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Amberly Castle (Arundel)

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Amberley (Nr. Arundel), West Sussex, BN18 9LT. Tel:+44 (0) 1798 831992

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      04.11.2009 18:54
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      a must stay

      This place will always hold a special place in my heart as the place that my other half decided to take me to propose. The idea was to make me feel like a princess... he couldn't have come any closer! The trip was a surprise so I had no idea where we were going despite me begging for clues and making numerous stab in the dark guesses. As we followed a country lane lined by high hedges either side there was no clue of what to expect. We drove along the lane and then turned off onto a gravel drive with a sweeping bend. As you straighten up you are presented with the most breath taking view of the castle (at which point I burst into tears, maybe due to relief that we weren't going to Pontins). The first view that you get of this castle is just indescribable. The castle is a proper castle, just like what you would expect a child to draw is you asked them what a castle should look like. The long gravel drive leads from the road up to the castle and under the portcullis. Either side of this drive are immaculate lawns that run right up to the castle. There is a dry moat running around the outside meaning that you have to drive over a bridge to go through the portcullis and too the reception. To get to the reception and to drop bags off you drive over the bridge and get your first glimpse at the beautiful courtyard gardens inside the castle walls. Apparently these are tended to by one lady gardener, if this is true then she deserves a medal, the gardens are of a standard that you would expect to see at Chelsea Flower show! This is not the car park however, just a drop-off point. There is a good sized car park around the corner so not to distract from the impact of fist driving in. The car park is well lit and has CCTV watching the many flashy cars (next to which ours looked rather silly!) ~~~Gardens~~~ Truly amazing. The courtyard garden is encased by the walls of the castle, some of which have been allowed to tumble. The planning is soft but effective at giving this garden a 'secret garden' feel. There are several statues and lots of tables and chairs for you to relax on and enjoy your surroundings. The garden is home to peacocks which add to the majestic feel of the place. If you are brave enough you can take the rather rickety staircase up to the top of the derelict part of the walls and walk along the top, this is not for the faint hearted but well worth it when you see the view from the top. The staff at the reception were super friendly, not cheesy or snobbish, just approachable, professional and very polite. They showed us to our room and took our bags for us. We were staying in the Lewes room; This room is on the first floor of the Tower House Mews with a view of the Lower Court and South Downs. It really was a fantastic room... more of a small apartment, with its own living room, bedroom and bathroom. ~~~The Living room~~~ The main door to the room enters straight into the living room section. There is a very comfortable sofa, a desk with writing paper, a sideboard with TV and CD player and a little table and chairs in the window. There are tea and coffee making facilities, actually these were better than what I have at home! Wedgewood cups and saucers, tea pot, vast range of teas, coffee pot, fresh milk and homemade biscuits! The room is cozily lit with period lamps. All of the furniture is individually chosen antiques. ~~~The bedroom~~~ Now this is when I really realized I felt like a princess, the bedroom is like something straight out of a period drama! No expense seems to have been spared here. Rich luxurious curtains, heavy dark oak furniture and the most stunning four-poster wooden bed I have ever seen. The bed was so high that instead of sitting down on it, you have to climb up onto it! The bed linen was thick white cotton with a dark tapestry style throw over the top. The mattress vas exceptionally comfortable and must have been king sized. This room also has a small flat screen TV showing free view, a dressing table, chest of draws and bedside tables as well as a generous sized wardrobe. ~~~Bathroom~~~ The bathroom was massive! In the corner there was a Jacuzzi bath, ok, not very in keeping with the period features, but ultimate luxury! There was also a big walk in shower with a big rose head and a sink. The towels were lovely and soft and there was a generously stoked basket full of bathroom goodies! The thing that stuck me most at first was how well the castle seems to have been cared for. Everything is immaculately sympathetic, it is an ancient building ~~~Dinner~~~ There are no bars as such in this hotel; however the choice of 3 reception rooms, all decorated in period style, with suits of armour, big log fires and swards. Drinks are ordered and brought to you by friendly staff. We had dinner in the elegant dining room and I can honestly say I enjoyed every mouthful! This hotel restaurant is aiming for a star and is, in my opinion, well on its way. The food was seasonal, original, immaculately presented and tasted out of this world. Definitely some of the best food I've eaten. The dining room is formal without a doubt; however it did have a more relaxed atmosphere. I hate it when you go to a restaurant and feel like you have to sit in silence. This was not the case here. The dining room was small with probably about 12 tables, but there was a hum of voices, laughing and 'ohhh and arrr's' about the food. We had the 'taster menu' which I would highly recommend as a showcase of some of the signature dishes from the chef. ~~~location~~~ Amberly castle is near Arundel in West Sussex, 35 miles from Gatwick. ~~~Price~~~ This is an expensive hotel but something really special! I'm fairly sure we will not be able to afford to go again anytime soon and I'm also fairly sure my boyfriend is still paying off our visit now. Rooms start at £200 (winter, mid-week) and go up to £450 (summer weekend) per night! This is without food. The food is also expensive. We had the 'taster menu' which was £80.00 per person before drinks. ~~~summary~~~ This is somewhere really special for a really special occasion. I really did feel like a princess as there was no forgetting that you were staying in a castle. This isn't a themed hotel, it's the real thing and you do pay a premium for that, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The staff were lovely and despite the luxury of this hotel there was no snobbery, I didn't feel uncomfortable at all which I certainly have done in lesser hotels. Being a smallish hotel (13 rooms) it never felt crowded, in fact you pretty much felt like you had the place to yourself. Apart from seeing other people at dinner. I wish I could post pictures on here because despite me trying to describe the place as best as I can, I haven't got over the sheer magic and beauty of this castle This is definitely the most magical hotel I have ever stayed in and would recommend it to someone wanting to give a loved one the wow factor treatment.

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