Take 5: Castles to Dream About and In

A lot of kids dream about living in a castle and yet the closest we ever seem to get is one of Disney’s grand designs. There are many castles who have survived their original owners and have since been transformed into hotels. Since most of us will never be royalty, this is the closest you may get to feeling regal.

Ashford Castle, Ireland

Ashford Castle, IrelandAshford Castle was built in 1228, though it has seen many upgrades over the years. It was first owned by the de Burgo family and didn’t change hands again until the 16th century. In 1852 the estate expanded to 26,000 acres. In 1915 it was first converted into a hotel though it didn’t see a true hotel renovation until 1970. Since then it’s been an award-winning hotel in addition to being a beautiful piece of history. You might recognize the hotel from the 1951 movie, The Quiet Man starring John Wayne.

On-site the hotel offers a 9-hole golf course, falconry, cruises on its lake, horseback riding, and even clay shooting. There is dining available at a cottage bistro, a fine dining room, a cocktail bar built for George V of England, and even tea in the drawing room.

Inverlochy Castle, Scotland

Inverlochy Castle, ScotlandThe original Inverlochy Castle that was built in the 13th century has been left to ruins. It was built by a member of Clan Comyn, though first abandoned when Robert the Bruce became king. King James IV ordered it repaired in 1505 though it was never largely modified from the original structure.

In 1863, it was decided that a new Inverlochy Castle be built 2 miles away, along the same water that guarded the original. The new Inverlochy was built as a royal mansion and Queen Victoria stayed here in 1873, declaring “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot”.

Since 1969 the new dwelling has been used as a hotel. It offers 19 spacious rooms just outside Fort William. Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, overlooks the hotel. If you’re looking for something to do nearby, try the hiking or train ride suggested in our Harry Potter week series.

Parador de Carmona, Spain

Parador de CarmonaAlso known as Parador Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro, this citadel was built in the 14th century. King Pedro the Cruel kept one of his many lady friends here after building upon the original Moorish base. One of the most enchanting qualities of this castle is how it overlooks every other building. The building has typical Moorish influences of the time including tiles and fountains while being decorated by medieval antiquities.

The hotel itself has just over 60 rooms with many modern amenities including air and heat. The hotel has its own dining room with local and seasonal flavors featured heavily on the menu.

Pousada de Obidos Historic Hotel, Portugal


Pousada de Óbidos or Castelo de Óbidos sits inside the city of the aptly named Óbidos, a town once conquered by Romans in the 1st century. The castle here is of Roman origin and was built by Arabs. After the city’s Christian takeover in 1148, the castle was expanded and restored. Between the 15th and 16th centuries the castle was once again restored as a palace for King Manuel I and was revered until earthquake damage in 1755. This area has been renovated and makes up the hotel’s northern wing. Much of the old hotel fell into ruins so the area was rebuilt in 1951 and has been a hotel since this time.

Now the hotel is known as one of the ” 7 Wonders of Portugal” and offers 9 beautiful hotel rooms with modern amenities. For an authentic stay, the Castle Tower Room is from the original 11th century building inside a tower and have two stories. Consider coming to this area during its popular Chocolate Festival where you can take classes, watch demonstrations, and of course enjoy chocolate.

Thornbury Castle, England

Thornbury Castle, England

Thornbury Castle is sure to interest a lot of history buffs. This hotel wasn’t designed as a castle but rather as a summer house. Before he was beheaded, this location was intended for Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and he had gotten permission to give it a castle status. After he lost his head, Henry VIII stayed here with Anne Boleyn. It’s fitting that her family line, the Howards, were the ones to restore the manor in 1824.

The hotel itself is the only Tudor castle open as a hotel so the theming is appropriately Tudor-based. There are 27 rooms though a popular choice is the Duke’s Chamber, the location where Anne and her king once slept. They offer classic bedchambers that overlook the oldest Tudor gardens in England, deluxe bedchambers with four-poster beds and fireplaces, and a superior suite with the largest hotel bed in the United Kingdom. One of the benefits of staying at a hotel with so much historical significance is the number of guest authors and speakers who come to present here. There are also themed events so check their calendar when planning a trip.

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I'm Julie, I love to travel, I'm very hyper and I like to "hype" things and from that, TravelHyper was born. I'm a Missouri native and I cover St. Louis travel ideas as well as my own travels. I also like to focus on places I want to visit and budget travel ideas by creating trip plans. There's so much world out there and I hope you'll find that it's worth seeing and that vacation doesn't have to be out of reach to you.

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