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Review: Thornbury Castle and Restaurant, near Bristol

On the approach to Thornbury Castle its already apparent that we’re in for a remarkable experience in this little corner near the Cotswolds and Welsh borders.

Believed to be the UK’s only Tudor Castle where you can stay the night, this Relais & Chateaux Hotel is one of the finest examples of the way Tudor housing trends transformed from fortress to palace.   

Once owned by Henry VIII – acquired in the bloodiest of fashions from the Edward Stafford, third Duke of Buckingham – this is a fascinating Grade I building to explore.

From 1966-1986 the castle came into the ownership of Kenneth Bell, one of the most renowned chefs in the country who turned it into a fine dining restaurant which was to set the tone for things to come.

It delivered a friendly and professional level of service becoming of its palatial surroundings – borne out too by the fact it’s been awarded 4 Red Stars. An indulgent yet relaxing experience, without the stuffy formality that one might come to expect from such a majestic venue.

Its restaurant’s foodie credentials have also been recognised with 3 Rosettes and, indeed dinner was another highlight of our visit. Choose from the A La Carte or Six-Course Tasting Menu, with ingredients for many of their dishes grown onsite in the kitchen garden, including Tudor botanicals over many centuries.

It is all about modern standards and tastes these days with a popular A La Carte Dinner Menu which, in my opinion, could rival many of the best kitchens in the country. Its range of seasonal dishes at the moment include Summer Pea Soup with crème fraiche and mint - the perfect start following a delicious muse bouche palate cleanser. But it was my Pork with Saffron Potatoes,

Chorizo and Broad Beans which stole the show – both on the tongue and the eye! Almost too pretty to eat was my dessert of Vanila & Strawberry Cheesecake with white chocolate and strawberry sorbet. (Don’t worry – I managed it!)

Other dishes available on the evening included Starters such as Slow-Cooked Duck Egg with Wye Valley Asparagus, Smoked Eel, Hollandaise and Sourdough or Gin-Cured Sea Trout with Tomato, Lovage and Yuzu. Main courses of included Pan-Roasted Fillet Halibut with Salt Cod Mash, Gem, Clams, Mussels and Shrimp and Rare Beef with Rosti, Carrot and Spinach, made the choice an even tougher one.

Other desserts included Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Ice Cream; Mango Cremeux with Thai Basil and Coconut Ice Cream and Selection of local Cheeses.

Everything came beautifully presented and proved equally as exquisite on the taste buds.

You can eat like a King with the restaurant’s six-course Tasting Menu (£95 pp) is also available throughout the week. Full Afternoon Tea and Champagne Afternoon Tea can be taken in the dining room or decadent lounge areas between 1-4pm daily.

Thornbury Castle and Restaurant is Tudor opulence at its most grandiose with a rich history to explore around every corner. It really is a one-of-a-kind destination.

But for those whose budgets don’t extend to a stay, it is the perfect consideration for a fine dining experience that’s guaranteed to leave you with plenty of memories – as well as an appetite for more.

[Items in this article may have been gifted to Chatting Food. No financial payment has been made to feature in this article, and entries to the feature are made independently by members of the Editorial Team. This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a small commission for purchases] 


Amanda is a journalist of 30 years and now runs an award-winning PR agency based in Warwickshire. When she's not writing about her own clients she loves to help spotlight the great work of other pubs, restaurants and hotels around the country.


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