Modern life, eh? It’s so full of stress. Whether its our phones bleeping with work emails through the night or the chaos of city life, sometimes escaping can be very tempting – and these hotels and holiday rentals are the perfect place to do that, transporting you back in time and giving you a taste of royal life. Want to feel like a king or queen for a weekend? These are the places to do it.
Peckforton Castle, Cheshire
This vast, grand castle is a popular celebrity wedding venue. Unsurprisingly, it’s extremely luxe and has a spa. Grade I-listed and built in 1876 by a lord, it’s two miles from the ruins of the Medieval Beeston Castle, where legend has it that Richard II hid his treasure. Plus, Cheshire Ice Cream farm is nearby, which serves up probably the creamiest iced goods you’ll ever eat. (A consolation prize for any guests whose treasure hunts are unfruitful.) Rooms start at £155 for B&B.
Thornbury Castle, Bristol
Want a taste of sixteenth-century life? Head to Thornbury Castle on the edge of the Cotswolds. It’s not only a high-end hotel, it was once owned by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (who was his new bride at the time). The hotel offers workshops in archery and the basics of falconry. There’s croquet on the lawn, a vineyard and a spa. And once you've escaped the castle’s vast grounds, you can explore the petite villages of the Cotswolds or head to Bristol for its art and nightlife scenes. Rooms start at £135 per night.
Augill Castle, Yorkshire
Expect to find turrets, secret doorways and gothic windows in this northern castle. It’s the perfect place to pretend to be Jon Snow for the night. Built in 1841 by a Victorian gentleman, it has 15 acres of grounds. Walkers will like the fact it sits on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and is just an hour away from the Lake District. The grandest rooms have four-poster beds, roll-top baths and fireplaces. You can stay in just one of the rooms or rent out the whole castle for you and up to 29 friends. Rooms start at £200 per night.
Lisheen Castle, Ireland
This eighteenth-century building has a chaotic history. Once a three-storey Irish Palladian country house, it was burned down by the IRA in 1921 during the Irish War of Independence. Eighty years later it was restored to its former glory. It now sleeps 14 and has a dining room, library and reception rooms for you to lounge around luxuriously in. Rent the whole thing for less than £900 a night.
Langley Castle, Northumberland
History buffs, this one’s for you. Head on a trip to Langley Castle in South Tyne and you’ll be able to go on a tour of this fourteenth-century fortified building every day. The post-breakfast wanders will take you around the castle, battlements, chapel and garderobes (medieval toilets). You can get the authentic experience by staying in one of the stone-walled rooms or you can wake up looking out over the castle from a modern extension next door. They offer a foodie mini-break, where you’ll get a prosecco and charcuterie sharing platter on arrival, plus Hadrian’s Wall is just up the road, ready to be explored.
Blencowe Hall, Lake District
Blencowe Hall is so old that one of its walls has crumbled with age. It’s been turned into a dramatic modern feature though, the ancient ruins framing a modern glass building within. Grade I-listed, the building’s surrounded by greenery – which you’ll probably get a dramatic view of from your bedroom window. There’s a spa, a billiards table and you’re right next to the Lake District, so you can spend your days sailing on Ullswater and going clay pigeon shooting. Pets are welcome. Rooms start at £41.
Manorbier Castle, Wales
Situated right on the coast in tiny Welsh town Manorbier, this castle is perfect for anyone who wants to escape the city and explore the great outdoors. Not only are there excellent surf and rock climbing opportunities nearby, the National Trust Coastal Path runs right past, leading visitors past rugged cliffs and estuaries. You’ll find a local pub in Manorbier and the Victorian fishing village Tenby is 10 minutes drive up the road. Expect a very fresh fish supper. The castle costs £600 per night and sleeps 12 people.
Helen’s Tower, Northern Ireland
While Helen’s Tower might not be a whole castle, it’s so famous it has its own Wikipedia page. Built in 1861 by architect William Burn, it was commissioned by Lord Dufferin of Clandeboye as a tribute to his mother. The highlight of the building is an octagonal room engraved with poems that the likes of Alfred Tennyson and George Browning wrote about the building. A stay costs £121 per night.
The Castle Hotel, Taunton
Once a Norman fortress, Taunton’s The Castle Hotel is a wisteria-lover’s heaven. The twelfth-century, Grade I-listed building is decked out in the stuff. The hotel’s home to two acclaimed restaurants – fine-dining joint Castle Bow and the more low-key eclectic venue Brazz. The hotel holds champagne dinners and garden parties throughout the year, and has the Cotswolds on its doorstep. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to feel a little bit Kate Middleton. Rooms start at around £150.