A Travel and Lifestyle Blog
There is something special about a castle isnt there. The history wrapped up within its walls. The stories woven amongst its rooms. The past residents that have called it home. Well, when I saw that a Hever Castle stay was possible, I knew it was the perfect staycation for us! Our dreams of being a, (albeit temporary) resident of the castle could be realised.
I actually booked this as a complete surprise for Nik. We visited between Christmas and New Year, and he had no clue where we were going, right up until we arrived! It is a miracle that I kept it a secret! I usually get far too excited and spill the beans. I shocked myself by keeping it under wraps, but it was so lovely to surprise him with this! He has always wanted to stay in a castle. Yayyy me!
If you have never been to Hever Castle, in the Kent countryside, you need to add it to your list. I won’t go into too much detail about the castle here, I will save that for another post. You will be here all day reading otherwise! What I must tell you though, is that Hever Castle is special. The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, it has history and stories seeping out of its walls! King Henry VIII visited Anne at the castle, looking to win her over. Unluckily for Anne, he succeeded in that particular quest….
As a guest of Hever Castle, you have access to both the beautiful gardens, and the castle itself. Although you cannot check into your room until 3, you can access the gardens from 12 midday. We arrived early with this in mind. We had taken our boys to the castle when they were little. However, I did not remember it so was keen to explore it again. It was nothing at all to do with the fact that I was going to pretend that I was strolling my own garden, since, you know, I was a resident of the castle..
The guest rooms are located in two Edwardian wings of the castle, known as the “Tudor Village”. These later additions to the castle, (the Anne Boleyn wing and the Astor Wing), house the 28 individual rooms. Although added in the early 20th century, the wings were built in the Tudor style, in keeping with the 700 year old castle. The well heeled Astor family owned the castle at this time, and William Waldorf Astor I used his vast fortunes to restore and extend Hever Castle. The Astor Wing, one of the two guest wings, is dedicated to this famous family.
The Hever Castle guest wings have their own carpark, gated entrance and reception. This is great as it means your car can be driven right up to the reception entrance. Now, there are not any servants that come dashing out of the door to grab your travelling trunk, (should you happen to have one, all Anne Boleyn stylee), but the welcome is just as warm.
There are a few room choices available, in both of the Hever Castle wings. All rooms are beautiful and individual. They have been awarded an official 5 star rating, so you cannot go wrong whatever you choose. The room choices vary in size and features mainly. As each room is individually styled, you could find anything from a roll top bath, ornate fireplace or even a famous “Astor Slipper Bath” waiting to greet you!
We chose to stay in the Astor wing for our Hever castle stay. I asked the wonderful and helpful lady who took my enquiry, if she could advise me on the most castle-y room. Yep, thats exactly what I asked her. I wanted a castle-y room! If I could have, I would have stayed in one of the castles turrets. Since that was not an offer on the table, I wanted the most castle-esque room I could. The very patient and professional receptionist sent me through a few photos of the rooms that were available, and answered my gazillion questions. Bless her. In the end I chose to stay in Tiger Lily room, and it was beautiful.
The Astor Wing has very traditional decor. The wing’s lounge area has a huge wood burning stove, perfect for those cosy castle feels. Comfortable sofa’s invite you to take a seat and enjoy a drink or two. There is no bar at Hever Castle, but you can still have a drink. The reception is open until around 11.30, and will gladly serve you wine, beer, or your choice of spirit. Nik and I loved having a couple of glasses of wine by the fire before venturing out for dinner. Chess boards are set up, ready to be played at individual tables around the rooms perimeter. There are magazines and the days newspaper’s to help you enjoy a relaxed evening. If you are feeling a little more competitive, you could always opt to play a few frames in the billiards room just up the corridor.
Although there is no restaurant at the castle, there is breakfast rooms in each guest wing. Breakfast for guests of the Astor Wing is served in the impressive, Tudor style dining room. Breakfast is included for all guests and consists of a full English breakfast, along with continental choices. Delicious, and a great way to fuel for a walk around the gardens afterwards.
Again, I was able to pretend that this was my daily life for a while. As a guest, you get to venture into the gardens before the days visitors. So, after eating our breakfast, we set off to explore the gardens before the visitors for the day turned up. There was a light mist swirling around the castle, and the resident ducks and swans were just waking. Walking through the Italian Gardens of Hever Castle, with no one else around, gave me ideas way above my station. I think for a moment, I thought I was a lady of the times, wandering through my grounds to pick roses to ask cook to put on my tea tray to be served in the afternoon…. A girl can dream right?
So as I mentioned, we stayed in the Tiger Lily room. Located down a corridor just a short walk from the lounge. It was stunning! I was so happy with my choice. Walking into the room, you were immediately hit with it’s character and Tudor feel. Beamed ceilings, a huge bed, and wing backed chairs greeted you. The room was flooded with light from the windows stretching across one whole corner of the room. The view across the Tudor gardens and towards the Castle were gorgeous. Certainly not a bad sight to wake up to!
The room was very spacious and filled with period furniture. A large bathroom was set off from the room, complete with a large bathtub to soak the day away in. We absolutely loved the room, and it was perfect.
Let me tell you a little about the Anne Boleyn wing. It is equally as beautiful. The Anne Boleyn wing was re-furbished in 2012, so has a slightly more modern feel. The rooms have air conditioning, something that the rooms in Astor Wing do not have. Breakfast is served in the Anne Boleyn breakfast room, where you can enjoy views across the orchard. This beautiful room is flooded with natural daylight, and a gorgeous place to start your day.
Guests of the Anne Boleyn wing do have access to the billiards room and lounge in the Astor Wing. It’s just a short walk through the corridors to reach them.
As I previously touched upon, there is no restaurant within the castle or the guest wings. However, there are many pubs local to the castle for your evening meal. We wandered up to the King Henry VIII Inn, which is literally a 2 minute walk away through the castle grounds. The pub is amazing, and we had a beautiful evening meal there. I would advise booking should you want to eat in the King Henry VIII, as it is very popular. At busy times, you could be waiting a little while for a table if you have not pre-booked. The walk back to your room is well worth venturing out for. The sight of the castle all lit up of a night, gives a magical feel to it. Just beautiful.
There are two restaurants on site in the castles grounds. These serve a variety of “cafe” type food, but they do finish serving at around 4 o clock. You could of course, have a large meal at lunch time should you not wish to make the walk to the pub. However, if you are asking for my recommendation, I am gonna tell you to get yourselves to the pub! It is a real treat and we had a lovely evening there.
In my opinion, a Hever Castle stay makes for an ideal little getaway. Around an hours drive from London, it is a great overnight break. It just feels special and very relaxed. The area of Kent that Hever castle sits in is beautiful. You have the National Trust owned village of Chiddingstone just minutes up the road. Ideal for a little stop off on your way home. The little pub there is very historic, and the beautiful church worth a visit.
I think an Autumnal or Spring stay at Hever Castle would be especially lovely. The gardens are stunning and we were so lucky with the weather we had. It was cold, but no rain and at times, blue skies! There is something so appealing to me about a freezing cold walk outside, then coming in to sit by a fire. Maybe its that quintessentially British side of me, but I just love the cosiness.
Prices for a stay in the Bed and Breakfast at Hever Castle start at £175 per night for a standard double room. The Edward VII suite starts at £280 per night if you are celebrating something special. There is also Medley Court as an option. This is a four bedroom cottage, that sleeps up to eight guests. Built in 1903, it is attached to the Astor Wing. Hire of the cottage starts at £550 per night, £2000 weekly. How wonderful would it be to hire the cottage with friends or family! I would be in my element being Princess for a whole week!!!!
Is there any particular type of place to stay you have always lusted after? We did glamping as another staycation for the first time last year, which was another type of break on our list. I fancy a lighthouse or a shepherds hut as my next quirky accommodation. Do you like the idea of a castle stay? What is on your list?