Sippy cups and dirty dishes may be your reality now, but it doesn’t have to be. Plan your escape to a real-life castle to experience the royal treatment (at least for a few nights). From Italy to California, scroll through the photo gallery to discover the world’s coolest castles that you can rent for as little as $20 per person, per night. Move over Belle, there’s a new queen in town.
photo: Amber Guetebier
Kilkea Castle–Castledermot, Ireland
Built in 1180 by the first-ever Knights Templar, Kilkea Castle is steeped is a fortress of delights. The current owners—a Boston born couple who are deeply connected with their Irish roots—have lovingly restored the castle into a luxury hotel that feels both lavish and homey all at once. If you've always wanted to stay in a fairy-tale castle, you will not be disappointed. The only truly "modernized" elements are the kind you want, like luxury bathrooms and cozy (not cold) rooms. We recommend requesting a stay in the castle itself, which has 11 guest rooms, or stay in one of the 30 historic carriage rooms. You'll also find on the 180-acre estate more modern cottages, many of which are self-catering. World-class food and a state-of-the-art spa are on site along with a renowned golf course. True to Irish custom, no matter how posh you'll still feel like you belong. Your kids will love roaming the gardens or exploring nearby adventures like falconry or archery.
Mini Medieval Castle–Peebles, Scotland
Looking for a little medieval castle to call your own? This sweet castle should fit the bill. Located about 45 minutes from Edinburgh, it's a perfect jumping off point for exploring the Scottish Borders. There are steep steps, so not a great fit for toddlers, but the castle is otherwise kid-welcoming and can offer a high chair and travel crib. Located on the River Tweed, cozy up with a roaring fire and imagine yourself royal.
Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron–Salzburg, Austria
This former estate of Archbishop Leopold von Firmian, commissioned and built by Benedictine monks, this Austrian palacial estate "high on a hill" the "Sound of Music" palace. Several outdoor scenes from the movie were filmed here, and its main floor room was replicated for the movie. See the real deal by booking a stay and experience the lavish decor, art collection and gorgeous grounds.
Cheateau Herálec–Herálec, Czech Republic
Nestled in the woods in this lovely Czech village, you are never going to forget an overnight stay at this supreme residence. Chateau Herálec is surrounded by an 18th-century park and located in a region that boasts untouched forests, faiirytale fields and wildflowers galore. But there's nothing like a visit in the fall or winter to cozy up in one of the luxurious castle rooms.
Mollohan Castle–Tucson, AZ
Okay, this one is definitely heavy on the kitsch factor, but it’s also pretty awesome (and it’s the kind of cheesy that kids will adore). You can sleep in Rapunzel’s tower, enjoy a meal on the private sun deck and even pay a visit to the dungeon.
Sudeley Castle–Cotswolds, England
Get your own piece of the estate by staying in the former gatekeeper's own little castle, at the Castle Gatehouse, Sudeley Castle, Cotswolds. Located on the Sudeley Estate, you get free entry to the gorgeous Sudeley Castle & Gardens with your stay.
Gothic Beauty in Rindge, NH
This 11,000 square foot castle might not be as old as its European counterparts (it was completed in 1995), but it’s still got plenty of charm. You’ll find secret staircases, gothic arches and tapestries around every corner. There’s even a playroom and a basement game room for the little ones.
Friedenstein Castle–Gotha, Germany
We wouldn’t mind spending a few days relaxing in this stately German castle. Explore the gorgeous grounds, ride bikes to the town of Gotha and relax in the cozy bedrooms. At $108 a night, it’s got way more charm than a hotel you might find at the same rate!
photo: Neemrana Hotels
Neemrana Fort Palace –Neemrana, Rajasthan, India
Neemrana Fort Palace is over 550 years old, and built on the 2 billion year old Aravalli hills. You know, NBD. This incredible, heritage hotel is unlike any other castle in the world. It's a 14-tired property built into the hillside, with pools, bungalows, gorgeously appointed suites, dining, recreation and more. You'll need a week just to explore the grounds.
Château de Tocqueville–France
Become Cinderella for the week at The Pavillon du Chateau de Tocqueville in France. With five double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, this estate is everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more. Bonus: the property is near the Normandy landings beach and other historical sites.
A Sicilian Castle Near the Sea in Acireale, Italy
Ah, now we're talking. This Sicilian castle in near the sea comes with its own private luxury pool. Don't forget the floaties and sunscreen!
Le Donjon–La Flocellière, France
Get the royal treatment at this French castle that is both modern and historic at the same time. Bonus: it rents starting at $575/night and can accommodate up to 10 people.
— Erin Lem & Amber Guetebier