The 5 Best Castles You Can Visit From London

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The UK has some truly incredible history, from murderous kings and gory battles, to lavish lifestyles and the hyper rich aristocracy. Obviously such turmoil and glamour leads to beautiful and defensible buildings, which is part of the reason the UK still has such amazing castles. Built laboriously by hand using thousands and thousands of tons of rock, these fortresses stood the test of time, and today stand strong as iconic symbols of our history and culture.

There is a huge list of castles across the country, but this one focuses mainly on the structures found in the south of England, as they can be easily accessed from London by car or train. If you’re a regular visitor to London on business, and are accruing rewards through the Paddington Court Rooms Loyalty Program or even using your Premier Hotel Membership, then make sure you take some time for yourself on your next trip. Remember, just because you’re staying in London, doesn’t mean you have to stay in London! Let’s take a look at the most interesting and beautiful castles within easy reach of the capital.      

Windsor Castle

Distance from London by car: 1hr
Distance from London by train: 50 mins

Windsor Castle is perhaps the most famous castle in the country, and is the world’s largest occupied castle; occupied of course by Queen Elizabeth herself. Windsor has been used by the reigning British Monarch for centuries and thanks to this has incredible heritage. Originally built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, the castle has seen many royal guests and owners. The grounds contain a 15 century chapel, and in the early 19th century incredibly lavish apartments were added to house royal family members like Henry VIII. It has stood for centuries, albeit in different guises, surviving a prolonged siege at the start of the 13th century, the English civil war, and the Luftwaffer bombings during the Second World War.

Windsor itself is a perfect example of a quaint British town, and you can stroll in the grounds of the castle at your own leisure. If you can make it on a thursday or a saturday you can see the ‘changing of the guard’ ceremony, and you can even take tours around the castle itself- although the royal quarters are strictly off limits of course. 

Highclere Castle

Distance from London by car: 1.5hrs
Distance From London by train: 40 mins

Highclere was reasonably unknown until around 2010 when the incredibly popular ‘Downton Abbey’ was released. Now the castle sits in the grounds of Highclere park and is visited by thousands of people a year. Not actually a defensible castle, but a Grade II listed house built in 1679, Highclere was used throughout its life as a hospital, a meeting place for royalty, and after its renovation in 1840s, it became the country seat for the Earls of Carnarvon. 

With Newbury being so easily accessible from the centre of London, the castle and its grounds have become a hugely popular spot for history buffs and TV fans alike. Highclere Park was actually designed by renowned English landscape architect Capability Brown, so fans of his would feel wonderfully at home here too. With its incredible proximity to central London, there is no reason you shouldn’t use your Grand Royale London Hyde Park Reward scheme to book a hotel and make the trip out!   

Arundel Castle

Distance from London by Car: 2.5hrs
Distance from London by train: 2.75 hrs

Arundel Castle is a wonderful example of a remodelled British castle. Originally built in 1067, it took centuries to become what it is today. Starting off as a motte and bailey, the castle changed hands several times over the course of its life, and underwent an incredible amount of changes and re-builds; before finally becoming the wondrous example we have today. Now the home to home to priceless antiques, paintings and suits of armour- it even has its own glorious cricket pitch! 

The beautiful town of Arundel offers a gorgeous day out in an English countryside side town, and the castle itself is open for tours of the buildings and its exceptional gardens.  

Bodiam Castle

Distance from London by Car: 2.5hrs
Distance from London by train: 1.5hrs

Bodiam is perhaps the best example in the UK of a moated, quadrangle castle. Originally built in 1385 with the permission of Edward III, in order to defend the area from the French invasion during the Hundred Years’ War. Abandoned and partially dismantled sometime in the 1650s, the castle lay as a picturesque ruin; until 1829 when it was purchased and partially restored, before being passed on to the national trust. There it stands today, hundreds of years old and strong as ever in its own moat. Open to the public for visitation, it is an incredible insight into what castle warfare might have been like, and a humbling reminder of the brutal nature of our nation’s history. A truly staggering monument.

Dover Castle

Distance from London by Car: 2.5hrs
Distance from London by train: 2hrs

Dover castle has been described as the ‘key to England’ due to its defensive significance throughout the ages. Perched on top of the white cliffs, and spilling down into Dover, it dominates the country’s main gateway. Dover Castle makes the claim of being the largest castle in the country, disputed of course by Windsor Castle. With the origins unsure, it can be traced back as far as the 11th century; but archaeologists have found evidence of an iron age fort from around 43AD. With 2,000 years of history to its name, you can see why this structure has become an icon of British resilience and heritage.

Obviously seeing its fair share of sieges and battles throughout the mediaeval era, it stood tall and strong, facing down its would be oppressors. During the Napoleonic Wars a series of barracks tunnels were built under the castle, although these were abandoned and left unused until the outbreak of the Second World War. During this time the tunnels were converted into submarine hunting headquarters and an army hospital. 

From the Romans, to William the Conqueror, to World War 2, this castle is perhaps the best example in existence of Britain through the ages. The incredible castle remains open to this day, and you can wander the grounds, explore the keep and head into the Army tunnels for an immersive experience. Use your Premier Club Rewards London Hotels to get a trip booked in, and visit this miraculous piece of British history.

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