Travel The World, One Fairytale At A Time

Follow into the world of real fairytales. Witness the magical stays close to six real-life places that served as the inspiration for some of the most stunning animated films of all time. also shows that 22% of Kiwi travellers share a keen interest in picking a location based on a movie or TV show.

So if that’s you, scroll down for a bit of magic and adventure or have a guess which fairytale each destination is based on.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany

The historic 19th-century Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps is one of the most photographed in the world and the inspiration for the centrepiece of Florida’s most famous fairytale park. Its many turrets and spires also influenced the castle in the classic 1959 animated retelling of the fairytale about an ill-fated princess, doomed to sleep for a hundred years after pricking her finger on the spindle of an enchanted spinning wheel.

Where to stay:

Located in Hohenschwangau, directly below the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, Hotel Alpenstuben is a traditional, family-run hotel surrounded by picturesque mountain peaks and towering pine trees. After a relaxing breakfast, guests can explore the forest on foot or visit the castle, only a 20-minute walk away.

Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

For those who love the animated version of the fairytale about a princess with magical long blonde hair who dreams of escaping her secluded tower, the monolithic Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy will look incredibly familiar. Being one of France’s most gorgeous sights, it is periodically cut off from the mainland by tidal waters that enterprising travellers can traverse at low tide. When the tides rise, the rocky outcrop becomes surrounded by water and becomes a mystical island, which is incredibly photogenic at sunrise.

Where to stay:

A renovated Breton-style house in Beauvoir, Chambres d’Hôtes Les Vieilles Digues, less than 2 miles away from Mont-Saint-Michel, dominates the horizon. The property’s beautiful garden is perfect for relaxing on a sunny day before walking along Le Couesnon River.

Alcázar de Segovia, Spain

The sturdy fortress of Alcázar de Segovia is believed to be the real-life inspiration for the evil queen’s castle in the world’s first animated feature-length film in colour and with sound. The film, released in 1937, retells the story of a beautiful young princess who escapes the clutches of her murderous stepmother to live in a cottage in the forest with seven friendly dwarves. About an hour and a half north of Madrid, this royal residence is one of Spain’s most visited historical sites thanks to its imposing position atop a rocky outcrop.

Where to stay:

On the Plaza Mayor, opposite Segovia Cathedral, Hotel Infanta Isabel is ideally located to explore all the city’s historic sites, including medieval fortifications, ornate churches and an ancient Roman aqueduct with more than 160 arches.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK

One of the most photographed places in Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle served as inspiration for the Highland home of the fiery heroine in the recent computer-animated story about a young Scottish princess determined to make her own path in life. The rugged landscapes that surround this majestic 13th-century castle are sure to transport travellers to another place and time.

Where to stay:

Located in Letterfearn, just a 25-minute drive from Eilean Donan Castle, Toads Croak is a cosy Bed and Breakfast overlooking the Five Sisters of Kintail Mountains, Loch Duich and Eilean Donan Castle. Guests can stroll along the beach, and if they are lucky enough, they might see an otter or golden eagle. There are woodland and hill walks for hiking lovers to enjoy just steps away from the property’s front door.

Château de Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland

The Château de Chillon is on an island near the shore of Lake Geneva and the inspiration for the prince’s castle in the 1989 animated retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s story about a young mermaid. She gives up her voice to become human and be with her beloved prince. Surrounded by a natural moat, the chateau is open to the public, where visitors can learn more about its long history and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps.

Where to stay:

Swiss Historic Hotel Masson is one of the oldest hotels in the area. Surrounded by a large garden with century-old trees, this elegant Belle Epoque-style building dates back to 1829 and features oak-wood floors and original 19th-century paintings and furniture. Guests should not miss the imposing dining room offering beautiful Lake Geneva, a large tiled stove and original Viennese chairs.

The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Built in 1420 by the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, The Forbidden City is a palace complex at the heart of the Imperial City of Beijing. This same imperial palace appeared in the animated musical adventure from 1998 about a young Chinese girl who disguises herself as a man to take her father’s spot in the army. The Forbidden City, once the imperial palace for two Chinese dynasties, the Ming and the Qing, is a museum for historical Chinese artwork.

Where to stay:

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