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6 castles in the UK you can book for your next royal vacation

Aug. 07, 2021
9 min read
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A summer vacation abroad is finally possible after a year plus at home, and this year may well end up being the fall to explore what the U.K. has on offer.

There's no shortage of ways to vacation in the U.K. -- whether that's the seaside, in a historic town or village or a more rural experience in the Scottish Highlands, for example. If the idea of a hotel, B&B or cottage doesn't appeal, why not consider vacationing in a castle?

Related: 8 of the best hotels in the Lake District

One of the many lovely castles you can stay in in Scotland. (Photo by wanderluster/Getty Images)
One of the many lovely castles you can book in Scotland. (Photo by wanderluster/Getty Images)

Whether it's the potential size (there are huge castles but also much smaller ones suited for families), the history, the location or just the "living like royalty" aspect that appeals -- there are some incredible options available for all budgets.

Entire castles for groups

If you have a lot of friends, a big family or need a spot for an important occasion like a birthday or a work retreat, there are a range of options available including self-catering castles, rooms in castles or castles that run as hotels.

1. Castle on the Loch, Hunters Quay, Argyll and Bute

Castle on the Loch. Image courtesy of
Castle on the Loch. (Photo courtesy of Cottages & Castles)

Available through Cottages & Castles, a website specializing in accommodation options in Scotland, this 19th-century self-catering castle is located in Hunters Quay. It sleeps 42 people and features an indoor swimming pool, a games room, both formal and informal social spaces and plenty of outdoor space including the shore of Holy Loch.

It's half a mile from the nearest shop and pub and can be reached easily via direct ferry from Glasgow. Three nights in August for a long weekend from Thursday to Sunday will come to $11,000, and the same long weekend can be had for $7,500 in September and October or $7,000 in November and December. If fully utilized, that's $290 per person for a three-night stay.

The owners live in a self-contained wing of the castle and will offer as little or much assistance as required. The castle's kitchen is fully equipped, though not staffed.

2. Bovey Castle, Dartmoor, Devon

Bovey Castle, Dartmoor, England. Image courtesy of
Bovey Castle, Dartmoor, England. (Photo courtesy of Celtic Castles)

If your group or event is bigger than that and Scotland is too remote, Bovey Castle could be just the thing.

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The 275-acre estate boasts a castle with 59 bedrooms and 22 self-catering lodges and is run as a five-star hotel with individual room bookings being the norm. It is therefore fully staffed and offers two restaurants, a spa as well as an 18-hole golf course.

Located in the southwest of the U.K., it is within relatively easy reach from London -- about a four-hour drive. Or, if you're taking the train, the nearest mainline station is Exeter St David's. Celtic Castles has all the details should a huge castle for a large gathering be what you're after.

Related: The best road trips from London that take 2 hours or less

3. Wardhill Castle, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

Wardhill Castle, Scotland. Image courtesy of
Wardhill Castle. (Photo courtesy of Celtic Castles)

This 12th-century castle in Aberdeenshire, located between Aberdeen and Inverness, sleeps 16 guests in eight bedrooms and can be booked both staffed or on a self-catered basis with Celtic Castles. For the latter, prices start at $7,000 per week, which comes to less than $70 per person per night if fully occupied.

One of the oldest privately owned estates in Scotland, it has 700 acres, so there is plenty of space to soak up the Scottish countryside and views of the Bennachie hilltops.

Related: Whisky, walking and wonderful views: The ultimate Scottish road trip

Wardhill Castle, Scotland. Image courtesy of
One of the sumptuous dining rooms. (Photo courtesy of Celtic Castles)

Having recently been refurbished, it offers everything one would want from a castle -- whether it's for a specific occasion or corporate events -- or just a regal getaway with a group of friends.

4. Castle of Park, Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire

Castle of Park, Scotland. Image courtesy of
Castle of Park. (Photo courtesy of Celtic Castles)

Dating back to the 16th century, Castle of Park is also hidden in Aberdeenshire, just over an hour's drive from the city of Aberdeen near the coastal town of Banff. It sleeps 18 guests in seven rooms and during winter months, prices start from $3,500 per week on a self-catered basis.

Adorned with "an eclectic collection of art and antiques", it can be also booked via Celtic Castles. The castle is still the main family home of the owners who move into a separate wing when guests are staying. It has all the amenities needed for a self-catering vacation as well a great hall, billiard room, drawing room and an outdoor swimming pool. Catering options are available upon request.

Related: 7 of the best road trips around the UK

Castles for smaller groups

Vacationing in a castle is not just an option for those who are looking to host big group events. There are many options for groups of every size.

5. The Towers Bothy, Machrie, Isle of Arran

The Towers Bothy. Image courtesy of
The Towers Bothy. (Photo courtesy Cottages & Castles)

Located on the Isle of Arran and available via Cottages & Castles, the 19th-century Towers Bothy sleeps four people in two bedrooms. Described as "the perfect romantic hideaway", it's surrounded by miles of countryside, inviting long walks as well as a nearby quiet beach.

It has everything you need for a self-catering vacation, including a washer/dryer as well as a TV and an open fireplace. A golf club and tea room are one mile from the property and the nearest general shop for essentials 5.5 miles away. Ferries to the Isle of Arran depart from Ardrossan, about 45 minutes from Glasgow, and take 55 minutes.

6. Roch Castle, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire

Roch Castle, Wales. Image courtesy of
Roch Castle. (Photo courtesy of Celtic Castles)

This 12th-century restored Norman castle sleeps 12 guests in six rooms. Again, available via Celtic Castles, it is staffed and prices start from $1,600 per night (just under $140 per person per night) in low season with self-catering. Breakfast increases the cost to $166 per night each and dinners can also be arranged but are quoted separately.

It is also possible to stay in individual rooms at times when the castle has not been booked for exclusive use.

Located just over seven miles from Haverfordwest in South Wales, it's a two-hour drive from Cardiff and slightly less from Swansea. Rooms have been refurbished to the highest standards, combining modern comfort with a rustic castle feel.

Related: Everything you need to know about vacationing on the Isle of Man

How to book

The above are just a small number of the options. There are loads of choices available ranging from to mid-sized castles to majestic palatial residences.

A number of websites specialize in these types of accommodation including:

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Bottom line

If you're looking for something more than a "normal" vacation in the U.K., staying in a castle can add fun, quirkiness and history to your trip. Plus, who wouldn't want to be Lord or Lady of the Manor or Castle — even if just for a few days? There are some spectacular options available. from those suited for smaller groups or families to very large groups. Whether you're looking for a hotel experience, a castle exclusively used by your group (staffed or not) or the more rustic self-catering option, vacationing in a castle can easily turn into a vacation to remember.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.