Moated mediaeval retreat
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of house wine on arrival
Rates from (inc tax)$216.13 If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days. Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (21GBP), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.
If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.
Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (21GBP), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.
Moated mediaeval retreat
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of house wine on arrival
19 including six suites.
11am; check-in time is 3pm but flexible on request, subject to availability.
Double rooms from $216.13 (£167), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days. Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP200.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.
Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP200.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.
Rates include breakfast. Two-night minimum stay at weekends.
Twelve acres of grounds, including an 18-hole putting course, tennis courts and a croquet lawn. Free WiFi, TVs, DVD/Blu-ray players and L’Occitane toiletries.
Try and stay in the main body of the castle. Amberley has a sumptuous bed, a gas log fireplace and a window-seat looking over the gardens. Pevensey is intimate and has its own private door leading to the castle battlements.
Camera, book of ghost stories, tennis racket.
Assistance dogs are welcome, but pets are not allowed. See more pet-friendly hotels in West Sussex.
Over-5s are welcome, but only over-8s are allowed to dine in the restaurant; younger little Smiths are welcome in private dining rooms. Up to two extra beds (£30 a night) can be added to Deluxe Rooms, and there's a sofa bed in the Premier Deluxe Room.
The restaurant is in the Queen’s Room. This antique eatery, decked out with lancet windows and suits of armour, has a tantalising menu of traditional British fare devised by the award-winning Conor Toomey – the sirloin pomme anna with shallot puree is not to be missed. The Great Room and two additional, more intimate dining rooms, can be exclusively hired for a private fit-for-a-king feast.
You can dine in until 10pm and drinks are served until 11pm. The price for a lunch menu starts at £34.50 and is served between 12pm and 2pm, and a two-course a la carte dinner is £67.50, served between 7pm and 9.30pm.
Simple meals and snacks are available from 11am to 10pm.
The nearest airport is London Gatwick, under an hour's drive from the hotel. Direct trains that take around 50 minutes run from here to Amberley.
There are direct trains from Amberley (half a mile from the hotel) straight in to London Victoria. The ride should take an hour and a half.
The road to Amberley is the B2139. London is 75 miles away. Other nearby towns include Brighton (20 miles away) and Portsmouth (31 miles).
Archery, clay-pigeon shooting and hot-air ballooning can be arranged by the hotel. Goodwood House – you can have helicopter and flying lessons at the Flying Club, go to the races or watch the motor-racing. While you’re there, walk up Trundle Lane to the Seven Points Viewpoint. Chichester Festival Theatre puts on impressive productions. The Minerva Theatre (01243 781312) next door, has fringe-type performances. Have a stroll along Climping beach or through Amberley village; both are a ten-minute drive away. Explore antique shops and a castle in nearby Arundel, or use it as a base to walk the South Downs Way.
The George and Dragon (01243 785660), a charming red-brick gastropub just a welly-clad half-hour ramble from the hotel, serves an excellent sandwich and small-plates selection for lunch and an evening menu of primped-up pub grub – with a decked area for when the sun shines.
The Royal Oak in Lavant (01243 527434) is worth the trip for lunch. The George at Burpham (01903 883131), a 20-minute drive from the hotel, has delicious bar food as well as a restaurant, which serves generously portioned pub classics with an à la mode twist – such as burgers in a brioche bun topped with Welsh rarebit and bacon.
The driveway that leads up to Amberley Castle is long – very long. On the left, there’s a treehouse with a rope bridge; on the either side, two ponds, one with a small island and a swing-chair in the middle; and there up towards the castle and the entrance, a genuine-article portcullis.
It definitely feels like going back in time – Amberley Castle does, after all, date back to 1380. That feeling persisted; after a warm welcome from the hotel manager (who came out to greet us as there were only three other guests) we were told shortly after two o’clock that lunch was not an option. So afternoon tea it was. Any disappointment did not last long when a marvellous antique triple-tiered stand emerged with crustless sandwiches, artisan cakes and good old-fashioned scones with healthy servings of clotted cream and jam.
This, we soon learned, is the Amberley way. It’s not the type of place where as soon as you walk in, you relax and feel tiredness fall off you as you relax straightaway: that’s hardly possible when suits of armour are watching your every move – but after a while, you learn to go with it. And once you do, it’s great.
Our room, Chichester, was up at the top of the castle, past the dining room and the ladies’ powder room (it’s that kind of place) and it was magnificent. A four-poster bed, a roaring fire, a coat of arms on the wall with the insignia ‘courage’ (more on that, later) and dramatic views of the castle battlements and the marshes beyond. We walked around the grounds but it was unseasonally too cold to play croquet or golf on the 19-hole putting green; instead we checked out the two alpacas and crossed the rope-bridge to Mistletoe Lodge, the romantic treehouse where you can see everything and not be seen.
The Downton Abbey effect kicked in before dinner, which we were told was a jacket-and-tie affair. As it happens so infrequently now, we both enjoyed getting dressed up, chatting as Lord and Lady Grantham might about matters of the house (ie what’s for dinner?). The dining room, though empty, was typically grand: no armour suits but walls bedecked with guns, which was incentive enough to abide by the Amberley rule of no mobiles at the table: if caught, the punishment is to buy a bottle of champagne for the staff and yes, it does happen.
The three-course meal was a gourmand’s delight, made all the better by our wine expert, Kelvin, one of only 200 Master Sommeliers in the world. He chose our tipples for each course, and every one was perfect: a fruity chardonnay accompanied langoustine bisque and a rich merlot complemented local Sussex sirloin. By the time the dessert wine arrived, just before the surprise popping-candy hidden at the bottom of a chocolate mousse took effect, we were fortified enough to ask Kelvin about Emily. ‘Who?’ you ask. The ghost said to stalk two rooms in the hotel.
‘In one room, she has been seen sitting reading a book; and in the other room, she has been known to pull the man’s arm from under the bedcovers,’ he said. Emily, the story went, was a 13-year-old who, in the late 1400s, fell pregnant by a local bishop; when rejected, she jumped from the top of the castle.
Laughing off the tale, my wife vowed to spend the following night in one of the rooms to see what would happen. That was until we visited the room in question – it’s called Herstmonceux (the other one is Pevensey) – the next morning. Immediately, she felt claustrophobic, so we took some fresh air, walking onto the battlements from where Emily is said to have jumped; it was precarious. We decided to stick to our room after all.
A bracing walk later, and we ambled through Amberley and headed for the South Downs. It was a steep walk but worth it for the views; on the way back through the picturesque village, it was so sleepy we wondered if anyone lived in the immaculate houses. Pausing at the Amberley Pottery studio, we went potty for the pots, and bought mugs, bowls and vases from chief ceramicist Caroline, who was as eccentric as we could have hoped.
A second dress-up gourmet meal was more than we needed, so with some trepidation, we asked to eat a light supper in front of the fire in our room. No problem, we were told, and some soup and salad were sent our way. As we listened to the doves on the turrets outside our windows chatter away, it was cosy, warm, peaceful and romantic up in our castle haven.
As for any encounters with Emily? She was invoked when a pair of glasses went missing as we were packing to leave. Did she really steal the specs? We believed it for a while; until we found them under the bed. Clearly 900-year-old Amberley Castle had us under its spell.
The location and gardens. Amberely village is beautiful and the walk along the river to Arundel is lovely.
Stylish rooms or an extensive menu.
The building and grounds are beautiful and immaculately kept, and the staff manage to be extremely helpful without being overbearing. The restaurant is great, and there are a few surprises! It's worth taking a stroll through Amberley village. 10/10
It's an old building so don't expect the rooms to be ultra modern. That said, they're very well appointed and the fittings are high quality and fresh.
The friendly service and the spacious suite overlooking the beautiful castle walls. 10/10
The dinner menu is meant to be more of a 'taster' but we did think that the mains portions could have been a bit more substantial. The pieces of fish or meat were so tiny as to be almost unrecognisable!
The castle, the scenery, the quietness, the breakfast, and most of it: the outstanding dinner.
Liveliness. The staff is very professional, but for our taste a bit too stiff, too reserved.
Loved it all! Great room which had a door at the back of the bathroom giving us access to our very own turret! The food was exceptional, very spoiling weekend all round. Proposed to my other half while walking around the grounds, she said yes! Could hardly have said no in such beautiful surroundings!
A cheap weekend away. High end stuff all round and priced that way.
The service from hotel staff, particularly from the General Manager and Reception, was extremely good. The food at breakfast and dinner was excellent. Extremely comfortable bed. Very cosy, welcoming lounges. Nearby Arundel is good for antique shops, tea rooms and the Castle. Parham Park (loads of deer) is beautiful to walk through, too.
A spa or a hotel bar
The setting is beautiful. As you drive up the driveway, you feel a calm come over you and a sense that you are going back in time. We just loved it all and the staff were lovely too!
Lots of noise or hustle bustle. It's just peace, quiet and beautiful views here.
The fact that it is an actual castle and it is in such a beautiful setting.
The peaceful, relaxed atmosphere and helpful staff.
Late night bar culture.
The suite was wonderful and the dinner was sublime,such unusual dishes but beautifully presented and delicious flavours. Scenery all around lovely.
Breakfast was a little slow, maybe another hand in the kitchen was needed.
The gorgeous room, the sunning location, the history, the gracious staff and the sophisticated ambiance
Entertainment or nightlife on-site.
The intimacy of the Castle and Bob, the white Peacock.
Fast, joined-up service.
This is a truly luxurious castle and manor house experience, with intriguing ruins in the hotel grounds and a secret stairway up to the battlements. We were upgraded to the Pevensey room in the castle walls. As it was near christmas we were given gingerbread men and satsumas every day. The restaurant was exceptional, with very clever flavour combinations and modern techniques based on classic dishes, which were perfectly executed. We received great service in all parts of the hotel – staff were always there but unobtrusive. The room service menu can be served in the lounges by the log fires, which is a lovely way to spend the evening.
Cannot fault the hotel, service, food or location. One tiny thing – little extras like teas, coffees and cakes in the lounges do add up; there's no price list, and prices can be on the high side.
The setting is fantastic and the food is fantastic
Slight lack of communication in service between the sitting room and the dining room staff.