Castles of Europe

Ferris Wheel in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast, Northern Ireland // Photo by RobertMayne/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Dromoland Castle sits on 450 acres of scenic landscape and dates back to the 16th century.DROMOLAND CASTLE sits on 450 acres of scenic landscape and dates back to the 16th century.

 

There’s no place quite like Europe to unleash your inner monarch. The continent is chock full of historic castles and palaces that send the mind spinning into daydreams of red carpets, high towers and regal thrones. For those VIP travelers looking to play pretend king or queen for the day we suggest booking a stay at one of these very real European castles.Schloss Igls  is a private hideaway built in 1887 with just 18 rooms and suites.

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Pictured: SCHLOSS IGLS is a private hideaway built in 1887 with just 18 rooms and suites.

Dromoland Castle in County Clare, Ireland, dates back to the 16th century. Formerly the home of the O’Briens, Barons of Inchiquin, this estate takes travelers back to the era of Gaelic royalty. The castle, which is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, sits on 450 acres of scenery (golf course included, naturally). Inside guests will find 99 guest rooms, including 14 suites. Tip: We hear the Presidential Suite was renovated in 2012. It has views of the lake and surrounding grounds.

Should the Presidential Suite be booked, guests should opt for the Cottage Suite in the Moriarty Wing. This self-contained suite has a patio and guests have the option of an exclusive personal chef. But if you prefer to dine outside the room, you can’t go wrong with signature restaurant, Earl of Thomond, which serves both à la carte and five-course table d’hote menus.

Night owls looking for fun can visit the Cocktail Bar, which was formerly the baron’s study. It offers views of the fairway and, we hear, has a working fireplace. Be sure to ask about nights when there is live entertainment.

And we know it wouldn’t be a real regal experience without Afternoon Tea. Dromoland Castle hosts Afternoon Tea daily between 3 and 5 p.m. in the Drawing Room, where guests can enjoy a variety of teas and baked pastries and breads.

Looking for something over the top? The castle can arrange a picnic basket for a day outing or a lunchtime stroll on the grounds. The baskets can include anything from snacks to specially designed menus (and of course, be sure to request a chilled bottle of champagne).

Being crowned king or queen for a weekend entitles you to a fair amount of pampering. For that be sure to visit The Spa at Dromoland. The Spa features an outdoor hydra spa sheltered by a gazebo and six treatment rooms. Fitness facilities include an indoor pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi.

On the castle grounds, guests can golf, fish, play tennis, bike, skeet shoot and practice archery. Horseback riding lessons and falconry are also available.

Hot off the press: Last month, the castle completed several enhancements, including a re-designed and refurnished 650-square-foot Bridal Suite. What makes it special? This suite has a dedicated sitting room, an open fireplace, a Bose sound system, a master bedroom, a dressing room and bathroom complete with a Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. There’s also the refurbished Ballyhannon Suite, which can seat up to 350 guests and is the main venue for large meetings, conferences and seminars. The suite has walls of windows with garden and countryside views.

Renovation of Deerfields Restaurant included updates to the dining room at The Inn at Dromoland. For something less formal, Shannigan’s Gastro Pub opened in April with seasonal Irish fare, craft beers and spirits from area micro-distilleries. Even better, the pub offers a new dining option that sources ingredients from local Irish food producers. This commitment to local farmers and artisans extends to the bar menu, which includes craft beers produced by artisan brewers, and new blends of spirits produced by the micro-distilleries who dot the country.

Getting There: Fly travelers into Shannon Airport. From there, VIPs can request a Rolls Royce, Mercedes or BMW transfer to the hotel.

Contact Sales and Marketing Director John Hehir ([email protected]).Hever Castle  was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. The oldest part of the castle is from 1270.

Pictured: HEVER CASTLE was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. The oldest part of the castle is from 1270.

Across the Irish Sea in Kent, just 30 miles south of London, travelers can time travel back to the era of King Henry VIII for a stay at Hever Castle. Once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, this castle is steeped in English history (with a touch of scandal, for those who love the tawdry affairs of Henry VIII).

The oldest part of the castle dates back to 1270. The Boleyn family purchased the castle in the 1500s and added a Tudor home within the walls. After Anne Boleyn’s untimely and tragic demise, the home passed to Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife.

“The gardens and grounds are evocative of those Anne would have walked around during her early years, including a maze,” says Jean Newman Glock, founder of JNG Worldwide. “An equally interesting part of Hever’s history is an American connection. American William Waldorf Astor purchased the castle in 1903 as his home. He added the ‘Astor Wing’, built at great expense with precise attention to architectural details and building materials of the Tudor period. This wing now serves as a luxury B&B. After hours guests may wander the grounds or arrange a special private dinner in Tudor dining room, which I was privileged to do with the eminent Tudor historians and authors David Starkey and Alison Weir. This history nerd’s dream, come true.”

There are 18 luxury bedrooms available, each with its individual style. Six have been noted as “superior rooms,” either because it offers a four-poster bed, a notable view or is slightly larger. These rooms are known as Feature rooms. The Astor Wing is only accessible to private guests, which lends itself to a true throwback in time. Of course, the hotel is outfitted with all the modern necessities for luxury travel (think Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs).

Golf enthusiasts will love the 27-hole championship course on site.

Good to know: Because the space operates as a bed & breakfast, there is no designated restaurant for evening meals. However upon booking, the staff sends a list of locally recommended places to eat.

The best way to reach Hever Castle is to fly guests into London’s Gatwick Airport. Luxury travel advisors can contact the sales office at [email protected]SchloSs IGLs has a history of being a winter sports resort for snowshoers, bob-sleighing, horse riding and more.

Pictured: SCHLOSS IGLS has a history of being a winter sports resort for snowshoers, bob-sleighing, horse riding and more. 

Jetsetters en route to Austria would be remiss to not visit Schloss Igls in Innsbruck, in the heart of the Alps. The private hideaway, built in 1887, has just 18 rooms and suites, but we hear the crème de la crème is the Boutique Apartment, a 2,152-square-foot space with a private entrance.

The Boutique Apartment has two bedrooms with interconnecting doors for up to four guests, a Salon with private terrace, a fully equipped kitchen, study and library, along with direct access to the indoor pool and garden.

Other regal amenities at the castle include a bar with open fair, a Grand Salon, a restaurant with dining for up to 60 guests and a spa with an indoor pool, garden, sauna, steam room and massage room.

Diners at Schloss Igls are in the hands of Chef Dietmar E. Froehlich. Breakfast is served à la carte, as is lunch. There is also afternoon tea complete with waltz music. For dinner, we hear guests should take “A Culinary Trip around the Globe,” with themed buffets. Top Tip: Recommend guests book one of the four-to-seven-course menus. Froehlich can also organize a customized picnic for diners.

Igls has a history of being a winter sports resort. Its trails plays host to snowshoers, bob-sleighing, horse riding and more. Skiers have a wealth of slopes to choose from in the area, as well. Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck has nine ski areas and 90 mountain railways and lifts.Dromoland Castle has 99 guest rooms, including 14 suites.

Pictured: DROMOLAND CASTLE has 99 guest rooms, including 14 suites.

From March to mid-November, guests can golf among the mountains. The region’s golf courses include the nine-hole Olympia Golf Igls, the nine-hole golf course in Lans, the 18-hole Championship course in Rinn, and the 27-hole Golfpark Mieming.

Innsbruck itself offers a wealth of VIP attractions, from architecture and art to a bustling nightlife. We recommend travelers visit the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens and the Hofburg Palace. Innsbruck also has a calendar worth of exhibitions, concerts, festivals and events like the Festival of Early Music and the Tanzsommer dance festival.

Getting There: Fly guests into Innsbruck Airport, Salzburg Airport or Munich Airport.

Reach out to General Manager Cornelia Schmid ([email protected]) with questions. 

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