Warm up with some red wine by the fire in Bad Aussee, Austria
You’re settled into the historic drawing room at the 4* Hotel Schloss Thanegg in the Austrian Lake District. It’s not a huge castle, but it is old – some of its rooms date back to 1150. You’re sipping red wine by the fireplace, as well you should – the cellar here is 850 years old! All around you reigns peace and quiet as it normally does here, as the hotel only has 19 rooms. It’s easy to imagine that the other guests are members of Your Royal Highness’ inner court.
For those who enjoy sport and activity, there is a shuttle which will get you to the closest slopes within 9 minutes where 860km of Austria’s finest skiing is at your fingertips.
A double room in Hotel Schloss Thannegg costs from US$170 per night. See the rooms.
Breakfast overlooking the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey
The building occupied by the Ciragan Palace Kempinski grew out of the ruins of Sultan Abdul Aziz’s Palace, with its painted columns, luxurious terrace with a restaurant and historic catacombs. They say that if you go down there and make a wish, it will come true.
See what it’s like to be a character in 1001 Nights, cutting through time and space on your magic carpet. The hotel is currently unable to provide that particular mode of transport, but from the rooms and from one of the restaurants’ terraces you can enjoy the searingly beautiful panoramic view out over the bay. You can also enjoy fireside cocktails in the evenings and breakfast in the gardens with views over the water and the hotel’s picturesque architecture.
A double room in Ciragan Palace Kempinski costs from US$450 per night. See the rooms.
Take horse riding lessons in Óbidos, Portugal
The Castelo de Óbidos hotel is located right in the castle of the same name, considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal. This is one of the best examples of a 12th century mediaeval fortress with its bastions, arched passageways and bas-reliefs. The castle is decorated using chain mail and tapestries and is close to a horse riding school.
Comfort is not an issue – no mediaeval austerity here. In each of the 17 rooms there is air conditioning, plasma TV, and huge bath tubs which would have been the envy of the knights and their maidens.
A double room in Castelo de Óbidos costs from US$190 per night. See the rooms.
Fall in love with delightful Carcassonne, France
The Hôtel de la Cité is located within the UNESCO-protected mediaeval citadel. Springtime is particularly beautiful here when the mediaeval walls are covered in creeping vines, the park turns a beautiful green and you can enjoy the views over this charming town from the terraces.
First off you should drop by the spa and hammam so as to be feeling on top form, and then head on to a winery, taste some Chardonnay and a coupage of Shiraz, Grenache and Cinsault. Then it’s time to follow your instincts. Perhaps go for dinner at the hotel (the steak with foie-gras is especially popular amongst guests) or maybe a stroll around the town with its many bars and restaurants.
A double room in Hôtel de la Cité costs from US$350 per night. See the rooms.
Admire the stained glass and painted ceilings of Pavone, Italy
Pavone, translated from the Italian, means peacock, so prepare to feel like this resplendent bird as you explore this exotic place. The castle was built in the 9th century and was to serve as a fortress. There is no doubting its antiquity – and its protection by the authorities as an Italian Architectural Monument shows this. Its painted ceilings and stained glass, as well as ancient furniture and paintings in sturdy frames, fireplaces and patterned carpets, make it feel like the chivalrous brotherhood left the place only a couple of hours ago. More contemporary features include WiFi, free parking and branded toiletries in the bathrooms.
The hotel grounds include a rose garden which is especially pretty in the summer. Only 30km away is Turin, so if you tire of spending time in an impregnable fortress, jump in a taxi and head for the epicentre of contemporary life.
A double room in Castello di Pavone costs from US$160 per night. See the rooms.
Wander the thousand-year-old halls in Cardona, Spain
Another mediaeval castle just made for summer, this time in Spain. It’s on the top of a hill so the views are great wherever you take them in. The castle is so big that you get a map on arrival at reception. It’s no laughing matter and you should keep hold of this piece of paper, otherwise you will almost certainly get lost in the thousand-year-old corridors and hallways. There are parts of the original 9th century walls still in existence in the inner parts of the castle, so you can literally be in physical contact with history.
The rooms have four-poster beds (as behoves all Spanish gentlemen) and the classical must haves for the modern aristocrat – a marble bathtub, internet and plasma TV. But don’t spend all your time in your room, as the terraces are gorgeous. You can sit until late at night on the warm terraces in summer enjoying the pretty views over the Catalunyan countryside.
A double room in Parador de Cardona costs from US$125 per night. See the room.
Try out falconry in Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Welcome to Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo, Ireland, where the Guinness family once lived. The 800-year old castle is located in a forest on the edge of a lake – you can only imagine the beauty of the surroundings in autumn when the leaves turn scarlet and gold – a veritable feast for the eyes.
The rooms are quite regal with their heavy curtains, velvet coverings, silk wallpaper and beds with high headboards. Residents are offered activities fit for a knight such as falconry, archery, rambling and canoeing on the lake. It goes without saying that in the castle catacombs they have a wine cellar where they organize regular tastings.
A double room in Ashford Castle costs from US$770 per night. See the rooms.
Seafood paradise in Edinburgh, Scotland
The Witchery is a gothic boutique hotel with just a few suites, none of which are the same. There is the “Inner Sanctum” decorated in a dramatic red with a huge bathroom and oak bed. The “Old Rectory” is the hotel’s signature room, its biggest, with an antique bathroom.
The “Library” is a gothic space with a surprise – the bathroom is hidden behind a book case. The rooms are so luxurious that it’s doubtful you’ll ever want to leave them. However, you really will need to, as the hotel also boasts one of Scotland’s foremost restaurants, especially well known for its seafood, steak tartare, Black Angus beef and Belgian chocolate tart.
A double room in Witchery by the Castle costs from US$195 per night. See the rooms.
If one of the items on your list of things to do before you’re 80 is to stay in a castle then this should just about cover it. Grab hold of your sword, gather together your troops and your war horse and check your crown – then off you go! The beacons are already lit in your honour and the drawbridge is down.