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The Worst Castle That I’ve Never Stayed At – Ravenswood Castle Hocking Hills Ohio


As my wife tried to become more social on social media, she posed the question – “would you stay overnight somewhere with no internet and no phone reception?”

She was flooded with opinions – mostly of those saying they would “love” to disconnect.

And the next day, a nationwide mobile phone outage hit the nation. Those same individuals were complaining about being disconnected.

Funny how things change when they are unexpected.

This is exactly how we felt when we tried to stay overnight at a castle in Hocking Hills.

The Castle in Hocking Hills, Ohio – Ravenwood Castle

Hocking Hills is known for their nature walks and trails. About 20-minutes away, tucked away on a hill is a destination that allows you to stay in an actual medieval castle (well kind of). The castle has several rooms and several cabins surrounding. As the front desk employee told us – the actual castle books 6-8 months in advance. With such low availability, you have to be very open with the days and times you want to stay, or opt for an experience “near” the castle.

The castle experience has you drive up a pretty long gravel road – which was not ideal during the winter time. There’s a few signs that direct you on where to go, but you never fully have confidence you are going the right way. When you finally see the castle, you can assume where to park, but again, you guess based on where other cars are parked. But then again, this is a castle experience. Having a large parking lot with painted lines would give up the illusion.

There some wooden cabin structures surrounding the castle. They were colorful and reminded me of structures you would see while traveling on a boat in “it’s a small world”. They seemed more appropriate than a log cabin, but not quite what I would imagine in a medieval theme.

I wouldn’t describe the castle as impressive, but it wasn’t what I expected. Granted, I’m comparing this faux castle against what I’ve seen in Walt Disney World and Disneyland. These fiberglass structures make the stone resemble what you would see in England or France. The castle in Ohio at Hocking Hills had cinderblocks and resembled exactly what you would think if you asked some home builders to construct a castle.

The entrance had a wooden door and knight armor standing guard. The moment you opened the door, you could smell the dinner they were preparing – which was some form of meat. To the right and the left were staircases to what I imagine would be the rooms. If you continued forward, you would land in a giant dining hall that had several long tables. 

We were slightly confused on where to check in and nearly entered the kitchen. We did find a member of the staff and they directed us to a room that was filled with board games, merchandise, and a counter. Once checked in, we were given a small tour and directions of the operations.

Blindsided at the Castle at Ravenwood in Hocking Hills, Ohio

We knew from the start we couldn’t get a room in the actual castle. Staying across the walkway seemed appropriate – especially considering breakfast and dinner were in the main castle. They had WiFi at the castle, so communication would be possible. Our mobile phones service was available inside the castle – so it was likely we could get service in our rooms. 

As we checked in, they provided a map and told us we were at the bottom of the hill. There seemed to be four or so cabins that were disconnected from the castle. We asked if we could walk and the obvious answer was no. You needed to drive down a winding gravel road – and they provided a map. Even though it would be an inconvenience, we were willing to drive 5-minutes back to the castle for breakfast and dinner. 

When asking about WiFi, this was only available in the castle. No other structure had access. The Apple TV I brought and the laptop would be no good to us. 

If you needed support or help from the staff, there is no one staying on site. There was an emergency button if you needed someone. 

To circle back to our room (literally), we drove down a few poorly cleared gravel roads – with some very sharp turns – to make it to our room. We parked in a lot – and guessed if we were in the right location and direction. We must have been the only ones staying here that day because there was no other car in the lot.

It snowed a day prior, so we were welcomed by a few inches of snow on the stairs and porch of our little cabin. When entering, there was a small kitchen with a futon to the right and a table. The left had a long countertop. Off of the kitchen was a bathroom and a door to the bedroom. There was a TV and a DVD player on a stand across from the futon. 

There was no cable or satellite, so you could borrow DVDs from the main castle. The television was about as large as an iPad or a computer monitor. I’m not quite sure if we could see anything on the screen – even if we chose to watch a movie. 

I’m someone who tends to fall asleep with a television on, I was equally surprised when I went into the bedroom and there wasn’t a television (or anything for that matter) mounted to the wall or sitting on a shelf. I guess one tiny television in the kitchen was enough.

I climbed a ladder to the small nook that overlooked the kitchen and sat for a second. I pulled my phone out, instinctually, as I was trying to gain my thoughts. Not a single bar – and without WiFi – I realized that if I needed to contact my family (three little ones staying with my sister miles away), I would have to trek to the castle and hope that their wifi would connect.

It wasn’t long before we grabbed our bags and exited the cabin – that was no where near – the main castle.

Poor Customer Service at the Castle at Ravenwood in Hocking Hills, Ohio

I was pretty calm and level-headed about the events. It just wasn’t our style and our scene. I enjoyed the drive with my wife, but I didn’t want to stay a minute longer. We went to the front desk and explained the situation. Without any empathy, the employee was quick to point out this was a “disconnected environment”. Fair enough. We previously prepaid for a dinner meal (of course, they asked us to pay for the meal before even announcing what it was). I was going to reluctantly eat Shepherd’s Pie, but when we explained that we were not going to stay, therefore not eat. Again, without empathy, no refunds.

We gambled. We took the website information at face value and expected the standard accommodations to be met for an overnight experience: WiFi or cellular service, a television, overnight staff, dining options….oh…and an empathetic manager. We asked to speak to the manager and they wouldn’t come out. The employee simply said they weren’t coming to talk to us and “tough luck”.

Yes, would I have loved to not pay for two-days at a location we didn’t even stay at for 15-minutes. Yes. It would have been nice to not have to pay for a meal we were absolutely not eating. Sure. But what would have been really nice is for someone in a level of control to come out and just look at us as humans and say, “we hear your concerns and would love to see how we can make things better”. It’s very likely we weren’t going to come up with a great result. I would have realized I gambled and lost my money, yet I would have respected the business and their policies. Instead, I would actively tell individuals not to visit or support due to their lack of customer service.

As a business owner, I understand their are difficult customers. Sometimes I tell them to ‘F off’ when they are not being reasonable. But I actually give them the chance to explain their problem before I make the decision to either help fix or write them off as a lost cause. Their explanation of “it’s on the website” is not good enough. Especially as a web designer and also grabbing the verbiage on their website, they did not explain that their cabins were remote without any mobile service. Using phrases like “unplugged” does not actually mean anything more than advertising jargon that you will “relax” and not be bothered. by technology. Explicitly stating, in many areas you won’t receive any reception is what a good, ethical business would do.

Would Not Recommend Castle at Ravenwood in Hocking Hills, Ohio

Ravenwood Castle did not live up to my expectations – in terms of theming and certainly in terms of customer service. For a place that is charging several hundred dollars per night, you will get better value at any national branded hotel. If you want a faux castle experience, the theming is not enough to make you believe you are anywhere except a cylinder block castle in the middle of nowhere Ohio.

Even if I would have stayed overnight, dined in the hall with a bunch of strangers, and had delightful customer service (best case scenario) – this would have been a one-and-done. There are so many other bed and breakfast destinations that would provide better value for the price. a consolation prize…this will be the best & worst castle I’ve never stayed at.

Eric Hersey

Trip Report – Disneyland – October 2023

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