Live like the royals did - if only for a night. Lynn O'Rourke Hayes scopes out cool castles.
Fancy being treated like a royal - at least for a night? Here are five accommodation options in which you can do just that - castles.
1. Castello Di Casole, Tuscany, Italy
Stay in a reconstructed farmhouse surrounded by vineyards, or opt for a suite beside the pool and spa in the centre of this 1670ha estate.
The restored castle and grounds, dating from 998, is a fairy tale backdrop for a family holiday that could include horseriding, fishing, hiking, yoga in a restored church, exploring villages or learning to cook local specialties. On warm summer evenings, enjoy concerts on the lawn as the sun drops below the rolling Tuscan hills.
2. Oheka Castle, Huntington, New York
This French chateau-inspired castle was built in 1917 as the summer retreat for financier and philanthropist Otto Kahn. Docent-led tours give visitors a glimpse into the Roaring 20s, when the mansion was the scene of lavish parties attended by Hollywood luminaries and true royalty. Guests can enjoy an indoor pool or private beach, explore the gardens, play tennis or work up a sweat in the fitness centre.
3. Ashford Castle, Mayo, Ireland
Shed your armour and relax in this enchanting 140ha landscape. Your backdrop is 700-year-old turrets as you fish in nearby ponds and rivers, ride horses or refine your skills on the nine-hole private golf course. Later, discover falconry. You'll sleep in medieval style with modern, five-star overtones. Many of the 83 guest rooms retain centuries-old details. Rooms have Wi-Fi and interactive TV.
4. Thornewood Castle, Lakewood, Washington
The former owner of this castle bought a 400-year-old Elizabethan manor in England in 1907, and had it dismantled and shipped to the US. Today, guests aged 12 and older can immerse themselves in Tudor Gothic style while exploring the sunken English garden. On the shores of American Lake, in the shadow of Mt Rainier, guests have access to boat rentals or an equestrian centre for added fun.
5. The Castle, Mt Savage, Maryland
In the picturesque landscape between Cumberland and Frostburg, you'll find the castle, built in the likeness of Scotland's Craig Castle. The original structure was built by a local mining company and later converted by a Scottish businessman to resemble the impressive buildings in his homeland. Relax indoors or explore the countryside.