If you have ever dreamed about what a dinner “fit for a king” might actually be like, a good start would be to suss out the perfect setting. Castles certainly do the trick in terms of atmosphere; but the royal treatment doesn’t have to end there. The restaurants at these 10 castles not only transport diners to the trappings of a fairytale, the kitchens do an equally noble job with the cuisine.
by Kathleen Squires
A serial traveler who often lets a country’s cuisine dictate her itineraries, New York City-based writer Kathleen Squires has visited all 7 continents and over 60 countries, with stints living in London, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. Her work also appears in The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Cooking Light and National Geographic Traveler.
WHERE: Carcassonne, France
The citadel that surrounds the oldest walled city in France, complete with peaked turrets, is so picturesque it was said to inspire the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. The fantasy extends to Hôtel de la Cité, tucked within the ramparts, and its Michelin-starred restaurant, La Barbacane. Chef Jerome Ryon presents imperial plates such as hare with royale stuffing of truffle, foie gras, and organ meat, perfectly paired with the local wines of Languedoc-Roussillon.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Midi Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon Guide
Pousada de Obidos
WHERE: Obidos, Portugal
In the good old days of 1282, King Dinis gifted the picturesque town of Obidos to his bride, giving the town it’s nickname Queen’s Town. So when dining on the traditional Iberian fare at the Pousada de Obidos, it is easy to imagine lording over all that you see in the distance. After dinner, lovebirds can retreat to the honeymoon suite, nestled in the castle tower.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Portugal Guide
Medieval Banquet and Bertie’s Restaurant
WHERE: Ruthin, Wales
Costumes are encouraged, but not required, at the Medieval banquets held at Ruthin Castle—so you might want to dust off that suit of armor for a feast that includes a four-course meal washed down with traditional mead. Or, don more formal attire for Bertie’s, the fine dining restaurant where chef Darren Shenton-Morris whips up fare such as seared breast of pigeon with fondant potato, wild mushroom, and roast garlic jus.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Wales Guide
WHERE: Hørve, Denmark
One of the oldest castles in Denmark is serving the cutting-edge new Nordic cuisine of Claus Henriksen, who sources most everything, such as the beet and elderberry garnishing the game, from the property’s own culinary garden. Once a bishop’s retreat, then a fortress, the restaurant Slotskøkkenet sits within the original kitchen of the baroque bastion known as Dragsholm Castle.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Denmark Guide
La Torre di Gargonza
WHERE: Monte San Savino, Italy
In the 13th century, the tiny fortified town of Gargonza served as a retreat for Dante when he was expelled from his native Florence. Today, the entire town is part of the hotel Castello di Gargonza, complete with a rustic Tuscan restaurant tucked in its tower. Everything from the kitchen comes from the surrounding land, from the luscious porcini mushrooms in the restaurant’s signature soup, to the olive oil slicking the insalata.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Tuscany Guide
Le Champlain Restaurant
WHERE: Quebec, Canada
The Guinness Book of World Records once claimed this chateau as “the most photographed hotel in the world” because of the stately skyline it lends Quebec. Built in the late 19th century, and now the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel, the Fodor’s 100 award-winning hotel is unveiling a massive renovation in March 2014, which includes the famous Le Champlain Restaurant. Chef Baptiste Peupion will take advantage of the new David Rockwell design to unveil a novel menu as well.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Fodor’s Quebec Guide
Estancia La Candelaria
WHERE: Lobos, Argentina
If Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America, then this French-style chateau, set an hour away in the Pampas, is the perfect country weekend retreat. The interior, including the restaurant, is outfitted with the appropriate 19th-century furnishings, but the food at Estancia La Candelaria is pure Argentine, with a traditional asado barbecue menu, especially tasty after working up an appetite on the estate’s polo grounds.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Argentina Guide
Inverlochy Castle Hotel
WHERE: Fort William, Scotland
The furniture was a gift from the King of Norway; the cuisine is modern British; but the Highlands surrounding this mansion are pure Scottish. Named after the nearby historic site, this hotel is certainly a castle in its own right, proper enough to host Queen Victoria when she visited this neck of the woods. The restaurant at the Inverlochy Castle Hotel, honored with a Relais & Chateaux designation, is known for its finesse with English meats, such as Cumbrian lamb with confit shoulder.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Scotland Guide
WHERE: Mdina, Malta
There’s something especially homey about the 17th-century Xara Palace. It could be that the boutique hotel is currently family-run, a feel that extends into its popular restaurant, de Mondion, helmed by siblings. Chef de cuisine Kevin Bonello and his brother Adrian, the executive senior sous-chef, collaborate on dishes such as stuffed saddle of rabbit with onion and fennel root relish.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Malta Guide
WHERE: Rajasthan, India
The name nods to the Hindu god Lord Shiva; and the cuisine at this restaurant within the Taj Lake Palace Hotel celebrates the royal, vegetarian-focused cuisine of Mewar. Neel Kamal retains the one-time palace’s regal feel, decked out in rich silks, ornate woodcarvings, imperial columns, and shiny marble details. A tranquil lily pond, stretching out from the restaurant, is the ultimate frill.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s India Guide