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Castle Inn, West Lulworth

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user reviews of The Castle Inn, West Lulworth

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Mixed feelings about this pub.
On the plus side, it''s a lovely old bar inside. The beer and cider is cheap at roughly £4.20 per pint.

It has a cracking elevated grassy beer garden out the back with a nice view of the hills.

What lets it down is the rip off tourist prices for very average food.
9 quid for a jacket potato with cheese and beans is just not on.
I paid 13 quid for an ultra bland chicken curry, containing very little chicken.

My advice would be, drink plenty here, but eat elsewhere.
Pat_Bateman - 12 Sep 2017 16:04
I don''t normally post a review unless I like a pub, and i don''t usually even go back to a pub more than once if it doesn''t meet my needs, might be a selfish attitude but it''s my time and money.

I drove past this pub around 6-30 one morning whilst surveying the area around a possible new workplace, and was determined to give it a go, should I get the job, which I did. The area boasts a few pubs but nothing like this one. The fact that it claimed to be a ''cider'' pub appealed to me, and it has now proven (after several visits) to rightly claim that.

This is a ''tourist trap'' pub, but make no mistake it is worthy of being so. In my few visits I first thought there was an abundance of young staff members looking like they were doing nothing much., but it''s plain to see that once the pub gets busy they are needed and act accordingly.

It''s hard to spot the locals, due to the number of customers passing through, but my observations are that they support their pub, and I am hoping to stay a customer as long as I am in the area.

Oh, yeah, the food might seem a little overpriced, but you have to pay for the staff, the food is good, and the steak is above average.

Having dogs wandering in and around the pub doesn''t cause me a problem, as long as they never pinch my steak!

Keep up the good work, you have a pub to be proud of!

Cider_Al

the guy who drinks all your ''old rosie'' lol!
Cider_AL - 29 Aug 2017 19:48
I am told that the Castle has now been taken into the Palmers Brewery stable. People will have their own opinions on Palmers Ales and they generally have good reviews.

Palmers have a very poor record of having guest beers in their establishments and they have no history of keeping real ciders at all and so this 2014 CAMRA cider pub of the year may soon have no real ciders. It remains to be seen what happens.
Brownspot - 12 Sep 2016 11:17
Still maintaining a very high standard and now, thankfully, opens all day. A cider drinker's heaven. Only let down by the sometimes unadventurous choice of ales - how about some porters or decent strong IPAs rather than five bitters all about 4% ABV
The Kiwi couple behind the bar were very welcoming
One word of caution - probably best avoided if you don't like dogs.
baxterfish - 24 Apr 2016 13:35
In all of my walks along the Dorset Coast (and there have been many) I have never visited this place. I wish I had years ago. This is a Paradise for cider drinkers (not the Mangers on ice or Woodpecker sort of thing, but the REAL farmhouse article, with 40 available). As others have said, it has lots of character, has good food, and the beers are well-kept. However, the ciders have to reign supreme here. It's out of the way, about a mile from the sea and the Coast Path, but it IS worth the "extra mile". Oh, and the lunch-time food is pretty good as well. (Curiously, I was served by an Aussie barman, with an accent so strong you could tie down a kangaroo with it.) 8/10
HenPen - 10 Jul 2015 17:46
One of the main reasons for visiting Dorset this weekend was to pay a visit to the Castle Inn, as it is the current CAMRA National Cider pub of the year. I was also planning to visit what was my favourite pub in Britain - the Square & Compass in Worth Matravers. In the Castle Inn, I think I have found a new favourite pub in Britain. It has a lovely rural location, not far from the tourist hotspots of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. The exterior is appealing and the roof is thatched. Inside, there are 2 main bars with a corridor connecting the two rooms at the rear. Ales on my Friday visit were Plain Ales Hairy Hooker, Piddle Cocky & Goddards Storm. We returned on Sunday afternoon to find the Goddards ale still on. But the others were Yeovil Ruby, Otter Amber, Piddle Piddle, Flack Manor Union Flack & Palmers Best Bitter. But of course, the real highlight here are the ciders. The pub advertises a permanent cider festival with at least 40. There is a cider menu with 61 different choices. Although not all of these are available, whilst others not on the menu were available. All of the producers were fairly local, with ciders from Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Herefordshire & Wales. Producers available were Dorset Nectar, Twinways/Rogers, Talbot Harris, Purbeck Cider Company, West Milton, Cranborne Chase, Lulworth Skipper, Twisted, Cider By Rosie, Marshwood Vale, Orchard Pig, Nempnett, Burrow Hill, Fosseway, Sheppy's, Harry's, Lawrence's, Hecks, Worley's, Bridge Far, Wessex, Handmade, 146, New Forest, Sandford Orchards, Lyme Bay, Countryman, Ventons, Westons, Oliver's, Gwynt y Ddraig & Hallets. Of the 61 on the menu, 5 are on keg. There are only 3 perries amongst them. All are stacked in boxes behind the bar and seemingly only one or two of the bar staff know where to find each one. Whilst I didn't meet the South African barman, there was one lady in particular who was clearly quite knowledgeable about cider. The pub seems to be most popular during the daytime, with visitors to Lulworth Cove popping in for a meal and a couple of beers/ciders. It is much quieter in the evening and advertises a 10pm closing time. Now my new favourite pub in Britain and only the 4th pub I have awarded a 10/10.
blue_scrumpy - 30 Mar 2015 16:29
The permanent cider festival has expanded to over 40, many of them known to the friendly South African barman who was very helpful in describing three 1/3 pint choices for my "tray" (£3.60). As I was so blown away by the choice of ciders, I forgot to note which ales were for sale although I recall being told that Palmer's Best was pretty much the only regular offering with others being guests. At 5.30pm on Friday the Lulworth Cove beachgoers seemed to have mainly gone home so it was not too busy even on a beautiful day.
paul_d102 - 23 Jun 2014 21:55
This is a lovely old pub which I have visited twice, once three years ago, on a date, and again last week, both times before going on a walk by the nearby Jurassic Coast. Both times I was impressed with the pub's authentic old fashioned and relaxed atmosphere and the quality of the food. There is also a terraced garden at the rear as has been mentioned in the last review. Gents, this is the perfect place to impress a girl with your excellent choice of venue. Although I didn't bother with them I noticed they also have board games available, if you need another diversion while you're there.
tightjeanz - 3 Sep 2013 11:39
Oh yes!
Lovely building with lots of character, garden at the rear, and tables in front of the building where you can enjoy the sunshine.
They do good food and they have very confortable rooms if you're staying the night. They also have a permanent cider festival with 23 real ciders, which you can taste in 1/3 pint measures. You get a free booklet with full details of the ciders, so you can "tick them off" when you've tasted them.
Absolutely brilliant, and very friendly and helpful staff too. Can't fault it.
MarkVP - 17 Jul 2013 12:18
Just returned from a two night stay! Good range of beers which are ALWAYS well kept and the staff are some of the best you'll ever meet. One or two of the younger staff are not so good but even they're ok. The landlady is also very friendly and helful.
Very nice terraced garden at the rear too.The food is good and the portions generous so the only downside for anyone is that it is VERY dog-friendly, which is great for me but might not suit everybody... Recommended!
[The only problem for me is that the beds are rock-hard, but that only matters if you're staying there].
TEL3 - 18 Sep 2012 14:22
Beautiful old thatched pub on the only, narrow road to Lulworth Cove. Controlled car park across the road (let the staff know if you are going for a walk first as this is a good base for circular walks) seems to be dog and child friendly. Excellent selection of real ales, cider and rare perrys which seemed to be well kept. Dark, cosy and low ceilinged inside - somewhat 1970s stone walling decor and very cramped - there are lots of cosy alcoves and booths but people have to virtually clamber over you to get to the toilet so not good for groups unless you are outside but the front beer garden is close to the semi-busy road but I think there was another proper garden at the back. The place was staffed by Kiwis - seems to be some sort of Kiwi stopping point. While the service from the Kiwis was very good, the most negative thing was the food - very average pub grub, and not in keeping with the rest of the pub e.g. Dorset Burger claiming real local beef implying home made turned out looking and tasting like a cheap frozen economy burger, the worst thing was no roasts on a Sunday! The food really let this pub down as this could be fantastic fantastic Sunday lunch pub.
boozingfamilyman - 14 May 2012 22:07
Very welcoming and nice pub this with very nice staff. Stayed recently and enjoyed to massive selection of ciders and good food. Nice array of real ales too, but when I get the chance to try this many ciders in one night, I generally stick to those. The huge veggie breakfast was a great end to the stay and served in a very professional way (unlike in the review below). Would definitely recommend this place - probably out if season, as I'm sure it gets packed otherwise.
littledrummerboy - 18 Nov 2011 16:08
Spent three nights here last Bank Holiday weekend and it was all good apart from one let down at the very end.
Food and beer were excellent, even the cider was good and I dont really drink that stuff. Another excellent touch was to let the residents of the establishment get their evening meal order in with drink before the doors were opened to the public waiting outside - and it is definately a popular place!
Breakfast was an experience; first day was the biggest fry up I've had at a B&B of any sort, well cooked and very tasty. Second day I had a smoked haddock which took quite a while to arrive but was very good when it did. The third and final day we arrived at breakfast for 835 and ordered food straight away with the coffee. My wifes porridge arrived at 925 in a cool stodge condition and after she'd worked her way through it we left, my breakfast of another smoked haddock never arrived. In the time we waited we had toast and two pots of coffee - I dont believe the staff (That there was of them that Monday morning) were not aware of our wait. I had the distinct feeling the full English got priority over all other cooked food.
To the assistant that seemed to be "In charge" - it is not becoming to wander around with an iPod in your ear whilst talking to people at breakfast, not is it to use vulgar language whilst sitting out back near the kitchen thinking customers in the next room cant hear you, finally if you were so good at "supervising" you'd have gone to find the haddock and the porridge before 925!
To the bloke in a skanky T-shirt and jeans half way down your backside - I really dont want to see your pants while waiting for my breakfast (That never arrived) and some politeness has never injured anyone! Again, vulgar language is not appreciated - customers have ears too, speak English and it does you no favours to speak in that way within earshot of the breakfast rooms.
This place would have got a 10 - but for the last morning...
Bernie5 - 2 Sep 2011 12:19
Excellent selection of beers and cider served from casks kept cool in seperate room. Food moderately priced but good value for money. Low beams gave me a headache. Railway pictures in corridor and tasteful pictures of women in Gents. Ghastly dogs in pub garden and chess board with 1/3 scale pieces.
Robin_from_Swanage - 7 Aug 2011 15:27
Thanks to the free wifi this post is live as I sup an excellent pint of 'fossil fuel' from the purbeck brewery, another 5 ales are available, excellent menu choice and quality food within all budgets, well organised friendly staff, well worth a visit if yore in the area
bessdog - 14 May 2011 19:29
This is a pub which tries really hard to provide a good service and succeeds. Clearly aimed at tourists but in the best possible way. Excellent food. 6 constantly changing real ales mostly from local breweries and 12 ciders and perries all served stright from the barrel. Not the cheapest place but you certainly get your money's worth. The accomodation is also very good provided you don't mind having your breakfast with dogs. Highly recommended. Also they don't have pretentions about being a restaurant and reserve tables which is a good thing. Far better than the terrible Lulworth Cove Inn
baxterfish - 5 May 2011 20:13
Excellent food, superb accomodation, great beer - nothing negative to say at all. Just avoid the pub down the road (absolute rubbish) & go here instead. Different league.
MagnustheMandrill - 4 May 2011 14:12
Have driven and walked pass the pub on numerous occasions without entering, assuming it to be yet another establishment buggered up by the tourist trade. How wrong I was - the interior is relatively unspoilt and, although it obviously caters for tourists, it hasn't lost it's soul. The landlady is very welcoming and there is a good choice of 5 ales from Palmers, Sharps, Plain & Dorset Piddle all served straight from the cask along with 14!!! ciders and perries. Amazingly it's not in the GBG. Food is a little pricey but of good quality and the portions are huge. Easily the best option in and around Lulworth. Highly recommended.
baxterfish - 16 Nov 2010 00:03
Expecting this to be a bit touristy but not at all. Fabulous pub, great range of beer & cider, amazing food (not cheap but well worth the money), friendly staff - what more can I say? Going to go back next spring to stay for a few days we liked it that much.
MagnustheMandrill - 15 Nov 2010 07:58
Lovely pub...great service...and such friendly staff!

Beer was good too....as was the homecooked food!

Soooo dog friendly too ...will definately be going back!!!
LovefindingagoodPub - 19 Jul 2010 13:12
A pub that try's very hard to get things right, it's in a holiday area, apart from the firing ranges, and is very family orientated. There is plenty of variety in the rooms, we chose what we thought was the bar. Being lunchtime the emphasis was on food, which we didn't have. The beer was mostly local ales, 6 in quantity and my Dorset Piddle was ok if unexciting. The pub was full and friendly and very happy bar staff, keen to help on beer and cider choice, I had a cider for my 2nd drink. However we were suddenly overrun by a massive gang, group of children and unruly parents, plural but only of the male variety, dont you love it when the estranged Fathers get to take away the kids for a weekend and ruin other peoples enjoyment. So a decent pub, but you certainly are forced to share it, we left at this point.
imdownthepub - 29 May 2010 16:52
Brilliant pub! Friendly staff, excellent food that is very reasonably priced. My dog Millie thought it was great too!
mrseagle - 4 May 2010 14:27
Gorgeous, traditional thatched pub. We stayed for a couple of nights when visiting Lulworth Cove. The interior is low-ceilinged, wood-beamed and comfortable. The rooms likewise. There are several ales on, all in good condition and the food is good quality, good value and unpretentious. The tiered beer garden out back is fantastic, with trees providing the shade and beautiful flowers.
red - 9 Aug 2009 15:25
At last everything under one roof. Lovely pub, friendly staff, great beer and tip top food. Thank you for shaking off the dross and making an other wise dreary wet week camping much more palatable.
daveE - 8 Aug 2009 01:21
I was here mid-week for an evening meal with a four year old. The Castle Inn is in a most attractive setting, and things were equally good inside. The Dorste beer was well kept, and there was amore than adequate choice of food on the menu, including a reasonable choice of children's and vegetarian dishes.

The pub is dog-friendly, possibly almost too much so? However, there were no problems.

The staff were efficient, friendly and on top of things.

I recommend this place without reservation.
pubsampler - 18 Jul 2009 10:14
Now this IS a nice pub. Beer was OK. Bar staff friendly, genuinely welcoming and quite a change from those I met at the New Inn or the Weld Arms nearby. Good conversation with bar staff who seemed interested. No funereal black worn either - THAT IS A PLUS !!! Didn't try the food, but there was a nice garlicky, fishy smell (a bit like that you get in the street cafes and tavernas in Greece) emanating from a plate being carried to some scoffers - so, I think I'll return and try it out. The beer garden was something else - wow - sitting halfway up a hill at the back of the pub in a sort of rose garden certainly made me think about coming back when nthe roses are in bloom. (My 2 favourite plant scents are those of the hop and the rose). Yeah, I think I'll go back there, but probably not in the height of the season when I suspect it gets overflowed by the dreaded "grockles " and 2nd homers.
pubquisitor - 25 May 2009 12:57
We are very dog-friendly, and have recently been listed as the best dog-friendly b&b in Dorset.

We stock many local Real Ales, and usually have at least 5/6 real ales on sale, all directly from the cask.

More information is on our website.

Alex Halliday,
Manager
aghalliday - 14 May 2009 03:09
I had evening meals here last summer. The food was great, the garden is very good, and the managers and staff were not only efficient and helpful but were also friendly and had a good sense of humour.
lateralthinking1 - 3 May 2009 13:44
Visited in May so fairly quiet. Pub nice but nothing special. Beer average, and dogs not allowed in. Didn't try the food. Like other people I cannot understand why a pub in prime tourist area shuts in the afternoon.
graham2 - 5 Aug 2008 10:47
went here on sunday....for a country pub in a tourist hotspot you'd expect more than one real ale...food looked average but at above average prices...couldent quite understand why food had to be ordered in the "dorset bar" but could be eaten in the other bar....
clarkey_cat - 29 Jan 2008 17:01
Went in here on Saturday night and was glad to be early as all the tables filled up quickly. Good standard pub food at above average prices and the beer was in fine condition. The Landlord and his staff are efficient, courteous and remember what you drink when you next go to the bar. An enjoyable evening.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 16 Oct 2007 13:43
Had a Good Pint of Archers in here over Easter Weekend. This pub has a terraced Garden (needs some TLC) at the Rear and Tables in the Front (Although they are directly on the Road) Parking is accross the Road in a seperate CAr Park. Food is Expensive (London Prices) and Finished at 2pm (Although we were slightly late they did serve us - limited selection).However the pub shut at 14:30!! This is a Family Pub that needs to cater for the Tourist and be open all Afternoon. I found the Staff Friendly enough.
Bitter_Man - 14 Apr 2007 08:23
Stayed in publess Lulworth Cove and consequently went to the nearest pub, namely Castle Inn.Provided you are under 5 feet tall and you are not hungry and you dont mind pretty foul Ringwood Ale then you have my full permission to go to this establishment. I could not believe their food prices and the beer prices were equivalent to top London pubs. I dragged my starving 6 feet 3 inch frame out of this place and drove a few miles to The Weld Arms where I enjoyed a very pleasant pint of bitter and a lovely prawn sarnie with chips at a reasonable price.
Earlhamcourt - 2 Oct 2006 11:27
Recently stayed in West Lulworth. Had visions of walking to and staggering back from a lovely country pub. How wrong we were. Food was very over priced for what you got and probably the worst we have had for a long time. The bar staff were complaining about the tourists and the landlady was as miserable as sin! I give them 2/10 only because they sold Strongbow! The Weld Arms in East Lulworth is a far better choice if you are in the area!
GinB - 7 Sep 2006 19:52
Visited this pub many times last week when on holiday in the area. Found the staff to be friendly and helpful - they offered to lend us an umbrella when we were leaving with our baby daughter one evening.

The food was generally good - homemade dishes like the steak and ale pie being best. Real ale was available and the owner obviously takes an interest in this department as it was well kept.

Well behaved children are welcomed and I think there is a childrens food menu too.

The only gripe is that the pub appears to advertise a segregated smoking and non-smoking, but in reality people smoke throughout - although only the occasional selfish individual smokes in the dining room...

Generally I'd recommend this pub and would gladly return when in the area.
GrahamA - 16 Jun 2005 11:10
I do not understand why Andrew Goodman or the "anonymous" person thought badly of the Castle Inn.

My parents have been going to the castle inn for many years, 11 I think, and have loved every minute of it! Although the pub is slightly out of my age range and is styled very old it still has a good range of beers, no not just the ales!, and the food was excellent, the sirloin was ok but I had the carpetbag steak and that was excellent.

Havent stayed in the accommodation, but my parents have and they said that the superior rooms were great and the breakfasts were superb, if not too big!
Ben Beetham - 5 Nov 2004 00:32
I recently journeyed down to the Dorset coast over the May bank holiday weekend for a relaxing time with my girlfriend. We decided on Lulworth cove, a popular coastal resort where we could relax and get away from the 'big smoke'. Our research led us to two or three bed and breakfasts in West Lulworth, Gatton House was one, and the Castle Inn was another. We looked at the website of the Castle Inn and saw that it came well recommended for food, and that it also had a bar where we could enjoy a tasty tipple after a hard day's exploring. We booked a double room two months in advance and looked forward to a carefree, relaxing weekend away.

Upon arriving at the Castle inn, we were greeted and shown to our room, which was small but pleasant, with a tv and drinks making facilities. The bathroom on the other hand was a whole different story. It was a nasty 60's pink, with the toilet seat was hanging off the rim. The toilet itself wouldn't have looked out of place in a student house. Not impressed for 65 a night. Anyway, we forgave them this, and went down to try some of their legendary food.

Being on the Montignac diet, which is a no carb diet (no potatoes, pastry, white flour etc), we were rather limited by the menu. With the exception of the specials board, which ranged from 13 to 17 for a dish, the main menu was making best use of the kitchen deep fryer. Everything came with chips or hash browns and onion rings, and there were no fresh vegetables in sight. The menu was not that impressive. Anyway, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I ordered a sirloin at 12, with a salad instead of chips, my girlfriend had the same. The salad was fine, though the chefs didn't seem to be able to help themselves as they piled a few deep fried onion rings on the plate for good measure. The steak......well, first of all it wasn't a sirloin, and second it was without a doubt the chewiest blandest specimen that has ever passed my lips. (I recently had a far better steak in a harvester). I was tempted to make a fuss, but all of the other guests seemed to be having such fun, that I didn't want to spoil their mood, and naturally I didn't want to upset myself. I live in Islington, London, near Upper Street, and with it's plethora of restaurants, I guess I'm spoilt for choice when it comes to good food at reasonable prices, but I just thought that visiting the countryside, I'd get some decent local produce, properly hung meat, and good value for money. So incensed was I by the poor food that I even lost sleep that night.

Breakfast the next morning wasn't that much better. Though I thought they might redeem themselves. I went for the full English, being on a low carb diet. There was no black pudding as listed in the menu (not to worry), the bacon was good, if a little dry, the sausage was deep fried greasy spoon style (not impressed) the scrambled eggs were dry and crumbly. I know what constitutes a good fry up, and I could have produced much better, in fact my old school breakfast was better than that.

It seems odd that a place with such a good reputation can deliver such a poor service. I though perhaps other people don't know what good food is, but that's ridiculous. I read on the website from a review in Dorset magazine that the castle inn has been "Successfully run by the Halliday family now for the past 12 years (since January 1983)," that means the article was written in 1995. Perhaps the Halliday family still run the place, perhaps..... if the Halliday family are from down under. I suspect that the pub was taken over by a chain, and run by the best bar and restaurant workers (aussies and kiwis) and since then they have done little to build on the reputation of the castle inn, instead serving poor quality pub food to visiting guest. If Gordon Ramsey does another series of Kitchen Nightmares, I'll recommend he pays them a visit. First thing they need to do is cut the menu down to size........and throw away the deep fryer, and get in touch with a good local butcher.

The reason I've gone to great lengths to write this review is that I had high hopes for a lovely weekend in the countryside, and unfortunately the Castle inn promised so much and delivered so little. Lulworth is a beautiful area, and we really enjoyed the weekend, it was just a little bit tainted by our experience. I hope that you will go in with your eyes wide open.

agoodman - 4 Jun 2004 11:23
I Had to e-mail when I saw this site whilst looking up the Castle Inn's number on the net in order to give details to my Brother. Stayed at The Castle Inn over the Easter Bank Holiday. What can you say ? Beer - Great. Food - Fantastic. Setting - marvellous. Accomodation - fair at the price - what are you paying for ? Just somewhere to crash at the end of the day & it was adequate. People - beyond words. Friendly is hardly the word. Top tip if staying there - The bar opens to the public at 7 p.m. If you are a resident and are eating in (pointless doing anything else), grap a table BEFORE the locals get there so that you can eat comfortably because the place gets invaded almost as soon as the doors open & you will not get a table to eat. That is how good the food is ! Also, you can relax & drink in comfort for the entire evening if that is your wont. There are so many bar games to play if that is your thing if you ask begind the bar. Also, if you prefer your evenings a little quieter, take a table in the small bar - the other one can get more lively (if that is your scene). The bar staff cannot be faulted and a good way to spend the day is start with the full English breakfast (which WILL see you through to the evening), & take the coastal path - breathtaking ! Also, dont miss the castle or the cove - both are superb. My thanks to the Castle in for an unforgettable weekend - we'll be back (& so will my Brother). P.S. - the negative comment above must have been from a spoiler - I have friends who go every year (& have done for 20 years), & they have never had a complaint.
Gary Sims - garysims90a@msn.com - 27 Apr 2004 18:56
it is the worst meal we have ever had all the people who ate while we were there left without eating all their meal
anonymous - 8 Sep 2003 02:13
Great beer, friendly bar staff and welcoming locals. If you're planning to visit Lulworth Castle itself don't come on a Saturday. It's closed on this day although I couldn't tell you why. Whoever awarded the 2001 Dorset rural pub of the year to the Weld Arms obviously couldn't be arsed to come to this place, never mind pubs such as the Trooper in Stourton Caundle or the Royal Oak in Okeford Fitzpaine.
John - john_norwell@hotmail.com - 29 Jun 2003 18:27

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