OMG, I Want to Rent This House: North Wales

Allison McNearney
VRBO

OMG, I Want to Rent This House spotlights the most spectacular and unique homes that you can actually stay in. From open-air villas to an adult treehouse, we explore all the places that you should book for an unforgettable getaway.

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Westbury Castle, North Wales on Vrbo: Calling all aspiring masters and ladies, all countesses and earls, the denizens of both upstairs and downstairs: the premiere of the long-awaited Downton Abbey movie is upon us. But why spend this momentous occasion locked up in a dark theater plagued by jealousy as you watch the privileged lives of the aristocracy when you can rent a castle and live the noble life you’ve seen on the big screen.

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Welcome to Westbury Castle in North Wales, an estate with a pedigree as ancient as it is distinguished. The Mostyn family moved onto the land in the 15th century, several decades before they became the proud owners of the title “baronet.” They were friends of the Tudors and flourished under Henry VIII, which helped earn them more than a few pounds sterling and a bump in class status that eventually led them to build this beauty in 1825. Now, for a couple thousand a night, you can call this castle your (temporary) own. 

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When it came to their new family home, the Mostyn’s threw any inclination towards modesty out their late-Regency windows. Between the main Castle Mansion, the Abbey Suite, and the Tower Apartment, this lavish estate sleeps 38, which means its time to plan that family reunion you’ve been putting off or the big friend gathering you’ve always wanted to host. Send out the invites, wrangle the obligatory crazy uncle, but remember: when it comes to the twentieth-century upstairs/downstairs lifestyle, it’s BYOB—bring your own butler.

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The 19th-century castle built by the Mostyn baronets is a paragon of Tudor-Gothic architecture. It has the crenelated roofline, the army of rectangular windows, the sumptuous interiors…and don’t forget the obligatory suit of armor. (Check the reception room to find the metal man of your dreams.) The result of the four-year building project earned the Westbury Castle a Grade II designation (the “baronet” of British architectural honors).

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But it’s not all 19th-century crown moldings and tiara-worthy chandeliers in this Welsh countryside. The beauty of living the aristocratic life without actually being a member of the nobility is that you can throw out the social rules (sorry, Lord Grantham) and just have some fun. Pour yourself a Pimm’s Cup and start taking bets on the family billiard tournament or organize a game of cricket on the vast lawn. When it’s time to dine and dance, invite your motley crew to repair to the grand dining room or the banquet hall, after you first issue them a stern warning to remember the wise words of the tart-tongued Dowager Countess of Grantham, “Principles are like prayers; noble, of course, but awkward at a party.”

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As several guest reviews attest, this castle is swimming in that “wow factor.” The architectural design and distinguished interiors are swoon-worthy, but the property has an extra dose of that special sauce from on high thanks, no doubt, to one particular group of former residents. In 1920, the Mostyn family relinquished their keys and turned their estate over to the Benedictine nuns, who had the run of the palace for several decades.

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With Westbury Castle back in private hands and open to the well-paying public, now is your time to finally take your rightful place in the English social hierarchy…or at least live like you’re a titled citizen. As the days of your vacation pass by and the memories of hourly wages, exasperating bosses, and weekday work schedules start to fade, you may just find yourself echoing everyone’s favorite Dowager Countess and asking yourself, “What is a weekend?”

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Book Your Stay: Westbury Castle in North Wales: $1800/night via Vrbo

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