Castle and Palace Hotels

Overnight in a Castle or Palace…Behind the Ropes. What it’s like to live like Royality.

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Some of my favorite travel experiences have been staying overnight in a castle or palace.

Come along as I share share one of my favorite palaces in the Algarve (the South) of Portugal where you can book a hotel room.

The Pousada de Estoi, located in a former palace wing, now offers modern lodging while preserving the structure’s old-world charm. Guests can experience the elegance of staying in a historic palace with 21st-century comforts.The Estoi Palace offers modern hotel rooms for you to stay in through the Pestana Hotel Group.

I’m from America and we don’t have any “real” castles or palaces in America, making staying in one in Europe a real treat.

Unveiling the Magic: Staying in Castle or Palace Hotels

There’s something undeniably captivating about spending a night in a castle or palace, where history, luxury, and enchantment converge to create an extraordinary travel experience. Join me as I share one of my favorite destinations in the Algarve, the southern gem of Portugal, where you can immerse yourself in regal opulence and book a hotel room fit for royalty.

The Algarve boasts a plethora of magnificent castle and palace hotels that transport guests to a world of bygone grandeur. These architectural marvels have been lovingly restored, offering a unique opportunity to step back in time while savoring the comforts of the present day. Let’s delve into one such gem that will surely ignite your wanderlust.

One of the crown jewels of the Algarve is the Pousada de Estoi, a former palace wing that has been transformed into a modern haven while preserving its old-world charm. Operated by the esteemed Pestana Hotel Group, this resplendent retreat allows guests to experience the elegance of a historic palace intertwined with 21st-century comforts.

As you cross the threshold of the Pousada de Estoi, prepare to be enchanted by its regal allure. The palace’s captivating architecture and meticulous preservation pay homage to its illustrious past, immersing you in a world of timeless luxury. Each hotel room within the palace exudes refinement, harmoniously blending contemporary amenities with the palace’s rich heritage, ensuring an unforgettable stay.

However, the Pousada de Estoi is just one of many castle and palace hotels that dot the global travel landscape. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the rugged landscapes of Scotland, these extraordinary accommodations offer a glimpse into the lives of nobility and provide an unrivaled sense of grandeur.

Imagine waking up in a fairytale castle perched atop a hill, where breathtaking views stretch as far as the eye can see. Or perhaps you prefer the refined elegance of a French château, with its manicured gardens and exquisite interiors that transport you to the heyday of French aristocracy. From Ireland’s majestic castles to India’s opulent palaces, each destination holds its own unique charm and promises an unforgettable stay.

While the allure of castle and palace hotels lies in their historic significance and architectural splendor, the experiences they offer extend far beyond their walls. Explore sprawling estates, wander through lush gardens, and uncover hidden courtyards brimming with secrets of the past. Indulge in gourmet cuisine that pays homage to local flavors and traditions, and allow yourself to be pampered in luxurious spas that rejuvenate both body and soul.

Beyond the castle or palace itself, these destinations often boast proximity to fascinating cultural and natural wonders. Embark on day trips to ancient ruins, picturesque villages, or stunning natural landscapes, all while knowing that the comfort and elegance of your castle or palace hotel await your return.

Whether you’re seeking a romantic escape, a family adventure, or a solo journey of self-discovery, staying in a castle or palace hotel promises an experience like no other. It’s an opportunity to unlock the doors to history, immerse yourself in timeless luxury, and create memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.

So, embark on your own fairytale and book your stay at a castle or palace hotel. Let the enchantment of these regal abodes captivate your imagination and transport you to a world where dreams come true.

Here are a few details about the palace if you enjoy the history and background of places you visit.

The Captivating Estoi Palace in Portugal

Situated in the charming town of Estoi in Portugal’s Algarve region lies the splendid Estoi Palace, a captivating architectural treasure that offers a glimpse into the nation’s rich history. With its elegant façade and opulent interiors, this 19th century palace is sure to spark wonder and imagination.

The palace was built in the 1840s for José Francisco da Silva, Viscount of Estoi, who sought to create a regal residence befitting his noble status. Designed in the popular neoclassical style of the era, the palace boasts intricate stonework, striking columns, and elaborate statuary on its exterior.

Inside, one finds lavish salons for entertaining, ballrooms for grand galas, and beautifully decorated private quarters. Of particular note is the ornate woodwork, sparkling chandeliers, and colorfully painted ceilings, which transport visitors back to a world of aristocratic luxury.

While Estoi Palace fell into disrepair over the years, a thoughtful restoration project has returned it to its former glory. Walking across the decks by the fountains there are still loose mosaic tiles which always amaze and delight me. Little pieces of history waiting for their turn to be restored. Visitors can now explore its halls and gardens while appreciating the craftsmanship that shaped this magnificent residence.

I was fortunate to attend several meetings of the local English-speaking Rotary club in one of the palace’s grand halls. It was a surreal experience to discuss community service initiatives in our committee meeetings underneath the soaring painted ceilings and massive chandeliers. The Rotary members gather there weekly (this has changed a bit since COVID) for meetings over lunch, bringing a modern purpose to this historic setting.

Estoi Palace stands as a window into Portugal’s heritage and architecture. Let your imagination wander through its neoclassical salons and opulent ballrooms for a glimpse into the country’s storied past.

In Europe there are so many “real” castles and palaces to visit or to stay in overnight that is worth taking advantage of these opportunities.

It always amazes me that there are so many castles and palaces here in Europe that the locals sometimes don’t even look twice when they pass one by. Of course I have to stop and take many pictures. And then…I do my best to stay overnight at those which have a hotel in them!

When we visited my sister in Ireland, we booked a few nights at Dromoland Castle. It was an eye opening experience. The history combined with the fun of touring around your own castle is an opportunity that just can’t be beat.

It was pricy as it is an elite five star hotel and we needed to book two rooms as I brought along my two teenage (and tall) children along to visit for thanksgiving at my sisters home.

Information and history on Dromoland Castle: A Majestic Retreat Steeped in Irish History

On the rolling green hills of County Clare sits the magnificent Dromoland Castle, a storied historic building that now houses one of Ireland’s most luxurious castle hotels. Dating back to the 16th century, Dromoland Castle has borne witness to centuries of Irish history, from medieval clan battles to opulent Victorian lifestyles.

The castle was originally built in the 15th or early 16th century as the ancestral home of the O’Brien clan, the High Kings of Thomond. Dromoland withstood many a fight during turbulent medieval era before passing through various noble owners. In the 19th century, it was transformed into a lavish Neo-Gothic palace filled with ornate woodwork, lush gardens and deluxe accommodations.

The grandest transformation came in 1962 when Dromoland was converted into a hotel by Bernard O’Flynn. No expense was spared in turning the palace into a luxury destination. Priceless antiques adorn the public rooms, while the guest rooms combine old-world charm and modern amenities. The Queen Anne rooms reflect the castle’s historic roots with four-poster beds and embroidered furnishings.

Dromoland offers an array of fine dining experiences, including the stately Earl of Thomond restaurant and casual Fig Tree Cafe. Guests can also enjoy golfing, spa treatments, fishing and falconry on the estate. The surrounding vistas of lakes and woodlands create an aura of tranquility and natural splendor.

For those wishing to connect with Dromoland’s past, the castle provides guided tours showcasing its historic rooms and collections. A visit to the Tapestry Room is a highlight, featuring 16th century Belgian tapestries chronicling the exploits of the O’Briens. Displays also shed light on the lives of the many earls, barons and ladies that once graced these halls.

Today, Dromoland Castle retains its regal beauty and grandeur, offering guests a chance to experience Irish history paired with modern luxury. Bride and grooms especially favor the fairytale setting for destination weddings. Whether witnessing a wedding, relaxing in the spa, or dining in the oak-paneled restaurant, Dromoland Castle evokes Ireland’s enduring spirit paired with contemporary comforts.

My children had so much fun running around the castle, playing pool and to top it off the magic of snowflakes fell in the morning making it a memorizable stay.

Back in Portugal many of the castles and palaces are run as hotels by the government named “Pousadas”. They have a separate management company for the day to day operations so they are run professionally.

Here is a brief explanation of how historic buildings in Portugal are operated as Pousadas, allowing guests to stay in them as hotels:

The Pousadas of Portugal

Portugal is home to dozens of historic palaces, monasteries, convents, and castles that have been converted into luxury hotels known as Pousadas. This network of hotels is managed by the Pestana Pousadas, a hospitality group that cooperates with the Portuguese government to restore and maintain these national treasures.

Many Pousadas boast incredible histories spanning centuries. For example, the Pousada de Óbidos is located within the Castle of Óbidos, which dates back to Moorish times in the 8th century CE. Other Pousadas are found in Baroque palaces, Gothic monasteries, and Romanesque chapels across Portugal.

The buildings retain their original medieval, Manueline, or Baroque architectural styles, giving guests the experience of staying in a museum. Antiques, tapestries, paintings, sculptures, and other heritage artifacts adorn the spaces. Common areas include cloisters, courtyards, terraces, and ornate gardens for guests to enjoy.

Inside, the guest rooms combine historic elements like stone walls, high ceilings, and chandeliers with contemporary amenities. There are also modern restaurants, bars, and spas seamlessly incorporated. Highly-rated Pousada perks include complimentary breakfasts, free parking, and evening music and cocktails.

By converting these landmarks into Pousada hotels, the history and culture of Portugal is preserved while making the properties accessible. Guests can immerse themselves in Portuguese heritage with the convenience and comforts of a hotel stay. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind way to experience Portugal’s magnificent history and architecture.

I just loved staying in the Estoi palace in the Faro region of Portugal (pictured in this article).

While staying at the “hotel” We had full “reign” to wander around through all of the elegant sitting rooms and had full access to the grounds and the Gardens.

Visiting the palace would have been on our itinerary anyway so we decided to just stay a few nights and have full access.

It was enchanting to wake up and have breakfast in the palace and then take a stroll through the estate. As we searched every nook and cranny we were surprised by the lack of ropes which usually block the beautiful mosaics, frescoes and statues.

I kept looking over my shoulder to see if someone would tell me that I wasn’t supposed to be in that room or walking on this beautiful floor. Nope, we really did have full “reign”. Better yet, no one else was pushing in line for us to rush through or to get a photo over our shoulder. Ahhhh true luxury.

in the afternoon we sauntered up to the bar and ordered up some drinks which we were allowed to consume in the main drawing rooms. Yup the same ones which are normally behind the ropes.

I was sitting there looking around at all of the beautiful frescoes and furniture along the walls thinking “I shouldn’t be sitting here” and “I definitely shouldn’t be eating and drinking in here”. However, we were guests and this was our living room for the stay. I was relaxing in this gorgeous and historical room having a drink….really…look above there is a photo for proof. Now then, where did I put my crown…

What a great way to feel like royalty by staying in a palace or castle.

I will be exploring and staying in many of the palaces and castles in Portugal in the next few months. What fun way to really launch the traveling queen site!

Note: This article was written in 2017 and updated in 2024.

This is your personal invitation from the Traveling Queen to come along on the journey with me and now I also have a YouTube channel @AmericanInPortugal to share more of my adventures in video format.

Grab your crown and meet me in a castle, palace or in Portugal (even if it is just your virtual one…I can see it).

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