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Germany is famous not just for Oktoberfest and bratwurst, but for its Baroque palaces (schloss) and medieval castles which dapple picturesque regions like the Rhine Valley and stretch along routes like Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen. Of course, not all castles are created equal: some offer more than others when it comes to a romantic vacation or a holiday with little ones. We’ve rounded up just a few of the country's best castle stays, whether you’re after gorgeous countryside to hike through, next-level fine dining, or, simply, an enchanting place to relax with your significant other. Read on for our top picks below.
Best Overall: Castlehotel Schönburg
Widely known as one of Germany's best castle stays, Castlehotel Schönburg is a beautifully preserved property that dates back to somewhere between 911 and 1166. While the date of its construction is up in the air, one thing is certain: Schönburg has been run as a hotel since 1957, courtesy of the Hüttl family. Today, Castlehotel Schönburg overlooks the romantic town of Oberwesel, as well as its lush surrounds, and offers 25 uniquely decorated guestrooms as well as a library, fireplace lounge, prison tower, and courtyard which offers unbeatable Rhine Valley views. Dinner, which is included in the stay, is delicious and comes in four courses that often involve local game and duck. While the restaurant isn't always open for lunch, given the castle's location in the Middle Rhine Valley (the area the castle is in is technically a UNESCO site), there are plenty of gorgeous vineyards to have a midday meal and gorgeous glass of wine at.
Best Budget: Burg Colmberg
If you're looking for value, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better offering than Burg Colmberg. Rooms here start at just over $150 a night, but that doesn't mean the 1000-plus-year-old castle skimps on charm, service, or modern comforts. Sitting atop an almost 1,700-foot peak, Burg Colmberg serves up some serious castle walls, enchanting courtyards, and crackling fireplaces for a stay that feels authentically medieval. Rooms are entrancing, with classic castle elements like half-timbered walls and wood-canopied beds. Breakfast is included each morning and the restaurant really steps things up come dinnertime with its Franconian menu. Those who love outdoor recreation will appreciate the castle’s locale — in the middle of a nature reserve — which makes it a convenient jumping off point for hikers and cyclists. Meanwhile, those who prefer curling up with a good book will find plenty of spots across the castle grounds. Have a car and looking to explore the region? Guests will love the castle's location on the 200-mile Romantic Road that winds through the quaint villages and stunning landscapes.
Best for Families: Schlosshotel Harburg
Located along Germany’s fairytale-like Romantic Road, the 1000-plus-year-old Schlosshotel Harburg immediately calls storybook illustrations to mind with stone buildings and peaked red roofs. Rooms here are traditionally furnished and a bit basic, but larger options offer both a king-size bed and a sofa bed in the adjacent living room that sleeps little ones comfortably. Our tip: Ask for a room facing west for gorgeous sunset views. Both continental and a la carte breakfasts are offered on-site, so you can embark on a day of family activities — be it hiking, cycling, or sightseeing in the town below — with full tummies. At the end of a full day, head back home for a rustic Bavarian dinner, and for adults — a few restorative beers at the on-site tavern.
Best Boutique: Hotel Burg Wernburg
Hotel Burg Wernburg's first known history was in 1280 when it was bought by the king of Paulsdorf, but now, more than 700 years later, the castle functions as a charming boutique hotel, complete with a drawbridge, courtyard, and medieval halls. Though much of the castle retains its old-world charm, the spotlessly kept rooms blend rustic and modern elements. For an especially indulgent stay, treat yourself to a night or two in one of the royal-level suites, which are tucked away from other rooms and decked out with Regency-era furnishings, stone walls, and tapestries. The on-site spa is also quite lovely, with hot chocolate massages and local chalk poultice treatments offered in arched stone vaults. The hotel’s restaurant, Kastell, features locally sourced Bavarian haute cuisine — and guests wanting to take their foodie passions one step further can sign up for on-site cooking classes from the castle’s chef, Robert Morgan. Golfers take note: There’s a course attached to the castle, so bring your clubs for a scenic round.
Best for Luxury: Schloss Hugenpoet
Located close to the town of Kettwig, this enchanting property dates back to the 17th century (or the eighth — if you consider previous incarnations), and it ticks off all the boxes of a great castle stay. Here you'll find excellent food, luxe rooms, scenic surrounds, and a storybook moat. If you’re tempted to stay on site for meals — which you definitely should — there are two restaurants, one of which boasts a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide and the other of which houses Germany’s first Louis Roederer vinotheque. The castle's 36 modern rooms are spread across the fortress itself as well as a carriage and gatehouse. Accommodations are cozy and well maintained, with modern updates and pops of jewel tones. For a true luxury experience, we suggest a stay in the beautiful Villa Tuermchen, located in the outdoor bailey of the castle. Schloss Hugenpoet is close to both Düsseldorf and Essen, making it easy to reach — and, for those who love quirky attractions, the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site, billed as the “most beautiful coal mine in the world,” is located nearby.
Best for Romance: Schlosshotel Steinburg
WIth grounds and architecture that seem a succinct combination of castle, palace, and country manor house, a stay at the Schlosshotel Steinburg is a guaranteed romantic one. Situated high up on a hill amid picturesque Würzburger Stein vineyards that overlook the Baroque town of Wurzburg, the castle's room extend across both the “Castle Manor” and “Country Manor". Guests will find that both are luxe, with richly colored textiles and styles that range from Baroque to modern. We suggest at least one dinner onsite: The locally sourced Franconian meals are delicious —and guests should be sure to enjoy at least one glass of wine, said to be Goethe’s favorite. If you come in summer, the outdoor terrace is a delightful place to dine, thanks to its views of the surrounding countryside. For a special treat, the hotel does offer a somewhat cheesily themed (but delicious) “Love Dinner”; couples can also book the meal into a larger getaway package that includes treats like champagne and a specially decorated room.
Best View: Castle Hotel Liebenstein
Naturally, Castle Hotel Liebenstein — the highest fortress in the Rhine River Valley— boasts some of the best views in the country. Perched right on the river, it peers over forested hills to survey the romantic landscape below, all of which is part of a UNESCO world heritage site. Hikers love the positioning as well: The hotel is located on the extraordinarily scenic Rheinsteig trail (so close, in fact, that the path runs right through the castle courtyard). After a busy day of hiking, guests can retire to comfortable, clean rooms, each of which is located within the castle itself and furnished in a medieval style. Though Wi-Fi is available throughout the castle’s common areas, the property is relatively unplugged, so don't expect a TV with Netflix access or anything like that. For a special meal, the hotel offers candlelit dinners with five traditional courses. Do note that the hotel closes for late winter between the start of January and mid-April.
Best Hostel: Castle Hostel Stahleck
If you’ve ever wanted to vacation like a prince but have the budget of a pauper, check in at the Castle Hostel Stahleck (also advertised as Bacharach Hostel). It’s located in a 12th-century castle in Germany’s incredible Rhine Valley, with a tower looking over the dreamily romantic village of Stahleck. Inside, 170 beds are spread out in rooms with one-, two-, and multiple-bed configurations. The Middle Rhine region is known for its scenic vineyards — indeed, they surround the village itself — and hiking, so there’s plenty to do in the surrounding area, and the hostel is open to travelers of all types, from solo tourists to large groups of friends. If you’re cycling in the area, the hotel is a bike-friendly place to stay. Just don’t be late for your check in: An additional 20 euro is charged for every hour travelers are late.
Best for Outdoorsmen: Hotel Burg Trendelburg
It should come as no surprise that one of Germany’s best castle hotels is situated in the Weser Uplands — the very setting of Brothers Grimm fairytales. Trendelburg Castle dates back to the 13th century and is the jewel of the surrounding village. Much of the property's original architecture remains and charms guests today. Stay behind the thick castle walls in one of the building’s 22 individually decorated rooms and take a walk around the cobblestoned yard. From there, you can glimpse up at the Rapunzel-like tower or, for something a bit more morbid, head down to peek into the castle’s ancient torture chamber. Guests particularly love how well the hotel is placed for a walking or cycling holiday through Germany's scenic countryside. Those interested in exploring Kassel will find the town is just a 40-minute drive away. Though if you’d rather just stay on site, there’s plenty to offer, from taking a relaxing trip to the tower sauna to meals at the hotel restaurant that feature great wine and sweeping views.