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Fortifying holidays

Castle-building in the UK began in earnest during the Norman Conquest, with William I establishing many to secure territory as his forces advanced through England. Often built in significant defensible areas or at key strategic locations, castles came to signify a display of the owners’ rank and wealth as well as their ability to protect the people. The largest inhabited castle in England today is Windsor Castle, favoured weekend residence of the Queen, which dominates a scenic part of the Thames on the outskirts of the capital.

If you’re looking for somewhere different to stay for your travels, there are hundreds of fabulous castles around the world that have been transformed into hotels to offer guests a splendid and luxurious experience.

The Flexicover Team looks at some great fortified residences around Europe and you won’t even have to fight off invaders to stay in one of them!

Dornröschenschloss Sababurg; Hesse, Germany

The imperial forest of the Reinhardswald of central Germany is home to the original ‘Sleeping Beauty’ residence as described in Grimms’ Fairy Tales - Sababurg Castle. This wonderful place in the heart of a realm of myth and legend boasts a hotel, restaurant, café and a place for civil weddings. The castle’s 17 rooms are a blend of heritage and modern style, offering gorgeous views of the surrounding hills and forests. An open air stage hosts plays and concerts and the historic garden is perfect for a relaxing stroll. Stay here and be enchanted!

Ashford Castle; Mayo/Galway border, Ireland

Previously owned by the famous Guinness brewing family, this residence was built in 1228 on the shore of Lough Corrib, one of Ireland’s largest lakes. The castle (now a luxury 5-star hotel) is a magnificent 350 acre estate with beautiful sprawling grounds making it a perfect retreat! The rooms bear traditional designs with original features such as turrets, armour, chandeliers and oak panelling carefully restored. With a choice of 2 restaurants, a library and treatment rooms, this is an ideal place to be pampered like nobility!

Neemrana Fort Palace; Rajasthan, India

This 55 bedroom hotel is a heritage resort based in a 16th century hill fort established by the powerful Chauhan clan. Equidistant from Delhi, Agra & Jaipur, this beautiful hillside site gives stunning views across the village of Neemrana and the Rajasthan countryside. The 6 acre resort was restored in 1986 and offers a couple of special delights for those feeling adventurous, as it has India’s first ever zipline as well as giving access to hot air balloon rides over the village. For serenity and beauty you can’t do much better!

Parador de Sigüenza; Guadalajara, Spain

A castle has existed on this site since the 5th century, first established by the Visigoths, expanded by the Moors before becoming a fortified episcopal palace in the 12th century. It was abandoned in the 1830s and restoration began to have it open as a parador (“luxury hotel”) in 1978, as an excellent base for exploring the historical Castilla La Mancha region. The rooms are spacious, with Castilian-style furniture and canopy beds to make you feel as if you’re in a real palace. Keep cool in the cobbled courtyard, visit the Romanesque chapel or enjoy traditional cuisine in the sumptuous restaurant, stunning with its soaring archways!

Castel di Luco; Marche, Italy

The Castel di Luco is special in that it remains almost unaltered since the time of its construction in the 14th century, as well as for its unusual elliptical design. Not far from the town of Ascoli, the beautiful building is owned and managed by descendants of the noble Ciucci and Amici families, so is well kept and protected with love and care. The guesthouse rooms have wood-beamed ceilings and antique beds. Feast your eyes on the magnificent views of the Sibillini Mountains and watch sunset from the balconies - for a holiday of pure bliss!

Wherever your travels take you this year, if you are lucky enough to stay in a real castle, we atFlexicover Team are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

Safe travels!