– By Kim Feldmann
There is an increasing trend of “castle hotels” going on in Europe that even Airbnb has adhered to by adding “castle” as an option under the “property type” filter – which doesn’t feel so unusual when realizing the list also comprises igloos, planes, caves, and even entire islands. Nonetheless, there is a fairy-tale-like vibe to the idea of staying in a castle that seems to be attracting a wave of travellers across the old continent. Such popularity could be due to the hypothesis that many people would expect to be treated like kings and queens – or at least not as peasants – during their stay. Or, it could be that they are enticed to rent a room for the weekend in order to travel back in time and escape the humdrum of the 21st century, its modern commodities and fast pace of life. But despite all efforts to convey the essence of the Middle Ages, most of the old fortresses and palaces (that have been turned into lodges) get pretty good Wi-Fi connection.
These historical hotels range from small, rustic summer castles, to towers, all the way to more luxurious 40-bedroom inns. Situated amidst the snow-capped mountains of the Austrian Alps, Hotel Schloss Thannegg is a great example of the modern-ancient duality within this vogue, since it features an 850-year-old wine cellar as well as a free ski shuttle to the surrounding ski slopes. Erected in Neo-Baroque style at the bottom of the Bukk Mountains in Hungary, the La Contessa castle hotel boasts 80 exorbitant double rooms, surrounded by a 7-hectare park. In Ireland, it’s possible to rent a room that overlooks Lough Corrib (Ireland’s second-largest lake), in an estate once inhabited by the Guinness family; while in Tuscany, the more modest 11th century Castel Porrona offers the charming simplicity of a landscape covered by vineyards and olive groves.
There is also a star-shaped fortress built by Elizabeth I over 400 years ago in the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall; a French chateau with an outdoor jacuzzi only an hour train ride from Paris; a 14th century fortress with Michelin approved seafood dishes near Guincho Beach, Portugal; or a 14th-century castillo built on a site believed to have been first settled by Hercule’s soldiers. But regardless of where or how old, the mere idea of being able to book online for a room in a building constructed without the help of tape measures or concrete-mixers, feels bewitching in itself.