6 of the best castles you can stay in
Live like kings and queens for a weekend in one of these fantastical fortresses
Within walking distance of the beach at Weston-super-Mare, this 240-year-old Gothic castle is home to a wood-panelled dining room, a library lined with curved oak bookcases and a billiards room whose intricate, green 1840s wallpaper was designed by none other than Augustus Pugin (and also hangs in the Palace of Westminster).
Built in 1805, and restored with help from English Heritage following a fire in 2016, the castle was a family home until recently, but is now available for private rentals and sleeps up to 10. Book in here and you will also find yourself king or queen of the castle’s 10 immaculate acres.
Book your stay at Thornemead Castle
The Citadel, Shropshire
Sometimes rented out for weddings, the Gothic Revival-style Citadel mainly operates as a four-bedroom B&B, complete with grand piano and billiards.
Set between Shrewsbury and Market Drayton, despite crenellations and arrow slits the castle was actually built in the 1820s as a dower house for nearby Hawkstone Hall (don’t miss neighbouring Hawkstone Park Follies, a romantic 18th-century parkland now run as a visitor attraction).
Decorated with antiques, and pretty blush-pink and sage soft furnishings, the Round Room is the one to book. In the north turret, with windows on three sides, it has a clawfoot bath and sweeping views.
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Clytha Castle, Monmouthshire
One of Britain’s most romantic castles, not only was pint-sized Clytha built in the 1790s as a memorial to its owner’s recently deceased wife, but the castle is also a vision of dainty, storybook style. Restored by the Landmark Trust, there is space for just six guests beneath its ornate crenellations and behind its Gothic-style windows.
A circular kitchen, a lounge with an open fire and Rapunzel-ready turrets all add to the fairy-tale charm. As do views of the Usk Valley; set on a small hill overlooking the landscaped grounds of Clytha Park, the castle comes with stirring views towards the Skirrid mountain.
Book your stay at Clytha Castle
Doyden Castle, Cornwall
This tiny cliffside fortress near Port Isaac is understandably popular with honeymooners given it sleeps just two. It was built by local bon viveur Samuel Symons in the 19th century as a place to entertain his friends.
Despite the castle’s small dimensions, space has been found to incorporate custom-designed wine bins. For today’s guests, the biggest draw is the coastal location; wake up to views of the waves from the comfort of bed, then head out for a day’s hiking along the adjacent South West Coast Path, or surfing in nearby Polzeath, before returning to Doyden for a wholesome – or hedonistic – evening by the open fire.
Book your stay at Doyden Castle
Kilmartin Castle, Argyll & Bute
Available on a B&B basis and for exclusive-use rental, Kilmartin Castle treads a slick line between hip and historic. Set at the gateway to Kilmartin Glen – soon home to a newly polished archaeology museum – the building dates to 1550 but fell into ruin until the 1990s, when it was restored.
In 2014 Anglo-Aussie couple Stef Burgon and Simon Hunt bought the castle and refurbished it more extensively. Its five bedrooms and grand hall now feature underfloor heating, copper bathtubs, art, antiques and a spin-yourself vinyl collection, but the castle’s ancient stone walls, spiral staircases and arrowslit windows still take centre stage.
Book your stay at Kilmartin Castle
Forter Castle, Perthshire
A 16th-century keep stationed between Blairgowrie and Braemar, Forter hosts 12 to 16 guests in Caledonian splendour. Built by the Ogilvys of Airlie in 1560 to guard the entrance to two strategic passes, the castle now serves as an elegant gateway to the Cairngorms.
Restored from ruin by owner-designer Katharine Pooley and her father, it’s decorated with heather-hued rugs, intricate tapestries and sparkling crystal. A hand-painted ceiling in the great hall, by artist Jenny Merredew, depicts the traditional Scottish song ‘The Bonnie House of Airlie’ – and the infamous destruction of the castle by the Campbell clan in the 17th century.
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