Vacations are meant to make you feel pampered, but sometimes you want to go that extra step to find a truly luxurious experience. Whether that means cuddling up in a five-star resort or following in the footsteps of the monarchs present and past, check out these ten trips that will make you feel positively royal.
Cruise to Connect Germany’s Castles
Germany takes the gold medal for having the most castles in the world with Disney’s emblem inspiration, Neuschwanstein, as its crowning glory. You’ll feel like kings and queens too while wandering through half-timbered villages and the gilded corridors of medieval castles like Burg Eltz and Hohenzollern. But instead of committing to just one, hop around between castles while in the lap of luxury on board a river cruise, sailing down Germany’s waterways. You’ll pass by ancient mansions where German royals once supped with their courts and epic battles took place, but you’ll feel just as doted on cruising down the Moselle with a glass of Champagne in hand.
Spend the Night in Japan’s Castles
Europe isn't the only place you'll find stunning castles. Japan is littered with ancient fortresses, whether you’re in the heart of Tokyo or the countryside. While a day trip is a great way to experience both Japanese history and culture, take the full immersion approach by spending the night in one of these castles. Both Ozu Castle on Shikoku Island and Hirado Castle on Hyushu offer guests a window into 14th- and 15th-century Japan. You can spend the night inside either castle in their luxury hotel rooms inside the grounds. While both require a bit of a trek to reach, the journey is worth it for the chance to feel like royalty, if just for a night. Up the ante by dressing in traditional kimono, partaking in traditional tea ceremonies, and strolling the perfectly curated grounds.
Sip Wine in a French Château
France is littered with stunning chateaux, luxurious and elegant estates that will sweep you off your feet and right into a fairytale. Some operate as hotels, but there are several that maintain their own vineyards and produce some of the best wines in the world. Embark on a wine-tasting tour throughout the country, cozying up with a glass of the local specialty in a different château each night. Sip Merlot in Château Palmer in Bordeaux or pop bubbly in Château de Boursault, which was built by the Widow Clicquot, matriarch of the famed Veuve Clicquot champagne house.
Explore the Moors’ Royal Residences
Although the Moors fled from Spain in 1492, they left behind a lasting legacy of beauty in the form of breathtaking royal residences. The crown jewel of Spain’s Moorish architecture is the Alhambra, located in the Andalusian city of Granada. Stepping inside Alhambra’s Nasrid Palace will transport you to a world of secrecy, vibrant color, and intricately carved stone. Take the time to admire the gardens where pomegranates hang in the trees, bougainvillea climbs the walls, and fountains burble. Other Islamic architectural gems lie within a day's drive too, like the Alcazar of Seville or Cordoba’s Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. Like something out of a classic fairytale, Granada was the last stronghold of the Moorish Empire before it fell to the Reconquista.
Embark on a Royal English Tour
Learn about British royalty in style on an eight-day tour through England. The Royal Tour offered by Classic England runs all year round and is ideal for singles, families, or groups. The trip begins with three days in London where you'll check off major royal landmarks like the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral (where Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married), Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Kensington Palace.
Next, you'll travel around the countryside to see various castles and country homes of royalty past. The main highlights include Windsor, Warwick Castle, and Battle Abbey. You also have the option to extend the tour into southern England or even into Scotland. The Royal Tour is a must for anyone who is interested in the history of British royalty.
Escape to Luxury Desert Camps
Steal away to Morocco’s fortress-esque kasbahs, concealed in the High Atlas Mountains, or laze away the day by the pool and palms inside the inner sanctum of Marrakech’s luxury riads. Opulent accommodation is the name of the game in Morocco and you can easily get a taste of royal life without breaking the bank. Feel free to pamper yourself with spa treatments galore in an upscale hammam. Then, when you've had your fill of the city, make the trek to the Sahara Desert where you’ll feel like you're part of a royal procession en route to a luxury camp for the evening. As the cherry on top, many of these incredible accommodations are owned by Amazigh families, the descendants of North Africa’s once-mighty rulers.
Sleep in a Polish Palace
Poland’s fairytale villages, misty countryside, and fascinating history will make you feel like you’ve just stepped into the pages of a storybook. But what might surprise many visitors is that it just so happens to be the home of the largest castle in the world. Just south of Poland’s colorful, seaside city of Gdansk, the 13th-century Malbork Castle was once home of the Teutonic Knights. You can sleep on the grounds – if you don’t mind a potential visit from a ghost or two. But the procession of palaces doesn’t stop here. Warsaw’s Nieborow Palace, bedecked in Baroque architecture and frescoed ceilings, is just one of 14 different royal residences to explore in Poland’s capital city. Strike out into the countryside to visit Moszna Castle, which competes with French chateaus in its astounding beauty, while the Trail of Eagle Nests in southern Poland connects over a dozen hilltop fortresses. With 2,500 different palaces to choose from, you could spend a lifetime in the lap of luxury.
Reside with a Maharaja
England isn't the only nation with a royal family, so take your next royal journey to India to experience some of the nation's gorgeous palaces. Nicknamed the "Land of Kings", Rajasthan is the perfect region to explore fantastic palaces and forts from dynasties past, from Amber Palace to Jal Mahal. And if you're looking to make a palace your own for the night, check into Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur. This five-star retreat is part hotel, part museum, and part primary residence for the former maharaja of Jodhpur.
Honeymoon Like the Royals
Prince William and Kate Middleton are the latest in a long line of royals who love vacationing in Mustique. The couple regularly visits this Caribbean island when they feel the need to unwind. It’s easy to see why the British royals are so drawn to this island. Mustique is known for its pristine beaches. It’s also known for being rather exclusive — as a private island, it attracts celebrities like a magnet, but anyone can enjoy this destination. If you go, stay at Cotton House, a hotel with several options for rooms. Spend your days scuba diving or sitting on the sand. Horseback riding on the beach is also a popular pastime. You might even catch a glimpse of Princess Kate from afar.
Cozy Up in an Irish Castle
Why settle for touring a castle when you could also sleep in one? The 800-year-old Ashford Castle is now a five-star hotel located in Mayo, Ireland. Constructed in 1228, the castle has a rich medieval history and was expanded and rebuilt during the Victorian era. In 1939, the castle opened as a hotel. It also served as a film set for multiple movies in the 20th century.
Now, Ashford Castle functions primarily as a hotel. It has hosted many celebrities such as John Lennon, Prince Edward, Robin Williams, and other well-known royals. Virtuoso Travel Week voted Ashford the world’s best hotel in 2015. Ashford has 83 rooms and suites in addition to a dining room, wine cellars, and a billiards room. The hotel also includes an award-winning spa where you can indulge in an aromatherapy massage or super-charge facial. A stay at Ashford Castle will truly make you feel like royalty.