Thornbury Castle is the real deal: so real that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed and Princess Mary, later Mary I, visited regularly. 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 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 three AA Rosette fine dining restaurant and the atmospheric Tudor Hall and Baron’s Sitting Room which are perfect for a private supper. Best of all, it’s an authentic, thundering castle.
Doubles from £249
+44 (0)1454 281182; thornburycastle.co.uk