By Frankie the Cockapoo
About the hotel
Built in 1719 for James Brydges, the first Duke of Chandos, The Castle Hotel derives its name from the fact it was constructed from the ruins on part of the site of the original Norman hilltop castle. Located in the heart of the market town of Bishops Castle, close to Ludlow and Shrewsbury, it is one of the oldest continually operating hotels in the country.
This traditional inn is independently owned by Henry and Bex Hunter, who took over the five bedroom hotel in 2010. The property has been renovated over the years to create 12 individually designed bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. The Elephant Gatehouse, located to the left of the hotel, sleeps six and nearby one-bedroomed, Market Square Cottage, are available in addition to the hotel’s rooms. The Castle Hotel commands stunning panoramic views of the south Shropshire Hills from its large alfresco dining gardens at the rear.
Dogs stay free of charge and are welcome to join their owners at mealtimes in the extensive bar areas. Complimentary wi-fi is available, although struggles through the ancient walls in parts, also coffee and tea making facilities and a hairdryer.
The hotel re-opened in July post lockdown and everything was done to ensure guests were kept as safe as possible.
The Paw Award
Everyone knows we dogs normally have four paws, so to get a five paw award is super special. Four is an extremely positive Frankie recommendation, any less and it’s just a question of personal choice.
Friendly & welcoming atmosphere
From the moment I walked into The Castle Hotel I knew this was a winner for us dogs. Freya stayed here last year and what was lovely – and to be honest one of the reasons we returned – was that they’d kept in touch with us via our Instagram page. Freya and I received a rapturous welcome from the lovely Meg on our arrival; she also has a beautiful apricot cockapoo just like us!
Absolutely nothing was too much trouble during our stay. Henry and Bex are both very much hands on, from serving meals to manning reception; if they could make it happen for you, they would. All the staff were super friendly – most had dogs themselves – and made such a fuss of us while we were there. Our Insta reputation preceded us and was reinforced after posting our Castle Hotel train incident.
Accommodation suitability & cost per dog
Our room was beautifully spacious with a cosy corner for our beds. We decided to sleep in each other’s bed, but that’s what you do on holiday.
Access to the garden was directly down the stairs and along the corridor without having to go through the hotel. This made our toileting and morning doodle dash around the orchard – at the head of the formal al fresco eating garden – very easy, with plenty of bins for our little deposits.
At the side of the hotel is a dog washing facility – actually it was for bicycles and boots as well, but we were the important part of the set up. And all of this is for free – yes, that’s right, there’s no charge for us puppsters we simply have to decorate the hotel with our presence.
Little extras offered
There was a special box in our room just for us with a blanket, towel, mat and feeding bowls, along with a little treat each. If you behaved at breakfast they even cooked us our very own sausage – although we shared one as I’m just a puppy and apparently have to take care what I eat. I didn’t agree of course as they were simply delicious.
The food, like the draft beer and Shropshire Lady wine, is locally sourced. The parents liked the wine so much they visited the Kerry Vale Vineyard and bought a few bottles to take home.
Location & dog walks
The Castle Hotel is located in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with plenty of local walks directly from the hotel door.
We enjoyed a visit to the National Trust’s Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd where the parents tried to persuade me to paddle in the stream. This is the moment they discovered I’m scared of water, so instead I watched Freya from the safety of the edge.
We also enjoyed a visit a spooky ruin called Clun Castle, which was just a short drive from the hotel.
You really are spoilt for choice in the area with the Stiperstones, Bishops Castle Ring,
Kerry Ridgeway, Offa’s Dyke and The Shropshire Way. All this with the Welsh border close by offering more beautiful walking delights.