Royal Holiday Handbook

ABOUT Sorrel Downer

Sorrel Downer
A British journalist and documentary maker specialising in travel and adventure worldwide, Sorrel has written about luxury accommodation across Britain for many publications including the Financial Times, The Times and High Life. Some of the most fascinating are included in the Royal Holid More...



Visiting castles, palaces and stately homes is a pleasure, but sleeping in them is a thrill. The Royal Holiday Handbook is an insiders’ guide to Britain’s most exclusive accommodation, from stately home hotels and inns on royal estates, to forest follies and cliff-top forts to rent and call your very own – if only for a week or weekend. Handpicked for combining a history of romance, scandal and intrigue with the towers, arrow-slits, Great Halls, turrets and moats of breathtaking architecture, many of the places included have remained in the same aristocratic families for centuries. Over the years they have hosted kings, queens, dukes, lairds, mistresses, knights, social climbers (and perhaps, in just one or two, the occasional ghost). Now restored, luxuriously furnished (and equipped with mod cons), the same royal hospitality is extended to lucky old you.

But a Royal Holiday goes beyond being King (or Queen) of the Castle. You’ll need stuff. With the help of the Royal Warrant Holders Association, we reveal where the Royal Family buy their gifts, jewels, kippers, gloves, cereal, champagne, shirts and handmade shoes (and why) allowing you to shop for the best of British. 

We tend to take history for granted in Britain, but there are times when you’re walking up worn stone steps, or staying in an old house, or exploring a medieval church, when you'll get a shiver down your back, and a sense of all the people over all the centuries that have stood where you're standing now. There are some places where that history is as important and as vivid as the present. In the Royal Holiday Handbook we’ve selected castles and old stately homes across England, Scotland and Wales that not only offer spectacular, grand, quirky accommodation but rich, royal histories. Home once (and many still are) to royals and aristocrats, most properties come with their records preserved. As a result, as you sit in the Great Hall or peer over the parapet, you have the sense of sharing an experience with real people whose lives you know a bit about, from their scandals, ambitions, battles and tragedies to their coronations and beheadings!