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Issue 35 - King of the castle

Scotland Magazine Issue 35
November 2007


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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King of the castle

Whatever you are celebrating, a majestic Scottish castle is the only way to go. Natasha Reed discovers 10 of the finest Scotland has to offer

Scotland’s chequered past has left a legacy of castles, particularly in the Highlands and the Scottish Borders, and each keep or tower has a distinctive legacy and romantic story to tell.

Many are now just ruins but a few have survived and have become iconic symbols of Scotland. Some, such as Edinburgh Castle, are open for visitors to experience. Some are particularly memorable in history, such as Stirling Castle, a favourite residence with the monarchs of Scotland. Others are known for their myths and legends, such as Glamis Castle, said to be one of the most haunted in Britain.

So if you love the idea of visiting or staying in a traditional Scottish castle, there are many different breaks available to enjoy. Here are 10 of the best castles available to stay in or hire for a truly memorable venue.

Go on, experience living like the laird for a few days.

Family home...

Situated in charming market town of Duns in the heart of the beautiful Scottish border countryside, Duns Castle is an impressive, historic 14th century tower house. The castle is still intact but has had extensive additions throughout the centuries to provide a fine Gothic structure that is at once imposing and fascinating. Since 1696 it has been lived in by the Hay family and, although it still remains their private home, the family now welcome guests to share it with them. All needs can be accommodated here, whether it is using the castle for corporate events, parties, weddings or personal stays.

Tel: +44 (0)1361 883 211
Cost: A single room is £130 per night, £215 double room bed and breakfast or £290 per couple including dinner
Did you know? Duns Castle is available to hire exclusively as part of the Exclusive Use Venues scheme. Parties of 1–12 guests cost £300 per day

And relax…
A stay in a luxury Scottish spa is perfect for total relaxation and pampering. Whether it’s set in the rolling hills or vibrant cities, the welcoming spirit of the Scottish will make you feel perfectly at home. Dalhousie Castle is a fascinating 13th century fortress set within acres of wooded parkland on the picturesque banks of the river Esk. The sumptuous six-course dinner in the atmospheric dungeon is an experience not to be missed, followed by drinks in the secret bar. The castle also has boasts Aqueous Spa, which combines an array of relaxing spa treatments with rejuvenating hydro facilities, making you feel like you never want to leave.

Tel: +44 (0)1875 820 153
Cost: Prices start from £130 for rooms in the castle and £95 in the Lodge. Treatment prices cost from around £25 Did you know? Aqueous Spa was Scotland’s very first hydro spa.

Here comes the bride…
A traditional Scottish castle has to be one of the most romantic and exciting locations for a wedding. Castle Venlaw Hotel, in Peebles, is an ideal venue for a wedding or special occasion. An imposing 18th century castle, Castle Venlaw is set in four acres on the slopes of the Venlaw Hill with spectacular views across Peebles and the surrounding countryside. It comprises 12 bedrooms and is perfect for a romantic break. The castle welcomes weddings for any number up to 35 guests, and both civil and religious weddings can be hosted. Alternatively smaller wedding parties can be accommodated.

Tel: +44 (0)1721 720 384
Cost: From £63 per person, per night, bed and breakfast. Exclusive use of the castle for a wedding costs from £2,750 per night
Did you know? The romantic suite boasts a four-poster bed and bathroom with a double bath, heated floor, fibre optic lights, candles, bathrobes and personal Champagne fridge.

Sleeping beauty...
Glenapp Castle is a fairytale castle hidden in 36 acres of glorious garden and woodland on the rugged and beautiful Ayrshire coast. Boasting spectacular views across the Irish Sea to the island of Arran and the massive granite rock of Ailsa Craig, the castle’s mellow sandstone battlements are topped by soaring turrets and towers, earning Glenapp a rightful place as one of the most romantic castles in Scotland. The wild and beautiful countryside around the castle plays host to a wide selection of interesting places to visit and things to do. Perfect for relaxation and countryside walks.

Tel:+44 (0)1361 883 211
Cost: Prices start from £255 single occupancy, including a six-course dinner
Did you know? If you don’t want the hassle of organising an event, Dream Escape offer holidays in Scotland with the ‘wow factor’.

A package here would cost from around £9,000, based on two people sharing.
Tel: +44 (0)1368 850 788,

To the manor born...

Barony Castle is an imposing Scottish Manor House, located just 35 minutes south of Edinburgh on the edge of the Scottish Borders with magnificent views over the Tweed Valley.

Barony combines the elegance and warmth of a traditional manor house with modern hotel facilities. Set in 25 idyllic acres of gardens and mature woodland, the castle offers magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. It has 78 en suite rooms on offer, as well as a health and fitness suite with indoor pool, sauna, whirlpool spa and gymnasium, five-a-side football pitch and croquet lawn.

Tel: +44 (0)870 609 1140
Cost: Prices start from £50 per room, per night
Did You Know? De Vere Venues’ ‘Real Weekend’ offer includes breakfast which is served right up until midday, a rare 5pm checkout on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, plus kids stay for free. Tel: +44 (0)845 375 2793,

Beautiful Borders...

Nestled among Scotland’s beautiful countryside, Stobo Castle offers a deeply personal haven, or an experience for sharing with a partner or friends.

Perched on a hill amongst rolling grounds and set around a picturesque loch, Stobo Castle effortlessly sets the scene for an experience less ordinary. The health spa features a laconium, an aroma room, and an unusual crystal steam room with tinkling tiny ice crystals as a musical backdrop. New to Stobo Castle is the secret garden treatment room, where ‘The Ritual’ face and body treatment promises an experience you will never forget.

Tel: +44 (0)1721 725 300
Cost: Prices start from £99, including all meals and full use of the health suites.
Did you know? The Cashmere Suite features a limestone bath for two, two king-size, four poster beds, his and her plasma screens, hitech stereo, DVD and television surround sound systems and a bottle of Bollinger Champagne and chocolates on arrival.

Top of the world...

Ackergill is a dramatic and unforgettable exclusive use venue for corporate events, private house parties and so on.

Ackergill Tower is an ancient 15th century castle with 25 luxurious bedrooms, based on the edge of the sea at Caithness. The most unusual part though is the Tree House, a purpose-built meeting room perched 12 feet up in 150 year old Sycamore trees. Ackergill Tower is only available for private groups with the exception of the Open House Party weekends.

Tel: +44 (0)1955 603 556
Cost: The rate is £375+VAT per person for groups of 16 or more. For groups of 16 or less there is a flat day rate of £6,000+VAT per day
Did you know? The Tower meeting room is believed to be the largest tree house in the world

Exclusive club...

Originally called Schytherbolle by the Celts, meaning ‘place of peace,’ legend has it that Skibo was a gift from the Gaelic fairies. It is now home to The Carnegie Club, one of the world’s most exclusive private members’ clubs, situated in 7,500 acres of stunning Scottish countryside.

It offers 21 large bedrooms and 11 lodges.

The Skibo estate offers two challenging golf courses, tennis, fly fishing on the loch, archery, mountain biking, daily falconry display, guided walks of the estate and gardens, pheasant and partridge shooting, a 4x4 driving academy and a brand new spa.

Skibo Castle is available for exclusive hire only by special arrangement.

Tel: +44 (0)1862 894 600
Cost: Members pay an initial joining fee of £20,000 +VAT and an annual fee of £4,000 +VAT. Non-members are permitted to stay at Skibo Castle only once
Did you know? Skibo Castle is where Madonna married Guy Ritchie.

Fenton Tower...

East Lothian, is a magnificent, fortified 16th century tower located just 20 miles east of Edinburgh between Gullane and North Berwick.

The tower has recently been meticulously restored to provide state of the art conference facilities as well as luxury accommodation for up to 12 people. With its dedicated staff it offers outstanding service and cuisine in a secluded and secure environment for a small corporate group.

Tel: +44 (0)120 890 089
Cost: Nightly rates on application
Did you know? In 1591, King James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Queen of Scots, took refuge at Fenton Tower when he was surrounded by a rebel army in Fife, north of Edinburgh.

Mixing business with pleasure...

A grand castle is sure to impress if you are looking for a venue for corporate entertainment, teambuilding events, product launches or networking breaks.

Myres Castle, in Auchtermuchty, Fife, is a privately owned 16th century castle that guests occupy exclusively. Set in its own majestic gardens, the castle provides a perfect exclusive use hideaway for delegates. As well as this, the five star venue offers exquisite Scottish cuisine and activities such as off-roading, grouse/pheasant shooting and hiking in the rolling hills.

Tel: +44 (0)1337 828 350
Cost: From £295 per person per night, depending on the number of guests.

Minimum two night stay, minimum six guests. The day delegate rate is £120 per person, the 24 hour rate is £350 per person Did you know? There are more than 100 golf courses within an hour’s drive, and it hosts the Myres Golf Challenge each year.

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