The Castle Hotel


button_lang_welsh link to french translation link_to_chinese_translation British Sign Language logoThe Castle Hotel, High Street, Conwy

The Castle Hotel combines the former King’s Head and Castle Inn. The King’s Head was to the left of the archway leading to the hotel car park. It may have been built soon after 1576, when Queen Elizabeth I ordered that the Irish mail would cross the sea from Holyhead rather than Liverpool. Conwy therefore became a staging post on the mail route.

The Castle Inn existed by 1825, when proprietor Cordelia Owen advertised the building as being beside the “new line of road” from Chester to Holyhead. This referred to Conwy’s new suspension bridge, whose opening in 1826 changed the direction of traffic through Conwy. The bridge’s opening was celebrated at the Castle Inn with a dinner for “all gentlemen immediately connected with the work”, chaired by ironmaster William Hazledine.

In 1832 the Castle Hotel (as the inn had been renamed) provided lunch for Princess Victoria, aged 13, and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, after their visit to Conwy Castle. The princess became Queen Victoria five years later. In 1863 her third son, Prince Arthur, dined at the hotel.

In 1848 engineers George and Robert Stephenson were guests of honour at a banquet to celebrate completion of Conwy's tubular railway bridge.

The King’s Head lost its licence in 1884 because it was “only a low pot-house … used for the lowest traffic in town”. Sarah Dutton, who had recently bought the Castle Hotel, bought the King’s Head from a Mold brewery and made it the hotel’s smoke room and taproom. She turned the first-floor rooms into bedrooms, connected to the Castle Hotel via a corridor above the archway.

conwy_john_dawson_watson_paintingSarah Dutton commissioned architect John Douglas to design a new frontage – the one you see today. His many other works include St Paul’s Church in Colwyn Bay and Chester’s prominent Eastgate Clock.

Finished in 1891, the frontage features formal shapes in red brick and red sandstone contrasting with rough stones set randomly into rendered panels.

Inside you can see many Victorian paintings on panels and doors, by John Dawson Watson (see right) and Buckley Ousey. The former may have painted here in lieu of paying rent for his lodgings!

The hotel was owned by hotel chains from 1931 to 2000, when it was bought by members of two North Wales families, including Peter Lavin and chef Graham Tinsley.

There have been tales of ghosts at the hotel. One concerns a hotel chambermaid who, shortly before her death, asked to be buried on her native Anglesey. She was buried in the churchyard behind the hotel, perhaps because of infectious disease at the time, and it’s said that various supernatural happenings occurred until her body was exhumed and reburied near her home. Past guests have reported feeling the weight of a cat on their beds, although no such animal was there.

With thanks to Ray Castle and Will Swales for historical information

Postcode: LL32 8DB    View Location Map

Website of the Castle Hotel

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