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 February 21, 2013  Posted by  Hot Deals, Travel
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If your Downton Abbey addiction has you longing to vacation like a like a king, but you’re traveling on a footman’s budget, no worries. You can still explore some of Europe’s most historic castles without emptying the state coffers.

For the tiniest budgets (and most adventurous spirits), the 13th-century Castle Assumburg in Northern Holland, just a half-hour’s ride on the fast ferry from Amsterdam, houses a youth hostel, Stayokay Heemskerk. Castle Assumburg has everything a medieval maven could ask for: five turret rooms and a real moat. Of course, that means you’d better observe the hostel’s zero-hour curfew (midnight) as there’s no sneaking in to this fortress. Near the North Holland Dune reserve, the area is popular for hiking and biking and beaches, windmills and flower gardens are nearby. Single beds in dormitory-style rooms are just $43 a night, but you can book a private room with two beds, a shower and a toilet for just $52. (WiFi is free!) Hostels International welcomes people of all ages, but you may have to buy a daily guest card on site or an annual membership for $18.

If you’re planning a family reunion, you can find great bargains on castle rentals at HomeAway, such as the Château de Clérac, 30 minutes north of Bordeaux, France, by car. Set on 22 acres, the  Napoleonic château has seven bedrooms and six bathrooms and can accommodate 17 people or more, making the starting price of $1,799 a week relatively affordable. Modestly, if comfortably furnished, the château has its own salt-water pool. For oenophiles,this would be a dream vacation, with great wineries including St. Emilion and Pomerol nearby. For a big family, Château Montfort, a castle in romantic Provence that sleeps 20 goes for $2,600 a week (only $130 per person). You get an authentic 16th-century hilltop château with panoramic views – and a pool.

Forget about building castles in Spain; Paradores of Spain can show you dozens of castles, palaces, fortresses and convents throughout the country that have been converted into three- and four-star hotels. Choices are available for almost every budget, but for a splurge, you can spend warm, moonlit nights in the gardens of the Parador de Granada, a converted 15th-century convent built on the grounds of the breathtaking Moorish palace. The classically furnished bedrooms boast views of the Secano gardens, the 14th-century Generalife Palace and the Albaicín district of Granada. Rates start at $283 a night for a double, including breakfast, but other web specials start around $157.

Highclere Castle (the real-life Downton Abbey) has nothing on Adare Manor in County Limerick, Ireland, just 25 minutes away from Shannon Airport. The second Earl of Dunraven indulged his whims when he built the immense Neo-Gothic manor house that is now a five-star hotel surrounded by formal gardens offering all upper-crust pursuits from golf to horseback riding to falconry. If it sounds expensive, well, it is – but if you visit mid-week or off-season, you can find some good values, such as the two-night Spring Surprise package, which starts at $227 with full Irish breakfast daily and one dinner for two in the Oak Room.

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Nina Africano

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