Ski resorts are magical places, so what better then to stay in a fairytale castle – or at least eat in one…or have the view of one from your window? Of course you could always head for a castle resort such as Castle Mountain in Alberta, Canada or Chateau d’Oeux in Switzerland.
Badrutt’s Palace, St Moritz
The 115 years of hospitality began with Johannes Badrutt, who bought the former Hotel Beau Rivage in 1892 and converted it into the Palace Hotel. He went on to open it in 1896 as a summer destination, but this soon changed into a centre for wintersports. The hotel’s facilities have been continuously updated over the years, with the historic tower a symbol of St Moritz – it was rebuilt and refurbished after a fire in 1967. Information: Badrutt’s Palace.
Hotel Schloss Sonnenburg, St Lorenzen, Italy
Hotel Schloss Sonnenburg stands on a hill in Italy’s Sudtirol region. In the year 1039 Volkhold, the heir of Suanapurc, inherited the castle from his father Earl Otwin. Having no interest in owning it, he turned it into a convent for noblewomen and from then onwards lived as a hermit. Today it is a four-star hotel sleeping 80 people; a ski-bus takes you to Kronplatz. Information: Hotel Schloss Sonnenburg.
Kaprun Castle, Kaprun
You can’t stay in this fairytale caste, but you can hire it for weddings or parties, and it is a popular venue for concerts and other events. It’s in the year-round ski resort of Kaprun, which is close to – and shares a lift pass with – the romantic lakeside resort of Zell am See.
The first documentary evidence of the castle was in the late 13th century, although the actual construction dates back even further back: historians believe Kaprun’s famous castle may have been built by the Counts of Falkenstein as early as the 12th century. Information: Kaprun Castle.
Stonemount Castle Hotel, Trzebieszowice, Poland
Stonemount Castle – or Zamek na Skale – in Trzebieszowice, is a four-star hotel overlooking Ladek Zdroj spa resort in Lower Silesia, Poland. The castle dates back to the mid 16th century, providing accommodation for 180 people. There’s a restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a coffee shop, wine cellars, 13 hectares of parkland with a river running through it, and a spa with a swimming-pool. Czarna Gora (Black Mountain) is 19km away, the largest of a trio of ski resorts linked by a free bus service. Together they share 20km of piste, 13 lifts including two heated/covered chair-lifts, and a snow park. Information: Zamek na Skale.
Schlosshotel Post Edelfreisitz Sprengenstein, Imst, Austria
Schloss Sprengenstein dates back to the 15th century and is situated in the centre of the little town of Imst near Innsbruck in Tirol’s Inn valley. The hotel has onion-shaped turrets, red and white shutters, a dungeon, and Biedermeier furniture – which together create the ambience of a luxurious aristocratic refuge. Today it’s a four-star B&B sleeping 60, with an indoor swimming-pool. Information: Schlosshotel Post.
Gstaad Palace, Switzerland
Building of the Gstaad Palace began in 1911. In 1913 saw the grand opening of what was a very modern hotel with 150 rooms, 50 private bathrooms, electric lighting throughout, and six telephone booths. The Scherz family took over ownership and management of the Gstaad hotel in 1938 and, since then, approximately CHF90 million has been spent on building work and improvements, on top of the normal maintenance and upkeep. It’s one of the most famous ski hotels in the world today. Information: Gstaad Palace.
Chateau d’Annecy, France
This castle isn’t in a ski resort but it’s only half an hour away from resorts like La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand. Chateau d’Annecy was built between the 12th and 16th centuries as a residence for the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours. The castle was abandoned in the 17th century and then used as a military barracks until 1947. The City of Annecy bought the castle in 1953, restored it, and three years later opened the Museum of Alpine Popular Art inside it. The Tour de la Reine is the oldest section of the castle, dating back to the 12th century, with walls of over four metres thick. The castle terrace provides lovely views over the attractive medieval town of Annecy. Information: Chateau d’Annecy.
Schloss Lebenberg, Kitzbuhel
The original name of the estate was Pfaffenberg and it is not clear where the name Lebenberg comes from when it changed in 1531, although it’s commonly understood that it derives from the old High German word Hlev, meaning hill. The first people to live in the castle were the Ochsenberger family, and in 1885 two towers were added, as was the round tower. After the reconstruction, it became one of the earliest places for tourists to stay in Kitzbuhel. Today it contains 11 apartments, a ballroom, spa and restaurant. Information: Schloss Lebenberg.
Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Canada
Banff‘s castle in the Rockies has been providing hospitality for more than 125 years. Opening in 1888, the fabulous hotel was the inspiration of Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, 19th-century railway pioneer and hotel visionary, who famously quipped: “If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.” Modelled on a Scottish baronial castle, the Fairmont Banff Springs today is a National Historical Site of Canada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also a year-round hotel with a spa, bars and restaurants. Also worth mentioning are the other ski chateaux-hotels in this group: Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Information: Fairmont Banff Springs.
Ciastel Colz, La Villa
La Villa is at the centre of the Alta Badia region and the landmark Ciastel Colz is an ancient castle situated in the old quarter of the village. It dates back to 1536 and was constructed by Hans von Rubatsch who called it Residence Rubatsch before its new owners – the Colz family – changed the name. During the middle of the 19th century the castle began to deteriorate, but was then restored to its original gothic glory with four towers – two round and two square. In recent years the castle was a small luxury hotel, but is now privately lived in once again. Information: Castel Colz.