Castles are among those truly European architectural accomplishments that, try as we might, Americans just can’t pull off. Sure, Walt Disney built one for Cinderella, but he copied the look from the very real Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.
Although it’s possible to spend a night in Cinderella’s castle at Disney World (my friend Sue has actually done it), to really experience an old world castle at its finest, to sleep like a king or queen or princess, you have to travel to Europe. Germany is one country that still has an abundance of castles in relatively good repair and many of them have been turned into some fabulous hotels.
The Castle Hotel in Kronberg Germany
Less than an hour from the Frankfurt-Main Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, you can put the grub and grind of travel behind you and settle in like royalty at the Schlosshotel Kronberg.
It was built in the 1890s by Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria of England, who married German Emperor Frederich III. Originally the castle was called Friedrichshof in honor of her husband who died just three months after becoming emperor. It’s kind of a sad story about how Victoria lived alone and isolated here until her death in 1901.
Today, the hotel has 62 suites and a golf course. The latter is something unusual in the realm of castles, and, of course, there’s an interesting story behind that as well.
Dwight Eisenhower’s Suite at the Kronberg Castle
During the American occupation of Germany following World War II, Dwight Eisenhower and his staff used the castle Friedrichshof as their headquarters for nearly seven years. Eisenhower took this opportunity to build a golf course on the grounds, which remains a major attraction today.
Eisenhower’s room is preserved pretty much the way it was when the Supreme Allied Commander and future president stayed here. It’s not quite as swanky by modern standards of the other rooms, but the historical appeal is important for many people.
Unfortunately, much of the art and silver that belonged to the Hesse estate disappeared during the American occupation, despite Eisenhower’s orders strictly prohibiting such activity. What a shame. We were supposed to be the good guys.
Nonetheless, visitors today still can experience a castle in pristine condition – with the finest accommodations, incredible food, discrete service and luxury that indeed was designed for royalty. And we all deserve that at least one night of our lives, don’t we?