Top 10 castles
Give yourself the royal treatment
In the centre of this delightful market town in Somerset, this wisteria-clad hotel has been run by the Chapman family for over 60 years. In a building where parts date back to the 13th century, there are 44 luxurious bedrooms and suites. For total privacy, head to the Penthouse; it comes with its own dumbwaiter allowing food to be delivered straight to the suite. Food is an important part of this hotel – the Castle has featured in the Good Food Guide since 1951 and there’s a fine dining restaurant as well as Brazz, a casual brasserie.
You’ll move effortlessly between the great outdoors and the equally lovely interiors of this Edwardian mansion. There’s a superb golf course, sybaritic spa and all sorts of ways to immerse yourself in the countryside, whether it’s a falconry course, fly-fishing or cider making. In the middle of Dartmoor National Park the wild moorlands contrast with the unabashed grandeur of the library and drawing rooms complete with vast fireplaces and wood panelling. For extra privacy, head for one of the lodges. Perfect for families; stay in one of them and the hotel will fill your fridge with your favourite food before you arrive and deliver food from its restaurants.
Romantic ruins, beautiful gardens and a building that dates back more than 900 years, this castle was once home to a medieval princess. There are four apartments in the castle available to rent as well as a lodge at the gate of the castle but whichever one you stay in, you will be able to make yourself at home with games of croquet, barbeques and fishing on the banks of the River Exe and tours of the rest of the castle are included in the cost.
Look across the Solent from this Isle of Wight mansion and you’ll see why the English king Henry VIII used the building to defend England from attack. These days, this ivy-clad building is devoted to gentler past times. Just 100 meters from a gorgeous sandy beach, there are comfortable rooms, a smart restaurant as well as a relaxed pub.
Real passion has gone into restoring this Lake District castle which has been transformed into a supremely comfortable, family-friendly boutique hotel with 14 bedrooms. Owners Simon and Wendy have two children, a dog and a cat. You’ll find four poster beds, antiques and decanters of sherry in the bedrooms and extravagant bathrooms. The library, stuffed with valuable books, doubles as a bar. Augill Castle is romantic and quirky, with a teddy bear on every bed.
This ancient-looking building between Leeds and Manchester mixes history with plenty of contemporary style. Built in 1860 for a local landowner who decided that he wanted to look at a medieval-style castle. Behind the battlements and arched windows, there’s a lot of luxury with cool, modern interiors with vast sofas and a kitchen that can cater for crowds. Head into the converted stable block and you’ll a wonderful indoor swimming pool and gym. In the grounds you’ll even find a lake with a rowing boat.
Battles once took place in front of this castle but these days it showcases history in its sleekest forms. With 25 bedrooms, seven acres of grounds and some of Yorkshire’s most stunning historic sites, including Castle Howard and Rievaulx Abbey are within a short drive. Back at the hotel, you’ll find sophisticated food at Restaurant Anise – and if you’re inspired – the hotel also runs cookery masterclasses. Fittingly, for somewhere with so much history, there are even rumoured to be the occasional – but very friendly – ghost wandering around the castle.
This medieval castle in Northumbria revels in its past. With just 27 bedrooms it has an intimate feel. The four-poster beds hung with extravagant fabrics contrast with the ancient walls – some of them are 7 foot thick – allowing you to curl up and take refuge in your very own tower. Want to look at the castle instead? The Castle View rooms are a recent, luxurious conversion – and have been adapted with less able-bodied visitors in mind.
Retreat to the top of this castle and there’s a tangible sense of privacy. In a dramatic setting on the edge of Craster, a Northumberland fishing village, at the very top of the castle you’ll find a beautifully decorated four bedroom apartment with arched windows and luxurious furnishings. There’s an elegant drawing room with a log fire as well as a large kitchen. There are some fantastic coastal walks nearby and the smoked kippers that come from Craster taste famously good!
Stay in the ivy-clad hotel in one of the sea view rooms and you’ll experience views of the Cornish coast. However, if you prefer to self-cater there are lodges dotted around the grounds. There are times at Tregenna Castle when you will think you are in your own private kingdom; there are 72 acres of woodland to explore and you’ll also find indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Tregenna is close to St Ives, filled with art galleries, including a branch of the famous Tate.