It was almost difficult to keep track of all the castles I visited on my recent trip to Wales. Rather than try to give a comprehensive narrative of the trip, I'll post a few photos and share a some thoughts of the castles and the Marriott's along the way.
The trip began with an overnight flight from ORD to LHR on a BA 744. Being in business class or "Club World" as BA calls it, I slept most of the flight so I don't have too much to say about it. The "lie flat" seats were good, though I prefer those on AA and DL (wow, that makes me sound a bit snobbish). Regardless, being reasonably well-rested when arriving to pick up my car at Heathrow really made a difference. From there it was off to the Bristol Royal Marriott, a grand old hotel in the center of town. No lounge, but excellent breakfast and a couple drink vouchers made up for that.
The first castle stop in Wales was Chepstow castle, right on the border with England. Is sits along the River Wye and is only a few miles from my second Marriott stay, St. Pierre's hotel and county club. Again no CL, but I was upgraded to a nice suite. Even better, I used my annual visa certificate, as this property is still only a category 5.
From Chepstow, it was on to Caerphilly castle, one of the largest castles in all of Britain. Talk about impressive. I always thought of castle towers as being cramped, but the space inside these fortifications were huge. The room above the main gatehouse looked big enough to fit my entire house inside.
From Caerphilly, it's just a short drive to Cardiff and the downtown Marriott. This was the only location I visited on this trip that had a CL. No need for me to do a lounge review. There's already a great one on Insiders Lounge Review: Cardiff Marriott.
A little farther north, but still in the southern half of Wales is Cilgerran castle. It's notable for its two massive drum towers defending the front of the structure. It backs up to cliff face overlooking the River Teifi. One of the great thing about most of these castles is that visitors can climb the spiral stairs up 3, or 4 or even 5 flights to walk along the battlement. Looking down into the inner ward or over the cliff face and down to the river is not for those who fear heights.
But it wasn't all castles. In Caerleon, we stopped in a the ruins of a Roman bathhouse. We also visited at least half a dozen stone age sites, the stones still standing. Here's Pentre Ifan, one of the most famous.
Then there was St. David's Cathedral. If you ever get to the far southwestern part of Wales, make sure to stop in Britain's smallest city. It's worth a visit and it's an easy day trip from the Swansea Marriott. Drop by one of the local pubs for lunch and a pint.
Not all Welsh castles are so well preserved or maintained. Coity Castle is little more than a few walls. The foundations outline where buildings used to be. No climbing here, though still interesting and just off the M4. Of course, unlike the more popular castles, admission there is free. In many ways, I this just scratches the surface. There are so many castles in Wales. It almost feels like any town of modest size has the ruins of one castle or another. Many tourists focus on the so-called iron ring in northern Wales, castles built by Edward I. The castles in southern Wales are no less impressive and are within easy reach of the 3 Marriott locations in Wales. I could easily imagine making a return trip.