How to Stay at Castle Hotels in Europe

Schloss Fuschl has welcomed a revolving roster of royalty and film stars to its lakeside location.
Schloss Fuschl has welcomed a revolving roster of royalty and film stars to its lakeside location.

Nothing conjures the European fairytale more than an overnight stay at a castle hotel. From Poland to Portugal, age-old castles have been converted into luxurious hotels where guests are invited to play the monarch — if only for a night or two.

France has perfected the art of castle hotel hospitality — with a plethora of chateaux dotting the countryside. One of the most noteworthy of these regal stays is the Domaine des Etangs, which opened in June 2015 in the off-the-path countryside of the Poitou-Charentes region. Previously the home of French oil tycoon Didier Primat, the turreted castle dates to the 11th century. After the billionaire’s death in 2008, daughter Garance devoted the past seven years to transforming the 850-acre country estate into a playground for bon vivants.

The Domaine des Etangs offers a singular hotel experience. The estate grounds boast Gallo-Roman baths, a spiral-shaped kitchen garden, a spa housed in a former mill and Eden-like gardens designed by famed landscape architect Camille Muller. The castle décor is a striking mélange of antiques and contemporary art and furnishings. Careful attention was paid to accentuate the historic architectural details.


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A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Domaine des Etangs has only seven suites and seven stand-alone farm cottages; the crème de la crème is the Vénus Suite, which is located in the South Tower. Furnished with Second Empire furniture, this sprawling suite has a lounge and bedroom with sweeping views over the grounds. Reach out to Manager Françoise Limoges ([email protected]) for reservations and information.

Château de la Treyne, a member of Relais & Châteaux, is perched on a cliff overlooking the Dordogne.
Château de la Treyne, a member of Relais & Châteaux, is perched on a cliff overlooking the Dordogne.

Two hours south, the Dordogne is known for its dramatic clifftop châteaux, fortified medieval hamlets and prehistoric cave paintings in the famous Lascaux caves. Also known as the Périgord, this region is celebrated for its excellent cuisine, which highlights the local bounty (truffles, walnuts and foie gras). Perched on a cliff overlooking the Dordogne just a few miles from Rocamadour, Château de la Treyne is a member of Relais & Châteaux.

Built between the 14th and 17th centuries, the castle has 17 rooms and suites, individually decorated with period furniture and equipped with contemporary conveniences like free Wi-Fi and Jacuzzi tubs. The top digs are the three master suites: Dordogne, La Favorite and Prison Dorée (“Golden Prison”), located at the top of the 14th-century Square Tower. Another standout room is Soleil Levant, adorned with stained glass windows and ceiling frescos because of its location in the former chapel. For dramatic river views, book the Louis XIII Junior Suite. Coralie Quere ([email protected]), head of reception, will take your reservations.

You could spend all day lounging in luxury — there’s an outdoor heated pool, a tennis court and Michelin-starred restaurant — but if you wish to explore the surrounding region, the hotel can arrange a number of excursions, such as canoeing, horseback riding and hot-air balloon rides over the Dordogne valley.

In Austria, the Schloss Fuschl, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, has welcomed royalty and film stars to its lakeside location 20 minutes outside Salzburg. The castle was built in 1461 as a private hunting lodge for Prince-Archbishop Sigmund I, and it later served as the backdrop for the opening scenes of “The Sound of Music.”

Schloss Fuschl has 110 rooms, including eight Tower Suites and six Lakeside Cottages. Each comes with a complimentary minibar, free Wi-Fi and sweeping views over the sparkling waters of Lake Fuschl. The best views can be admired from the Lakeside cottages, as they boast private sun terraces in a secluded waterfront location. Housed in the historic castle tower, the seven Tower Suites are straight out of the Old World, furnished with antiques and paintings by the Old Masters.

For a truly regal experience, book the palatial (2,260 square feet), two-story Mozart Suite. Designed with a high stucco ceiling and oak parquet flooring, it comes with a living room, executive boardroom and a small kitchen. Standout features include the private sauna, fireplace, balconies and sun terrace to take in the vistas. Travel agents can direct any queries to Krisztina Krierer ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing.

The Schloss restaurant highlights local cuisine such as freshly caught fish from the castle’s own fishery. Additional facilities include the Schloss Bar, a cigar lounge, ballroom and event space, indoor pool, gym and the spa overlooking the lake. The ne plus ultra of spa experiences is a massage on the private bathing jetty on Lake Fuschl, followed by a soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi.

Activities run the gamut from playing the nine-hole golf course next door to lake excursions on the resort’s electric boats. (Motorboats are not allowed on Lake Fuschl.) The concierge team, led by Norbert Strambach ([email protected]), can also arrange chauffeured outings in a vintage Rolls Royce to explore the “Sound of Music” countryside.

UK and Ireland Castle News

England’s Highclere Castle, the setting for the PBS hit series “Downton Abbey,” has thrilled fans with guided tours, Afternoon Tea and even two-night stays. Accommodations have been available in an on-estate hotel called London Lodge, built in 1793 by the first Earl of Carnarvon and recently restored by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. All bookings for 2016 have now been sold, but reservations for selected dates in 2017 will open sometime this fall. Highclere is in Newbury, West Berkshire, less than an hour west of London.

Connoisseurs Scotland has announced the addition of Crossbasket Castle to its collection of luxury properties in Scotland.
Connoisseurs Scotland has announced the addition of Crossbasket Castle to its collection of luxury properties in Scotland.

Connoisseurs Scotland has announced a new addition to its collection of luxury properties in Scotland. Crossbasket Castle, just minutes from Glasgow’s city center, will begin welcoming guests on May 1, 2016. The castle, which is currently undergoing significant renovations, will have nine bedrooms, including a four-story bridal suite. There will be extensive public areas, a new banquet hall for up to 250 guests and a collection of art and original antique furniture. Guests can explore the manicured gardens, a wooded area and several nature walks. There will also be a river complete with waterfalls. The oldest part of the building — the original 15th-century tower that was built to rise above the river — is being converted into The Lindsay Tower Suite.

Ireland’s Ashford Castle, which completed a two-year, $75 million restoration only 10 months ago, recently added a spa and a new bronze conservatory that houses an indoor resistance pool with views across the serene Lough Corrib. Guests can choose from three product lines: organic Irish spa brand Voya, hailing from nearby County Sligo and based on hand-harvested seaweed; internationally renowned Elemis; and Red Carnation Hotels’ very own B|Africa. Spa packages are available.

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