Dream Vacation: Germany’s Castle Hotels


Dream Vacation: Germany’s Castle Hotels

Many people come to Germany to visit its famous castles. But did you know that you can also stay in one? While castle hotels are not the cheapest options for accommodations, they are certainly some of the most magical. Make your trip a true fairy tale with a visit to one of these eight locations—most offer museums and restaurants that you can visit even if you can’t afford to spend the night.
by Nicolette Stewart

Castle Hotel Auf Schönberg

Surrounded by vineyards and trails for hiking and biking—not to mention the beautiful view of the Rhine River above which it is perched—the Castle Hotel Auf Schönberg is ideally located to experience wine country, view castles, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery.

History: The castle’s first known reference is from the year 911.  Because the castle was inherited by all the sons in the family instead of just the eldest, it accommodated up to 250 people from 24 families during the 14th century.  In 1689 it was burned down during the Palatinate Heritage War and became a hotel in 1957 when the Hüttl family took over the lease.

Rates (per night): From 140 to 370 with lower rates during the off season

Website: www.hotel-schoenburg.com

Castle Hotel Liebenstein

Known as the highest castle in the Rhine River Valley, Castle Hotel Liebenstein is also the scene of an interesting historical legend (see history section below).  Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley, it is close to the Lorelei rock, as well as the scenic towns of Rüdesheim and Koblenz.  Liebenstein is furnished in medieval style with decorations that rival those of the luxury Hotel Wernberg.

History: Legend has it that Castle Liebenstein and the neighboring Castle Sterrenberg were built in the 13th century by two brothers feuding over their inheritance after cheating their blind sister out of her fair share. The brothers each had a castle, while their sister was only left with enough money to build a monastery at their base.  However, the brothers fought so violently that they eventually had to build a wall to separate the castles.  When they finally settled their differences, one of the brothers accidentally shot the other through the heart with bow and arrow.  No other two castles in the Rhine River Valley stand closer to each other.

Rates: From 130 to 245 with discounts during the off season

Website: www.castle-liebenstein.com

Castle Sababurg

Bordering the oldest zoological garden in Europe (Tierpark Sababurg) and an ancient forest with oak trees that are over 650 years old (Urwald Sababurg), Castle Sababurg has more than just a beautiful castle to offer visitors.  Said to be the setting for the well-know fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, the castle hotel is housed in one tower and an addition.  Each of the hotel’s rooms is named after an animal, a nod at the castle’s history.  Performances and parties are held both in the castle’s vaulted cellar and in the castle ruins.  You absolutely do not need to stay in the castle hotel to enjoy the sights that the castle and its surroundings have to offer. 

History: Sababurg was built in 1334 by the Archbishop of Mainz as a way station for Christian pilgrims on the way to visit the holy site of Gottsbüren.  In 1490 the Landgraves of Hesse built a hunting residence on the foundation of the original structure, but by the early 19th century, it had been abandoned.  After a hundred years “sleep” that mirrors the fairy tale said to be set there, Sababurg was restored for visitors.

Rates: From 85 to 235 euro

Website: www.sababurg.de

Burghotel Schloss Staufenberg

Located near Giessen, Marburg, and Wetzlar, Burghotel Schloss Staufenberg has replaced room numbers with the names of important historical persons.  You can stay in Count Gazmar’s Suite or Countess Sophie’s Apartments.  Besides modernly furnished rooms, visitors can rent a Burgmannshaus (small apartment) next to the castle.  Burg Gleiberg, Burgruine Vetzberg, Marburger Landgrafenschloss, Schloss Braunfels, Kloster Schiffenberg are all nearby.

History:  The upper part of the castle was built in the 11th century, but destroyed during the 30 Years War and never rebuilt.  The younger, lower part of the castle was restored by two Hessian princes between 1860 and 1862.  During World War II Staufenberg was occupied by Allied troops and used as a refugee camp.  In 2003 it opened its doors as a hotel and restaurant.

Rates: From 85 to 169

Website: www.burg-hotel-staufenberg.com

Schloss Steinburg

On the outskirts of Würzburg but in the heart of wine country, Schloss Steinburg offers a stunning view of the city, the river, and the surrounding vineyards.  The “Würzburger Stein” vineyards have been praised by Goethe and since have become popular across the world.  While Schloss Steinburg does not offer any historical tours or exhibits, visitors can stop by for a glass of local wine.

History: In 1300 monks from Ebrach monastery planted the grapes that would grow into one of the world’s most famous vineyards and influence Peter Schneider to build the Steinburg on the ruins of the medieval castle that once stood in its place.  In 1898 the restaurant was opened, and after undergoing many changes in construction and management over the years, Steinburg was expanded into a hotel in 1951.

Rates: From 125 to 225 for single and double rooms, 345 to 375 for suites.

Website: www.steinburg.com

Hotel Burg Trendelburg

Located just 30 minutes outside of Kassel, Hotel Burg Trendelburg offers something very special for fairy-tale lovers: Rapunzel’s tower.  Whether or not Trendelburg’s tower was really the inspiration for the story made famous by the Brothers Grimm, a walk up the 40-meter-high tower’s 130 steps offers a spectacular view.  If you can afford the 175 euro per night charge, you can stay in Rapunzel’s Tower yourself.  With fairy tale- and medieval-themed dinners, a fairy tale festival, and a sauna and wellness area, Hotel Burg Trendelberg deals in experiences that go beyond just offering an attractive place to sleep.

History:  Built before 1300 by Konrad II von Schönberg to protect the land route between Bremen and Kassel.

Rates: From 105 to 265.

Website: www.burg-hotel-trendelburg.com

Schloss Hotel Waldeck

Perched 120 meters above the Edersee in the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, the four-star Schloss Hotel Waldeck offers spectacular views of the area, as well as access to hiking, sailing, biking, and golfing.  Every August they host a classic car show, and visitors can stop by the castle museum for a look around without booking a room.

History: The current structure was built on the remnants of an 11th century fortification that served as the residence of the Count of Waldeck and thus the local government.  When the Waldecks acquired the titular dignities of Prince, they moved to nearby Arolsen Castle.  The structure has since served as national archive, armory, jail, and royal forestry office, until it was converted into a hotel and restaurant in 1998.

Rates: From 88 to 258 euro, water views starting at 118 euro

Website: www.schloss-hotel-waldeck.de

Hotel Burg Wernberg

Hotel Burg Wernberg manages to achieve an authenticity of atmosphere that comes from understated design with an attention to detail.  Rooms are categorized as for knights, counts, dukes, and princes—each more exquisitely designed than the last.  Bare stone walls compliment dark wood, wall hangings, porcelain, and brass.  Though the hotel does not offer a historical aspect such as a museum, the atmosphere is complimented by the presence of two-star Michelin Chef Thomas Kellermann in the hotel restaurant, and guests can sign up for a cooking class with him during their stay.  Located near Regensburg and Nüremburg, the area around Hotel Burg Wernberg is also a paradise for bicyclists.  

History: The first known reference to Burg Wernberg is from 1280, when it belonged to the Leuchtenberg family.  Badly damaged during the 30 Years War, it remained in ruins for some time.  In 1646 the last of the Leuchtenbergs died, and it did not become a hotel until 1998.

Rates: You know a hotel is going to be expensive when rather than posting the prices on their website, the hotel asks that you call them.

Website: www.burg-wernberg.de

More castles

This is just a sample of the castle and fortress hotels throughout Germany.  On the website BurgHotel.de, you can find many more.  Others of interest include Burg Hotel Rothenburg, Schloss Edesheim, and Castle Colmberg.

On a shoe-string budget?  Stay tuned for our list of castle youth hostels!

by Nicolette Stewart