In the realm of luxury travel, more tourists are increasingly becoming drawn to experiencing unique adventures steeped with history, culture, and opulence. In recent years, staying in palaces and castles has become more popular as it allows travelers to uncover remarkable stories of bygone eras and indulge in an exquisite and immersive travel adventure.
Palaces and Castles: What’s the Difference?
Palaces and castles are architectural wonders and historical landmarks that have withstood the test of time and have served as residences of prominent society members, venues for lavish gatherings, or as grounds for epic battles. Palaces are massive estates often associated with royalties and were built to showcase power and prestige. Meanwhile, castles were designed for defense and were constructed with fortified walls and turrets.
Indulge in a journey through time by staying in the world’s most enchanting palaces and castles. This list showcases a curated selection of architectural marvels, offering a unique blend of luxury and history. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or seeking a regal escape, immerse yourself in the opulence and stories that echo through centuries in these captivating castles and palaces.
1. Aman Summer Palace – Beijing, China
Known as the place where Empress Dowager Cixi accommodated guests during the Qing Dynasty, Aman Summer Palace offers elegant, well-appointed suites for those looking for a luxurious and peaceful getaway in Beijing, China. It is located just a few steps from the Summer Palace grounds, a UNESCO World Heritage Site hailed as a great example of Chinese landscape garden design.
2. Hirado Castle – Japan
Hirado Castle in Japan, also known as the Kameoka Caste, is an imposing hilltop structure initially built in the 1700s with a design influenced by the military strategies of Yamaga Soko. It was eventually ruined during the Meiji Period but was reconstructed in the 1960s.
Today, Hirado Castle is open to the public as an exhibition space offering a glimpse of its compelling history. In 2020, the castle’s two-story Kaiju Yagura turret was renovated and opened for exclusive overnight stays.
3. Alila Fort Bishangarh – Rajasthan, India
Situated amidst the Aravalli Hills in Rajasthan, India, this 234-year-old warrior fort is known for its Jaipur Gharana architecture, Jharokha windows, and traditional Rajasthani décor. Now operating as a luxury hotel – the only fort in India to be transformed into such – the property has 59 rooms carefully curated to preserve the fort’s grandeur and luxury.
4. Çırağan Palace Kempinski – Istanbul, Turkey
Aptly called the “The Grande Dame of the Bosphorus,” this 317-room hotel was once a Sultan’s residence and is hailed as the only Ottoman imperial palace and luxury hotel in the area. The waterfront estate is adorned by timeless design elements with a contemporary flair.
16th- and 17th-century style Iznik ceramics and Murano-inspired chandeliers greet guests as they enter the property, while the burgundy-colored suites feature Çintemani patterned headboards, marble bathrooms, and intricate Ottoman art pieces.
5. La Mamounia – Marrakech, Morocco
La Mamounia’s story began in the 18th century when Alaouite Mohammed Ben Abdallah gifted the 13-hectare property to his son as a wedding gift, which the latter transformed into a leisure venue for garden parties. In 1923, the property was turned into a hotel with traditional Moroccan architecture and Art-Deco interiors. The hotel celebrated its centenary in 2023 – a testament to its longevity and significance to the vibrant story of Makkarech.
6. Hotel de la Cité de Carcassonne – France
This five-star hotel was built on a former bishop’s palace site in Carcassonne, France, a UNESCO-protected medieval fortified town famous for its defensive system built in the 13th century. The rustic property has centuries-old stone walls, gardens, and interiors featuring a mix of Neo-Gothic and 1920s Art Deco styles fit for a royally great time right at the heart of a historic destination.
7. Cliveden House – Berkshire, England
Built in the 1600s by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, Cliveden House boasts over 350 years of hosting glamorous parties and accommodating elite personalities like Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth. Today, it is known as an award-winning five-star hotel offering a lavish and romantic sanctuary less than an hour away from London.
8. Ashford Castle – Ireland
This stunning 800-year-old castle is the former residence of the Guinness Family and has accommodated prominent personalities like King George V and US President Ronald Reagan. The 83-room abode sits on a 350-acre property by the Lough Corrib lake, making it an ideal getaway for those looking to experience the lush countryside while enjoying activities like fishing, boating, horseback riding, cycling, and golfing.
The charm of staying in palaces and castles lies in the enthralling medley of historical richness and stylish luxury, offering travelers a thrilling and unmatched experience. These iconic estates are more than mere lodgings – they offer a glimpse into the past, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the magnificence of earlier times while enjoying their version of a fairy tale life.
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Featured Image from Hôtel de la Cité | Official site