For the Easter weekend, we were kindly invited for a stay in Swansea by Visit Swansea Bay* to experience everything the region has to offer. Gower is home to Rhossili Bay, Wales’ best beach, and Britain’s fourth best beach, as voted for by Trip Advisor users in the 2016 Travellers Choice Awards. It also boasts the Gower Peninsula, which was named the UK’s first area of Outstanding Natural Beauty back in 1956 – it is the 60th anniversary this year so lots going on in the region for us to discover.
We are only in Bristol which makes Swansea just over an hour away once we cross the river Severn. I’ve always said what a friendly bunch the Welsh are (being half Welsh myself!) and within minutes of tweeting that we were on the bridge I received a tweet back with a ‘Welcome to Wales’ pic attached which was very nice and perfectly timed! There was quite a bit of traffic as expected on bank holiday weekend but I’m not surprised that visitors decide to flock to this beautiful corner of Wales.
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The National Waterfront Museum
We wanted to make the most of our weekend and so rather than checking into the hotel a soon as we arrived we made our first stop The National Waterfront Museum to join in with the Easter fun activities they had going on there. Free to enter, the museum tells the story of Welsh industry and innovation now, and over the past 300 years using interactive technology. It was really interesting to have a look around all the exhibits and lovely that there were so many activities for children to do. Rose particularly enjoyed making an Easter bunny and got to meet a real-life gecko!
The Dragon Hotel
We arrived at The Dragon Hotel a four-star hotel right in the city centre, making it the perfect location and base for our stay. We were greeted by the friendly staff on the reception desk and checked into our room straight away, a spacious junior suite with interlinking rooms. We travelled light in terms of children (!) leaving the two older ones at home with their grandparents and just bringing Rose along. As you can see from the photographs the suite at the hotel was great and had everything you would expect from this type of accommodation. It was fab for Rose to have a room to herself which meant Mr T and I were able to stay up without disturbing her bedtime.
For dinner on the first night, Visit Swansea Bay had arranged for us to eat in The Piano Restaurant situated on the first floor of the hotel and offering spectacular panoramic views across the city centre. There was even live piano music which, as a pianist was a much-appreciated accompaniment to dinner, it was only at the end of the evening we discovered the musician was a mere 15 years old what a talented young man! The staff in the restaurant were super friendly and attentive, chatting away to little Rose and making us feel really welcome. The food; a contemporary mix of European style cuisine, and impressive selection of wines was wonderful too.
The following morning after a relaxed first night at the hotel, we popped down to the Piano Restaurant for a full English and set off to see what the local area had to offer…
The Gower Heritage Centre
Based around an 800-year-old corn and saw mill and powered by a working water wheel. Visitors can watch blacksmith demonstrations, and join craft workshops. The centre also includes play areas a woollen mill and an animal park. There is so much to do and see at The Gower Heritage Centre, you could easily spend an entire day there – in fact, we spent pretty much the whole of the Saturday at the centre as the weather was pretty bad.
There were so many activities on offer for children including a Mad Hatter’s tea party – the Mad Hatter and Alice were walking around the place in character which was really fun to see. Rose had a go at making a puppet and got to watch a real puppet show, we all ‘threw a pot’ at the potter’s wheel and spent ages looking around outside where there were chickens roaming freely and goats and ducks to entertain Rose.
There were live jazz acts playing which really added to the fun atmosphere and bank holiday spirit. We enjoyed afternoon tea from the courtyard cafe whilst Rose played on the huge bouncy castle. It really was the best way to spend the day and we will definitely go back for a return visit.
The Grape and Olive Restaurant
For dinner that evening, we were extremely lucky to be invited to The Grape and Olive Restaurant which is at the top of Wales’ tallest building: The Meridian Tower overlooks the entire Bay and it is completely breathtaking. We arrived at about 5.30pm so it was still light enough to enjoy the stunning views that stretch out for miles and watch the city light up as the sun went down. It was incredibly romantic despite having a little person in tow! We were treated to the most amazing meal and felt very spoilt indeed. If you do visit Swansea Bay you absolutely must go for a meal here, not only to enjoy the views but to experience what I would consider to be world class food.
First stop on Easter Sunday was The LC featuring an exciting network of pools, rides and slides. The LC Waterpark is home to the much loved wave pool and famous Masterblaster – a roller coaster style slide that blasts riders on a rubber ring uphill on jetted water and then lets gravity do the rest!
Rose was a bit too little for the big slides but adored hanging around Mr T’s neck in the middle of the wave pool and sliding down the smaller slide in the toddler play pool again and again and again…
It was a lovely energetic start to the day and as I got changed after our swim Mr T took Rose into the softplay which has a 4 tier play tower taking little ones through an aquatic maze of slides, bridges and ball pits. She had an amazing time and was thoroughly worn out afterwards.
Our final stop of the weekend was a short walk across the award winning Sail bridge with spectacular views across the marina to a gorgeous cafe/restaurant situated in one of the original dock buildings of SA1. Cafe TwoCann is a cafe by day and restaurant by night they focus on fresh well presented food and excellent service which attracts many to the prestigious Swansea waterfront development. We enjoyed a four-course Easter Sunday lunch which was absolutely superb. The service was incredible and our waitress was brilliant, chatting away and making us feel really at home. The food was amazing and Mr T said it was the best lamb he’s ever eaten in his life! It was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend.
I would highly recommend a visit to Swansea Bay, there is so much to do and see I wish we had longer to explore. It is most definitely a place for foodies, we came away from every meal amazed at the quality and level of service. Everyone we met was so welcoming and friendly and took the time to have a chat with us, there is such a lovely atmosphere which makes such a difference. There is a lot of refurbishment going on around the centre and the waterfront which is attracting new businesses that are obviously thriving it was nice to see it so busy. It’s a very cosmopolitan city and reminds me a lot of Bristol.
Tourists will find Swansea to be a vibrant place with warm, friendly and helpful people everywhere you go. If you venture a little further out to the Mumbles; the gateway to The Gower Peninsula you will find yourself surrounded by natural beauty, history and places steeped in Welsh tradition. The scenery is breathtaking with wild horses roaming the exquisite countryside and some of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches I’ve ever had the pleasure to set foot on.
We’ve totally fallen in love with Swansea Bay and we will be back, maybe for a bit of glamping next time…watch this space.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Visit Swansea Bay for inviting us for the weekend, sorting out the most exciting itinerary and giving us the best Easter weekend it was fabulous!
*Disclosure: We were guests of Visit Swansea Bay for the weekend, all thoughts and opinions are as always, my own.