My husband and I will be in the UK in September 2014. We begin our trip in Scotland and then plan to travel by train to York, then Ruthin and Bangor. We hope to stay in Ruthin Castle one night and then take the train to Bangor and a bus to Caernarfon Castle. I would appreciate any comments you might have on the Ruthin Castle Hotel. Also how many hour is the train from York to Ruthin?
Firstly, I would urge you to view Rick's video of north Wales:>http://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/video/tv-show/north-wales-feisty-and-poetic
You will find reviews of the Ruthin Castle Hotel here:>http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g552035-d590002-Reviews-Ruthin_Castle_Hotel-Ruthin_Denbighshire_North_Wales_Wales.html
Ruthin lies in pleasant enough countryside known as the Vale of Clwyd. However, the problem that you have is that it is not rail connected so would involve a 2 bus journey - probably from Chester. You can find bus routes in Wales here:>http://www.traveline-cymru.info
The rail journey from York to north Wales is rather slow going & involves a change in Manchester. You might like to consider going from Edinburgh to Windermere (Lake District = NW England) as an alternative to York. 1 change is needed - at Oxenholm. http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/placestogo/explorewindermere
I would also consider staying 1 night in Chester - having either come straight from Edinburgh or following on from a night or 2 in York or Windermere.http://www.visitchester.com
Now, regarding N. Wales. Ruthin is not the best place for you to stay because it is not on the main lines of communication & it is a fair way from the Snowdonia National Park. I think your best bet would be to stay in the Conwy/ Llandudno area as it is on or near the main line railway across north Wales (from Chester & beyond) as well as having a branch line into the interior which links with the Ffestiniog Railway. http://www.visitllandudno.org.uk
(All trains stop at Llandudno Junction but Llandudno is up a short spur. Conwy is on the main line but is a request stop - where Virgin trains do not stop). Details of trains here:> www.nationalrail.co.uk
When planning any rail journey, also check whether split tickets are cheaper (even though you stay on the same train).http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/split-cheap-train-tickets/
www.britrail.com have passes for foreigners. Otherwise, it is nearly always cheaper to advance book longer journeys in Britain.
I'm not so sure I'd hang my hat on staying at Ruthin Castle. There's two possibilities based on the way you phrased it:
The Castle Hotel is in the center of the village. I've never stayed there, but have been in the pub. It's been taken over by Wetherspoon, a chain pub with a pretty good beer/ale assortment, but microwaved grub prepared in Wetherspoon Central or something.
The castle itself is about a tenth-tier medieval ruin. Adjacent/attached is a building that's maybe a couple hundred years old that was formerly a large home but now appears to be a hotel/meeting center operation. I've never looked in the door.
I've seen flyers in the village advertising medieval banquets or some kind of tourist hokum, and I suspect they take place at the latter. Regardless, you wouldn't be sleeping behind thick walls.
Luthin, however, is a market town and has a bit more diversity than many smaller villages. I'll defer to James on how the public transportation works.
Bangor doesn't ring my bell real hard either, unless you're trying to get close to the Menai Bridge for access to Anglesey. If you want a couple of the top eight or so castles in the Principality, you'd do well to substitute Conwy (there's a train station), and hold on to Caernarvon - - which I rate really high on the list of Welsh castles.
Thanks. I viewed the video and have decided to stay in Conwy and take side trips to Caernarfon and Llandudno. Now I just have to figure out the train route from York and find a place to stay in Conwy. My husband really wants to sleep in a castle so I am still looking for castle accommodations.
I think previous replies are misleading. I know Ruthin and the area well and there are very few genuine castles at which you can stay in North Wales. Ruthin Castle is the most historic. If you want to stay at a castle built for a King and previously owned by a string of Kings and Queens then stay there. Although smaller it was built in the same family of castles as Conwy, Harlech, Beaumaris and Caernarfon that are now World Heritage sites and is the only one of that group built for King Edward I at which you can stay... The hotel is in a huge 200 year old castle mansion within the 700 year old walls of the ancient castle and it has its own special Royal connections too... but don't take my word for it view TripAdvisor and see the pictures. The Castle Hotel in the town center is an Inn, not a castle at all, and the Castle Hotel in Conwy isn't a castle either. There are no castles in Conwy where you can stay. If you use a car, then there is a beautiful drive from Ruthin to Snowdonia and you can visit Conwy too. The Prince of Wales stopped at Ruthin Castle on his way to his Investiture in Caernarfon and its worth a visit.
If you want to stay in a Castle - albeit not medieval, then Peckforton Castle - mid way between Crewe & Chester might be suitable.
You would need to go by train from York to Crewe (with a change at Manchester). Then you would need to take a taxi (or get hotel to pick you up) from Crewe station as it is in the middle of the countryside & up a steep drive. On leaving for north Wales, you would need to take a taxi (or hotel transport) to Chester (be sure to take a look at Chester before boarding train to Conwy).
You can find Peckforton Castle on Google Earth.
Thanks. Your comments have been very helpful.
My grandmother lives in Ruthin so I am a little biased but it is an adorable, classic Welsh town. I have not stayed in the castle since I've always stayed with her but you got some great advice here from other travelers. As stated before, it is complicated to get there by public transportation so if you are willing to drive, it's a much easier stop-over on your way to exploring Snowdonia. From York, your best route would be a train to Chester (about three hours) and then a bus to Mold (about one hour) and then another bus to Ruthin (roughly another hour). It would be a very long day to only stay there one night and then turn around and have to take another bus (perhaps many) to Bangor. North Wales is absolutely gorgeous country though so regardless of where you go you'll have a great time.