THE LEEDS CASTLE EXPERIENCE: EATING, DRINKING, SLEEPING, GOLFING, AND TOURING THE CASTLE

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If you are looking for a place to experience world-class dining next to a famous castle, enjoy a tour of that famous castle, play golf in the ‘shadows’ of that castle, and spend an evening (or two) in a spacious, comfortable, affordable B & B next that castle, then head for England’s Leeds Castle (www.leeds-castle.com).  Located on the outskirts of Maidstone in England’s county of Kent, the Leeds Castle ‘complex’ is a classic four-in-one getaway destination.  The four focal points of interest for this true ‘bucket-list’ destination are the 900-year-old Leeds Castle, the elegant Castle View Restaurant, the nine-hole Leeds Castle Golf Club, and the luxurious Castle Courtyard Bed & Breakfast, which has been built adjacent to the castle.

Not surprisingly, Leeds Castle pre-dates the golf course, restaurant, and the B & B.  First built in 1119, Leeds Castle was a Norman stronghold and it has been the home of six of England’s medieval queens.  This magnificent stronghold,  with a moat inhabited by unusual black swans, was later used by King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  Today, Leeds Castle is one of the most-visited historic buildings in Great Britain.

“Where else can you visit a castle, watch the swans swimming on the moat, eat a great meal, have your choice of wine from four continents or great English beer, play golf, speak the King’s English, and listen to the peacocks scream all in one small corner of England?” asked Kenneth Cummings of Headquarters, New Jersey.  “And, you can also experience at least 1,000 years of history and tradition.”

“How exciting to spend the night in the grounds of the castle, eat breakfast overlooking the beauty of that moated gem, and then take the short walk down to tour one of the most impressive castles in England!” added Marilyn Cummings, also of Headquarters, New Jersey.

Indeed, the Castle View Restaurant overlooks Leeds Castle and is clearly visible at all times of the day and night, when it is expertly lit up after sunset to great dramatic effect.

At the Castle View Restaurant — www.leeds-castle.com/restaurant — you will be sitting in a timber-framed structure which dates back to the 1600s.  The views of the adjacent Leeds Castle are spectacular — an ‘11’ on a scale of 1 to 10.  You can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Castle View Restaurant.  The food is well prepared, delicious and is sourced from many local farms and market gardens, which is to be expected since Kent is known as the Garden of England.  Dinner is the featured meal at the Castle View Restaurant.  Drinks at the bar are served at 6:30 pm.  Dining can begin at 7:00 pm.

One of the tempting aspects of the Castle View Restaurant menu is that every starter/appetizer and main course comes with a recommended wine which come from around the world, including England — a Chapel Down Bacchus White, produced at a local winery in Kent.  The Castle View Restaurant’s global wines come from Italy, Spain, France, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Chile, and the U.S., specifically California.

My favorite appetizer was the local asparagus poached egg Benedict whilst three locally produced main courses – all three of which are tasty and delicious — are the braised beef, slow cooked pork belly, and the lemon sole.  An ideal local dessert is the assiette of Kentish apples, comprising apple mouse, apple crumble and mini toffee apple.  The praline brulee, which features hazelnut caramel shards and vanilla shortbread, is another great dessert choice.  The chef also offers daily specials such as Curry Tuesdays, Prosecco Thursdays, Fish Friday, and the Sunday Roast.  As you would expect, the service at the Castle View Restaurant is personable, prompt, and courteous.

The most memorable part of your nine-hole Leeds Castle Golf Club experience is when you play the 5th and 6th holes.  When you stand on the 5th tee and look downhill to the green in the distance, you see an absolutely stunning view of Leeds Castle and its vast moat, perched directly behind the 5th green.  It’s a powerful and imposing visual which may well be one of the most amazing backdrops for any golf hole in the world, let alone all of Great Britain.  Eye-opening and attention-getting are actually understatements when it comes to describing the beauty of what you will see from the 5th tee of this well-designed par four.  And, when you play the 6th hole, off to your left, you’ll see another side of Leeds Castle, as well as the widest part of the castle’s moat.  Whilst the view of  the Leeds Castle is one of the most breathtaking visuals in the county, Kent boasts several other several other prominent castles including Hever Castle, Dover Castle, Deal Castle, Rochester Castle, and Walmer Castle.

The accommodations at the Castle Courtyard Bed & Breakfast are spacious, clean, comfortable, and well-maintained.  The facilities are modern and the beds deliver a perfect, quiet night’s sleep.  And, the tea service in the room is a welcome sight, especially after a long day playing golf and sightseeing at Leeds Castle.  Just outside the entrance to the Castle Courtyard B & B is a series of beautifully designed gardens which adds to the peace and tranquility of the surrounds.

Without a doubt, any visit to Kent – possibly for The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s — should include a pitstop at Leeds Castle.  Just, don’t forget to bring an overnight bag, golf clubs, comfortable walking shoes, a camera, binoculars, and a healthy appetite.

In addition to Leeds Castle and the Leeds Castle Golf Club, Kent offers a plethora of golf courses, an excellent range of accommodation options and off-course attractions for golfers. For more, view www.golfinkent.co.uk.

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About Author

Mike May

Mike May is a freelance golf writer based in Wellington, Florida. Mike, an avid golfer, is also a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He traces his roots as a golf writer to the 1983 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale -- which he attended for all four days -- and then voluntarily wrote his own account of that major championship event. In addition to being a golf writer, Mike coaches girls high school basketball, officiates high school soccer, and works with a cause (PHIT America) that is focused on bringing daily P.E. back to all U.S. schools. Mike is a 1985 graduate of the University of Florida where he earned a degree in broadcasting. Mike can be reached on email at: mmaymarketing@gmail.com

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