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“How the other half live”
Review of Amberley Castle

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Amberley Castle
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 28, 2012

We went here on a lunch offer. For us it’s the only way to sample a place as expensive as this; it really is top end for people with money to burn. So, how did we plebs rate the restaurant and that of the hotel and grounds we saw?

The grounds are magnificent. On a bright November midday with rain showers about, the lawns were freshly mown and still set out for croquet though I imagine you might sink into the sodden lawn with the weather we have had recently (and presently); obviously just for show. The gardens were immaculate and complimented the buildings beautifully.

Inside, the public rooms are all pleasing on the eye and comfortably furnished. There seems plenty of space and we never felt crowded in the lounge even though the dining room was full for lunch.

Service was immaculate. Every wish was executed to perfection with not the least hint of the possibility of a mistake. Coffee in the lounge? - it was set up before you had walked down the stairs but the coffee still brought fresh after you had arrived. This sort of attentive perfection is achieved by an army of attendants; people were flitting and hovering in the dining room all the time – you pay for this sort of staff to customer ratio.

What about the food? Well, it’s ‘fine dining’ so you have to expect small portions extravagantly priced – and we were not disappointed. The starter, some terrine of game, was tasteless and a huge disappointment. For main course my wife had a ‘beef steak’ honestly described (I forget how) and it was frankly stewed beef but very tasty and with a wonderful sauce. I had hake, about 2 inches square, such a mean portion that was hard to believe. For sweet I had cheese which, without a trolley, is a gamble usually but here they came up trumps with three local cheeses that all had character and flavour. Glasses of good but not exceptional wine at £10 a glass demonstrate the prices that go with a place like this.

Would I go there again for a meal? Well, only on an offer because if I had to pay the full price I would feel ripped off. Let’s face it; this is a place for well-off people. With dinner, bed and breakfast running at anything up to £750 for two people you’ll get the gist.

A great experience neverthelss. Flawless service, comfort and pampering everywhere but for us ordinary folk, strictly off-limits (except as a taster experience when an offer comes up).

Room Tip: Didn't stay here
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank OLDGIT71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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859 - 865 of 948 reviews

Reviewed November 21, 2012

When you turn into Amberley Castle and the sweeping drive comes into view, you know you're in for a treat.

There's a great tree house at the entrance and we were greeted by Alpacas at the foot of the drive. A flock of white doves adorned the Castle entrance, making us feel like we'd walked into a fairytale, then around the corner popped the head of a peacock - obviously, what else?

On walking into reception we were met by really friendly staff who simply couldn't do enough for you.

We stayed for my husbands birthday weekend and our room was in the grounds of Castle, I say room, it was more of a lovely split level apartment, decorated in keeping with the rest of the setting, with great views of the surrounding area. We'd heard that the rooms in the Castle walls are due for an upgrade as they are currently a bit tired, so if you stay before January 2013, try to book one of the rooms in the grounds to get the best experience.

Christmas decorations were going up as we arrived and the hotel looked like a winter wonderland - twinkly trees and roaring fires. Couldn't really ask for more...and it was well heated. If you're not a fan of it being too hot, make sure you wear something that's not too hot as the heating is whacked right up.

The restaurant is small, but not claustrophobic and the best table in the house is in the window - good views over the gardens and lots of space for all the dishes you may be ordering.

The tasting menu is gorgeous, varied and well worth the money. If you fancy the wine pairing, that's a great experience and the Sommelier, Kelvin is a real character.

The only thing that the Castle could do with adding is a spa - then it would be utter perfection.
Saying that, there's nothing I'd change about our experience at Amberley and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to be spoilt rotten.

Room Tip: If you book before January 2013, try to go for one of the rooms outside the castle walls, they'r...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank NikkiGats
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2012

My husband and I have just come back from a two night stay at Amberley Castle. It was an anniversary treat and it was a great opportunity to stay in an English Castle at a relatively good rate (we had a four poster room at a third of the price mid-week £250 per night room only as opposed to its full price weekend/usual season rate of £600+ per night) so needless to say we were hugely excited about our visit to Amberley Castle. The backdrop to the castle is amazing and we felt like we had time travelled back to the past. We stayed in the Amberley room which is complete with a huge beautiful four poster bed, a gas open fire and windows that opened into the internal castle grounds... truly magical... there is a whirl pool bath and lots of lovely l'Occitane toiletries... we felt properly pampered.

We opted to eat out both nights mainly because there wasn't anything that appealed to us on the menu however we did have breakfast in the room the first morning and the second morning we had breakfast in the queen’s room restaurant. The breakfast wasn’t great in fairness, the food was lukewarm and the toast was just warm bread. The breakfast and dinner menus are outrageously priced so at that cost level, your expectations are higher. But regardless, nothing could bring us down - we had a chance to stay in a historic building, in a beautiful room and were happy to ignore this.

Generally speaking the staff at every point were very helpful and friendly. From the moment we contacted the hotel to reserve a room, to arriving at Amberley Castle and during our stay everyone was super friendly. It was only when we checked out and it came to bill paying time did the mood change. I was given our invoice and offered my credit card to pay the bill. I was then handed the credit card machine, as I assumed it was to put in my PIN... however it was to insert the amount I would like to "tip" the hotel. I have stayed in many Luxury Hotels around the world and I have next been asked to "tip" the hotel. However, I did leave a tip (just under 10%) I handed the machine back to the girl at reception and once my PIN was in and the receipt printed off, she just stared in disgust at the tip I had left, put my credit card on the desk and walked away leaving me standing there with my mouth open, thinking what have I just experienced here??? This girl was at the hotel for the whole of our stay, was really nice to us but as soon as she didn’t get a huge tip she walked off in disgust.

My husband was already in the car at this point and I walked out of Amberley Castle to the car park in pure shock at how dramatically different the service was at checkout. It made me question the friendliness of all the staff at this point... was it all a big false charade? I have to say on leaving it spoiled the end of the break for me and I was deeply disappointed at this German receptionist whose bi-polar approach to service left a sour feeling of our time at Amberley.

To give Amberley Castle our final summary; it is a beautiful country hotel that was worth it at the discounted price we paid but not at the high prices they quote the rest of the year. The Amberley room is beautiful and the grounds are elegant and well kept. The food (we only experienced breakfast) was ok but not worth the price they charge. The staff, on the surface, seemed very nice but sadly the veneer slipped in the end and made us feel like the whole pretense of "friendliness" was to garner a huge tip. I've got another tip for you ... "don't eat yellow snow"...

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank LondonLaragh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2012

We stayed just one night,enjoying this splendid old building,its architecture and atmosphere. Service was good,though apart from the elderly lunch-time waiter, a little distant.Although we found our bedroom difficult to access, we liked its unusual quirky features- especially the proliferation of beams - found it very comfortable and well furnished . Our lunch in the attractive dining-room was enjoyable,though the price of a glass of pre-lunch white port, was rather steep at £12.50.Dinner was a disappointment at £55 for two courses,preceded by an amuse-bouche.The appearance of the food,predominantly colours of beige,shades of brown or cream,with few vegetables or greenish garnishes didn't satisfy the eye or the palate.Breakfast was also disappointing,with less choice than one would expect.Two yoghurts (extremely good quality) and glasses of orange juice were already on the table,plus a small pot of Wilkinson's jam and one of marmalade.Why not give guests a choice of flavours,juices,preserves? Exotic fruit salad,cereals,patisserie could be ordered but not seeing them meant that one did not have the stimulus to order what might or might not appeal.so mainly we didn't order.My partner who normally eats fruit salad etc.to start didn't.I did order the exotic fruit salad,a small portion of a very refined ,neatly cut version.My partner's cooked items were fine,although bacon was over-cooked and he left it.I had the omelette Arnold Bennett - a version I've not had before and would not opt for again.The omelette was not the classic version but a scrambled variety,like scrambled egg, mixed with the flakes of smoked haddock,then moulded into a round. The mix was extremely buttery and,topped with a cheese-glazed sauce,made for really over-rich eating. I managed only half with difficulty,even though I refrained from eating toast etc. and have a taste for rich food more than the average,I would say. So,I would sum up: stay in the castle - by all means,a very interesting experience - but consider eating elsewhere. This was my birthday treat and,sad to say,I came away rather disappointed.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank furbysmum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2012

Booking into Amberley Castle was a most pleasant experience, the staff were so pleasant and positive. Arrival at the castle was equally pleasant with staff offering to park the car and to help us to our room. Unfortunately we couldn't have the room we had booked because there were too many stairs and no liftHowever they most courteously showed us to another room with no stairs whixh was smaller but very comfortable. We went to the lounge and had a pre-dinner drink, no drinks list or prices!!! Later when we received our final bill we found that they charge £16 for an ordinary double scotch (Grouse) and £8 for a single gin and tonic. The meal was very ordinary although dressed up to be fancy and very expensive. At all times the staff were exceptionally helpful and polite
The grounds of the castle were sensational and the views outstanding.
The moral is that it is well worth a visit but eat and drink elsewhere

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Jim187056
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 4, 2012

A Magnificent 900 year old castle set in extensive immaculate grounds. Some of the furnishing a little 'tired" but the new owners (owners of Gidleigh Park) are totally refurbishing after Christmas and judging from the "Gidleigh" experience the new standards are likely to be extremely high. The food was a little hit and miss. Michael Caines has not yet had time to make the necessary changes to the kitchen but I am sure that when the hotel reopens in March the standards will be high. I have booked again for shortly after it reopens ad I am sure that I will see dramatic improvements.
Rooms inside the castle grounds and the main building in particular are most interesting. It is the only place that I have stayed where the Portcullis is lowered at midnight!

Room Tip: Choose a room within the castle for best atmosphere. The restaurant is on the first floor and being...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank AnnualOxford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2012

Amberley Castle was absolutely breathtaking! The grounds and castle were authentic and very well maintained. This place had everything, a mote, swans, distant pastures with grazing cattle, a lake and on and on. You could film a movie here without requiring any additions.
Take a walk to the charming village for tea.
Breakfast in the castle was perfect but I'd say dinner was a bit disappointing. Although the staff was perfectly attentive the food was a bit too rich and heavy for these Californians and expensive. My advice would be to walk into the village for dinner and have your breakfast in the castle.
Definitely worth every penny for a night in a castle.

Room Tip: Pay extra for the rooms inside the castle walls. We had views of the inside grounds and one side an...
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank capet_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Amberley Castle

Address: Church Street | Nr Arundel, Amberley BN18 9LT, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > West Sussex > Amberley
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Amberley
Price Range: $241 - $721 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Amberley Castle 4*
Number of rooms: 19
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A unique luxury hotel located in the picturesque village of Amberley at the foot of the South Downs. Privately owned by Andrew and Christina Brownsword, this magnificent 900-year-old castle is enclosed by a 60 foot high curtain wall and portcullis that remains open, behind which you will discover an enchanting hotel offering the highest standards of food and service. Bedrooms are resplendent with the luxurious facilities you would expect from a country house hotel. History encompasses every part of this wonderful building and the many acres of gardens it stands in. Enjoy discovering our tennis courts, 18-hole putting green and croquet lawn, and even our resident peacock roaming the grounds. For those seeking tranquillity and relaxation, there are many quiet corners to discover under the shade of a tree or by the fireside. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Amberley Castle Hotel Amberley
Castle Hotel Amberley
Amberley Arundel Castle
Amberley Castle England

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