For the ultimate fairy-tale getaway in Europe, there’s nothing like spending a night in a centuries-old castle. These 10 alluring castle hotels in Europe will transport you to secret gardens, canopy beds in stone towers, and drawing rooms where sipping afternoon tea is a centuries-old tradition.
Castle Hotels in Europe That Are Worth the Splurge
Here’s where you’ll find some of Europe’s most opulent spots to wake up in a castle and feel like royalty.
Amberley Castle: West Sussex, England
Less than a two-hour drive south of London, near England’s southern coast, is the 900-year-old Amberley Castle. A luxurious Relais & Chateaux property, this medieval castle hotel in South Downs is enclosed by a 60-foot stone wall and an iron portcullis that remains open. Suits of armor stand in the occasional castle corridor.
Here you can sleep in a four-poster bed in front of an original fireplace or soak in a whirlpool bath beneath stone arches and leaded windows. On sunny days you can take your afternoon tea outside overlooking the formal gardens. Tennis courts, an 18-hole putting course, and a croquet lawn are also on the castle grounds.
The castle is part of South Downs National Park, a popular area for walking and discovering England’s white chalk cliffs, rolling farmland, villages, vineyards, and traditional pubs.
Dromoland Castle: Newmarket-on-Fergus, Ireland
Rich fabrics, glittering chandeliers, and ornate wallpaper grace this luxurious five-star hotel, one of the most famous baronial castles in Ireland. You’ll feel like royalty in the 16th-century Dromoland Castle, where grand staircases and ornate fireplaces take you back to a bygone era.
Explore the walled garden and trails that meander through the 400-acre castle grounds. The chef can pack a picnic basket with a bottle of Champagne. Save time for archery, horseback riding, a round of golf, or a falconry experience at this castle hotel that has welcomed Nelson Mandela, Johnny Cash, and several other celebrities and heads of state.
The trails of the nearby Wild Atlantic Way will take you along the coast. The castle hotel runs day trips to the dramatic Cliffs of Moher. Bunratty’s 15th-century castle, an Irish tower house, is a few miles south of Dromoland.
Borgia Castle: Perugia, Italy
If you’ve ever dreamed of renting an entire castle for a fairy-tale wedding or family gathering, Italy’s Borgia Castle is a gorgeous option. A seven-bedroom medieval castle on the border of Tuscany and Umbria, this vacation rental property sleeps 13. It’s a true Italian countryside experience. Bedrooms feature timber beams, chandeliers, and intricately carved furniture. Big fireplaces and frescoes add to the historic charm.
From the terrace you can take in panoramic views of Lake Trasimeno and green, rolling hills. The castle hotel also has a swimming pool, tennis courts, and lovely gardens to explore. In the area are quaint medieval villages, olive groves, and vineyards to explore. Sienna and Florence are easy destinations for a day trip.
Book it: Get prices for Borgia Castle
Chateau de Bagnols: Bagnols, France
The Chateau de Bagnols is everything you imagine a chateau should be in the south of France’s Rhone-Alpes. Built in 1217, this honey-hued stone fortress is set atop a hill overlooking the Beaujolais vineyards and sprawling countryside just 30 minutes from Lyon.
At this five-star castle hotel, historic murals, tapestries, period fireplaces, and four-poster beds with canopies adorn the guest rooms. To satisfy your sophisticated palate, the Michelin-rated restaurant and tastings in the wine-pressing room offer an authentic taste of the region. There’s also an outdoor pool set among beautifully manicured hedges and aromatic gardens.
You can take a biking excursion to a neighboring medieval village or a horse-drawn carriage ride through Beaujolais. The Beaujolais wine route takes you through several picturesque villages.
Glenapp Castle: Ayrshire, Scotland
Near Scotland’s southwest coast, Glenapp Castle draws you into a world of tranquility and understated five-star elegance. Its sandstone battlements with turrets and towers are surrounded by formal gardens and woodlands. Inside, a roaring fire in the lounge welcomes you after a day of golf, horseback riding, hunting, or sailing.
Guest rooms, some with sea views, are luxurious without being stuffy. Country house decor and generous sitting areas are the epitome of fine living. On the 36-acre grounds are ponds, a labyrinth, and a walled garden where you can take your afternoon tea in summer.
Four championship golf courses are within an hour’s drive of this castle hotel. Just east you’ll find miles of hiking trails in the massive Galloway Forest Park, home to wild goats, otters, ospreys, and eagles.
Pousada Mosteiro Crato: Crato, Portugal
Once upon a time the stone walls of Pousada Mosteiro Crato served other purposes: a Gothic church, a Renaissance convent, and a luxurious manor house. Originally built during the 14th century, this castle hotel near the Portugal-Spain border sits in the quiet Alentejo countryside.
Climb up to your stone-walled suite in the tower. Waking up in the morning to almost no sound is one of the luxuries guests love here. Guest room balconies offer pastoral views and excellent stargazing far from any city. Sunbathe on the outdoor pool’s sunny terrace, go horseback riding, and try the restaurant’s favorite regional dishes: roasted wild boar and lamb stew.
Nearby are the medieval towns of Castelo de Vide and Alegrete, and the city of Portalegre with many manor houses and convents. A 30-minute drive east of Crato is the mountainous Parque Natural da Serra de Sao Mamede.
Castlehotel Schoenburg: Oberwesel, Germany
An imposing beauty above the banks of the Rhine River, Castlehotel Schoenburg is the embodiment of romance. A steep climb on a winding road takes you over a narrow wooden bridge and to the foot of the castle’s cobbled pathways. The inviting fireplace room and library are cozy places to relax, but there are plenty of other nooks and crannies and secret places to discover.
Dine outdoors on the terrace with panoramic river valley views or beneath leaded windows in the elegant dining room, reminiscent of a Disney princess movie set. At the end of the day, retire to a four-poster canopy bed.
By day you can take a Rhine River cruise or stroll the streets of Oberwesel, a town hit hard by the wars where holes from cannon balls and bullets are still evident in the city wall. Stop for a glass of riesling, one of the grape varietals grown in this renowned wine region.
Ashford Castle: Cong, Ireland
The glamorous 800-year-old Ashford Castle hotel estate, part 13th-century Norman stronghold and part 18th-century French chateau, is the ultimate splurge. This former home of the Guinness family recently underwent a two-year, $75 million renovation to return it to its original splendor. Curved stone ceilings, suits of armor, castle banners, and other details right down to the monogrammed bedsheets add to the magical ambiance.
Sip a glass of Guinness next to the roaring fire in the wood-paneled bar, or dine like royalty (dinner jacket required) in the formal dining room. For centuries the expansive 350-acre waterfront estate has been known as one of the country’s finest sporting estates with activities such as falconry, horse riding, fishing, and shooting.
Off site you can visit Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian walled gardens, home to Benedictine nuns for nearly 100 years. The Cliffs of Moher are also nearby.
Parador de Cardona: Cardona, Spain
About 60 miles from Barcelona, in the heart of Catalonia, sits the majestic Parador de Cardona, a former fort and church that dates to medieval times. High on a promontory above the ancient, narrow streets of Cardona, the castle commands awe with its beautiful blend of Gothic and Catalan Romanesque styles.
The best room in the castle is the elegantly styled Cardona room above the powder arsenal. Here you can sleep in a four-poster iron bed, admire the cupola, breathe in the serenity, and know you’re far, far away from ordinary life.
At the Salt Mountain Cultural Park you can put on a helmet and tour a salt mine that was still in production until 1990. A museum on site explains the history, geology, and minerology of Cardona’s Salt Valley. The castle hotel is also near hiking and biking trails that pass old stone mills along the Cardoner River that were used to process salt.
Book it: Get prices for Parador de Cardona
Castel Porrona Relais & Spa: Porrona, Italy
Italy wouldn’t be a dream come true without waking up in a castle that overlooks Tuscany’s olive groves, vineyards, and hillsides of cypress trees. The five-star Castel Porrona Relais & Spa is perfectly positioned for an exclusive retreat.
Steeped in history and meticulously restored, this castle hotel in a medieval stone village has only a handful of rooms, which makes it feel like you’re visiting a private country home. Doting staff, antique furniture, and fine fabrics are exquisite. Memorable experiences range from swimming in an underground pool to cooking classes with fresh-made pasta to the signature couples’ spa treatment using olive oil and red wine therapy.
Within a 40-minute drive are the seaside beaches of Castiglione della Pescaia and Follonica. The stunning mountain village of Montalcino to the northwest is even closer.
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Jamie Moore is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel. Her articles have appeared on USA Today, Yahoo Travel, Huffington Post, and WestJet.