How do I get to an English or Welsh castle hotel?
A combination of public transportation—train, bus, and taxi—will get you to any castle and palace hotel in England or Wales.
Public transportation is more expensive than in most European countries, but with advance planning you can cut costs considerably.
The best British trains are those that cover long distances, for example from London to Scotland or from London to the South West. Service is comfortable and you pass through beautiful countryside. For these longer journeys, it is much more economical to buy your ticket in advance.
Over twenty different operating companies oversee British train services. For basic timetable and fare information check in with National Rail Enquiries. Here, too, you’ll find links to the individual companies, real time information to see if your train is on time or late, and the option of buying a ticket online. Don’t worry that you must buy a ticket with each company, one ticket will see you through the entire journey.
Fare structures are byzantine at best. Here are a few explanations of its fare terminology:
Peak travel times: morning commute hours, Friday evenings, and Sundays; Cheap Day Return: usually valid from 9:30am on for specified day; Day Return: valid at any time on specified day, this is cheaper than an open return; Open Return: no restrictions, ticket is good for a month; Saver Return: ticket is valid for a month but with restrictions; Super Saver and Super Advance have restrictions and a limited numbers of seats. The cheapest return ticket is an Apex fare, which must be bought in advance.
A myriad of rail passes are on offer. If you plan on traveling throughout Great Britain, you might want to look into a BritRail Pass, which must be bought in your home country. EU residents have the option of an InterRail Pass. Eurail passes are not valid in the U.K.
If you’re a steam train buff and wish to make a day excursion on a vintage train, U.K. Steam maintains a website that will get you started on the idea. In Wales, the website Great Little Trains of Wales has loads of inspiration for a steam rail trip.
More economical than the train but taking a little longer to get you there, the bus reaches just about anywhere. The largest coach operator, by far, is National Express. They also offer passes. With a network that continues to grow, Megabus has fantastic deals if you book ahead on the Internet.
In Wales, long-distance services are cumbersome at best. Some 70 independent bus companies reign. The Explore Wales website has good information to help you plan your transportation.
Most castle and palace hotels in the U.K. are in the countryside, not too far from towns and cities, and are ideal for those traveling by car. You won’t have any parking problems either.
Although the cost of fuel in the U.K. is exorbitant, the cost of renting a car doesn’t have to match. Car hire firms are competitive and promotional deals are often offered. Weekly rentals are generally cheaper than daily rates, but it might be cheaper to pick the car up on one day of the week versus another. You get the picture. Check into drop-off policies or if there’s any difference where you pick it up. Airports can be more expensive rental locations than in town. If you belong to an auto club, even in another country, ask if a discount is available.
Look for “Park & Ride” areas in town outskirts, where you can leave your car in a parking lot and take a frequent bus into the center. Don’t even consider driving into the center of London.