City hotels are one way to honeymoon, but couples heading to Europe can take on a more whimsical style of living by sleeping just as regally as the royals do. Why not consider a château stay in digs as sumptuous as you could imagine, all within driving distance of major cities? Wineries, gourmet eateries, and gardens as grand as Versailles are just the start. Here are five photo-worthy châteaus to honeymoon in that will sweep you (and the new hubby) off your feet.
Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the French Riviera is a legend, with everyone from the Kennedys to F. Scott Fitzgerald summering on the coast here (and writing about it in novels like Tender Is the Night). But a quick drive up into the medieval town of Vence lies this icon's sister hotel, which is still something of a tucked-away secret, even for the locals who live nearby. Once acting as a Knights Templar locale in the 12th century, this château is now a five-star hotel with some of the best bird's eye views of the Côte d'Azur (plus beach access down on Cap d'Antibes for honeymooners dreaming of a summit and sea-style getaway); you can't go wrong with any of the views from the rooms looking down on the olive-grove-lined hillside. For those who want to really have their privacy, opt for one of the secluded villas in the woods behind the hotel.
Sleep in wine country on Bordeaux's right bank in this 19th-century retreat, set among Saint-Émilion's vineyards. Couples can opt for one of 46 room, which range from regal to rustic, with four-poster beds, dangling chandeliers, wooden staircases, and vineyard views. When it comes to dining pour deux, take a seat at the super-intimate La Table du Grand Barrail, in one of the most charming rooms in the château, with its stained-glass windows, ceramic frescoes, and stunning seasonal menus. As far as the menu goes, think Mallard duck, smoked sturgeon carpaccio, and foie gras with Jerusalem artichokes paired with wines from the surrounding region.
Live as decadently as the French royals of centuries past did in this 18th-century château sitting in western France. For one of the best views in the 22-room house, book a Prestige suite overlooking the park and river. If you want even better views of the castle, set off on a hot-air-balloon ride over the grounds or take a leisurely cruise down the river in a boat ride for two, pausing for a picnic under 200-year-old cedar trees with a perfectly prepared gourmet picnic basket courtesy of the spot's Relais & Châteaux chefs.
It's one thing to stay in a castle but another to really live the fairy tale on your honeymoon. Château de La Chèvre d'Or, or the golden goat, cascades down the hillside of Eze along the French Riviera, with cobblestoned streets connecting each of the rooms, which once upon a time served as an artists' retreat. The idea here is to sit back and soak up the Côte d'Azur sun with nothing but your other half. But, being France, the experience wouldn't be complete (or nearly as romantic) without a gastronomic element, and the two-Michelin-star restaurant here definitely delivers with some of the finest foie gras and cheese you could imagine.
When the château was built in the 12th century, it was meant to be a fort. Instead, it was expanded and the town of Lausanne, Switzerland, sprouted up around it. Couples can still get swept up in this history today with a stay at this four-star spot along Lake Geneva, where you'll see the original Dungeon Tower standing in place. The 50-room converted neo-Gothic hotel is as scenic as a stay in Switzerland gets. Picture lunch on the lake (dining on fresh perch), views over the Vaudois Alps, and boat rides on board the château's historic vessel, the Etoile du Léman II. When you're ready for some bedroom action, shimmy up to one of the spacious castle suites, like the ornate Riviera, with its satin sheets, sculpted ceilings, and 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains.