Top 10: The Best Castle Hotels in Britain

by Telegraph Travel experts, The Telegraph, January 8, 2019

Sherelle Jacobs introduces Telegraph Travel's guide to the best castle hotels in Britain, including the best castle hotels in England, Scotland and Wales, from family-friendly castles big on country pursuits to the best castle hotels with spas and gourmet dining. Expect staggering medieval military architecture, bathrooms behind hidden walls, jousting tournaments, murder mystery parties, and the odd friendly ghost.

Hever Castle Edenbridge, Kent, England

9Telegraph expert rating

It was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and later ended up in the hands of Anne of Cleves. Expect the executed queen's prayer books, torture instruments and England's best collection of Tudor paintings after the National Portrait Gallery. Rooms are all four-poster beds, rolltop baths, leaded windows and gold-threaded chaise longues. Guests get to explore the grounds – including the ancient yew maze, handsome croquet lawn and pungent rose garden – out of hours. Breakfast is taken overlooking the orchard. Jousting tournaments and archery displays spice things up in summer. Monthly 'dine and stay events' often feature a Tudor banquet. Read expert review. From £110per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

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Lumley Castle Durham, County Durham, England

8Telegraph expert rating

A pugnacious medieval knight called Ralph Lumley built this commanding castle that bears over the River Wear. He was a bit of a troublemaker and executed for conspiring to overthrow King Henry IV. It isn’t a property that does things by halves, with its bombastic silk flower arrangements, heraldic wall coverings and staff scurrying about in medieval garb. Bedrooms boast heavily-draped four-poster beds and original features like swags and pelmets. Some have bathrooms behind hidden doors. The dining room is well pitched for romance: think soft candles, stone pillars and vaulted ceilings. Plan a stay to coincide with the regular murder mystery dinners or Elizabethan banquets for extra fun. Read expert review. From £66per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

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Star Castle Hotel Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, England

9Telegraph expert rating

Elizabeth I built this star-shaped fortress in 1593 to defend the Isles of Scilly. It postures on a fortified hill, offering views of the sea from all spokes. Crooked, queer-shaped rooms have been crammed into all eight points of the star, which only adds to the fun when it comes to having an explore. Furnishings are no less quirky – an unwieldy caboodle of Persian rugs, flashy modern prints and Jacobean chairs. Bag a garden room with French windows that open directly onto the lawns. Eating here is also particularly atmospheric; the dining room was once the officer’s mess and guests can try wine from the owner’s local vineyard. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

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Augill Castle Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England

9Telegraph expert rating

It’s been referred to as "a triumph of vanity over common sense". Augill Castle is also a rather histrionic testament to the power of sibling rivalry. John Bagot Pearson "a gentleman of leisure and considerable means" built it in 1841 to outdo his brother. And because he could. Expect frantically steep turrets, sweeping mahogany staircases and lattice windows as intricate as French lace. A championship golf course, ESPA spa, swimming pool, archery and rifle range means it great for families. There’s sloe gin making, horse riding and hot air ballooning too. Food in the glittery, flock-wallpapered dining room wows: think estate venison and local seat trout. Read expert review. From £160per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

• The best family-friendly hotels in England

Warwick Castle Warwick, Warwickshire, England

7Telegraph expert rating

Medieval military architecture doesn’t get much better than this sandstone fortress held in a gentle nook of the River Avon. Setting off to bed up 55 spiral stairs is pretty special, especially when your room was once occupied by King Edward IV during the Wars of the Roses. Other treats include the remains of a Norman motte, 14th-century sandstone walls, a lot of English oak and historical historical graffiti on the walls. Rooms have four-poster beds draped with damask-look curtains and loos tucked into medieval garderobes. A stay includes breakfast in bed and an after-hours private tour with a member of the history team. Read expert review. From £600per night.

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Langley Castle Northumberland, England

8Telegraph expert rating

This is the real deal: a 14th-century castle – all battlements and seven-foot thick walls. It’s also one of the last remaining British castle hotels that still has its original fortifications. Expect exposed stone walls, wrought-iron candelabras, suits of armour plus gilt-framed portraits aplenty. The most expensive rooms (nine) are in the castle and go the full medieval hog with four-poster beds, heraldic-patterned carpets, lavish swags and window seats in thick stone walls. Food is taken seriously in the AA Rosettes restaurant, serving the likes of halibut with autumn truffle, salted cod with iced raita. Read expert review. From £150per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

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Amberley Castle Amberley, West Sussex, England

8Telegraph expert rating

It’s so old it was recorded in the Domesday Book. Amberley Castle is initially forbidding, with a rare working portcullis (lowered every night), within its 60-foot high walls. The 900-year-old castle began life as a manor house for the Bishop of Chichester and was fortified in 1377. Inside though, the style is comfortable and unassuming, albeit with suits of armour dotted about. Some rooms are traditional, with four posters; others more contemporary. Dinner is served in a domed room decorated with coats of arms and throne-like steel-studded chairs. The history tours with three-course lunch (£55 per head) are particularly popular. Read expert review. From £158per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

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Glenapp Castle Ballantrae, Ayrshire, Scotland

8Telegraph expert rating

A fine example of 19th-century Scottish Baronial grandeur, set in a forest of giant redwoods with views over the Irish Sea. Sandstone battlements viewed from the Azalea Pond and Italian Garden evoke a fairy tale, and imposing public rooms with Austrian wood panelling, period furniture, log fires and objets d’art create a warm, modern Victorian ambiance. There's an all-weather tennis court, a croquet lawn and shooting (pheasant and partridge are on the estate). Oriental rugs and big canopy beds make for atmospheric rooms. Suites are palatial with curtained four-poster beds, fireplaces and flower arrangements worthy of Old Master paintings. Don’t miss the six-course dinners either. Read expert review. From £245per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

• The best castle hotels in Scotland

Dalhousie Castle Hotel Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, Scotland

8Telegraph expert rating

This is the real McCoy, Scotland’s oldest inhabited castle with a turbulent history dating from the 13th-century. Musket shot is still embedded in the stone battlements, but the interiors have been transformed into a luxury hotel and spa with fine dining. Rooms have period furnishings, tartan tweed and Molton Brown toiletries. The Mary Queen of Scots suite has a massive four-poster bed fit for royalty. You’re in good company too: Edward I spent a night here before marching to Falkirk to defeat William Wallace. Dishes like braised beef cheek with haggis pomme dauphine are served served by candlelight among suits of armour and battleaxes in the Dungeon restaurant. Read expert review. From £114per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

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Castell Deudraeth Portmeirion, Wales

8Telegraph expert rating

A Liberal MP built this early Victorian castle (and one-time prep school) on a private peninsula of the Snowdonia coast. Gothic and Tudor styles collide: think slate floors, froufrou plasterwork and an ornate fireplace guarded by a fearsome stone knight. There’s an outdoor swimming pool and spa. Pick your room wisely as there are some standout suites: Castell Ten, in particular, offers superb estuary views and sunsets while Castell Nine features a turreted bathroom. Enjoy lunch al fresco on the sun-kissed terrace of the Victorian walled garden; retire to the wood-panelled lounge after dinner for coffee by the roaring fire. Read expert review. From £79per night. Check availability. Rates provided by


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