Being king and queen of the castle is something that all children dream of and, unlike many childhood dreams, this can come true. Europe is blessed with many outstanding castles once fit for a king, but now perfectly fitting for first-class travellers with romance on the mind.
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel community, has announced its top ten castle hotels in Europe, according to traveller popularity and TripAdvisor editors. Of all the stunning castle hotels of Europe, Ireland’s Ashford Castle reigns at number one.
Here are TripAdvisor’s top ten castle hotels:
Ashford Castle, Cong, Ireland: Built in the 13th century and once home to the Guinness family, this stately castle is set against a spectacular backdrop of woodlands, lakes and mountains. With opulent guest rooms, grand hallways, numerous dining rooms and a health and beauty spa, it has established itself as one of the most luxurious hotels of Ireland.
Thornbury Castle, Thornbury, England: Guests are made to feel like royalty as they retire to their bedchambers at Thornbury Castle, where Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII and Queen Mary II once resided. History buffs can peruse the historical details, including coats of arms, bay windows and arrow loops throughout the medieval castle.
Chateau de Bagnols, Lyon, France: This elegant chateau is situated among vineyards and forests in the French countryside. Also an historic monument, the 13th century fortress features Renaissance-period wall and ceiling murals, a dry moat and a grand entrance across a drawbridge.
Inverlochy Castle, Fort William, Scotland: The mountainous backdrop of Inverlochy Castle, located in the Scottish highlands, inspired praise from Queen Victoria who wrote in her diaries, “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.” Stained glass windows, chandeliers and the grand hall reflect the elegance of the interior.
Castle Hotel Auf Schoenburg, Oberwesel, Germany: Germany’s most beautiful and romantic castle overlooks the medieval town of Oberwesel, a World Heritage site. In 1689, the castle was nearly burned to the ground by French soldiers and remained abandoned for two centuries until its restoration in 1914. However, many period features remain.
Parador de Cardona, Cardona, Spain: This ancient castle sits atop a spectacular hill and contains many original architectural details. The medieval restaurant has majestic arched ceilings, wrought-iron torch holders and a gothic cloister.
Swinton Park, Masham, England: Surrounded by 200 acres of parkland, including a river and lake, Swinton Park offers numerous activities including croquet, fishing and horseback riding. There’s also a cookery school housed in a converted Georgian stable, which is run by renowned chef Rosemary Schrager.
Castle Stuart, Inverness, Scotland: Once a retreat for the Stuart family, this Jacobean castle with royal connections was abandoned for 300 years before being perfectly restored. There are plenty of intriguing features, including secret passageways and hidden doorways.
Castelletto di Montebenichi, Chianti, Italy: In the heart of the Tuscan countryside, this romantic, intimate 12th century castle boasts beautiful frescoes, antique drawings and paintings, and sculptures. Roman and Greek archaeological finds adorn the castle’s hallways.
Castle ten Berghe, Bruges, Belgium: Surrounded by its own moat and crammed full of charm, this fairytale gothic castle has the added appeal of being within walking distance of the historic city of Bruges.