9 Fairy-Tale Castles You Can Stay at for a Cozy Winter Getaway
Staying in a castle is a bucket list experience, but it’s also one that’s entirely possible, even in the dead of winter. Many historic castles, which were once home to royalty, have been transformed into luxury hotels or rental properties, which means you can plan a vacation that’s all about sleeping in an ornate, antique bed overlooking a moat or castle gardens. Whether you want to head to Ireland, France or even Quebec, there’s a castle perfect for cozying up as the weather howls outside.
Adare Manor (Adare, Ireland)
Located just outside the Irish village of Adare, Adare Manor is a luxury castle hotel ideal for a cold weather visit. The vast five-star property recently scored “Hotel of the Year” at the Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards 2018 and welcomes guests into classically appointed rooms and suites (book one of the Signature Suites, if you can swing it). The tranquil spa is inviting during freezing temperatures, and the indoor pool means you can swim any time of year. There’s also a cinema room, historical tours, archery and game shooting, where you can pretend you’re the lady of the manor. The best part is you don’t have to leave during your stay—Adare Manor has several high-end on-site food and dining options to keep you from ever needing to go outside.
Duchray Castle (Aberfoyle, Scotland)
Duchray Castle, situated in Scotland’s Queen Elizabeth Forest, isn’t a hotel. Instead, guests can rent the four-bedroom castle as a complete package for a self-catered stay. It’s not cheap, but winter is the low season, which brings the price for five nights way down (especially if you split it among friends). The historic castle is over 500 years old, but the rooms have been recently renovated with luxurious touches like oversize bathtubs and canopy beds. Outside, explore Loch Lomond if you want to brave the cold. There are also lots of local walking and cycling trails. Of course, the best local activity, especially if you’re chilly, is to book a tour of the Deanston Distillery, where delicious, warming scotch is made.
Chateau de Chantore (Bacilly, France)
Imagine staying in an actual castle in France with a view of Mont Saint-Michel, except that it’s not just a fantasy. Chateau de Chantore, which features two suites and three guestrooms, offers the opportunity to bunk up in an 18th-century castle built by the Lord of Chantore himself. The rooms are ornate, with colorful, patterned wallpaper and furnishings that look like something out of a period romance, and each is filled with unique antique pieces. There are several nearby tourist attractions, including Mont Saint-Michel, and the Christian Dior Museum, in Granville, is definitely worth a day trip. It’s a bit secluded, but sometimes that’s what you want from a winter holiday.
Amberley Castle (West Sussex, England)
The site of Amberley Castle has a history that dates back nearly 900 years. It’s been a hotel since 1989 and today visitors can book one of the 19 luxury rooms within the castle walls. The property, found in the English village of Amberley, a few hours outside London, offers a “Winter Escape” deal through the end of March, which means you can score a reasonably priced stay that includes breakfast and dinner as the snow blows outside. There’s a lot to do (besides exploring the castle grounds), from lounging by the wood-burning fire with a glass of wine to enjoying a classic afternoon tea. Explore the local town or just take advantage of the hotel’s comfortable vibe.
Castello di Monterone (Perugia, Italy)
Umbria might seem like a summer destination, but Italy has all the charm and wine you might need in the colder months of the year as well. Castello di Monterone, located near Perugia, is a picturesque spot to hide away during a winter holiday. The property is built into a restored, fairy-tale-like castle that dates back to the 11th century. There are sweeping views of the hills, and the hotel is open for much of the winter season (with a short closure in January). There’s a hydro-massage swimming pool, sauna and Turkish bath for relaxing, and the guest rooms are elegant, with the original stone walls and wood beamed roofs on view. There’s a restaurant on-site, but you’re also in Umbria, so it’s worth exploring the local eateries and vineyards (some of which offer tastings even in the winter).
Château de Bagnols (Bagnols, France)
Château de Bagnols, a Relais & Château hotel, is an ideal getaway in Bagnols, France. The castle shuts down from January to February, but take advantage of the lower mid-week rates for a stay in March (or book over the Christmas holiday). It’s a suites-only property, and you’ll find contemporary amenities with historic touches. The suites inside the château itself are insanely cool, with ornate tapestries, marble fireplaces and antique bathtubs. Enjoy a beauty treatment or spa experience or take a swim in the indoor pool. There area is vast, so you can bundle up and stroll around the nearby Lac des Sapins or learn more about the Beaujolais wine region (by drinking it, of course).
Parkhotel Wasserburg Anholt (Isselburg, Germany)
Germany has no shortage of magnificent castles, but this one has a real-life moat. The four-star hotel is contained in a lush park and each of the 31 rooms has a view of the surrounding grounds. Book a theme room—like the Duck Room—if you’re feeling whimsical or splurge on a suite, which feature what the hotel calls “royal furnishings.” There’s an on-site restaurant, a cellar bar and afternoon tea on offer on specific weekends. It’s kitschy, sure, but that’s what makes it all the more fun. Located near the Dutch border, the hotel is also a great way to see an area of Germany you might not otherwise visit.
Ashford Castle (Cong, Ireland)
You may never stay anywhere as luxurious as Ashford Castle, an Irish hotel that lives inside an 800-year-old structure. It’s the former home of the Guinness family, and it’s now known for its impressive, award-winning spa, which includes a relaxation pool and steam room. It’s not just about relaxing, though: Ashford Castle has tons of aristocratic activities to partake in. Learn falconry or clay shooting, or horse ride through the snowy grounds. There are numerous intimate spots throughout the castle to sip a glass of Irish whiskey or have a spot of tea. The rooms themselves are seriously Instagram-worthy, with plush furnishings and bedding that will likely make you never want to leave.
Château Frontenac (Québec City, Quebec)
While Europe may be covered in historic castles, savvy travelers can also discover an elegant property in Canada in the form of Château Frontenac. Now part of Fairmont, the hotel, located inside the walls of Old Quebec, recently celebrated its 125th anniversary. It’s not technically a castle, although it looks like one, and you’ll definitely be given the royal treatment during your stay. There’s an indoor pool, fitness center and spa, but most importantly the hotel is in proximity to three ski areas as well as cross-country skiing (the hotel will even book you a shuttle to and from the slopes). The best part is you’re in Quebec City, which has tons to see and do (even if it’s absolutely freezing outside).