Built in 1719 by Lord Carnarvon, on the site of an old motte and bailey, the Castle Hotel stands overlooking the town of Bishop’s Castle, in the midst of the Shropshire countryside. It’s been an inn since it was built, and they do things traditionally here: wooden panelling, roaring open fires, chalk board menus, bar billiards and a fine selection of real ales.
The 12 en-suite rooms are simple, pretty and unpretentious, with wooden furniture, original features and views right over the gardens, town and countryside. Some have high, gabled ceilings and all are individually decorated to complement the building’s fine character.
With Ludlow (once holder of more Michelin stars than London) only down the road, the kitchen has a fine range of suppliers from which to choose, and makes good use of them. The menu has the same traditional feel as the hotel, but with a modern twist. Meals are hearty, healthy and fresh. Guests can dine in one of the three bustling bars or more serenely in the oak-panelled restaurant, The Oak Room. In the summer, many eat outside on the vine-covered terrace, overlooking the fishponds and surrounding hills. At least five real ales are usually on tap, and a comprehensive wine list is also on hand.
Ludlow, Shrewsbury and mid-Wales are all within easy reach, and the South Shropshire hills offer some excellent walking. Bishops Castle itself is a pretty little town with plenty of antique shops and tea rooms.