A place with a sense of fun. You might find a piano in your bathroom, a church pew next to the loo, maybe even an Indonesian blowpipe above your bed. The hotel's setting in a perfectly formed neo-Gothic folly castle (built in the 1840s), situated in 20 acres of grounds within the achingly beautiful Eden Valley, compounds its charm.
It was bought on an impulse by former restaurateurs Simon and Wendy Bennett, who transformed the ailing castle into a thoroughly unique place to stay. The result, says our series editor Fiona Duncan, is a 'home-from-home' that is wonderfully family friendly and relaxed. There are minimal rules, and dinner is served communally on a long oak table at the heart of the castle (akin to having “a dinner party with friends you haven't met yet” say its owners). You can also dine privately in the Conservatory, Drawing Room or garden terrace.
The bedroom decoration enhances the sense of staying with a grand but eccentric, and very hospitable, friend. Bold and well-chosen antiques playfully rub shoulders with contemporary pieces, and features such as turrets for a wardrobe, stained glass windows and magnificent views add up to a romantic experience.
Your stay may be relaxed, but the housekeeping is far from it: enjoy a feeling of order and of things running on the rails.