Once built to keep people out, today's castles — many of which have been transformed into premiere hotels — welcome guests with open arms. Along with comfortable lodgings, many feature exquisite dining experiences that make them a true destination for the heartiest of food lovers.
Let's face it — when it comes to castles, their histories are truly the stuff of legend. For example, Ruthin Castle in Wales, complete with its own dungeon, whipping pit, and drowning pool was once home to King Edward I, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I. Today, it's a four-star hotel complete with dining options befitting a king or queen, like a fillet of Welsh black beef served with thyme rosti, wilted spinach, glazed baby carrots, and port jus…quite a transformation.
Want to sleep in an 11th century medieval castle and dine on cuisine from a celebrity chef? Look no further that Castel Monastero in Tuscany, with two gourmet restaurants, Contrada and La Cantina, which are led by Gordon Ramsay, a leading culinary personality in both the United States and Europe.
Don't think stunning castle hotels are only available across the pond either. We've found luxurious castle hotels here in the United States that also feature award-winning cuisine. To guide you to the most exceptional castles out there, we’ve compiled a list of the world's 30 best castle hotels for dining and ranked them based on value, critical acclaim, reflection of the local region, and whether they offer additional food related experiences, such as cooking classes or wine tastings.
Of course, with the ‘new world’ castles included, one might wonder how we’re defining the term. To be clear, castles included in our list range from old world fortresses and royal homes to North American look-alikes that achieve a comparable experience.
If you've ever dreamed of living out your prince or princess fantasies that just happen to include fantastic meals in a truly getaway worthy destination, grab a reservation at one of these unique properties profiled in our slideshow!
3. Castel Monastero, Italy
The gourmet restaurants at Castel Monastero, "Contrada" and "La Cantina," both led by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, highlight the true essence of Tuscan and Italian cuisine and feature the finest dishes and freshest ingredients from the region. Cooking classes and guided tours to various wine regions are also available.
Dish to try: Lobster spaghetti with clams and chillies
2. Hotel Schloss Fuschl Resort and Spa, Austria
Nestled in Austria's "Sound of Music" Salzkammergut region, the historic Schloss Fuschl, a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, features four dining options and an on-site winery that provide guests an unforgettable epicurean journey. Cooking classes, wine tastings, and tours of the hotel's wine cellar are also available.
Dish to try: "Schloss Fuschl" cake made from Dark chocolate and hazelnuts, filled with a apricot preserves, and topped with whipped truffle cream and Marc de Champagne
1. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
With eight dining options and a wine bar to choose from, you're guaranteed to dine like a king or queen at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Whatever your craving might be Canadian, Italian, Bavarian, Japanese, or even health-conscious options such as gluten-free, macrobiotic, raw, and vegan – you won't leave this castle hotel hungry.
Dish to try: Fried suckling pig terrine with Brussels sprouts, two kinds of apples, and wheat beer jus
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Lives and property will be in severe danger across northern and eastern Madagascar as a potent tropical cyclone unloads torrential rain through Sunday night.
Disruptive snow will spread from the central Rockies to a portion of the Plains as a new storm takes shape spanning Sunday to Monday.
As a second storm in three days pushes east of the Rockies, locally severe storms may erupt over parts of the south-central United States on Sunday.
Conditions are ideal for wildfire ignition and rapid spread over the southern Plains into Friday night.
This weekend will bring a great opportunity for stargazers to see the zodiacal light, an eerie glow near the horizon which is only visible around the equinox.
The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston will go on and so will winter for this year's festivities.
A spell of unseasonable warmth in Germany will be replaced by arctic cold this weekend as the “Beast from the East” returns.
A third nor'easter in less than two weeks battered the northeastern United States this week while severe storms and mudslides wreaked havoc in southern Europe.