With the bags safely bestowed upon the Concierge, we began our first day at the castle. Coffee was the first port of call and we decided to visit the Conservatory tea room, to see what they had to offer. At this point I will say that in terms of the sit down and eat establishments on the site, this was by far the best and most pleasant, offering views out over the grounds and the option to sit either in the conservatory itself or out on the terrace. This was, however, a tea room rather than a restaurant and so whilst sandwiches and cakes were available, there was no hot food but as there were plenty of other hot food options, this wasn’t an issue. The Conservatory tea room was all about the ‘tea on the terrace’ experience and the cakes were more patisserie than village fete, if you see what I mean and were absolutely delicious. This was the first opportunity for us to use our cards and it was quite satisfying to see the £34 that 4 cakes, two capri suns, a coffee and a pot of tea cost, disappear into a big fat zero!
We weren’t seeing our friends until that evening and so we made the most of our day, with the girls having a go at the archery, visiting the Horrible Histories village where they played on a giant medieval ‘operation’ game and had enormous fun with ‘Splat the Rat’, walking all around the castle grounds, visiting the mill and engine house, climbing to the top of the public areas to see the views, watching the impressive birds of prey and stopping for refreshments as we went.
Choosing where to have lunch was a bit of an issue as we weren’t overly impressed with the Courtyard Restaurant in which we found it impossible to find a clean table. I accept that as it was lunchtime it was hectic but that really is no excuse and nobody likes to sit down to eat at a dirty table. So we decided to try the pizza and pasta place at the undercroft and whilst this was cleaner and not so busy, the quality of the food was nothing to write home about and we were a bit disappointed. Thankfully the ice-cream, burger vans and fish and chips stands, offered other options for Monday.
As part of the room package we also got free entry into the dungeon and we had booked to go down on the 2.15 tour. General guidance for the tour was that it was considered suitable for children 10 years and over but although Little Mudlet is not quite 9, she is generally braver than her sister and so we decided to see what it was like anyway. As it turned out she wasn’t the youngest child there. The dungeon experience gets progressively more scary as you move through it and by the time we had done 7 out of the 9 stages, both girls had had enough and one of the actors led us back out into daylight. They weren’t the only ones to find it too scary. Our overall opinion on this attraction was that it was far more a trip through history than say a walk through haunted house experience such as you may find at a fun fair ….. albeit a scary trip through history.
Having been up since 5am, travelling for nearly 4 hours (including a stop for breakfast) and then spending 4 to 5 hours walking around the castle, up and down numerous steep steps, come checking in time (3pm) we decided to take advantage of our room and rest up a bit before heading out to the restaurant in Warwick where we were due to meet up with Chuck. Unfortunately this meant another set of steep and winding steps to climb but it was well worth the effort when we saw the suite.
A huge four poster bed dominated the room, with two smaller beds at the foot of it, upon which the girls were thrilled to see was a Warwick Bear each! Champagne was on ice for Mud and I and on request, the Concierge arranged for a cold drink to be brought for the girls. A coffee machine with a large selection of pods, was in the room and bottled water was also available. The decor and furniture in the room was beautiful and very atmospheric and the wet room and separate toilet room were quite modern in terms of tiles but this actually worked beautifully with the vaulted ceilings, slit windows and stone walls.
Being a Scheduled Historic Monument and Grade 1 listed building, there are restrictions on how many and where you can put signs and so there wasn’t a ‘private’ notice on the doors to the suite. There were two doors, the one which opens into the tower, through which you gain access to the room normally and another leading out of the wet room which is both a fire door and private access to the battlements, once the castle has officially closed to the public. Unfortunately, the excited chattering of the Mudlets, drew attention from passing visitors, all of whom wanted to see what was behind the door and so for the next couple of hours, every 20 minutes or so, someone would be banging on one or other of the doors. In hindsight, we probably would have done better to wait until nearer 5.30 before going up to the room, as the sound of visitors passing the door stopped about that sort of time.
Finally, at around 6pm, all was silent and we knew we had the castle pretty much to ourselves. Showered and dressed for dinner, Mud and the girls took the opportunity to climb up to the battlements, whilst I continued to beautify myself, no mean feat in itself I can tell you. Having already arranged with the Concierge that we would be going out at around 6.30pm and wouldn’t be back until 9.30pm, we finally headed out to find the restaurant, all of us looking forward to a lovely meal, in the company of friends.
Part 3:- “Warwick Castle: Dinner with Friends”