Fairytales Come To Life in Hocking Hills

By Tom Driver

Shortly after turning off Hwy 93 onto Bethel Road I began to get nervous.  The paved road narrowed as we approached a feeble looking one-lane bridge that upon crossing gave way to a gravel drive.  As we approached the rather steep incline I wondered, “what have we gotten ourselves into” but was glad we chose our little four-wheel drive RAV4 for the adventure.  As we began our ascent I saw a sign for the castle, at least we were still heading in the right direction.  As our climb continued through a series of tight curves I was grateful there was no one coming down the hill; I wasn’t sure where another car would be able to pull over to allow the pass.  After the final twist the castle came into view. 

Chess/checker board
As we approached the castle my eyes were pulled in several directions. First the human-sized chess set to the immediate right, and then further to the right is the Medieval Village containing several cottages tucked into the trees.  My eyes quickly refocused on the entrance to the castle and I thought “all that’s missing from this picture is a moat”.  The door sits back between the two columns under an archway.  A suit of armor catches my attention as we approach the somewhat forbidding looking entrance.  As we neared I noticed a weapon of some sort, or perhaps a twisted medieval torture device.  Naturally, the front door creaked as we opened it and stepped into the foyer adorned in dark reds and wood.  
The Great Hall

No one was there to greet us so we cautiously strolled around the corner, passing gargoyles, shields and several more suits of armor on our way into the Great Hall.  The wall to our right was floor to ceiling stone, which enclosed a fireplace, while the other wall housed three stained glass windows.  We continued our cautious search across the creaking wooden floor until, at last, Steve the Innkeeper greeted us.  As my mind continued to absorb the fantastic imagery all around us I must admit a slight twinge of disappointment to see Steve dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt.  I was prepared to see someone straight out of Monty Python’s The Holy Grail.

Ravenwood Castle in New Plymouth, Ohio is a very unique alternative to the typical lodging choices available in the Hocking Hills area.  We Travelers Three definitely enjoyed our four nights there and foresee staying here again.  We chose to stay in the Sleeping Beauty cottage in Fairytale Village.  The cottages in Fairytale Village, while rustic and in need of a remodel in some areas, are clean, functional and perfectly priced for a family, like ours, which spent most of their time hiking, exploring and canoeing in nearby Hocking Hills.  There was no television in our cottage but, somewhat to our surprise, we never missed it.  On a couple nights we came back so late we showered and went to bed.  Those other nights were either spent exploring the castle or we worked on one of the puzzles available for the guests.  More than once, Kelly or I remarked on how nice it was not having a television blaring every night. 

Exterior Sleeping Beauty Cottage
Master Bedroom
Aside from the uniqueness of the castle and the Medieval Village, one of the best features at Ravenwood Castle is their free breakfasts.  Each breakfast included a main dish, fresh fruit, cereal, and either a muffin or pastry.  The breakfasts are served buffet style so there are no worries about taking a second helping.  We felt this was not only a great value but also a great convenience.  The value in having a great tasting, home cooked complimentary breakfast for just $89 a night, which was our rate for the Sleeping Beauty cottage.  
We could have brought our own breakfast and utilized the cottage’s kitchenette, but why eat cereal every single day or worry about dishes and clean up?  Since we packed a lunch each day, our only out of pocket meal expense was for dinner each night.  The location of Ravenwood makes the breakfast very convenient; the castle is a 25-minute drive from the town of Logan, as well as the attractions in Hocking Hills. 
Queen Victoria Suite
On our last night at Ravenwood Castle, We Travelers Three were given a tour of several rooms located inside the castle along with a few of the cottages within the Medieval Village by Steve Waldron, one of the innkeepers.  The Medieval Village is located within a few steps of the castle and each cottage is nicely equipped with a kitchenette, Jacuzzi tub, television with a built in DVD player, and sleeping for four or more people.  We also noticed hardwood floors, modern bathrooms and decorative wood features appropriate for the setting.  For the family looking for a little more luxury than what’s available in Fairytale Village, and a unique lodging experience, a cottage in the Medieval Village would be a great match. 
The second part of our tour included visiting three rooms within the castle itself.  Each room was equipped with a king bed, sitting area and full bath, although none of the rooms included a Jacuzzi tub.  Each room, as with the cottages, was named and themed.  We toured the Empress Matilda, Queen Victoria and The Dungeon.  Kelly was immediately drawn to the Tiffany style lamps in the Queen Victoria room while I was impressed with the size of each room and the bathrooms.  There was more than enough space for two people. 
The Dungeon
Raven’s Roost Pub
 According to Steve, the most interesting room in the castle, aside from the flagship King Arthur room is The Dungeon.  The Dungeon is located on the lower level around the corner from The Raven’s Roost Pub, which makes it one of the most secluded rooms in the entire complex.  Depending on the occupancy level it’s quite possible a couple staying in The Dungeon could have the entire lower level, which also includes the Castle reading room, all to themselves.  The Dungeon walls and ceiling are faux painted to resemble a castle’s block walls but, despite its lower level setting, there is access to the back part of the grounds and plenty of windows to let in the light.  However, the most interesting feature of the Dungeon is the headboard and footboard on the king sized bed.  They resemble medieval stocks with holes just large enough for ankles and wrists, but while they are functional, they do not lock.

Gypsy Cart
The location of Ravenwood Castle is close enough to all the activities available in Hocking Hills.  As mentioned earlier, the drive is roughly 20 to 30 minutes to all the big attractions in Hocking Hills and Logan, Ohio.  The spacious cottages in the Medieval Village provide the perfect setting for quality family time in the evenings.  While the budget conscience travelers, and We Travelers Three was definitely on a budget this trip, will enjoy the value of Fairytale Village.  A couple looking for a romantic getaway should be pleased with either a cottage or room in the castle.  The privacy and character of these rooms were more than Kelly and I have encountered in other, more traditional, bed and breakfast settings.  I nearly forgot to mention the Gypsy Carts.  The two “carts” are a step above tent camping.  There is room for four to sleep but they are not air-conditioned and there are no bathrooms.  Each cart has its own bathroom with shower a short walk away.  
Garden Maze
Our experience at Ravenwood Castle helped make our first trip to Hocking Hills a really great experience.  There’s simply no other place like it, especially in this price range.  Steve, his wife, and the rest of the staff were so gracious and accommodating.  The last point I want to make is for the guys in the audience; after reading names like Ravenwood Castle, Medieval Village and Fairytale Village I was concerned.  Was I signing up for four days at some cheesy, over the top Renaissance Festival-style resort?  Rest assured, this was not the case at all.  The theme is tastefully applied and the staff does not dress in period style costumes, nor do they speak as if they’re auditioning for Shakespeare in the Park.  I was pleasantly surprised and would recommend Ravenwood Castle to any of my friends.    

2 thoughts on “Fairytales Come To Life in Hocking Hills”

  1. My husband and I honeymooned in the Queen Elizabeth suite. We had only reserved 2 nights but loved the whole experience SO much, we tacked on an additional day. We truly cannot say enough GOOD things about our experience and have absolutely nothing negative to say, at all. GO!!!

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