Archive for the ‘Dragon Posts’ Category

How to Enjoy the Definitive Swansea Dylan Thomas Experience

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Dylan Thomas is without doubt one of Swansea’s, and Britain’s, greatest exports. The poet, most famous for his seminal play Under Milk Wood, grew up in our “ugly, lovely” city (his words, not ours!) and wrote most of his work here.

This year in Swansea, there’s plenty going on to celebrate the centenary of Thomas’ birth – we’ve already had Elijah Wood staying with us at The Dragon Hotel filming the 2014 movie Set Fire to the Stars.

Here’s where you need to go, and what you need to see, to get the quintessential Dylan Thomas experience in Swansea:

Visit 5 Cwmdonkin Drive

Dylan Thomas plaque

Where better to start than where Dylan Thomas was born?

Today Thomas’ house has been completely restored to how it appeared back in his day – including the tiny box bedroom where he wrote the bulk of his work.

In the suburb of Uplands, just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Swansea, sits 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the modest semi-detached house where the poet grew up and lived until he was 23.

You can tour 5 Cwmdonkin Drive today – visit its dedicated website today.

Eat at the Kardomah Café and Restaurant

In the 1930s, when Thomas was growing up in Swansea, the Kardomah was one of the young poet’s favourite haunts. He would join the poets Charles Fisher and Vernon Watkins, as well as the composer Daniel Jones, artist Alfred Janes and other bohemian members of the so-called ‘Kardomah Gang’, to talk politics, art, religion and science deep into the night.

The Kardomah was destroyed during the Blitz of 1941 (Thomas’ play Return Journey to Swansea emotionally describes the café being “razed to the snow” when he visited the site) but a new Kardomah emerged a few years later.

Today, it’s one of Swansea’s best cafes and still retains the arty, bohemian ethos that so endeared it to Thomas and the rest of the influential Kardomah Gang.

Drink at the No Sign Bar

Established in 1690, and with wine cellars that were used in the 15th century, the No Sign Bar is Swansea’s oldest pub.

The Kardomah Gang often strayed from their beloved coffee shop to drink something slightly harder, and became somewhat infamous for their drunken antics after enjoying one too many. The No Sign Bar was also a favourite with Thomas and his journalist friends when he was trying to make a name for himself on the local newspaper.

These days, the No Sign

Learn more at the Dylan Thomas Centre

The dedicated Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea’s Maritime Quarter is a gret place to go if you’re looking to learn more about Wales’ greatest poet, or even just to see some interesting curios from his life.

Here, you can see the writing shed where Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood, read previously-unseen manuscripts and scripts, listen to audio recordings, look at personal images and enjoy a range of literary events.

Dylan Thomas' shed where he wrote Under Milk Wood


There are also experts on hand to answer questions and debunk any myths about the poet.

Looking for the quintessential Dylan Thomas experience in Swansea?

Join us at The Dragon Hotel. We’re celebrating Thomas’ centenary with a very special offer that allows you to explore Dylan’s Swansea. For just £125 per room you can enjoy:

  • 1 night B&B for 2 people
  • Elevenses for 2 at the Kardomah Café and Restaurant
  • A free glass of wine or beer for 2 at The No Sign Wine Bar
  • A Dylan Thomas Trail Booklet

To book, quote the promo code DYLAN when you call our reservations team on 01792 657100.

(Images: Stuart Mudie, John Levin under CC BY-SA 2.0)

July 4th: Your Essential Guide to Independents Day in Swansea

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Did you know that this Friday (4th July) is Independents Day?


Across the UK, thousands of independent shops, cafes, restaurants and small businesses will be enjoying their spot in the limelight.

Now in its 4th year, Independents Day aims to celebrate the wide variety of personal products and services found in independent businesses and encourage shoppers to invade town centres and spend their money away from national brands.

And there’s plenty to be found during Independents Day in Swansea.


This Independents Day will see over 250 independent traders in the city joining in the initiative.

Pubs, restaurants, shops, hairdressers and beauty salons will be providing a range of competitions, special products, discounts and initiatives throughout the day.

And, in combination with the Big Heart of Swansea campaign, which aims to bring more shoppers into Swansea City Centre, Independents Day will promote the Swansea City Centre Loyalty Card.

The exclusive card offers a range of discounts and incentives for over 100 businesses in the city centre.

What’s more, to celebrate this event, free parking will be available in Swansea’s NCP parks in The Kingsway, Orchard Street and Salubrious Place between 10AM and 4PM.

Join us this Independents Day

If you’re heading down to Swansea City Centre to celebrate independents Day, why not pop in and say hello?

Our lunchtime d’hôte menu is the perfect upmarket lunchtime dining option, or you could pop to The Lounge to enjoy speciality coffees and afternoon tea.

The Creative Bubble Summer Stage comes to Swansea

Friday, June 20th, 2014

This Saturday will see the launch of a new exciting City Centre entertainment project.


Swansea BID/Big Heart of Swansea has teamed up with the Creative Bubble team from UWTSD and Santander to create a new performance area in Swansea City Centre.

The Santander Stage will be at Portland Street every Saturday 12:00pm – 1:30pm until September 6th.

The event will be showcasing singers, poets, actors, comedian and musicians of any age who will be entertaining visitors and shoppers in the City Centre.

This is all part of The Big Heart of Swansea – an initiative to encourage people to shop locally and use the city’s great services.

Come in to the city centre and enjoy the FREE entertainment! We’ll see you down there!

(Image: Big Heart of Swansea)

Get Fit and Have Fun With Tara Hammett!

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Are you looking to keep fit, enjoy the sunshine and get your beach body ready for the summer?

Of course you are.

The Dragon’s very own health guru Tara Hammett has started her own podcast with Swansea’s favourite independent radio station The Wave

In the podcasts, she covers all sorts of fitness issues with The Wave’s new health-freak breakfast DJ Badger to help you get fit – and enjoy yourself along the way. Some of the things she discusses include:

  • How to lose weight and have fun while you’re doing it
  • How to tell when packaging says food is healthy but it really isn’t
  • How to find time to exercise, even when work’s really busy
  • How to plan a healthy, good value weekly shop
  • How to look great for the summer
  • And much more!

You can download the fitness podcasts on iTunes, at the Google store, or on The Wave’s website today.

Alternatively, you can meet Tara in person by joining our health club where she’s our esteemed, motivational personal trainer. See you down the front!

Could You Enter the Mumbles Raft Race 2014?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014


If you’ll be in Swansea this summer, grab your swimsuit and start thinking about fancy dress themes. The RNLI Mumbles Lifeboat Crew Fun Raft Race is back for another year and you can get involved!

What is the Fun Raft Race?

The RNLI Mumbles Lifeboat Crew Fun Raft Race is a great day out for all, whether you take part or just watch from the side lines. Competitors build their own rafts and get dressed up in silly costumes to battle it out and raise money for a good cause.

The race is now in its 29th year, and is organised each summer to raise money for the Mumbles Lifeboat Station that has stood as an essential part of the community since 1863. Competitors must paddle along a one mile stretch between Norton and Knab Rock, and come in first to claim the prize of 2014 champion.

All funds raised will go to the lifeboat station that rescues more people than any other station in Wales. A volunteer led organisation, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) provide 24-hour search and rescue across the UK from their 236 lifeboat stations.

The RNLI also has over 1,000 lifeguards on 180 beaches across the country, making fun at the beach safer for everyone. As a volunteer charity service the RNLI relies on public donations to fund its rescue service, and this is why the raft race is held every year (plus its loads of fun).

The Best of Last Year’s Race

The 28th RNLI Mumbles Lifeboat Crew Fun Raft Race in 2013 was a roaring success after the 2012 event was sadly cancelled due to bad weather. 47 rafts battled it out along the famous course, some made it across the line but many sank.

Here is a round-up of our favourite teams from last year. Could you take inspiration from these teams for this year’s race?


1. Swans Football

These creative fellows got arty with balloons, masks and a giant swan costume for a local football themed raft.


2. Hawaiian Fever

Then there were the Linden Tree girls who went all exotic and dressed up as Hawaiian hula girls.


3. Titanic 2013

Then there was this clever boat building by Alberto Culver’s Titanic team.


4. Watering the Plants

We’re not quite sure what this team was supposed to be but we can see Scooby Doo in there. We wonder if everyone fell off into the water by the end.


When and Where

This year’s raft race will be held on 10th August 2014 and will start at 5:30pm. If you would like to get involved contact Tony Bowen at the boathouse on 01792 361268 or email


(All photos courtesy of RNLI Mumbles Lifeboat Crew Fun Raft Race’s Facebook)

How to Make Your Own Chic Hen Party Invitations

Monday, June 9th, 2014



When you’re head hen or Maid of Honour, organising a bachelorette party on a budget can seem a little daunting. But once you get started you’ll realise it’s easier than you think. With an affordable night’s stay at the Dragon Hotel you can have a fun night out in Swansea for less and if you hand make the invites and decorations you’re sure to come in bang on budget.

And to help you out in your craft quest, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite hen party invitation ideas.

How to Make Hen Party Invitations


The easiest invitation theme is to run with the ‘hen’ idea. Print a greyscale picture of a chicken onto white card along with ‘NAME‘s Hen do!’. Fold in half and hand write all the need to know info inside. These invites will cost mere pennies to make and they look quite classy.

‘L’ Plates

A fancy dress staple for hen parties are the ‘L’ plates, which are worn to show that the bride-to-be is a wife in training. So why not keep to modern tradition and celebrate your friend’s last night of freedom with these simple signs.

A pink and white ‘L’ plate theme looks great on invites along with some classic calligraphy. Once you’ve printed the invites, stick them onto pink card and add a little glitter for that special touch.

Tickets Only

If you go to a concert, the theatre or book an activity you will be given a ticket as proof of payment, and to remind you of all the vital details. So why shouldn’t you have one for a party? You can mock up your own hen do tickets quite easily on your home computer, and as they are smaller in size than a regular invite they should be cheaper to print.

Tell All Cocktail

Okay, so this invite idea takes a little more crafting and will require you to be handy with a pair of scissors, but they look fab and are well worth the wait.

Start off by cutting out a cocktail glass shape from card in the colour of your choice. Then fold and fasten it to form a pocket shape with the glass cut out facing forward. On a separate piece of card create a bottle shape – this should be the perfect size to slide into the card pocket.

To decorate the bottle colour in some liquid on the upper half and on the back write the essential information for the party. Slide the bottle into the pocket, neck first, and you are all done.

The idea is that while the bottle is in the pocket the glass will look full, and when you remove the bottle the glass will be empty. And as you do so it will look like you are pouring a glass of the bride-to-be’s favourite cocktail.

Did any of these hen party invitation ideas take your fancy? You can tell us all about your artsy invites when you come to stay.


(images: Organise a Hen and Ruby Sohi)

Beaches in Swansea – Limeslade Bay

Saturday, June 7th, 2014


Wales is famous for its beautiful coastline and Limeslade Bay is no exception. If you are paying a visit to South West Wales sometime soon make sure to pay this stunning beach a visit.

About Limeslade Bay

Whether you prefer a sandy or pebbly beach with a rock shore, you’ll have the best of both worlds here. The beach is just a short walk from the Mumbles Hill Nature Reserve so take a stroll along the coastal path and take in the stunning scenic panorama. It’s a brilliant spot for a picnic too!

Thanks to its rocky areas Limeslade Bay is perfect for rock pooling with the kids, and with excellent water quality the only issue you may have when swimming is the temperature. Limeslade is an award winning beach having been given the Green Coast Award, and is Marine Conservation Society Recommended.


If you fancy a light bite there is a café and restaurant nearby, with the nearest parking only 2 minutes away at Bracelet Bay. There is a small charge for this convenience however.

The beach is cleaned twice a day and there are litter bins provided in order to keep the beach safe for all. If you are travelling with pets be aware that dogs are not allowed on the beach during the summer months.

Swimmers must also be aware that there isn’t a lifeguard on duty here.

How to Get There

Limeslade Bay’s nearest town is Swansea. To get to the beach from here you will need to drive down the A4067 to the Mumbles. You’ll have to head straight through the village and towards the pier in order to find Limeslade. It will be just around the headland.

The nearest parking is at Bracelet Bay but there are a number of other car parks within walking distance:
Mumbles Hill – 0.4 miles away
Swansea Bay South – 0.5 miles away
Southend – 0.6 miles away
Mumbles Tennis Courts – 0.9 miles away

If you will be travelling by public transport, bus routes 2 and 2a from Swansea will take you to Mumbles. From here change to the number 37 bus which heads to the beach. The nearest railway stations are Swansea (approximately 4 miles away) and Gowerton (approximately 6 miles away).

Limeslade Bay Accommodation

If you like the sound of Limeslade Bay and are thinking of paying a visit then you are in luck! The Dragon Hotel is located perfectly.

So grab your sunglasses and put on your sensible walking shoes, and enjoy a walk down to Limeslade; after your day out, get the bus back and we’ll have a table in the Dragon Brasserie waiting for you.


(images: Wikimedia and Wikimedia)

Where to Meet in Swansea on Business

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Visiting Swansea on business? You’re in luck. Here, there’s somewhere perfect for meeting clients, contacts and acquaintances – regardless of what you’re looking for…

If you want somewhere posh…

It’s really tough to look past Café TwoCann in Swansea Docks, which is a chic café by day and a much-admired fine dining restaurant by night. Situated in a grade 2 listed building, TwoCann is highly recommended if you’re looking to really impress their clients.

We challenge you not to fall in love with TwoCann’s coffee, particularly its latte, with coffee that has ‘bean’ locally toasted in Ogmore Vale.

If you want somewhere achingly hip…

Well, why not the Attic Gallery? It’s a bit of a Swansea institution and has been showcasing modern and traditional art in South Wales for over 50 years. There’s an ever-rotating array of art that you can cast your eye over while, of course, appearing achingly cool to the clients or contacts you’re meeting.

If you want somewhere cheap…

If you haven’t been blessed with the company card, then it makes sense to try somewhere slightly affordable. And nowhere offers a great value for money than the One Shoe Café on King Edward Road which is well-known locally for its chic atmosphere, ever-excellent espressos and very generous portions found on the lunch menu. We recommend the wide variety of paninis on offer. Yum.

If you want somewhere with a view…

You won’t find anywhere higher in Swansea, or in Wales for that matter, than the Grape and Olive which is situated on the top floor of Swansea Bay’s Meridian Tower. Offering a sensational view over Swansea Bay, The Mumbles and the rest of the city, it’s a great place to go, even if it can be a little pricey.

Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

If you want somewhere outside…

Sure, it’s probably not practical (and there’s definitely no Wi-Fi or coffee on tap) but when the sun’s shining it’s a shame not to get outdoors and see Swansea in bloom. On a nice day, we’d recommend getting down to Singleton Park, where you could chew the fat in its botanical gardens and gain some creative inspiration from the stunning natural sights.

If you want somewhere all-encompassing…

dragon lounge

Visit us at The Lounge in The Dragon Hotel! It’s not just our great location, comfy beds and brilliant breakfasts that our businessmen love us for. When it comes to business meetings, we’ve got it all covered – from free Wi-Fi, a great selection of coffees and AA Rosette a la carte lunches to great views and an ever-friendly atmosphere. When you sit down at The Lounge, you’ll find us to be as classy as it is comfortable and convenient.

Looking for great business rates when staying in Swansea? Talk to the team at The Dragon Hotel today!

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring! What Are We Going To Do In Swansea?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

If you follow our Dragon posts then you will know there is plenty of outdoor activities to do in Swansea. We love the stunning beaches in and around the area in particular! But what do you do when the heavens open and it chucks it down? Well, not to worry, we have the solution with these indoor activities in Swansea.

See Some Hieroglyphics



The Egypt Centre at the University of Wales Swansea in |Singleton Park is a great day out for those interested in the Pharaohs and pyramids of ancient Egypt. Admission to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is free too!

Most of the 5,000 items on display here were collected by a pharmacist, Sir Henry Wellcome. And the others come from locations such as the British Museum and private donators. So if you are looking for an authentic Egyptian experience brimming with history head over to the Egypt Centre for an educational experience.

Make and Taste Delicious Chocolate



For a tasty afternoon trip book into the Chocolate Factory at Kingsway in the Swansea West Industrial Park. Tour around one of Wales’ leading chocolate factories and see how the delicious treat is made. Learn about the history of chocolate and of course enjoy a taste of the many different types they make at the factory. Yum!

Read a Poem



Born in Swansea, in 1914, Dylan Thomas was a Welsh writer and poet who became hugely famous in his short lifetime. If you would like to learn more about the wordsmith pay a visit to the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea city centre.

This is a permanent exhibition so is open all year round chronicling the life and times of the literary giant. Or for even more fun why not attend the annual Dylan Thomas Festival?

Play With Lasers



Lasers are cool right? Well, play with them in a safe and fun environment right in the city centre next to Swansea castle. Laserzone is a high-tech, live action laser game which is played over the multi-level themed play arena. There are special effects such as fog, laser beams and pulsing music for an exhilarating experience like no other.

Anyone over the age of 7 can play and groups of up to 30 can battle it out at any given time. So strap on your body armour and pick up that laser gun and protect that base!

Watch a Show



A 5 minute walk from the Dragon Hotel is the drama-filled Swansea Grand Theatre, the perfect place for a show after dinner. This is a cultural gem in the middle of the urban city with many live events and shows held every week. The Swansea Grand Theatre plays host to around 450 performances every year in its auditorium and another 200 in its purpose built Arts Wing.

So whether you are after dance or drama, a show from a touring company or a local production the Swansea Grand Theatre is a great place to start.

There is always plenty to do in Swansea, whatever the weather. For more rainy day activities ask a member of staff or ask us on Facebook!


(images: Wikipedia, Noctourniquet, The Guardian, robnlizzie and Wikimedia)

13 Reasons We Love Nev from the Call Centre

Friday, May 30th, 2014

We won’t need to tell you that we’re huge fans of the BBC Three program The Call Centre, which has just finished its second series. Principally, we love its protagonist, the self-made millionaire Neville Wilshere – or as his loyal workmates call him, Nev.

Here are 13 reasons to salute the big man:

1 – He’s a proud Swansea boy

Like us, Nev loves this fair city. Born and bred in South Wales, he worked his way up and now employs hundreds in his famous call centre. That makes him alright by us.

2 – He’s unconventional

Nev takes an irregular approach to HR. When a member of team wanted a promotion, he said he could… as long as he beat Nev in an armwrestle. Did he win? Take a look at the video:

3 – He’s a trier

Nev may be in charge of a multi-million pound business, but he knows what it’s like to lose it all. In the 90s, he divorced and his business went under. Unable to see his kids for 6 months, Nev couldn’t even sign on to unemployment benefits.

Nevertheless, he got back up, started again and look where he is now.

4 – He’s not averse to being a bit of a prat

Nev Call Centre Gif

5 – He’s funny on Twitter


6 – He’s not averse to Dad jokes

Midway through the first season, Nev was in his car giving the film crew one of his trademark pearls of wisdom when he was interrupted by an onrushing ambulance:

“He’ll never sell any ice creams going at that speed”.

There’s no joke like a Dad joke.

7 – He’s positive to a T

As with many successful entrpreneurs, Nev is relentlessly chipper – optimistic until the very end and insisting that “happy people sell”. And that’s a good way to be.

8 – He’s created a great workplace

Nev’s Save Britain Money Group is currently fifth in the Sunday Times list of the best UK companies to work for. Impressive.

9 – He’s got an excellent approach to dating

Nev believes in “SW,SW,SW? N! – some will, some won’t, so what? Next!” It’s tough to argue with that.

10 – He’s a singer

Like any good South Wales boy, Nev loves a sing song and is well aware of the power of music.

11 – He’s a shouter

But in a good way.

12 – He finds a place for staff who don’t fit

Many bosses are unsympathetic to staff who don’t cut the mustard. Not Nev.

When members of his team aren’t up to the job, he tries to find them a suitable role somewhere else in the company – like when he gave Hayley Pearce a new lease of life as the office ‘tea lady’.

13 – He’s cool under pressure

And doesn’t get flustered when he’s ambushed on the BBC!

Yeah, it’s fair to say that Nev is a bit of a Swansea institution. But you know what?

So are we. We’ve been standing proud in Swansea City Centre for over 50 years. Make the most of our fair city by checking out more of our blog today.

Or, for exclusive rates on four-star stays in the heart of Swansea, call +44 (0)1792 657 100 or book your stay online today.