Castles were built for a reason and that was not to save damsels in distress or protect citizens from fire breathing dragons as poetry, fairy tales or Disney wants us to believe.
No, castles were built as military defense. They were not designed for comfort and were actually very dirty and smelly. In fact, during medieval times King’s very seldom lived in their castles.
But this all changed once medieval times ended. Returning to Europe from the Crusades, knights brought with them better military techniques making castles obsolete. At this time, comfort became more important than security and castles were abandoned.
Now nobility turned their sights towards building magnificent and large manor houses and chateaux that resembled castles many with towers and ramparts. The palaces that replaced castles were residences reflecting the architectural style of the times.
Today many of these Castles and Palaces have been turned into hotels allowing visitors a chance to sleep as Kings or nobility did many years ago but in more comfort and warmth. The towers and dungeons that witnessed so much history are now home to dining rooms and bedrooms fit indeed for a King.
Let’s take a look at a few of these Castle hotels in wonderful Austria.
Hotel Schloss Durnstein
Sitting high above the village looking down on the beautiful Danube sits this enchanting hotel. The historic castle, where Richard the Lion-Hearted was held, is now in ruins but the Renaissance style castle we see today was built in 1630 by one of the oldest families of Austria. Today the lovely hotel Schloss Durnstein is full of antiques, gorgeous chandeliers and fine art. The outside terrace is a place you could lounge forever sipping local Austrian wine or enjoying delicious food all while watching the Danube flow towards Vienna! If you wish, there is a tunnel that takes you down to the Danube where you can enjoy a walk along the river.
This castle holds a magical spot high in the Alps of the Tyrol region. Records date this land back to Roman time but the first tower of today’s castle was built in 1167. The informal Schloss Matzen still holds its medieval charm and is full of gothic cloisters, marble doorways, high beamed ceilings and decorative wrought iron hinges. Most of the rooms have thick stone walls, high ceilings and are decorated with antiques. There is even one with a marble fire place and an unbeatable view of the valley on three sides! The property can be explored on your own or by guided tours available. The Roman watchtower, Baroque chapel, knights’ dining hall and 2 dungeons can be toured and there are old manuscripts and rare books in the library to be perused.
Hotel Schloss Monchstein
Watching over beautiful Salzburg is the Hotel Schloss Monchstein. Originally built by the archbishops of Salzburg as a guest house, today the Monchstein is definitely a place for the famous and beautiful. The grounds of the hotel are as beautiful as the rooms. You can stroll paths through a park-like area full of flowers and singing birds. This is a perfect place to end a day of sightseeing and enjoy the magnificent view. The elegant guest rooms have been graced by Czarina Katherina of Russia and Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The Monchstein is a great place to wander even if you don’t stay here!
Built in 1065 as a mountain fortress to fend of armies coming from the east, this castle sits overlooking the Styrian wine country and as far as Hungary and Slovenia. Schloss Kapfenstein is a family owned establishment that is a comfortable place to stay while discovering this tranquil and unspoiled part of Austria. Truly a family endeavor, this charming castle offers beautiful rooms, and exquisite food that is served with award winning wines produced from their own vineyards.
There you have it, four of the many castle hotels in Austria. Wouldn’t it be nice to treat ourselves and sleep as royalty?