Archive for the ‘Dragon Posts’ Category

Why We Love… Swansea Market

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

“What to do in Swansea?” may be a question hot on your lips if you are planning a stay at the Dragon Hotel. Well, a must-stop, just around the corner, is Swansea market.

Swansea Market: A Brief History

Swansea market started nearly a thousand years ago when people began gathering on the castle grounds to sell their wares. In 1652 a formal market hall was built in Castle Square but this was soon outgrown. So in 1830 the market was re-sited to Oxford Street near where it stands today.

Yet again this market became too small and in 1897 a brand new purpose built, totally enclosed market opened. By the 1920s the market was huge with over 670 stalls but sadly it was devastated by German bombing during the Second World War.

After the devastation of the war the market traded as open air stalls until the £1.25million was raised for the current market to be built. The market opened in 1961 and has been an iconic part of Swansea city ever since.

Why Visit Swansea Market?

Swansea market is Wales’ largest indoor market with over 100 stalls selling a variety of produce, many of which have been serving Swansea’s population for generations (Coakley-Green Fishmongers has been run by the same family here for 158 years).

The market holds the following stalls:

• Bakery and confectionary
• Butchery
• Cards and gifts
• Books
• Clothing, footwear and accessories
• Deli and health foods
• Electrical tools
• Fish and seafood
• Fruit and vegetables
• Flowers
• Homewares and fabrics
• Jewellery
• Cosmetics, perfume and toiletries
• Cafes

Ladies, if you are looking for make-up, perfume or any form of cosmetic or toiletry The Powder Room is well worth a visit. Here you can get well-known branded products for a fraction of the price seen on the high street with no compromise on quality. And there’s always some colourful scarves and other accessories lining the door if you fancy a browse.

Grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafés in the centre of the market such as Sandy’s Lunchbox or the Country Kitchen, and purchase a pot of cockles at one of the local seafood rotundas. The Norfolk Bakery do some great Welsh cakes for dessert.

If you want to take a little prezzie back for your friends and family we’d recommend the homemade preserves from the A Little Bit Welsh stall or maybe a selection of coasters filled with beautiful photos of the Welsh coast and countryside from stall 8 – Wales Through a Lens. At £1.50 a coaster they’re a bargain!

Essential Information


Swansea market is open 6 days a week (7 in the run up to Christmas), 8am to 5:30pm during weekdays and 7:30am to 5:30pm on Saturdays. And you will find the market on:

Oxford Street

There are multiple entrances to the market. These can be found on:

1. Oxford Street
2. Union Street
3. Whitewalls
4. The Quadrant

If you are travelling here from the Dragon Hotel, the Quadrant entrance opposite Primark is your best bet and only half a mile’s walk away.

So the next time you are wondering what do in Swansea you know the answer – a trip to the market!


Langland to Caswell: A Walk

Friday, January 9th, 2015


Get out there and explore what Wales has to offer this winter with a walk from Langland to Caswell Bay. It’s a beautiful walk and is the perfect answer to the question – what to do in Swansea?

Essential Walking Information

Level: Easy
Type: Circular
Suitable For: All
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 1 hour

The walk from Langland Bay to Caswell is a pleasant one and perfect for walkers of all abilities and ages. The terrain is varied with smooth and uneven surfaces as well as a few steps, but nothing too tiresome. You’ll also cross the golf course, so look out for flying balls!

The cliffs between Caswell and Langland have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and therefore are a popular viewing point for geologists. Why not see if you can spot the formations in the rocks for yourself?

Langland Bay is easily accessible by car thanks to its close proximity to the Mumbles. And it has its very own pay and display carpark right next to the beach where you will start off the walk. Here you will also find conveniences such as public toilets and refreshments.

If you plan on travelling by public transport, you can get to Langland on the 2C bus from Swansea Bus Station that goes to Newton. This runs every 15 minutes, Monday to Saturday.

The Route

The walk starts at the pay and display car park at Langland Bay, and thanks to its circular route ends here too. Start your journey by walking past the first few beach huts on your left and turning up a small lane that leads away from the beach and towards Brynfield Road. Turn to your left and follow towards Langland Bay Golf Club.

Just before you reach the clubhouse turn tight and follow the footpath across another pathway. Be aware there is a ‘no entry’ sign here. The path will then lead to a track which you should cross over before heading up the bank to the second track. Cross over this track also and climb the stairs back to the third track, which you previously followed.

Here you should turn right and you will find yourself retracing your steps back to Caswell Road. Make a number of quick turns here until you reach Hillgrove. This is a private road but a public footpath. This again will cross the golf course before leading to steps down to the coastal path. Turn left at the bottom of the steps and head back to Langland Bay. Your walk is complete.

Walk Highlights

While taking your walk look up to the skies where you may be able to spot the local wildlife, such as the rare chough – there are only 4 pairs known to live on the Gower. You’ll know which bird it is as it looks like a crow with a red beak and legs. Plus it has a distinct call.

You may also see other rare birds such as the peregrine falcon or the raven along the trip. And grey seals are commonly seen poking their heads out of the water just off the shore.

Besides the animal spotting, this is an enjoyable walk come rain or shine, and is one of many great outdoor activities to do in Swansea. Langland beach is lined with colourful vintage huts and there are spectacular views out over the Bristol Channel.

Once you’ve got your dose of the South Wales fresh air, why not come back to the hotel to refuel. We currently have a special offer on afternoon tea which we’re sure will time perfectly with your arrival. Take a look!



(image: Ben Salter under CC BY 2.0)

A Changing City: Swansea Through Time

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Swansea may only have been a city since 1969, but its history goes back way further. Let’s take a look back at a brief history of our hometown.

Hundreds of Years Ago

Swansea has long been a settlement and relics have been found on the Gower Peninsula that suggests people lived and worked in the area during the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age. Swansea saw the Romans come and go, and the area was greatly established by the Vikings.

The Vikings used Swansea as a trading post and some believe it was the Vikings that gave the city its name. It wasn’t, however, seen until the 13th century in its Welsh form ‘Abertawe’, around the same period that Swansea became a borough.

There had long been a castle in Swansea since before the Vikings arrived. This was most likely an oval enclosure which overlooked the River Tawe, and was surrounded by a bailey. The castle was attacked in 1116 and was continuously attacked until it fell in 1217.



(image: Hush)

castle now

(image: Swanseatilidie under CC BY-SA 3.0)

In 1220 the castle was given to the English and the inner castle was walled in stone with new towers built. Later in the century the outer bailey was walled, but very little of this stone masterpiece can be seen today. Only two walls still stand.

The castle lost its importance by the 15th century and was later used as a town hall, prison and market.

When Swansea was first established it was known as a trading port for wine, hides and other fabrics, but during the industrial revolution coal and copper smelting took over. From 1720 onwards the smelters in Swansea saw a prosperous lifestyle and the town got its nickname ‘Copperopolis’.

In fact, Swansea was so well-off its population grew 500% between 1600 and 1800, making it Wales’ second most populous city. In 1881 over a third of the population was born outside of Swansea and Glamorgan, with a quarter coming from outside of Wales. At this time 60% of the copper ores imported to Britain were smelted in Swansea.

The 20th Century

By the time the 20th century began the heavy industry in Swansea had begun to calm down, and post-industrial, service sector careers became more fashionable. Much of the lower Swansea valley therefore lay unloved and empty with many derelict factories. This is the same Enterprise Zone and dockland areas that are being developed today in Llansamlet and Morriston.

Sadly, Swansea’s great success as an industrial centre meant it was a hot spot for bombing during the world wars and little of the previous city now exists. As a result, much of Swansea’s buildings are post-war, the road layouts are however much the same.

Places you may recognise today are the Quadrant Shopping Centre opened in 1978, the St David’s Centre opened in 1982 and the BT Tower built in 1970. Swansea’s leisure centre opened in 1977, but is now almost unrecognisable after extensive refurbishment which retained some elements of the original structure.


dragon snippet

(image: The Wave’s Twitter)

Did you know that the Dragon Hotel is over 50 years old? Our hotel has been a city centre landmark for decades, but thanks to the £3.7million refurbishment in 2005 you would think it is brand new.

We’ve seen Swansea change a lot over the years we’ve been here, why not ask our staff where you can visit some other historical buildings. We know of plenty of activities and attractions for you to try.

Celebrate the Festive Season at The Dragon Hotel!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Celebrate Christmas 2015 in style at Swansea’s favourite hotel. Whether it’s for an office party, family get-together or just meeting old friends, we can offer you the best Christmas dining experience in Swansea.

Full details of our events for 2015 will be published shortly. Should you like a Christmas Brochure mailed to you, make a reservation or require any further information please call our Events Team on 01792 657100, or email
We hope we’ll have the pleasure of welcoming you this Festive Season.

Wind St. on New Year’s Eve: Where to Go

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014


(image: Wales Online)

If you’re wondering what to do in Swansea this New Year’s Eve, then Wind St. might just have the answer! It’s the perfect spot for painting the town red and ringing in the New Year in style; here are our top picks of the best spots to celebrate NYE this year:


If copious amounts of vodka is your idea of the perfect NYE party then head over to Revolution. This year, they have three party packages for you and your friends to choose from – each of them guaranteeing a good night:
• The Big Ben Package: Perfect for groups of 10, this package is priced from £110 per group and includes: two bottles of Prosecco, a sink full of Peroni, and ten flavoured vodka shots.
• The Times Square Package: If you want a little more liquid, then the Time Square package starts at £210 per group and includes: one bottle of Stoli vodka, two bottles of Prosecco, a Peroni sink, and ten shots of their famous vodka.
• The Harbour Bridge Package: This package is labelled as ‘Glitz, glamour and a damn good party’ and it’s easy to see why; with prices starting at £425 per group, you’ll enjoy: two bottles of Grey Goose vodka, three bottles of Perrier Jouet champagne, a sink crammed full of Peroni, and of course, ten tasty vodka shots.
All of the above packages come with queue jump and table service, making it a great night out with friends.

No Sign Wine Bar

If live music is more your scene then No Sign Wine Bar have the NYE party for you; The Offbeats, a local funk and rock band, will be welcoming in the New Year with a live set in The Vault. Doors open at 9pm and entry is free, so go ahead and check it out.

Pitcher and Piano

If you want a touch of elegance while ringing in the New Year, then round up your friends and take them to the Pitcher and Piano to enjoy fine wine and cocktails. You can get glammed up and enjoy NYE P&P style as you toast to 2015.

Wind Street really is the place to be in Swansea for New Year; whether you choose one of our top picks above, or whether you party the night away in Varsity, Walkabout, Yates, or Ice Bar, we hope you have a fantastic time.

Happy New Year from The Dragon Hotel.

The 50th Annual Santa Swim in Porthcawl

Friday, December 19th, 2014


(image: Wales Online)

The annual Porthcawl Christmas morning swim is now in its 50th year, with this year’s event set to be the biggest yet. Will you be one of the merry lunatics to embrace the freezing waters to raise money for some very worthwhile causes this year? Swimmers can register online or just turn up on the day, and there is no minimum distance that you have to swim. There’s also no set time limit on how long you have to spend in the water either, so there’s really no excuses!

Registration begins at 10:30, even if you have already completed the registration process online you will still need to let the organisers know that you have arrived. The hour or so before the swim begins offers you plenty of opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and meet your fellow swimmers. One or two star jumps probably wouldn’t go amiss either! The swim itself begins at 11:45 and the swimmers run down to the water from the Hi-Tide pub on the beachfront.

Get Wet for a Great Cause

The main beneficiary of the year’s event will be Ty Hafan, a fantastic charity that supports the families of children with life limiting illnesses. There are also a number of other charities that will be supported by the swim this year, and people are asked to nominate any organisation that they feel would benefit from the fundraising that will take place at next year’s event.

Participants are encouraged to ask for sponsorships for taking part in the event, and it is this money which is passed on to the charities that the event is supporting. Every little bit helps, so make sure that you embrace social media, call on your neighbours and get friends and family to dig deep in order to bolster the coffers. Sponsorship forms are available to download from the website and people are also able to set up Just Giving pages to raise money too. Any money donated in this way will be given directly to Ty Hafan.

A Real Cross Section of a Wonderful Community

This event really is for people of all ages with a diverse mix of people attending every year, and there are often several generations of the same family taking part. People travel from all over Wales and the rest of the UK to take part in this event. This adds to the whole atmosphere of the morning and is one of the reasons why this swim remains so popular, even after fifty years.

As with so many other charity fundraisers, people are encouraged to attend the event in fancy dress and the theme for this year is clowns and Vikings, so get creative. However, if the theme doesn’t get the creative juices flowing, the organisers still encourage any form of fancy dress, so the choice is yours.

While there will always be a variety of activities in Swansea and Cardiff for you to try, this event is an example of things that you can participate in that are held in smaller Welsh towns such as Porthcawl. The Christmas swim is an annual event that gets bigger every year as its popularity continues to grow. And only a short drive from Swansea it makes the perfect day trip if you are visiting South Wales this Christmas.

The Dragon Hotel Gift Guide

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Swansea is brimming with top spots to pick up beautiful, unique gifts that your loved ones will adore. And whether you’re an organised shopper or a last-minute panic buyer, we have some inspiration for you. Take a look at our Christmas gift guide:

Handmade Trinkets and Unique Gifts

If you’re looking for unusual gifts and handmade pressies, then look no further than the Christmas Street Market; this is the perfect place to pick up arts and crafts, and bespoke and personalised gifts for your friends and family. Taking the time to peruse the stalls will really show when your loved one unwraps that heart-felt package on Christmas day.

Treats for the Foodies


If you’ve got a foodie in your life, then getting them something scrumptious is the obvious choice, but don’t just rush to the supermarket and grab them a box of chocolates or a cooking gift set, get them something special instead.

Pop along to So Cocoa in The Mumbles where you can choose a selection of fine chocolates to gift or something a little quirkier – why not pick up chocolate building blocks or a chocolate chess set if you’re buying for someone who’s young at heart? They’ll love it!

If your foodie doesn’t have a sweet tooth, then head to the Christmas Street Market or to one of the many delicatessens in Swansea’s Indoor Market. A nice welsh cheese and a jar of homemade chutney will surely go down a treat.

Cymru Am Byth

If you know someone who loves all things welsh, then you need to stop off at The Welsh Stall at Swansea Market; here you can choose from an array of welsh crafts and wools, perhaps even picking a love spoon for that extra special someone.

A Fine Print

Do you have a friend or family member who enjoys the finer things in life? Then what better way to cater to their tastes than with a unique print that they can proudly display in their home? Head over to the Swansea Print Shop on Clarence Street to choose an original print – they cater for an array of styles and budgets so you’re sure to find something great.

The Perfect Pamper Package


And finally, if there’s someone in your life who is always on the go, someone who is always taking care of others and never leaving time for themselves, then why not treat them to a pamper package for the Dragon Hotel in Swansea? A girls pamper day out would make a divine gift, and you may even want to indulge yourself while you’re at it … after all, all this Christmas shopping is hard work!

Do you have Christmas all wrapped up yet? If you’ve found some hidden gems for picking up great Christmas gifts, then share them with us.

Christmas in Swansea: The Big Event

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Swansea at Christmas time is magical for the whole family; whether you’re enjoying a hearty winter meal, shopping for loved ones, or enjoying the pantomime, you’ll find there are plenty of things to do in Swansea to get everyone into the festive spirit. Here’s our guide to the best Christmas events:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs



The panto is a wonderful Christmas tradition, the kind that creates childhood memories that last long into adulthood. It’s the perfect family evening out, packed with fun and laughter.

This year, Swansea is welcoming Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the Grand Theatre; the show features TV and musical star, John Partridge, comedian Matt Edwards, and Swansea’s Kevin Johns, as well as a fantastic supporting cast. It runs from the 12th December 2014 to the 11th January 2015, and tickets cost just £11.50 – £24.00. You can grab your tickets here.

Waterfront Winterland

This is one of the main Christmas attractions in Swansea – and it’s award-winning too – making it a must-visit for the whole family.

The Waterfront Winterland at Museum Park is complete with two ice rinks – the Admiral rink and one especially for the kids, as well as a magical Santa’s Grotto, an indoor café, and a festive funfair that has an exciting new ride this year for thrill seekers!
Check out the website to find out more.

Christmas Street Market

Nothing inspires the Christmas spirit like a festive street market followed by a warm cup of hot chocolate or a delicious glass of mulled wine, so what are you waiting for? Head over to Oxford Street this year to enjoy an array of stalls with handmade gifts, arts and crafts, Christmas decorations, fine foods and other festive products all up for sale.

And if you get peckish, there’s plenty to eat too – how about a delicious hog roast or a turkey roll followed by some mouth-watering crepes? And what’s more, there will be entertainment for you to enjoy while you search for those special gifts. Perfect!
The Oxford Street Christmas Market is open from Friday 28th November until Sunday 21st December, from 10am to 5:30pm each day with late night shopping on Thursdays.



As if one pantomime wasn’t enough for you, Swansea is hosting two this year! The Penyrheol Theatre will showcase Aladdin as this year’s festive production with two familiar CBBC faces centre-stage – Carmen Howle who plays Princess Jasmine and Leona Vaughan as the Slave of the Ring. You can catch Aladdin between the 11th and 23rd of December.

Those are our tops picks of Christmas attractions in Swansea this year – which ones will you be enjoying with your family?

Rhossili to Penmaen: A Walk

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Our hotel is great. But if you want to get out and about and explore the Swansea area, pull on your walking boots a warm coat, and go on a walk. The route from Rhossili Bay to Penmaen is one of the best, and passes through Britain’s first area of outstanding natural beauty.

(image: Rodw under CC BY 3.0)

Essential Walking Information

Level: Strenuous
Type: Linear
Suitable For: Experienced walkers
Distance: 8 miles
Time: 4 to 5 hours

The walk from Rhossili Bay to Penmaen is known as the southern sector of the Gower Way, and is a popular walk among visiting ramblers to the area. This is mostly due to the stunning scenic views out across the sea, and the many terrains the walk passes through, including farm land and tracks, woodland and moorland.

The walk may be rather long for the inexperienced walker and therefore is defined as a strenuous route. But if you are in it for the long haul, this walk will reward you with picturesque views and panoramas, perfect for taking a few photos.

If you are planning on driving to Rhossili there is a private car park near the beach, which you can pay a small fee to park in or there are many public transport routes that pass by the area. There is also a small shop next to the car park, where you can pick up light refreshments to enjoy along your walk, as well as some public toilets, should you need them.

The Route

The walk starts off at the former Coastguard lookout near Worm’s Head, which has now been transformed into an information center. The Worm’s Head is a small tidal island, that itself is a must see attraction that brings many visitors to Swansea.

The walk is mostly in land, but will start and end at some of the best picturesque sandy beaches in the area. Along the way, keep an eye out for some of the 50 stone waymarkers that line the Gower Way. These are numbered and inscribe with the Gower Rambling Society logo, and mark the way to ensure walkers do not get lost.

Walk Highlights

The highlights of this walk are of course Worm’s Head and the two beaches either end. But there are also beautiful views out over the South Gower coast, where you can see Oxwich and Three Cliffs Bay, as well as a number of small villages.

And if you are interested in plants, you may also enjoy seeing the many indigenous flora and fauna that frequently appear along this walk.

To find out more about walking in Swansea, ask at our hotel reception, or for more information on this specific route pay a visit to the Swansea Tourist Information Centre. There are plenty of activities in Swansea, so take a look at a few of the other Dragon Hotel Blog Posts for ideas.

Independent Swansea: The Best Boutique Stores

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

We’re going to let you in on a secret that only locals know: Swansea is great for shopping in small and independent stores. Yes there are all the regular high street stores, but if you know where to look, there are some real standout gems.

Here is our pick of our favourites in and around Swansea:

Oyster Gallery – 72 Newton Road, Mumbles, SA3 4AQ




The Oyster Gallery is an art store like no other. Stocked to the brim with original art work, limited edition prints and photography, there is something for every type of art-lover. And if you’re looking to display a purchase in your home, they have a picture framing service too.

Pop in for unusual greeting cards, handmade jewellery and other arts and craft gifts, perfect for presents this Christmas.

Attica – 52A Plymouth Street, Swansea City Centre, SA1 3QQ

If you are looking for something a little quirky or unusual then pay a visit to the clothing and gift shop Attica. With racks filled with pretty dresses, colourful scarves lining the walls and plenty of kooky homeware gifts, this is a great place to shop for someone who likes to stand out. It’s truly boho chic!

There’s even something for the guys – how does a clock made out of a Corona bottle sound?

So Cocoa – 28-30 Dunns Lane, Mumbles, SA3 4AA





Do you love anything and everything chocolaty? Then So Coca in the Mumbles is a must visit. Just off the main beaten track you will find the only independent chocolate shop in Swansea. With everything from luxury handmade chocolate sculptures to gourmet, small sweet treats, it’s like walking into Willy Wonka’s factory – minus the craziness!

They also stock a number of well-known brands like Booja Booja and Charbonnel, so you certainly won’t be disappointed. Make sure to try some of the desserts they serve here; there’s pastries galore!

Moustache – 5 Cradock Street, SA1 3EN

For high quality, branded gear for men, Moustache is the place to be. Every discerning gentleman shops here, with brands like Fred Smith, Lyle and Scott, plus Polo by Ralph Lauren. Your man will be the best dressed in town after a trip to this city centre store.

Cover to Cover – 58 Newton Road, Mumbles, SA3 4BQ





Cover to Cover is a well-known and established boutique book store in the centre of the Mumbles. The store has been a popular local business since it opened back in 1999, and they really know their stuff here, as the owner was once in publishing.

The store stocks a number of fiction and non-fiction, new and old titles, on a variety of subjects, and is the go-to place for their range of local books. So if you’d like to get to know the ‘real’ Swansea, pick up a book here!

Stardust Boutique – 102-104 Eversley Road, Sketty, SA2 9DF





Do you love everything that sparkles? Then you’ll adore this shop. With formal, party and prom dresses ranging from £200 to £1,000, this is a 5 star shopping experience that any girl would love.

Expect to see stock from dress designers such as Forever Unique, Sherri Hill and Jovani. All of which would be perfect for a big event such as a wedding or ball.

Arora Boutique – 64 Wind Street, SA1 1EQ

For something a little cheaper for a night on the tiles, make a trip into the city centre and to Arora Boutique. Whether you are looking for a bodycon mini or a floaty maxi dress, there is plenty to choose from.

And Arora is just around the corner from the Dragon Hotel. We’re independent too! So pay us a visit and book a room. We have plenty of special offers on in the run up to Christmas and the New Year.