Sometimes, it’s not enough just to get away – you want to detach yourself entirely from the modern, humdrum world. We understand that. That is why, at Chic Retreats, amongst our range of unique cool hotels, we’ve been careful to include buildings that recall the glories of bygone eras. We are particularly proud of our castles, great buildings of stone once meant to defend, now turned to rest, relaxation, and pampering. We want our guests to feel valued and special – treated like kings and queens in fact – so we’ve put together a list of our top three castle hotels to get you daydreaming of days gone by and getaways to come…
1. CASTEL BRANDO
On the north coast of Corsica, Castel Brando is surrounded by centuries of tumultuous history – the island was disputed territory for centuries, fought over between Italian and French states. Traces of conflict exist across the island, first in the form of towering medieval fortifications, then fortified mansions that were built later on to protect their occupants from rival families during the many feuds that raged across the island. Today, this wonderful hotel is located by the gorgeously pretty medieval village of Erbalunga and is housed within one of the fortified mansions, built by a wealthy soldier friend of Napoleon. Castel Brando sports sumptuous 19th-century Corsican decor and an intimate terrace for enjoying a glass of wine. We think it makes for the ideal island idyll! Learn more about Castel Brando.
If you are a fan of The Medicis or The Borgias, Castello di Petroia is a must-visit. This beautiful Italian castle has towered over the Umbrian countryside for close to 1000 years. In the 15th century, it was the birthplace of Federico da Montefeltro – born as a bastard to a courtesan – who became the Duke of Urbino and the epitome of the ‘Renaissance man’ amongst many Italians to this day.
Today Castello di Petroia has emerged as a boutique hotel, spread throughout the original medieval castle buildings. The property is enclosed behind a ring of solid wall, offering seclusion and quiet. Guests eat breakfast in the original dining hall and the Accomandugi Restaurant evokes the glory days of the high Renaissance with its massive fireplace. Elsewhere, luxuriously appointed rooms with private jacuzzi baths make the visitor feel like a high born noble.
Can we tempt you? Book a getaway at Castello di Petroia now.
A foundation of the venerable Pallavincini family, Castello Tabiano sits atop the remnants of a Roman fortification, high in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. For over three hundred years it changed hands as families loyal to the Vatican and the Holy Roman Empire – the ‘Guelphs’ and the ‘Ghibellines’ – led armies across the countryside. Squabbling over the castle continued into the Renaissance, with one owner of the castle allegedly succumbing to poison at the hands of rivals. Perhaps it is the dramatic history of the place that has led to reports of a ghostly mournful violin being heard throughout?
Today, however, the Antico Borgo di Tabiano Castello is a much more sedate, relaxing travel destination. It operates as a luxury hotel, with guests housed in medieval buildings surrounding the original 13th-century tower. Visitors can sample the authentic cuisine of the Parma region at the Antintico Caseificio restaurant and the wellness centre offers not only a spa but a number of decadent boutique treatments. We highly recommend this wonderful hotel as a place to unwind and pamper yourself.
Think you deserve to be treated like royalty? Secure your stay at Castello Tabiano!
A silent sentinel watching over the Via Clodia, Castello di Velona was one of the defences built to keep the peace between the squabbling cities of Siena and Florence and safeguard pilgrim routes in the 12th and 13th centuries. Nonetheless, the Orcia Valley was the scene of many bloody clashes over the centuries, with soldiers from the castle often in the frontline. When things calmed down in the 15th and 16th centuries, this military fortification became a luxury abode to a noble family, bedecked in frescos and decadent furnishings. Sadly, the place was allowed to fall into ruin during the 18th and 19th centuries until a restoration project in 1997 saw the hotel transformed into a boutique hotel, with spa restaurants and high-tech meeting facilities. Today, the sympathetically restored castle is the perfect venue for a celebration – time, then, for a Tuscan break?
Another castle built in the Orcia Valley during the struggles between Siena and Florence, Castello Banfi, or Poggio Alla Mura was meant to keep the peace and deter open conflict between the two city states. Predictably, this didn’t work out quite the way it was intended, and the castle itself became a prized possession – it was twice besieged. Indeed, in times of conflict, inhabitants from miles around would drag their possessions into the castle and wait out the fighting. With the dawn of the 17th century, however, tensions settled down to the point that a permanent village could be established outside the castle walls. It is these buildings, in addition to the castle itself, that now constitute the Castello Banfi Il Borgo Estate and Hotel.
This wonderful luxury hotel now boasts a number of room styles (including a very special honeymoon suite) and a fantastic restaurant – La Taverna, a favourite for many miles around. Guests are free to wander the grounds of the estate, including the substantial vineyards, and picnic with local produce provided by the hotel. We heartily recommend trying the vintages, grown on the estate, that are served throughout the hotel. The castle keep itself now contains a famed museum of glass and ceramics, including many gorgeous examples of local craftsmanship. Sound just the place to get away from it all? Find out more about this treasure today.