Dal­housie Cas­tle and Spa, Ed­in­burgh, Scot­land

Vacations & Travel - - Cruise news - By Aleney de Win­ter

Imag­ine a mag­nif­i­cent 13th cen­tury fortress where you can live in ba­ro­nial splen­dour, set within acres of wooded park­land on the banks of a pic­turesque Scot­tish river. Dal­housie Cas­tle, 20 min­utes’ drive south of Ed­in­burgh is Scot­land’s old­est in­hab­ited cas­tle. These days, only the thick foun­da­tion walls and stone vaults are orig­i­nal but Dal­housie’s 700-year his­tory is re­flected in its sen­si­tive restora­tion. I am more than happy to add my name to its list of no­table guests in­clud­ing Queen Vic­to­ria, Sir Wal­ter Scott and Edward I, who stayed be­fore de­feat­ing Scot­tish leg­end Wil­liam Wal­lace. There are 29 in­di­vid­u­ally styled bed­rooms within the cas­tle walls, many bear­ing the names of his­tor­i­cal fig­ures in­clud­ing the afore­men­tioned Queen, Oliver Cromwell and the lovelorn Lady Cather­ine, one of the cas­tle’s res­i­dent ghosts. Hap­pily, we’re not bunk­ing down with her this evening, instead stay­ing in a sump­tu­ous four-poster themed room. Its ex­posed stonework, deep red walls and elab­o­rately carved four-poster bed is so beau­ti­ful that on first sight we need to pick our jaws up off the an­tique rug. We visit the cas­tle’s fal­conry, home to a collection of much-loved birds of prey, be­fore en­joy­ing a close en­counter with Ban­dit the boo­book and Bob the barn owl. Then it is off to the li­brary to sip on a pre-din­ner whisky or two and nib­ble on clev­erly crafted canapes in front of the fire­place. Our sub­lime multi-course din­ner of mod­ern Scot­tish cui­sine is served by can­dle­light in a bar­rel­vaulted stone dun­geon. It is an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence, us­ing only the finest local in­gre­di­ents. If this is Dal­housie’s take on prison food, they can lock me up and throw away the key. But only after I’ve been granted a last re­quest of a few in­dul­gent hours in the cas­tle’s Aqueous Spa, with its hy­dro pool, mud baths, Turk­ish steam bath and a menu of re­lax­ing and ther­a­peu­tic treat­ments, be­cause a girl needs to feel her best, even if it is for an ex­tended stay in a me­dieval lock-up. dal­housiecas­tle.co.uk

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