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 27 unique, romantic bedchambers, most with coronet or four-poster beds. Their baronial style has been cleverly updated with 21st-century luxuries: rooms are well-heated with opulent bathrooms. For total privacy, there’s also The Gatehouse; self-contained with two bedrooms, set within its own garden. The magnificent Tudor gardens have been restored to their full glory and comprise formal areas, a kitchen garden, wildflower meadow and heritage orchard. Thornbury’s fine dining options include the atmospheric Tudor Hall and a private dining room in the original dungeon where guests can tuck into a four-course candle-lit dinner. Best of all, it’s an authentic, thundering castle.
Rates: Doubles from £199
Contact: +44 (0)1454 281182