Gone are the days when castles were for the elite and noblemen. Today, you can live out your fantasies of living like royalty by booking a stay in a real castle with luxurious rooms, beautiful gardens, and opportunities for activities like falconry, horse riding, and archery. Europe has many centuries-old castles that function as hotels but still have the aesthetics, architecture, and antique furniture that will transport you to the middle ages. If you are looking for stunning and affordable castle hotels in Europe, here are our top recommendations:
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Coolest Castle Hotels in Europe
1. Amberley Castle, England
This medieval castle in West Sussex is one of the best options for those looking at the affordable side of castle hotels in Europe. Amberley Castle is about 60 miles from London and well equipped with stunning amenities and views. The home is over 900 years old and retains some of its original features, including the stunning medieval stonework and rose-covered arches.
Amberley Castle also includes an 18-hole putting course, a tennis court, a croquet lawn, a drawing room, manicured gardens, and shady trees. Guests can enjoy a variety of activities around the estate, including falconry.
Amberley Castle has limited accommodation (19 rooms), making it a perfect place for those seeking a peaceful vacation. There is an on-site restaurant that provides dinner, afternoon tea, and even a customized picnic basket for visitors who want to dine al fresco. Visitors here can check out the nearby South Downs National Park, where they can explore hiking and biking trails.
2. Dromoland Castle Hotel, Ireland
Dromoland Castle Hotel dates back to the 5th century. It was the ancestral home of Irish royalty before the government transformed it into a hotel about 50 years ago.
The 375-acre property boasts imposing towers and magnificent rooms featuring antique decorations. Guests at Dromoland Castle Hotel can enjoy the spa service, onsite restaurants, the falconry school, and fun activities like clay shooting, archery, horse riding, and fishing.
This is one of our favorite luxury hotels in Ireland.
3. Parador de Cardona, Spain
Parador de Cardona is one of the most beautiful castle hotels in Europe. Located an hour outside of Barcelona, Spain, this majestic castle was begun in 789 by King Louis the Pious, but was not completed for several centuries. Parador de Cardona has withstood many years of war, upheavals, and battles.
Aside from its rich history, the parador offfers some spectacular views. Guests can expect to find luxurious rooms, delicious food and wine, and unique activities.
Parador de Cardona has an onsite museum where you learn the region’s history. It also offers trails where you can hike or bike, and tours of the local salt mine, Salt Mountain Cultural Park.
4. Burg Altena, Germany
Burg Altena was built in 1108 by the von Berg brothers. Today it is a budget-friendly stay that’s perfect for people seeking a fairytale castle without a caviar budget. The castle is designated as the world’s oldest hostel, having opened in 1911 for guests.
This lovely hilltop castle features gothic towers, classic architecture, and views of the Lenne River and Altena city below. Burg Altena has two museums, the World Youth Hostels Museum and the Museum of the County of Mark. Both of which routinely host outstanding displays. There is also an on-site gift shop where you can get souvenirs.
5. Thornbury Castle, England
Thornbury Castle was initially owned by a famous Tudor dynasty that ruled many parts of Europe. These parts include the United Kingdom and France, for over two centuries.
The castle once housed notable rulers like King Henry VIII and his wife, Anne Boleyn. Today, you get to stay in their house (castle) and get a glimpse of the history buried inside its walls.
Thornbury Castle offers guests outstanding service and amenities. You’ll experience magnificent bed chambers with stone walls, roaring fireplaces, walled gardens, stunning tapestries, decorated ceilings, and four-poster beds.
6. Burghotel Auf Schönburg Oberwesel, Germany
Hotel Schönburg is one of the best historic castles in Germany. This castle has many breathtaking features, including classic architecture, roaring open fires, an intimate library, a prison tower, and views of the Rhine River. Hotel Schönburg has a rich history that can be traced back to the 12th century.
Today, guests can enjoy royal treatment in one of the 29 rooms/suites, get exclusive garden access, explore the on-site museum, and feast in a medieval-style dining room. Some of the rooms have a balcony or terrace with views of the Rhine Valley. These rooms are personal favorites and we recommend you reserve one of them if possible.
7. Glenapp Castle, Scotland
Glenapp Castle provides outstanding services and superb amenities, earning them the “Independent Hotel of the Year” award.
This stunning luxury castle boasts excellent views of the surrounding gardens, sea, and forests. You can explore remote Scottish islands, go on a sea safari, enjoy horseback riding, go hunting, and visit the surrounding picturesque villages. Guests are also treated to Afternoon Tea, where they will enjoy views of the Italian gardens while enjoying snacks.
Families traveling with children will appreciate the property’s kid-centric activities that include scavenger hunts and a mini ranger program.
8. Hôtel de la Cité, France
Hotel de la Cité is the only castle hotel in France within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the medieval citadel of Carcassonne. One of the best things about this luxury hotel is the views. Here, guests will love the stunning views of the city walls, the wooden fresco representing historical figures, and the opulent decorations of the rooms. Hotel de la Cité boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant where you can sample French cuisine and sip exotic wines.
9. Stayokay Hostel Heemskerk, Netherlands
This 13th-century castle is a very affordable hotel option with French-style architectural gardens, spacious rooms, and private bathrooms.
Hostel Heemskerk may not have crystal chandeliers and four poster beds, but it has a rich history. It is also close to many attractions, including Amsterdam, North Holland Dune Reserve, and charming seaside towns.
10. Hotel Schloss Thannegg, Austria
Schloss Thannegg is one of the most perfect castle hotels in Europe for a winter getaway. Located in the Austrian Alps, this castle hotel offers opportunities for alpine skiing adventures on its free ski shuttle.
Hotel Schloss Thannegg has sophisticated rooms with pinewood furniture, luxurious bathrooms, underfloor heating, and flat-screen TVs. Guests will also enjoy the 850-year wine cellar, the Knights Hall with its open fireplace, and the onsite spa with a sauna, infrared cabin, and sanitarium.
11. Ruthin Castle, Wales
Ruthin Castle lies in the Vale of Clwyd within an expansive parkland and woods where you can live out your King Arthur fantasies. This castle has a gory history which you can get a glimpse of through the dungeon, the whipping pit, and the dungeon pool in the estate.
Things have changed now, and Ruthin Castle is all about romance, luxury, and royal life. Guests can relax at the spa, enjoy Welsh cuisine at one of the in-house restaurants, and explore the nearby national parks. This castle also holds medieval banquets. Here you can feast like a king before retreating into one of the magnificent bed chambers.
12. Pousada Castelo de Obidos, Portugal
Pousada de Obidos is a medieval castle that has been turned into one of the finest hotels in Portugal. The castle was built by the Moors in 713 before the area was conquered in 1148 by the first king of Portugal. After that it underwent many transformations through the years, the latest being in the 20th century.
This castle is stunning and regarded as one of the seven wonders of Portugal. It is also under review to become one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Guests can experience medieval times while enjoying great views of the town and Atlantic coast. They can also sample delicious meals at the on-property restaurant. Meanwhile, this traditional Portuguese hotel has just nine rooms, so it’s essential to book your stay in advance, especially in the summer months.
13. Lough Eske Castle, Ireland
Lough Eske Castle is a secluded five-star castle hotel dating back to the 1400s and located outside Donegal Town. This estate offers luxurious accommodations with spacious rooms, large bathrooms, and lavish decorations.
Lough Eske is an excellent spot for relaxation. Guests love the lush private gardens, the sprawling grounds, the infinity pool, the luxurious bathrooms, and the spa treatments. The spa service is offered in a Victorian Glass House where guests can enjoy the sauna, the steam room, and the fitness center. Lough Eske has an on-site dining restaurant serving delicious food from locally sourced ingredients.
14. Ashford Castle, Ireland
Ashford Castle is a 13th-century fairytale castle turned five-star hotel with its modern amenities and luxurious touches. This castle currently has 83 bedrooms ranging from king-sized beds to luxury suites. The property is the former estate of the Guinness family and is perfect for group travel.
Ashford Castle is lovingly run by a team which passionately cares about every single guest. Some rooms offer stunning views of the Lough Corrib, the second-largest lake in Ireland. We recommend splurging for one of the lakeview rooms.
Some of the impressive amenities and services you will get here include a full-service spa, tennis courts, a movie theater, and a fine dining restaurant. One of the best things about Ashford Castle is that they offer various onsite activities like falconry, clay shooting, lake cruises, and walks with Irish wolfhounds.
15. Château de Bagnols, France
Closed until May 2024 for a remodel, you’ll want to book your stay for when the property re-opens. Built in 1217, Chateau de Bagnols sits on top of a hill overlooking the Beaujolais vineyards. This five-star castle features rooms with historic murals and tapestries, marble bathrooms, and decorative fireplaces. Guests will love the outdoor pool, the well-manicured gardens, and easy access to Lac des Sapiens.
You can arrange activities like bike excursions, horse-drawn carriage rides, hot-air balloon trips, and a wine tour around the surrounding villages. To enjoy the best French cuisine, head to the Michelin-rated restaurant and the wine-pressing room in the castle.
Castle Hotels in Europe Worth a Stay
Many medieval castles have fallen into ruins, while others stand strong and have turned into majestic hotels where you can live the life of the royals. These castle hotels in Europe are great places to visit with family and friends and enjoy a fairytale experience for a night or two.