Historic inns & hotels in Europe
[Your name here] slept here
National monuments and other historic buildings—we're talking manor houses, castles, convents, fortresses, and palaces here, folks—have been converted into hotels across Europe. This is the real thing, a chance to inhabit a bit of European history and call anything from a medieval castle to a Renaissance palazzo to call home.
The good news is that, since many of these are administered by the government or by some not-for-profit group, the prices aren't as astronomical as they might be were these purely private enterprises (and there are plenty of private hotels in fabulously historic buildings across Europe).
How much do historic hotels cost?
Prices tend to be on a par with those of a mid-level hotel in the same area—in other words, what you'd pay for an average three-star property, which means usually between €100 and €200.
It can go much higher, obvisouly—though I've stayed in castles for as little as €80.
In fact, I've been to many hostels converted from hisotric buildings, whether it be castles, convents, or frescoed palaces where the rates as as low as €17 per person).
How to find historic hotels
There are a ton of historic properties—frescoed palazzi, medieval castles, converted convents—that do not belong to any sort of "historic hotel" consortium or network. They're just hotels that happen to be in historic buildings.
Also, castle hotels are kind of a special category, and I list dozens of resources for finding those on the castle hotels page.
That said, here are some resources devoted mainly to historic inns:
Historic hotels across Europe
Historic Hotels of Europe (www.historichotelsofeurope.com) - Links to organizations—both government-run and private—that together represent some 800 historic properties scattered all across Europe.
Historic hotels in the U.K.
Landmark Trust (www.landmarktrust.org.uk) - Some 180 historic British properties from manor houses and castles to small islands and the homes and apartments of famous Brits, both in the U.K. and a handful in Italy (such as the former homes of ex-pat British poets Keats in Rome and the Brownings in Florence). Some of them are run as museums, others as rental properties, in many cases as both. (And it even manages some properties beyond Great Britain—notably, the pink house overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome where the poet John Keats died his Romantically tragic early death; part of it is now a museum, the other part you can rent). Sadly, their web site doesn't give you the goodies on the actual properties; the greedy prats make you buy the catalog.
National Trust (www.nationaltrust.org.uk) - Another government-run outfit. The Web site's "Holidays" section let's you find and book cottages (via a special site), campsites on N.T. land, and B&Bs operated by N.T. properties. There's also a "hotels" section, but they're just standard hotels, not NT ones.
Historic Britain (www.historicbritain.com) - More than 330 hotel, B&Bs, and places to let (holiday rentals) in historic properties all across Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales).
Connoisseurs Scotland (www.luxuryscotland.co.uk) - More than two-dozen select properties in Scotland—some modern, some lodges (one a train), but several are hotels converted from old manors houses or castles.
Historic hotels in Italy
Abitare La Storia (www.abitarelastoria.com) - "Live the History" is a consortium of about two dozen historic hotels across Italy, including palazzi, castles, baroque convents, and more.
Historic hotels in Spain
Paradores (www.paradores-spain.com) - Famed governmental network of historic hotels in Spain. Spain's famed paradors were once el-cheapo hotels installed in fabulous historic building such as palaces, castles, and baroque monasteries. They're still hotels and still in fabulous structures, but they tend to be chi chi four-star hotels charging pretty high prices. Sigh.
Hosterías Reales (www.hosteriasreales.com) - A quintet of Spanish historic homes-turned-hotels.
Historic hotels in Portugal
Pousadas (www.pousadasofportugal.com) - Some 40 Portugal properties at this government-run website. Not all Portuguese pousadas are historic properties; some are "Charm" or "Nature" pousadas.
Manor Houses (www.manorhouses.com) - Seriously gorgeous B&Bs in dramatic haciendas, historic mansions, and country homes from €50 to €115.
Solares de Portugal (www.solaresdeportugal.pt) - Three categories: Casas Antigas, or "Manors and Stately Houses" (about 46, mostly 17th and 18th century); "Country Estates and Farms;" and the smaller and simpler "Cottages and Rustic Houses"—all renting for €65 to €110.
Historic hotels in the Low Countries
Erfgoed Logies Nederland (www.erfgoedlogies.nl) - Heritage hotels in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.