On our recent road trip through the UK, we traversed the English countryside, staying in quaint villages and enjoying all of the small-town charm and character that we were hoping for. While it’s difficult to single out one stop on our road trip as the highlight, our night in Thornbury Castle is certainly tough to beat.
Coming from the US, we lack the medieval history that is so commonplace throughout Europe, and thus the opportunity to not only visit an English castle but also spend the night there was not to be missed. The castle was originally built in the early 1500’s as a home for the Duke of Buckingham; however, he was executed for treason shortly after its construction and the castle was claimed by King Henry VIII. Interestingly enough, Henry and Anne Boleyn (back in the days when her head was still firmly attached to her body) spent ten days in the castle during their honeymoon tour. So if it’s good enough for royalty I’d say it’s good enough for us. After falling into disrepair and subsequently being renovated, Thornbury Castle is now a 27-room luxury hotel and restaurant.
The castle is located in the town of Thornbury in South Gloucestershire, just north of Brisol and about a 2.5 hour drive from London. It is also only about 20 minutes from the Welsh border and only a short drive from some of the most iconic towns and villages in the Cotswolds.
The exterior of the castle was impressive, but we were fully unprepared for the level of luxury we would encounter in the room. See for yourself…
We’re active people, and most of our trips involve climbing mountains and spending the majority of our time outdoors. The idea of just lying around in a hotel all day normally wouldn’t be something we would ever consider; but after setting down our bags and taking in our surroundings, we never wanted to leave the room (if it weren’t for dinner we probably wouldn’t have). The combination of original 16th century architecture and more recent furnishings was incredible. Everything about the room (except for the TV obviously) made us feel as if we had transported 500 years back in time. We can honestly say that this is the nicest and perhaps the most unique room that we have ever stayed in.
It would be impossible to mention our stay in Thornbury Castle without mentioning the food. To be fair, we aren’t food critics, but we do love to eat food, so that makes us infinitely qualified to judge the quality of our meals. The level of service at dinner was unmatched, and the level of attention to detail that went into preparing the food was unmistakable. We had the venison and pheasant which were both delicious, but the salted cod cooked in the sous-vide stole the show. Easily one of the best things we’ve ever eaten. For breakfast we had the obligatory full English, which is probably the one thing that I wish the US would adopt from the UK…either that or those traffic lights that turn yellow before turning green.
All in all the food was outstanding, the facilities and service were of equal quality, and the room was something out of a fairy tale. I felt like Henry VIII without the propensity for decapitation. It was an unforgettable evening.
Next Stop: Castle Combe