For many, staying in a castle is all about the history. How many centuries old is the building? Which battles have been witnessed from the fortresses? How many prisoners have been cast aside in the dungeons? Which beds have been slept in by royalty?
For others, it's about the location. How accessible is the property by air, rail or road? What visitor attractions are located on the doorstep? How close is the nearest round of golf?
For some, it's much more about the culinary delights on offer once guests have checked in to their castellated haven.
For all the foodies out there, here is my list of the top castles for dining in each of the countries serviced by Celtic Castles' portfolio:
England - Thornbury Castle
Thornbury Castle has always been renowned for its fine food and is the recipient of many prestigious awards. The Head Chef changes the lunch menu on a daily basis, enabling him to incorporate the freshest seasonal produce.
The castle is renowned for its many traditional English favourites, as well as the exceptional Sunday roasts. The cheeseboard is simply superb and you'll also find plenty of modern, internationally-inspired dishes on the menu.
Click here for a sample menu to whet your appetite:
Ireland - Ashford Castle
At Ashford Castle Hotel, one of the most luxurious castle hotels Ireland has, it's all about choice in your fine dining experience!
Guests can choose from the à la carte menu (classical dishes inspired by the ambience and décor of this elegant dining room which boasts no less than eleven Waterford crystal chandeliers!), the table d'hote menu (daily seasonal choices featuring a selected traditional dish from the locality and George V’s legendary carving trolley), and a 7-course tasting menu degustation; a wonderful taste of the Connaught region, with each course matched with its perfect wine, selected by the castle's award-winning Sommelier, from the restaurant’s extensive cellars.
Scotland - Inverlochy Castle
Inverlochy Castle's restaurant has been awarded AA 3 Red Rosettes. The menu, a sample of which can be seen below, features modern British cuisine, which is internationally recognised by all major guides.
Wales - Château Rhianfa
Château Rhianfa boasts a number of very different and flexible eating options, from romantic dining for two, to a more convivial affair, with guests meeting for canapés, followed by a sumptuous meal, French style, around a large dining table. A 3 course dinner is offered at the château, charged at £35 per person. The menu includes around 5 choices per course.
France - Château de Bagnols
Lyon is world famous for its cooking and food markets, and the chef at Château de Bagnols is justly proud of his seductive menus, which offer a range of regional specialities, traditional spit-roasted meats and game and inspired new dishes.
On fine days, you might choose to eat out of doors on the south-facing terrace under the shade of the 100-year-old lime trees; a sublimely romantic location. From here, you look down to the gently splashing fountain, which stands at the centre of the park surrounded by an orchard of cherry trees underplanted with wild flowers. Beyond, there lies a dazzling panorama, which melts into the hazy distance of hills covered in vineyards and woods.
To check availability and book a stay, including dinner(!), at any of the properties listed above, contact a member of the Celtic Castles team; we are ready and waiting to take your order!!