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Soaring turrets and fairy-tale spires, stone-faced walls and fortifications, grand gardens and opulent interiors – these are the things that set a castle stay apart from the crowd. If you're the sort of traveller that never does things in half measures, these lavish and extravagant accommodations might just be the thing you've been seeking. Many are steeped in centuries – even millennia – of history, with vast dining halls and stone-cut staircases where dukes, generals, dauphins and even kings and queens might once have trodden. It's good company to be keeping as you enjoy sprawling suites with 4-poster beds, stained-glass windows and Gothic touches that wouldn't at all look out of place in Hogwarts.
It should hardly come as a surprise that castles tend to edge towards the more luxurious end of the spectrum. Many come with 4- and 5-star ratings that herald fine-dining restaurants and indoor pools or spa facilities on site. You can add aromatherapy sessions and massage treatments to your itinerary and really crank up the R&R on a castle holiday, all while being surrounded by age-old walls and art and architecture. The location of castles is another major pull. Often perched dramatically on hillsides or bluffs outside of city centres, they command sweeping views of Scottish fells or English countryside, of Italian lakes or French vineyards. You'll want to be sure to have the camera charged for your stay.
These days, castle stays are on offer in a whole host of countries. England might have the most of all, with medieval keeps and converted fortifications ranging from the South Coast to Yorkshire. Spots like Cumbria's Appleby Castle are right up there with the best, touting Gothic interiors and 4-poster beds, a hot tub, spa rooms and more. In France, it's the elaborate spires and glorious outline of the vintage chateaux that takes centre stage, with examples like Le Chateau d'Osthoffen oozing a history that goes back as far as Roman times, along with big spaces for weddings and other events. Meanwhile, Ireland offers the luxurious 5-star Luttrellstown Castle Resort, where grand medievalist suites overlook a manicured golf course, Italy's Apennines host the charming Il Castello Dei Principi Sanseverino, surrounded by serrated peaks, and New York State has the Highlands Castle, where flamboyant interiors pay homage to the Scottish clans and Britain's centuries-old traditions.