HEY, SHALL WE RENT A CASTLE ON AIRBNB?
That would be kind of fun
You can now hire a castle on Airbnb. Well, actually, you’ve been able to do that for a while, but the app recently got an update and now it’s easier to search for a fortress, château or iron age hill-fort, slap down your Amex and get ready to live like a rebellious marcher baron for a week.
What’s not to like about that? Frankly, if you don’t think staying in your very own castle would be absolutely superb then you might have subscribed to the wrong Substack, and there’s also a chance we can never be friends.
I’ve spent a few hours browsing for castles, and these are my top picks. I should probably also say that Airbnb aren’t paying to post this (although they’re welcome to, if they want). Enjoy fantasising. Or even booking.
Château de Farcheville, France
About an hour south of Paris, Château de Farcheville has 22 bedrooms, 34 bathrooms, dungeons, a spa with an incredible pool, hidden secret passages, a moat, cannon in the grounds and (crucially) Wi-Fi. The hall dates back to the late thirteenth century. The helipad is, I think, somewhat later. Of course, none of this comes cheap; from what I can make out the château costs about €100,000 a week to hire. But if everyone kicks in, we can afford that, right?
Castle Ten Berghe, Belgium
Originally thirteenth-century, Ten Berghe has been rebuilt many times over the years and was restyled in its fiddly neo-gothic fashion in the nineteenth century. There’s a moat! Spires! Large ornate fireplaces! It doesn’t look like you can hire the whole thing - what’s listed on Airbnb is an apartment which sleeps six people on a bed-and-breakfast basis. But it’s a couple of miles away from Bruges, which was one of the boom towns of late-medieval Flanders, and is today famous for its photogenic canals, churches and architecture.
Highlands Castle, NY, USA
Lol, a castle in the USA. That’s kind of like seeing a Humvee in the Cotswolds, or a Burger King on one of the moons of Jupiter. But, actually, this one looks really quite chic. Built out of 1,000 tons of granite in the late 1970s and 1980s, you can rent Highlands Castle for whatever you fancy: a wedding, a party, or a 11-month siege in which everyone starts to go mad and is reduced to eating rats and horses and even to contemplate cannibalism. It’s listed at about $60,000 a week, but I’m sure you could cut a deal if you bring your own boiling oil and useless mouths.
Castell de Raymat, Spain
Originally a twelfth-century structure dating back to Arab rule in al-Andalus, Castell de Raymat is now fully refurbished and marketed at visitors who want to hang out among the vineyards of Raimat in north-east Spain. The closest town, about 20 minutes away, is Lleida. The general vibe of the place seems to be ‘sustainable tourism’ in the spirit of a project begun during the First World War by the winegrower Manuel Raventós Domènech. It all looks rather tasteful, though perhaps I am swayed most by the thought of a week spent drinking Spanish wines.
Castello di Badia, Italy
Castello di Badia is up a hill in Tuscany between Florence and Siena. There’s a train station less than a mile away, vineyards all around and a pool with a little diving board. On the Airbnb listing it is described as a ‘real fairy tale castle’, which probably means you’re liable to prick your finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a century-long coma until Shrek comes and wakes you up. Still, it looks nice, and there’s a great comment on the listing from an aptly named user called ‘Duke’, who says ‘Hot diggity YES!!! A real castle.’ What finer endorsement could there be? I now regret not having used that line at the top of SOGBC, back in the day.
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