Amidst the tranquil English countryside sits a darling little town named Warwick, and in its heart lies the domineering Warwick Castle. As we haul all of our luggage off the train at the stop, we quickly look about the area deciding how to get to our next destination. As a Christmas present, my parents bought us a night’s stay at the castle, and we couldn’t be more excited about what’s in store. Deciding on a taxi, we hop in and motor away as I give a call to the concierge to meet us at the gates, and from that point forward, we were in heaven. The concierge was warm and inviting, helping with our luggage and calling for some back up to carry our items up the spiral staircase to our Tower Suite, and as we opened the door to our room, we were certainly in awe of what was before us. The beautifully appointed room boasts a high ceiling, a lofty four post king sized bed, handsome furniture, a lovely view of both the castle and countryside below, and a bathroom to die for. “Yes, this will do,” I said. After pointing out the features of our room, we were whisked away to meet Rachel from the history team for our private tour.
The private tour begins after the castle shuts down for the evening, and you have a properly extensive and personalized tour around the premises. We began in the courtyard and slowly wound our way through various areas of the castle, including the towers on the opposite side from ours. Here we were able to see the blessing from the priest carved into the wall from hundreds of years ago! There’s also an inscription from William Sutherland in 1651, a Scottish prisoner who was held captive in the tower, later shipped off to Scotland for a price and killed. It was unbelievable to see something like this so well preserved, and we were so grateful for the opportunity to marvel at something that tourists on a daily basis are not allowed to see. Moving on to the main house, Rachel showed us the ridiculously large and expensive armor collection, and we were also allowed much closer to the items than regular admittance grants you. I have to say that if the room and service weren’t enough (and, they were) that this put the icing on the cake.
After our tour with Rachel, we ordered take out through the concierge and also ordered our breakfast for the following morning. A word about breakfast: it is DELICIOUS, and they serve you in your room! I also have a food allergy and am usually pretty limited in regards to breakfast, but I noted the allergy with the concierge and they accommodated the request so graciously! And we honestly were met with such kindness at all of the restaurants in the UK, who were more than willing to accommodate me as best they could, even better than many places I’ve been in the US! And so, for breakfast I was actually able to eat... drumroll please... PANCAKES! Now, that was a treat.
Following dinner, we grabbed the flashlight (or torch as they call it) and explored the castle by moonlight. The second door to our room opens right up to the castle wall, and we made our first solo expedition from here. From that wall we were able to see everything inside the castle gates and crawl up to the top of our tower, and from here we could see the rest of the castle, the town, and the countryside on the backside of the castle. It was one of those moments that took my breath away, and without our stay would have not been possible. There were only two other guests that night, meaning other than this couple and the staff, we had the entire castle to ourselves. By torchlight we scoured the towers and back hallways, all the while remembering the gruesome history of this castle (many died a horrendous death here!), knowing that if we happened to bump into the other guests, it’d scare the daylights out of us.
After exploring the castle, we returned to a hot shower and a cozy bed, which was welcome considering it was FRIGID outside and had one of the best night's sleep I've ever had. When you're surrounded by thick castle walls, you tend to not notice any human noises. After a good rest, we enjoyed our above mentioned breakfast, and then prepared ourselves for the day. We explored further that morning than we had the night before, with the daylight allowing us more clarity and to roam a little farther, but the tranquility of the night before was gone with the loads of tourists pouring in for their day of fun and adventure. Although it added an element of fun for us as well, it just wasn't quite the same as it had been the evening before, as though a bit of the magic disappeared. Instead of eating in one of their restaurants, we decided to walk over to the nearby Abbey to look for the graves of some of the former castle residents and then popped into a delicious little tea house for lunch and tea. It was the perfect end to a perfect stay, and as we bolted away from Warwick on the train, I felt that old familiar feeling creeping in, the one reminding me that although I left a piece of my heart behind, I took a piece of Warwick along with me.