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Mesmerising castles you can actually stay in - from a tranquil Japanese retreat to the luxurious Irish lodge celebrities and artists flock to

 Montage of three castles you can stay in.
Montage of three castles you can stay in.

Incredibly, there are over one million castles in the world, each typically built on the orders of royalty or nobility. These imposing homes often feature detailed ornate facades, secret tunnels, moats, and a myriad of towers to provide a safe sanctuary for people of importance.

As a symbol of power, the majority of these buildings are built in strategic locations, mostly on hill or mountain tops along important trading routes. And while many of these fortified structures are well-known, especially the likes of Balmoral Castle and Hillsborough Castle thanks to the British Royal Family, many of them fly under the radar.

So to provide some unique holiday inspiration, here is a selection of the most beautiful castles you can stay in, from French idylls to Scottish havens.

Mesmerising castles you can actually stay in

Ram Bihari, Rajasthan, India

Ram Bihari, Rajasthan, India
Ram Bihari, Rajasthan, India

As one of the most spiritual places in the world India not only enthralls with an amazing array of temples, but castles and palaces too. Ram Bihari, nestled between ancient mountains and overlooking the picture-perfect Siliserh Lake is the ideal place to kick back and relax, especially if you’re looking to combine your break with a spot of tiger watching too, since the area surrounding the castle is known for its tiger habitat. The three-hundred-year-old structure is a true architectural marvel, while the hotel itself boasts tastefully decorated bedrooms in keeping with the building's aesthetic.


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Hawarden Castle, Wales, UK

Hawarden Castle, Wales, UK
Hawarden Castle, Wales, UK

For a UK staycation with a difference, make a beeline for 19th-century Hawarden Castle. The rental area of the property, which sleeps up to ten, sits above the Temple of Peace, William Gladstone’s private library. This iconic room, little touched in over 100 years, is a time capsule of national importance, and guests staying at the castle, will be given private access to tour the library.

Tamar Castle, Cornwall, UK

Tamar Castle, Cornwall, UK
Tamar Castle, Cornwall, UK

Meticulously renovated over the years Tamar Castle is a 17th-century fortress perched atop a hillside overlooking the River Tamar. The estate welcomes up to 22 guests across 11 bedrooms, with access to an outdoor heated swimming pool, a games room with a pool table, and a table tennis table. Set within 55 acres of woodland gardens, beautiful Cornish countryside surrounds the castle, and the coastal town of Saltash is just five miles from the property.

Hotel Schönburg, Oberwesel, Germany

Hotel Schönburg, Oberwesel, Germany
Hotel Schönburg, Oberwesel, Germany

With over 25,000 castles, Germany is a true haven for castle lovers. One of the most whimsical, now known as Hotel Schönburg, sits in Castle Schönburg and overlooks the mighty Rhine below. With 29 relaxing rooms, this pretty castle hotel is ideal for romantic getaways or even solo breaks since the property offers out-of-season quiet time bookings for guests who like to be alone. Don’t miss the vineyard and wine-tasting tour.

Le Château de Candie, Chambéry, France

ChateaudeCandie
ChateaudeCandie

Located 10 minutes from Chambéry by car, this 14th-century castle, which is now a four-star hotel offers a gourmet restaurant with a sommelier, an outdoor pool, and 25 individually designed bedrooms. One of the main attractions of the hotel is its very own vineyard, which yields circa 3,000 bottles of wine each year. Produced by Jean Perrier and Fils, the 14th century castle has been growing grapes and selling wine for hundreds of years.

Ōzu Castle, Ehime Prefecture, Japan

Ōzu Castle, Ehime Prefecture, Japan
Ōzu Castle, Ehime Prefecture, Japan

Dating back to the early 14th century, the once-deteriorated Japanese castle of Ōzu has been accurately reconstructed using 350-year-old Kiso Japanese cedar and timber to allow visitors the chance to book a stay at the historic site. During the period of stay, no one except the butlers or chefs are allowed to enter the entire premises meaning you’ll have total peace and tranquillity for the duration of your stay. This is a once-in-a-lifetime booking - which is why rates start at £3.5k a night per adult.

Pentillie Castle and Estate, Cornwall, UK

Pentillie Castle and Estate
Pentillie Castle and Estate

With just nine well-executed bedrooms, Pentillie provides the perfect setting for any getaway whatever the season. All first-floor rooms have stunning views of the River Tamar across to Devon or of the historic gardens and guests have use of the AGA kitchen to cook their meals or dine alfresco using the BBQ with outdoor seating on the terrace. Surrounded by 55 acres of woodland gardens and many quintessential Cornish villages a short drive away, it’ll be hard to leave this bucolic retreat.

Warwick Castle, Warwick, UK

Warwick Castle, Warwick, UK
Warwick Castle, Warwick, UK

As one of the most visited tourist attractions in England did you know you can actually stay inside the medieval castle? Warwick Castle’s best-kept secret is hidden within the walls of its tallest 14th-century tower - two private chambers that you can book for the night. With champagne on arrival, personal concierge service, breakfast in the stateroom, and a private tour led by one of the castle’s expert historians, it’s a dream staycation for lovers of history.

Château de Valmer, Cote d'Azur, France

Château de Valmer, Cote d'Azur, France
Château de Valmer, Cote d'Azur, France

The luxurious Château de Valmer, set in a large park in La Croix Valmer has its own swimming pool, palm grove, vineyard, and private beach access on Gigaro Beach at La Pinède Plage. Dining options at the historic site include a beach-side restaurant serving light snacks and traditional cuisine, a one-star Michelin restaurant, and La Palmerie, serving memorable cuisine from the Provence region.

Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur, India

Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur, India
Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur, India

Built between 1928 and 1943 using the same palm court marble used in the construction of the Taj Mahal, Umaid Bhawan is a magnificent piece of Rajasthan’s heritage. Perched on Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur, the hotel offers unparalleled views over the famed blue city and yet is just a 20-minute drive from the nearest airport. Set amidst 26 acres of lush gardens, the five-star hotel offers 70 Art Deco-style rooms and suites for a memorable, and royal-inspired stay.

Traquair, Innerleithen, UK

Traquair, Innerleithen, UK
Traquair, Innerleithen, UK

B&B guests can stay in one of the luxurious antique-furnished rooms of Scotland’s oldest inhabited house that’s been visited by 27 Scottish Kings and Queens, no less. Dating back to 1107, Traquair once played host to Mary Queen of Scots but now welcomes holidaymakers eager to explore the surrounding countryside. With a maze, brewery and garden cafe on site, it’s also ideal for daytrippers.

Ashford Castle, Mayo, Ireland

Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle

Rooms at Ashford Castle don’t come cheap but you’ll be in for one of the most memorable stays of your life. Situated in the rugged, captivating landscapes of Ireland overlooking Lough Corrib the original castle, built on the perimeter of a monastic site, dates back to 1228. Today it’s a five-star lodging with sumptuous suites and bedrooms, a fine dining restaurant, and one of the most stunning award-winning spas.

Glengorm Castle, Isle of Mull, UK

Glengorm Castle, Isle of Mull, UK
Glengorm Castle, Isle of Mull, UK

This 19th-century castle from where it’s possible to spot white-tailed and golden eagles, otters and seals is the ideal place to base yourself when on the paradisical Isle of Mull. The tower rooms have private access to the original tower built in 1860 and roof views looking over the turrets, while at the very top of the building is a secluded sitting room that offers unparalleled views in all four directions across Glengorm, Mull and beyond to the outer Hebrides.

Inverlochy Castle, Scotland, UK

Inverlochy Castle, Scotland, UK
Inverlochy Castle, Scotland, UK

The main draw at Inverlochy Castle is the hotel’s restaurant Seasgair with its menu curated by two Michelin star chef Michel Roux Jr. The five-course changing set menu offers seasonal, local produce with dishes like Atlantic stone bass served with lobster boudin blanc, Highland wild game terrine, and Isle of Arran blue cheese served with a rich Ecclefechan tart. Set in an impressively grand dining room with beautiful loch views and exceptional service, Seasgair offers one of the most memorable dining experiences in the whole of the Highlands.

Castel Monastero, Tuscany, Italy

Castel Monastero, Tuscany, Italy
Castel Monastero, Tuscany, Italy

A must-visit for both castle lovers and wine connoisseurs, this resplendent castle overlooking lush green fields and century-old forests sits right in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. Bedrooms here are a real delight, with each of the 70 rooms and suites spanning out from the piazza of the medieval monastery.

Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland, UK

Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland, UK
Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland, UK

Beautifully located on the scenic Antrim coast facing the soft, sandy beaches of Ballygally Bay and only 26 miles from Belfast, Ballygally Castle dates back to 1625 and is unique in that it is the only 17th-century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today. It is ideally situated near the Norman-Carrickfergus Castle and Carnfunnock Country Park, a 191-hectare park located between Drains Bay and Ballygally perfectly suited for a stroll through the blooming flowers. An ideal bolthole for Game of Thrones fans, guests staying here can visit key filming locations that aren't the most obvious without a guided tour through Hastings Hotels.

Lumley Castle Hotel, County Durham, UK

Lumley Castle Hotel, County Durham, UK
Lumley Castle Hotel, County Durham, UK

This late 14th century crenellated fortified house takes its name from its creator Sir Ralph Lumley, a knight renowned for his bravery in battle. Now a hotel, it boasts 73 luxurious and uniquely designed bedrooms, many with four poster beds and feature baths. With a history dating back more than 600 years, the Grade I listed Lumley Castle is surrounded by beautiful parklands overlooking the River Wear and Durham County Cricket Ground, an ideal spot for nature lovers.

Chateau de Jallanges, Loire Valley, France

Chateau de Jallanges, Loire Valley, France
Chateau de Jallanges, Loire Valley, France

Imagine a horse-drawn carriage ride through a cedar forest before relaxing in the outdoor swimming pool with an expertly blended cocktail. All is possible at Chateau de Jallanges, a Renaissance-style home away from home in the town of Vouvray. Built in 1465 by King Louis XI, all bedrooms in the enchanting castle offer a view of the gardens, while some feature an antique four-poster bed. With a shop selling local produce such as wine and jam, you’ll also be able to take a little slice of the Loise Valley home.

The Barcaldine Castle, Argyll, UK

The Barcaldine Castle, Argyll, UK
The Barcaldine Castle, Argyll, UK

Originally built by Sir Duncan Campbell between 1601 and 1609, Barcaldine Castle is now an intimate hotel featuring six bedrooms, three of which have four poster beds. Situated nine miles from Oban, in a stunning location with views of Loch Creran and the mountains of Glencoe in the distance, the interior features open fires and a fabulous communal space known as The Great Hall.

Bovey Castle, Dartmoor National Park, UK

Bovey Castle, Dartmoor National Park, UK
Bovey Castle, Dartmoor National Park, UK

Overlooking Edwardian gardens, Bovey Castle’s bedrooms hold the charm you might expect of a castle. Sitting right in the heart of Dartmoor National Park, guests are invited to indulge in delightful dinners and afternoon teas as well as partake in one of the many activities on offer, from sloe gin making to clay pigeon shooting and archery. If that all sounds too taxing, there’s also an indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room.

Château Cordeillan-Bages, Bordeaux, France

Château Cordeillan-Bages, Bordeaux, France
Château Cordeillan-Bages, Bordeaux, France

Château Cordeillan-Bages is a 17th-century castle with two hectares of vineyards. A member of Relais & Châteaux, the hotel offers 28 bright, spacious, contemporary bedrooms and suites, each with a view of the ancient interior courtyard. The hotel also boasts an outdoor heated pool, a fitness room, sauna, and by request, you can even arrange a helicopter landing in the vineyards. The restaurant, headed up by chef Gabriel Gette, uses local produce throughout ensuring a memorable visit to this timeless property.

Dornoch Castle, Sutherland, UK

Dornoch Castle, Sutherland, UK
Dornoch Castle, Sutherland, UK

Gifted to the Earl of Sutherland in 1557 by Bishop Robert Stewart, the castle hasn't always been the serene haven it is today. In 1570 it was involved in a bloody siege during a bitter warfare between two rivalling clans, then during the 18th century it lay in ruins before being restored and transformed into a school and then a hunting lodge. Today the castle is a stunning hotel with 21 en-suite bedrooms, many with unique four-poster beds. But the real gem in the castle’s crown is the expansive suite bedroom with its own open log fire.

Appleby Castle, Cumbria, UK

Appleby Castle, Cumbria, UK
Appleby Castle, Cumbria, UK

This stunning motte-and-bailey castle boasts one of the best-preserved pieces of Norman architecture in the UK. With a long and fascinating history, dating from Roman times, the castle was once home to Lady Anne Clifford, yet has been occupied by both Scottish and English kings. Now offering luxurious accommodation with twelve stunning guest bedrooms, the castle also has three 17th-century self-catering cottages available, a games room and a tennis court.

Chateau Eza, Cote D’Azur, France

Chateau Eza, Cote D’Azur, France
Chateau Eza, Cote D’Azur, France

This converted chateau in the 1000-year-old medieval village of Eza offers gorgeous rooms with a view of the Mediterranean Sea. A stone’s throw from the affluent areas of Nice and Monte Carlo, rooms here will appeal to lovers of luxury since they’ve been designed in the style of Louis XIII and come equipped with the usual amenities found in a five-star hotel. Take an aperitif on the terrace overlooking the ocean before heading to Chateau Eza’s restaurant which serves traditional French cuisine.

Stonefield Castle Hotel, Argyll, UK

Stonefield Castle Hotel, Argyll, UK
Stonefield Castle Hotel, Argyll, UK

The main draw at Stonefield Castle is the award-winning restaurant with its stunning Loch views and traditional Scottish dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Close to the picturesque fishing village of Tarbert, the castle boasts many of the original period features dating back to 1837. Rooms, however, are bang up to date with tasteful decor, en-suites, and all the usual mod cons of a boutique hotel.

The Castle at Taunton, Somerset, UK

The Castle at Taunton, Somerset, UK
The Castle at Taunton, Somerset, UK

The Castle at Taunton has a reputation for fine food and wine and comforting bedrooms, of which 44 are available to book. The grade II listed, 18th-century building is a reconstruction of the original Norman castle yet it retains a few of the very original 13th-century features. Close to Taunton, it’s the ideal base for exploring the surrounding area - don’t miss the beach and an afternoon tea at the quaint fishing village Beer.

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, Harris, UK

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, Harris, UK
Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, Harris, UK

Designed in Scottish baronial style by David Bryce, the castle was built in 1865 for the 7th Earl of Dunmore. It wows with a four-story main block with turrets and trademark rounded corners. Today it’s often used as a venue for shooting parties but it's possible to book a stay in one of the castle's charming bedrooms too. Home to important works of art and beautiful antiques, all the principal rooms are on the first floor, typical of Scottish castles of the period.

Castello Di Velona, Tuscany, Italy

Castello Di Velona, Tuscany, Italy
Castello Di Velona, Tuscany, Italy

Set on a hill overlooking Val d’Orcia, Castello di Velona Resort, Thermal Spa & Winery is so exclusive, it has its very own on-site helipad. With views out across the Tuscan vineyards, each room has its own log fire and marble bathroom. The property also makes its olive oil which is used sparingly throughout the dishes prepared in the castle’s incredible restaurant.

Chateau de Picomtal, Hautes-Alpes, France

Chateau de Picomtal, Hautes-Alpes, France
Chateau de Picomtal, Hautes-Alpes, France

The history of the Château de Picomtal started 1,000 years ago when the building which began as a simple watchtower was enlarged into a small fort, and then into a real fortress. Today it’s possible to take a guided tour throughout the place and gardens to learn more about its fascinating history or simply bed down in one of the nine guestrooms. With its imposing fireplace, French ceiling, and four-poster bed, the 'Unknown Illustrious' bedroom is our top pick.

Dromoland Castle, County Clare, Ireland

Dromoland Castle, County Clare, Ireland
Dromoland Castle, County Clare, Ireland

An array of famous faces have stayed in Dromoland Castle over the years, including actual royalty like Juan Carlos I of Spain, as well as cultural icons like Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Cash, and John Travolta, and the legendary activist Nelson Mandela. Luckily, the extraordinary castle - that dates back to the 5th century - is also open to regular folks, with a range of exquisite bedrooms to choose from, including canopied bed suites, lakeside hideaways, and secret love nests.

Château de la Bourdaisière, Loire, France

Château de la Bourdaisière, Loire, France
Château de la Bourdaisière, Loire, France

Set in a 140-acre park Château de la Bourdaisière is a 15th-century castle with 26 rooms and apartments renovated by Louis Albert de Broglie. The 14 rooms in the château are decorated with fabrics by Braquenié from Pierre Frey and each room is named after a character from the history of Touraine or the Château. The outdoor heated pool is welcoming whatever the season.

Sneaton Castle, Whitby, UK

Sneaton Castle, Whitby, UK
Sneaton Castle, Whitby, UK

19th-century Sneaton Castle with its homely bedrooms and suites is set on the outskirts of Whitby in perfectly manicured gardens. The family-owned castle utilises rustic and modern elements to provide guests with the ideal sanctuary to relax after a day of sightseeing. The Norman-style chapel is particularly striking and fully licensed for wedding ceremonies too.