Caterer loves… castle hotels

06 October 2005
Caterer loves… castle hotels

Forget minimalism, spartan comforts begone. What we at Caterer really want is a fairy-tale ending to our week in the sumptuous confines of a castle.

Castle hotels are not only full of character and intrigue but are a great way to escape city stresses. If you really want to get away from it all, try the Balfour Castle on the Orkney island of Shapinsay, the most northerly castle hotel in the world.

"At Balfour you can go back to feeling like you're in Victorian times while feeling warm at the same time," says owner Catherine Zawadski.

If solitude isn't your concern, then why not try a wine-infused medieval banquet at Ruthin Castle in Denbighshire, North Wales. The castle, built by King Edward I in 1277, is steeped in history, has its own ghost (the Grey Lady) and even a dungeon, an ancient drowning pool and a whipping pit in the grounds. What more could you ask for in a weekend away?

But if romance is on the cards, loved-up couples can also enjoy the castle's oversized beds, crackling fireplaces, fully draped beds and baths, that are, according to owner Anthony Saint Claire, "large enough to share". You could even have a medieval wedding, complete with costumes and mead to boot.

If role-playing involves rather more energy than you had in mind and you like your ruins more crumbly, the 900-year-old Amberley Castle in Sussex is ideal. At midnight you can hear the portcullis being drawn, peacocks roam majestically in its grounds, and historical events to ponder include previous ownership by Queen Elizabeth I and an attack by Oliver Cromwell.

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