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Amberley Castle
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All reviewswhirlpool bathtasting menufour poster bedgrounds are stunningcastle wallspre dinner drinksrelais and chateauxupgraded to a suitemichelin starwhite peacocksouth downsbirthday treatclassic roomsitting roomchristmas decorationsmodern bathroomcream tea
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747 - 752 of 973 reviews
Reviewed 10 August 2014

My Husband and I have previously stayed at other Relais and Chateaux hotels and were looking for somewhere outstandingly good. On arrival, Amberley Castle looked magnificent in the sunshine, with a long pebbled driveway raising up to the Portcullis. The grounds and gardens are a delight and extremely well looked after with very colourful flower beds. The hotel itself isn't overly big, but the grounds are huge, with plenty to explore, from the ponds, with ducks, to the tree house, and pergolas, views over the castle grounds and beyond. This is a hotel set in a historic castle, don't expect air conditioning, don't expect the castle to fit around the hotel, it doesn't, the hotel fits around the castle. The stair cases to the bedrooms are narrow and winding, the kitchen is downstairs with the restaurant upstairs, the reception area is down a few worn steps, it all makes for an historic experience, not forgetting the white peacocks.
The restaurant menu was varied with wonderful food, it doesn't change too often, and as we were staying for three nights we enquired to have a change to the menu for our third night. The restaurant staff were eager to oblige, taking notes of our likes and dislikes, we didn't expect anything too different, how wrong we were, the kitchen chefs team put on a fabulous meal for our final night, which we won't forget.
I'm not sure what they do with the breakfast, but the traditional english was the best we have ever tasted. The meat is locally sourced and so tasty, i'm not sure what they do with the mushrooms and scrambled eggs, but it was beautiful for our final day. Thanks to all the staff, from the receptionists, to the restaurant staff, the chefs, and everyone else involved, we had a great stay.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank RedPartridge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amber1103, General Manager at Amberley Castle, responded to this reviewResponded 3 September 2014

Dear RedPartridge

Thank you for your kind review, we feel that you have perfectly described the hotel and the character that makes us what we are. We are pleased you had an excellent experience and Your thanks are very welcome, the team constantly review the website for all good feedback. Hopefully we will see you again soon.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Drinkwater
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2014

Visited with friends for dinner and looked forward to something I hoped would be spectacular looking at the CV of the chef, and having eaten regularly at some of the kitchens mentioned.
Now perhaps it’s unfair, but I have to compare this to Gidliegh but as this hotel is part of the group and this kitchen is aiming for a star I feel it fair to judge them on this basis especially at over £500 for four al la carte.
Arriving in a taxi the rain made it a run for cover. Just as a helpful idea why not provision an umbrella rack at the end of the path or sort some sort of modern walkway covering?
I digress. On arrival we approached the reception and a bit of panic seemed evident. We had arrived as stated and on time however it seemed that provision to seat us pre-dinner was a problem? After a few minutes we were shown into the far sitting room and then well nothing actually happened. Twenty one minutes passed and I was just about to raise the alarm when menus arrived with a rather flustered look. Drinks orders then taken and some 15 minute later at last something appeared. So over half an hour for any service at all.
Menus looked interesting but I felt I had to make known again my wife’s serious allergies to seafood as no mention had been made of it and I felt I just had to. Puzzlement again here.
Then two canapés per person arrived. Now these were rather excellent however just two? And with empty glasses we had to order another round. Fifty five minutes and then shown to table in the barrel vaulted room upstairs. No sommelier, no sorry for waiting, no finesse, no …
Well I thought let’s hope things pick up a bit. This chef should be trying really hard here and as before the menu looked good.
Now I not going to be too smart here as I could go on and on, however some things really grated.
Firstly the sommelier just got off on the wrong foot from the first moment embarrassing my guests badly in the process. Now he might know his stuff however he is there to inform, guide and add value to the experience and not just try to be clever and score points showing off.
We chose the wine flight and I wished I hadn’t. Three glasses poured off table with no bottle shown brought in one hand slopping about with a silly smile became a guessing game. As above it seriously wound one of my guests up and I had to apologise not once but twice. Not only that but three glasses. Come on. As a note Edouard you need to sort this.
Now the food. Well very competent cooking however the oddest choice of tableware meant a lot of the precision to me was lost. The lobster starter was excellent but the chicken served on Couscous was almost river café food. My cod was reasonably well cooked but perhaps 45 seconds to much but nice. But only nice. The reduction was poor instead of being a real star? The cherry pudding was a real mess on the very uninspiring plate. A real shame as the ingredients were very good.
What struck me most was that I expected anyone trained at Gidliegh and under Burge to have real panache. And this just did not? Perhaps I expected something to much however at this price point I feel it must just wow and leave a real impression. It only did in small parts.
Table service was on the whole adequate however there was no real attempt I felt to engage and be friendly and this just therefore came across I felt as a distinctly bored and a rather aloof French style.
I realise the service is obviously from below, and that night they had another dining room open upstairs, however the layout needs urgent sorting and a proper pass created. Seeing everyone’s dinner lying about on small tables whilst waiters sorted what goes ware was just unprofessional and led overall to tepid food.
So a really mixed bag. Was it good? No it was adequate and at this price point fell below par in my humble opinion and shows this kitchen to be very much work in progress.

  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Service
6  Thank BatmanMarlborough
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amber1103, General Manager at Amberley Castle, responded to this reviewResponded 29 August 2014

Dear BatmanMalborough

I am very sorry to read that your experiences were not to our usual standard, as you can read from the hundreds of excellent reviews. It appears we have really let you down on this occasion which of course is disappointing for me and the team. We were most upset that the first time we hear about your underwhelming experience is via an online review site rather than directly, we would always try to rectify any shortfalls in our service or standards if we are aware.

Sorry to hear you missed our umbrella stand in the main car park, the weather was indeed frightful this night and I fully understand the frustration at being soaked prior to seating for dinner. We take all of our dietary requirements extremely seriously so I am most surprised that the team gave the impression of puzzlement, I can assure you this is not the case.

We are very proud of our Head Chef and indeed he has worked under some excellent chefs. As this is his own kitchen it is inevitably going to offer his own style of food and not that of his mentors. Both the chefs he trained under took time to develop their style and at the age of 27 both me and Michael Caines are expecting a bright future for him. Even so at this stage Robby has received many great reviews and awards for his cooking, sorry that you do not share these opinions.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, I hope we get to welcome you back to Amberley in a while.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Drinkwater.
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2014

Having not been to the Castle for two years - in part due to the previous dwindling service, it is really great to see the whole experience back on track.

I visited for Sunday lunch in July - a special occasion for a relative. Superlatives relating to the grounds, the local environs and the building itself have all been said, so there is no need to repeat them - if you cannot beat them!!

Throughout all of the changes at the heart of the establishment has always been customer services, and whilst I note some changes, many of the stalwarts are still evident, and continue to provide a fantastic customer experience, with friendly, understated support and where required guidance.

The menu choices are much improved, as are the portion sizes - not overwhelming as I had experienced in the past. As diners with specific dietary requirements, there were met and great suggestions made which enhanced our luncheon.

I now believe that Amberley can move back to excellent after the hiatus, and keep up the good work everyone as it is really working for my family.

We hope to join you for Christmas!

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Service
Thank Jan11c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amber1103, General Manager at Amberley Castle, responded to this reviewResponded 28 August 2014

Dear Jan11c

Thank you for your kind well-balanced review. We are well underway as a team, working hard to restore Amberley to its previous status within the country house hotel environment. It is good for the whole team to see that this has been recognised, for this I thank you.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Drinkwater
General Manager

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Reviewed 7 August 2014

I just don’t know where to start! Amberley castle was everything we expected AND MORE! Much, much more! We stayed as a couple in the Luffa Suite 12th & 13th July 2014. This was the first holiday / mini-break my boyfriend and I had ever had in the 4.5 years we’ve been together and it was made all the more special because of this fantastic establishment.

We booked two nights through secretescapes.com, B&B and got a fantastic deal. As far as we were aware, we had booked the standard double room (which looked beautiful!) however when we arrived, we found that our room has been UPGRADED to a suite in the STUNNING converted dairy building! I cannot even begin to explain how truly beautiful our room was, our SUITE, sorry. The dairy itself is gorgeous and the front door to our suite was lovely and old and even our room key had a little castle on it! We stayed in the Luffa Suite. The suite itself was huge! You step down into a sitting room with not one, but TWO desks! Two arm chairs, a huge sofa with a flat screen TV plus your own private patio area, tea and coffee making facilities etc. The hallway then leads to a wonderfully appointed bathroom with a huge corner whirlpool bath, a large sink with an array of sweet smelling soaps and goodies, a gold heated tail rack and bath robes. At the end of the hall is the bedroom which is HUGE! There is a HUGE old, wooden, beautifully carved four poster bed with these fantastic little wooden steps leading up to it, there is a wonderful stained glass window, a walk in wardrobe with full length mirror, large wooden draws and cabinets, ANOTHER flat screen TV and a beautiful little vanity table and chair. NOTHING looked worn or run down, everything was kept in fantastic condition. Clearly the hotel takes great care of the rooms and the furniture in them. We could not fault our room. It literally took our breath away.

The castle itself…I cannot put in to words how beautiful this place is. The grounds are so fantastic, so picturesque, so well-tended I was absolutely astounded and delighted by the beauty of Amberley Castle. From the abundance of doves (what a sight!) to the beautiful peacocks (I think one is called Bob!) who my boyfriend and I enjoyed watching preen himself and waddle around while we sipped our drinks and devoured our delicious pre-dinner canapés in the garden one evening. The flowers! My god! A perfect English country garden if ever there was one. We must have picked the two best days to visit Amberley because the sun shined on us the whole time and the entire garden was in full bloom. From the birds, to the flowers, to the beautiful ‘ruins’ of the castle, this place is absolutely enchanting and we have both agreed that if we ever won the Euromillions we would take up permanent residence in the castle. We couldn’t take enough pictures! I am sure the staff will remember my intrepid boyfriend photographing absolutely everything on our final morning.

The food…the food!!!! I have never eaten better food in my entire life. How anybody could possibly ever criticise the food at Amberley I do not know! I was speaking to a local taxi driver who informed me that the hotel was going for a Michelin star and if I had the power to give Amberley Castle a Michelin star I would probably give them 12!!!!! I cannot praise the chefs enough and the staff were just the most fantastic, well-mannered, polite, congenial people you would ever hope to meet. There was zero pretentiousness, just smart, polite and attentive staff. All the staff were extremely well dressed and a total credit to the castle. I would like to say a special thank you to the Sommelier. I did not catch his name but I know he will remember me as the lady at dinner who asked what black pudding was. What a fantastic gentleman. Brilliant conversationalist, very charming and a complete fountain of wine based knowledge! I am now pleased to say that I know what ice wine is and how it’s made. Incredibly fascinating. But back to the food. The food here is so delicious, so tasty and so perfectly composed that it seems almost criminal to eat it. I don’t know if the food here can be topped and I would die a happy woman knowing I have feasted on such an immense culinary experience. I am a terrible cook but I can appreciate good food when I have it and the food prepared by the outstanding chefs at Amberley Castle is completely in a league of its own. Just superb.

The staff, as I have mentioned were nothing less than warm, accommodating, welcoming and delightful. Our every request was immediately taken care of with such effectiveness, politeness and gusto that we were constantly left smiling and happy. I would like to give the reader a shining example of this. Before dinner, on our last night, my boyfriend and I played chess (I am sure the staff will remember me as the lady who beat her boyfriend repeatedly at chess) in the drawing room where we had our pre-dinner drinks and canapés. We had not finished our game before we were politely informed that our table was ready for us (a side note: I earlier asked if we could have the ‘couples’ table in the raised alcove, by the window, overlooking the gardens, and it had been arranged for us, no questions asked) and I must have looked slightly dismayed as I was so close to beating my boyfriend at chess for the eighth time that day, the member of staff (I forget her name, very sorry) said that she would leave the chess set there for us and that it would not be disturbed so that we could resume our game after dinner, and low and behold, when we waddled down (we had eaten so much! You cannot say no to the deliciousness!) some 3 hours later, there was the chess set, just as we left it. And spoiler alert: I won.

A lot to read! But the long and the short of it is, this place, every single facet, is perfect. The staff, the grounds, the room, the food, the service. I will try and upload some pictures.

My boyfriend and I will definitely be back! I have already decided that he either must propose to me here or marry me here!!!  Perfect, perfect, perfect. The manager is clearly doing a fantastic job and if you ever needed a couple to test-drive a new menu, afternoon tea or any of your rooms….we would be delighted!!!!!! Thank you so much for a truly memorable stay. I have already frogmarched several of my friends to your website so I am sure you can expect even more bookings! Cannot recommend enough. Stay here!!!!!!!!

Room Tip: Every room is fantastic! We stayed in the old dairy, the Luffa Suite, which was outstandingly beautiful. It had a bathroom, huge Four Poster bed and a sitting room with a private patio.
  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
5  Thank Heather B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amber1103, General Manager at Amberley Castle, responded to this reviewResponded 21 August 2014

Dear HeatherB

I really do not feel that we could hope for more of a perfect review, your kind words were highlighted to me by the team. They were very eager to share your comments with me as soon as I arrived at the castle the following morning.

The team are all extremely dedicated to their work and offering the best service they can, it is the perfect reward to see that we are pleasing our guests in such a way. It appears that we have created enthusiasts in you both and I urge that you contact me personally when you do intend to return, so that I may thank you in person. See you soon!

Yours sincerely

Matthew Drinkwater
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 August 2014

This is a beautiful hotel in a stunning situation. We received a warm welcome and were taken personally to our room, which was very comfortable and attractive. We had been invited to return to the lounge at 7.30 for cocktails and canapes. We sat in a very pretty garden for our cocktail and canapes to the sound of church bells which was glorious. The canapes were stunningly creative and tasted divine. A charming young man took our order and was extremely helpful with the choice of wine, which was one of the nicest wines I have ever tasted. I highly recommend a visit to this castle, we will certainly return.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Langford07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amber1103, General Manager at Amberley Castle, responded to this reviewResponded 21 August 2014

Dear Langford07

Thank you for sharing your experiences of Amberley Castle, we are most grateful that you have taken the time to do so.

It appears that you had an amazing time with us and I hope that it means we get to welcome you back soon.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Drinkwater
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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