Four stays in palaces and castles

Chris Carter takes a look at four grand places to stay, including a Gothic castle in the Scottish Highlands and an 18th-century palace in Portugal.


Domaine des Etangs: an 11th-century French castle with a "refreshingly unstaffed" feel

Take a trip deep into the French country-side to see the Domaine des Etangs, says Rooksana Hossenally on Here, "flanking the pocket-sized village of Massignac, guests generally feel like they've discovered a veritable marvel". Think "honey-hued stone walls" and "perfectly pruned hedges crouching underneath elaborately chiselled stone windowsills that belonged to a sturdy [yet] unimposing 11th-century castle". The hotel is a family run affair with seven guest rooms that feels "refreshingly unstaffed" "as though we were handed the keys for the weekend and left free to explore every corner of the chateau's lavish rooms".

From around 400 a night

A Gothic castle in the Highlands

Taymouth Castle, the honeymoon venue for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840, is to become a five-star hotel and spa, with 37 luxury suites, says John Jeffay in The Scotsman. The A-listed, four-storey Gothic building in Highland Perthshire and its contents were sold in 1922 to open as a hotel with a James Braid-designed 18-hole golf course. The scenic castle had been modernised during a £23m refurbishment, but the latest plan will see reconfiguration of the west wing to build 23 smaller bedrooms.

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Prices and opening date yet to be announced. See

A historic restoration

Following a four-year restoration, the Htel de Crillon has finally reopened, says Harriet Agnew in the Financial Times. It was at the Crillon that the 1778 French-American treaty recognising the Declaration of Independence was signed, and Marie Antoinette took music lessons. In 1909 it was turned into a hotel, playing host to Winston Churchill among others. The chandeliers in the hotel's once-celebrated restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, now a bar, have been modernised and lowered, epitomising how the restoration has strived to conserve the hotel's 18th-century heritage "while transforming itself with a contemporary twist". Two of the suites have been designed by Chanel's creative director, Karl Lagerfeld.

Opening offer around 1,250 a night

An 18th-century palace in Portugal

The Palacio de Seteais, an 18th-century neoclassical palace in the woods of Sintra in Portugal, originally built for a Dutch consul and eventually the home of a marquis, is grand in every sense of the word, says Chadner Navarro in Bloomberg Pursuits. The manicured lawns feature rose gardens, hedge mazes, and roaming peacocks, while inside guests can "revel in the opulence of frescoed walls, gala-ready chandeliers, silk tapestries, and other over-the-top antiques, which fill seven sitting rooms and entertaining parlours". The 30 stylish bedrooms blend old world with new through "a lovely combination of heavy tapestries, hardwood floors, and claw-foot bathtubs". From the hotel's high perch you can survey the surrounding Sintra Mountains, "dotted with the fairy-tale castles" for which the town is famous, formerly the homes of Portuguese royalty.

Around 276 a night

A magical experience at Legoland


Legoland's new Castle Hotel, which opened earlier this year at Legoland Windsor, is a "fully themed experience", says Kate Heaume in the Evening Standard. The hotel is "a sight to behold: Lego knights bearing trumpets and flags guard a drawbridge entrance and plastic flamed torches light up the walls, letting the magic begin before you even step foot inside". You can choose from two different themed rooms: a "brave knights' hangout or a magical wizards' dwelling". The castle theme even extends into the bathroom, right down to the Lego hand soap. The hotel also has an indoor pirate-themed swimming pool, with slides and water cannon. But if that doesn't keep you entertained, there are always the theme park's attractions on your doorstep.

£680.20 for a family of four

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.