Sunday 28 October 2007

Aberystwyth - Castle Hotel

Address: South Road, SY23 1JW. Tel: 01970 612188 [gmap]

Background: Originally a two-roomed backstreet pub with a lounge and public bar (and one of the main locations in Malcolm Pryce's Louie Knight books), this watering-hole has had two makeovers in the last 15 years which have all but removed the original soul of the place, including the lovely old Victorian bar. Now it’s laminate floored, chocolate coloured sofa lounge-bar thing, specializing in being the last pub in Aber to close each evening morning. It tends to get busy - you guessed it - when the other pubs are chucking out and this place is still open. 

Student factor: The late-licence means that you get a bigger mixture of peoples these days compared to 10 years back, including some of the more well-known soaks from a particularly well-regarded Uni department who try to nick your drink when you aren't looking and pour it into their own. 

Atmosphere: Holds quite a good atmosphere late, but the new incarnation is still finding its feet during the daytime as the more clinical interior finish means that it can no longer feel busy with just half-a-dozen people in.

Drinks range: The ale range varies; there's usually a couple of unusual ones (Hop Back has been sighted previously) on in good variable nick - I get the feeling that the beer is put on and then not checked, so if it's fresh, you're in...if it isn't, it's Sarsons. There's also an interesting* keg lager - Tuborg. Hecks cider was on in May 2012 which was a welcome sight as proper cider is still difficult to come across outside of Spoons and the Ship.

TV/Music: In a victory for APG, the 'trendy' song lyrics have been removed from the walls and the jukebox no longer has the shame of having Robbie Williams' scribblings stationed above it. There used to be live music on a Friday in the form of local bands of builders who thought they were a cross between Stereophonics and Status Quo, not sure if this still happens post-refurb.

Other stuff: The biggest new thing here is the award of a late (very late) licence - currently, the Castle is allowed to serve drinks until 2am between Sundays and Thursdays and until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, and has a licence covering live or recorded music till 1am any night of the week (yes, I've clearly copied that from the Council's Licensing website). They're now actively pushing the hotel aspect of the place, check out their sparkly new website, though I'm not sure who would want to stay in a room above a late-licence drinking den? I have spent a night there and the room itself was pretty good (see below) and clearly sound-proofed - except for the rickety old sash windows, which of course meant that the utterance of every drunk entering/leaving/having a smoke outside was audible almost as loudly as if you'd been standing next to them. Fail.

Otherwise, there's an active dart board and pool table and also apparently food is now available. Look out for the lethal metal pole in the middle of the pub (see bottom), you’re not a proper student drinker in Aber until you’ve walked into it by accident whilst blotto. Oh and the toilets have finally been done-up - there's now even Dyson Airblades, how very metropolitan.


Quinno’s verdict: Clearly now trading on the late licence to make it profitable, the place seems to be finding its feet and I'm happy to have been proved wrong when I previously stated that "I'm not sure it can survive much longer if the hotel aspect doesn't work out". It's a worthwhile trudge from the Ship & Castle to finish off your evening with a few games of arrows. Louie Knight might be horrified by the new look though.

* - interesting in that I don't drink much lager....


Anonymous said...

The Castle, renowned from the Malcom Price books and where my generation had their first (underage) alcoholic drinks.

RogerWilsher said...

My heart is almost broken! Makeovers?!?! Who do pub landlords think they are? This is where I celebrated my 21st birthday nearly 30 years ago - and still can't remember how I got back to my room in Neuadd Thomas Charles Edwards(and people think binge drinking is a modern phenomenon).
From the pictures on this blog I see that the pillar still seems to be standing in the bar, which means, I hope, drunken students continue to defy the worst excesses of authoritarianism from the HSE, to write intelligent things they have learned in lectures on the ceiling. Please tell me this is true

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I'm a little miffed to know this place is a hell hole in light of the fact it might well be my local next year as I'll be living a few doors away.
Rest assured, any self-loving, philosophy-raping drama kids I hear in here are going to get a double JD and coke in the face. It will be awesome again when I get through will it cuz damned if I'm walking for 15 minutes to get to a different pub.

Anonymous said...

I used to live in the Castle during my student days in 2001 and then again for a little while in 2002.

I can't believe it's changed so much. My old room is on the website pictures - it certainly didn't look like that back in the day.

Awesome times there, roll out of bed on a Sunday and spend the day reading the papers in the bar with Cem and Shaun before the quiz... ahhhhh.

AD said...

I went the Castle the other day with the other Taylor sibling and was horrified to find no real ale or pies on offer! Equally as bad the jukebox was off and a new one playing crappy music. What is the Castle coming too!

Eddie said...

It's worth noting there is some pretty good drinks available here.

The Castle Cocktail is changed frequently (but i think usually contains gin and some blue stuff) and will set you back about £3.50, but for this you get lot's of alcohol and a free glowstick (which can be put inside the cocktail to make it glow, then later taken out to wear)

Also, they sell absinthe shots for only £2.50, definitely value for money!