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On May 19, the collective attention of the United Kingdom and much of the world turned to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and his betrothed Meghan Markle. Soon enough the regal newlyweds will leave the proverbial castle-sweet-castle behind in search of adventure and hard-to-come-by alone time, wherever that may be.
While just-married clients can’t quite rent out Kensington Palace during the sovereigns’ absence, there are other ways to honeymoon like royalty in Europe. Travelers can jump right into their own fairy tale for a night or two and come away with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Send them on a magnificent holiday fit for kings and queens at these castles, manors and chateaus.
Ballynahinch Castle Hotel in Recess, Connemara, County Galway, IrelandSituated on 700 acres of verdant green woodland, perched above the deep grey Owenmore River, Ballynahinch Castle is a picturesque 17th-century stronghold that has operated as a luxury hotel since 1946. The jagged Twelve Bens Mountains and several different loughs create a stunning backdrop for some of the best salmon fly-fishing in all of Ireland.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby hiking trails or a guided boat trip on Roundstone Bay, highlighted by the scenic deserted island Inishlacken, a grey seal colony. After exploring the surrounding Connemara National Park and by extension the Wild Atlantic Way, guests can return to their elegant suite and enjoy afternoon tea for two.
Castell d’Emporda in La Bisbal d'Emporda, SpainThe whimsy of love will flourish within the enamoring stone walls of Castell d’Emporda, an idyllic hilltop villa that legendary artist Salvador Dali once attempted to purchase with his paintings. Though his desires were rejected (the previous owner demanded cash), the current proprietors nod to this chapter with deluxe Dali-themed rooms, complete with notable artwork and balconies overlooking the scenic fields of Catalonia.
Beauty treatments and two swimming pools make any stay tranquil, but the castle’s true allure lies in its location. It sits equidistant from Girona and the azure waters of Costa Brava, where couples can explore sunny beaches at the Gulf of Roses.
Castello Di Montegufoni in Montespertoli, ItalyThere is arguably no place in the world more romantic than Tuscany. With its parapeted watchtower and meticulously cultivated grounds, Castello di Montegufoni is the epitome of that dreamy euphoria. Day trips to Florence and Pisa should be at the top of any to-do list during post-wedding vacations here, but make sure to sip the renowned Chianti wine along the way.
On the premises, chefs at the “Ristorantino” craft traditional Italian cuisine. After a day filled with couple-friendly activities such as golfing or trekking the surrounding hills, a plate of gourmet pasta will hit the spot. www.montegufoni.it
Castlehotel Schonburg in Berlese, GermanyConsidering Castlehotel Schonburg’s extraordinary views of the Rhine River, romance is sure to blossom like the flowers in its secret garden. Here, 25 uniquely decorated rooms provide comfortable modern amenities imbued with vintage sensibilities. Visitors can eat in three luxurious dining areas, each graced with elegant components such as wood paneling or stained-glass windows.
Below the estate, the quaint medieval village of Oberwesel is a stop on river cruises through the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Upper Middle Rhine Valley, known for its vineyards and long cultural history. Bicycle tours are a great way to experience the town’s charming streets and architecture; the gothic Church of Our Lady’s coral-hued facade is particularly striking.
Chateau d’Artigny in Montbazon, FranceAs a popular venue for extravagant weddings in France’s Loire Valley, the remarkable Chateau d’Artigny is also a storybook honeymoon destination. Its 56 rooms evoke the region’s splendor and perfume-imbued past through bright, floral wallpapers and stylish decor.
Gourmet eatery L’Origan serves fine French cuisine in a dignified setting adorned with gilded 18th-century woodwork, while the terrace offers a panoramic vista of the Indre River. The property also contains a tennis court, an open-air heated pool, marble statues and appealing trompe l'oeil frescoes.
Gravetye Manor in West Hoathly, EnglandGravetye Manor owes its very existence to love. In 1598, a local Sussex man named Richard Infield constructed the residence for his bride Katharine Compton, and their initials of “R” and “K” are still inscribed in stone over one entrance today. Just 30 minutes from central London, this 1,000-acre countryside oasis is replete with luxurious gardens and expansive lawns perfect for croquet or a picnic.
When Gravetye Manor reopens in May, guests will encounter a newly designed Michelin-starred restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that look onto vibrant natural beauty outside. On-site spa treatments and aromatherapy massages are a welcome and relaxing experience after a day of horseback riding.