Four castles where you can holiday like royalty
Hole up for the autumn in Warwick, Chillingham, Glenapp or at Versailles. Chris Carter reports.
Warwick Castle: history brought to life
“There’s nothing like watching a troupe of risk-taking horse riders enact the Wars of the Roses [at Warwick Castle] to make you feel better about pandemic life”, says Susie Mesure in The Daily Telegraph. It was almost disappointing when the two sides called it quits and formed the House of Tudor.
The maze this year has a new “Vile Victorians” corner (after the Horrible Histories series of children’s books) and for younger visitors there is a Zog activity trail based on the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler books.
Whizzing up the castle’s 14th-century ramparts, Guy’s Tower offers views across Warwickshire, while inside the castle proper, the theme-park feel is dialled down and “feels more like a regular historical attraction”.
But the real highlight is the medieval glamping in the Knight’s Village. “This was where history really came to life”, with more fighting knights, archery and even a bedtime story. From £125 per night for a Knight’s Village Lodge, warwick-castle.com
Live like royalty in the Château de Versailles
Staff dressed as 18th-century servants greet guests at the newly opened Le Grand Contrôle (bedroom pictured above), the first ever hotel on the grounds of the Château de Versailles, says Simon Kuper in the Financial Times.
The building had been the home of the Duke de Beauvilliers, “essentially Louis XIV’s party planner”. By 1789, the year the French Revolution began, Genevan banker Jacques Necker had moved in as general controller of finances for Louis XVI.
Even today, a luxury hotel on state property would fly in the face of the sensibilities of a nation that guillotined its aristocracy, so Le Grand Contrôle is careful not to come across as nouveau riche. The interiors have been restored as far as possible to how they would have been in 1788, even if the chapel has been converted into a bar. And Louis XVI never had the benefit of an in-house Alain Ducasse restaurant.
All guests are also assigned their own personal butler, who are seemingly determined to make all who stay here feel very much like a king or queen. Doubles from €1,938, including butler and tours of Versailles, airelles.com/en
Ghostly goings on at Chillingham Castle
Chillingham Castle, located just over an hour’s drive from Newcastle, has been owned by the same family since 1344, says Hannah Hastings in the Daily Express. That goes some way to explaining, perhaps, why the castle is one of the most haunted in Britain. Not a stay for the faint-hearted, numerous former residents are said to haunt the grounds, including a poltergeist, a ghostly “blue boy”, and, conveniently, a Spanish witch who is rumoured to curse those who steal things.
Much of the Grade I-listed building has remained the same since the Tudor period. There are eight self-catering apartments available to book, each adorned with antiques and strange tales. The Guard Room, for instance, is perfect for couples looking for a “quirky getaway”, while groups of up to four can stay in the Grey Apartment, with views over the courtyard from your four-poster bed.
Guests are at liberty to explore the castle, including the dungeon, complete with medieval rack. From around £100 a night in November and December, chillingham-castle.com
A palatial penthouse in Glenapp Castle
In May, Glenapp Castle, situated on Scotland’s breath-taking Ayrshire coast, opened the doors to its extravagant new penthouse apartment, The Endeavour. Consisting of the hotel’s top floor, The Endeavour has a media room, library and games room, sauna, beauty and treatment room, kitchen and private dining room, in addition to its four bedrooms and five bathrooms. A butler and personal chef are also on hand.
There is also the newly refurbished Azalea Glasshouse Restaurant, within the castle’s picturesque walled garden. The glasshouse itself, dating back to 1832, is one of only a few surviving in Scotland from that era, with a similar one located at the Queen’s Balmoral Estate.
The botanical theme runs throughout the restaurant, home to fruit trees, flowers and vines, with herbs sourced from the garden. Walk off lunch through the castle’s 110-acre estate and local woodlands for spectacular views of Ailsa Craig and the Mull of Kintyre. The Endeavour costs from £2,750 per night in the winter months, glenappcastle.com