So we headed out with our toddler on a windy and rainy (thank you Storm Doris!) Saturday to Warwick Castle for a bit of family time. I have never been before, but my husband and I love a castle. We seem to end up at a castle every time we go away in the UK so it seemed only fitting that we visit one of the UK’s most famous, Warwick. I wasn’t initially sure if it would be suitable for our toddler who is 2.5, but as soon as I read online that there was a princess experience, I knew she would be fine.
It took us about an hour to get there and we arrived in Warwick at about 11am. We were hoping to park in the castle car park but it was completely full when we arrived so we ended up at a car park in Warwick centre itself, called Linen car park which was about a 5-10 minute walk away. The car park was absolutely tiny and a little bit expensive, so if you can I would try and get to the castle at opening time (10am I believe) so you are more likely to get a space in the nice clean, spacious castle car park.
Once we arrived on castle grounds, there was a really nice scenic walk by the castle walls up to the entrance itself. We were followed most of the way there by what seemed to be the worlds friendliest robin, which was adorable and even though it was raining most of the paths were overcast by lovely trees so we stayed pretty dry. Once we arrived we queued up to get our tickets and we were in! The view was incredible, the castle really is breathtaking.
I had worried that the terrible weather meant we would all get soggy muddy feet and had nearly brought my wellies, but the paths were all concrete or pebbles so we stayed nice and clean. The walks around the main bit of the castle grounds would be suitable for a pushchair too I would imagine, although you can’t take pushchairs into the building itself and for most of the experiences you would need to climb quite a few stairs, so if you are taking a baby I would probably recommend a baby carrier to make life a little easier. I can’t wait to come back in the summer to make the most of the gorgeous castle grounds with a picnic.
The Great Hall and Interiors
We began by exploring the inside of the castle and all of the amazing memorabilia. My husband really enjoyed the guided tour and talk about all of the different weaponry and armour and it was quite informal so when Isabelle got fed up we could go for a little walk around (it lasted around 25-30 minutes I would guess). There are people dressed up as well and the attention to detail was amazing. There are life size horses with knights in full armour as you enter and so much to look at. This section is more for adults I would say, or older children who have an interest in this kind of thing.
The Princess Tower
This was the bit I was most looking forward to, because I knew Isabelle would love it. I had read online that it was important we booked this in advance so we didn’t miss out (its free but only a few people can go in at one time) but we managed to get in straight away. As we entered we were given the option to have Isabelle’s photo taken with a tiara on against a green screen. We decided to do it, even though we knew it would most likely be pricey, as she loves all things princess. We climbed up one of the towers and from there no photographs was allowed (which was a shame because there was so much amazing stuff to look at!). There were women dressed as princesses and a little story for the children about how they needed to help rescue the prince from many years ago. This really is a children’s activity, the adults just stand at the back and watch. I loved that it was interactive, at one point the children were up and looking for part of a clock to make it work again (Isabelle didn’t really understand this bit but she made an effort to stand up and attempt to look busy bless her). After the children saved the prince we left the tower and bought Isabelle’s princess photo from before the experience. It came in a gorgeous little booklet with activities etc in too which I thought was a nice touch. It took about 20 minutes in total I would say and even though Isabelle was the youngest child there by a year or two, she seemed to really enjoy it and the actors were excellent.
We stumbled upon this little section by accident, whilst we were looking for the restaurant! You would through the tunnels of the castle and there are life size models and memorabilia which is as if you are joining the army in preparing for battle. It was actually really interesting and there was loads to look at! Though not the best lighting for photography… apologies for the terrible photos! It takes about 5-10 minutes depending on how long you spend looking at each section.
The Time Tower
I loved this attraction. You climb up some steps and wait for the door to open (it’s on a timer) and you enter a room with a model of Warwick castle. There are projectors and screens and a voiceover telling you the story and history of the castle and the amazing bit is that as the story is told, there are projections onto the model of the castle. So for example when a fire takes place, you see the relevant bit of the model castle on fire. Its hard to explain but it looks amazing. You move to a couple of different rooms hearing different bits of the story and although you are essentially just being talked at, I really enjoyed it and even Isabelle at 2.5 years old seemed interested. It lasts about 10 minutes I would say, definitely worth visiting. I don’t think I was allowed to take photos in here so that’s why there aren’t any!
The Buffet Restaurant – The Undercroft Pizza, Pasta and Salad Buffet
This was the only section of the day where I was a little disappointed. We entered the restaurant and it was really untidy. Lots of long communal tables that were all full of plates and cups etc that needed clearing. To the point where everything seemed so dirty there was nowhere to sit. We asked someone to clear a table for us which he did, so we sat down to get our food. It was a standard pizza buffet, just like you would get at Pizza Hut or somewhere similar. The food was nice and hot and got refreshed regularly. I was just a bit disappointed at paying £23 for what was essentially a couple of slices of pizza. The drinks machine was out of Diet Coke and although there was a salad bar it looked a little unappealing. There were people stood waiting for a table (there were lots empty but dirty) for a really long time while we ate and it just seemed a bit understaffed and under managed. I think perhaps we caught them at a bad time as it did seem to clean up a little bit as we were leaving.
Next time we visit I am really hoping to do the horrible histories maze and catch a few more of the attractions like the bird of prey shows etc. Hopefully the weather will be a little brighter so we can try out the playground too! Overall, I really enjoyed our day. I think it is definitely an all day outing, or maybe even a two day trip (they do amazing looking lodges in the Knights Village) and we will most definitely be returning. My only complaint is the cleanliness of the restaurant but you can’t have everything can you and all the plates were clean so everyone seemed to really enjoy the food!
*We are 2017 Warwick Castle Ambassadors, which means we received our tickets in return for our honest review. As you would expect, all opinions are my own and food and memorabilia etc was all paid for by myself*