Review: Thornbury Castle

Thornbury Castle, review

On the approach to Thornbury Castle its already apparent that we’re in for a memorable experience in this little corner near the Cotswolds and Welsh borders.

Believed to be the UK’s only Tudor Castle where you can stay the night, this Relais & Chateaux Hotel is one of the finest examples of the way Tudor housing trends transformed from fortress to palace.

Once owned by Henry VIII – acquired in the bloodiest of fashions from the Edward Stafford, third Duke of Buckingham – this is a fascinating Grade I building to explore.

Thornbury Castle, review

From 1966-1986 the castle came into the ownership of Kenneth Bell, one of the most renowned chefs in the country who turned it into a fine dining restaurant which was to set the tone for things to come.

Once we got over the initial ‘wow factor’ of this magnificent setting, we began to appreciate many of the fascinating historical features around us – from the oriel windows and spiral staircase through to the beautiful 16th century carvings and alcoves.

Thornbury Castle, review

We had the privilege of bedding down for the night in a rather grand four-poster in the former bedchamber of Henry VIII and his then bride Anne Boleyn, in 1535. One of 26 ‘rooms,’ it is quite simply 65sqm of sheer opulence. And although this suite is one of the most spacious, all the rooms guarantee a level of comfort that is second to none.

From turning the (hefty) key in the lock and pushing open the heavy wooden doors into the room, it is soon clear that every box on my personal checklist for a gold star visitor experience is checked. From a Nespresso machine (I do like appreciate a ‘proper coffee!’) and china cups through to Molton Brown toiletries, sumptuous regal fabrics and period detail as well as an abundance of drawer and wardrobe space, we felt altogether regal. The complimentary sloe gin also helped ease us into what looked set to be a relaxing and truly unforgettable stay.

As for their turndown service – this is the first time I returned from dinner to find curtains and shutters closed for us!

But at first light I couldn’t wait to pull them back again to drink in the spectacular views of the castle gardens – from three vantage points of our circular tower suite! The en suite must also boast one of the best views from a loo!

A stay in this castle is an experience like no other I’ve had before – and probably won’t again.

Thornbury Castle, review
Henry VIII Suite

It also delivered a friendly and professional level of service becoming of its stately backdrop – borne out too by the fact it’s been awarded 4 Red Stars. Its restaurant’s foodie credentials have also been recognised with 3 Rosettes and, indeed dinner was another highlight of our visit. An indulgent yet relaxing experience without the stuffy formality that one often comes to expect from such a majestic venue. Choose from the A La Carte or Six-Course Tasting Menu, with ingredients for many of their dishes coming direct from the kitchen garden.

Of course, living like a King or a Queen comes in at a princely sum – and tariffs here range from £299-£899 so not for you if you’re simply looking for somewhere to lay your head for the night.

Thornbury Castle, review
Catharine of Aragon Tower Suite

But if five-star luxury is top of your agenda, Thornbury Castle will fulfil every aspiration for your stay with the added bonus of being captivated by history and heritage at every turn. These stone walls have also played host to many an A-list celebrity over the years, including the likes of Sophia Loren and Laurence Olivier. If the walls could talk!

Perfect for families too with on-site facilities in their grounds which include croquet, archery, clay pigeon shooting and falconry (which can be arranged with prior notice.)

Thornbury Castle, review

Thornbury Castle is Tudor opulence at its most grandiose and I would urge anyone – who can afford it – to add it to your UK travel bucket list. For the rest of us – it’s the perfect consideration for weddings and special occasions.

Thornbury Castle was our base for a weekend visiting the Bristol area, just half an hour away.

Attractions which should be high on your to-do list whilst in the area:

Wake The Tiger
Billed as ‘the world’s first amazement park,’ this immersive experience combines storytelling and creativity in a unique journey of discovery with an environmental and societal message. Thoroughly intriguing and compelling couple of hours spent here but there’s enough to explore to stay all day.

Aerospace Bristol
From the earliest days of powered flight to the cutting-edge technology of tomorrow, visitors are inspired by fun practical science interactives and amazing exhibits, including aeroplanes, helicopters, missiles, satellites and more at this fabulous museum. Highlight is the Concorde hangar which takes your breath away.

M Shed
Social history museum sharing Bristol’s past through objects and stories of the people who have made the city what it is today.

For more information of what to do in Bristol area HERE

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