Most people have a secret desire to be treated like a royal if even for just a day or two.
In Europe, thanks to centuries of feuding and fighting, dozens of castles remain and have been transformed into luxurious hotels. They dot the landscapes from the windswept heather covered hills of Scotland to Spanish paradors with drawbridge entrances.
In Scotland’s Aberdeenshire region both the sea and mountains, such as the Bennachie hills, dominate. The Castle Trail winds through the region and offers several 15th and 16th authentic castles open for lodging.
The Fyvie Castle was built during the 1600s and now offers all the modern conveniences in addition to salmon fishing river on the nearby River Deveron or horseback riding across the glens. Travel to the town of Huntly to visit a falconry center.
Traipse around England’s oldest Tudor Garden at Thornbury Castle, located in the Cotswolds of Gloucestershire. King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed in the Duke’s Chambers. The rooms are still available to modern guests with views of the garden below and a large stone fireplace. Four-poster beds are featured in almost all the 27 bedrooms including one that is reportedly the largest bed in Britain.
Serenity reigns at Schlosshotel Muenchhausen near Germany’s Fairy Tale road in the state of Lower Saxony. Surrounded by a national park the 17th century castle, close to Hamelin, has paid court to many famous royal guests. One of the most revered was the Russian czar, Peter the Great, who was fascinated by the pineapples grown in the castle’s orangery. Downstairs, an authentic wine cellar is open for tastings of a variety of German wines.
Fresh produce from the gardens of Château de Vault de Lugny are served seasonally in their acclaimed restaurant. Begun in the 12th century and completed between the 1500s – 1700s the hotel is set in the gastronomically-rich region of Burgundy. Hot air balloon rides can be arranged as can trout fishing excursions from one of the streams on the 100-acre property. Catch a fish and it can be prepared for dinner by one of the chateau’s chefs.
Castello di Tornano Dimora Storica, an Italian medieval castle close to both Siena and Florence, showcases the rustic beauty of Tuscan living with al fresco dining under the stars or by the pool. Visit a vineyard or simply enjoy a bottle of the house Chianti while digging into a plate of local delicacies. Work off any calories with a heated game of tennis or by enjoying a good book in the reading lounge.
To enter Spain’s Parador Jarandilla De La Vera, outside Plasensia, one must cross a drawbridge. Over the ruins of a Knights of the Templar fortress a palace in the Italian Renaissance- style was built in the 1400s. It once served as the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s home. Flourishing gardens continue to delight visitors as they have for centuries. Springtime guests especially enjoy the sweet scent that rides the wind from pear and apple trees.
Being a temporary royal traveler does have some appealing perks.
What You Need to Know about the Piel Leather 22″ Wheeled Traveler: