When it comes to castles, no other building is quite so steeped in history. Once occupied by the elite in the land, many have since found new lives welcoming the rest of us mere mortals inside their high walls. Savvy travellers can now enjoy sumptuous suites, grand views and fantastic dining spaces once reserved exclusively for the aristocracy. If you’ve ever dreamed of peering out from a lofty turret or gazing across a grand moat, now’s the time to channel your inner princess or knight in shining armour and book a stay at one of Bespoke’s former castles turned luxury hotels.
Popular castles in Great Britain may have been built hundreds of years ago, but some can be over 1,000 years old. A lucky few people still live in castles, others get married in them and some like the ones below have been transformed into luxury hotels.
What is a castle?
Castles can be described as fortified structures, predominantly built in Europe and the Middle East. The earliest ones were occupied by royal families and ruling officials throughout the middle ages.
The fortification element is vital to any castle and explains why so many are associated with the curtain walls and arrow slits that grace postcards and innumerable blockbuster films.
The Normans in particular were expert castle builders, especially after the programme of construction ordered by William the Conqueror following the famed battles of 1066. At this time, the UK saw a great deal of castle building, beginning across Southern England and ultimately growing to cover the entirety of Great Britain.
William I used stone to build enormous castles which became spectacular residences for the various Lords of the Manor and their families, with enough soldiers and supplies thrown in to defend themselves from attack.
Finding that they were significantly outnumbered during the period, the Normans placed great emphasis on the use of castles as an effective means of preventing and suppressing any uprisings from the local population.
A good place to visit and live?
The very earliest of the castles were simple wooden buildings, constructed on the tops of hills in order to gain a vantage point and ensure it was possible to see oncoming enemies. In line with this siege mentality, these early castles contained everything a person could need to survive inside their walls for months on end.
It was only after the Normans felt that they had controlled the British people that they took the time to replace the wooden buildings with large stone entities, which are easily recognisable today.
The castles provided a great place for people to live, especially against the increasingly better-armed invading forces. Plus, as many builders created a wide and deep moat all around the property, with just a drawbridge providing access to the inside, it prevented any attackers from easily gaining access.
The Bespoke Castles
Massive stone walls and historic baronial bedrooms are tucked away in some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. These are the ideal sports for history lovers, sitting high above landscapes of olive groves and forests. Exuding a strong sense of Scotland’s past within their fortified walls, each one has its own unique spin and character.
For example, Stonefield Castle is a superb example of Scottish baronial architecture. Built in 1837, it retains many of its original furnishings, with wood panelling, ornate ceilings and marble fireplaces all on show.
Beyond its internal splendour, Stonefield Castle is set in 60 acres of woodland gardens by the shores of Loch Fyne, with 32 individual en suite bedrooms complete with views over the garden and waters. It is just two miles from the idyllic fishing village of Tarbert, one of the most attractive places to visit on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula.
Meanwhile, Tulloch Castle dates back to the 12th century, with a rich history allied to its ever changing fortunes. Nowadays, it’s a magnificent luxury hotel, perfectly equipped to welcome both leisure and business travellers.
In days of old, only the local laird or the chief of the regional clan would have been able to set foot inside a Scottish highland castle. Today, Tulloch Castle has 20 en suite bedrooms, each with their own unique character and charm for all to experience.