Are you a fan of dark romance? More Jane Eyre than Jerry Maguire? More Brönte than Bridget Jones?
A heart-shaped box of chocolates is not your ultimate fantasy. You need myth, mystery, roaring fires and windswept hair. You need a romantic getaway to a Highland castle!
Well Rover’s got you covered. Here are 9 amazing castles to ignite a dark romance – and they’re all available to rent. Let’s start in England…
The Dunskey Estate – A Castle on 2000 Acres, by the Sea
This listed Edwardian castle is located on England’s western edge, above the Isle of Man and facing Ireland. The estate features 2000 acres of glen walks, forests, beaches, lochs, gardens & waterfalls to explore. So pack your wellies and your country hat.
There’s even a garden maze! Inside, you’ll find a stately drawing room, a dining room decorated with antlers and 10 bedrooms. Dunskey is furnished with fine period furniture and baronial features, with just enough frou to bring out your inner duchess.
Have a look at this clawfoot bath situated by the fire. (Just imagine it all by candlelight!)
Four hours to the north, in Perthshire, Scotland, is our next romantic castle.
Forter Castle – Near Edinburgh
Forter Castle was built in 1560, destroyed in 1640 and restored in the late 1980’s. This is a true Highland castle, just an hour and a half from Edinburgh. (Can’t you imagine Jamie Fraser standing by the gate?)
Forter Castle features high ceilings, elegant rooms and amazing views – even an onsite chapel if your dark romance settles into something more serious.
Below is the great hall – perfect for drinking whiskey by the fire – or napping together as the embers die away.
From Forter Castle, we’ll head north to Loch Alsh, overlooking another Outlander favorite – the Isle of Skye.
Highland Sea Lodge – Modern Rustic
We’ve arrived at one of the most picturesque spots in Scotland. This estate has been renovated in a more contemporary way, but the feeling is no less romantic.
Here, you’ll discover lochs, glens, rare wildlife and Scottish hospitality in Tulach Ard.
The lodge’s modern rustic interior design still nods to tradition with fireplaces and window seats, four-poster beds and tartans. But this is the edited version of castle living.
Our next stop is much less minimal. It’s also on the opposite shore of Scotland, in Aberdeenshire.
Craigston Castle – A Family Estate
Craigston is the historic (and present) home of the Urquhart family, built in 1604.
Numerous outdoor activities can be arranged, from trout and salmon fishing, shooting, walking and mountain biking to croquet and badminton. Painting and cookery classes are held from time to time, and numerous golf courses are nearby.
If you plan to spend more time inside than out, you’ll be intrigued the 17th- and 18th-Century furnishings, ancient Biblical carvings, heraldic symbols and paintings of Scottish kings.
Next we’re off to an architectural gem in Applecross, Scotland.
Eagle Rock Luxury Eco-Lodge – Applecross near Skye
This house is not exactly a castle, but its location and stunning scenery will definitely make you feel like a romantic heroine. There are no taxis and the closest train station is 40 mins away. There’s nothing to do but wander the moors and…well, you’ll figure it out!
The house was designed by an award winning architect who specializes in luxury game lodges. It’s actually a casual space, with lots of warm, cosy seats by the fire.
Have you been meaning to try AirBnb but just haven’t done it yet? Use my referral code and you’ll get $40 off your first booking. Just click here before you book and you’ll automatically get the discount on ANY first booking – not just a castle. I’ll also get a travel credit, so it works out great for both of us!
Our next stop is in Gourock, Scotland.
Castle Levan Bed and Breakfast
Castle Levan is a small, unique-stay bed and breakfast located only 20 miles from Glasgow International Airport on Scotland’s beautiful West coast.
This castle lives up to it’s reputation as the “Quirkiest Place to Stay” in the region. There’s a castle ghost, hidden turnpike staircases between the rooms, arrow slit windows, parapet walkways, turrets, and 4 ½ foot thick walls.
I think I’ll stay in Scotland a wee bit longer…
Inverlochy Castle Hotel & Restaurant – Fort William, Scotland
Inverlochy Castle Hotel is a beautiful 19th century castle surrounded by the luscious green of the evergreen trees and the sparkling blue from the nearby loch.
The area surrounding Inverlochy Castle is rich in landscape and history including the falls at Glen Nevis, the monument at Glenfinnan and the mountains of Glencoe. During a trip to Balmoral in 1873, Queen Victoria spent a week at Inverlochy sketching and painting where she wrote in her diaries ‘I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot’.
From here, it’s off to the Emerald Isle…and our first Irish castle
Kinnity Castle Hotel – Kinnity, Ireland
A winding avenue opens onto breathtaking views of this 13th century castle. The castle is filled with original features, heritage colours and regal atmospheres dating back to 1209.
The castle features 37 distinctively styled guest bedrooms with high ceilings and cast iron roll top tubs.
Our last castle is also in Ireland.
Ashford Castle – County Mayo, Ireland
A royal adventure begins when you enter through grand stone gates of this 800-year-old estate. Exquisite interiors, delicious cuisine – even a spa – await you.
This castle has won many awards – including the title of Ireland’s Best Hotel Spa and No. 1 Best Resort Hotel in the UK and Ireland. Now that’s a grand finale!
Can’t make it to the Scottish Highlands in time for Valentine’s Day? Want to recreate the feeling of dark romance in your own home? Here are some ways to get the look at home…
So – what do you think. Is there a castle in your future? Need more castles to choose from? Check these out.
And here’s another story about renting castles, if you just can’t get enough!
If you end up staying in one of these historic houses, please let me know. I’d love to hear your stories!
And if you still haven’t gotten your fill, consider these coffee-table style books, a well-written tome about the real Downton Abbey and a wall calendar filled with pictures and stories of castles around the world…
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase I may make a small commission. However, it does not cost you a penny more. And you’ll be helping support my ongoing travel habit! Thank you.