Alexander Larman lives it up like a lord at the exquisite Amberley Castle in the quintessentially English village of Amberley, West Sussex
Situated in the stunningly beautiful village of Amberley in Sussex, the hotel scores immediate points purely on the basis that it is, quite literally, a fully fledged castle: think turrets, a flag, an oubliette and a portcullis (which we note is raised at midnight, not to be lowered until 7am the next morning). Dating from the 12th century, it’s an impressive achievement to have constructed a luxury hotel in the extensively renovated keep, but this is precisely what the latest owners, the Brownswords, have done, making for a delightfully enjoyable experience. Don’t have a car? Despite the diminutive and picturesque village, there is a railway station with a direct service to London.
Although the building might be ancient, the recently refurbished accommodation is all contemporary luxury, with refreshing attention to detail; the original windows still remain, and there’s something rather wonderful about being able to wake up and gaze out on the inside of a medieval castle wall, festooned with cooing doves (what else?). The one in which we stayed, Arundel, boasted a spacious and well-appointed bathroom, an incredibly comfortable bed and plenty of space. Fit, you might say, for a lord.
Food and drink
They take food seriously at Amberley Castle. But don’t worry, it isn’t a matter of gnawing on a chicken thigh and throwing something indeterminable at a quaking serf. The three AA-rosette winning restaurant, run by head chef Robby Jenks (a protégé of the legendary Michael Caines) offers sumptuous dishes that might include langoustine tortellini, perfectly cooked sea bass with cous cous and yogurt and venison and some entertainingly experimental desserts, all served within the grand settings of the Queen’s Room. The wine list – suitably leather-bound and imposing – offers a good selection of sommelier recommendations at far from bank-breaking prices.
In a nutshell
Castle living is as suited to the 21st century as the 12th, if a stay at the fantastic Amberley Castle is anything to go by. And make sure that you have a walk round the truly beautiful village adjoining the hotel; it’s one of the nicest that we’ve ever visited.