11 European Castles to Spend the Night Like a Royal

Live like royalty in Ireland, France, Germany, and beyond.

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Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle bathroom
Photo:

Credit: Renée Kemps

While most of us expect to be treated like royalty when we stay in a five-star hotel, those fairy-tale fantasies become reality when you book a stay at an actual castle. With manicured gardens, extravagant guest rooms, and on-site activities like archery and falconry, there are tons of incredible castle hotels in Europe that offer equal doses of history and luxury. And although some have been acquired by modern hotel chains, they have traditional architecture and antique furnishings that will still sweep you back in time.

Whether you decide to book one of the many castle hotels in the U.K. or hole up in a historic structure in Spain or Portugal — or, if you can afford it, sleep steps away from the Palace of Versailles — rest easy knowing you’re getting the real royal treatment at these properties.

The Best Castle Hotels in Europe of 2022

Editor’s Pick: Ashford Castle, Cong, Ireland

Ashford Castle Ireland
Courtesy of Ashford Castle

Why We Chose It

Filled with the most luxurious touches imaginable, the 13th-century Ashford Castle is a beloved favorite for a reason.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$$$

Notable Amenities

Full-service spa, golf and tennis facilities, movie screenings

Hotel Description

You haven’t experienced true luxury until you’ve stayed at Ashford Castle, a 13th-century castle turned five-star hotel in County Galway, Ireland. From seasonal welcome drinks at check-in to candlelit turndown services, luxury seeps into every aspect of your stay. The 83 accommodations — ranging from rooms with king-size beds to multilevel suites — are all unique, though you can expect amenities like monogrammed bed linens, plush bathrobes, and fresh flowers in each. (Tip: It’s worth paying a bit more for a lake-view room.)

Ashford Castle has several dining options, headlined by the impossibly extravagant George V Dining Room (dinner jackets required). Other venues include the charming Cullen’s at the Cottage, a small American-style diner, and a casual medieval-themed restaurant for families. Aside from a spa and relaxation pool, the resort also boasts an impressive menu of on-site activities, including falconry, lake cruises, clay shooting, golf, and early morning walks with the resident Irish wolfhounds. There’s even a movie theater (popcorn and candy included) for rainy days.

Amberley Castle, Amberley, England

Amberley Castle Lunch on balcony

Courtesy of Amberley Castle 

Why We Chose It

Amberley Castle is a peaceful retreat perfect for couples and families.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$$

Notable Amenities

Breakfast included, L’Occitane bath products, 18-hole putting course

Hotel Description

Amberley Castle is a beautiful hotel located in the village of Amberley in southern England. The history of the property dates back some 900 years, and while the castle retains some of its original features and decorations, it’s also filled with every modern convenience and luxury you could want. It provides a quiet, private guest experience thanks to its limited accommodations — only 19 rooms, decorated with antiques and fine fabrics — and extensive grounds, which are filled with manicured gardens and shady trees (there’s even a resident peacock roaming around).

An on-site restaurant serves up dinner and afternoon tea, but you can also arrange for the staff to pack you a bespoke picnic basket to enjoy on the grounds or take with you on a day trip. The luxury hampers are filled with smoked salmon, charcuterie, and wine, while children’s hampers have kid-friendly treats like sandwiches and juice. Guests of all ages are also invited to play a bit of tennis, croquet, and many other activities around the estate.

Palé Hall, Llandderfel, Wales

Palé Hall, Llandderfel, Wales

Courtesy of Palé Hall

Why We Chose It

Palé Hall is a stylish base for exploring North Wales, one that’s truly fit for a royal.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$

Notable Amenities

Welcome gift of Welsh mead, dog-friendly rooms with dog amenities, babysitting service

Hotel Description

When we say Palé Hall is fit for royalty, we mean it. Queen Victoria herself stayed at this stately country home during her royal tour of northern Wales in 1889. You can even book the same room she stayed in (the aptly named Victoria room), though all 18 bedrooms and four garden suites are extremely stylish and comfortable. Some come with fireplaces, while others feature massive bay windows overlooking the gardens.

For guests who prefer to stay put, Palé Hall has several dining venues, including The Huntsman, a relaxed bistro (don’t sleep on its classic Sunday roast), and a fine dining restaurant with an eight-course tasting menu. But the hotel really encourages guests to get out and explore North Wales. Ask the concierge to set you up with one of its prearranged itineraries, or book individual excursions like e-bike tours, rounds of golf, and fishing on the River Dee.

Burghotel Auf Schönburg, Oberwesel, Germany

Burghotel Auf Schönburg, Oberwesel, Germany

Courtesy of Burghotel Auf Schonburg

Why We Chose It

With classic castle architecture and a location overlooking the Rhine, Burghotel Auf Schönburg is a fairy tale come to life.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$

Notable Amenities

Breakfast included, exclusive garden access, balconies in select rooms

Hotel Description

It’s hard to beat the location of Burghotel Auf Schönburg, situated on a hill overlooking the Rhine and the charming village of Oberwesel. The castle complex can trace its history back to at least the 12th century. Today it includes a beautiful garden and museum; the former is exclusive to hotel guests, while the latter is open to the public (though guests get free admission). There’s also a restaurant where guests can eat in either the medieval-style dining rooms or out on the river-facing terrace.

The royal treatment continues in the 29 unique rooms and suites, which come with dark wood furnishings, canopied beds, and stacks of antique books. Try to reserve a room with a balcony or terrace to enjoy views of the Rhine Valley while you have your morning coffee and breakfast. Guests are also free to relax in the castle’s fireplace room, library, and, yes, prison tower.

Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, Versailles, France

Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle rooms
Credit: Renée Kemps.

Credit: Renée Kemps

Why We Chose It

When it comes to living like a royal, nothing can compete with a hotel that lets you sleep next to the Palace of Versailles.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$$$

Notable Amenities

Personal butlers, exclusive after-hours access to Versailles, Valmont spa

Hotel Description

When it opened in June 2021, Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle became the first hotel set within the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Guests here can follow in the golden footsteps of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette — we’re talking personal butlers, horseback rides through the famous gardens, and theatrical, Alain Ducasse-helmed dinners served by costumed waiters.

The 14 rooms and apartments are just as lavish as one would expect from a Versailles-adjacent hotel — think antique furniture, chevron parquet flooring, claw-foot tubs, marble fireplaces, and Pierre Frey wallpaper with matching curtains and bed linens. Ask your butler to bring you breakfast in bed, then explore the grounds in a complimentary golf cart, book a private yoga session, enjoy a “Sun King” massage at the spa, and gear up for the main event: an exclusive, after-hours tour of the Palace of Versailles.

Castello di Casole, Casole d’Elsa, Italy

castello-di-casole-a-timbers-resort-casole-d-elsa-italy
Courtesy of Hotel Castello di Casole – A Timbers Resort

Why We Chose It

Castello di Casole combines palatial accommodations with Belmond’s storied hospitality, all in a gorgeous Tuscan setting.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$$$

Notable Amenities

Truffle hunting expeditions, full-service spa, cooking classes

Hotel Description

Built on the foundations of a 10th-century castle complex in Tuscany, Castello di Casole was acquired by Belmond in 2018, resulting in the five-star luxury hotel you see today. The property is spread across 4,200 acres of rolling Tuscan countryside and provides guests with plenty of on-site activities, like truffle hunting, foraging, cycling, and stargazing. Of course, you can always take in the views from the hotel’s sprawling terrace or hilltop infinity pool.

Tosca is the premier restaurant on-site, serving up homemade pasta and fresh produce (and maybe even some truffles you personally collected earlier that day). Other dining options include an underground wine cellar and picnics and aperitifs served in the gardens. The 39 rooms range from modern apartments to classic suites with iron chandeliers and stone walls. At the Essere Spa (housed in the former wine cellar), indulge in honey-infused massages and yoga classes.

Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, Scotland

Glenapp Castle horse-drawn carriage
Courtesy of Glenapp Castle

Why We Chose It

There are plenty of castle hotels in Scotland, but Glenapp Castle stands out with traditional decor and a staggering number of activities.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$$

Notable Amenities

Highland games competitions, babysitting service, EV charging stations

Hotel Description

Built in 1870, Glenapp Castle now serves as an incredible five-star hotel in the Scottish Highlands. The exterior has everything you’d expect of a castle hotel — stone walls, turrets, manicured gardens, etc. — and the interiors are equally regal and historic. After appreciating the grand staircases and crown molding in the lobby, head to one of the 17 decadent guest rooms, which are dolled up with thick curtains, upholstered headboards, fireplaces, and antique writing desks.

Perhaps the best feature of Glenapp Castle is its nearly endless lineup of activities. One could spend all day exploring the 110-acre estate (complete with an all-weather tennis court and croquet lawn), but the hotel also offers falconry, archery, horseback riding, clay pigeon shooting, beekeeping, cooking classes, and much more. Add to that some in-room spa treatments and six-course dinners at the castle dining room, and suffice it to say you’ll never get bored here.

Parador de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Santiago de Compostela Parador
(c) Damian Corrigan

Why We Chose It

Parador de Santiago de Compostela has been welcoming guests since 1499, making it one of the oldest lodgings in the world.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$

Notable Amenities

Breakfast included, EV charging stations, work area

Hotel Description

Parador de Santiago de Compostela touts itself as the oldest hotel in Spain, with hospitality roots dating back to 1499. The property’s history can be felt throughout, from the intricate Plateresque facade to the large inner courtyards and corridors. Certain rooms let you sleep under towering arched ceilings and canopied four-poster beds. Bonus points if you can score a room or suite with a balcony overlooking the square.

The Parador is a popular stay with travelers who’ve completed the Camino de Santiago, and it tends to pilgrims with hearty breakfast buffets and a stone-walled restaurant that serves Galician cuisine for lunch and dinner. While not out exploring the city, guests can curl up with a book in one of the complex’s many cozy corners or shaded terraces.

Hotel Grad Otočec, Otočec, Slovenia

Hotel Grad Otočec, Otočec, Slovenia

Courtesy of Hotel Grad Otočec

Why We Chose It

Hotel Grad Otočec boasts a fairy-tale setting, 18-hole golf course, and a restaurant you’ll dream about long after your trip is over.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$$

Notable Amenities

Breakfast included, complimentary round of golf, free parking

Hotel Description

Slovenia is like a storybook setting come to life, especially if you stay at Hotel Grad Otočec during your visit. The 13th-century castle-turned-hotel sits pretty on an island in the middle of the Krka River, surrounded by dense forests and verdant farmland. This peaceful setting gives way to moody wood interiors lit by glowing candles and fireplaces. The 16 rooms and suites are decorated in earth tones and all have river views.

Guests are treated to a complimentary round of golf at the adjacent 18-hole course, as well as free access to thermal pools located about 100 meters away. The romantic, hunting lodge-style restaurant is one of the best in the area, with many ingredients grown in the castle garden. Enjoy a hearty tasting menu filled with seasonal and local dishes like pickled beetroot, buckwheat and barley porridge, and lamb with traditional rolled-dough dumplings.

Chateau Herálec, Herálec, Czech Republic

Chateau Herálec, Herálec, Czech Republic

Courtesy of Chateau Herálec

Why We Chose It

Midway between Prague and Brno, Chateau Herálec has some of the most romantic interiors of any entry on this list, plus a L’Occitane spa.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $$

Notable Amenities

Mercedes-Benz car rentals, full-service L’Occitane spa, golf simulator

Hotel Description

Those searching for a wellness escape should book a stay at Chateau Herálec, located about 65 miles outside of Prague. The 12th-century building stuns upon arrival, with stone towers and a symmetrical facade covered in windows and red trimming. But the real surprises lie just inside, namely the sprawling L’Occitane spa, which includes a Finnish sauna, steam room, whirlpool, silent relaxation room, fitness center, treatment rooms, and an indoor swimming pool beneath medieval vaults.

You’ll be spoiled for choice in terms of accommodations, with options ranging from standard double rooms to the King’s Suite. All rooms are impressive and spacious, thanks to vaulted ceilings, plush beds with pillow menus, and wallpapers that resemble classical paintings. The on-site restaurant, Honoria, serves dishes inspired by traditional Czech recipes; in the summer, ask to dine in the courtyard or tranquil English park.

Pousada Castelo Estremoz, Estremoz, Portugal

Why We Chose It

It may be housed in a historic castle, but Pousada Castelo Estremoz is a surprisingly affordable option in Portugal’s Alentejo region.

Key Specs

  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Resort Fee: No
  • Room Rate: $

Notable Amenities

Free parking, breakfast included, kids 12 and under stay free

Hotel Description

Pousada Castelo Estremoz is located in the walled city of Estremoz, in the Alentejo region of Portugal, a rural area known for its rolling green hills and historic towns. The original castle was built in the 13th century for Queen Isabel, and it now serves as a luxury hotel. The rooms are divided into five categories and feature four-poster beds, exquisitely carved headboards, and 18th-century decor and paintings, but even the largest suite starts at a surprisingly low nightly rate.

During the day, guests are free to explore the castle gardens and lounge by the outdoor pool — both of which afford sweeping views of the surrounding city — or stay inside and play a few rounds of pool in the game room. An on-site restaurant serves lunch and dinner, while a cozy bar with plush sofas is the perfect place to relax with a drink.

Final Verdict

For the quintessential castle hotel experience, you can’t do much better than Ashford Castle in Ireland, which has impossibly luxurious rooms and a royal lineup of activities. For a fairy-tale experience on a budget, try Pousada Castelo Estremoz in Portugal or Parador de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. But if you can splurge a bit (OK, a lot), it’s worth booking a stay at Airelles Château de Versailles to live a day in the life of Marie Antoinette, complete with personal butlers and after-hours Versailles access.

Know Before You Go

  • While you can find castle hotels all over Europe, the greatest density (and some of the best options) is in the U.K. and Ireland.
  • Many of the castles on this list are glorious in the warmer months, especially if you want to stroll through the gardens and participate in the many outdoor activities available for guests.
  • Don’t feel like traveling abroad for the royal treatment? Check out one of these opulent castle-like hotels located right here in the U.S.

How We Chose These Hotels

We evaluated dozens of the best castle hotels in Europe before choosing the options on this list. We considered elements like the property’s reputation, quality of service, design and architecture, location, and notable amenities. We also looked at each property’s dining options, whether there is a spa on-site, and the types of experiences available to guests. In determining this list, we evaluated numerous customer reviews and considered whether the property has collected any accolades in recent years.

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