Life goes at a slower pace in this rural part of England and Hereford is the ideal country town: tight-knit, accessible and tranquil, yet with world-class attractions in its fine cathedral, Mappa Mundi and Chained library. Castle House is a Grade II listed town house whose charming gardens overlook the old castle moat. The Cathedral and shops are nearby, yet there is absolute quiet: no traffic noise, just birdsong and the quack of ducks. We can think of few lovelier, or better sited, city hotels in Britain.
    Past the pillared entrance, you find an impressive hall, with wooden central staircase and reception tucked neatly out of sight. To one side: a bar and the Castle House Bistro; to the other a spacious restaurant and sitting room whose doors lead to the garden. All the rooms are full of light. Upstairs are bedrooms of various shapes and sizes, some optimistically described as 'luxury suites', when 'spacious double' is more accurate.
    The hotel has been revamped over the last few years, including 8 new rooms in No.25, a townhouse less than a minute's walk from the main house.The management is excellent and the food imaginative. Chef Claire Nicholls has created an excellent menu, which makes use of local Hereford Beef. A more informal bistro is also on site.