides!
Are you up for a Samuel Smith pub crawl in London? Tell us in the comments section which pub you’d like to visit!
The Lake District has been on our UK bucket-list for ages, but despite living here for nearly 4 years we didn’t get around to doing it until very recently. From forests to fields, mountains to lakes, you can find a host of gorgeous nature in…
London is an amazing city to live in because you can experience the best of everything: city life on the weekdays and nature on the weekends. Indeed, you don’t have to even leave the city to enjoy the best of the English countryside. The London…
You don’t need to leave the UK to discover stunning panoramas, unique cultures, and fascinating experiences. Wales is a place that has all three of these things and more, and the best part is, it’s very easy to explore for anyone living in or visiting London. Though small, this part of the UK packs a big punch when it comes to amazing travel experiences. In fact, it’s one of our favorite places to visit, and not just due to its close proximity to London (though that’s a huge perk too). Like most people, we love taking road trips and we think the best way to explore Wales is by car.
That’s why we’ve written up a guide to help you do the same. We’ve included everything you need to plan an amazing 7-day road trip to Wales below, so start packing to hit the road!
Renting A Car
Gaurav is a master at shopping around for great deals and he finds our car rentals through Kayak. We’ve discovered good deals with Enterprise and Hertz through the website and have yet to have a bad experience. However, we do recommend you avoid renting with Greenmotion or EasiRent—their prices might be cheaper, but they can be too good to be true as well. Take into account customer ratings as well as price before you decide to book anything.
Best Time To Go
Spring (March – May) is the best time to visit Wales as the flowers are in full bloom, the weather is very pleasant, and there are quite a few festivals and activities to do. The summer (June – August) is also a great time to head to Wales and you’ll be able to enjoy a warm weather, long days, and lots of time outdoors. Remember though that high season also means lots of tourists and things can get booked out pretty quickly. Plan ahead if you want to visit Wales during these times.
If you’re okay with cooler weather, Wales is beautiful in the autumn and winter too! We’ve been twice in the fall and once in the winter and enjoyed all three trips immensely. Prices are cheaper, it’s easier to get last minute bookings, and there’s just something romantic and wonderful about warming yourself up by a fire after a long day of hiking in the cold.
7-Day Wales Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1 – London to Shropshire
The cheapest car rentals tend to be from the airports around London and we picked ours up from Enterprise at Heathrow Airport. From there we hit the highway and began the drive to Shropshire. This is about 3-4 hours from London and just inside the Welsh border.
Where To Stay: Airbnb in Knighton
We spent the night in an Airbnb in a village called Knighton. Because we were travelling in low season, we booked the Airbnb last minute and had no problems finding a place to stay. Knighton is a cute little town with a few homely pubs and a cool local feel. We don’t take a strict approach to travelling in Wales because half the fun is finding random small towns to stay in and explore. Unless you’re doing a road trip during the busy season, we highly recommend doing the same. The unexpected is just so much more fun.
Half a day is more than enough to explore the area. There’s some lovely trails around Knighton and in Shropshire in general, and when you have a car they’re very easy to access. Get your Wales trip started with an easy hike on Day One!
Day 2 – Shropshire to Snowdonia National Park
After a breakfast in town the next morning, head further west and into the famous Snowdonia National Park. From Knighton, it takes around two hours to get into the center of the park. It took us longer because once we entered Snowdonia we started pulling over frequently to explore trails branching off the main road. There are loads of parking areas dotting Snowdonia and you can park and set off on a trek whenever the mood strikes you. We had done some shopping at the grocery store earlier that day, so we came prepared with sandwich ingredients and fruit to eat during our treks. We stopped 4-5 times to do little hikes off the road. It was nice to give ourselves the freedom of not having a schedule and being able to enjoy the nature around us whenever we felt like it.
Where To Stay: The Red Lion, Y Llew Coch
Come evening we started hunting for an inn in one of the many villages in Snowdonia National Park. We happened upon The Red Lion in a village called Y Llew Coch. This was one of the most memorable parts of our road trip as the downstairs pub was a common hang out spot for the locals living in the village. People spoke Welsh to one another and we were definitely regarded with a sort of stand-offish curiosity as strange foreigners. The innkeeper told us about how he’d worked in the Red Lion as a young man before eventually buying it over. Now he and his family run it. For £40 pounds we got a room for 3 people right over the pub and hearty vegetarian breakfasts the next morning! It was so unique and a big one off the bucket list for me (Katie) as I’ve always dreamed of staying in a Lord of the Rings type inn. Look at us living our best lives, J.R.R. Tolkien!
Days 3 & 4 – Mount Snowdon
After a nice breakfast and chat at the inn, we drove further into Snowdonia National Park toward Mount Snowdon. At 1,085 meters above sea level, Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales. It’s a popular destination for hikers of all ages and levels, and we were keen to climb it too. There are a lot of villages around Snowdon where you can book accommodation, and even a YHA hostel at the foot of Snowdon (you literally just cross the road to get to the mountain trails from there). The hostel gets booked out quickly though, so if you want to stay there you should book several months in advance. However, for last minute accommodation you can find a lot of inns and Airbnb options in nearby villages and make the 20-minute drive to park at the foot of Snowdon.
Where To Stay: YHA hostel near Snowdon, or Airbnb in Nant Peris, Pen-y-Pass, or any other village in the area
If you’re planning to climb Snowdon during your road trip in Wales, please read our article with everything you need to know about scaling this mountain. There’s tips for finding parking, which trail to take, and loads of other good info to help you avoid making the same mistakes we did! We recommend giving yourself 2 days at Snowdon just in case you struggle to complete the summit on your first try. This is what happened to us, and we were glad to stay in one place for an extra day anyway. We stayed at an Airbnb in Nant Peris. It’s a small village, but there’s a local pub and you can shop for groceries, get climbing gear, or buy Indian takeaway at the nearby Pen-y-Pass.
Set aside an entire day for Snowdon. You’ll want to get up early to catch the sunrise during your hike(in the winter months) and, though the hike up and down takes between 4-5 hours depending on your fitness levels, you will be tired afterwards. For your second day at Mount Snowdon you can give yourself a challenge by scaling it again via one of the more advanced trails, or you can simply find another trail around/near the mountain and take a completely different hike instead. Suffice to say, you won’t be short on options when it comes to trekking! Just ask at the YHA for trail suggestions and they’ll give you lots of ideas.
Day 5 – Betws-y-Coed
We’re still not clear on how to pronounce the name of this cute little town, but we were told it’s a must when visiting Wales! Betws-y-Coed is one of many magical villages around Snowdonia and you’ll find a range of places to eat, cute coffee shops, fun pubs, and quirky shops. Because Betws-y-Coed is a popular tourist spot, we don’t recommend spending the night there as accommodation can be a bit more expensive.
Where To Stay: With Airbnb host Theresa near Betws-y-Coed
If you’re okay with going a little off the beaten track in order to meet a really amazing Airbnb host, we recommend Theresa a thousand times over! She’s originally from England and is making a life for herself out in the Welsh countryside along with her spunky dog. Theresa made us feel like we were family and we shared some wonderful meals and had some great talks. Gaurav and I are firm believers in the idea that it’s the people that make a trip special, and we always want to recommend to you guys any amazing acquaintances we meet along the way. If you book with Theresa, let her know we said hi!
Day 6 – Betws-y-Coed to Conwy to Moreton-in-Marsh
Take a break from the great outdoors and do something really touristy today! Castle Conwy sits just 30 minutes north of Betws-y-Coed and is well worth a visit. The castle is located in the town of Conwy, right on the Conwy River (seeing the trend here?) and the entrance fee is a very reasonable £9.50. We learned quite a bit about the history of the castle, and had a fun time exploring the grounds. We recommend setting aside 1.5 to 2 hours to do this, depending on how interested you are in history and how thorough you want to be. Castle Conwy also offers some beautiful views of the town and river from its ramparts, so it’s worth it for that alone!
Where To Stay: Airbnb pods near Moreton-in-Marsh
There are loads of places to eat around the castle, so grab some lunch before starting your drive back in the direction of London. You could actually do the entire drive back to London at this point if you like, but since the motto of our Wales road trip is slow and leisurely, we chose instead to go part of the way so we could make plenty of pit stops if we wanted to. We stopped for the night in Moreton-in-Marsh which is located in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We actually spent the night in one of these really cool pods (booked via Airbnb). We never met our host, Stephen, but he was great about communicating with us and even has some guidebooks for the area up on his profile! The hikes around the CAONB are definitely worth it, so if you’ve got half a day to spare we recommend hitting the trails around here too.
Day 7 – Moreton-in-Marsh to London
Our rental was due back on noon this day, and although the drive is only 3 hours, due to unpredictable traffic, narrow roads, and other unforeseen circumstances, we took closer to 4. Give yourself an hour window just in case, because if you’re from London you know things can get crazy the closer you get to the city. Day 7 marks the final day of your road trip and it’s time to wrap it up!
There you have it, an amazing 7-day trip to and around Wales! Hopefully this has been helpful in guiding you to plan your trip, and you’re feeling inspired to explore Wales more. Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions or suggestions—we’d love to hear from you.
The sun is coming out and the weather is warming up here in London, and G and I are more than ready for it! We got our hiking shoes out recently and took our very first trek of the year, and it really reminded us…
Climbing Snowdon was never a must-do activity for us when we moved to the UK three years ago, and we definitely never considered climbing Snowdon in the winter! Over the past few years, Wales has become a go-to destination for us; we love how it’s…