SET in the stunning South Shropshire Hills, Iwan Davies recently discovered The Castle Hotel, a delightful old inn in the charming market town of Bishop’s Castle

ONE of the country’s best-kept secrets has to be the beautiful South Shropshire Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, close to the medieval towns of Shrewsbury and Ludlow which straddle the Mid Wales border.

It is certainly a glorious part of the world that deserves to be far better known although well-kept secrets certainly do have many advantages.

And to be found in this wonderful area is a real gem, the 4-star The Castle Hotel ( in Bishop’s Castle, an unspoilt market town that is, somewhat almost nostalgically so in this day and age, rather amiably old-fashioned and friendly.

The town is quite a hip place, so cool in fact that Robert Plant has played a gig here with the Led Zeppelin lead singer being a big fan of the area and living not too far away.

One of the locals also told me that traffic wardens started to operate here a few years ago but were run out of town. Now, that’s my kind of place!

The Castle Hotel has been around since the early 18th century and one of its first landlords was Clive of India, one of the most noted and controversial figures in British imperial history.

Today The Castle Hotel is a classy place that comes highly recommended by the Good Hotel Guide and has been awarded a Four Gold Star Inn rating by the AA. It’s not hard to see why.

With its friendly staff, great food (the fabulous steaks, wine and breakfasts are all excellent), sweeping views, lovely gardens and a superb selection of real ales, what is there not to like?

If you will pardon the Led Zeppelin pun as well, the area is great if you like to Ramble On as it offers some of the best walking countryside around (the hotel very usefully provides guests with a selection of hikes, or strolls, from a ready-made selection of maps).

It is also a pet friendly hotel. Dogs are made very welcome and stay free of charge.

There are 12 lovely bedrooms, mine had a panoramic view of the surrounding hills with a seriously comfy bed and all the luxurious trappings, and there is free onsite parking and Wi-Fi.

There is an emphasis on quality beer here and no visit to Bishop’s Castle would be complete without a calling in at the UK’s oldest licensed brewery which first opened its doors as the English Civil War raged in 1642.

The Three Tuns Brewery ( is only a minute’s work from the hotel and offers fascinating guided tours that are great fun, giving you a chance as well to try the locally-renowned XXX beer about as freshly as possible.

It is part of the Three Tuns Inn ( where you can also pop in for a pint or two or head back to the hotel’s own three bars serving an excellent selection of ales.

Contact information: The Castle Hotel, Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, SY9 5BN

01588 638403, email,, website: