Nowadays, you don’t have to be of royal blood to act the part. Live out your “happily ever after” during a stay at one of the best castle hotels in England, fit for any aspiring lord or lady.
Amberley Castle, West Sussex
Southern England's quaint countryside village of Amberley is the gorgeous setting for the medieval Amberley Castle, whose 12-acre grounds, brick-and-timber manor, and barrel-vaulted Great Hall hide behind a 60-foot curtain wall complete with a still-working portcullis. Founded 900 years ago as a bishop’s manor house, the property has since been upgraded into a luxury retreat, with regal bedrooms that feature four-poster beds, Tudor-style windows, and working fireplaces. After dining alongside suits of armor, take a stroll through the grounds, which have its own croquet lawn, tennis court, and 18-hole putting green.
Thornbury Castle, Bristol
That Thornbury remains the only Tudor castle hotel in England isn’t its only claim to fame—it also happens to have hosted King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn during their honeymoon tour in 1535. Although the pair's future took a turn for the worse, many couples still seek out the romance of this 16th-century castle. We're talking manicured gardens, a rolling vineyard, and atmospheric rooms (28 in all, including the very bedchamber where the king slept) that are individually decorated with open fireplaces, exposed beam ceilings, and details like hanging tapestries, spiral staircases, arrow-slit windows, and, in one, even a hidden bathroom. There are two restaurants on site (which serve medieval-era dishes like pheasant and venison), but we recommend booking a private table in the dungeon.
Langley Castle, Northumberland
The seven-foot-thick walls and stone battlements of this 14th-century castle, built during the reign of Edward III, are impressive, but its interiors are even more so. Every room is grander than the next, and decorated with original exposed stone walls, wrought-iron candelabras, suits of armor, and huge gilt-framed portraits. Hours can be whiled away in the drawing room (think stained-glass windows and a roaring fire); on a historical castle tour, which brings you up to the rooftop chapel and battlements for sweeping views of the Northumbrian Valley; or dining on world-class cuisine at the award-winning restaurant Josephine’s. Guest rooms in the castle proper have window seats and heraldic patterned carpets; the rest of the accommodations are located in the outlying lodge and coach house.
Pentillie Castle, Cornwall
At the heart of a 2,000-acre estate in Cornwall, on the banks of the River Tamar, sits this gorgeous 17th-century Georgian mansion. A painstaking restoration by the resident Coryton family has brought it into the present day. Now, visitors from all around come to tour its famous gardens, stroll its 55 acres of woodland, and bed down in one of the tastefully decorated guest rooms, which come with carefully chosen antiques, claw-foot tubs, and views across the river to Dartmoor. From the drawing room with its own piano to the hearty English breakfasts that feature fresh eggs, jams, and honey all sourced right from the estate, Pentillie has all the makings for a quintessential English countryside escape.
Bovey Castle, Devon
A multi-million-dollar facelift has returned this baronial granite country house to its former glory, keeping intact period details like huge fireplaces, mahogany staircases, ornate ceilings and mullion windows. The 60 guest rooms are more contemporary, with metallic wallpaper, decanters of estate-made sloe gin, and walk-in showers—and they provide the perfect base for exploring the sprawling grounds, where activities range from archery and falconry to swimming in the heated pool and golfing. Just beyond the property, you’ll find Stone Age hut circles, horse-roamed moorland, and villages lost to time.
Peckforton Castle, Cheshire
Built in the mid-1800s, this 48-room, Norman-style hilltop fortress has served as the backdrop for many a high-profile wedding (including American singer Ciara and football quarterback Russell Wilson last year), not to mention its fair share of film roles in everything from Robin Hood to Doctor Who. We chalk it up to the building's picture-perfect red sandstone turrets and façade, vaulted stone chapel, and award-winning 1851 Restaurant, all accessed via a fairytale drawbridge. Take in the stunning views across the Cheshire plains before a pampering treatment at the on-site spa.
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Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Warwick Castle, on the banks of the River Avon, has lived many lives—as a fortification, a country house, a prison—and remains one of the foremost examples of 14th-century military architecture. Today, it is entirely a family affair: groups of all ages gather for tours through the dungeons and full day programs that include jousting tournaments, archery, and performances in falconry and combat. Make the most of your visit by booking a night in one of their unique rooms, be it a themed woodland cottage, a medieval-style “glamping” tent in the Knight’s Village, or one of the two splurge-worthy Tower Suites, which each occupies its own floor inside the 14th-century Caesar’s Tower.
Lumley Castle, Durham
Lumley is everything you’d hope a 14th-century medieval castle would be, from its thick brick walls and symmetrical battlement towers to its verdant inner courtyard. The interiors are just as atmospheric—heavy drapery, rooms covered in heraldic patterned wallpaper, and red velvet everywhere. Expect canopied four-poster beds, deep-set windows, and views of either the courtyard or the castle itself in your guest room. For dinner, the candlelit dining room’s vaulted ceiling and stone pillars are both romantic and fun for families. We recommend you go for a traditional English feast of dry-aged steak or pan-fried turbot.
Augill Castle, Cumbria
Romance is everywhere at Augill Castle, from the neo-Gothic Victorian exterior—think castellated towers and lattice windows—to the 15 eclectic bedrooms, each with its own unique mix of antiques, armoires, canopied four-poster beds, and tartan and paisley fabrics. But children will also feel just as welcome: there’s a playground on property, toys and books in the library, a 12-seat movie theater, and even a treehouse in the forest. Bonus: England’s idyllic Lake District is right at your doorstep. After hiking Hadrian’s Wall and the Yorkshire Dales, return for a refreshing pint at Augill’s Great British Bar, which highlights Britain-based artisan brewers, wine makers, and distillers, before dinner at the communal table in the baronial dining room.