If you ever find yourself within the medieval walls of Caernarfon after a visit to the stunning castle, make sure you stop for a pint at what is considered to be one of the oldest pubs in Wales, namely the Black Boy Inn. Why?
Firstly, it’s super atmospheric with creaky floors, wood beams (that are thought to come from old sailing ships!) and stone walls. Secondly, it’s one of the few remaining free houses owned by an independent family business in all of the United Kingdom. Thirdly, it’s just an amazing place to get to know locals and have a good rare welshbit!
How old is the Black Boy Inn?
It’s widely believed that the Black Boy Inn is one of the oldest surviving inns in North Wales with indications that it dates back to 1522.
Caernarfon was a major port-town back then. It’s ideally positioned on the mouth of Menai Strait, defending it from the exposed open water of the Irish Sea. It was also used as a navy base to access the North and West Coasts of Wales, as well as the Anglesey passage.
Needless to say that sailors enjoyed the particularly warm welcome in Caernarfon. The street on which the Black Boy Inn still stands today was called Northgate Street in English. The Welsh version, however, tells a different story; Stryd Pedwar a Chwech essentially translates to “4 and 6 street”. As such, the Black Boy Inn was at the core of the village’s red light district so to speak. Legend has it that for the exact sum of 4 shillings and 6 pence, sailors would get a room, a bottle of gin and a lovely girl to spend the night with.
Today, the pub is a listed Grade II building. That can be explained by the fact that it still retains some original interior details from the 17th century.
Why is it called Black Boy Inn?
There are many theories to explain the name of this historic pub. Mind you, some more frivolous than others, and two that seem a bit more believable.
The first one says that the relates to a navigational buoy that stood in the harbour in the 17th century. The second one refers to King Charles II; his mother coined the nickname “Black Boy” because of the darkness of his skin and eyes. Some records show that the Welsh pub was a secret meeting location for Royalists at the time.
Is the Black Boy Inn a hotel?
Thinking of staying in Caernarfon a bit longer than just a day? You can indeed spend the night at one of the loveliest pubs in Wales. The building consists of two distinct floors: downstairs is the pub and upstairs is a series of 47 guestrooms spread across four buildings.
For the rooms with the most character (think sloping ceilings and original beams), make sure to book in the Black Boy Inn building. There are other cute rooms in other sections, especially if you’re after a medieval-looking four-poster bed! The Black Boy Inn as well as Black Jack’s buildings both have such beds.