Yes, You Really Can Stay in a British Royal Residence!
Daydreaming of vacationing like a royal? Check out these royal residences where you can actually stay overnight.
Balmoral Castle in Scotland
Every summer Queen Elizabeth retreats to Balmoral Castle, her private estate in Scotland. The grounds are stunningly beautiful, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Scottish countryside. There are ranger-guided walks, guided tours of the house, and lots of freedom to hike, fish for salmon or play golf.
There are five 2-star and 3-star cottages, four of them open year-round. However, you probably won’t meet the Queen as the cottages are not always available during royal visits.
Do you love outdoor pursuits like fishing and hunting? Check out our top tips for how to store all your gear.
The Sandringham Estate in Norfolk
Sandringham, in the eastern county of Norfolk, is where the Queen spends her Christmas holiday, along with other members of the royal family. Traditionally, they all walk to the nearby church on Christmas morning. This is a working estate, employing more than 200 people in activities like farming, forestry, gardening, apple pressing and working in the sawmill. If you love wildlife and outdoor living, this is the ideal destination for you, as the focus on sustainable management has allowed all kinds of species to grow and thrive.
The Garden Cottage was once occupied by the Head Gardener. It sleeps up to eight people, and overlooks the ornamental garden. Everything you need is provided, and prices start from around $1,145 per week. Princess Diana’s childhood home, Park House, was donated by the Queen as a hotel for disabled guests and their families.
North Range in Llwynywermod, Wales
As the eldest son of the monarch, Prince Charles inherited the Duchy of Cornwall. This vast estate owns land across the UK (although mainly in the south-west of the country), and there are many holiday cottages available for rent.
Llwynywermod (don’t even try to pronounce it!) is the where the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall stay when they visit Wales, a country renowned for its natural beauty. Converted from a vintage barn, North Range cottage sleeps up to six people and is furnished from local Welsh sources. A week’s stay here starts at around $900. The cottage is surrounded by 192 acres of farmland, and is ideally located for exploring mid-Wales.
You might not want to convert a whole barn, but it’s simple to make your own rustic barn door by following our detailed instructions.
Castle of Mey in Scotland
The Castle of Mey has a checkered history, including being the site of a murder or two! Originally built by King George IV, the Castle of Mey became the Queen Mother’s Scottish home from 1952 until her death in 1996. It was something of a wreck when she first bought it, but it’s now beautifully restored with formal gardens, woodlands to walk in, and fabulous views across the surrounding countryside and sea.
When she fancied a picnic, the Queen Mother popped over to the Captain’s House, which is now the only cottage on-site that’s available for hire. It sleeps six (prices start from around $590 per week), and as well as being furnished to a very high standard, there’s a 20-foot conservatory with superb views across the garden and the sea.
A conservatory is the perfect environment to over-winter your indoor plants. Take a look at our 14 tips to care for your houseplants in winter.
Osborne House on the Isle of Wight
Just off the southern coast of Britain lies the Isle of Wight, the location of Queen Victoria’s favorite residence, Osborne House. The Queen and Prince Albert raised their nine children here, and devastated by Prince Albert’s death in 1861, the Queen retreated to Osborne House to grieve. Now owned by English Heritage, Osborne House boasts a magnificent residence (open to the public), formal gardens, a private beach, a Swiss cottage built for the royal children, and playgrounds and trails for kids.
There are three cottages for hire on the estate. Pavilion Cottage (sleeps 4) is converted from the old cricket pavilion, while larger groups can stay in one of the two Sovereign’s Gate cottages.
We bet your kids would love a playhouse like the royal children. This classic DIY playhouse project fits the bill perfectly.
Hampton Court Palace
It’s hard to imagine a royal residence with more history than Hampton Court Palace. Cardinal Wolsey built this magnificent palace in 1514, King Henry VIII claimed it for himself in the mid 1520s, and all six of his wives lived here at various times, as well as his children. The palace is set right next to the River Thames and is surrounded by formal gardens and water features. And there is also a world-famous maze to get lost in!
The Georgian House was built as a kitchen in 1719 and makes a superb holiday cottage with its private walled garden, fabulous views of the royal palace, and proximity to the rose gardens and the maze. It sleeps eight, and prices start from around $1,173 per week.
Maybe you can’t make it to the Hampton Court maze, but you might have a local corn maze you can explore – just one of our 100 activities to get you into the spirit of fall.
Astley Castle, Warwickshire
You’d be forgiven for never hearing about Lady Jane Grey – after all, nine days isn’t very long to be queen! In the struggle for power after the death of Edward VI (Henry VIII’s Protestant son), Lady Jane Grey was declared queen as a way to ensure that England remained a Protestant country. However, ultimately Henry’s daughter Mary Tudor was confirmed as queen, and Jane was eventually executed.
Astley Castle was Jane’s childhood home, and the castle has been beautifully refurbished to retain lots of the original medieval features. It’s available as a holiday let, sleeping up to eight people, with prices starting from around $1,437 for four nights. And don’t be put off by the rumors of the headless ghost that roams the castle at night!
If one ghost isn’t enough for you, these 20 real-life haunted houses should give you a chill down your spine.
Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire
Of course, royal residences aren’t just reserved for British royalty. In 1809, King Louis XVIII was exiled from France and spent five years living at Hartwell House. The house itself is surrounded by 90 acres of gardens and park land, landscaped in the 18th century.
Hartwell House, with its Jacobean and Georgian features, is now a luxurious hotel and spa with a range of accommodation options. Prices for bed and breakfast start at around $288 dollars per night ($405 if you include dinner).
Do you fancy your own home spa whirlpool tub? Our step-by-step guide tells you everything you need to know about installing one.