If you’re looking for a super special weekend getaway, Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire is the perfect choice.
This Relais & Chateaux luxury hotel is housed in a castle dating from Tudor times, bringing a unique sense of history to your stay. It’s the only Royal Tudor Castle in the UK that has been turned into a luxury hotel, welcoming guests all year round.
The castle is steeped in history. In 1535, Henry VIII and his then wife, Anne Boleyn, resided at the castle for 10 days. The room in which they slept has now been transformed into a luxurious suite, aptly named The Henry VIII suite.
The gardens, sitting rooms and bedrooms are totally distinctive, from the oak panelled sitting room and library complete with oil paintings and giant stone fireplaces, to the octagonal tower that houses bedrooms reached via a spiral staircase, and the beautiful gardens surrounded by crenellated walls and ancient yew hedges.
We were staying in the Jane Seymour suite, and the minute you open the heavy wooden door with its huge iron key, you are struck by its opulence. As well as the grand décor, there was a huge four-poster bed, leaded windows providing 360-degree views and a large seating area where you can enjoy a tea, coffee or even the complementary sloe gin from a local distillery. The bathroom was also sizeable, and came complete with Molten Brown toiletries and amazingly fluffy towels and dressing gowns.
You can wander lazily through the castle’s gardens, taking in the original sixteenth century architecture – keep a look out for coats of arms (and the Stafford knot, the family’s emblem) carved into the stonework. One of the most relaxing things about Thornbury Castle is how easy it is to find secluded corners to unwind in, both inside and out.
The formal gardens are planted beautifully, with white Annabelle hydrangeas abounding, alongside roses, lavender and purple verbena. You can also stroll through the kitchen garden that supplies fruit, vegetables and herbs to the hotel’s kitchens. For dog lovers, the hotel welcomes four-legged members of the family too!
Thornbury castle has a long history of fine dining, and the current restaurant most certainly lives up to these standards.
We started with a pre-dinner cocktail and exquisite canapés in the drawing room, before moving through to the restaurant for the six course tasting menu.
The food was amazingly good, (my favourite was the Halibut), and the accompanying wine flight was perfectly matched, enhancing every dish. Attention to detail was apparent in everything, and all of the knowledgeable staff looked to take pride in dining experience that they were providing. We were left in awe!
The local town is just a short stroll away, and the historical high street is busy with shops, pubs and restaurants.
Thornbury is easily accessible from the M5 motorway, located approximately 12miles north of Bristol. Website: www.thornburycastle.co.uk
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