The Royal Treatment: Stay Overnight In A Castle

3 February 2015

Imagine staying on a sprawling estate with immaculate gardens, stone turrets and decadent interiors dripping in silks, velvets and crystal. It's a stay fit for royalty, but you don't have to be a king. You don't have to be a queen. In fact, any trace of royal blood, however distant it may be, is not required. You simply have to ... book a night.

Here are five of the world's top castles inviting you to live out your dreams of living like a royal, if only for a night or two.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHc2z6zG34U[/embed]
.........................................................................................................................................................

Ashford Castle:  Ireland

.........................................................................................................................................................

At a Glance:

  • Established in 1228 by the de Burgo family
  • Opened as a luxury hotel in 1939
  • Named on the World's Best 500 Hotels by Travel + Leisure (2015)

Dating back to 1228, Ashford Castle is a historic property that has exchanged ownership no less than nine times. Today, extensive renovations over several stages have seen the castle maintain its historic beauty over 142 hectares along Lough Corrib.

Along with its 68 guest rooms and 14 staterooms and suites, you can luxuriate at the full service spa or sample the menus of seven different dining options. Should you tire of the opulence indoors, venture beyond the castle walls to partake in a few estate activities. Trail and carriage rides allow you to explore the surrounding ancient forests, or put your aim to the test with clay shooting or archery lessons. Too commonplace? How about a lesson at the Falconry School?

 Soak up the sun poolside at the Taj Lake Palace

.........................................................................................................................................................

Rajasthan Taj Lake Palace: India

.........................................................................................................................................................
At a Glance:

  • Constructed between 1743 and 1746
  • Faces east to pay homage to Hindu sun god, Surya
  • Opened as Udaipur's first luxury hotel in the 1960s

Not your typical castle, Taj Lake Palace is an island in Lake Pichola. It was built as a royal summer palace under the direction of  Maharana Jagat Singh II, with gleaming white marble walls and a natural base that spans over one hectare.  Along with landscaped gardens, pillared terraces and expansive courtyards, there are 66 rooms and 17 suites showcasing impeccable detail.

It's easy to imagine sunning yourself poolside or strolling the beautiful gardens while time slips away, but there are also additional activities available outside of the palace. This includes sunset cruises on a 150-year old Gangaur, vintage car drives, escorted heritage walks and shopping experiences accompanied by your Royal Butler – direct descendants of the original palace retainers.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzLgvXnMRdY[/embed]
 

Looking for more castle inspiration? Fairytale Locations: 5 Places That Helped Inspire Disney Movies.

Discover Transylvania's most infamous castle. Dracula Comes Alive In Brooding Transylvania


.........................................................................................................................................................

Thornbury Castle: England

.........................................................................................................................................................
At a Glance:

  • Constructed in 1511 for Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham
  • Confiscated by Henry VIII after Stafford was beheaded for treason
  • Opened as a luxury hotel in 1986

Standing as a testament to one of England's most famous monarchs, every care has been taken to maintain this impressive property. 26 rooms incorporate luxury finishes reminiscent of its historic past, with four poster beds, ornate carved ceilings and rich tapestries against the original stone walls. Carefully integrated modern upgrades further ensure your comfort, including lavish private ensuites.

In-room spa treatments are available as are some very unique dining experiences. Home to an exclusive first class restaurant, you can choose from one of the four dining rooms. Though if you're after a more authentic ambience, take your meals in the dungeon. With more than five hectares of surrounding land, you can also escape the castle to explore the outdoors. Archery, croquet and falconry are all available, or walk in the footsteps of some of history's most famous figures through the castle gardens.

 Get away from it all at Castello di Ripa d'Orcia

.........................................................................................................................................................

Castello di Ripa d’Orcia: Tuscany

.........................................................................................................................................................
At a Glance:

  • Constructed around 1213 and owned by the Salimbeni family
  • Extensively resorted by Countess Pierina Piccolomini Aluffi Pentini and her descendants
  • The surrounding vineyards and olive farms have also been preserved

Once coveted for its strategic position, the Castello di Ripa d'Orica has been meticulously restored and transformed into a residential complex for visitors to enjoy. Aptly described as a fairytale setting, the castle's hilltop position captures incredible panoramic vistas over the surrounding vineyards.

The terraced layout is comprised of six rooms and seven self-catered apartments that emphasise the rustic beauty of the Italian countryside. Along with the 700 year old buildings, a Medieval garden calls back to the origins of the property, while an open air pool provides a little modern comfort (particularly through the summer).  Enjoy the quiet seclusion of this beautiful region as you savour a local drop, or explore the surrounding lands for an authentic look at rural Italy.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLUabcY3bkY[/embed]
.........................................................................................................................................................

Swinton Park: England

.........................................................................................................................................................
At a Glance:

  • Constructed in 1695 as a country house for Sir Abstrupus Danby
  • Purchased in 1882 by the Cunliffe-Lister family
  • Opened as a luxury hotel in 2000 by Mark and Felicity Cunliffe-Lister

While originally constructed as a country home, this regale estate not only looks the part, but also offers up a rich history that dates back 320 years.  While maintained over the course of history, it was only recently that extensive renovations transformed Swinton Park into a stunning luxury hotel with 25 rooms and six suites.

You're invited to experience the royal treatment with the Spa at Swinton Park, or stroll the Walled Garden, which provides the produce for the house. And for those that appreciate a more hands-on approach to the royal lifestyle, the estate is brimming with opportunity. This includes  golf, fishing, shooting, walking and cycling the expansive grounds. There is also a cookery school should be so inclined.

Carlie Tucker

Travelling is for discovering the unexpected. From fantastic meals in ramshackle joints to stumbling upon a best kept secret, I love those fortuitous travel moments that couldn't be planned if I tried.