Stay in a Castle, or a JailJuly 6, 2009
As long as you’re traveling, meeting new people and jumping into new experiences, you should make the most out of every night by staying somewhere that will offer you more than just a place to sleep and a warm-ish bathing opportunity.
Even on a student traveler budget, you can stay in some very swanky places. The castle in this photo right here is just one of them, but not a bad one to start with. Carbisdale Castle in Scotland has the usual bunk beds and dining area, but it also has a collection of fine art, a statue gallery, and some rooms that may be a wee bit haunted. If that interests you, ask to stay in The Spook Room.
Also in Scotland is Loch Lomond Castle in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and Rua Reidh Lighthouse (which is a lighthouse and not a castle, but still very cool and only £10 for a hostel bed).
If you’re sticking to the continent, no problem. Germany, Italy, and Switzerland have castle hostels as well, all affordable prices. Jugendherberge Burg Stahleck in Germany (pictured here) is located above the wine-grower’s town of Bacharach in the Loreley Valley and beds start at £17.40 a night. For more German castles, visit this page and do a search using the handy “Castles” checkbox option.
For castle hostels in the Netherlands, start with Kasteel Westhove. And if you’re more of a chalet person, then the Chalet Martin in the Swiss Alps is for you. Beds start at £12 a night and you can’t beat the view.
The only downside to castle living is that after staying at one, you’re going to want to leave your usual dorm-style accommodation to the commoners. If that’s the case, how about a couple of nights in a jail? After that, even a thin, plastic mattress will seem pretty good. The Ottawa Jail Hostel in Canada was a working prison for more than 100 years before being taken over by travelers. It does offer wi-fi, and you probably won’t have to eat any gruel, but you can pretend that you’re a hardened criminal and stalk the corridors looking shifty.