18 Stunning Castles Where You Can Live Like Royalty
All across Ireland and Great Britain, opulent estates are easier to access than you might think. With acres of manicured gardens, historic architecture paired with updated furnishings, and aristocratic activities, these castles have been carefully restored to receive discerning guests looking for an over-the-top getaway, or provide a private setting for weddings, family gatherings, or corporate retreats. Whether you are looking for a more traditional hotel experience and want to book a single room, or are planning to indulge all of your live-like-royalty dreams for a weekend and rent an entire castle, these 18 luxurious estates in the U.K. and Ireland are some of the most charming options.
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa
This 43-room hotel, found north of Bath in England, has a world-class spa, equestrian center, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. A manicured road of trees leads guests to the charmingly restored mansion, which features refined antique furnishings blended with contemporary touches.
Located south of London, Gravetye Manor is an elegant, traditional manor home with 17 rooms available for booking. The historic wild gardens here helped shape modern horticulture designs, and guests can take in unparalleled views of the natural surrounding beauty thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass walls at the estate's award-winning restaurant.
Ballynatray Estate House
The ultimate nature-lover's private retreat, Ballynatray is a stunning 18th-century country home set amid 850 acres of century-old trees. With nine available bedrooms, a private stay here also includes full butler service and access to helicopter landing facilities. Set next to the idyllic Blackwater River, Ballynatray is a beautifully restored — and restorative, for that matter — place to stay in Ireland.
Set in the mystical Speyside region in the Highlands of Scotland, Gordon Castle boasts eight bedrooms, each with a private en-suite bathroom and king bed. The resident chef can pack a lavish picnic, or serve up a classic afternoon tea for your private party. A walled garden, open to the public, is more than 200 years old and features carefully planned and designed plots.
Seascapes surround this Scottish castle, a Victorian-era mansion commissioned in 1870. Combining elements of Gothic and Renaissance design, Glenapp looks just like a picture-perfect, fairy tale castle. While exclusive rentals are available, Glenapp also offers single bookings for its 17 rooms, each with dramatic views overlooking the Irish Sea.
Ballyfin is modeled on a traditional Irish country house, designed for discerning guests, with activities from wine and whiskey tastings to music performances and architecture tours. The house itself was built in the 1820s with 20 contemporary rooms available to book. Groups who want to step back in history will also love the costume experience, with period outfits to choose from before gathering for a stylish banquet.
The only habitable castle on the shores of Loch Ness, this Scottish castle features ornamental Scottish Baronial architecture, updated for modern getaways. The 13 bedrooms are elaborately decorated and full of character, each with individual themes and one-of-a-kind decor. Guests can also use the estate's private marina, in order to have direct access to Loch Ness boat tours and activities on the water.
Home to Limerick's first Michelin-starred restaurant, Adare Manor is decked out with 104 lavish guest rooms that are updated but still invoke the hotel's 17th-century history in art and furnishings. Saunter over to the spa, play a round of golf, or try out archery or clay pigeon shooting during your stay. Adare also offers a movie theater, horse-drawn carriage rides, biking, picnics, and even a classic Irish gundog experience. It wouldn't be a complete Irish excursion without sampling the whiskey collection that includes more than 100 rare bottles from all over the world.
Kinross House Estate & Spa
Nestled in central Scotland, this thoughtfully restored home is the pinnacle of Scottish culture, landscape, and history. Dating back to 1685, guests who indulge in a private rental can choose from one of 24 bedrooms, each named after a character or piece of history related to the estate. The on-property Coach House Spa also features a sauna and hydrotherapy pool.
Cowdray House in West Sussex, England, is the ultimate country retreat, with well-appointed cottages, a farm shop, private gardens, and a butchery dotting the 16,500-acre property. With bedrooms that can sleep up to 44 guests, a rental of Cowdray is the height of luxury, with two pools and a bowling alley to keep everyone in your group entertained.
Located in Western England, Eastnor Castle offers private rentals of the entire property, with 12 sumptuous bedrooms. Several bedrooms have breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty of the Malvern Hills, lake, and arboretum. Smaller groups can also rent one of the estate's two refurbished holiday cottages.
An exclusive rental of Lismore Castle, located in Ireland, can accommodate up to 27 people, with 10 double bedrooms, two twin rooms, and three single bedrooms. The family's private butler has been with the estate since 1977 and is available as a local expert to facilitate any excursion that calls to you during your stay.
This Welsh castle dates back as a fortress from the 12th century, with five-foot thick walls and a grand circular entrance hall with exposed rock. But with modern updates like luxurious baths and a glass-walled sunroom, this ancient monument has taken on a new life. With six bedrooms, Roch Castle rooms can be booked individually, or as an exclusive rental of the entire home for up to 12 overnight guests.
Offering 83 rooms, all with unique artwork and antique furniture, Ashford Castle is designed with a rich sense of history. Featuring Ireland's first falconry school, as well as activities like golf, tennis, and horseback riding, a weekend stay at the castle has no shortage of outdoor activities and countryside charm. Grab a glass of wine from the extensive cellar collection, or sit back and enjoy a film in the private, plush cinema.
Broughton Hall Estate
The historic home of the Tempest family for more than 900 years, the hall itself was built in 1597 and features work from several renowned architects. The estate has meticulously designed 18th-century gardens, contrasted against rolling, wild meadows. Guests can stay in one of the hall's 17 charming bedrooms with a private rental, or select from a smaller holiday home (choose from cottages, farmhouses, and gate houses on the property).
This 4,000-acre estate, located an hour from London in the Hampshire countryside, feels like home, with no room numbers or check-out times. In addition to the 11 bedrooms, you'll find walled rose gardens, an outdoor tennis court, a heated pool, and a lake for boating excursions. Exclusive-use weekend rentals are bespoke and intimate, with the house manager, housekeeper, and chef on hand for the entire stay.
The lakeside Dromoland Castle, near Limerick, Ireland, is steeped in history, but offers luxurious, modern suites and canopied beds for the ideal Irish breakfast in bed. Guests can take in the scenery as they stroll through the lush grounds and walled garden, enjoy afternoon tea daily, or try their hand at golf, archery, or clay shooting.
Take to the Thames for a vintage boat trip, thanks to Cliveden House and its prime location right on the river bank. For those chilly English days, this sprawling mansion has rooms with hot tubs on private terraces. Savor the classic tradition of afternoon tea, or stop by the spa to really feel like royalty.
- The Hottest Hotel in Montauk Just Opened a $20-million Spa — With One of the Only Ocean-fed Pools in the U.S.
- 14 of the Best Dining Experiences Around the World
- This Might Be the Most Lavish Hotel Suite in Italy — With a Private Rooftop Terrace and Access to a Stocked Wine Cellar
- How This Stunning Island Became the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean