Our Night in a Castle - Review of Augill Castle
I’m a romantic at heart. I love to get lost in historical fiction and imagine what peoples’ lives must have been like in a past era in a context different to our own. The reality is, a lot of it wouldn’t have been very exciting at all but I love to romanticise it. Old houses and castles are the perfect setting for me to indulge in my imagination. We got married in Achnagairn House in the Highlands in 2009 and my favourite Saturday is spent wandering around National Trust properties admiring the architecture, the upholstery, the dining rooms, transporting myself into the past.
Imagine how wonderful it would actually be to stay over night in one of these places?
Augill Castle, near Kirkby Stephen is set in the beautiful Eden Valley between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. This Folly is the perfect place to get away from it all. Built in 1841 by a local resident as a weekend retreat to entertain friends, it was subsequently left to ruin. Simon and Wendy Bennett have lovingly brought the castle back to life after buying it as their family home in 1997 and have opened their doors to guests to experience the magic that Augill bestows.
We arrived at Augill Castle on a dark December night on our way up to Scotland for Christmas. As soon as we entered the castle, we were greeted with warm rooms adorned with beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. A large party were celebrating the festive season with a meal in the banqueting hall. What struck me firstly was how homely it felt, not really like a hotel at all. There was a small desk in the corner that served as the Reception but as there was no one around, we set off in search of someone to alert them of our arrival. We found the staff in the kitchen, busying themselves with the meal for the large party. One of the girls greeted us warmly and gave us a tour of the downstairs before showing us to our suite on the first floor.
She told us that we were free to go anywhere and enjoy all the facilities as and when we wanted; the library complete with toy boxes and dressing up, a cinema room with a mountain of DVDs to project ( and even a popcorn stand!) an honesty bar with a range of wines beers and some very tempting looking gins that I was looking forward to trying once we had unpacked! Dinner was to be served in a smaller dining room in about 45 minutes we were told, as the girl handed us the key to our suite. Just enough time to unpack and head back to the bar for some of that gin I spotted earlier!
We stayed in Derwent and Raisebeck, or The North Wing, which consisted of two adjoining rooms and a bathroom, complete with a roll top bath. Outside our suite, there was also a little kitchen, complete with teas, coffees and fresh milk in the fridge, which I thought was a nice touch. I also liked the crystal decanter of ginger wine waiting for us in our room - perfect after a 6 hour drive to the North!
Each room is uniquely decorated and has its own feel. Take a look at their website and browse all the different rooms. This was our bedroom below, and the boys has a simple twin room with pale blue butterflies on the wall paper and curtains, which Jonah loved. He was also very taken with his Augill Teddy Bear who was sitting on his pillow when he arrived! A box of extra nappies, books, blankets and toys were also provided which i haven't seen anywhere else before. These extra details made for a really enjoyable stay.
Bath time was fun! The boys enjoyed this lovely roll top bath whilst we enjoyed our ginger wine!
I didn't take any photos of dinner but it was such a special meal. We dined in a smaller dining room, away from the feasting guests and shared a large table with another family that were staying there. I'm not super keen on communal dining to be honest, but the fact that we both had children made it less awkward. There was an open fire and a luxurious table spread, complete with candles and Christmas decorations. I think meal times are quite an important aspect for the owners. I know that they regularly host supper clubs. (Again, check their website). We had Chicken Chasseur and Seasonal Vegetables followed by a delicious Cheese Board (which would have gone perfectly with one of the wines available if we didn't have an early start). It was simple but tasty and just what we needed after our journey... and a restful night was had too.
The following morning before breakfast, Jonah and I decided to go out for a little explore of the grounds. We found a little tree house and fort not far from the castle, where Jonah stomped around for a bit and I enjoyed the beautiful views of the landscape surrounding Augill. It was December so we didn't hang around for long, but I could imagine sitting out on the terrace during the summer months until the sun set.
We joined Daddy and Winter in the banqueting hall for breakfast. It was just us which was a bit of a treat ie; I didn't have to worry about the boys keeping quiet whilst we ate. I think this was my favourite room of the house (see below) because of the beautiful blues and golds. Although our surroundings were slightly grander than we are used to(!), it still felt so homely.
Breakfast was gloriously served on everything Emma Bridgewater... if anything was going to win me over, it was this. I loved the rustic feel to breakfast, not grand and fine dining but very English and quaint. There was the standard self service continental option available in addition to various hot breakfasts from the menu. Chris and Jonah had Salmon and Scrambled Eggs and Winter and I shared some bits and pieces from the cereal bar.
As we were finishing up, Wendy the owner came in. She wanted to personally meet us during our stay and ensure that we had been happy with everything. When she asked us how our stay had been I said without thinking, 'it's been magical.' She smiled and said that I wasn't the first person to say that about their stay at Augill. Without over-egging it, it was magical. It was out of the ordinary, surprising and unexpected. On the Augill website it states that if you are expecting a generic hotel, then Augill isn't for you. It is quirky, wonky, imperfectly perfect in its own way. This labour of love, this 19th century party house has been brought back to life for everyone to enjoy.
If you would like further information about Augill Castle and how to book your own magical getaway, visit their website: www.stayinacastle.com
We were invited to stay at Augill in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.