Discovering the “Wonders of Wales” – #adeoOnTheRoad

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend three nights on the small-group Wonders of Wales Tour, a comprehensive tour of the great nation of Wales! Whilst researching itineraries helps us to provide a nice overview of the tour for our guests, nothing beats experiencing first-hand the quality of such trips to help us with our knowledge and expertise. And the with just 14 passengers, it was the ideal group-size for exploring.

We departed from Cardiff in Wales on a bright Sunday morning (the hottest day of the year, only to be beaten by the following day). Heading North to the Big Pit, we were sent far underground for a crash course in Wales’ coal industry, which, of course, helped a boom in the South Wales economy and helped develop cities such as Cardiff, where we at adeo Travel are based. From the Big Pit, we travelled to the open-air museum of Saint Fagans to learn about Welsh culture and life. Hidden away were some great gardens and a tea room. Finally, we headed to our overnight stay in the Bear Hotel, Crickhowell. The Hotel offers great tasting food (massive portions), and has managed to preserve the charm and draw of a country hotel in such a stunning location, largely due to the great characterful features and top hospitality.

Our next day saw us drive to Tintern Abbey, in the heart of the Wye Valley. The Abbey is famed for its connection to Dylan Thomas and J.M.W. Turner. After lunch, we drove further into the Valley and made a stop at the idyllic White Castle Vineyard. Owned by a married couple who dreamt of such an adventure, we learnt about the production of wine, and the difficulties of growing grapes in the rather harsh South Wales climate (hard to believe for our overseas guests when it was 35 degrees!). Having the evening free, we returned to the Bear Hotel to sample more of their great menu, filled with tasty home comfort foods in addition to luxury items.

On day three, my final day, we began our journey to the North Wales base of Conwy. Our first stop was the impressive Powys Castle. Most castles in Wales are historical ruins, whereas Powys Castle showed off Victorian décor with stunning views across Powys and Mid Wales. Next, we drove the short distance to the Llangollen Aqueduct. Seventy metres in the air, and for those less afraid of heights, the attraction serves as a crossing to the other side of the canal, whilst offering spectacular views across the landscape. Before heading to our new hotel, we made a quick stop at the beautiful Tu Hwnt Ir Bont tearoom. This quaint house has retained its charm and offers a great food stop for guests. From there, we checked in to our second hotel, the Castle Hotel, an old coaching inn in Wales, standing on the site of a Cistercian abbey within the UNESCO World Heritage walled town of Conwy. Finally, the balance of the day was spent in the seaside resort of Llandudno, listening an all Welsh choir. A must-see experience!

The Wonders of Wales Tour gave me an in-depth look at the way small groups are run, in addition to valuable knowledge of attractions, destinations and accommodations used. I would recommend the trip to anyone interested in a hands-free experience of Wales. Attractions I missed out on were as follows: Snowdonia, Welsh Slate Museum, Pembrokeshire Coast, St Davids, Welsh language lesson and Caernarfon Castle, to name a few. In summary, I wish I had stayed longer!

For more information on the Wonders of Wales Tour click here.

To enquire or book click here.

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Castle Hotels “An authentic night with a difference”

Castle Hotels “An authentic night with a difference”

Celebrating something special? A wedding anniversary, honeymoon, birthday milestone, retirement, maybe celebrating your children passing their exams or just looking for a vacation with a difference? What ever your special moment, why not consider experiencing a night in a castle hotel in the UK, which could be the perfect way to mark the occasion!!

With the vast history the UK withholds, castles built in previous eras can be found sprinkled around the whole of the England, Scotland & Wales. Frozen in time, these castle hotels stand regal, often set within beautiful gardens engulfed in breath taking surroundings. Even in this day they have the most original features still intact, as you enter you feel like your back in time…hidden in the walls of legends passed this creates a truly fascinating & authentic experience!

Here at adeo Travel, we pride ourselves on presenting our guests with the most charming and original accommodation possible, and believe that a castle hotel stay can really enhance a guest experience in Britain!!

Below are some of the great Castle stays we offer here at adeo Travel, take a look at our Castle & Manors of Britain, and Castles & Manors of England/Scotland & Wales tours on the self-drive tours section of our website to find out more and submit your request now to receive your very own, tailored itinerary, customised to your needs!!

Dalhousie Castle, near Edinburgh

Dalhousie Castle is situated in the parish of Cockpen, which can be found about eight miles south of Edinburgh. Dating all the way back to the 13th century, it still demonstrates many original features with, and even the ancient vaults remain today.

Most of the present structure was built around 1450 from the red stone quarried from the opposite bank of the South Esk River, on which the Castle stands.

Renovated into a castle hotel, it now has 29 individually and charming bedrooms, all themed around famous historical figures. You will find the decoration is faithful to Scottish design fabrics such as tweed, tartan and twill. Hard not to be enchanted with the details you’d expect from a building of this age you’ll enjoy its period features including furniture, rugs and carpets which harmoniously work together to create a warm, relaxing and fabulous overnight stay.

 

Sherbrooke Castle, near Glasgow

Sherbrooke Castle, became a hotel in just before World War two. It was originally built as a home or villa for its contracter John Morrison in 1986, a respected contractor of the time, built a baronial villa for himself in Pollokshields, namely, Sherbrooke Castle, designed by Thomson and Sandilands.

 

It is a good example of the type of house built by the middle class in the rather decadent late Victorian period and has a number of unusual features. The rooms are arranged around three sides of a large hall and staircase. The external Baronialism is, in some ways, an added romantic touch.

The hotel has luxury bedrooms and suites, a lounge bar & great restaurant

At the Sherbrooke, they have combined traditional grace with modern efficiency. Prestige with convenience that is enjoyed by many a guest.

 

Augill Castle, Cumbria

Augill Castle, was originally built in 1841 as a Victorian gentleman’s country residence, has all the fairytale romance of a turreted hideaway. Augill Castle is not just a hotel, but a country house in its truest sense.

Set in the Upper Eden Valley, it stands in open country and has had little changes for centuries. Set in the dramatic back drop of the North Pennines, you will find luscious gardens opening out to views of the nearby Yorkshire Dales and the Lakeland Fells beyond.

This is a great family run hotel with a rich history and a great experience for any visitors.

 

Ruthin Castle, North Wales

Ruthin Castle, was created by Dafydd, brother of Prince Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, for King Edward I of England in 1277 who gave the fort (that was present on the site) to him in return for his treacherous help during the invasion of North Wales that year. Dafydd also had castles at Caergwle and Denbigh.

It was originally known by the Welsh name of Castell Coch yn yr Gwernfor or The Red Castle in the Great Marsh.

In the early 1960’s The Castle was purchased at auction and converted into an hotel. One of its most notable guests since was HRH Prince Charles who stayed on his way to his investiture as Prince of Wales (the 21st Prince of Wales since the new title began in 1301).

Now, Ruthin Castle is a beautiful retreat; interesting in its history and nestled in acres of parkland beside the Clwydian Range in North Wales. Here you can indulge yourself with exquisite dining,& unwind in their distinctive spa. Enjoy the renowned Medieval Feasts and luxurious accommodation!

 

Thornbury Castle, near Bath & the Cotswolds

Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, built the castle during the reign of Henry VIII, though he wasn’t able to enjoy it for long. After being betrayed to the king by a disgruntled servant, Stafford was arrested for high treason and executed on Tower Hill. Henry claimed the castle for himself, spending ten days here while on his honeymoon tour with Anne Boleyn. It remained royal property until the death of his daughter Mary I, when it was returned to the Duke’s descendants.

For two centuries, the castle was unoccupied, falling into ruin. In the 1850s, it was saved and turned into a family home. Its more recent occupants have included the Howards, the Clifford family, Kenneth Bell MBE and the Baron and Baroness of Portlethen

Today, visitors can enjoy Thornbury Castle at its best. Tudor style meets modern excellence, with comfortable four-poster beds, magnificent open fireplaces, a dungeon dining room and a grand hall for balls, feasts and parties.

 

 

So, why not take a step back in time, treat yourselves like the Royals, and enjoy an evening to remember with a night in a castle hotel! You can find these fantastic examples aswell as many more in our self-drive section of our website under Castle & Manors of all Britain, Scotland,England & Wales . Request your own personalised tailor-made self drive tour today with adeo Travel, your Britain Vacation Experts.

 

Top Ten Tips for a Rail Tour of England

Since its Victorian era heyday, rail travel has been a major means of transport for us Brits and a popular way for overseas visitors to explore Britain. With a far-reaching network, quality service providers and frequent connections coupled with the range of flexible passes and superb value offered by the Britrail scheme, Britain, and England in particular, is an excellent destination to explore by rail. So if you don’t fancy joining a large coach group and want to ditch the rental vehicle, why not hop aboard a train to traverse Britain.  Here’s our top-ten tips and practical advice for your independent rail tour:

  1. Pack light

This may seem obvious but pack as light as possible – there is no porterage service or luggage assistance at the train stations so you’ll need to be able to manage your own bags.  For this reason, we recommend you travel with minimal luggage, ideally no more than a mid-size bag or suitcase with wheels and one item of hand luggage such as a small rucksack. Most stations will have elevator access to the platforms but it is easier if you’re able to carry your case up or down a short flight of stairs, at the very least you would need to be capable of lifting your bags up two or three steps to board the train.

  1. Avoid the rush hour

You’re on holiday so have a lie in or enjoy a leisurely breakfast! It may be tempting to get your journey underway early but by waiting until after 9am to board the train you’ll avoid the local commuters which means less crowded platforms and quieter carriages meaning more space and a more enjoyable journey!

  1. Download an app

All adeo Travel rail tours include full printed service and departure information in your travel pack, but if you’re travelling with a smart-phone or tablet, we recommend that you download a rail app too. Most are easy to use and offer up-to-the-minute schedule information so that you can check your journeys and keep on top of any local service changes or potential delays. Ask your adeo Travel advisor for the best rail apps to download.

  1. Give yourself time

Britrail passes off amazing flexibility allowing you to choose any departure time for your journey without pre-booking times and seats, however if you’re aiming for a particular service ensure you give yourself plenty of time to catch it. If you plan to get to the station on foot, check how long the walk will take you before you set off. Or if you plan to take a cab, you can ask your concierge or hotel receptionist to pre-book one for your planned departure the night before.  Bear in mind that it can take time within the station to pass through ticket barriers and reach the correct platform, especially in larger stations.

  1. Stay central

It may be tempting to book low-cost hotels away from the town-centre or guest house accommodation located in the residential suburbs, however we would generally recommend centrally located hotels and all adeo Travel rail tours include central accommodation as standard. Even if you choose to take a taxi to/from the station when you are transferring your luggage, you still want to be in a downtown location to ensure you can easily explore the destination on foot; extra time and money spent in cabs could be better spent on enjoying your trip!

  1. Ask for help

Generally, the staff on the railways are extremely knowledgeable and very friendly; if you need help to figure out a timetable, check a platform or clarify a connection, simply ask someone – there are ample staff and ticket conductors, platform staff and barrier attendants will all be more than willing to help.

  1. Do day tours in rural areas

Many British cities are compact and easily explored on foot; rural areas on the other hand can be difficult to explore by rail as many smaller towns and villages no longer have operational railway stations. Our recommended solution is to combine your rail tour with pre-booked day-tours in selected destinations.  Small-group operators offer excellent insight in to countryside regions such as the Lake District, Yorkshire and South Wales but don’t forget to pre-book as they prove popular in the Summer months! If you want recommendations on such tours, simply ask your adeo Travel expert.

  1. Check seat reservations

Many train carriages will have reserved seating denoted by a ticket or digital panel – it may seem that many seats are reserved but always check the tickets; seat reservations are often only in place between selected destinations on the route – if you check the tickets you’ll find that the traveller may not be boarding the train until later on the journey or indeed may already have alighted at a previous stop. If a seat is left free, just use it.  If the owner of the seat reservation comes along, they’ll just politely ask you to move.

  1. Use your passes to their full potential

One of the real benefits of the Britrail scheme is the value the passes offer.  They are specifically designed and valid only for overseas visitors. They provide completely unlimited travel on each day of use, so don’t just set aside your ticket once you’ve arrived in your overnight destination – drop off your luggage at the hotel and get back on the rails to explore the surrounding towns and villages accessible by train.

  1. Enjoy the views

It can be tempting to bury your head in the newspaper or become glued to your phone as you travel between destinations, but don’t forget to look up occasionally; Britain is home to some of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys, and you can enjoy stunning vistas of coast and countryside on your travels by rail. The beauty of a rail tour is that you can sit back and lose yourself in England’s landscapes. Just ask your adeo Travel advisor if you want to include any particularly picturesque or famous routes.

We hope our tips have been helpful – when booking a rail tours with adeo Travel you’ll benefit from our local expertise every step of the way.  We are official Britrail agents and we regularly ride the rails of Britain in our daily lives.  For a full selection of our rail tours please click here.  Alternatively, for a fully customized rail tours simply enquire here.

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Driving in Britain Tips

One of the more frequently raised topics regarding our self-drive tours here at adeo Travel are concerns about driving in Britain, namely about operating a vehicle on the left-hand side of the road during your time here.
This blog should help quash some of your fears about driving in our country and make you feel a little bit more relaxed before your Britain vacatioCar on country roadn.

When you enquire for a self-drive tour here at adeo Travel, as standard we will include a rental car with an automatic transmission. Although the majority of cars here in Britain are of manual transmission, we feel that having an automatic car will give our guests a smoother transition into driving in Britain.

Although we give you directions to each of your hotels in your travel documents that you will receive prior to travel, you may still wish to consider including a GPS navigation system with your car rental. If you have a GPS system instruct you on where you are going, this will allow your focus to be on getting used to the differences in our road systems – you also have less chance of getting lost which is always a bonus!

Driving on the other side of the road to what you are used to may seem fairly daunting at first, but feedback from our past guests tell us that it is easier to get used to than you would think! The fact that the driver’s seat is on the opposite side of what your brain is used to will straight away make you aware that something is different, which makes it much easier to adapt. If you do wish to go exploring the backroads here in Britain, our country roads can often be as narrow as a single-lane anyway, so there really is no need to fret!

Another key difference of British roads are roundabouts (or traffic circles). Roundabouts may appear daunting on paper, but as long as you remember to get into the correct lane for the direction you are heading and give way to the right then you will have nothing to worry about.

There is no ‘right on red’ equivalent here in Britain. Instead, we have filtered traffic lights. Do not proceed forward unless the light is green and there is no traffic or the designated filter is green for the direction you wish to go.

This blog has covered some of our frequently asked questions about driving in Britain – if you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to assist.

A variety of our self-drive tours can be found on our website, each quote will have car hire included as standard. We look forward to hearing from you!

Highlights of Britain Small-Group Tour – My Experience

As you may have seen from my last blog, recently I had the opportunity to go on one of our more popular group tours the ‘Highlights of Britain’.

Oxford UniversityWe had an early start from the centre of London, where everyone met in a timely fashion. Once the luggage was loaded onto the mini-coach, we headed straight for Oxford.
It was here that we had our own personal walking tour of the city by a local resident who was very knowledgeable of all the sites and answered all questions our group had with accuracy.
It was especially great to learn about the history of the famous Oxford University while inside the buildings themselves and having plenty of picture opportunities.
After the walking tour, we were allowed two hours to ourselves to explore the city privately. There was an opportunity to get food before exploring landmarks such as Blackwell’s Bookshop, which stocks over 200,000 books and its Norrington Room is the largest single room devoted to the selling of books in Europe at 10,000 square feet.
Departing Oxford, we headed to the Cotswolds where we got to see Bampton, famously used as a fictional village in Downtown Abbey.
Our stay for the evening was in the lovely Three Ways House hotel, where we treated to a three-course meal before becoming dessert connoisseurs by taking part in their famous ‘Pudding Club’.

Leaving the Cotswolds on day two, we headed north to Worcester Cathedral; it was here that we had a tour by a knowledgeable and charismatic historian. The Cathedral houses the tomb of the infamous King John and there were plenty of photo opportunities in this stunning builIronbridgeding.
After the tour concluded, we headed to Much Wenlock where we had an hour to get food and explore the quaint and picturesque village.
After our stomachs were satisfied, it was back on the mini-coach and up to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ironbridge which was a stunning sight. The bridge was the very first bridge in the world made with an arch-shape out of cast iron. Again, picture opportunities were in abundance and I am still using the photo I took of Ironbridge as the wallpaper on my phone to this day!
After a long day of sightseeing, we crossed the border into North Wales where we retired for the evening.

After a lovely breakfast on day three, we departed our hotel and headed for the Area of Outstanding National Beauty known as Snowdonia Park, home of the impressive Mount Snowdon. The weather was good to us on the day that we visited; the lakes a beautiful blue and the valleys gorgeous green in colour.
Departing Snowdon, it was up to the island of Anglesey where we crossed the Menai Suspension Bridge to visit the famous village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and of course we all took turns trying to pronounce it!Snowdonia
Coming back to mainland Wales across the Britannia Bridge, we visited Bodnant Welsh Food Centre where we had a lovely three course meal followed by a Welsh cookery lesson and a tour of the centre itself.
It was then that we headed back to our hotel after a thoroughly enjoyable day of sightseeing in North Wales.

At the beginning day four, it was time for me personally to leave the tour and return home, but the tour itself lasts nine days and continues through Britain where the rest of the group got to see places like Chester, York, The Lake District and Scotland, concluding in Edinburgh.

With the dates for 2017 recently released for the Highlights of Britain tour, what better time is there for you to enquire to book with us today – I couldn’t recommend this tour enough!