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Having recently got married, and our own family mini-moon feeling like a distant memory, my husband, son and I were rather giddy about our upcoming break away at Augill Castle who wouldn't love to stay in a castle!
After an easy journey - all be it five hours - we were all eagerly child-like, peering through the car windows waiting to spot the turrets on the horizon to reveal our destination. Encapsulated by its tree-lined approach, the castle proudly reveals itself at the top of the driveway, although grand and imposing, welcoming and inviting at the same time. Even after reading the ample, wonderful reviews from previous visitors, they do not prepare you for the magical atmosphere you immerse yourself in when entering Augill Castle and experiencing it first-hand.
Roaring fires, wood-panelled walls, historic period features create a backdrop of a bygone era, yet the décor has been lovingly refurbished to boast modern, luxurious touches. Owners, Wendy and Simon Bennett, are just as welcoming; during our tour we immediately felt relaxed, charmed and at home something they strive for, a home-from-home atmosphere, they want you to love Augill as much as they clearly do. Something that sets this boutique hotel apart from the rest is its family-friendly ethos. Wendy and Simon - parents themselves - have created a haven where children can explore and be themselves, without the worry of noise or formalities. With acres of grounds, we loved nothing more than chucking on our wellies and adventuring outside, alternatively, should the weather not permit it, there's a library full of books and games, and a private cinema to enjoy one evening we grabbed a DVD from the extensive collection and took it back to our room for some R&R.
There are seventeen bedrooms to choose from; those in the castle itself are grand, decadent with a more traditional feel, while the newer Estate rooms and suits are more contemporary, yet still boast turrets, claw-footed baths and original leaded windows with big views. We stayed in The Gatehouse, a delightful split-level suite which would have been truly romantic just the two of us, but was just as comfortable for three. The perfect mix of period features with a modern-vibe, there was drinks facilities, a mini fridge, fluffy white towels and robes, and super, four-poster bed for the perfect night's sleep what more do you need! Eating at Augill is a social affair, with two, large 20-seater tables in the Dining Room there's no reservation times or hushed voices. The banqueting tables were brimming with food at breakfast, served at a lazy 9am, I opted for the smoked salmon and scrabbled eggs, while my husband had his usual full-English - the best he's ever had. Ewan, my nine-year-old son, loved helping himself to the continental buffet, fruit, cereal, pastries and more, we were filled and fuelled ready for the day ahead.
Although we didn't use the castle's additional catering service, the Italian-inspired kitchen cooks up a storm. Wendy has been tutored by celebrated Italian chef Giancarlo Caldesi at his restaurant in London and before buying the castle Simon ran an Italian-influenced modern British restaurant in London's Mayfair. Set menus boast locally-sourced ingredients, and dining here is like an evening out with friends. Again, a great night for children is on Sundays - pizza night - a selection of Italian classics with big salads and dessert to end! Alternatively, as a family why not partake in the famous Little Augill Cooks and Augill Family Cooks cookery schools and take your culinary skills home with you.
Our fairytale adventure, sadly, had to come to and end. Augill allowed us to truly relax and escape modern life, although only for a couple of days, our experience allowed us to reconnect as a family and spend that all-important quality time together, sacred when leading busy lives. A stay here is so much more than just a bedroom, it's an immersive experience where you enjoy the run of the castle and its twenty acres of grounds; relax in the Drawing Room and Great Hall, indulge in sumptuous cuisine in the Dining Room and tasty treats in The Great British Bar in the Conservatory, and have fun in the Library (games room) and the free-access cinema. Augill.... we'll be back!
Contact: 01768 341937 or 341936 visit www.stayinacastle.com