Staying in a castle was on my bucket list forever. Despite living in England for several years, this luxury always seemed outside of our budget. So, on our last visit back to England, I desperately wanted to make this bucket list dream happen. Coming across Thornbury Castle Hotel in my research, I knew immediately it was exactly the experience I was looking for.
When looking into castles that offer accommodation, I found none really matched what I was envisioning. I wanted something that looked and felt authentic from the outside and the inside too.
Most castle hotels have completely refurbished their bedrooms to look like a normal hotel room. Yes, being comfortable is important. I also wanted stone walls, spiraling staircases, large tapestries; something with character and a bit of history. Most importantly, I wanted to feel like I was actually staying in a castle, not just a hotel.
I came across the Thornbury Castle Hotel in my search. It looked to have everything I wanted. The bonus was that it was only a short drive from our already planned destinations; our former hometown of Bristol and the beautiful Cotswolds. I still question why I didn’t know about this place sooner!
Taking advantage of the 2020 lag in tourism, Thornbury Castle is undertaking a massive refurbishment. The plans look amazing, high-lighting its authentic characteristics, and definitely not getting rid of them. They plan to reopen in autumn 2020 with Phase 1 of the improvements.
A Little of Thornbury Castle's History
Thornbury Castle was originally a manor home in the 10th century. The estate then transformed into a castle predominantly in the 15th century by Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham. Unfortunately, Edward never finished the full construction. Henry VIII seized the castle and beheaded Stafford in 1521 for high treason. Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn are known to have stayed at the castle in the “Duke’s Bedchamber” during their honeymoon.
The castle fell into disrepair until 1824 when the Howard Family renovated it. It then became a luxury hotel in the late 20th century.
Around the Castle
As we entered the castle grounds, there was a small vineyard in front of the ruins of the old castle wall. We drove through the fortifications of the central gate into the castle’s courtyard. Apparently you can stay in the adorable Gate House!
Around the back of the castle was a small but beautiful garden. The outdoor seating area gave a stunning view of the St. Mary Church next door.
The church dates back to the 12th century, though most of the building is from the 15th century. A little heritage sign between the church and the castle’s main gate gave a short history on both historic buildings.
Staying at Thornbury Castle Hotel
Today, Thornbury Castle Hotel has 28 guest rooms. Decorated in an authentic Tudor style. All rooms immerse you in castle life.
Each room has its own distinctive characteristics; however, the Deluxe Bedchambers and Deluxe Suites have the most elaborate castle features and character. All rooms include luxurious bathrobes, slippers and toiletries.
If you are keen to stay at the top of the castle, book the Tower Suite. This room sits atop a 77-step spiral staircase. Gold gilding and the UK’s largest four poster bed, at 10 feet wide, awaits you inside.
Our Room at Thornbury Castle Hotel
We stayed in the Woodstock Deluxe Bedchamber. It was perfect and everything I had imagined in a castle stay. Access to the room was via a stone spiral staircase. A skeleton key opened the heavy wood door.
A large four poster bed was the centerpiece. Stone walls, a fireplace, and a large antique window made the perfect backdrop to the sitting area. Overhead, intricately designed patterns decorated the ceiling. I loved all the touches right down to the tasseled light cords. It felt fancy and authentic.
Another heavy wood door with wrought iron fixtures lead to the bathroom. The large clawfoot tub with British telephone faucet screamed luxury. Though there was still a separate walk-in rainforest shower.
On the bed was a binder with information about the hotel and detailing the history of the castle. The hotel also provided a book of attractions in the surrounding area, which we felt was a nice touch.
Booking a Room at Thornbury Castle Hotel
Thornbury Castle Hotel can be found on booking.com.
Similar to all hotels, prices range significantly depending on time of year and day of the week. Opt for a weekday for the best rates. To give you a feel of the room prices, here is what we found per night:
- Classic Double Rooms around £199 – £299
- The Deluxe Doubles around £299 – £409
- The Duke’s Bedchamber (Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn’s room) around £329 – £439
- The Tower Suite around £469 – £569
If you are traveling with a family, be aware that the hotel has a policy that guests must be 8 years and older.
Before booking, check out the castle’s Offers & Breaks page.
We were able to get a fantastic deal on a weeknight stay in a Deluxe Bedchamber, with a two-course dinner, a glass of Prosecco each and breakfast.
Dining at Thornbury Castle Hotel
Breakfast at Thornbury Castle Hotel
Breakfast was served in the main dining room. They offered a cooked menu consisting of options such as a Full English, Eggs Benedict, and other typical breakfast fare. A continental breakfast bar with yogurts, cheeses and cold meats was also available.
Lunch & Dinner
Head Chef Andrew Chan offers guests a fine dining menu with two or three courses. As there are more guest rooms at the castle than dining availability, reserving a table ahead of time is recommended, even if dinner is included in your package.
Our weekday package included a two-course dinner. They asked us to arrive 15 minutes ahead of our scheduled seating for hors d’oeuvres in the lounge. The lounge was beautifully decorated with period furniture. A large fireplace centered the room as European oil paintings hung from above. We sat in an alcove under the grand windows.
As we snacked on hors d’oeuvres of pâté and small puffed pastry, the waiter took our order and served drinks. Jeremy and I both have a sweet tooth so we opted for a main with dessert as our two courses.
For dinner, we were escorted to a dining room with eight tables. The decor had us again in awe. Dark wood paneling lined the walls, and more European masterpieces added to the ambiance.
Sat under the room’s only window, we had a beautiful view of the St. Mary church illuminated by the setting sun. Above us a balcony which looked appropriate for royal dining.
The food was delicious. Jeremy chose the local lamb in a ragu sauce with a side of the garden vegetables. I picked the duck with a side of new potatoes. We were both very pleased with our meals, but agreed I had made the better choice.
For dessert, Jeremy could not resist the dark chocolate, banana and rum sorbet and was happy with his choice. For me, the banana was too overpowering so I was glad I chose the rhubarb, tonka and orange which was a fantastic combination of flavors.
One of my favorite things to do in the UK is have Afternoon Tea, and where better to enjoy this luxury than at a castle!
Thornbury Castle offers afternoon tea from 12.30 pm – 4:30 pm. It can be served in the Lounge, Sitting Room or Library.
Choose from Cream Tea which includes a pot of tea or coffee, scones with jam and clotted cream, and a selection of cakes. Opt for the Full Afternoon Tea if you would also like finger sandwiches, and the Champagne Full Afternoon Tea to add on a glass of Champagne.
Book ahead on the Thornbury Castle Hotel & Restaurant website.
Have you stayed at an authentic castle? We are keen to visit more castles around the world. Let us know in the comments if you have one that is your favorite.