8 Accommodations Befitting a King
Talk about the royal treatment. History comes to life in these fabulous castle hotels
The splendour of bygone kings and rulers are captured in the world’s top castle hotels. With accommodations befitting a king, visitors can nap in a turreted keep, explore elegant, formal gardens or taste a rare vintage in a medieval dining room.
With more castles being converted into hotels in Europe and beyond, castle vacations are more popular than ever. Here is a sampling of the world’s finest.
Château de la Verrerie
Built by the Stuarts of Scotland in the 16th century, this castle enjoys a lakefront setting surrounded by woodland. Fill your days with gentrified pursuits such as horseback riding, fishing, shooting and hunting.
Built in 1525 as the residence for the Doge of Venice, the Gritti Palace has hosted a long list of international royalty, heads of state and other VIPs. (It served as home away from home for Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo and Ernest Hemingway.) The palace offers luxurious accommodations to be sure, but its setting on the legendary Grand Canal makes it truly magical.
This elegant castle was built in 1870 by a viscount for his son and then owned by the Count of Valenca. The dramatic décor features the work of local ceramist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro; the walls and ceilings are decorated by portrait painter Columbano. Be sure to check out the Tower Room, with an elevated walkway to a tower terrace that feels as if it’s been set adrift above the city. Cooking classes are offered (but only in Portuguese).
Taj Lake Palace
You’ll feel like a maharajah in this white marble palace that seems to float on Lake Pichola in the city of Udaipur. Originally built in 1740, the palace radiates romance and the opulence of a by-gone era. The restaurant offers the local wood-fired cuisine of Rajasthan, and the spa focuses on ancient Indian healing practices.
Château St. Gerlach
Set on the banks of the River Geul, the castle recently received a US $26 million makeover from hotelier Camille Oostwegel. The transformation kept true to the
castle’s heritage, which dates back to the 15th century. Surrounded by the Ingendael Wildlife Preserve, the property contains an old farmhouse, convent, granary and Baroque church. The castle is also home to the restaurant Les Trois Corbeaux, known for its French cuisine.
Unexpected as it might seem to find a castle in Namibia, Count von Schwerin was influenced enough by the romance of the land to build a castle here for his fiancée in 1914. While not as opulent, perhaps, as other castles, the tasteful interiors are enhanced by the views of Windhoek and the surrounding Khomas Hochland mountains. Dramatic African sunsets add to the enchantment.
The castle, built in the late 17th century, was inhabited by the British during WWII. Rich with character and a sense of history, the castle’s walls are integrated into the walls of the bastions of the fortified medieval city of Mdina. Dine on the rooftop terrace overlooking the city and feel yourself pulled back in time.