Carbisdale Castle, Scotland (di_greatoudoors)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 30 January

5 of the best credit-crunch castle stays

Think you need to pay royalty for a regal abode? Think again. Sleep in style on short breaks across the continent, from as little as £17

1. Castello di Roncade Agriturismo, Italy

Why? For fine wines in fine surroundings

Baron Vincenzo Ciani Bassetti is your host at this lordly 16th-century, stone-walled villa-turned-vineyard in Italy’s north-east. Spend all weekend sipping the home-grown tipples, or hop on the bus to nearby Treviso. Investigate the palazzos and canals of this ‘Venice-lite’, or use its great train links to fan further across the Veneto: to Bassano del Grappa, source of the potent spirit; to the walled town of Cittadella; or, just 30km south, to the watery hubbub of Venice itself.

Getting there: Ryanair flies from Stansted and Liverpool to Treviso, the closest airport. There are flights from most UK airports to Venice. The castello is 5km from Roncade train station.

Bottom line: From €83 (£74) a night for two.

Contact: Castello di Roncade, Via Roma 141-31056, Roncade, featured in Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay – Italy.

2. Carbisdale Castle, Scotland

Why? For bargain-basement baronial beds

Castles don’t come more castle-looking. Though only built in 1906, this turreted slab of stone – nestled in the Kyle of Sutherland and kitted out with Italian marble busts, stained-glass windows, wooden staircase and a few resident ghosts – offers a regal experience on a pauper’s budget: it’s now run by the Scottish YHA. Better still, it’s in the heart of some suitably dramatic countryside: explore the surrounding forests, lochs and trout-filled rivers on foot, or rent one of the hostels’ sturdy mountain bikes.

Getting there: Trains between Inverness and Culrain take around 80 minutes. The hostel is 500m from Culrain station.

Bottom line: Dorm beds from £17; doubles from £48. Breakfast £3.50; full-day bike hire £12. Discounts for members of the Scottish Youth Hostel Association.

Contact: Carbisdale Castle, Culrain, Sutherland IV24 3DP (www.syha.org.uk)

3. Doyden Castle, Cornwall 

Why? For your own private clifftop castle

OK, ‘castle’ is kind of pushing it, but this castellated folly – built as a party pad in the 1830s – has a position fit for a king. The north Cornwall coast and Lundy Bay beckon from the doorstep – bring your hiking boots and strike out along a wild and strenuous section of the South West Coast Path: east to the pretty harbour of Port Isaac or west, via The Rumps, towards Rick Stein’s Padstow eatery empire (spurn his posh restaurant for his chippie – the cheap ’n’ still tasty option).

Getting there: Doyden Castle is near Port Isaac. You need a car: park at Doyden House, from where it’s a five-minute walk to the castle.

Bottom line: From £183 for a three-night stay (low season); sleeps two.

Contact: National Trust Cottages.

4. Stayokay Heemskerk, Netherlands

Why? For raising a Heineken in a turret bar

It’s got big stone towers! And a moat! And beds for £20! The 13th-century Slot Assumburg is a lovingly spruced-up castle-cum-hostel, easily accessible from the cool Dutch capital but smack-bang among the coastal sands (North Holland Dune Reserve: 5km away) and lakes (Uitgeestermeer: 3km away) to the big city’s north. Hire one of the hostel’s bikes for an exploration of this gloriously flat landscape, pedalling past windmills and marram grass, before returning for dinner and beer at the resident turret bar.

Getting there: Most UK regional airports offer flights to Amsterdam. Or catch the Eurostar: London-Amsterdam, via Brussels, takes five and a half hours. Trains from Amsterdam to Heemskerk take 45 minutes; the hostel is 20 minutes walk from Heemskerk station.

Bottom line: Dorm beds from €23 pppn (£21); twin rooms from €65 (£58).

Contact: Stayokay Heemskerk, Tolweg 9, 1967 NG Heemskerk.

5. Château de la Motte, France

Why? For medieval grandeur

Drag yourself away from the stone staircases, canopied beds and home cooking of this well-restored 15th-century château to explore the surrounding – and little-known – Poitou region of the Loire Valley. With a car you could zip to the stony fortress town of Parthenay and immerse yourself in the Marais Poitevin, a network of canals draped in weed and willows: hire a punt-style vessel and pole off past white-washed villages and marshes heavy with birds.

Getting there: Ryanair flies from Stansted and Birmingham to Poitiers, a short train ride from Châtellerault, 8km from the château. Or take the Eurostar to Paris and catch the TGV to Châtellerault (80 minutes).

Bottom line: B&B from €75 (£67) a night for two; dinner, including wine, costs €28 (£25).

Contact: Château de la Motte, 86230 Usseau, featured in Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay – French Hotels & Châteaux.