Four castles that will have you feeling like royalty for the day
Cinderella’s castle doesn’t even begin to compare to these.
The castle homes of many beloved princesses (think Belle, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty) were inspired by real-life castles across Europe. While some castles still have families in residence in private quarters, other areas of these castles are open to the public for touring. And, some castles have been converted into resorts and other public venues. Whether you’re looking to stay in a beautiful castle or just soak up a piece of history, check out these must-see destinations.
Elmau Castle; Bavaria, Germany
Built between 1914 and 1916, this castle is set on 1,600 acres in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps about 62 miles south of Munich. It was renovated and reopened as a luxury hotel and lavish spa retreat in 2007. Now, visitors see a gorgeous luxury spa and cultural hideaway. While there is no shortage of romance in this palatial estate, the resort boasts three family spas with a kid’s club, soccer camps, outdoor adventures and workshops. But don’t worry, if you are looking for an adult-only getaway, there are three adult spas as well. There is no royalty in residence, however, the castle has hosted political royalty with presidents, prime ministers and other dignitaries booking accommodations for the 2015 G-7 Summit.
Framlingham Castle; Suffolk, England
Referenced by pop star Ed Sheeran in his ode to his hometown, “Castle on the Hill,” Framlingham Castle is a staple in Suffolk, England. Built in the 12th century, the castle is now home to exhibitions sharing the stories and history of the castle and its previous tenants. The castle’s curtain wall has been standing for more than 800 years and is open for visitors to trek across the 10.5-meter-tall wall for spectacular views of the town.
Ashford Castle; Cong, County Mayo, Ireland
Originally built in 1228 by the Angelo-Norman de Brugo family, Ashford Castle has been passed on and upgraded by many families since its creation. Perhaps most notably, the Guinness family purchased and expanded the lands to 26,000 acres and renovated the castle in neo-gothic style in 1852. Today, the castle is a 5-star luxury hotel with amenities ranging from a state-of-the-art spa and 30-seat cinema to a billiards room and wine tasting tunnel. This castle also boasts family-friendly activities including fishing, tennis, water adventures, horseback riding, zip lining and more. Families also can request personalized storybooks for bedtime, homemade cookies and LEGO butler service (for an additional cost).
Boldt Castle; Alexandria Bay, New York
This American castle rivals those in Europe. Started in 1900 by George C. Boldt as a tribute to his wife, construction halted when she suddenly passed away and Boldt left the project vacant for more than 70 years. The Thousand Island Bridge Authority acquired the property in 1977 and restored it to become a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Sitting on Heart Island, visitors can only gain access to the castle via boat, starting off a day of exploration with a fun adventure. The castle and yacht house also have become popular wedding spots. But pay attention to the calendar when planning; the castle is only open May 12 – October 21.