Thornbury Castle – Thornbury, Gloucestershire
Thornbury Castle is the real deal: so real that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed here and Princess Mary, later Mary I, lived here. After centuries as a picturesque ruin, the Howard family transformed it in Victorian times into a splendid private residence. All the panelling and decorative features are either original or hand-crafted reproductions, including much of the furniture, the ornate carved ceilings and tapestry wall-hangings. Spiral staircases lead to 26 unique, romantic bed chambers, many with coronet or four-poster beds. Their baronial style has been cleverly updated with 21st-century luxuries: rooms are well heated with opulent bathrooms. The magnificent Tudor walled gardens have been restored to their full glory and comprise formal areas and a living statue of Henry VIII, along with a kitchen garden, Tudor herb garden, wildflower meadow and heritage orchard within the castle grounds. Thornbury’s fine dining options include its award-winning restaurant and the atmospheric Tudor Hall and Baron’s Sitting Room which are the perfect setting for private dining. Best of all, it’s an authentic, thundering castle.
Doubles from £229
+44 (0)1454 281182; thornburycastle.co.uk