Worried about a Game of Thrones style invasion on your next trip? Roving hordes? Zombie armies? We totally feel you. Travel can be a bit scary, and if you're the type that likes to feel extra secure when you get away, you might appreciate the idea of staying in a hotel that's, well, fortified. These five hotels are actually in ancient fortresses, so if you find yourself needing to fend off rebel invaders on your next romantic retreat, you'll at least have all the battlements, arrowslits, and watch towers your heart could desire right at hand. Hey, you never know...
The gorgeous Castello di Petroia dates all the way back to the 11th century; with a picturesque setting in the Umbrian countryside, it was at one time a medieval fortress. Back then this region consisted of vying independent city-states, and the fortress was the birthplace of the Duke of Urbino. Today, this 800-acre wooded estate is a charming and undeniably romantic retreat, with a seasonal pool and candlelit gourmet restaurant. The castle is comprised of three buildings: the Major Castellare, the main building with medieval halls and a library; the smaller Minor Castellare, where the castle’s guardian’s once lived; and the 66-foot Tower, which has a three-tiered guest room. The 13 individually-decorated rooms have historic flourishes such as stone arches, wood beams, and frescoed ceilings.
This 16th-century fortress is now a luxury boutique hotel that feels like a small village. It retains most of its historic architectural features, including the moat (now a garden); the main square; the walls surrounding the citadel, and even some of the watch towers. The arched doors in the old stone walls open onto the large, cobblestone courtyard where the army once gathered. While the original structures still look the same on the outside, the property’s interiors are decidedly modern. These days, inhabitants are busy making art rather than war — there are six galleries on-site showcasing work by local artists.
As any true castle hotel should, Ashford Castle has a rich history. The Anglo-Norman de Burgo family first built a castle here in 1228, and then lost it after being defeated by the O’Connors in the 16th century. The castle passed hands many more times over the following centuries and the building went through a number of incarnations — receiving the addition of a French-style chateau in 1715 and two Victorian wings in 1852 — before evolving into the hotel it is today. Ashford Castle embodies the fantasy of the Irish castle hotel, featuring a massive historic stone facade, complete with towers and turrets; gorgeous, manicured grounds; a stunning setting on a huge lake; and common spaces that are truly grand, with rich wood paneling, chandeliers, and antique furniture.
Arrowslits by the bed? Check. Battlements? Check. Suit of armor? Check. This 13th-century castle has an impressive degree of preserved medieval character, and today offers a romantic and fun setting for a true getaway. Rooms have not been enlarged from the castle’s original architecture, and, in keeping with the castle’s original function as a military structure, windows on some sides can be tiny (meaning a dark bedroom in certain cases). Historic details such as stone walls, inlaid stone relief, interior wooden staircases, and bits of ceiling frescoes have been preserved throughout.
The historic Solar Do Castelo is different than any other hotel in Lisbon. The rooms are quaint (if not luxurious), and the breakfast buffet offers a ton of options for hungry guests. But the real reason tourists stay at this hotel is the location; not only is it convenient to numerous sights and neighborhoods in the city, but it is the only hotel within the walls of a heavily fortified medieval citadel, in the village surrounding St. George’s Castle. It’s quiet, and rich in history; the hotel has preserved a large part of the architecture, as well as adding a small museum of artifacts off of the lobby. And a real highlight here is the outdoor terrace, where peacocks congregate.
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