From Charles II to the Duchess of Sussex, these incredible castles have hosted some equally incredible people. And now, you can stay there, too.
So foreign to our country, Australians have long been captivated by the historic manors and castles of the United Kingdom and Europe. So why not make your next getaway a regal one by touring these luxurious castles, where you can sleep like royalty and come face-to-face with history?
Château de Bagnols Hôtel & Spa
Once owned by a long line of noble families, the storied past of this French medieval castle – which dates back eight centuries – is best appreciated during a stay in its opulent, five-star suites. Today, king-size beds, ornate fireplaces and marble bathrooms make it difficult to believe you are just 30 minutes from busy Lyon, yet its formal gardens offer a completely different feeling of timelessness compared to its state-of-the-art wellness facilities.
This 19th-century Gothic Revival castle won ‘Hotel of the Year’ at the Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards in 2018, and it’s no surprise. Across 104 luxurious guest rooms, mahogany furniture is complemented by 19th-century artworks and views over manicured gardens, the River Maigue or the property’s own golf course, designed by renowned course architect Tom Fazio. For non-golfers, other activities offered across its 340 hectares include falconry, archery and horse riding.
Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa
It is estimated there were once up to 3,000 castles in Scotland, and while hundreds still wait to be explored today, Fonab Castle has earned its place in your must-see list. Lovingly restored, the five-star hotel gives an opulent twist to its historic past, with fairytale turrets and floor-to-ceiling windows offering sweeping views over Highland Perthshire. Many make the journey simply for the exceptional facilities and treatments of its Woodland Spa.
Steeped in over 900 years of history, the impressive register of visitors to Relais & Châteaux’s Amberley Castle includes King Charles II, and was once owned by the 15th Duke of Norfolk. The castle was converted into a hotel in 1989 and today features suits of armour, intricate coats of arms and just 19 bedrooms, some with ensuite whirlpool bathrooms. Guests can enjoy a round on its professional-standard 18-hole putting course, strike a ball in croquet or simply stroll through the rose-covered arches of its formal gardens.
Aldourie Castle Estate
Loch Ness, Scotland
Forget a hotel room; this entire castle is exclusively available for private hire, so you can have its entire 200 hectares to yourself (staff excepted). The five-star hospitality includes tailored offerings such as exclusive helicopter rides over Loch Ness and staffed parties, while the estate’s chef, trained in Michelin-starred restaurants, specialises in traditional Scottish cuisine.
If this name sounds familiar, it may be because it recently received a fair amount of press as the stately home where Meghan Markle stayed the night before the royal wedding. Cliveden House was built in 1666 as a hunting lodge by the second Duke of Buckingham as a gift to his mistress, and boasts 150 hectares of gardens beside the River Thames. All right, it’s technically not a castle, but we think it has all the aristocratic flair of one. If price is no object, we recommend staying in a Deluxe Double Room (with private hot tub on the terrace), a magnificent Mansion House Parterre Suite or in your own three-bedroom, riverfront cottage.
The original construction of this Tuscan castle-turned-hotel is difficult to pin down, but its earliest mention dates back to 1044, having survived sieges and storms to become the Leading Hotels of the World member it is today. Vineyards and woodlands surround this living medieval fresco, a verdant welcome mat to the property’s elegant rooms, suites and an exclusive villa. Its two restaurants feature menus by Gordon Ramsay, suitably qualified with seven Michelin stars under his belt.