We love exploring castles when we travel, don't you?
One of the first pages I wrote was about finding one of our own in Scotland.
It doesn't matter whether they are crumbling ruins (yes, ours had been a "wee pile of rocks" for centuries)...
...or if the buildings are lived in and lovingly maintained like the ones we want to talk about here.
Call them Castello, Kasteel, Schloss or Castillo... those crenelated bastions of royalty are usually big draws for all tourists.
Why not take it a step further...
Have you ever dreamed of that?
Did you know you could?
No need for an invitation from a queen or a lord of the manor...
There are castles and manor houses all over
Europe that have rooms available for tourists wanting to indulge in a
I can hear you now... "I can't afford to stay in a castle!"
Well, you might be surprised.
Here's one that is just across Loch Fyne where our crumbling ruin was....
It fit right into the "we can afford this for one night" category.
As far as accommodations go, it's true...
...this is probably more towards the top of the travel budget scale...
...but it may not be as expensive as you think.
And if it IS a little bit of a splurge... it's OK to strain your budget once in a while... after all, you're indulging in a fantasy remember.
Just like all hotels and spas, some are luxurious and expensive, but there are plenty of smaller places that will give you crenelated towers and suits of armor and antique furnishings... perhaps even a ghost or two... and still fit within a budget splurge!
Mark is quite the romantic and is always on the lookout for one we can afford to stay in. Even if the posted prices are a bit beyond our budget, we stop and ask. On more than one occasion, if they weren't full, we could negotiate for a price we could afford.
There are hotel guide books that deal with these types of accommodations. We've found great books to use when we've visited a castle hotel.
You'll find plenty of websites too.
Most of these magnificent and imposing old buildings that have been opened as hotels are in the countryside.
Isolation is part of their allure.
It's quiet and peaceful... and usually pretty scenic.
They're most easily reached if you're driving...
We love road trips! Don't be afraid to try driving. We've even been known to add a location just so we could stay in one of these great places.
Isolated can also mean you might have to drive to a local restaurant for dinner if dinner isn't offered where you're staying.
We have done that... we have also bought a bottle of wine and some bread and cheese just stayed on the property and enjoyed it.
Sometimes we've done that because of the islolation... and wanting to spend more time in our fantasy... sometimes it was because the dinner just added a bit too much to the expense. A splurge within reason so to speak.
Some have rates that include dinner as well as breakfast...
...others offer fine dining at a price.
In either case, it's usually worth stretching your budget. Where else can you dine in a Lord's Great Room with the ancestors looking over you?
And what about those ghosts we mentioned? For an extra dose of fun, the staff might take you on a nighttime tour to look for their resident ghosts.
Borthwick in Scotland may not look like what Disney envisioned, but it's as "castly" as they get...
Mary Queen of Scots stayed here during her last days of freedom.
Historically, castles weren't so much romantic palaces for Princesses as they were fortresses for security. Most were tall and thick walled.
If they had crenelations on the top, they were to hide behind when at battle not for decoration.
They were built to guard villages and keep enemies at bay... or to keep the Prince in the next little country over from invading.
Slightly more modern palaces were built to impress the neighbors... they tend to be bigger, with more windows and grand rooms. Either style can be fun to stay in.
Don't count on elevators.
Some have found a way to squeeze one in, but you might have to climb stairs to your room.... sometimes winding stairs if you're lucky enough to get a tower room.
In one tower room, we had to stoop over to get through the door. Those low doors were there historically for a reason... to slow invaders down and give the local Prince a better chance to run them through with a sword.
But don't worry about the facilities or getting run through with a sword...
You'll get charm with all the conveniences....
In all castles we've stayed in, the rooms have been remodeled so that you don't have to dump the chamber pot out the window!
You might even really get to be Lord of the Manor for a night...
At Ross Castle in Ireland, our hostess directed us to a nice restaurant 30 minutes away for dinner... That was fine.
But the thing that tickled us most about that was she couldn't be there when we got back.
We were the only guests.
And so... she gave us the keys to the castle!
Manor houses can be closer to villages, or they can also be isolated.
As you can see from these photos, they come is a real variety of shapes and sizes.
You'll often find these listed in those castle hotel guide books.
Some are small and operate as high-end B&Bs, others are really small hotels or guest houses, but you get the "Lord of the Manor" ambiance instead of a sterile hotel lobby feel.
So if you want to add a little fairy-tale romance to your European vacation, and if your budget will allow it, consider a stay in a castle or manor house.