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Castle Hotels of Europe

Do you long to spend the night in an authentic castle?  Check out these Dream Sleeps.  Believe it or not, this stellar experience comes in a broad price range that includes everything from a B&B to five-star luxury.  I’ve asked some of my fellow travel writers, photographers, and bloggers to share here a description of and an image they have captured of their own favorite castle hotel.

1. Ashford Castle, in Cong, Ireland.  One of the finest and most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland, Ashford Castle dates back to the 13th century.  Public rooms are fitted with wood-coffered ceilings, Waterford chandeliers, huge Chippendale mirrors, period furniture, fine art objects, and warming fireplaces. 
Photographed by Carole Terwilliger MeyersTravels with Carole

exterior grounds of Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland
exterior grounds of Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers

2. These are the stone steps leading up to Castello di Compiano, which sits on a hilltop in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It is one of many Medieval and Renaissance castles in the area located around Parma and Piacenza where people can spend the night or stop for a meal. I loved walking up the winding interior staircase to my room and looking out at views of the Taro Valley below. I also enjoyed tasting the regional delicacy, panigaccia, served in the informal restaurant within the castle walls.
Photographed by Irene S. LevineMore TIme To Travel

Castello di Compiano in Italy; image c Irene S. Levine
Castello di Compiano in Italy; image c Irene S. Levine

3. Ask my husband where his favorite place to travel was and he will unhesitatingly reply that it was Ireland and, more specifically, Dromoland Castle. We spent a memorable Halloween there a couple of years ago and, although there were no ghosts to be seen, we truly enjoyed visiting this authentic castle which has been converted into a luxurious 5 star hotel. From the suit of armor in the front lobby to the large fireplaces and family portraits, along with wonderful dining and large, comfortable rooms and a full spa, this is the ultimate castle getaway.
Photographed by Jan RossWanderlust Wonder

exterior of Dromoland Castle in Ireland; image c Jan Ross
exterior of Dromoland Castle in Ireland; image c Jan Ross

4. Langley Castle is in Hexham, Northumberland, England.  Though this small 14th-century castle is a delight, I was disappointed to have to stay in a “Castle View” room, number 13 no less!, which was not actually in the castle but did have a view of it.  Buyer beware. 
Postcard image collected by Carole Terwilliger MeyersTravels with Carole

exterior of Langley Castle in England; image from a postcard
exterior of Langley Castle in England; image from a postcard

5. Amberley Castle in England’s West Sussex countryside is reachable via a short train ride from London.    Staying here is hopelessly romantic.
Photographed by Carole Terwilliger MeyersTravels with Carole

entrance drive to Amberley Castle in England; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers
entrance drive to Amberley Castle in England; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers

6. Schloss Rheinfels in Schlossberg, Germany dates to 1245.  There is this ruins as well as a totally contemporary section with French-style furnishings and white walls, and a fitness room is in the former torture chamber.
Photographed by Carole Terwilliger MeyersTravels with Carole

ruin of Rheinfels Castle in Schlossberg, Germany; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers
ruin of Rheinfels Castle in Schlossberg, Germany;
image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers

7. Located deep in a forest, off the main road in Sababurg, Germany, the isolated, twin-turreted, 600-year-old Dornroschenschloss Sababurg, or Sleeping Beauty’s castle, is surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns added in the late 1500s to act as a corral for horses and cattle.  In 1765, the castle was turned into a hunting lodge, which the Brothers Grimm frequently visited.
Photographed by Carole Terwilliger MeyersTravels with Carole

the hilltop Sleeping Beauty Castle in Sababurg, German; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers
the hilltop Sleeping Beauty Castle in Sababurg, German;
image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers

8. Built in 1430, Borthwick Castle Hotel is situated in a pastoral valley in North Middleton, Midlothia, Scotland, about 12 miles south of Edinburgh.  Mary Queen of Scots sought refuge here in 1567. Guest rooms include the Mary Queen of Scots room featuring a bed covered with blood-red fabric.
Photographed by Carole Terwilliger MeyersTravels with Carole

front door entrance to Borthwich Castle in North Middleton, Scotland; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers
front door entrance to Borthwich Castle in North Middleton, Scotland; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers

9. Located in Bonnyrigg, Scotland, 8 miles south of Edinburgh, Dalhousie Castle dates to the 13th-century .  I loved taking a walk to the watchtower ruin and having a pre-candlelight-dinner-in-the-dungeon drink in the magnificent wood-paneled library with a bar hidden behind a false bookcase door.
Photographed by Carole Terwilliger MeyersTravels with Carole

exterior of Dalhousie Castle in Bonnyrigg, Scotland; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers
exterior of Dalhousie Castle in Bonnyrigg, Scotland; image c Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 10. Years ago, I stumbled on an image of a castle in ruins.  A massive tree was growing up through the center of the castle–marking the passage of time since it was inhabited.  Later, I discovered the castle had actually been painstakingly restored and turned into a luxury castle hotel.  The result is Lough Eske Castle in County Donegal, Ireland.
Photographed by Laura and Lance LongwellTravel Addicts

Lough Eske Castle in Donegal, Ireland; image c Laura and Lance Longwell
Lough Eske Castle in Donegal, Ireland; image c Laura and Lance Longwell

11. When we imagine a castle hotel, Markree Castle is what comes to mind.  Situated on a vast 500-acre property in Sligo, Ireland, Markree is just as it was hundreds of years ago.  For 10 generations, this castle has been in the Cooper family.  Today, it is still run by the family with a minimum of modifications.
Photographed by Laura and Lance LongwellTravel Addicts

exterior of Markree Castle Hotel in Sligo, Ireland; image c Laura and Lance Longwell
exterior of Markree Castle Hotel in Sligo, Ireland; image c Laura and Lance Longwell

12. Certaldo is a small medieval town in the heart of Tuscany, Italy. At the top of the hill sits the true gem of the small commune, the castle of Certaldo Alto. The rooms in the castle are all privately owned, but there are several up for rent to the fortunate few! You may even be able to get a room with your own private turret to take in the surrounding hills of Italy’s famous Chianti region. Hardly an hour away from all of the major cities of the renaissance, Certaldo is a must for any Italy vacation.
Photographed by Chris DowinThe Nomadic Lifestyle

Certaldo Alto castle hotel in Tuscany, Italy; image c Chris Dowin
Certaldo Alto castle hotel in Tuscany, Italy; image c Chris Dowin

(www.berkeleyandbeyond2.com; copyright Carole Terwilliger Meyers)