The Isle of Wight has a modest selection of forts and castles which offer accommodation. Most of them are self catering cottages and they're usually by the seaside.
I've compiled them into a top five, which is ideal for parents whose children spend most of their time jousting in the lounge with cardboard poster tubes.
Here are five castles and forts on the Isle of Wight where you can stay overnight:
1. Fort Redoubt, West Wight
Fort Redoubt is the one which looms over the highest cliffs at Freshwater Bay. I like to look at it from afar and imagine hosting a wild party there with a fireworks display reflected on the water below. I'm usually interrupted by a child pulling on my arm and asking for an ice cream from the Freshwater Bay lifeboat shop.
As part of the grounds there are three dog friendly holiday apartments you can hire including Upper Caponier (sleeps 6), Lower Caponier (sleeps 6) and Moonfleet Cottage (sleeps 2).
Google tells me that a caponier is a type of fortification which comes from the French word for chicken-house (Ed: are you making this stuff up?).
The nearby beach is one of my favourites thanks to its mix of caves, rockpooling and crashing waves. We recently watched huge waves at Freshwater Bay during Storm Eunice (from a very safe distance).
The main building at Fort Redoubt was built in the 1850s, when Palmerston became paranoid about a French invasion and started surrounding the Isle of Wight with cannons.
I would recommend Freshwater Bay and the West Wight for walkers, cyclists and anyone who prefers unspoilt landscapes. It isn't the best location if you want to spend every minute down at the amusement arcades or want a lot of nightlife.
The West Wight is probably my favourite part of the Isle of Wight, but it's also the quietest. You'll either need a car or enjoy spending a lot of time waiting for buses.
See our guide to the West Wight for more ideas of what you can do within a 10 minute drive of Fort Redoubt.
2. Golden Hill Fort, West Wight
Another castle for hire on the Isle of Wight is Golden Hill Fort. It's similar to Fort Redoubt in that it was built in the West Wight in the 1850s.
It's a rather cool hexagon shape and had a brief life as an unofficial location for raves in the 1990s before it was tidied up somewhat and turned into holiday flats.
Holiday homes for hire at Golden Hill Fort include The Sergeants Quarters (sleeps 7) and The Officer's Mess (sleeps 10).
The land surrounding it is a country park which is nice for a walk. It's home to a willow sculpture which looks a bit like like a spider.
Golden Hill Fort isn't as close to the sea as you might expect from something built as a coastal defence. However, you can walk to the beach at Colwell in about 20 minutes (unless you are carrying seven bags for a beach day with children).
3. Carisbrooke Castle, Central
Carisbrooke Castle is the real deal. It's more than 1000 years old (well, parts of it are) and it was used as a prison for King Charles I. You can even see the window where he failed to escape.
There are lots of stories about Carisbrooke Castle being haunted, which are definitely true. One suggests that a 'grey lady' was seen near the moat. Anyone that suggests this was a dog walker in a grey coat is peddling fake news and will be silenced by a local wizard.
Inside the grounds there's the Bowling Green Apartment which sleeps four people. The castle is on a big hill and has terrific views from The Keep at the very top.
Carisbrooke and Newport are not especially exciting places (sorry Mum). Curiously, they applied for joint city status in 2021. I liked the idea of visiting the small co-op in Carisbrooke High Street and saying 'I'm just popping into the city centre for a Mini Milk'.
The advantage of staying in Carisbrooke is that you can visit any part of the Isle of Wight without driving for more than 25 minutes. The nearest beach is about 15 minutes away along the Island's lovely South West coastline.
Read our guide to 10 things you can do in Carisbrooke and Newport.
4. Ryde Castle Hotel, East Wight
The history of the Ryde Castle Hotel is a little, er, disputed.
The website of its owners proudly says that it was 'Originally built by Henry VIII to defend against Spanish invasion'. However, the Historic Ryde Society say that it was built in 1833, which is nearly 300 years after Henry VIII died.
Regardless, it looks like the sort of castle my daughter would draw so it's worth a mention in our Isle-of-Wight-castle-accommodation-guide.
You can either pop in for a pint and a pie in the Greene King Pub or you can book a room. There are 18 rooms and some of them have sea views.
The location is very good if you're coming on foot, as you can get the Hovercraft or Wightlink catamaran to Ryde. Bear in mind that it's a pub as well as accommodation.
Ryde is a traditional bucket and spade town with a large sandy beach and plenty of attractions. It isn't as pretty or unspoilt as the West Wight or South Wight but it has better public transport than most of the Isle of Wight.
See our guide to days out in Ryde.
5. Spitbank Fort, In The Solent
We are beginning to stretch things a little as we reach the end of our top five castles and forts you can stay in on the Isle of Wight.
Spitbank Fort isn't actually on the Island, but it's in the Solent along with some other forts built to fend off the French. I would like to add that French visitors are now very welcome, as long as they can afford the nightly rate.
At the time of writing, you can't actually book to stay at Spitbank Fort. Hopefully that will change soon as it's a rather spectacular location.
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