Our fascination with centuries-old castles and the ways in which people that inhabited them lived and impacted history is surely stoked by the fact that so many still dot European hills, countryside’s and moors. While the vast majority of us will never be royalty, we can sleep and to some extent live like royalty by spending the night in some of these edifices via vacation tours.
In addition to the many ruins, there are dozens of intact castles in Scotland, England, Ireland and France among other countries in Europe. Most have been kept as original as possible while still being modified with modern amenities that have transformed them into the ultimate bed and breakfast coupled with travel destination for those seeking to have a taste of ancient royal living.
There are castles all across Europe from Spain to Greece that welcomes travelers for stays that range from royally luxurious to historically medieval. Castle stays can be booked directly with each property, through a travel agent or through companies like CelticCastles.com and IrishTourism.com. In addition to being able to book a room, you can rent castles with as many as 100 rooms for events like weddings.
In Northern Europe, travelers can stay in some castles from the 6th to the 15th century in England and Scotland such as the 6th-century Tudor style Thornbury Castle, where King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited. Another is Coombe Abbey, originally built as a Cistercian Abbey in the 12th century. Swinton Park Castle has been transformed into a luxury castle hotel in the Yorkshire Dales while Dalhousie Castle, just outside Edinburgh is 13th-century fortress situated on the River Esk.
Germany alone has dozens of castles that operate as hotels, such as the thousand-year-old Castle Hotel Colmberg in Bavaria, which is a stop on both the Castle Road and Romantic Road. France has the Chateau de Bagnols, a fully restored 13th-century vineyard castle less than 20 miles from Lyon, in France’s Beaujolais region. If a 12th century medieval village is more to your liking, Italy’s Castello di Gargonza, in the Tuscan mountains between Arezzo and Sienaay may be just what you’re looking for.
Spain offers Parador de Ciudad Rodrigo, a 14th-century castle that sits on a sheer drop above the Agueda River valley among several while Portugal also has a system of state-run hotels in historic buildings called pousadas. Lisbon’s Moorish medieval Castle of Obidos dates back to the 12th century and the entire town is surrounded by a medieval fortress. The island nation of Malta features the 16th century Xara Palace in the medieval city of Mdina.
These castle getaways are the best mix of old world features and new world amenities that run the gamut from the height of royal indulgence to the best of medieval peasant living. The amenities span modern conveniences such as Jacuzzi tubs, heated towel racks in marble bathrooms to ancient libraries and on-site falconry centres. The activities can include fishing, hiking, cycling, swimming, skiing, horse riding, golf and more such as a medieval banquet or a murder mystery event. Most of these locations are three to five stars with everything that entails such as world class spas for massages, manicures and much more.
You’ll find all of the original features of the castle eras without the dank and dark so that means round turrets, high walls and stone towers as well as moats and drawbridges. The interiors will take you back in time with Renaissance-era wall tapestries, ornate carved ceilings and ceiling paintings, coats of arms, period furnishings and much more. Of course sumptuous meals are a part of the offering with many of the areas known for their cuisine so they often double as gastronomic vacations.
All of these castle vacation getaways are situated in equally historic areas where vacationers can explore the historic grounds, countryside and towns. From Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Thornbury with the West Country to Warwick and Stratford upon Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace), these are just a few of the fantastic towns and cities around castles in Scotland and the UK. The regions around the castles of France, Italy, and Germany speak for themselves as do areas like Bath, Salamanca and Mdina.
Since pricing and packages are widely varied, there is something that is affordable for everyone. What could be better than sleeping like royalty without the burden of thinking about invaders or keeping the peasants in line?