Castle hotels in Italy

How to become king or queen of your very own Italian castello—at least for a night or two—often for far less than the cost of a hotel

It's true. It can cost less to shack up in your very own medieval Fortress of Solitude than it would to rent a bed in a flea-bitten backpacker hotel for the night. I've stayed in European castles for as little as $40—though $60 to $100 is more common.

Even full-bore luxury suites in seriously upscale chateaux, where the daily activities run toward quail hunting and falconry, tend to ring in around $140 to $300—which ain't bad, for a fairy tale night spent as the prince and princess, and these days is on a par with the price of a typical three– or four-star hotel.

Reid's favorite Italian castles
Why is it so many castles are open to the public? Truth is, there are few enough Lords of the Manor around these days to pay for the upkeep of these massive piles and keep them lived-in (old homes deteriorate rapidly when vacant).

So, tatterdemalion barons, clever entrepreneurs, and various preservation organizations have hit upon the perfect solution: preserve the buildings by renting them out.

So say arrivederci to modern America—even if only for a week or two—and bring your squires and ladies in waiting along to your very own Italian castello.

How to find castle-hotels in Italy

Castle and Palace Hotels ( - Not the most complete, but by far the most user-friendly site, maintained by professional travel writer and guidebook author Pamela Barrus (always gotta give props to my colleagues). There are about two dozen hand-selected castles in Italy (and the same number in other European countries). The interface is quick and intuitive: Click on a country, click on a region, then click on a castle (or palatial hotel) to get a concise but info-packed single page on the property, complete with photographs, prices, direct contact info, brochure-like descriptions of the castle and its history, and a few choice words and tips on the hotel from Pamela herself. Other nice touches: basic intel on how castle hotels work in each country, useful phrases in each language for booking a room, information on holding weddings, etc. She also just has a good eye for castles. I've written about them myself—for guidebooks and magazine articles—so I know what's out there and can tell you that Pamela tends to pick some of the best. ( - Nice, slick site from an Italy-based agency with more than 830 castles, manor houses, and other primo upscale hotels across Italy.

Relais & Chateaux ( One of the granddaddies of refined luxury, an association with extremely high standards (and price tags) with more than 500 properties around the world, of which about 30 in Italy. Only a handful in Italy are actual castles, despite the name, but even the manor houses, palaces, mansions, historic villas, and regular hotels are of the utmost in comfort, quality, charm, history, and are usually really, really expensive.

Castles on the Web ( - Bukoos links on the "Accommodations" page. Could do with some organization though: some are booking engines, some direct links, some hotel reservations services... still, most seem to at least hook you up with bona fide fortresses. Buggy linking system, though. Sad. Still: Happy hunting.

Tips & links

Castle-hotel links & resources
Other lodging links & resources
Useful Italian
Useful Italian phrases and terms for lodging

English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah

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