MIND YOUR MANORS
Conjuring up images of times past, when kings, queens, lairds and ladies reigned supreme, a stay in one of Scotland’s castle hotels is a must for history buffs, romantics and
Outlander fans alike. “Castles are an iconic and integral part of Scotland’s history and culture. Each one has its own unique story to tell,” says Laura Mitchell from VisitScotland.
Scotland is thought to have about 3000 standing castles, ruins and documented sites, with 145 castles-cum-hotels providing the opportunity to sleep like royalty. To find the largest concentration of castles and stately homes, head to Aberdeenshire, known as Scotland’s Castle Country. “There are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK,” she says.
The tourism board has created a Castle Trail, along which you can discover 19 of Aberdeenshire’s most dramatic castles.
Considering that research shows almost half (49 per cent) of Brits have never visited a Scottish Castle – VisitScotland is encouraging visitors to get “castle-bagging”. Book your fairytale stay in one of these Scottish castle hotels.
AFFORDABLE DALHOUSIE CASTLE, MIDLOTHIAN OVERNIGHT RATE FROM £135 (ABOUT $246) (CASTLE DOUBLE)
Scotland’s oldest inhabited castle was once the seat of the Ramsay Clan and has upheld an illustrious guest list since the 13th century. King Edward I spent a night here before going on to defeat William “Braveheart” Wallace. Queen Victoria popped in “to take tea” in 1840. And when the Ramsays moved out in 1972 it was transformed into a luxury hotel. The moat may have since been filled in but you’ll still spy the holes in the stone from the old drawbridge and feel the stories of centuries past seeping from the thick stone walls. Get hands on in the falconry, test your aim with archery, sink into the hydro pool within the spa, and cap it off with an aperitif served from a secret bar, before descending to the dungeon for a candlelit dinner. Rate includes breakfast. DALHOUSIECASTLE.CO.UK
MID-RANGE FONAB CASTLE HOTEL & SPA, PERTHSHIRE OVERNIGHT RATE FROM £215 (ABOUT $392) (CASTLE ROOM)
Originally built as a family home for the Sandeman sherry and port dynasty in 1892 and used as a Red Cross hospital during WWI, Fonab Castle is one of the younger castle hotels, opening in 2013. Sitting pretty on the banks of Loch Faskally in the heart of Tummel Valley, its turrets are balanced by a modern extension and luxurious touches are felt throughout. This is a hotel with heated dog kennels, after all, should you be taking your pooch on a long-distance holiday.
Explore the nearby town of Pitlochry – one of the gateways to the Highlands, enjoy a caviar facial or hot stone massage in the on-site spa, or take afternoon tea, gin cocktail in hand, with views across to Ben Vrackie. Rate includes a full Scottish breakfast. FONABCASTLEHOTEL.COM
TOP END INVERLOCHY CASTLE, FORT WILLIAM, HIGHLANDS OVERNIGHT RATE £490 (ABOUT $907) (BEDROOM)
Trumping any Tripadvisor review, in 1873, Queen Victoria spent a week at Inverlochy and wrote in her diaries, “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot”. Built as a private residence in 1863, the castle was converted to a hotel in 1969. With Ben Nevis looming above and Glen Nevis falls and the mountains of Glencoe close by, you’re in an outdoor lover’s playground. Play 18 holes at Fort William Golf Club, go whitewater rafting, skiing or fishing, or try clay pigeon shooting and archery within the grounds. Later, play chess in front of the fire or book for afternoon tea. Don your dinner jacket for meals served in one of three dining rooms and end with a wee dram. Each of the 17 bedrooms has been individually designed and rates include a full Scottish breakfast. INVERLOCHYCASTLEHOTEL.COM