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The Short Version: The Kentucky Castle Hotel & Spa goes above and beyond to ensure its guests feel like royalty. Its grounds and accommodations have helped couples create plenty of memories, including romantic getaways, engagements, and picturesque weddings. The castle, located in Versailles, Kentucky, includes an organic farm, bourbon hall with trained stewards, spa, and a variety of spaces that allow guests to enjoy a fairytale experience. For its dedication to providing couples with amenities fit for kings and queens, The Kentucky Castle Hotel & Spa earns our Editor’s Choice Award.
When Rex Martin and his wife, Caroline, traveled to Europe for their honeymoon, they were impressed by the architecture — particularly the region’s stunning castles. So, when they purchased 55 acres in Versailles, Kentucky, in 1969, they decided to build a castle of their own.
Before they finished, construction stalled, and, eventually, Rex had to put the property up for sale. Rumor has it that even actors Sylvester Stallone, Lee Majors, and Farrah Fawcett all approached him, but never with a deal that convinced him to part with the incomplete castle.
Over the years, the castle changed hands a few times, but never quite lived up to the vision Rex and Caroline had had in mind. That is, until 2017 when a group of Kentucky business people came together to finally help the castle realize its potential — as The Kentucky Castle Hotel & Spa.
“That’s really when the Kentucky Castle story begins,” said Christie Eckerline, COO of the property. “And they have a long-term vision here.”
Today, the Kentucky Castle Hotel & Spa is an award-winning boutique hotel, farm-to-table restaurant, spa, and event center that specializes in romantic getaways and memorable evenings, and couples who stay a the Kentucky Castle are treated like royalty.
They can choose from four luxurious chalets located in towers on the outer walls of the property. The castle also contains nine additional rooms, including four suites, two king premium rooms, two standard deluxe rooms, and a quaint loft.
Christie said the castle’s guests often include people who want to stay in the place that Architecture Digest named The Most Beautiful Hotel in Kentucky. Other couples visit the hotel to get away from their everyday lives and reconnect as a couple.
“They can leave the kids at home for the night, relax, and enjoy themselves, dine and collapse into bed,” she said.
Twice a month, a backroads biking group enjoys a ride on the country roads leading up to the property before staying at the Kentucky Castle. And it’s located on the Bourbon Trail, which means Woodford Reserve distillery is a few miles down the road, and Maker’s Mark distillery is about an hour away.
Recently, the castle built another location for a unique getaway. Its new cabin, located at the back of the property near the organic farm, has an expanded guest space with three bedrooms. It overlooks the castle and is ideal for a gathering of friends or extended family who may come to the site for an event.
In the coming year, the Kentucky Castle is planning to expand the ways people can stay on the grounds, including adding yurts, round tent-like looking structures, adjacent to a nearby horse farm for glamping, according to Christie.
Every room, cabin, suite, or tent will be served by a staff who loves working there.
“There isn’t a single staff member here who wouldn’t go above and beyond to help a guest make sure they have a phenomenal stay and experience,” Christie said.
Along with the boutique hotel, the property includes many places that are ideal for weddings and special events of almost any size.
“It’s a castle, so what better place to get married and have your fairytale wedding dreams come true?” Christie said.
Couples can choose from an outdoor garden ceremony and party, or get married in the opulent ballroom. Christie said that the event team frequently takes brides on full tours of the property to walk around and see the different options available for the wedding of their dreams. The castle also makes planning simple by catering the weddings and handling all food and beverage responsibilities through its talented staff.
The Kentucky Castle also employs a design director who can handle the events and floral arrangements, or a couple can bring someone in from the outside to manage those duties.
“And couples can rent out all of the venues so that they are the only ones hosting,” she explained. “That way, other events on the grounds won’t interfere with yours in any way. It’s nice to have that flexibility.”
Christie said the property hosted a wedding in October 2018 with a beautiful ballroom and rooftop ceremony, and the couple recently returned to celebrate their first anniversary.
The owners are all deeply involved in managing the property and its vision, and they want everyone to have the experience they expect from the dreamy castle design.
That care shines through during its special events — including a variety of nonprofit fundraisers each year. And, to give back to the surrounding communities, the hotel has a program called The Kentucky Castle Fairytale. People can nominate someone who they think deserves a free night in the castle where the staff will also make them feel extra special.
The Kentucky Castle offers couples a dream getaway, and once they check in, they won’t even have to leave the castle for a great date night. That’s because the castle is also home to what Reader’s Digest called the most romantic restaurant in the state.
Approximately 90% of the fresh produce prepared at the farm-to-table restaurant comes from its certified organic farm right on castle grounds. The remainder is grown locally on nearby farms, and the team has planted a truffle orchid in its garden, which will be producing tasty morsels in the coming years.
“We also work with a local educational group, and the kids actually come on-site and learn about farming through our organic farm,” Christie said. “It’s a great way to give back to the community and teach children about farming.”
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, and it includes a bar that opens at 10 a.m. And, since it is in Kentucky, the restaurant offers an extensive selection of bourbons, and nearly all bartenders are trained bourbon stewards. That means they can offer guided tasting flights, including one with the Kentucky Castle’s own bourbon label.
Of course, no royal treatment is complete without a spa experience, and the one located within the castle is prepared to pamper guests seven days a week. It offers massages, cryotherapy, a sauna, and even has a sensory deprivation pod. Aesthetic services are also on the menu, so guests can get in-depth treatments while staying at the boutique hotel.
Along with all of the amenities and private events, the castle frequently hosts concerts, children’s parties, murder mystery dinners, and, of course, plenty of activities with Santa over the holidays.
“We have something for everybody,” Christie said. “We love to show guests true hospitality.”