In Wales, you could book a break in a Norman tower, a Victorian fortress or a Gothic chateau, inspired by the Loire. March this way for princely hospitality and a splendid place to sleep.
Ruthin Castle, North East Wales
Oliver Cromwell’s forces did their best to flatten Ruthin’s medieval fortress in the 1600s. But it sprang back to life in the 1800s when a grand crenellated mansion was built within the old red sandstone walls. Ruthin Castle is now a romantic hotel with richly decorated rooms and a splendid Prince of Wales Suite in the tower.
Brecon Castle, Brecon Beacons
Glandyfi Castle, near Machynlleth
When Maureen Holmes discovered Glandyfi's early 19th century Gothic revival castle in 2007, it was love at first sight. She and her family went on to transform it into an eight-room guesthouse with delightful gardens and panoramic views of the Dovey Valley. Michaela Strachan, who stayed here with the BBC Springwatch team while filming at nearby RSPB Ynys-Hir, said it made her feel like a princess.
Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire
Keen to stay in a Norman castle, but daunted by the thought of all those stone steps and suits of armour? Manorbier has the answer – within the castle walls is a cosy self-catering cottage which sleeps up to 12. When the last visitors have left at the end of the day, you’ll have the pretty castle gardens all to yourselves.
Craig-y-Nos Castle, Brecon Beacons
In 1878, celebrity opera singer Adelina Patti splashed out on the beautifully located Victorian-Gothic Craig-y-Nos castle and did the place up nicely, even adding an opera house. She lived here for more than 40 years and some say her ghost still makes its presence felt from time to time. Book a room at Craig-y-Nos, and who knows what you’ll discover.
Castell Deudraeth, Portmeirion
Built in the style of a sturdy stone castle with tall crenellations and Gothic flourishes, this grand Victorian mansion was originally the home of an early Victorian MP. Castell Deudraeth is now a boutique hotel within the Portmeirion estate. Even if you’re not staying, you can drop in for lunch in the stylish conservatory brasserie.
Plas Rhianfa, Anglesey
Sir John Hay Williams, Baronet of Bodelwyddan, loved French chateaus so much that he commissioned one for his wife, Lady Sarah – only instead of standing in the Loire Valley, his creation, Plas Rhianfa, gazes out over the Menai Strait. Completed in the 1850s, it’s now a hotel called Château Rhianfa, with 22 elegant bedrooms and two self-catering cottages.
Cardigan Castle, Ceredigion
Until recently, Cardigan Castle was in desperate need of repair, but a community project stepped in to give it the overhaul it deserves. From spring 2015 you'll be able to stay at Castle Green House, an elegant Regency house within the 13th century castle walls – newly restored, it’s been turned into luxurious self-catering apartments. Another building will offer bed and breakfast.
Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire
Sat high on a hilltop, Roch Castle has incredible panoramic views over St Brides Bay and Preseli Hills and six characterful rooms. There's a seamless mix of historic structure with contemporary decor and all the mod-cons you could need. Tuck in to the traditional Welsh breakfast before exploring the nearby sights – St David's, Skomer Island and the numerous hills and beaches.