During the Winter, we are sometimes too quiet to justify fully opening. However in winter 2014/15 we did remain fully open all winter.
If trading is very quiet, we will offer a B&B only service. These we call 'winter trading' days and are shaded grey on the Accomodation Availability page. Heating and rooms are then opened up on an as-needed basis. Our Dinner, B&B offers are not available on these 'winter trading' days but our B&B only offers remain available.
Our dog friendly B&B 'winter trading' option applies to quiet days in January, February, March and the quiet periods of November, the first half of December and mid-week in off-season quiet periods. They are shaded grey on the Availability page. If dates are not shaded grey, then we are FULLY OPEN.
The Castle has an official grading of three star guesthouse. The key difference between a guesthouse and a hotel, is that a guesthouse trades more as a B&B (open for bed and breakfast only) with no need to serve evening meals. A hotel in contrast offers evening meals, has a full time restaurant, and 24 hour staffing including night porter or on-call night staff, and is fully open 365 days a year.
Generally we offer evening meals and trade as a hotel, so the B&B only service only applies if we are very quiet.
Possible disadvantages of staying at the castle in winter months:
1) We are quiet and so there is not the same 'buzz' in the castle as when it is busy with other guests.
2) The larger function rooms are not open - it is a huge place and not economic to turn the oil boilers on to heat the whole castle when hardly anyone is here. Guest lounges that are in use are heated individually with wood burning stoves. A log pile is kept by each fire. If only a few Bedrooms are occupied, these are heated individually and only certain wings used.
Advantages of staying in the winter:
1) Almost half price two night or less-than-half-price longer breaks availability.
2) Weekend breaks availability - weekends are normally full at other times. You can book discounted two night and three night and longer B&B only stays.
3) It is very peaceful and quiet and you have the place more or less to yourself. If you like solitude, peace and quiet, that is what you'll have!
4) You tend to get fellow dog-walkers on two night B&B breaks so may meet the occasional fellow dog owner on an extended break.
5) There is plenty of fine dining and pub dining, because we have five pubs within two miles of the castle, all of whom will welcome winter trade.
6) Unlike a B&B which you have to vacate during the day, you can still use the castle dog friendly public areas that are open, during the day. The Nicolini and Breakfast room lounges are open by day and the Breakfast room lounge with log fire and Sky TV is open in the evenings. Both are dog friendly areas where dogs are welcome.
See here for more information on what to do in the area during your stay. See local dog walks and scroll from one page to the next, and also see extra dogs days out. See more useful walks links and things to do in answer to the question "Where can I go out dog walking with my dogs?" on our FAQ, Website Guide Page.
Winter Trading at the Castle, what is Open and what is Closed?
These rooms are closed. You can visit these rooms but they will not be heated or used other than for walking through and looking at:
1) The Conservatory
2) The Function Room
3) The spa and hot tub room though you can still use the sports room (hot tub is emptied when not in use)
4) The theatre
5) The bar in the evenings after reception closes
Which rooms are open?
These rooms are open:
1) Reception 9-5 pm or 9-6 pm and, by arrangement, later for evening book-ins.
2) Nicolini Lounge whenever reception is open
3) TV Lounge/ Breakfast room day and evenings as it has a separate side door from bedroom areas and so can be used when castle is locked up. This has full Sky TV and a wood burning stove so can be kept nice and warm provided you keep the wood burning stove stoked up with logs.
4) Patti Bar for teas coffees and drinks whenever Reception is open (9-5) but not once the castle function rooms are locked up.
5) Breakfast is served in the Patti Bar rather than the main dining room, when numbers are below ten guests staying.
What goes on during the winter?
It can snow, which is very beautiful. See our wedding site pictures of the Castle in snow and for dogs, the Country Park in Winter. Also see the lower gardens in winter and further pictures of the castle in snow.
Most weekends there will be a ghost hunting investigation in the cellars and derelict upper levels. If you are visiting during a weekend, check out the haunted castle ghost tours and see if you would like to add yourselves on to one of the existing tours. However as many ghost hunting groups do not want to add others to their private ghost hunt, we have a new G.H.O.S.T. tour where we nominate one day a month for a tour we run for singles and couples to add themselves to. So for these selected dates there is no need for a minimum of ten people. Check the selected dates for these G.H.O.S.T. tours on the G.H.O.S.T. page.
Group ghost tours where you need ten people minimum such as the share the experience tour and the all night ghost investigations are on most Fridays and Saturdays through the winter. Because you are joining another group, you have to take the other members of the group 'as they come'. It will typically cost you £10 or £15 a head to add yourselves on to the ghost tour. Children below 16 not permitted unless for the Teen Terror nights. Some may treat the event more as a light-hearted party, and get a bit merry, while others are more serious ghost hunters. Please fit in with the group you find yourself with - other ghost hunters will not want rowdy extras if they are serious ghost hunters but won't mind if they are a bit merry themselves!