UK Getaway

Discover the 12 most majestic castle hotels for an unforgettable staycation

Escape to your very own kingdom in one of the finest castles in the countryside

Castle Hotel Retreat

For a romantic weekend away like no other, check into one of the most regal castle hotels in the UK and Ireland. At these stately boltholes, not only can you immerse yourself in centuries-old history, you’ll also be able to indulge in contemporary comfort whether in a state-of-the-art spa or feasting on the finest menus from top-name chefs. From the childhood home of Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII’s honeymoon abode, here’s where to holiday like a king or queen with a fabulous real-life castle stay.

Amberley Castle, West Sussex

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Recorded in the Domesday Book, Amberley Castle is steeped in history and is without doubt one of the most majestic  castle hotels in the UK. Over the centuries, it has frequently welcomed royalty, including Henry VIII (when he was looking for advice on how to divorce Catherine of Aragon), Charles II and Elizabeth II, explaining its distinctly regal air. As you approach, the portcullis entrance offers the first indication of the castle’s stately background and the grandeur of its guests. 

Today it is a 19-room Relais & Chateaux hotel, where impressive traditional features and antique furnishings meet contemporary styling (and welcoming touches, like homemade biscuits and Vispring mattresses). Some rooms have separate lounges and whirlpool bathtubs; most offer views of the sweeping castle grounds, which include an 18-hole golf course and croquet lawn. As you’d expect from such distinguished surroundings, dinner is served in the magnificent dome-ceilinged Queen’s Room.

Amberley Castle, Nr Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9LT
From £260 per night for a double room

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

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There are just two rooms to choose from at Warwick Castle, but this pair of 14th-century tower suites, complete with their own battlements, are sure to create a visit worthy of royalty. The chambers – the Rose Suite and the Peacock Suite – are situated on a private floor reached by a spiral staircase and overlooking gardens landscaped by Capability Brown. If you’re debating between the two, it’s worth knowing that the Rose room was occupied by King Edward IV during the Wars of the Roses, but the Peacock Suite offers the perk of a bath. 

The decor is as rich as the history. Here you can slumber in a four-poster bed surrounded by opulent drapes and ornate mediaeval architecture. 24-hour private concierge service is on hand for anything you might require, breakfast is served in the stateroom, and guests will be given a private tour of the castle by a resident history specialist.

Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire CV34 6AH
From £545  per night for two people including breakfast and a two-day ticket to the castle

Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire

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Thornbury Castle has origins dating as far back as the 11th century. The castle we see today, however, was constructed by Edward Stafford, one of the few men who rivalled Henry VIII’s wealth and standing. This displeased the king so much he seized the castle, hence why it was Henry and Anne Boleyn’s honeymoon venue (before the relationship took its disastrous turn).

Such dramatics are a thing of the past. Now you can stay in regal splendour in the castle hotel, where tapestries and suits of armour line the wood-panelled halls. The lavishly appointed ‘bedchambers’ – which have retained many period features such as arrow-slit windows – come in different sizes from deluxe to the all-out Catherine of Aragon Tower Suite (accessed via a 77-step spiral staircase). Dinner can be taken in one of the magnificent dining rooms or in the storied Tudor Hall or Baron’s Sitting Room.

Thornbury Castle, Castle St, Thornbury, Gloucestershire BS35 1HH
A double room costs from £379 per couple including dinner

Lumley Castle, Durham

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Lumley Castle is named after Sir Ralph Lumley who, in the 14th century, converted his manor home into a castle. However, the former soldier didn’t have much time to enjoy it, as he was implicated in a plot to overthrow Henry IV and was arrested, later executed. The castle did however welcome a royal some 200 years later when James VI and I stopped there en route from Scotland to London to take up the throne. 

Fast forward a few centuries and you can now stay in the splendour of the King James Suite, which has a 20ft high four-poster bed, its own reception room and a Jacuzzi with parkland views. The Queen Anne Suite and Bishops Suite are equally magnificent; plus there are a wealth of other rooms. There are many dining options, with afternoon tea, best eaten in the courtyard or on the terrace, one of the most popular options.

Lumley Castle, Ropery Lane, Chester-Le-Street, Durham DH3 4NX
Suites start from £350 per night for two people

Hever Castle, Kent

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The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, 13th-century double-moated Hever Castle is every bit as splendid as one might imagine. The 27 well-appointed bedrooms are located in the Astor Wing and the Anne Boleyn Wing, where their Tudor design adheres to the castle’s defining period of history. The rooms themselves – which come in three categories of Superior, Feature or Deluxe – are sumptuous; think heritage wallpapers, wood panelling and huge beds (if you can, get a room with a four-poster for the full staying-in-a-castle effect).

The breakfast room is where guests can linger over a traditional English menu or the healthy continental option, all the while admiring views of the orchard beyond. Other delights in the extensive grounds include the yew maze, boating lake and award-winning gardens. Entrance to the castle is also included, where you can see Anne Boleyn’s bedroom and the ornate “Long Gallery”, and marvel at the fine furniture, tapestries, antiques and Tudor portraits.

Hever Castle, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7NG
From £185 per night for a double room

Inverlochy Castle, Fort William

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There can be no more pleasing sight on a still day than Inverlochy Castle reflected in the calm waters of its own loch, with Ben Nevis as its backdrop. This is one of the very best castle hotels in the UK with a storied past – Queen Victoria escaped to this magical spot when she needed respite from running the British Empire, famously saying she “never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.”

While the location and its environs may not have changed much since the 19th century, the castle’s interiors have. The 17 rooms and suites located in the main castle, and the eight walled garden rooms and suites, are that welcome combination of comfortable and characterful. Expect all the five-star mod cons – crisp cotton sheets, thick carpets, Penhaligon’s amenities. Many come for the food alone. The Seasgair by Michel Roux Jr experience is very special – Champagne and canapes in the Great Hall followed by a five-course menu.

Inverlochy Castle, Inverlochy Castle, Torlundy, Fort William, Scotland PH33 6SN
From £410 per night for a double room

Glenapp Castle, Ayrshire

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Glenapp Castle is something of a hidden gem. This ivy-clad testimony to Scottish baronial splendour is secreted away in an estate that’s filled with landscaped gardens and verdant forests. Many of the 17 spacious suites offer panoramic views across the Irish Sea to the volcanic island of Ailsa Craig, while others have vistas of the garden and woodlands – but all are sumptuous in their furnishings.

Want to explore the waters? Try a Hebridean Sea Safari aboard the Glenapp boat and explore the islands on your own Mara Cuairt-Dànachd, which is Scottish Gaelic for “a sea adventure”. On your trip you can stop off to see an ancient monastery, hidden castle garden, a whisky distillery, as well as plenty of wildlife at sea. Spend the night at a hidden glamping site, where you’ll feast on the best of Scotland’s coastal produce beneath the stars, before heading back to the comfort of the castle the next morning.

Glenapp Castle Hotel, Ballantrae, Ayrshire, Scotland KA26 0NZ
From £323 per night for a double room

Ashford Castle, Ireland

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Arriving through the stone gateway and up the sweeping drive to the 800-year-old Ashford Castle is quite the entrance. Hardly surprising when you consider it was once the home of the Guinness family and has hosted everyone from the Prince of Wales (later King George V) to President Ronald Reagan and Grace Kelly. The grandiose building, which sits on the shores of Lough Corrib, has since undergone an impeccable renovation and is now an 83-room castle hotel. The no-expense-spared interiors incorporate traditional Irish craftsmanship with exquisite design – think Waterford crystal chandeliers and Connemara marble tops.

Should the weather be inclement, there is plenty to keep you amused indoors including a cinema, billiard room and kids’ playroom. But it’s the spa which is the scene-stealer with its elegant pool housed in a striking bronze conservatory and top-notch treatments. Heading outdoors? The 350-acre estate offers up every manner of activity from horse riding, fishing and falconry to golf and cycling (there are even dedicated ‘Activities Coordinators’ to help you choose). The nearby village of Cong is also worth a visit, so you can say that you’ve been to the setting of the 1952 film The Quiet Man.

Cong, County Mayo, Ireland F31 CA48
From £449 per night for a double room including breakfast

Bovey Castle, Devon

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The stately Bovey Castle sits in the midst of Dartmoor National Park – 368 square miles of rugged wilderness filled with Stone Age circles and roaming wild ponies. The castle hotel grounds stretch across 275 acres and include everything you’d need for an active country weekend, including an 18-hole championship golf course with putting green, tennis courts, a croquet pitch, a shooting range, archery and, at the right time of the year, you can even bottle-feed the hotel’s deer fawns.

Spend your time strolling around the picturesque lake or along the Bovey River, from where the hotel draws all its water to further its eco-credentials. After a day of rural pursuits, relax in the huge Elan Spa, a serene sanctuary by ESPA, then settle into one of the 60 individually designed rooms. Prefer something more private? There are also 22 luxurious self-catering lodges on the grounds, too.

Bovey Castle, North Bovey, Dartmoor National Park, Devon TQ13 8RE
From £234 per night for a double room

Augill Castle, Lake District

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With its towers, turrets and secret staircases, the 19th-century neo-gothic Augill Castle has everything you could want from a fairytale trip to the poetic lakes. It’s still very much a family home and furnished in a cosy comforting way – no stuffiness here. Guests can expect freshly-made cake every day, a bar filled with British tipples and three-course meals, served dinner party-style on the weekend.

The dozen bedrooms and suites are as sizable as they are quirky, filled with eccentric decor and curiosities. Expect deep claw-footed baths, fluffy towels and big beds, too. The separate Little Castle sleeps four and has its own garden, front door, turrets and castellations. While it’s definitely got a family-friendly atmosphere, this boutique castle hotel has also won awards for its romantic ambience making it perfect for an idyllic weekend exploring the Lakes – or the nearby Yorkshire Dales – with your other half.

Augill Castle, Leacett Lane, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria CA17 4DE
From £160 per night for a double room including breakfast

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