We were en route to Manchester so decided to stop in Birmingham to meet our nephew, who has just finished studying here. The hotel is a former eye hospital in the jewellery district of Birmingham. It’s a beautiful building with high ceilings and plenty of character. We had a superior room with a big bed and I loved the feature wall with its wallpaper of books! The bathroom was huge, with a bath and fabulous shower, big enough for Barnaby to sleep in.
The restaurant – Dogs welcome
We were surprised to find that not only was Barnaby allowed in the beautiful bar area, but he was also allowed in the restaurant. The staff went out of their way at dinner to offer him water and make a fuss of him! I had sea bass which was lovely and my husband had a cobb salad. Presentation was beautiful, especially the asparagus and duck egg starter which I rather wished I’d ordered.
If you head out of the hotel and turn left you’ll come across St Philip’s Cathedral. There is a small park here where you can exercise your dog on the lead. For a longer walk, on the recommendation of our nephew, we drove for 10 minutes to Edgbaston reservoir. It’s a 20-30 minute walk around the outside and if your dog loves swimming then this is the place to go!
This château really has the wow factor! Built over 800 years ago it feels like you are stepping back in time. It was shortly before Christmas when we visited and it was fabulously quiet; it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We made ourselves comfortable in the most enormous stone-walled bedroom and admired the huge bathroom in the turret with our very own throne!
Dogs are not allowed in the aptly-named Restaurant 1217, which boats the largest fireplace in Europe (it’s very impressive). However, there is the Café du Château in the enclosed courtyard, just outside the restaurant, where you can eat with your pup. Barnaby was able to join us for a drink upstairs in the beautiful sitting room with its brick floor and grand fireplace, before we popped him back in our room whilst we went for dinner.
We took Barnaby for a short off-lead walk around the grounds last thing at night and first thing in the morning. It was perfectly adequate for a young pup but you’d need to venture further afield for a longer walk.
We were lucky enough to be invited here to celebrate a 60th wedding anniversary in April, which also resulted in us being upgraded to one of their suites. Result! The hotel itself is quite quirky and full of interesting objets d’art, both inside and out, collected by the owners on their travels. Stone sheep, red gorillas and purple elephants amongst other things rather freaked Barnaby out in the gardens! There was a very quaint sitting room which was stuffed with sofas and cushions and had a lovely fire. Barnaby was able to join us here for a drink and nibbles, although he was not allowed in the restaurant. All in all, we had a really lovely stay here, helped by a great night’s sleep as Barnaby was able to sleep in our very nice sitting room.
As I mentioned, no dogs are allowed in the restaurant although in the summer they would be allowed on the terrace where you dine al fresco. The celebratory meal felt very special, fois gras to start, followed by lamb arranged three ways (veggie options available) and then an amazing chocolate pudding.
I have to mention breakfast which was beautifully arranged on our table. Fresh coffee, croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin, various breads, cheeses, hams, yoghurts, and cereals. We were joined by Merlin the ginger tom although I don’t think that he was supposed to be in there!
For a very straightforward walk you can just head all the way down the drive and back, not too exciting but it does the job for 20 minutes. Alternatively, for a more interesting walk, head right out of the château, past the staff car park and round following the roads into the woods. This was very pretty and we saw a very beautiful sunrise.
We’ve stayed at Chateau de Courban three times now as its a fairly straightforward drive in a day from Calais (4-5 hours). The first time we stayed in their basic room on the third floor of the main Chateau which was nicely decorated with a small bathroom and perfectly adequate, but as Barnaby was a puppy and in the same room as us we didn’t get a very good night’s sleep!
So the second time we booked a bigger room in the separate building to the left of the main chateau. This was great as it was a really big comfy room with a huge bed, but even better a large bathroom in which to deposit Barnaby ensuring a good night’s sleep for all. He was perfectly happy in his space and so were we!
The last time we stayed we were in the main house again but on the second floor with a big room and big bathroom. However, Barnaby could hear lots of noises in the hotel and being a bit nervy kept growling to protect us from anyone or thing that might have been lurking. So we’ll try and book in the separate building again next time. The resident dog is the lovely Dolly who came on a walk with us the first time we came, and showed us the route!
The restaurant – Dogs welcome
This has always been the highlight of our stay. The restaurant is separate from the main chateau and you can enjoy an aperitif in the sitting room by a lovely fire before dinner. The nibbles are fabulous, particularly the savoury macaroons with wasabi! Well behaved dogs of any size are welcome. Barnaby was very happy to lie by the table, whilst we dined in style. By the way the cheese board is to die for!
You can easily take your dog out for a short or longer walk from the chateau without even putting them on a lead. For a longer walk exit through the car park, turn right, take the left fork by the little cemetery and you can be in the woods in 5 minutes. There are well trodden paths so you can do a quick circular route or go straight and pick up a right hand path that leads down to the road back to the village. We spotted deer in there one morning which was very exciting! For a quick night time wee for your pup, just take the right hand fork at the cemetery and keep to the roads in the village. There are rarely any cars!