Europe: staying in a castle on the cheap

It’d be cool to stay in a castle. Not because I’d like to play Kate Middleton – really. But because I’m not rich and like the idea of living or staying where rich people used to. Except without having to do any of the cleaning work their castlekeepers used to do. Or spending one fraction of the money the noble families did.

“Chateau Sully sur Loire” by Christophe.Finot.

I like the idea of their former spaces being made available to the regular person. First in Roanoke, Virginia and then in Wilmington, North Carolina, I lived in really big old houses that were eventually divided into apartments with cheap rent, close to the city center. Except for the cockroaches I had to deal with on a daily basis, it was really very pleasant and convenient. I liked that the places had character, a history. A lot of the houses in Wilmington even had plaques in front of them explaining how they’d come to be and whom they’d belonged to.

Since I moved to Europe, I haven’t been able to replicate the experience, but have often considered staying at a castle for fun, preferably with a bunch of friends. So in case you share my interest…

Here are a few options of castle stays for budget travelers.

I’ve restricted my search to rentals priced at up to €40 euros per person per night.

Castles for rent on Airbnb

What actually gave me the idea to write this post was remembering that a couple of years back, I was browsing through rooms to rent in Spain on an upcoming vacation, when I randomly came across a castle in the northern part of the country. How cheap it would’ve been for a group to rent the whole castle amazed me. Although I wasn’t going to that part of Spain at the time, I kept it in mind for future reference.

Since then, I’ve found lots more castles on Airbnb, which is the site I tend to go to when looking for places to stay longer than a couple of days. I’d rather stay with local residents in a travel destination than at a hotel.

Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee the conditions the people describe, or that they will hold up their end of the bargain. That would be between you and the person posting, and Airbnb. I recommend you look for reviews on any property you might be interested in. Also, no one’s paying me to write this. And the castles pictured are for illustrative purposes only; they do not correspond to the listings. The links in the listings provide pictures of the properties discussed. The prices are for summer 2015, when this article was written, so they may have changed a bit since then.

“Castillo cardona”. Licensed under Wikimedia Commons.

Northern Spain (and environs, into France) indeed seems to be the place to look for sweet castle deals with Airbnb. In Llaés, Catalonia, a sample stay period at a medieval castle gave me a price as low as €23 per person per night for two nights, if you manage to get a group of six people together. You can even have larger groups, and for potentially cheaper per person. Also for two nights and six people, a castle in Vimbodí, Tarragona, could be rented for €39 per person per night. It’s even cheaper to stay at a medieval defense tower in Alcanar, Catalonia: €20.50 per person per night for six people, or €15.40 for eight people.

Across the border in Midi-Pyrénées, France, the price per person per night to stay at a castle in Saint-Julia, near Toulouse, came up as €30 (six people, two nights). And in Languedoc-Roussillon, France, four people could stay at a castle in Aimargues, for €22.40 per person per night (but with a security deposit).

These are just a few examples that jumped out at me. I could sit here all day going through these castle listings – really, there are so many – but you can browse around yourself for the region (also for 2-person or solo stays in rooms). There was also a “castle wishlist” I found on Airbnb (since taken down, though you can browse the wishlist section to see what you can find). In summer 2015, it listed, for instance, a stay for four people in a medieval castle in Dargoire, Rhône-Alpes, France for €21 per person per night.

Castle hostels

I almost always go for hostels for short stays. It’s a great way to meet people; especially, in my opinion, when you’re traveling solo and can go with the flow more easily.

Also, for the best deals, you often need to be willing to share a room with a bunch of strangers, unless you’re traveling with your own big group of people and you all manage to get beds in the same dorm. Germany, with its enormous supply of palatial estates, has been the most fruitful place on my search for castles that have been turned into hostels.

Definitely at the top of my list is staying at the castle hostel in Nuremberg, since it’s the first of such kind I’d heard about, recommended by a friend. Unfortunately, I tried to book a bed there before but failed because apparently it was being renovated at the time. In summer 2015, the price per night for one guest above 27 years of age in a shared room came up as €33.70, and for a guest younger than 27 it came up as €31.90.

“Schloss Neuschwanstein 2013” by Thomas Wolf, (Wish this one were available for a stay, too.)

There’s another castle hostel in Bacharach (Middle Rhine region), where beds are listed as ranging from €21.50 to €32.50 (I couldn’t look at specific dates or number of people because there was something up with their booking system). There’s also a castle hostel in Colditz, near Leipzig, with the bonus of having served as a “prisoner-of-war camp” whose captives’ escape attempts are the stuff of legend. It listed beds starting from €23 (but once again, the booking system was cranky so I couldn’t get more details).

This is it from me on the topic, at least for now – although of course, this is far from a complete list of places and palatial properties. If you hear of any other options for cheap castle stays you’d like to share, please let us know!

A Global Studies doctoral degree holder and former newspaper reporter, avid eater, pseudo-philosopher and poet, occasion-propelled singer, semi-professional socializer, movie addict, Brazilian-American nomad. In this space, she will share some of her experiences and (mis)adventures regarding various topics, with special attention to social issues.

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