Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
There are many reasons for wanting to spend the night in an English castle hotel. Some guests are fascinated by the stories the buildings have to tell, others are attracted by the unique photo opportunities, and for some, it’s the bragging rights of sharing a sleeping space with the kings and queens of yore. In this article we look at some of the best castle hotels the country has to offer, from 900-year old Norman strongholds to famous Tudor seats and luxury piles built at the beginning of the last century.
Best Overall: Thornbury Castle and Tudor Gardens
Set amidst 14 acres of scenic South Gloucestershire countryside, Thornbury Castle’s story dates back to the 10th century. Soon after its construction, the original manor was seized by William the Conqueror. But the modern castle was built during the time of Henry VIII, who stayed here on his honeymoon tour with Anne Boleyn. Its Tudor heritage is evident everywhere, from the open fireplaces to the suits of armor in the halls to the tapestries on the walls. There are 28 rooms, many of which boast period features such as arrow-slit windows and carved ceilings.
For the most exclusive experience, book a stay in the Tower Suite. Located at the top of a stone spiral staircase in the South Wing tower, it boasts 24-carat gilding, spectacular rural views, and the largest four-poster bed of any UK hotel. In-room massages can be arranged, but you can also spend lazy afternoons playing croquet or learning the art of falconry in the walled gardens. Gourmet meals are enjoyed in the double AA Rosette kitchen in one of four atmospheric dining rooms.
Best Budget: Best Western Walworth Castle Hotel
The Walworth Castle Hotel dates back to the 12th century and it has the history to prove so. King James VI of Scotland stayed here on the way to his coronation as the King of England in 1603 and it also later served as a prisoner of war camp during the Second World War. Today, it’s a great option for those that want to experience castle living without throwing down royal coin. Rooms are located in the main castle and in an adjoining annex. The latter are the cheapest (starting from £65), but Superior Rooms, in the castle itself, are surprisingly affordable and come with a four-poster or canopy double beds. Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and complimentary parking also help to keep overall costs to a minimum. There are two restaurants on-site — Hansard’s, which offers seasonal dishes and sharing platters, and the Farmer’s Bar with its outdoor patio and children’s play area.
Best Boutique: Augill Castle
Those searching for a boutique experience will do well with a stay at Augill Castle. A neo-Gothic fantasy complete with towers, turrets, and crenelated battlements, it’s located on the edge of the Yorskhire Dales and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are 17 uniquely decorated rooms, some of them contemporary in style and some with traditional details including claw-foot tubs and stained glass windows. One room — the Pendragon — is even said to have hosted Queen Victoria en route to the royal residence at Balmoral.
Guests are encouraged to mingle over afternoon tea and the included breakfast, or at The Great British Bar which serves artisan British spirits, ciders, beers, and mixers. Although this is not a full-service hotel, Augill Italian Kitchen serves simple yet delicious Umbrian meals five nights a week, enjoyed banquet style in the Dining Room. Kids of all ages are welcome and will love the tiny private cinema and the library with its collection of books, games, and toys. Outside, a treehouse and tennis court also delight little travelers.
Best Historic: Amberley Castle
Amberley Castle is one of the oldest castle hotels in England. Located on the edge of the magnificent South Downs, it boasts 900 years of history and was recorded in the Domesday Book — a circa-1086 survey of England and Wales that was completed by King William the Conqueror. The castle’s timeline begins in 638 AD when the King of Wessex gave the land it sits on to Bishop Wilfrid (later venerated as a saint). Your experience starts when you pass through the 60-foot curtain wall via the open portcullis. All 19 rooms combine antique furnishings with contemporary comforts such as Vispring beds and L’Occitane bath products.
Premier Deluxe Rooms are the most charismatic, with original granite fireplaces and luxurious four-poster beds. The castle kitchen serves seasonal British cuisine which can be enjoyed in the Queen’s Room with its 12th-century barrel-vaulted ceiling or The Great Room, with its lancet windows and suits of armor. Spend summer days on the 18-hole putting green or exploring the beautiful formal gardens; winter afternoons are ideal for reading by the fireplace in one of the period drawing rooms.
Best for Romance: Langley Castle Hotel
Secluded within a picturesque Northumbrian valley, Langley Castle Hotel is ideally situated for romantic walks along historic Hadrian’s Wall or in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Completed in 1365 for a favored knight of King Edward III, the hotel has 27 rooms, nine of which are within the original castle. Choose one of the Feature Rooms for the most romantic experience imaginable; each is individually decorated in sumptuous shades of red and gold and boasts extravagant touches ranging from chandelier-hung ceilings to super king-size four-poster beds, spa baths, and fireplaces.
Create special memories over afternoon tea by the Drawing Room’s roaring log fire, or with a fine, locally sourced dinner in the opulent dining room. The castle also specializes in themed weddings, including Game of Thrones ceremonies complete with wax-sealed invitations, dragon cakes, horseback arrivals, and rings delivered by hawk. The picture-perfect battlements provide a stunning backdrop for official photos while entertainment options include medieval acrobats, court jesters, and fire eaters.
Best for Luxury: Bovey Castle Hotel
Five-star Bovey Castle stands out as a luxury pick thanks to its impressive list of amenities. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the imposing granite castle sits on an unspoiled 275-acre estate within Dartmoor National Park. Spend your time on the 18-hole championship golf course or taking part in exclusive activities such as deer park tours, falconry displays, cocktail masterclasses, and clay pigeon shooting. Elan Spa complements a menu of indulgent treatments with an indoor pool, sauna, and steam room.
Dining options include three AA rosette-awarded Great Western with its seven-course tasting menu as well as an unmissable afternoon tea. All 60 uniquely designed guestrooms come with a Nespresso coffee machine and ESPA toiletries. For unparalleled luxury, choose a Grand State Room with a separate sitting and dining area, a roll-top bath, and astonishing national park views. If you’re planning a private getaway with family or friends, there are 22 three-story, self-catering country lodges available for hire throughout the grounds.
Best for Families: Warwick Castle Knight’s Village
Built on the site of a fort commissioned by William the Conqueror (now owned by Merlin Entertainments), Warwick Castle is part medieval fortification, part theme park. During the day families can explore the castle itself, where the past is brought to life by costumed actors and interactive attractions such as the Horrible Histories Maze and The Castle Dungeon. Depending on what programming runs during your stay, you might also be treated to a jousting tournament, battle re-enactment, or trebuchet launch.
There are several options for those that want to stay overnight, from tented camps to luxury tower suites. The themed lodges of the Knight’s Village are especially great for families, with rooms designed to sleep five (on a double bed, bunk beds, and optional trundle bed). Amenities range from cable TV to free Wi-Fi and a private terrace. Make the most of two-day priority entrance to the castle and enjoy exclusive evening archery classes, bird of prey experiences, and workshops for aspiring knights.
Best B&B: Hever Castle Bed and Breakfast
Thirteenth-century Hever Castle is the double-moated childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s unfortunate second wife. Visitors come from far and wide to tour its rooms, which were immaculately restored by William Waldorf Astor in the early 20th century. The bed and breakfast comprises two Edwardian wings designed in the Tudor style and located on the castle grounds. There are 28 rooms in total, all of them luxuriously appointed and filled with natural light. Features differ from one to the next but could include claw-foot baths, walk-in showers, or four-poster beds.
Modern conveniences like Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV are included in every room and all guests have access to a magnificent paneled lounge and a billiards room, located in the Astor Wing. Every morning, help yourself to the complimentary continental buffet before sitting down to a full English breakfast in the beautiful Tudor Suite Dining Room. Access to the castle and its award-winning gardens is included for the duration of your stay.
Best Glamping: Knight’s Glamping at Leeds Castle, Kent
Originally a Norman stronghold, Leeds Castle is also connected to Henry VIII who renovated it in the 16th century and frequently visited with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Located near Maidstone, the castle is now a major public attraction celebrating its 900-year anniversary. Visitors can tour its elaborate rooms, get lost in the garden maze, enjoy falconry displays and take part in regular themed events. The castle also has several accommodation options including eight striped pavilions erected in the vineyard.
Each one can accommodate up to four people and takes camping — or glamping — to new levels of comfort. Expect a four-poster bed, a wood-burning stove to ward off the evening chill, and luxurious linens. The tents even come with electric lighting and a Wi-Fi connection. You’ll have access to shower and bathroom facilities in the nearby Knight’s Cottage, while a cast iron griddle and an open fire pit provide the opportunity to cook for yourself just as the tourney champions of yore would have.