This Is What It's Like to Spend a Night in a 700-year-old Castle Tower
Sometimes a place never meant to be a hotel can be one of the most incredible spots to spend a night. Pousada Castelo Óbidos is one of those.
Originally built as a castle around the year 713, Pousada Óbidos is most known as a wedding present that Portugal's King Dinis gave to his bride, Dona Isabel, in 1282.
Today, the castle is an incredible hotel featuring a tower with period-themed rooms.
The Pousada has a handful of suites, all named after former rulers in the area. Each entry has a QR code placed next to it, so you can read about your room's namesake. As you can imagine, there's a world of difference between sleeping in a space planned as a hotel room and spending the night in a defense-tower-turned-accommodation.
Here's what you should know about staying in a castle tower constructed more than 700 years ago.
1. Climbing stairs was much harder 700 years ago
If you thought getting your luggage to the bedroom was going to be an easy task, you were mistaken. In medieval times, stairs were built to preserve space: Each step was created in a triangle shape, meaning you have to be very careful about which foot you lead with.
This is what that looks like heading downstairs:
2. There are no windows, only “Archer portals”
Since a castle is a protective fortress in its original state, there aren't many openings in tower walls. That would have made it too easy for enemies to harm the archers planted high in the castle.
The only thing that was added to the windows in the Dinis Tower was an automated system that opens and closes a tiny window at the top of the room, to help regulate temperature.
3. You can hear literally nothing outside
Some of the walls in the castle are up to three meters thick. That's why the structure has been able to survive century after century.
Because of this construction, it's very hard to hear anything outside of the tower. A peaceful night's sleep? Check.
4. The beds are very short
In medieval times, people used to sleep sitting up. They believed that those that slept lying flat were too closely resembling the dead, so they propped pillows behind them through the night.
This meant that the beds didn't need to be as long, and the four-poster bed in the Dinis room mimics this style. It also has a design marking in each of the corners: a Roman numeral, signifying how the bed should be put together. It's the medieval version of the IKEA construction method.
5. The doors are narrow
Smaller door openings are more stable, and when you're dealing with a building susceptible to attack, you want to make sure it's as solid as possible.
6. You will probably sleep through your alarm
Since the main goal of the windows was not to bring in light, but to protect those within, you won't be waking with the sun in this tower.
It's easy to forget what time of day it is, whether you're sleeping or just relaxing on the main level of the tower.
6. You'll never feel more secure
You're safely tucked away in a fortress that has stood longer—much longer—than the United States has been around. Disclosure: The Pousada Castelo Óbidos provided Travel + Leisure with an evening's stay in the tower room.