Castle hotels: Your own ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fairytale

CNN  — 

You don’t have to be royalty to vacation like a king or queen.

Turreted spires, moats, drawbridges and centuries-old charm are all within reach – and more affordable than you might think.

Here, we’ve handpicked 15 of the world’s best castle stays, where your very own “Beauty and the Beast” fairytale may await. They’re not all castles in the strictest sense of the term, but they all deliver a high level of regal romance when you travel:

1. Ashford Castle, Cong, Ireland

Fresh off a $75 million renovation, this iconic 13th-century castle is more opulent and over-the-top than ever before.

Its décor has been newly spruced-up with modern Irish art, Connemara marble and lavish Donegal crystal chandeliers.

There’s also a new waterfront spa, billiards room, cigar terrace and a glamorous, 36-seat, red velvet cinema. Thankfully, the sweeping views over Lough Corrib and its lush surrounding woodlands haven’t changed.

From $244 per night
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2. Hôtel de la Cité, Carcassonne, France

This is the only hotel set within the ramparts of Carcassonne, a medieval fortified town and UNESCO World Heritage site in southern France. The 1909 hotel itself isn’t part of the historic fortress, but guests are safely within its walls and surrounded by storybook turrets.

Its 59 rooms and suites – split across two buildings – are decorated beautifully with antique medieval-style furnishings and outfitted with roomy balconies overlooking the city’s ramparts.

Hotel highlights include a Michelin-starred restaurant and a cozy library bar where guests can enjoy cocktails and live piano nightly.

From $337 per night
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3. Castello di Monterone, Umbria, Italy

Castello di Monterone's rooms feature exposed stone walls and views over the Umbrian countryside.

There are countless castle hotels all over Italy, but the 11th-century Castello di Monterone is one of the most beautiful and luxurious.

Overlooking the lush valley of Perugia, the castle has a rose garden with more than 20 different kinds of roses, a beautiful outdoor swimming pool with vineyard views and even a Turkish hamam (bath).

Its 18 bright, airy rooms feature exposed stone walls, wood-beamed ceilings and huge mullioned windows overlooking the Umbrian countryside.

Added bonus: each room tells its own unique story, from La Segreta (a secret room discovered during the castle’s restoration) to Dell’Angiolo (named after the angel sculpture found inside the room).

From $255 per night
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4. Leeds Castle, Kent, England

Dating back to 1119, Leeds Castle was the home of countless royals, including King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Today, the castle and its 500-acre grounds are a major tourist attraction – and you can even spend the night.

The 16th-century Maiden’s Tower, with its fireplaces and period-style antique decor, is the ideal place to stay.

But for something a little different, you can go “glamping” in one of eight medieval knight’s tents set up in the castle vineyards, outfitted with four-poster beds and luxurious fur throws.

5. Neemrana Fort-Palace, Rajasthan, India

Neemrana Fort-Palace boasts luxurious rooms, two pools and an Ayurvedic spa.

Carved into a hillside overlooking the Indian countryside, the Neemrana Fort-Palace is worth visiting for the breathtaking views alone.

Built in 1464, the palace is sprawled across 14 tiered levels and spans a whopping six acres.

Not surprisingly, the diversions are endless: there are hanging gardens to admire, two pools, an amphitheater and an Ayurvedic spa. As if all that weren’t enough, it’s also home to India’s very first zip-line.

From $87 per night
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6. Castello di Pavone, Piedmont, Italy

Perched at the very top of a hill and sheltered by 9th-century walls, Castello di Pavone makes for the ultimate country hideout.