How to find castles and historical hotels in the UK and Ireland

Thornbury Castle prices start at $344 for the Storied Collection.

Thornbury Castle

History buffs, people who want to sleep where kings have slept and fans looking for connections to hit TV shows like Bridgerton.

These are some of the types of travelers that a new ‘collection’ of historic castles, mansions and mansions in the UK and Ireland hopes to attract.

Stored Collection is a travel site that lists historic hotels and homes – including private castles – so history buffs can easily find accommodations that suit them.

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is located in the Royal Crescent, a row of terraced houses built between 1767 and 1775.

The Royal Crescent

The idea for the site came to Storied Collection co-founder Michael Goldin when he was looking for a “beautiful castle” to stay in after Covid travel rules were eased and Britain’s borders reopened, he said.

But the process of sifting through online search results is unsatisfactory, he added.

Eventually he found Fenton Tower, a 12th-century Scottish castle that was restored in 2000 and converted into luxury accommodation. Goldin also discovered an ancestral link to the tower — it was briefly owned by his 13th-century great-grandfather, a man named Sir Alexander Hamilton, he told CNBC via email.

The American Goldin is a self-confessed history fan, like many Americans who want to trace some of their family history back to other continents.

Spurred on by reopened borders and shows like Bridgerton and The Crown, Americans are flocking back to the UK, with US-UK flights from February to April this year on track to pre-date levels pandemic, up 9% from Spring 2019, according to tourism agency Visit Britain.

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The 31-bedroom Markree Castle in County Sligo, Ireland is set in 500 acres of grounds and past guests include Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

Valerie Robus | Moment Mobile | Getty Images

Returning from vacation, Goldin called Justin Hauge, a former Airbnb manager and friend. “He… said, ‘Hey, I just did this amazing journey with my wife, it was like no other trip I’ve ever taken… I really felt transported back in time. I want to explore that’.” Hauge told CNBC over the phone.

Hauge – who left Airbnb in 2021 after more than a decade – reached out to chateau owners and operators in the UK and Ireland, who told him their websites were being randomly “thrown together” in online search results. They also said they lacked an effective way to tell their stories to the travelers they wanted to reach, he said.

That was Hauge’s “aha moment,” he said. Hauge and Goldin launched the Stored Collection in 2022 with the help of former Best Western UK CEO Rob Paterson.

Spurred on by reopened borders and shows like Bridgerton and The Crown, Americans are flocking back to the UK, with US-UK flights from February to April this year on track to pre-date levels pandemic, up 9% from Spring 2019, according to tourism agency Visit Britain.

Travelers who like the idea of ​​staying in a place of historical significance can search the Stored Collection’s properties by last name if they’re looking for a family connection to a specific owner or famous past guest. The lists also include TV shows and films filmed in the homes and hotels.

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The listing for Fenton Tower – which sleeps up to 13 people – includes nine former owners and King James VI. as a guest as well as the ruins of a medieval church. It is also described as being suitable for golf holidays with over 100 golf courses within 30 miles of its location in the East Lothian region of Scotland.

If that’s too small, there’s the 17th-century, 31-bedroom Markree Castle in County Sligo, Ireland, which was once home to country singer Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash. Previous owners’ surnames include Cooper, Bingham, and Synge, according to the Stored Collection.

The Rubens at the Palace, a central London hotel, has a number of royally themed rooms in a separate wing of the property.

The Rubens in the Palace

Hauge said Americans’ love of British and Irish historic sites has increased over the years.

“These kinds of heritage attractions…have been a huge draw for US travelers…Recent years, with the popularity of shows like ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Bridgerton,’ have brought that awareness to an even higher level [in] … Travelers who want to experience that way of life, and there really is no other place where they can do that,” he added.

In a global survey of around 23,000 people on how tourists view Britain, conducted by Visit Britain, Americans ranked “a place where I can explore history and heritage” as their best perception of the country a.

The Drawing Room of the Sir Percy Blakeney Suite at the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa in Bath, England.

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

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Rooms at the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa in Bath, a Georgian building on a street named ‘Bridgerton’, can be booked through Storied Collection, with holidaymakers to choose from 45 rooms and suites decorated by British designer Jane Clayton.

The hotel is one of three properties on a Storied Collection’s proposed “1,000 Years of History” road trip itinerary, where the combined buildings are 1,000 years old. Not far from Bath, guests can stay at Thornbury Castle, Henry VIII’s 16th-century retreat.

The King’s bedroom, where he stayed with his second wife Anne Boleyn in 1535, is even available for sleeping, while recent guests are listed as Sophia Loren and Laurence Olivier. Rooms start at $344, according to the Storied Collection website.

Prices for the King Henry VIII Suite at Thornbury Castle – where Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn stayed – start from £569 ($685) per night.

Thornbury Castle

The third property on the tour is The Rubens at the Palace, a hotel that was once part of Buckingham Palaces reasons. It features royal-style bedrooms as well as more classic luxury accommodation.

The seven-night “1,000 Years of History” tour starts at $1,999, according to the Storied Collection website.

Hauge named Gilmerton House, a 17th-century Scottish mansion that can sleep up to 20 guests, as his favorite. “It’s almost like living in a museum,” he said of the property, owned by the 13th generation Kinloch family.

Legendary Collection hopes to sign more great properties, Goldin said. A recent addition is Pentrehobyn Hall in North Wales, a Jacobean mansion built by Edward Lloyd in 1625 and still in the family today.

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